May 18

“Whole Again” After Abuse: Jackson McKenzie Quotes

Contained within Jackson McKenzie’s 2019 Whole Again: Healing Your Heart and Rediscovering Your True Self After Toxic Relationships and Emotional Abuse are strong quotes to help you heal. The following are some I’ve selected.

Note: References to C-PTSD below are about complex PTSD. See this link or this one if you’re unfamiliar with the diagnosis.

You’re so preoccupied with trying to make sure you’re reasonable and seeing all perspectives that you fail to throw in the towel when people are blatantly mistreating you. Oftentimes you notice something seems “off” for the longest time, but you feel guilty and dismiss it because the person is nice to you, or because they aren’t rejecting you.

…(T)he best gaslighting victims are those who doubt themselves.

Their partner can say and do unacceptable things on a daily basis, which the codependent will try to explain and understand (“they had a difficult childhood!”). But the moment codependents make a single mistake, they berate themselves for it, obsess over it, and wonder if they’re crazy. For this reason, they come up short in relationships, over and over again. Because they’re unable to recognize that the balance is skewed, and unable to recognize that they’re not getting what they deserve from a healthy relationship. Their self-doubt keeps things forever skewed in their partner’s favor.

How to Win Against an Abuser? I get this question all the time, and my answer is always the same: Don’t try to win. As soon as we engage in this win/lose mentality, we abandon our hearts and forget what’s really important: vulnerability and love. Yes, absolutely you should remove toxic people from your life, but it should be from the perspective of self-love, not “winning.” As long as we maintain this false illusion of control, we’re still connected to the person in our psyches. A hallmark of C-PTSD is fantasizing about gaining some power over an otherwise powerless situation.

If at any point your forgiveness process convinces you to invite an abuser back into your life (or even talk to them), this is not the kind of forgiveness we’re looking for. It will actually impede your own progress.

People cannot go from abusing and manipulating you one day, to magically being healed a week later. This is simply impossible. Especially when this change occurs as a response to possible abandonment or rejection, there’s just no chance this is authentic change.

Codependent forgiveness is this fantasized tear-filled beautiful reconciliation where everything is magically cured by love and compassion. As with most codependent issues, it’s focused on other people. Their problems. Their childhood. Their past. You think you understand them so much, maybe even more than they understand themselves! You make up excuses and reasons for them, your heart melts, you take them back, and then they hurt you again.

C-PTSD sufferers who experienced abuse may engage in mental arguments with their abusers long after the abuse has ended. Most people with C-PTSD experienced ongoing abuse from someone (or multiple people) who repeatedly betrayed their trust, and blamed them for this betrayal. They were made the scapegoat of someone else’s shame, which eventually caused them to absorb this shame themselves.

Dysfunctional Healing Approach: C-PTSD causes the sufferer’s thinking to become very rigid and analytical. This was (at some point) a necessary survival skill in order to identify threats and stay safe. However, once the threat is over, those with C-PTSD may still have a lot of trouble “feeling” emotions, and may end up trying to “think” them instead. As they begin recovery, they are likely to use this same analytical and rigid thinking against themselves, embarrassed or impatient by their inability to get in touch with their own feelings. They are also likely to have an extremely negative reaction to the idea of forgiveness, equating that with “letting them win,” and seeing forgiveness as something that abusers use to keep hurting victims.

Jan 23

Trumpism: And Related Terms We Know Better Now

As we’ve now officially crossed into the era of President Trump and Trumpism, some of the important terms we now know or need to know better:

Trumpism

A Johns Hopkins college syllabus (JHU) that went viral post-election states that it involves “personal and political gain marred by intolerance, derived from wealth, and rooted in the history of segregation, sexism, and exploitation.”

Narcissistic Personality Disorder

If President Trump indeed suffers from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, or NPD, most in my field won’t publicly declare it because of an ethical code that prohibits such diagnoses without an appropriate in-person professional assessment.

However, last November three noted female psychiatrists (see previous post) provided President Obama supporting information about NPD—in case of its possible relevance.

A particularly salient point from their letter (Richard Greene, Huffington Post):

There are only two ways to deal with someone with NPD, and they are both dangerous. There is no healthy way of interacting with someone with this affliction. If you criticize them they will lash out at you and if they have a great deal of power, that can be consequential. If you compliment them it only acts to increase the delusional and grandiose reality the sufferer has created, causing him to be even more reliant on constant and endless compliments and unwavering support.

Gaslighting

As quoted in my previous post on gaslightingSusan Dominus, New York Times:

When I watch Donald Trump, I sometimes feel like Ingrid Bergman — not European and glamorous, but unnerved, as though I’m being gaslit, as in the famous plot of her old classic movie ‘Gaslight.’ The lights are flickering, but her character’s husband, who is secretly a seriously bad dude, is convincing her that no such thing is occurring. He is trying to get her to question her sense of reality, to think her mind is playing tricks on her — in short, to convince her that she is going slightly crazy, a tactic that can be scarily effective.

Post-Truth

Post-truth was named Oxford Dictionary‘s 2016 international word of the year: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”

Indeed, as was confirmed just yesterday, Trumpism actually employs “alternative facts”—or what the rest of us call “lies.”

Toxic Masculinity

Not only is it bad for one’s own mental health and social functioning, reports Kevin McCarthy (Healthline), those who have toxic masculinity are less likely to seek help. Among the associated traits are exertion of power over women, misogyny, violence, and homophobia.

Xenophobia

The Word of 2016 picked by Dictionary.com is xenophobia, described as “fear of the other.” Katy Steinmetz, Time, notes that both listed definitions reflect sentiments that apply here:

1. fear or hatred of foreigners, people from different cultures, or strangers. 2. fear or dislike of the customs, dress, etc., of people who are culturally different from oneself.

Normalization

According to New Republic, “Normalization is saying yes to racism, sexism, and homophobia. It is saying yes to deplorable and offensive behavior. And it is saying no to those who believe differently, reaffirming that our definition of normal in this country most often comes from one dominant group.”

Trump Anxiety and Trumpsomnia

Anxiety and sleep disturbance often go hand in hand. Scott Timberg, Salon: “One of the ironies here is that several of those suffering from Trumpsomnia describe the election as ‘a bad dream.’ But it’s one they don’t seem to be able to wake up from.” Sleep remedies may provide only a short-term fix. Though, “Impeachment would work,” said one sufferer.