By | February 1, 2013 346 Comments

Psychopaths pushing our buttons

By Joyce Alexander, RNP (retired)

Most of you know I have spent a good portion of my life training animals of various kinds dogs for obedience and to work livestock, horses, donkeys and cattle (oxen).

When we train animals, we “condition” them to do X and they receive Y reward. Ivan Pavlov, a Russian physiologist, conditioned dogs to expect to be fed by ringing a bell every time they got fed. Eventually when a bell was rung, even though there was no food in sight, the animals expected to be fed, and their bodies reacted by making them “slobber” at the mouth, just as they would if food were present.

B.F. Skinner, and American psychologist, observed that animals who had intermittent rewards, rather than continual rewards, would continue a behavior longer than animals who got rewarded every time they did an act. For example, a rat that pushed a lever and got a grain of food every time, would quickly stop pushing it if the food didn’t com. But a rat that sometimes got a food pellet when he pushed the lever would continue to pound on the lever for a very long time, or even never stop pushing it, even though he did not get a food pellet.

In humans, this “intermittent” rewards works in a slot machine, or in gambling games, because every once in a while you get rewarded. Therefore, you keep hoping that next time will be THE TIME.

Psychopaths and intermittent rewards

You may ask what this training technique has to do with psychopaths. Well, just as Las Vegas was built on intermittent rewards for gamblers, relationships with psychopaths are built on the intermittent rewards they give us.

At the first part of the relationship, the psychopath “love bombs” us by giving us the good things we enjoy compliments, doing things for us, great sex. WOW! We think we have found nirvana. Just as a dog I am beginning to train gets a treat every time he “sits,” then only sometimes when he “sits,” the psychopath only gives us the “loving” some of the time. Also, just as I eventually no longer give the dog a food treat any time he “sits,” and the most he will get is a “good dog” verbal compliment, or a scolding if he doesn’t sit fast enough, the psychopath quits giving us treats and gives us “scoldings.”

We have been conditioned by the psychopath to be and do what they want, because we still desire that initial “love bombing,” and we dread the “scolding” they will give us if we don’t “jump” when they say “frog.” We keep on hoping against hope that we will be able to please them again. We do whatever we can to keep the scoldings to a minimum and get them to reward us with “love” again.

Running for bread

It doesn’t make any kind of difference if the animal we are training is a dog, a parrot, a donkey, an steer, a horse ”¦ the conditioning works the same. Intermittent rewards cause the desired behavior to continue. If we give continual rewards every time they perform the behavior, it wouldn’t take long for the behavior to be extinguished when we stopped rewarding it.

My mammoth jack donkeys, Fat Ass and Hairy Ass, haven’t had a piece of bread (their preferred treat) in a year or more. But any time I go to the hangar and open the freezer, they come running up to the fence on the never dying hope that I will get bread out of the freezer and give them a piece. They are totally “conditioned” to that treat, and they know that the opening and closing of the freezer is what always preceded them getting a slice of bread.

The psychopath we have had relationships with know what “rings our chimes,” what makes us happy and what makes us sad, or what makes us angry. It is like a panel of buttons on the front of our chest. They know just the exact words to say, or the thing to do, that will press our “buttons” and get the reaction they want from us.

No Contact is the answer

No Contact keeps those buttons covered. That is why it works.

Psychopaths know that in the past, if they pressed “button A,” you would do B. So they will keep on trying because IT ALWAYS WORKED IN THE PAST. They just know if they keep doing it, it will EVENTUALLY work again. So they will press it harder and faster and longer. Just like some old lady sitting at a slot machine, plugging in quarters, she just “knows” that the very next quarter will get her a reward. Just like my donkeys running up to the fence when I open the freezer, they still hope to get a slice of bread, a reward.

Expect when you go No Contact that the psychopath will up the ante and will work harder and longer to get a reaction. If it takes 30 times for them to eventually get a reaction, THEY LEARN THAT it takes 30 TIMES TO GET A REACTION. If next time it takes 40 times, they learn that they must work a bit harder to get a reaction, so they keep on and on and never stop.

So hang in there. Once you make up your mind to go NO CONTACT, then STAY no contact, because if you give them ANY reward of ANY kind, even a well deserved “cussing,” it is still a reward. It is ATTENTION, and even negative attention is attention. Not being noticed at all is the worst punishment they can have.

If you are required by law to have contact with them, like if you share children, do it only by e-mail, so that you have a record of it. Discuss ONLY the children. Do not respond to any nasty comments they make. Refuse to discuss the other person with your children, and Gray Rock them entirely. NO emotional responses at all. If possible, get someone else to pick up and drop off the kids, so you do not have to see him/her. Or do it in a public place, a police department parking lot if necessary.

We can stop them only by not responding. So when your ex is trying to push your buttons, just think about Joyce’s donkeys Fat Ass and Hairy Ass running up to the fence for a slice of bread. Visualize your psychopath with long ears, standing there trying to get a reaction from you, and then DON’T GIVE IT. Take control and refuse to allow the psychopath to make you respond to his/her button pushing!

God bless.

Fat Ass and Hairy Ass

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Joyce, I want to thank you for this article – for me, it is the BEST article that discusses why “No Contact” is so important, to date. The explanation of the conditioned response is spot-the-hell-ON!!!! This resonates with me, personally, because I used the same techniques when I was training dogs and horses. And, they BOTH responded to treats (I rarely used treats), but they both responded to my voice with so much more enthusiasm. A kind word “Good GIRL” and a soothing tone was often all they wanted. They wanted to PLEASE me to hear the vocal reward.

What a superb article, Joyce, and I LOVE the photos of Big Ass and Hairy Ass!!!! What a couple of beautiful asses…. (snort, guffaw)

Brightest blessings!!!!


It ain’t all that easy to come to accept and admit that I was conditioned – and let myself be that penitent puppy.
I was surprised at the amount of attention I got in the early days of the relationship. But it was about 6 weeks into the relationship that the “scoldings n’ withholdings” began to appear. These took me by surprise – after seeing how swimmingly things had been going up ’til then.

Oh and there are so many nuances and me, very fascinating but, too many to go into here. But, I think that I had some awareness at some level of what was happening, and so it began to slowly eat away at (Or, fester inside of-), my heart and mind.

Thanks, Joyce. It helps.

I still pray and hope that the ex-gf gets help.

Tea Light

Fixer, can I ask if you are in contact still with the ex?

Tea Light

I don’t know where to best put this. I’m reading The Psychopath Test by British writer and broadcaster Jon Ronson, it’s actually making me laugh, here’s him talking about the book


Fixerupper, there will come a time when you will no longer care whether she gets help, or not, because you will come to understand that there is absolutely NO help for a sociopath. It cannot be successfully treated or managed with any medication known to man or Nature. There is NO surgical procedure (aside from Brain-ectomy) that can treat it. There is no counseling therapy that can even touch it. It is a permanent, malignant, and terminal condition.

When you come to that point, it will be the most liberating truth that you will ever experience. It just takes time to get to that point.

Brightest blessings


Thanks Joyce

With me, the addiction is the problem. Very lonely life with my husband (now x husband) for many years. I keep breaking down and contacting the spath. It was only one night this last time. Now, I’m no contact again. Hopefully, for good. He really was very good at his “craft”.


Kmillercats, I’m so sorry that you’re having a tough time. ((((HUGS))))

It can be a complete addiction. Breaking ANY addiction is hard because we’re surrendering something that once held extreme importance to us. Add fear to the sadness, and it can be too much to manage.

Brightest blessings of encouragement


Thanks Truthy

Hugs to you too. Today is better. Plus, it’s Friday.

Ox Drover

Kmillercats, it is SOOOOOO important to stay NC because each time we break it we get our hearts broken again.

My jack asses will always be conditioned that if the freezer opens there is a CHANCE they may get a treat….they live for that UNDYING HOPE, but WE know we were/are conditioned by the love bomb and the push/pull antics of the psychopath, and we become addicted to the MALIGNANT HOPE, THAT UNDYING HOPE THAT THEY ARE GOING TO GIVE US LOVE….ain’t gonna happen.

kim frederick

Oh Oxy, Please give FA and HA a peice of bread. Please. LOL.
I hope you won’t take offense if I say you have a nice asses….even if it is a bit fat, or a bit hairy………
Thanks for the article. Intermittant reward and power imbalance….the stuff of which trauma bonds are made.


Kim, sometimes, a hairy ass is a good thing in the cold winter months. Um………oh, dear god, here we go……


I am actually laughing, out loud, and by myself over the asses……laughasses, I guess it would be termed…….assological laughter? HELP ME, NOW!!!!!!!


So, if one were smaller than the other – significantly so – would it be named, “Half Ass?” please…..someone stop me

kim frederick

And if one were more easily trained, Smart ass? and why Jack? Why not John ass, or Jimmy ass? Or if a girl, Jennifer ass?


Kim, if I had such an ass, I would name it “Ignatius Ass.” Or, perhaps, “Cassiopia-ass.” (still snorting)

Ox Drover

I have two mini asses named Wide Ass and Jack Ass, and I have to say, I got to change the name of Wide to HALF ASS I think that is TOOOOOOO COOL! Much better name! LOL ROTFLMAO

Yea, ASS is the proper name for the animals and I love taking them to the schools and the telling the kids it is OK to calll them ASSES because that is what they are, but it’s not oka to call your friends that.

Kimmie, I will give the boys a slice of bread the next time I am out there. I used to could buy out of date bread 100 pounds for $10 and I always kept a bunch for them but the store that I had bought the out of date bread at closed so I have to buy retail now and bread ain’t cheap, so they get other treats, but bread is their FAVORITE. Believe me when I tell you these boys live the “Life of Riley”

see what you started? 🙄
Now we’ll have to put up with asinine comments for who knows how long. 😯

Ass-ide from that, this article brings up a critical ass-pect of dealing with spaths: the conditioning they use on us.

Some of them even go so far ass to study NLP conditioning techniques. These techniques really, really work. I watched two Darren Brown videos and he was able to hypnotize me both times through the video. By the end of the first video, I found myself really wanting a bmx bike for Christmas. By the end of the second video, I was ready to buy somebody a stuffed giraffe. I’m not joking about this. He does it by implanting suggestions, using verbal and visual cues. For example, he would slur his words so that “Did you ever…” sounds like “Djuraffer” which sounds like “giraffe”. These techniques are commonly used in advertising.

So, if you find yourself suddenly compelled to do something, or buy something, that is out of character for you, stop. Don’t do it.


Please, oh PLEASE give Fat Ass and Hairy Ass a piece of bread!LOL yes out loud

Fixerupper, take my word for it, focus on yourself and DO NOT give your energy to the ex. I do know, really what you are going through. After seeing 5 counselors, yes FIVE, I finally declared that he must go – OR I was done. Well, he didn’t want to be done because he went. He would go 1-2 times, then “couldn’t make it” for several months. Then I would set my foot done and talk about the consistent effort. Then he would go again, then miss 3 months., etc etc You probably can guess the roller coaster. He only went to keep me from declaring DONE, not because he wanted to better himself.

He finally told me, “It’s not your job to FIX me.” He was right. It’s his job to fix himself and he wasn’t gonna. Life was going pretty good for him. If I were to try and get in his mind…. What is to fix? if you get what you want from all around you. How to lie better? How to be more sneaky? How to be more secretive? How to pretend more effectively?

Take care of yourself fixer upper.

Kmillercats: I too was addicted to him. I still am somewhat because I talk about him. I no longer care where he is, what he does, who he might be treating better, BUT it is a process, the process of letting go. Be gentle with yourself and try and do one fun thing today that brings you a little joy. Smile and breathe.


You guys are killing me.

kim frederick

I assbolutely agree with Skylar!

To Be Free

I had no contact for 5 weeks then it started over again. I have seen him for the past two weekends. I didn’t realize that I have to treat him like a drug addition.

To Be Free,
yes, they are like a drug addiction. I hope you are able to get back on the wagon and stay there. This weekend, please plan something fun for YOU without him.

To Be Free

I know I need to especially since by birthday is Monday. I do not expect anything from him. Even last year after a great Christmas with wonderful gifts, he didn’t give me but a card for my birthday! I wasn’t that I care about getting “stuff” it was the fact that he was doing it deliberately.


Dearest To be Free,
This year have a stress free, spath free birthday. It’s all in your name, To Be free. Take your freedom back my dear


Oh Oxy I love them. !!

If they’re naughty you could re christen em “bad ass?”

…….ok bad asses!

This Ass got to be one of the funniest postings that I’ve seen here,lol! I assbolutely love it!!! 😉 We need laughter in our lives! Yes we do! I started laughing from the moment I read your asses’ names!

All jokes aside,I really appreciate how you decribe how the spath pushes those buttons,knowing what kind of reactions to expect!Thanks for the warning that they only INCREASE the button pushin’ when we go NC!

Ox Drover

Blossom and guys, glad you liked this article as well as got some HUMOR OUT OF IT. I used to have a cat named Chairman Meow LOL and a pet crow named QUOTH, THE RAVEN. LOL ROTFLMAO

Frank James, the brother of Jessie used to “curse” at his mules using famous quotes but no actual bad words, so I developed my own “curses’_–like “You, long earred, no good, illegitimate son of an English Lord…” and it always made people laugh.

Yea, Fat and Hairy got some bread today….and they are happy now. LOL

We just seriously, need to keep in mind that we too have been CONDITIONED (trained if you will) so that the psychopaths can push our buttons, or if we think about them sometimes we push those buttons ourselves (trigger ourselves) so we need to continue to work on US and focus a lot less on THEM.


OxD, the crux of your article is priceless and the focus IS on my own recovery, finally.

I want to also convey that it is NOT “selfish” to walk away and put one’s Self in the center of their attention. Recovery is NOT a selfish endeavor – it’s a mode of survival and “No Contact” is the antedote to that toxin.

Thanks, again, Joyce. I wonder how many kisses those asses have received……..Also, if one of them is particularly stubborn, you can name it Hard Ass. The mud-roller can be Crusty Ass……..

I apologize – I digress into adolescence…..

Brightest blessings


Strongawoman, ditto the freedom.

ToBeFree, you are the only one who can end the madness. HE’s not going to end it as long as he can continue inflicting damage. The decision and choice is your own to make.

Brightest blessings for a liberating birthday

Actually,this article meant so much to me that I printed it out.And as my fridge is covered with everything from appts to my grandaughter’s artwork,rather than put the article on the fridge,I’ll put a copy of Fat Ass and Hairy Ass there…that way I still have a daily reminder of the things you said,as well as a daily dose of laughter! 🙂

Ox Drover

Glad to make you laugh, Blossom, the asses make me laugh too, that’s why I still have them. I love it in the morning when they bray to the sun. Or come running for the piece of bread they think they might get. They are SOOOO smart, but still I have conditioned them to respond to my button pushing. Just like I was conditioned to respond to the button pushing of the psychopaths…but no more! I’m done!

raggedy ann

Flip side of the coin tells the same story. Animals, including humans, who experience random punishment end up with damage that is harder to transcend even than for those who experienced constant punishment instead of random. Taken out of the punishment environment, this animal is somewhat paralyzed by fear in what’s called a learned helplessness.

I think that random punishment conflicts with NC and is not appropriate for a psychopath’s target to be trying to accomplish, but if a past abuser has been a random punisher, the learned helplessness idea should be kept in mind, and may be helpful. When I learned about the related experiments/results (poor kitties :-() in my first Psych class, it made for an epiphany. Why I and my siblings lacked confidence compared to a lot of our peers, my anxiety issues. I suppose it must have something to do with why I would still identify with a rag doll who can’t stand up on her own.


“Tea Light says:
Fixer, can I ask if you are in contact still with the ex?”

1) Not really. But, I think that I may have been slandered in some way.

2) Also, I have not been able to understand why the ex loaned money to me.
I hadn’t been dating her very long – but I was already falling head-over-heels in love. She knew it.
When we started dating I was in the middle of working out a solution to a loan problem. The bank was jerking me around (As a result I am part of a process seeking a Class Action against the bank.). She insisted on giving me a loan even though I said that I could get through the problem without it. I saw it as a sign of commitment, of love on her part. I let it happen. Looking back, it was weird. I sat her down and asked her ‘Why? Why are you doing this?’
I have paid most of it back and make payments like clockwork.
Came the day when I paid off debts. I was so happy!
I called her after everything was straightened out to give her the news. She was very upset. I went to see her to find out why and how she could be upset. She then proceeded to tell me that I then had to sell my house right away to get money to pay her so that she could ‘help her Dad.’ According to her, I could then move and rent somewhere else.
This was not necessary as I was confident and committed to the fact that she would be repaid. Of course – we were about to build a future together – so every asset that I had would be part hers, anyway.
But she insisted that I put my house ‘on the market’ ASAP.
Things got weirder. A couple of weeks later a guy shows up at my door and says he wants to buy my house. It’s someone that I never heard of or saw. He makes a ridiculous ‘low ball’ offer.
I get his telephone number and track him down. He lives in the same town as the gf, about a quarter of a mile from her.

All of that with the ‘withholding,’ the ‘projection,’ the many things that ‘didn’t add up,’ the ‘dry tears,’ from her and the resulting Cognitive Dissonance exacerbated the strains that I was already feeling from work and life.

No wonder I feel like I am fading.

Ox Drover


The REASON she gave you the unaskedfor loan was to CONTROL you by having you OBLIGATED TO HER.

When we ACCEPT favors from people we naturally feel some OBLIGATION to that person, and psychopaths and OTHER CONS use this NATURAL FEELING of obligation to get people under their control.

She was trying to get your house sold “low ball” and then SHE would have your house for a song and you would be renting somewhere. LOL

Sounds to me like the entire “relation-SHIT” was a CON from the first time she offered you the money. Maybe from the get-go.

Don’t fade, Fixer, get MAD! (((HUGS))))


Well, Ox Drover, it kind of fits with her pattern. She used to say that she wanted to ‘sue’ the dating agencies that she used because of the ‘weirdos’ that she met through them. She has also been involved in other personal litigation in the past.
She is motivated/lives by the credo: ‘Make as much money as you can.’

My reaction had been: ‘Please, please show me, tell me, prove to me that none of this is true. Don’t leave me! Tell me, show me that I am wrong! Tell me that you really love me!’ I wanted to know that I was different – that I could really mean something to someone so beautiful – her.

Inner child voices? It’s soooo painful and I will probably never have closure.


Fixerupper, I’m going to tell you a true story and I apologize, in advance, if it gets drawn out.

There is a gal that once served time in the State Women’s Pen for committing over 2 dozen counts of “Theft By Deception.” The exspath met her after she had been paroled where she was working in a local tavern. They became acquainted and I was later introduced to her as a “really nice” gal – someone with whom I might develop a friendship as per the exspath’s observation.

While working at that tavern, she met a fellow who had quit college that he had attended on a full sports scholarship because he held a State record for his choice in sports. This fellow had made numerous stupid choices and ended up being arrested for drugs and DUI’s and lost out on college, as a result. He had gotten into culinary arts and was just working at this tavern as a start to his recovery.

So, this gal had been living in a halfway house after her parole and was accepted into her new stepfather’s home at the request of the mother. The gal eyeballs this guy as a prime target. He’s younger than she is, he’s got physical damage in the form of a birth defect, and she is substantially taller than he is. Immediately, this pair begins dating. She moves this guy into her stepfather’s home and begins calling her stepfather, “Daddy.”

Then, this gal begins feeding this disappointed, disfigured, and depressed young man every compliment and manner of flattery imaginable. She PROVIDES for him things that he felt that he needed. He needed to feel valued, so he’s now the workhorse for this household – only this fellow can go out and attend to all of the physical labor required to keep the property maintained. This guy needs reassurance and only this gal can provide reasurance that he is “loved” and accepted. And, the whole gambit of co-dependency is thrown down this guy’s throat. They end up getting married and ALL of the false assurances, validation, acceptance, and approval ends, unceremoniously.

Now, this guy is short. He is stupid. He is a failure. He doesn’t do enough to bring in money in spite of his efforts. At one point, she moves from the emotional and verbal abuse into full-blown physical abuse. She’s a lot bigger than her husband and starts “putting him in his place.” So, she beats the shit out of him and then accuses him of abusing HER – this was the last time that I ever spoke to this person, and it was clear what she had done to this poor man.

Because this man was taught to “respect” a woman and never lay a hand on one, in anger, he has been beaten down emotionally, physically, finanicially, spiritually, and sexually. And, it all began with finances – she made him FEEL grateful for “helping” him and, as a result of this false feeling of gratitude, he felt “obligated” to remain faithful, loyal, etc……because she pulled him out of the gutter and her perceptions are the ONLY acceptable version of any facet of that doomed and horrid relationshit.

So, the point of this whole long-assed story is: beware of one hand extended in aid. ALWAYS see what’s contained in the OTHER hand. Is it a flower? Or, is it a noose?

Brightest and most encouraging blessings


OxD, SPOT-ON!!! No “fading” allowed! Fixerupper, you’re just in one of those post-spath funks for the moment. You’ve come a long, long, LONG way into recovery, and feeling that grief is going to go back and forth for a long, long while, yet. Gosh, don’t I know THAT from my own experience!

You’re going to be fine, Fixerupper. Just fine.

Tea Light

Fixer! What are you telling us with that “not really”? That means you are in contact, doesn’t it? Fixer this new info you have shared paints a portrait of a con artist. What was her relationship with this man who turned up on your door? He sounds like an accomplice. Or a stooge. Fixer, you need to let go of the illusion, this woman is not a good person and may be in fact a career criminal , scamming men for financial gain. Like Oxy says get angry, don’t feed your regrets over a relationship that only existed for you as a romantic connection. Let it go and get mad. Hang in there. x

Ox Drover

Fixer, how much do you owe this woman still? If at all possible, pay it off IN FULL immediately. If that is not possible, just mail her a check monthly and do NOT have any contact with her at all. Don’t read her e mails, don’t let anyone in your house that she sends.

If this is an “unsecured” loan (in other words you didn’t sign a note with your home as collateral) then she has little recourse legally as long as you are making payments of some amount.

Don’t let your feelings of being “obligated” to her make you have any conversations with her, not even by e mail. ANY contact that way is ONLY going to keep you in the “spin cycle”


Wow! This article is truth to a “T”!! I know it, I lived it, I was it, the good puppy waiting for its reward! Fewer and further between(unknowingly other women but I too was the OW). I was conditioned without a doubt. As you know, Ox, the “P” I was in a relationship with was a dog trainer of working dogs. (Happens to be the one real profession that he did do) (I beleive he is highly involved in dog fighting). He would always refer to training his women like how he trains his dogs. He made a science project out of it. In one heart aching moment when I googled his youtube name, I came across a comment where he posted a response of how he “gets into the mind of the dog” He said he thinks how they would think. This only confirmed his sickness to me. My mind and everything else had been violated. I still do not understand how someone does this to such a degree of perfection. I dont even understand how to do it at any degree! Your article is so accurate. I am so thankful I am free from that excrutiating pain.

Ox Drover

Dear Alivetoday,

In training dogs and other animals we DO have to “get into the mind of the dog” in order to train them and in order to remain “alpha” to the dog (or other animal) Not only to get them to do what we want and need them to do (working dogs and draft animals have a purpose for us) but we need to remain safe as well.

In the “mind” of an oxen, touching a “superior” animal with even the barest brush of a horn is a big NO NO…and it is NEVER by accident, it is a test of position in the herd and must never be ignored by a drover. But, if you did not know the MIND of the cattle you might miss this very important item.

Unfortunately, humans are more trainable than animals, we are able to be conditioned by a series of rewards and punishments applied in such a way that we become “trained” without us even knowing we are being trained. None of my dogs or other animals are aware that they are “trained” it is “just the way things are” They accept what IS.

WE however, CAN escape if we finally see the “light”–but the trauma bond can be very very strong. Look at Patty Hearst and many others who have been totally trauma bonded by conditioning. So sometimes getting free sure ain’t easy.

super chic

Great article, thank you very much.

LOVE the picture!!


Why o why have you not given bread to your ass’es? You have not given them bread in over a year?
poor babies, they want some bread…
do we need to send bread to your ass’es


Alivetoday, I used to work with various animals and I did extensive study on “pack theory” to better understand canine behavior for training purposes. “Getting into the mind” of anything that we’re working with doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a nefarious endeavor.

Having typed that, when spaths “get into the mind” of whatever they’re targeting, it is NOT an exercise the includes empathy or true understanding of a love-bond that is formed between (for instance) a horse and rider. I don’t know of many riders that were unable to form a strong bond of love and communication with their mounts, whether they were the owners, trainers, riders, or handlers. Spaths, on the other hand, are incapable of forming a love-bond with anything and their exercise of “getting into the minds” of whatever they’re focusing on is strictly for their own purposes of mastery and control WITHOUT a bond of love to work with.

There’s a gulf of difference in the motivations. When a strong handler works their border collie in the field, the handler recognizes and appreciates their dog’s dedication and ability and rewards that dog with lots of love and affection. When a spath works their dog in the field, the “love and affection” is cursory and superficial – I’ve seen this with a guy that did K-9 training. He could mouth the words and go through the physical motions of praise, but it was ALWAYS tainted with an attitude of “You’d BETTER obey, or else!”

Brightest blessings


Moon, the bread thing just cracks me up……I never gave an ass any bread, EVER. Well, that’s not necessarily true – I used to make sammiches for Sick Ass, but he’ll either have to make his own sammiches or get his mommy to do it for him.

(snort, guffaw, hack, wheeze)

Tea Light

Moon Dancer you are so cute. You make me lol. x


Positive note to the Pavlov effect is it’s “a learned behavior” not innate.

One of the things that can get in the way of getting over the spath relationship is the “defense mechanisms” we built to deal with the hurt and pain. The intent of these “defense mechanisms” is to insulate us from not feeling the hurt from bad experiences and also so we will not be hurt again in the future. All reasonable reactions to what has happened.

But these “defense mechanisms” can be a big reason “why” we can not move forward. They trapped us. And tend to do the opposite to what we wanted. Building “defense mechanisms” in a lot of ways is like digging the hole we find ourselves in deeper. At the time we were just reacting and doing what we thought was the only thing we could do. Not a blame thing. A “limiting belief” thing. Where we saw no other choice. Doesn’t mean there where not other choices only that to us, at the time, we did the best we could with what we had.

If one is working to unravel the spath effect one of the big layers is the “defense mechanisms.” One may find that it was these “defense mechanisms” that got them caught up in the spath crap in the first place.

All this training just proves that we can learn.

Driven by Beliefs
Pulled by Meaning


Ox Drover

Good points Spoon! Hey, where ya been? Good to hear from you!


Hi, Oxy

Very busy this last month. Death of an old friend and such. He had a long life. Will be missed. Not much time for anything else.

Hope all is well with you and everybody else.

Forgot this in last post.

We tend to do things back-ass-wards until we learn better. Just normal behavior for us mere mortals.



GREAT post Spoon. A perspective about learned behaviors.

It’s been one of my dilemmas, trying to identify the learned responses from my spath and UNDO them.

One of my worst ones is “NO MISTAKES ALLOWED”. So if I write or use ONE WORD wrong, then it was used to nullify my complaint/perspective. I censor and censor myself, trying to imagine what might derived and then correct my words so that I will not be dismissed. The anxiety became SO oppressive that I did NOTHING. I have a LF member glom onto that particular defense mechanism and used to to pronounce me as spath. Her judgment has been devastating to me, emotionally SO painful b/c it’s the SAME punishment done to me by my spath and his family, deciding my flaw is wrong and they entitled to abuse me.

Spaths do control by using the Pavlov effect. While I am UNLEARNING the controls that were done to me, the shame of behaviors that I engage in to avoid abuse is still being used by a couple of LF members to condemn me.

I reveal this b/c I want other readers and posters on LF to know, just b/c someone claims authority, doesn’t mean they are correct. Look instead to rational reasoning.

That spaths are wordsmiths MIGHT be true….
that ONLY SPATHS are wordsmiths is NOT TRUE.

(ps Sending Condolences for the loss of your friend. There are some people we wish would hang around for ALL our years b/c they are such special people.)

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