Ear Hustle

I like socks. Strange socks. People who don’t know what to get me at Christmas usually land on the weirdest socks they can find at EA Games. So when I found out there was a socks company that donated a pair of socks for every pair purchased, it had my attention. But that’s not even the cool part.

I started listening to some different podcasts today. I downloaded an app and the next thing I knew I was listening to Ear Hustle. It’s a podcast written, produced, and starring longterm inmates at San Quentin Prison. Honourable mention is given to Pelican Bay Supermax. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m interested in a lot of things, and Maximum Security Prisons are on the list. I have attended several prisons in various roles, and the psychology of the experiences that humans are subjected to in places like Pelican Bay is staggering. As a Canadian it is a surreal experience to watch your first documentary about American prisons. Our maximum security prisons are no joke, but what happens in the deep south is beyond most idealistic Canadian’s imagination. I knew a salesman who was sent to Pelican Bay for a very long time, and I imagine there are few humans who have had to endure the level of intensity such an experience would invoke. I have swapped prison stories for years with persons who have real world experience, and have spent an inordinate amount of energy asking questions about the gritty detail. So yes, the first podcast I happened upon was Ear Hustle.

It’s fantastic.

Here’s where the two stories connect. That sock company is called Bombas and they sponsor Ear Hustle. As an entrepreneur I can appreciate the subtle marketing potential of such an enterprise, but that pales in comparison to the good that one company can do if it tries. To date they have also donated 4,000,105 pairs of socks. No wait, 4,000,110. As Bombas points out, “Socks remain the #1 most requested clothing item at homeless shelters. So for every pair of Bombas you purchase, we donate a pair to someone in need. So far, you’ve made over four million small acts of human kindness possible. We can’t thank you enough.”

They aren’t quite weird enough for me, but that’s still very cool.

It really amazing what one company, or one person, can do when they decide to change the world. One of the best parts about my job is that I get to hear stories, thousands of stories, and many of them have a happy ending. I have known people who walked in the door so entirely messed up they were seemingly beyond the pale. They sat on the white couch or in my little office and fundamentally changed who they were, once they decided to step out. There are many ways to deal with your personal issues, and finding a greater purpose or learning about the meaning of your life may sound cliche, but few techniques can take you as far as a reason for living. Hundreds of people I have cared about have told me stories, tales of redemption and loss, staggering failures and unbelievable saves.

You might not think giving a pair of socks to some homeless dude is not your thing, but it’s a hell of a lot better than not giving out 4,000,000 pairs of socks to people who often have not felt the warmth of human kindness in some time. People and organizations that follow their hearts, and not just their wallets, genuinely feel better about their lives. Believing in something bigger than your worst moments is better than living a purely self-indulgent, puerile life that ends in meaninglessness, unless you’re a complete sheep (in which case you would not be reading this in the first place). This, unfortunately, compels me to remind you that no one wants to see another stupid picture of you on social media. We know what you look like, and it’s nothing like that doctored pic of you standing in a pose which is oddly reminiscent of what we imagine you would look like if there was something up your hiney. We’ve even talked about how mildly narcissistic that can become, so turn the camera around and show me a picture of nature, or culture, without your duck lips in the picture.

Liking a post on Facebook may give you warm fuzzies, but it’s the getting off your butt and living your life for something of value that will take you to the next level. Living in the moment is important, yes. So is mindfulness. So is having a reason to get up in the morning.

Get a life.

Selfish Lovers

*warning – Adult Content*

I talk with clients about sex all the time. It’s a cool job. You cannot live in my world very long without someone telling you the juicy bits. People who wonder if I can keep a secret assume I hear an average amount of gossip, and they would be wrong. I get paid to listen to your secrets. I gave up finding happiness through selling you out a long time ago.

It’s usually uncomfortable to tell me your story, at first. We have been conditioned to feel ashamed of our private functions, if not a little embarrassed. When it comes to sex, it is easy to feel like you are dirty, or kinky, or just different. This week, slightly tongue-in-cheek, news agencies released the stats on average penis length (5.17 inches). Reports called attention to the stigma around even having such conversations. It may sound disgusting but every boy has measured. Someone should have said it. We are products of repression.

It won’t as too much of a surprise to you that, looking out from my chair, there are a lot of problems in the bedroom. I hear the lists everyday, and it can be fun to be a fly on the wall of my office. You would be surprised how many couples, for example, don’t feel sexually compatible. That is a heavy thing to admit to a stranger. Lots of couples have issues with technique and I get paid to research that kind of stuff. Many people have plumbing problems, use your dirty imagination. Lubrication and miscommunication and a lack of vacations add to the discomfort. Couples often have a great deal of difficulty telling each other that this “doesn’t feel nice” because there is usually so much “water-under-the-bridge” and feelings are easily wounded.

Here’s one for free. No one taught me how to satisfy a woman except my occasional exposure to pornography. Talk about what you like, it can be a huge turn-on. I love learning.

Selfishness is largely a Math issue. When I critically analyze my Giddy-Up time, what percentage of my efforts go into helping my partner feel loved? Then subtract my selfishness. Disregard anything that is potentially selfish but mutually enjoyable. The Math works the other way as well. Do you feel loved? Safe? Living with selfishness can be a prison sentence. It can become difficult to remain emotionally healthy while living life with someone consumed with their personal satisfaction.

Now add the intriguing little tidbit that some of us find our sense of self-worth through helping other people. Those people attract selfishness and narcissism like catnip. I’m not saying it’s your fault, just the reverse. This does not negate the fact that predators seek out the vulnerable and if you live to serve others they are going to use that to use you. The spouses of narcissists, psycho or sociopaths, of the raging and the ragingly selfish, are some of the nicest people I have ever met. It says something of a society when selflessness becomes a liability.

Selfishness can be a much larger issue than just a problem with Mattress Polka. Many of us know the sting of life with a selfish and miserable spouse, or the narcissist, or the Drama Queen or King. It always seems to be about them, and not just in the bedroom. Some narcissists are great lovers, but for all the wrong reasons. Use your imagination. Living with someone who is self-absorbed is maddening.

g5MPb2BFlEC468oFxKvOWQGYFlZmJKvPED33WBpqoB5a7kF4OVMUSjzQywJzbY6bI wish I could tell you there is a fairytale ending, but I would be lying. Convincing someone to live more unselfishly, someone who has spent their entire life developing a value system with only their photo in the room, is an affront to their reality. The only solution that works begins and ends with me. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to change you but it won’t work. I hate that but the article isn’t over yet.

There is a mighty hope that we tend to forget in the drama.We can become more and more whole. As Victor viktor-frankl-quote-those-who-have-a-why-to-live-can-bear-with-almost-2Frankl and others have illustrated far better than I, no one can take away your ability to grow. That is very deep once you get yourself around it. Even in the most abusive of scenarios (and I’ve heard at least as many stories as you), some people learn to hope in spite of it all. I have to believe that anyone can learn, one minuscule step at a time. I have known that soul-crushing despair and wish for death but somehow, over years and years, things have changed. No, it wasn’t worth it, but life has a way of changing my paradigm whether I feel like it or not.

Then the day arrives when we talk about your dysfunction. We need to learn about next time. As the man said, if I keeping doing things the same way I can expect the same results. Most of us believe we learn from our mistakes. Most of us are wrong. It’s shocking, isn’t it, that both your current guy and your ex both like the History Channel? Huh. You’ve come from the bottom but it may happen again. Some of that hurt didn’t just float away. We have all learned entirely screwed up coping mechanisms, unless your parents were perfect, as mine are (Hi Dad). I have long whined that we graduate into adulthood with little or no emotional skills. I didn’t understand my feelings, much less my history, my dysfunction, and my unresolved issues. We were just big and dumb kids, more firmly convinced than ever of our own moral and intellectual certitude.

But that’s another article. I want to conclude by encouraging all of us, myself included, to keep looking after our mental health, and not just with gluten and working out. I work in an industry where everyday people spend thousands of dollars fighting off the end; but who give little or no thought to the only thing that really matters, my inside. And not just your bowel problems. We are all getting uglier, deal with it. But don’t forget to work on the stuff that will define and dictate the rest of your existence.

You may not prevent decay, but we all need to fight Stupid.

Shooting Their Wounded

Pastor Ted

I was intrigued by a friend’s Facebook recommendation so late last night found myself on a Documentary website watching a very personal biography on Ted Haggard, disgraced evangelical super pastor. Twenty minutes into the documentary I realized I was feeling sorry for the guy. Let me explain.

I have very little pity for self-made rich hypocrites. Like most of you I get a sick delight when I hear that Donald Trump or Conrad Black has gotten themselves into something dicey. I love listening to religious bigots like Mark Driscoll make an ass of themselves. So why do I feel sorry for Mr. Clean, Ted Haggard?

Haggard didn’t even say he was “100% heterosexual” but was held accountable for it anyway. He couldn’t find a regular job after he got canned and when he did start selling insurance door-to-door he still could not escape his notoriety. As part of his separation package he wasn’t even allowed to live in Colorado in the family home for over a year and a half. Christians lined up to lambast him. He had no savings and was actually becoming poor. Watching this man have the pride kicked out of him was actually sad to watch. Worse still was the complete and utter free fall his life spun into.

It’s no wonder he started another small church. He only has one skill set and not many people want to hire someone with a religious degree and nothing else on the resume except “mega church superstar”. Even Ted Haggard has to eat.

Don’t misunderstand me, Ted was responsible to live a life in keeping with his elevated viewpoints and standing. He was, after all, the mouthpiece of evangelicalism for many and had the ear of the president. He hid his lifestyle choice and paid the price. The question we need to ask is, however, why did he have to hide? I fully understand that he could not “come out” to his congregation without staggering financial and spiritual ramifications. I get that. What is disturbing is that Haggard had NO ONE he could be honest with, no one he could tell without being prematurely outed and shamed. There was no mechanism in place for him to be honest without some dire consequence. I love what someone has written under the Youtube of “The Trials Of Ted Haggard” –

The message of the documentary is also a concise indictment of the distinct lack of care for the “unrighteous” demonstrated by Ted’s brand of Christianity and should be broadcast in fundamentalist evangelical churches as a moral lesson their bible apparently fails to teach them.

The point I guess is not necessarily the failure of fundamentalist Christians to walk their walk…it is that the walk itself is fundamentally flawed – the literal acceptance of implausible and unnatural moral standards fill otherwise rational minds with a twisted legacy of ancient prejudice and conceit, the only consolation being the relativists dream of escaping such an “objective morality” via grace. The situation is ludicrous. Of course you require grace to be saved ( from something??) because if the standards you set for yourself were not broken everyone would be absolutely miserable, which also explains why they are so frequently broken.

To not put too fine a point on it the problem with Ted Haggard is not simply Ted Haggard. The system propagates the notions that pastors cannot, must not, be honest about their own fallibility. I have known hundreds of pastors and I can tell you straight up, they are a fallible lot. The pressure to be “everything to everyone” is overpowering and it is no wonder than that so many clergy have “secret sins” that they are afraid to be honest with anyone about.

I spent some time, recently, talking to a man who had been a volunteer youth pastor in a church and went on to be convicted of child molestation. We talked about his journey and it became immediately evident that this person felt that there was no one, not even me, that he could talk to about his heinous problem. He was so incredibly shamed by his own religious rigidity that he could not even admit to himself, let alone others, that he liked young males. There was no mechanism in place to help him battle his urges or make good decisions. His shame and his guilt, combined with his aberrant behaviour actually served to prolong his crimes. I spoke to one associate minister who told me that after telling his senior pastor he was struggling with his sexuality (and hadn’t done anything “wrong”) he was told to get out of the office while that senior pastor called the board to tell them. The associate was soon unemployed.

speaking at CPAC in Washington D.C. on Februar...

It’s just another job. Expecting your clergy to be any better than you is unrealistic and profoundly erroneous. The real tragedy with the Ted Haggard story, the Jimmy Swaggart story, Jim Bakker, etc is that we are still surprised at all. Throw millions of dollars at a guy who has little accountability and buckets of power and influence and then freak out when he makes poor decisions. It’s akin to being surprised with Justin Bieber does something stupid. He’s a dumb kid with millions of dollars and cars of “yes” men and women. Why are we shocked?

The only difference between Haggard and so many others is that he got caught.

Who can clergy be honest with? They have copious evidence to support the assumption that their parishioners believe they are more understanding than they in fact appear to be.

Leadership is lonely. Trying to live up to impossible standards while trying to make a difference must be tough. Doing all that with a good sense of self-esteem and balance seems almost impossible. As I have often heard, “it’s the easiest job in the world that will totally break your heart.”

Have fun with that.

In Dating Game, Narcissists Get The Girl

via WebMD:

THURSDAY, May 30 (HealthDay News) — Men with high levels of narcissism — an unrealistically positive self-image coupled with feelings of entitlement — have an easier time than others attracting a potential mate, new German research says.

“Narcissism is linked to mate appeal in a real-life situation,” said Michael Dufner, a researcher at Humboldt University of Berlin, who led the study.

The research is published in the July issue of the journal Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin.

Dufner and his team first measured narcissism levels in 61 men with an average age of 25, who were invited to join a courtship study in Germany. “We focused on narcissism as a personality trait, not the personality disorder,” he said. “This means that everybody has a certain narcissism level — for some it is higher, for others lower.”

Next, the researchers asked the men to approach women they did not know on the street and get contact information. It could be a phone number, email or Facebook contact.

Research assistants followed the men (which the men were aware of), observing the interactions. Dufner decided to focus on men in this study because men traditionally court a potential mate in this way, compared to women’s typically more subtle approaches, such as flirting, he said.

“We tested if individuals with higher narcissism scores are more appealing,” he said.

On average, the men approached about 23 women. To rule out the possibility that the more narcissistic men were more selective in who they approached, the researchers analyzed each woman who was approached on her physical attractiveness and manner of dress. The narcissists weren’t more selective.

The narcissistic guys did get the girl more often. The higher the level of narcissism, the more likely they were to get more contacts.

“The effect was not due to high self-esteem, but indeed the narcissism,” Dufner said. The physical attractiveness and social boldness of the narcissists were the two likely reasons for their appeal to women, he said.

Dufner offered some caveats about the research, though. “We were not able to directly test the causality underlying the association between narcissism and physical attractiveness,” he said.

One possibility, he said, is that physical attractiveness may be a partial cause of narcissism, as other researchers have suggested.

For narcissists — and the women they seek — the news is not all good, Dufner said. “Narcissists are charming and appealing at first sight, but they are not long-term romantic partners,” he said.

The study findings confirm what many experts have long suspected, said Jean Twenge, a professor of psychology at San Diego State University who has written about narcissism. “Narcissists are very good at initiating relationships,” she said. “On first impression, they come across as confident and charming. The problems arise later on, when you realize that he doesn’t actually care about you — it’s all about him.”

Twenge was not involved in the study, but reviewed the findings.

Caution is the byword for those attracted to narcissists, both experts agreed. “In the long run, narcissists made bad relationship partners,” Twenge said. “They lack empathy and have a difficult time taking someone else’s perspective.”

Twenge said she does understand why women fall for narcissists. “The initial appeal of narcissists comes from their assertiveness and confidence,” she said. “These are stereotypically masculine traits that many women find appealing.”

 For more on this check out my article “Dating The Bad Boy”

An Open Letter To The Men Who Date My Clients

My name is Scott and I’m a clinical therapist. I, or someone like me, has probably counseled a handful of women you may have thought about dating. For various reasons most of my clients are heterosexual females, often in their late thirties and forties, in the midst of trying to figure out a relationship which has turned into a convoluted mess and broken their heart. Many of these women eventually decide that it is not worth spending the rest of their lives with an emotionally stunted and rapidly aging guy who does not seem prepared to do what it takes to win them back. They complain that their partner is emotionally lazy, only makes small and temporary changes, and does not understand them nor seem to want to. They have been deeply hurt, and often. Some of these women will eventually show up at an office like mine. They have been scarred by a bad history and a bad relationship and carry emotional and psychological baggage. By the time they get to my door they, for a myriad of emotional reasons, struggle to make healthy decisions when it comes to the people they date. They are the newly single, or the suffering spouse, the newly hurt.

Many of these women do not last long in the dating market before they are snatched up again. Many fall prey to the first or second guy who listens to them and seems to understand their pain. We are smarter than you think and many men have learned to be the man you are looking for, at least while you are still newly infatuated. Many women, at least in my experience, do not see the warning signs and fall for someone who is either much like the past losers who have let them down or has manipulated. When you are hurting, lonely, and emotional it is tempting to go too far too fast and before you know it you are physically and emotionally too invested to simply walk away.

Counselors are tempted to spend their time pleading with clients not to jump into another relationship while they are still unhealthy. We warn vulnerable clients how crucial it is that they not date just because they need someone else to complete them or fill that hole in their heart.

So before you decide to approach my client at the bar, the grocery aisle, or in the church foyer, there are some things you need to know:

1. She is more vulnerable than you know. As you are no doubt aware the single life is hard to adjust to when you have been with one person for years, and most of us are desperately lonely at first. This is, however, only part of the problem. She has been with someone who has not met her emotional needs for years and is prone to misinterpret your affections. She also has a heart brimming with disappointment and self-recrimination and THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING. You may not know it right now but you deserve an emotionally healthy girlfriend who will not use you to mend that hole in her heart. If you really want to impress this girl don’t be afraid to take it slow and platonic, Give her time to heal, you’ll be glad you did.

2. Most of my clients are not ready to date. People who engage and pay for therapy are usually dealing with crippling issues and are in no way whole or objective. That is the reason they are seeing me in the first place. People dealing with crushing fear, anxiety, depression, loss, loneliness, self-esteem issues, etc. are not ready to be in a healthy relationship and are too vulnerable (see #1) to make long-term or binding decisions. Their heart is often broken and I am telling them, “Don’t date until you don’t need to”. Respect that and if necessary protect her from herself – keep things “hands off” until she is emotionally healthy.

3. This person is not who you are going to end up with. The very idea of therapy is to change the way we cope with life and define ourselves and our world. She is telling you that she is seeing a counselor for a reason, even if she doesn’t fully comprehend why. We are working together to create a very different life and the woman you see before you right now is only a transitional entity that is endeavoring to look at life differently. Don’t be surprised if the girl you are interested in changes and becomes healthy enough not to need you to define her. THAT IS A GOOD THING. In spite of what you may think you do not want to be with a broken and needy person. We are working to create a strong and independent person who does not need you, though she may wish to date you. This person is in a state of becoming and if you fall for her because of how she is now you are likely to be disappointed later on. If you are attracted to her neediness, for example, how will you feel if she gets better and doesn’t want you as much? Wanting you is one thing, needing you is another. Chances are the woman you see before you is very little like the one you are going to end up with.

4. Please do not exploit her sexually. Many people in transition are willing to do things that they would otherwise not even consider. Be a real man and protect her, even from herself. Many of my clients have come from conservative backgrounds and are not sexual athletes, in spite of what they are trying to project. Most of the women have not been nurtured or honored sexually in a very long time, if ever. Be gentle with her heart. Many of us give a piece of our heart away when we give our body to someone else. It’s very easy to misinterpret our need for love and touch. Many people in therapy need a hand to hold much more than a body to fondle. Please try to remember that.

5. They are not choosing you because you are the best candidate. We all know that people who are newly single are on the rebound. This is not just and old wives tale and some of those old wives were pretty spot on. Needy people pick others to love based on a set of criteria which is not healthy and may not lead to a healthy and lasting relationship. The best relationships start out as friends first so get to know this amazing woman first before you decide to buy her flowers and try to touch her candies. The more you realize that she is making choices that are not necessarily objective, the more you will come to understand that she may be choosing you for the wrong reasons. This is information you need.

6. They might fall for you too soon (and too hard). This is based on a sound psychological principle that when we are in a vulnerable or transitional state we are prone to exercise something called “cognitive distortions”. People dealing with major issues employ all or nothing thinking, emotional reasoning, and other cognitive distortions that are coping mechanisms we employ when we are stressed, anxious, uncertain, biased, and hurting. Think of it this way, would you let someone who is suicidal take care of your children? Why not?

The logical answer is no, you would not do that because that person is not thinking or acting rationally. They are, in point of fact, mentally unstable and before we all became politically correct we would have labelled such thinking and behaviour “insane”. That beautiful woman who is sending you all the right signals off-handedly mentioned earlier that she is going through a messy divorce and is struggling emotionally. This is a red flag. Emotionally damaged and hurting people rarely have healthy boundaries and tend to jump too far, too fast. If you really are interested in my client then back off and respect her boundaries that she has worked so hard putting in place.

7. You deserve someone who is not a massive “work in process”. The whole point of this article has been to help us understand that hurting and vulnerable people need therapy, not a date. If you have been dating for any time you already know that the scene is full of needy and broken people looking to find someone to fix them or love them enough to fill their emotional craters. Unless you are simply looking for a good time you owe it to yourself to be discerning when it comes to whom you will date. Good looks fade but a big dose of crazy can last a lifetime. It is far better to be alone, in spite of how it feels right now, than to be with someone who hurts you, drives you over the bend, or simply does not get you. You owe it to yourself to date someone whom you believe has it more together than you do, not less.

Day after day vulnerable, wonderful women sit in counseling offices all over the world and ask if there really is a guy out there who will meet their needs. There isn’t and you aren’t him. Healthy relationships start with healthy people making healthy decisions. Life is hard enough with the right person and I need the best odds I can get. Knowing my wife is here everyday because she is healthy enough to choose to love me, in spite of who I am, is the best esteem booster I have ever known.

If You Are Successful You Can Do Whatever The Hell You Want

579281_10151511787388258_450744459_nTiger Woods is on top again. In honor of his recent success, Nike, who never dropped Tiger as a sponsor in spite of his foibles, has launched a new advertising campaign strategically called Winning Takes Care Of Everything. Apparently it doesn’t really matter if you are an adulterous letch as long as you can hit a little white ball into a hole better than anyone else in tacky pants and spiked shoes.

When you consider how young the potential audience is for such an ad, how many children idolize Tiger or want to get a new pair of Nikes, it is singularly irresponsible, even immoral, for a company that has made its billions off the backs of the general populace, to blatantly try to convince us that adultery is fine, ruining the lives of innocents is just peachy, as long as you make a comeback.

Working Out

“It is amazing how complete is the delusion that beauty is goodness.”
― Leo Tolstoy

I have written in the past about my attempts to become a body-builder when I was in my early twenties. To make a long and boring story short I worked out like a bomb for almost two years and looked virtually the same as when I started. It didn’t help that every wall was a floor to ceiling mirror. I tried everything – eating emasculated chicken, dieting, water pills, and supplements guaranteed to pump me up like a helium balloon. Apparently the patented molecules had never encountered anything like my bird-like metabolism before, for after two months of drinking that vial sludge after every meal, all I could show for my efforts was that I had apparently lost the ability to have a bowel movement. That made me gain weight but not the kind of weight that I was going for.

There is no end to what some of us will go to in order to look good on the outside. And I’m not here to do a social commentary on makeup and Lululemons and Helly Hansen. Don’t really care about slamming you for how you dress or how much you spend on lipstick and stuff. I may never truly understand how that eyelash medieval torture device works but I support your right to attempt to use it without pinching your eyeball.

But here’s the deal. There is no end to what some of us will go to in order to look good on the outside. It’s no big deal when you’re talking about what kind of boxers you buy to wear outside your shorts. It’s a big deal when it leads to pride and elitism. It’s problematic when it defines how we feel about ourself. It’s horrific when it leads us to do anything in an attempt to fit in.

Defining ourselves by what we see in the mirror has been rammed into us by the stick-figured girls in the media who still manage to pull off a six-pack with their Botox and fake breasts. Men photoshopped into perfect thousand dollar suits and new cars with a brainless bimbo on each arm. Culture tells us that this is success, that this is beauty. Those of us with stretch marks or bellies, with poor cheek bones and weak chins will never measure up. If you don’t believe me take a look at Travolta or Shatner or Elton John or Joan Rivers. They have mutilated their hair lines and faces just to pretend to not be aging. They are paying thousands of dollars to fight a fight they cannot win.

We are all getting old. Deal with it.

Apparently a man’s nose grows his whole life. So do his ears. At some point I’m going to look like Dumbo. Not much I can do about it.

I am listening to the audiobook, “The Game”. It’s a textbook for pickup artists teaching them how to get any woman – the things to say, the ways to act. I have no intention of using this material, I use it to warn women that they are targets. The book is replete with tactics including how to make the desired mark feel worse about herself, how to separate her from her friends, how to ignore her until she begs for your attention. I wrote about some of this in the article, “How To Pick Up Vulnerable Women In Their Twenties”. At the time I used my oldest son as a consultant and now I’m a little freaked out how much he knew without ever knowing this book exists.

The point I am trying to make is that the system for belonging, for finding love, for feeling valued, is largely screwed up. We lie when we date, seeking to put our best foot forward. We look for love in all the wrong places. We think love can be found at a bar. We judge each other by what we look like. It’s all a game, a psychologically damaging contest that dismisses the best of us, the brightest, the kindest, the most worthwhile… the unbeautiful.

I am conscious that for many of us, we have struggled our entire life to fit in and feel good about how we look and who we are. We have never been satisfied by the look of our shell. Here’s the bad news.

You probably never will be.

Ever.

The opposite of bad self-esteem is not good self-esteem. The opposite of bad self-esteem is self-acceptance. Esteem follows acceptance, not the other way around.

These are your cards. You can diet, eat right, work out, take bowel-clenching supplements, but that won’t change how you feel about you on the deepest levels. If you don’t believe me ask a skinny person. We are a generation with low self-esteem and insecurity. It is a plague that is propagated every day, every time we turn on a computer or a television.

You will never be able to compete with Photoshop. Maybe it’s time to stop that treadmill, take your toys and go home.

Imagine if we tried our best then didn’t care about the rest.
Imagine if we could care less about our love-handles and flaws.
Imagine accepting ourselves exactly how we are, in spite of what we look like.
Imagine the freedom.

Vulnerable.

“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
― Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

Narcissists Who Cry: the other side of the ego

Many of you have been in a relationship or been a friend with someone who was an extreme narcissist. These types of relationships are filled with drama unless you totally please the narcissist, which is impossible. The typical extreme narcissists are full of themselves and are overtly pompous. I would like to focus on a kind of extreme narcissist that most people fail to recognize. First, let me explain what extreme narcissism is all about.

Extreme narcissism is an egotistical preoccupation with self. It focuses on personal preferences, aspirations, needs, success, and how one’s self is perceived by others. Some basic narcissism is healthy. This kind of narcissism is better termed as responsibly taking care of oneself, or what I would call “normal” or “healthy” narcissism.

The egotistical narcissists are typically created in one of two ways. One way is through excessive pampering on the part of the parents. Parents create an attitude in the child that he/she is better than others and entitled to special privileges. This creates an arrogant child who lacks a healthy dose of gratitude and humility. It describes the proverbial brat that no one likes.

Another way that extreme narcissists are created is when a child receives a significant emotional wound or a series of them culminating in a major trauma of separation/attachment. This can happen when the parents, as narcissists themselves, are emotionally disconnected from their child. It creates a dysfunction in the ability for the narcissist to connect emotionally to others. No matter how socially skilled an extreme narcissist is, he/she has a major attachment dysfunction and wound. This wounded person constructs one or more false fronts in order to survive and insulate themselves from people because of distrust and fear (Lopez De Victoria, 2008).

A narcissist is a completely self-absorbed person. There can be no other gods in an extreme narcissist’s world, regardless if they say they believe in God or not. In practical terms, a narcissist is God in his/her own imagination. Ego rules supremely in the narcissist’s life. In light of this, what energizes a narcissist is whatever fuels the ego. Ego loves pleasure and gain. In most cases, these can come from one of two ways of feeding the ego. One way is through aggrandizement, which means “to make bigger.” Ultimately, the extreme narcissist feels he/she is most special and, therefore, entitled. To the extreme narcissist, people are actually things to use.

Another way that the narcissist’s ego gets special attention is through the role of being a victim. Welcome to the victimized extreme narcissist. Most persons recognize ego as arrogance. At the same time they fail to see the subtle deception of ego when it takes the role of a being a victim. As kind and compassion-driven human beings, we easily are fooled by this form of extreme ego. We are constantly hearing the voices of the needy in the media through a variety of forms. The disenfranchised, the poor, the homeless, the hurting, the refugees, the abused, and the list goes on. What we often do not see is that we are many times shamed by these voices for not doing enough for them. All along it is easy to be manipulated as we respond from our hearts. The deception of the ego is that the narcissist can hide behind misfortune and victimization in order to shame you into feeling and believing that they suffer more than you do. They will say that you don’t care enough for them. They will make you feel that you have not done enough to help them. The ego wants attention, control, gain, and power over others by positioning itself as a “poor and helpless” victim. It does this; all the while it soaks up the attention and control over others. In the eyes of an extreme narcissist, their situation is always right and totally justified. Instead of taking responsibility for self and consequences, the extreme narcissist tries to make others feel responsible for their plight. Because extreme narcissists are incredibly adept at the game of manipulation, they will always find a way to turn the tables on you. They will try to make you responsible and feel guilty for not helping them or taking their side and cause.

Extreme narcissists often shift gears from visible grandiosity to acting that they are better than others because they suffer more than others. You can see an extreme narcissist who hogs the limelight and credit from achievements and self-praise also getting similar recognition from milking an injury or a seeming misfortune that has occurred to them. Victimized extreme narcissists are on the constant prowl looking for any gullible soul that will believe their version of calamity whether it is real, exaggerated, or fictitious. What they claim that makes their calamity different is that it is worse for them. Beware of this kind of extreme narcissism. It is just as selfish and manipulating as that of a pompous egotist. The moment they see that you don’t “fully” cooperate and act with extreme concern for them, serving and pampering them, they will eliminate you from their list of “loving” folks. They may even badmouth you and gossip or slander you as being selfish and uncaring. Imagine that! I have seen these types over and over again in work I have done in the field of pain medicine management. It is usually the individuals who are humble, full of gratitude, and joyful who are the ones most capable of coping with their injuries and pain. Those who are selfish, moaning, and full of self-pity take much longer to heal or sometimes never heal but go further downhill in their health. My recommendation is to avoid treating this person’s misfortune as the ultimate suffering of all humans. Be polite. Recognize their pain and no more. Don’t be pulled into their web of emotional manipulation. Stay away from extreme narcissists.

References

Lopez De Victoria, S. (2008, August 4). How to Spot a Narcissist. Posted on Psych Central Web site.

 

How To Pick Up Women In Their Twenties

dating-tips-for-guys-how-to-pick-up-womenI am not in my twenties and do not make a habit of hitting on any women, especially not women that young. I do, however, have a very attractive and intelligent son who was more than willing to provide a few insights for this Part 2 of “How To Pick Up Vulnerable Women”.

In my first instalment I wrote about manipulating a group of women who were in their late thirties and forties. You may want to familiarize yourself with that article before going on. It has been, and remains, my most hated and revered article to date. I have received private letters, several in fact, accusing me of being abusive and misogynistic, even cruel. Read it for yourselves and ask yourself why I would do such a thing and then freely tell everyone I did so…

In this instalment I begin by recognizing that everything I am about to say may not apply to you. Like many of my articles what follows is based on generalities. Please understand I’m not talking about anyone in specific, only trends and observations which may not even be objective. If nothing else it should be interesting.

You are sitting with friends at the local bar and I can tell, because you wear it like a beacon, that you are looking for a guy. I intend to be that guy. You are not in your forties so I am not going to gush, not going to give too much away. In fact, just the opposite. Your divorced mom is looking for someone who is emotionally sensitive, someone who is going to make it all about her. That isn’t my tactic, though some of the techniques are transferable. When I first meet you I’m very interested, very charming. Initially, at least, it’s all about you. But only initially. If we have been introduced I will be nice to you for a minute or two, then move on. If we are not introduced I will make a point of ignoring you and talk to the person directly beside you. I’m not going to hit on you, I’m not needy. And that is really the point.

1. I’m not needy. I act aloof but not rude. Okay, occasionally I can even be a bit rude. I will make the obligatory conversation, but little more. While I am talking to you I may check out other women. I will talk, engage, but we are not exclusive. That is the point. Heartiste writes, “That aloofness is catnip to women. You may as well prop a neon sign over your head that says “Preselected by women who have come before you, and who are standing right next to you.” Aloofness is one of those male characteristics that women are finely tuned to discover, isolate, and hone in on, because it tells them, subconsciously of course, that THIS MAN, this one right here, has a lot of choice in women. ERGO, this man, this one right here, must be high value.” I know this because the internet is polluted with websites that teach this very thing. Confidence and self-assurance is an aphrodisiac to some females.

I don’t need you. I may or may not be interested, but I’m keeping my options open. I like myself and I don’t need anyone. I’m mysterious. It’s hard not to want what you cannot have. My strength and even dominance is very attractive. If you don’t believe me than why are so many women attracted to the bad boy? Yummy.

The social context has changed  in the past few years. Women in their thirties and forties want to invite a man into their emotional world. In your twenties he invites you into his social world. As one twenty-five year old player told me today, “If you can get the girl to leave her social grouping and come over to yours you are 80% of the way into her pants.” That’s important to remember because…

2. It’s all about social context. Meet my entourage. We are not at the bar to take pictures of ourselves for Facebook. We are interesting. Come hang out with us. Let me separate you from your friends and take you out of your comfort zone. Let me introduce insecurity. After all…

3. I’m here to exploit your insecurity. I may compliment you but it is often tinged with irony or sarcasm. The unspoken point is the exploitation of your negative self-image. The trick is to not let you know I’m interested and get you wondering whether or not you are worth my time. Watch me dominate the social setting, see how I handle myself. Am I or am I not interested in you? Later, when I am very direct with you, and tell you I want to be with you, you are surprised, intrigued, complimented, and affirmed. But make no mistake, the underlying tactic is dominance (and not in a good way…). There is an interesting dichotomy at play. You want to be thought of as a strong woman but you also have insecurities. Doesn’t a part of you wish you could be taken?

Even a plain guy can confuse a beautiful woman if he acts like he doesn’t need her.

As a counselor I find this topic sickening. There are people out there, regardless of age, who use psychological and emotional manipulation to exploit the vulnerable and hurting. It usually isn’t until it’s too late that it becomes apparent that a damaged and delicate person has been exploited and often degraded. It is also unfortunate that so many women get taken in more than once. Some of us are attracted to personalities that lend themselves to narcissism and depravity. It is a sad thought that the confidence and maturity you think you are attracted to may only be a tool to tear your heart out.

Ladies, we lie to you. We believe that we understand the score far more than you think we do. If you don’t believe me ask anyone who has gotten into a relationship with a narcissist. Everything was amazing… at first. We told you what we thought you needed to hear. We held the door open, we talked about our feelings, we shared our hearts. We know you get off on that stuff. Some of us actually read about how to pick up women. We are smarter than you think.

I am often asked why I write about this topic. Sadly, it has become apparent that many vulnerable and emotionally damaged people are being treated as prey by morally bankrupt individuals who think nothing of ruining lives as long as they can get what they want. I would invite you to read some of the heartbreaking comments on the first installment of this topic here. That alone is incentive enough.

I have this crazy idea that if you know what is going on you might know a predator when he buys you a drink.

I Need Sex Every Couple Of Days

No I don’t.

I would like sex every couple of days. I would also like chocolate, and bacon, and candy every few hours. That doesn’t mean it should happen.

If I hear of another whiny, manipulative male guilting their partner with this again I’m going to scream. I have been wanting to address this issue for some time but realize that this blog does seem to be hard on men. My hope is that heterosexual men will figure this out.

Almost every day I have women tell me that if they don’t have sex with their man every two or three days that he will whine and complain, even become abusive. So they give in. When I hear that my heart breaks. What a horrible reason to share the most precious gift you can give to another person. Disgusting.

What the hell is wrong with these men? Do they care, even a little bit, about their partner, or are they such slaves to their hormones that they don’t consider the needs and desires of the person who loves them the most? Do they understand female sexuality at all? Do they think whining or threatening is a turn-on for women?

Women need to understand that men do not have to have sex every few days. We get horny, it’s true, but so what? Should we as adults give in to every single urge, every craving, every impulse we have? Should we manipulate and exploit women just because we have a desire? My wife can turn me on just by being in the room, she’s gorgeous (I know that’s shallow but she does drive me wild). Her smile, her touch can still drive me crazy. Is that, therefore, license to invade her personal space, force myself upon her, and manipulate her to do something she had no intention of doing just because I’m a man and dammit, she should have to? Am I saying that I’m weak, I’m pathetic, I’m a slave to my emotions? Even though I teach my children to say no to their base instincts apparently I will never say no to mine. Pathetic. It is no wonder that so many women tell me that they have lost the magic, the desire, for sex with their partner. It is no shock, therefore, that so few women experience regular orgasms with their men.

This issue strikes at the heart of respect, understanding, and selfless love. It speaks to the selfishness and lack of honor that many men have been raised to feel about women. As I said in an earlier article we were raised to believe that sex is really about the male orgasm. Most men actually believe that is the purpose of sex.

They are so wrong.

The Key To A Great Relationship

There are several keys to a great relationship. Here’s the one that has transformed my marriage.

Humility.

Not my humility, mind you. My wife’s. She is the humblest person I have ever met. Admittedly I was initially attracted to the fact that she is immensely hot (I know that is shallow and sexist) and seemed to tolerate me being around, but the more I have come to know her the more I credit the success of our relationship with the fact that she is relentless in her pursuit of compromise and making me happy. I am often hesitant to even mention something I would like to eat or possess because I know she will make it happen. She inspires me to want to try harder and be a better husband. We cannot even have a decent argument without her apologizing for something. It is hard to stay mad at someone who is trying so hard to make you happy.

She does not read this blog so i get no ‘suck up’ points for this, in case you were wondering.

As I write this I am conscious of the fact that many readers do not have this experience. This has not always been my experience either.  For years I lived with passive aggression, emotionally shut down, non-communicative narcissism. Many of us have. It is easy, when things are going poorly, to believe that this is the way everyone is, this is absolute reality. It isn’t even though it feels that way.

I have learned a great deal from both experiences. I have come to understand that my personal self-worth, happiness, and completeness cannot be based on another fallible person. I have lived far too long trying to make other people love me, and failing. I have based too much of my self-worth on whether or not my spouse likes me at any particular moment. I am endeavouring, and I am not there yet, to find my security from within. I have this crazy idea that I need to get to a place where I do not need anyone to feel whole.

In counseling I will often tell patients, “Don’t date until you don’t need to”. I profoundly believe this. We need to get to a point where we do not need someone else to fill that hole in our heart. Only then are we complete enough to love someone else without being needy, without needing them to “complete me”. It is a great deal easier to live sacrificially, think of the other person first, and live humbly when I don’t need her to stroke my tender, insecure, needy little ego.

“When we’re incomplete, we’re always searching for somebody to complete us. When, after a few years or a few months of a relationship, we find that we’re still unfulfilled, we blame our partners and take up with somebody more promising. This can go on and on–series polygamy–until we admit that while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, we, each of us, are responsible for our own fulfillment. Nobody else can provide it for us, and to believe otherwise is to delude ourselves dangerously and to program for eventual failure every relationship we enter.”    Tom Robbins

Ashamed To Be A Guy

As a counselor I hear many many stories about people’s sex lives, or lack thereof. Most people, once trust is built are willing to talk about pretty much anything. I will hear the typical complaints – men who have not taken the time to to understand and fulfill their partner’s sexual needs. Men who have been “cut off” for no apparent reason and cannot comprehend what they are doing wrong. Women who have rarely or never had an orgasm and believe (usually incorrectly) that somehow this is their sexual or gynecological failing (also almost never true). I have written about, and will continue to write about, the need to address these issues, especially when female sexual fulfillment is involved. A shockingly high percentage of women in therapy, for example, have had few orgasms that they have not brought about themselves. Another topic I address frequently is the relatively low percentage of men who have any idea what is going on inside their partner’s head and the impact of the female thinking process on their capacity to engage in a meaningful sexual way.

One issue I love to talk about, as distressing as it is to admit, is the overwhelming selfishness of the male orgasm. Earlier this fall I mentioned a group I do for couples wherein I challenge the men in the room to abstain from “finishing” for at least a month or longer while they wholeheartedly concentrate exclusively on servicing and nurturing their partner. As men we are not trained to think like this. None of us have ever heard such heresy before. Not climaxing during sex in absolutely foreign to the vast majority of us, virtually every male I have ever met.

But every once in a while even I am still able to be shocked.

Someone I trust once told me a story of a couple where the husband “needed” sex every day of their marriage. Every day. Pig. After the birth of their child it was, while she was still in the hospital recovering from a natural child-birth, and probably an episiotomy to boot, that he crawled up to satiate himself. What a sick bastard. What abuse. That man did not truly love his wife, and if you think I am being judgmental then so be it. That is not a real man, that is a sexual violator who has chained his wife to a bondage of sexual abuse from which she may never recover.

Men don’t need sex every day. They may want it but such a belief or custom is the sure sign of an emotionally shunted, selfish post-adolescent, with little or no self-control and even less respect for the woman he has dominated. He knows nothing about satisfying a woman, nothing about understanding female sexuality, and makes me so angry I would love to kick him in the balls until the abuse ends.

And that is my clinical therapeutic assessment.

The Invisible Psychopath – By The Time You Recognize Them It’s Too Late

Sometimes the person you know may not be the person you know…

The word “psychopath” gets thrown around a lot, but in psychiatry it has a specific meaning. Psychopaths are aggressively narcissistic and impulsive and feel a relentless urge for sensation-seeking.They lack empathy and compulsively manipulate others through bullying or deceit. They believe that they are exempt from the rules and show a marked predilection for lying, even when it is not advantageous for them.

Earlier this year Harvard Medical School psychiatrist Ronald Schouten published a book, Almost a Psychopath, in which he and co-author Jim Silver describe the ways that people can exhibit quite a few of the symptoms of psychopathy without satisfying the full diagnostic criteria. Such people can be highly deceptive, manipulative, callous, and self-serving, and yet manage to maintain a facade on normality.

This, for me, is perhaps the most disturbing thing about psychopathy: its invisibility. With the benefit of hindsight, I can see that a number of people have crossed my paths who at first seemed delightful and charming, but who wound up leaving a trail of wreckage—people who I now recognize were clearly psychopaths, or at least “almost psychopaths,” as Schouten styles them. Once burned, twice shy, you would hope; but no, having been tormented by one or two, I still managed to subsequently fall into others’ charming clutches.

I shouldn’t feel too bad about failing to recognize potential psychopaths, Schouten says. Indeed, when I asked him, the psychopath expert, if he often runs into such people frequently at cocktail parties or business meetings, he told me that, as far as he knew, he hadn’t run into any, at least that he was able to recognize as such. Even for experts like himself, the psychopath’s veneer of normality is too seamless to detect.

As I wrote in a recent article on Gizmodo, when I first met tech guru John McAfee I was utterly charmed. He seemed to be living his life with a clarity and moral courage that I found exhilarating. The first article I wrote about him was effusive, and when I traveled to Belize to meet up with him for a second article, I looked forward to spending time with someone who I felt to be both intellectually and physically adventurous. On this second trip, however, I began to notice a troubling pattern. McAfee spent a lot of his time bragging about the hoaxes he’d pulled off, gleefully styling himself as a “bullshit artist.” Sometimes he lied for fun—like when he told a reporter that his tattoo was a Maori design he’d gotten in New Zealand, a country he’s never actually been to. Sometimes he lied strategically, like the Facebook posting he put up about how he’d just bought a house in Honduras. At the time, he was facing a raft of lawsuits. “The judge in one case couldn’t understand why I would put incorrect information about myself on the web,” he told me. “I said, ‘I thought that if somebody wanted to serve me papers, it would be much more enjoyable for everyone involved if they tried to serve those papers to me in Honduras.'”

After I wrote an unflattering article about him, a number of people from McAfee’s past reached out to me and told me even more troubling stories. I became convinced that McAfee was not merely a disingenuous person but a true psychopath.

Schouten says that we should not be surprised to find psychopaths among the ranks of successful entrepreneurs like McAfee. Indeed, he emphasizes that psychopathic traits can be positively helpful. “Psychopathy could confer a competitive advantage, at least over the short-term,” he says. “Grandiosity and over-the-top self-confidence, as well as skill at conning and manipulating, can go a long way toward convincing investors of one’s vision.”

And success only intensifies a psychopath’s worst traits. One 2009 study from the Kellogg School of Management found that psychologically normal subjects primed to feel powerful were worse at imagining other people’s perspective and less perceptive in assessing facial emotions.

Such a profound disorder, however, is not ultimately compatible with long-term success. Eventually, Schouten says, a psychopath’s personal and professional relationships begin to shred due to accumulated toxicity.

“Downward drift” is a term that psychologists use for the tendency of some mentally ill to slip ever further down the socioeconomic ladder. It’s usually applied to schizophrenics, but it seems apt in McAfee’s case. Each time I returned to write an article about him I found that his prospects had worsened. He was retreating further from the world I knew, into refuges that seemed ever shakier.

Years of destructive behavior had created such a wake of ill-feeling that at last his veneer of innocence was eroding away. At last he had lost the psychopath’s most valuable asset: his invisibility.

Published on November 9, 2012 by Jeff Wise in Extreme Fear via Psychology Today

Dating the Bad Boy

Easy RiderFor some reason many more women than are willing to admit it have a thing for the bad boy. Actually there are several reasons, both sociological and sexual, not all of which I am prepared to go into at this time. The fact remains, however, that while other gender stereotypes have been put to rest you can still find a school teacher or PTA member somewhere drooling for a dude with a tattoo driving a Harley. That doesn’t do it for you? That’s ok, there are several types of bad boys from the guy at the gym with no neck and a shoulder tattoo to the moody hipster with a man purse giving a finger to the establishment. Some of you even swoon for a dusty dude in cowboy boots.

On an anthropological level there are some fairly obviously sexual reasons women are still attracted to the bad boy. Sigmund Freud would have a field day with this topic and there would be several unguarded references to violence, rebellion and counterculture penis envy. While I would LOVE to spend time helping some of my female friends question their sexual and psychological reasons for such a preference it would only serve to invite a backlash and cloud the issue. I really have no idea why you personally like the bad boy, maybe you just have a thing for overstated machismo. I mainly brought the tensions up because they are really fun to write about.

There is a pragmatic reason why I have an opinion, as a therapist, about this stereotype. On a far more pragmatic and painful level I have seen firsthand the relational problems and tears from patients who have lived with the man behind the tattoo, or murse, or protein shake.

What I am about to say is a generalization. As Gonzo says in the original Christmas Carol, “That one thing you must remember, or nothing that follows will seem wondrous.” There are exceptions to every generalization and I already know I am going to get deluged by women telling me their Hell’s Angel is actually a big kitten. Ok I get that, can we go on?

The kitty-cat notwithstanding I have spent many hours listening to women, and a few men, who are devastated by the man of their dreams and desires who, for some reason they cannot fathom, seems shallow, emotionally unavailable, even narcissistic. Imagine that, a guy who spends thousands upon thousands of dollars and calories on his image having an issue with narcissistic behavior. You want me to come clean so I’ll say it, the bad boy is generally a bad boy for a reason. Most people who are this concerned about looking tough or being a rebel are battling significant self-esteem issues and are insecure and potentially self-absorbed. The very reason you are attracted to them is the reason you should run. Let me say that again – the very reason you are attracted to them is the reason you should run.

Remember Fonzie? Tyler Durden? James Bond? Gilligan? (Wait, not that last one). A generation of yuppies idolized Fonzie, the Easy Rider, and Clint Eastwood because they did not need anyone. They were completely self-absorbed. They were not in touch with their feelings, in fact they spent and inordinate amount of time trying to impress everyone around them that they had no feelings. Does this really sound like someone you want to spend fifty years with? Remove the rose-colored lenses and simply ask yourself if your ‘strong silent type’ or your outgoing man candy is going to live a sacrificial life that puts you first in every decision that matters and share with you their hopes and dreams and emotions.

I wish I could videotape the hundreds of hours of tears, the pain and the misery that I have had to listen to from spouses who feel emotionally distant or even abused by someone who will never put them first. I wish you could be in my chair as those same people break up and then date the exact same stereotype again and again, expecting different results. Didn’t Einstein have something to say about that?

If you are falling for the bad boy I hope you will be the exception to the rule. Unfortunately, as much as we hope, few of us ever are. Instead, date a school teacher. Sure they’re usually passive-aggressive and wear Dockers but at the end of the day they’ll still be there, with their i-pad, complaining about their three months of vacation but faithful and true. The sex may not be amazing but at least you can teach them to make it all about you.

Or I can, give me their email address.

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

Guest Blogger – “Living With A Narcissist”

Oil on canvas*this article originally aired for approximately one hour until the writer was worried about being found out…

Wednesdays I host a guest blogger – professionals, clients, friends, strangers; stories of success and failure, people who are suffering, some who are opinionated, all of whom are a work in progress. These are struggles about real life issues. If you are interested in telling your story email me at info@scott-williams.ca.

Back a few years ago, narcissist was a word I was only vaguely familiar with.  A word in a book title, a word describing someone in someone else’s life,  a word I had trouble spelling.  Two years and hundreds of hours of counseling and self work later, narcissism is something I think about everyday.  I don’t want to, mind you, but when you wake up beside a narcissist every morning, you better know what you’re dealing with.

For years, I had no idea what I was dealing with. My life looked good from the outside and I couldn’t pin down the reasons for my constant turmoil and distress.  My spouse was the very picture of perfect, everyone told me so.  Much of the time, I even believed it myself.   But belaying his sugar-coated exterior was a cavalier disregard for precise truth, concealed agendas, subtle manipulation and veiled devaluation that I experienced on a daily basis; all in the name of a higher good.   I’d become so accustomed to this, I took it as normal.  My sense of normal was skewed, to say the least.

Over the course of my marriage, I slowly lost my self-worth, faith, hope and ability to cope. I was convinced I was the problem, and so were many others. I second guessed all my perceptions and my internal world became so distorted, I wasn’t even sure what was real anymore.  Was I crazy, lazy, fallen, and below par as my spouse so subtly and repeatedly implied, or was he not who he appeared to be?

It’s taken me a long time to wrap my head around what narcissism really is.  Imagine slowly discovering everything you thought about your spouse was dead-ass wrong.  That all the admirable qualities you’d attributed to them, all the good intentions you thought they had, all the motivations you thought stemmed from love actually came from their need for self-aggrandizement.  Then imagine discovering your spouse isn’t really capable of intimacy, true empathy, honesty or truly loving you or your kids.  Is it any wonder it takes so long to wrap your head around such a thing?

And what in the world do you do when that brutal realization finally makes its way in?

Well I’m still learning and I imagine it’ll be awhile yet.  But here’s a tip I wish I’d paid attention to earlier.  When something doesn’t feel right in your life, find yourself a good counselor.  Then tell the truth and deal with yourself.  It took me 22 years of denial, doubt, and second guessing to hit breaking point. Don’t wait that long.

And then educate yourself about narcissism and it’s effects.   I’m learning to question all my assumptions, look for secondary motivations,  trust my gut instincts, have no expectations of a normal marriage; and trying to be patient with how damn long it takes to begin to feel whole again.

This is an unfinished story for me still.  One of learning to understand myself, my circumstances and live at peace in spite of.  It’s easy to become overwhelmed and lose sight of personal change.  But I think it’s coming, in slow painstaking millimeters, and with it hopefully better days.