RED FLAGS from Psychopaths (Part 3)


is a lie, but hard to resist


BOOKs: “Psychopath FREE”



3. GENERAL  (cont.)
• Physical — Psychopaths need very little sleep – maybe 4-5 hrs a night. They’re always on the go, searching for new stimulation
— Research indicates they have a poor sense of smell – have a hard time identifying something or knowing the difference between smells
— They seem to have little or no body odor, maybe from frequent showers, carrying deodorant or a change of clothes – all to make a good impression

No startle response – they have a total absence of anxiety, fear & worry – where there would be in a ‘normal’ person. They always seem to be calm, rarely stressed or nervous. This may be the result of decreased activity in the amygdala (emotion center of the brain)

No boundaries – they invade personal space, standing too close. Research shows that ‘cold-hearted’ (inter-personally aloof) people prefer less distance between themselves & others. It may be a subtle symptom of aggression, as in “In your face”

Lie & make excuses – about everything, even when it’s not necessary, & can make up lies faster than you can question them

Hating – they’re obsessed with humiliating anyone who is successful, kind & cheerful, like delighting in breaking up friendships & marriages

Thirst for attention & adoration is obsessive & insatiable. You thought you were the only one who could make them happy, but now you feel that anyone with a pulse could fill the role. They will drain you dry, but no one can fill the void in a psychopath’s soul

4. REACTIONS (Results in you, the ‘Receiver’ of P-A)
Denial – You feel on edge around this person, but you still want them to like you. You write off most of their questionable behavior as accidental or insensitive, because you’re insecure & in constant competition with others for their attention & praise

•  No fighting – you’re afraid that any way you disagree with them could be the end. Normal couples argue to resolve issues, but psychopaths make it clear that unpleasant conversations will jeopardize the relationship, especially anything to do with their behavior. You apologize & forgive quickly, otherwise you know they’ll lose interest

Research – You find yourself playing detective, looking for answers to a feeling you can’t quite explain. It’s never happened in your other relationship, but suddenly you’re checking their old emails, cell phone texts, search logs, old Facebook pages & pics, about their ex…..

Explaining (a) – You desperately ask them to imagine how they’d feel if you treated them in a hurtful way, but they just stare at you blankly. No adult should have to be told how they are making other people feel. But psychopaths can’t seem to put themselves in your shoes, or anyone else’s either.  If it doesn’t bother them, why would it bother you?

•  Explaining (b) You find yourself trying to get across the basic elements of human respect to a full-grown adult. ‘Normal’ people understand the fundamental concepts of honesty & kindness, but not a psychopath. They don’t have a conscience.

Insecurity – During & after the relationship, you’ll spend a lot more time in front of the mirror. (Thank You to “ckwanderlust” for their valuable insights)

.• Crazed – After being around a psychopath for a while, you’ll feel insane, exhausted, drained, shocked, suicidal & empty. You’ve torn your entire life apart for them – spending money, ending friendships, searching for some sort of reason behind it all. None of it worked & there is no sane explanation. Psychopaths are hollow, deliberately using people & then discarding them like soiled clothes.

It’s not you! Their treatment was never about you! What you’re responsible for is staying with someone who mistreated you. That you can change – but never them!

KNOWLEDGE – If you’re wise enough to be on the outside looking at the psychopath, you may be the only one who knows that something’s seriously wrong with them. But no one will listen. Psychopaths are able to maintain superficial friendships far longer than ‘intimate’ relationships.
Friends, family, co-workers will think he/she is great, even though they’ve been taken advantage of, even outright scammed. Unfortunately, ‘victims’ won’t object because they’re strategically distracted with shallow attention & praise – often on social media.
All you can do is say what is true & then let go!

NOTE: These Red Flags have been updated, based on survey responses from more than 1,000 survivors! Qs which also include info on Arrogance,  Covert Gossiping……

NEXT: Being ‘Right’ #1

‘TRYING TO LEAVE YOU’ Stages (Part 2)

cutting strings

I GUESS THIS IS GOODBYE 😦How could this happen to me!?)

PREVIOUS: Leaving (#1)


Normal: They’re still together, but with a feeling of being stuck & not knowing how to make it better or how to get out. There’s not enough meaning or nourishment to keep it alive, but being in a long-term or committed relationship makes it harder to consider leaving.

They feel disconnected & depressed/ but stay together to avoid the pain of separation
Some form of talk is needed, but if either hints at starting an unpleasant conversation, they’ll find a way to prevent it so they don’t have to invest any feelings

• They have little to say to each other, are bored with the same old stories, don’t want any stagnatingconfrontation, & won’t talk about the relationship because it feels pointless

“Do you want to watch that program?” <> “No, but you go ahead” , “I don’t want to hear that again” <> “I know, you’re not interested in what I have to say!”

• One or both may be experiencing personal problems & possibly blame the other, rather than facing their own issues. But when people are no longer getting their needs met from their partner, they shut down the lines of communication & turn elsewhere

• People can start punishing each other for their own disappointment & loneliness: Well, she/he hasn’t helped me in a long time, so I’m not doing this for her/him”
– may be the kind of thinking behind further withdrawal.


Normal: Now these 2 people who have been in a committed relationship, no longer see themselves in the dyad. They’ve withdrawn their emotions & are ‘spending‘ them elsewhere. Deep emotional distance is an indicator that the union is no longer salvageable. Each person knows in their mind  & heart they’ve detached, & need to protect themself

• They reorganize their lives to avoid being together & may even verbalize it: “I don’t want to talk to ____”.
It can also show up by sleeping in separate beds or rooms, & one or both looking for a new place to live

• People not living together will avoid calls, emails & texts.
“Leave me a message & I’ll get back to you” , “I’m really busy, so I’m sure you’ll understand if we don’t get together this week”

Usually there’s less fighting, but what’s left may be sniping, sarcasm, put-downs. Otherwise, communication is only about practical necessities, if at all

Normal: This stage can be done rather quickly or be dragged out for years.
• It’s the actual physical leaving of the relationship, with a little or a lot of psychological finality. If both parties can accept this, it makes it much easier to move on.

I can’t do this any more. This is the end for me.” <> “Yeah, sure, whatever separationyou say.”

• When one partner has come to their ending point, it’s important & respectful (be ‘clean‘) to actually tell the other person.  This is more likely with a longer-term connection.  Often with less developed ties, one person just stops taking calls, emails…..

• Verbal messages are used to prepare for the end by only using ‘I’ or ‘me’ statements, & meant to create finality & permanent distance “This relationship isn’t working for me anymore” , “Please don’t call me again” .

• It’s not uncommon for one or both people to have another relationship, job, even a new city… waiting in the wings, even if the new ‘love’ is temporary, to get them thru the transition.
✶ Leaving may actually be a benefit to both, even if it hurts. They may need the relationship to end so they can continue their career, their personal growth or to start a more suitable lifestyle.
♥               ♥                ♥

NEXT: “Trying to Leave you” (Part 2) – Clingers

ACoAs dealing with ABUSERS (Part 3)

are they the crazy ones?

PREVIOUS: Dealing with Abusers -#1

SEE post: “They did the best they could”

1. ACoA Silence (Part 1 & 2)

a. “Wrong” Talking
Unhealthy – over-explaining or justifying ourselves, pushing our opinions, trying to be heard & be ‘right‘. It can be in the form of ranting, repeating the same thing over & over, having a tantrum or being preachy.
It’s most likely to happen when we’re with someone who clearly is not interested in what we feel or think – but we refuse to accept it, & keep trying!
“Maybe I can wear them down OR figure out the ‘right way’ to say it!” It’s classic ACoA to try getting our needs met from the very people who can’t do it!
b. Healthy Talking
Taking care of ourselves includes having to ASK for something (don’t expect mind-reading), or just expressing our point of view.
It’s important to let others know what we want, but this must be done…communication
i. ….once we’re sure we know what our real need is in a given situation (respect, stopping an abuse, getting info or a service….).
That way we can be direct & clear, rather than assuming someone should know. That’s only legitimate for infants, who can’t talk yet.
ii. ….our Adult ego state, not from the WIC. It means short, to the point & unemotional. This works most of the time!  Reasons for us to speak up to abusers are:
• putting the Perp on notice that we’re not available to be their Victim (V), which represents our self-esteem, knowing we deserve respect
UNIT ego state
• standing up for our WIC and the Healthy Child. It’s the job of the Loving Inner Parent, especially since no one did that for us, growing up.
Our attention is best focused on what’s appropriate for us rather than trying to control others. We are not speaking up for the P’s benefit – ever!
It does not matter that the P. will not be able to hear you, much less willing to change. The WIC can hear you. Be your own champion!
BY :
iii. ….asking the right person:
• If it’s someone you already know well, always check in with yourself first : “Can they provide what I’m asking for, or am I barking up the wrong tree?”
DO NOT chase a hope-filled fantasy. We just diminish ourselves, get furious, feel ‘bad’, then hopeless.

• If you’re asking a stranger (like ‘Customer Service’) & you don’t get what you need from one person, hang up & keep trying until you get someone else who knows what they’re doing, & can provide an answer or service – if it’s actually possible & realistic! It may take 3 or 4 calls, but it works!

Silence or Denial?  Can you save yourself from getting run over by a car if you’re blindfolded & wandering in the street? NO!
ACoAs keep suffering – unnecessarily – as long as our eyes are tightly closed to the damage others do to us, even inadvertently. Yes, sometimes we are the source of our pain – from the WIC or the PP – which can be corrected with compassion & eliminating harmful self-talk.

But when someone else is being mean, selfish, crazy or cruel towards us, it causes us pain – just as it would for anyone. But it’s even more so for ACoAs because of our earlier wounds.  By recognizing when the pain is coming from (our damage vs another person’s), we eliminate much of our Self-Hate.

PONDER: You get shot by stray bullets in a nearby gunfight you have nothing to do with. You don’t die, but are left having to deal with severe injuries that take a long time to heal. You didn’t do the shooting, so you didn’t cause your wounds – even if you unfortunately happened to be in the vicinity.

So why do ACoAs blame ourself for the abuse we got from our sick parents & now from others who spray their mental / emotional illness over everything?
REMEMBER : we were not the source of the mistreatment!
It’s not our fault that the other person chose to act in a certain way. The clearer we are about who is responsible for what actions – theirs vs. ours – the kinder we can be to ourselves, & the better our lives become.

NEXT: Traits of  Victims #1


to suppress the pain

Deliberate or not? #2

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.

REVIEW: Most people are capable of some emotional abuse (E.A.) because most people have experienced E.A. as children. Sooner or later, we treat others the way our family treated us – acting out our parents, just as we act out the WIC.
The focus here is on breaking out of the ACoA’s denial about how & when others act badly toward us, which we have a habit of ignoring, mis-identifying or not noticing, because it’s so familiar.

a. Any compulsive behavior you don’t consciously choose & so can’t seem to stop yourself from doing, OR compulsively not doing….
b. …. which expresses intense emotions you’re not actually feeling at the time, but that are rumbling under the surface

• This term is usually assumed to mean overt actions, against oneself or towards others – getting drunk, starting a fight, being late for work, being promiscuous … ♼ But it just as often the NOT taking :
✂︎ specific actions that would be good for you (walking out on a bad date)
✂︎ legitimate actions you planned on (making a call, going to a job spacing outinterview), but “forgot”

EXP: You’ve made an appointment with a new therapist & consciously – you’re looking forward to it. It’s on your calendar & you remind yourself of it the day before. Then you go thru the whole day without going – totally oblivious – until late that night as you’re falling asleep. “Oh No! I forgot all about it, & I really meant to go!”

😱This is an EXP of the WIC’s un-felt but intense fear of being vulnerable with a new authority/ parent figure who may or may not be safe.**
✶✶ When we’ve done or not done something that seems baffling, inappropriate, even out of character, we can figure it out : Identify what emotions we were spaced out on (dissociating) but which desperately needed to be expressed – somehow!

Denial allows us to look for & stay with abusers, which is potentially life threatening, & definitely damages us psychologically!

a. MIS-USED: ‘Denial’ is typically meant as – Deliberately ignoring something we know but don’t want to deal with. This is not Denial.
When people say “I just won’t think about it. I’ve put it out of my mind… ” they’re referring to ‘suppression’ – a conscious decision.

Of course, if what we’re push away was traumatic, that emotional pain will be festering in a dark corner, & eventually comes out in some others form – as hidden or direct rage at others, &/or self-destruction

b. GENUINE psychological ‘Denial’ is NOT deliberate. It’s a defense mechanism to “not acknowledge an unacceptable truth or emotion by not allowing it into consciousness.” = meaning that we don’t know we don’t know (something)! – either about ourselves or someone else, even though it may perfectly obvious to others.

This ‘skill’ come from years of childhood training, hardened into Toxic Family Rules & our own need for emotional survival. It usually takes a lot of work to bring up long-buried traumatic experiences & associated pain into awareness, but once in a while some life-event can force a chunk of it to shake loose & shoot to the surface, like an erupting volcano, maybe accompanied by overwhelming panic.

• We can counter Denial & Suppression by carefully paying attention to what we see & hear.PAY ATTENTION People tell us about themselves all the time, which we would pick up on if we were allowed to listen to out intuition & intelligence. Repeatedly ignoring what’s in front of us is wounding to our sanity & our soul!

But once we become aware of abusive patterns we will notice them everywhere – in songs, movies, our family & friends, at work….
The opposite of Denial is ‘Being in the now’, or ‘Mindfulness’, making it easier TO:
♡ notice of what we’re needing, wanting, responding to, feeling -every day…. AND
♡ keep us awake to who others are, how they act, what they’re saying…. & how we feel when we’re with them

NEXT: Dealing with Abusers #1

NEGATIVE BENEFITS of Old Patterns (Part 3)


I’d rather do it my way!

PREVIOUS:   Negative Benefits (Part 2)

SEE posts:Denial & Acting out
The UNIT: Healthy Adult, Loving Parent”

PMES = Physical, Mental, Emotional, Spiritual

Why do we keep blanking on what we’ve learned in Recovery?  Because even ACoAs who are sincere about self-growth – have a powerful built-in forgetter, pounded in place by our family. We can hear the same thing over & over, & still….

So, when clients are asked* some basics of ACoAs damage & recovery, such as:
a. “What is self-hate & why did we develop it?”
b.  “What do we need to have in place in order to have good boundaries?”
c. “How does this problem of anxiety relate to your childhood?”
d. “Why do you need to stay vague about your finances?” …..
…. they often give a blank stares & shrug, even after years of Program & therapy!

• ACoAs are not stupid people.  In spite of ADD, depression, hormone imbalances or other issues – we remember lots of other things – like how to do our jobs, how to surf the web, how to buy a house or car, how to expend lots of futile energy giving great advice to friends, lovers, family – that we don’t use for ourselves ….. but NOT what we’ve learned about our own damage OR about mental health!  adults-acting-childish
(adults acting like school kids  —>)

So if we want to keep growing, it’s very important to keep looking for the unhealthy payoffs (same as NB) behind our self-defeating patterns.

ANSWERs to the above Qs :

a. If we did understand what S-H is truly about, it would be harder & harder to maintain. THEN we’d have to deal with the intense pain & rage of the many ways we were neglected, abused & abandonment by our family.

Keep all that swept under the rug – locked away in a dark room of our unconscious.  The WIC thinks that if you ignore something scary, it doesn’t exist.  Too bad it doesn’t work that way!

b. To have good boundaries we need to:
1) know what our needs are
2) give ourselves permission the actually have those need
3) actively go about meeting those needs, a day at a time.
It would mean disobeying fundamental Toxic Rules, taking care of ourselves, not staying a victim (which we were originally) & stop waiting to be rescued

NB: Not have to be in charge of our own life – not ‘grow up’ emotionally, & face angry or fearful reactions from our family & ‘friends’ if we were to get better (we think it prevents getting abandoned – but that has already happened by those people!)S-H

c. Identifying how each problematic situation / relationship / emotion / pattern – in our life mirrors our childhood (S-H) would mean having to face what our parents were really like, what they did to us, what they didn’t provide…. which IS reflected in how we treat ourselves now.  We’d have to break many illusions & feel the deep hurt & longing of our eawrly years

NB: Not have to do an extensive written family inventory, to look at these realities on a deeper level – even when we think we’ve dealt with our issues or that we already know all about what happened.

d. To stop being vague about anything (our finances, time, our emotions, our knowledge…) means identifying the Toxic Messages we’re still obeying, feeling the old terror & having to take full responsibility for our actions in the present. S & I = becoming your own person, the one you were born to be, minus your damage!

NB: Not having to fully acknowledge knowing how bad it was growing up, not dealing with our accumulated old pain, not having to separate from the dysfunctional system we grew up in — which the WIC thinks means abandoning them, & us being alone forever!

NEXT: Neg benefits #4

“They Did the Best They Could” (Part 2)


PREVIOUS : They did the best … (#1)



First – Review Part 1

2. DENIAL : Re. US (cont.)

We want to ‘forgive’ without going thru the process of healing!
• Most of our parents may not have been evil – although some definitely were, & some things they did are unforgivable. repetition compulsion
And some ACoAs determined to ‘have it out’ with a parent or other abuser, or try to explain our experience & point of view.
So we’ve tried, over & over, but got flat denial or more abuse. It’s been an absolute waste of time – they don’t want to know!

WHY do we want to approach them about the pain they caused?
Usually it’s because the WIC wants to do the impossible – change them, get them ‘to see’, force them to admit their culpability, OR just hurt them back….
• our WIC is still in deep shock. We need to identify & validate those early experiences before we can let ‘move on’. Until then, our life is run by our damage
• we are very angry at them. We need to feel it, but only in safe ways & places, away from them – with people who can hear our pain & don’t have a stake in shutting us up

• we need a clear picture of the toxic lessons we learned, so we know what to change
• we have to stop wanting our unavailable family’s approval & love, since they can’t because they haven’t dealt with their early damage, & probably never will.
As adults, some of us have a better relationship with parts of our family, but most don’t. We have to accept that or we’ll keep feeling devastated

• we can’t afford to exonerate them, to white-wash the abuse & neglect.  It’s what they taught us to do – to never hold them accountable.  SO now we don’t hold others accountable either for bad behavior, letting ourselves be exploited

➼ WHY is this this process important? Because – as long as we negate their responsibility, we take it on as ours.
need to see the truth, not them, so we can stop copying old patterns (Freud’s Repetition Compulsion)

This bears repeatingself-hate tells us we always cause all our suffering – old & new. This is a lie.  Just think – our parents were fully formed & set in their ways before we were born, no matter how young they were. We could not possibly have been bad enough as ages 2, 5, 10…. to warrant the neglect, punishments & accusations we got! It was their damage, their rage, their abandonment pain, their addictions, their anxiety – NOT US!

BTW, sometimes it’s OK to talk with family members – if they are willing, to ANSWER questions about :
— what they remember about us as kids, & their early experiences with us (be specific)
— about a parent’s childhood & life before having us kids

Also ASK our siblings what their experiences were in our family, & how they saw things back then.
It can be very helpful, because each kid’s experience is different, which can round out our understanding of what we lived thru.

• And ask parents to LISTEN to:
– what WE remember (good, but mostly bad)
– how we felt back then, and now
– what we needed & missed
– how we’d like to be treated in the present…..

….. BUT ONLY when we’ve done some rage work, to approach them with equanimity & boundaries, and without the expectation that they’ll change, understand or respond ‘sanely’!
It’s not about punishing them NOR getting them to see our point!
So – what would be the point?

✶ The main purpose is for the Inner Child (both wounded & healthy) to have our Adult help us become visible, to stand up for ourselves, to finally have our say, no matter what the outcome. We we voiceless as kids, but not anymore!
EXP:  After may years of Recovery, one woman sat at the kitchen table for 2 hrs, calmly telling her narcissistic mother what she’d learned about her childhood.
At the end the mother’s only comment was: “So you’re saying I should never have been a mother”.
“Yes” responded the daughter, unfazed & without guilt – even tho that’s not what she’d said or implied. Then they went about making dinner. Amazing!

NEXT: They did the best…. #3

“They Did the BEST They Could” (Part 1)

they did the best... 

but they were hurting too, poor things!

PREVIOUS: Results of abuse – #2

REMINDER: See ACRONYM Page for abbrev.


This is a commonly used phrase – in & out of Program – mainly in the service of the speaker’s denial!
You may at first think this post is harsh or unfair, BUT please remember that everything our parents were  – WE internalized into our Negative Introject.
As long as we deny how harmful their actions were toward us – we will continue doing the same to ourselves, mistreat others AND let others mistreat us in many of the same ways! ( Self-hate’).

How is this phrase usually meant? That that no matter how cruelly, crazily…. our family may everything's OK ??have continually acted, to each other & us, even to this day – it was the ‘best’ they could manage.
It implies that they :
• used all possible resources to cope
• could NOT have done any better
• meant well, even if they didn’t show it
• really tried, in spite of falling short
• didn’t have any other options ….

In most of our families NONE of these are true – OR if true in part, it was a very small part – not enough to help us as kids!

a. THEM: This phrase is usually said by adults, about their parents – but only by people who had painful childhoods! You won’t hear a happy, well-adjusted person needing to even think this, much less say it!

The BEST they could? If our parents were verbally cold, controlling, cruel & insensitive, narcissistic, neglectful, not comforting, drunk, demanding, abusive, addicts, raging….  That was the BEST they could DO? Really?

NO. The most we could say is that they:
chose the ‘easiest way out’,  just didn’t care enough to bother, or were self-righteous about their parenting style (“Spare the rod, spoil the child”) – anything to not take to look at themselves & the effect they had on their children & others
did what any addict would (not just alcohol, but also food, shopping, raging, gambling, exercise, TV, sports, religion….) – everything possible to not deal with their responsibilities & emotions

did what was done to them. Yes, but most never bothered to change. One mother, when confronted, kept saying – “But there weren’t any books about this stuff when you were little”! Except the daughter knew mom never bothered with anything deep, ever. She only read ‘Readers Digest” & watched soap operas! AND, there were some books, & people she could have asked to help. But she ‘was never wrong’!

refused to get whatever help that was available to them at the time (AA & NO to helpAl-Anon have been around for over 50 yrs, psychologists even longer).  One mother admitted she wouldn’t be caught dead going to a therapist. Another was begged repeatedly by her daughter to go to Al-anon, but always blatantly refused

were neglectful – some of us had a parent with a genuine mental illness – but others in the family denied the problem & did little or nothing to seek out solutions that were possible at the time, if not for the sick adult, then at least for us kids
EXP: More than one CoA was left alone for years to deal with a drunk, suicidal or psychotic parent

b. US: On the surface, when ACoAs say this phrase we mean the ‘General’ qualities listed above (from denial).  Under that, we’re really saying that we :
• can’t afford, emotionally & mentally, to admit how badly we were treated
• still believe we caused or deserved the terrible things they did / didn’t do
• “understand” why they acted that way, intellectually – so we don’t have to FEEL the hurt, sadness, frustration, rage, disappointment….

—–> And here’s the kicker:  we’re saying that – since “they did the best they could” – we can’t possibly be angry at them! Saying that we forgive them is actually our way of exonerating them. – not holding them accountable.

OK, so what’s wrong with that? Yes, it is the ultimate goal of mental health to let go of our anger, detach with love – or indifference, to forgive, outgrow our need for them… BUT…… (cont. in #2)

NEXT: “They did the best they could” (Part 2)