Pathological Relationships – Am I Under His Spell?

The mental state of highway hypnosis can occur...from Psychology Today

Time and again women allude to the mystical aspects of the pathological relationship they are involved with. They describe it as “being under his spell,” “entranced by him,” “hypnotized by him” or even “spellbound” or “mind-controlled.”

Women aren’t exactly able to define what they are “experiencing” or even accurately describe what they think is occurring, but they do unanimously conclude that “something” is happening that feels like it’s “hypnotic.”

Beyond the “hocus pocus” of hypnosis lies real truth about what is probably happening in those relationships.

Trance happens to every person every day. It is a natural lull in the body when many of the systems are resting or a state we enter when tired. Blood sugar, metabolism and other natural body functions can affect the sleepy states of trance that we enter all day long.

You’ve probably heard of “highway hypnosis.” This occurs when you have been driving and are so concentrated on the driving (or when you are getting sleepy while driving and watching those yellow lines) that you forget about the last few miles, and all of a sudden you’re aware you’re almost at your destination. Highway hypnosis is trance, or “lite” forms of self-hypnosis. No one put you in that state of hypnosis—you entered it on your own.

Check in with most people around 2 p.m. in the afternoon and you’ll see lots of people in sleepy trances.

But pathology can cause people to enter trance states frequently. Pathological love relationships are exhausting and take their toll on your body through stress, diet, loss of sleep, and worry. While you are worn-down and fatigued, you are more suggestible to the kinds of things that are said to you in that state of mind. These words, feelings and concepts sink in at a deeper level than other ideas and statements that are said to you when you are not in a trance state.

If he is telling you that you are crazy, or gaslighting you by telling you that you really didn’t see him do what you think he did, or that the problems of the relationship are because of you—those statements said to you when you are suggestible stay filed in your subconscious and are replayed over and over again, creating intrusive thoughts and obsessional thinking.

If he tells you positives when you are in trance states such as “he needs you and please don’t ever leave him“—those phrases too are stored in a subconscious location, working without your knowledge. When it’s time to redirect your beliefs about him, disengage, or break up, women feel like “old tapes” are running in their heads. It’s very hard for them to get these messages to stop activating their thinking, feeling, and behavior.

Women who have strong personality traits in suggestibility and fatiguability are more at risk of trance-like states in which words, meanings, and symbols are more concretely stored in the subconscious.

Women feel relieved to find out that they really aren’t crazy–it really does feel like she is under his spell, because in many ways, she is.

More information on trance states in pathological romantic relationships is covered in detail in our book, Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists.
Published on September 11, 2012 by Sandra Brown, M.A. in Pathological Relationships

10 thoughts on “Pathological Relationships – Am I Under His Spell?

  1. Thank you so much for this post. I thought I was crazy when I used to explain to people that I felt like I was hypnotized. I have such difficulty with the thoughts running rapidly of all the lovely then horrible things he used to say. I find myself feeling so confused. Luckily I broke free but I’m still healing from the aftermath.

  2. I like the term ‘pathological love relationships’ because they truly are. Something insidious feeling happens to you when you’re in one and I’ve been in more than one. It’s so easy to second guess, discount your perceptions or make less of the damage especially when it’s your own story. There’s a mind eff that goes on and it’s almost impossible to communicate what’s happening cuz you’re not sure if it’s real yourself. I also appreciate the idea of ‘suggestibility & fatiguability’ prone personalities because it makes me feel a little less flawed for falling in, in the first place.

  3. Whoa. That confirms a conclusion I’ve come to recently. I suspect many of us who suffer from this have experienced some kind of abuse in the past and, because of those broken boundaries, are charmingly bullied into submission against our better judgement. I am determined to never let that happen again! Can I share a resource that has profoundly helped me? If so, it’s “Boundaries” by Drs Cloud and Townsend. Amazing book. Here’s a post I wrote about it:

    Here it is on Amazon:

    Thanks for the post!

  4. For women–people–who haven’t experienced this, I think it is hard for them to understand. I know it is… But when this happens over a course of years, it is like being brainwashed, and it takes some doing to undo that damage done. I speak from experience.

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