Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Narcissistic Sociopath

I was sitting with my therapist the other day. We were (as usual) discussing my ex and the book I have just written 'Web of Lies - My Life with a Narcissist.' She made an interesting observation.

She told me that although she's never met my ex, she would describe him as a 'Narcissistic Sociopath'. This description actually send shivers down my spine. I'm no psychiatrist, but the word 'sociopath' is scary to me. It conjures up visions of Ted Bundy or Charles Manson. Surely I didn't marry one of those?

My therapist smiled and tried to reassure me. As with all personality disorders, there are varying degrees of each. And it's perfectly possible for a person to suffer 'complex personality disorders', which to you and me, means there is an overlapping of disorders.

She got me thinking, so I researched a bit about APD (Antisocial Personality Disorder) and was amazed to discover the similarity with NPD.

Put the two together, and you surely have a recipe for disaster.

No wonder my shrink can't wait to get her hands on the book!

Profile of a Sociopath

* Glibness and Superficial Charm

* Manipulative and Conning
They never recognize the rights of others and see their self-serving behaviors as permissible. They appear to be charming, yet are covertly hostile and domineering, seeing their victim as merely an instrument to be used. They may dominate and humiliate their victims.

* Grandiose Sense of Self
Feels entitled to certain things as "their right."

* Pathological Lying
Has no problem lying coolly and easily and it is almost impossible for them to be truthful on a consistent basis. Can create, and get caught up in, a complex belief about their own powers and abilities. Extremely convincing and even able to pass lie detector tests.

* Lack of Remorse, Shame or Guilt
A deep seated rage, which is split off and repressed, is at their core. Does not see others around them as people, but only as targets and opportunities. Instead of friends, they have victims and accomplices who end up as victims. The end always justifies the means and they let nothing stand in their way.

* Shallow Emotions
When they show what seems to be warmth, joy, love and compassion it is more feigned than experienced and serves an ulterior motive. Outraged by insignificant matters, yet remaining unmoved and cold by what would upset a normal person. Since they are not genuine, neither are their promises.

* Incapacity for Love

* Need for Stimulation
Living on the edge. Verbal outbursts and physical punishments are normal. Promiscuity and gambling are common.

* Callousness/Lack of Empathy
Unable to empathize with the pain of their victims, having only contempt for others' feelings of distress and readily taking advantage of them.

* Poor Behavioral Controls/Impulsive Nature
Rage and abuse, alternating with small expressions of love and approval produce an addictive cycle for abuser and abused, as well as creating hopelessness in the victim. Believe they are all-powerful, all-knowing, entitled to every wish, no sense of personal boundaries, no concern for their impact on others.

* Early Behavior Problems/Juvenile Delinquency
Usually has a history of behavioral and academic difficulties, yet "gets by" by conning others. Problems in making and keeping friends; aberrant behaviors such as cruelty to people or animals, stealing, etc.

* Irresponsibility/Unreliability
Not concerned about wrecking others' lives and dreams. Oblivious or indifferent to the devastation they cause. Does not accept blame themselves, but blames others, even for acts they obviously committed.

* Promiscuous Sexual Behavior/Infidelity
Promiscuity, child sexual abuse, rape and sexual acting out of all sorts.

* Lack of Realistic Life Plan/Parasitic Lifestyle
Tends to move around a lot or makes all encompassing promises for the future, poor work ethic but exploits others effectively.

* Criminal or Entrepreneurial Versatility
Changes their image as needed to avoid prosecution. Changes life story readily.

Other Related Qualities:

1. Contemptuous of those who seek to understand them
2. Does not perceive that anything is wrong with them
3. Authoritarian
4. Secretive
5. Paranoid
6. Only rarely in difficulty with the law, but seeks out situations where their tyrannical behavior will be tolerated, condoned, or admired
7. Conventional appearance
8. Goal of enslavement of their victim(s)
9. Exercises despotic control over every aspect of the victim's life
10. Has an emotional need to justify their crimes and therefore needs their victim's affirmation (respect, gratitude and love)
11. Ultimate goal is the creation of a willing victim
12. Incapable of real human attachment to another
13. Unable to feel remorse or guilt
14. Extreme narcissism and grandiose
15. May state readily that their goal is to rule the world

(The above traits are based on the psychopathy checklists of H. Cleckley and R. Hare.)

For more information go here

Jogging to beat depression.

Many of us have, at some time in our lives, suffered from some form of depression. I was diagnosed with the illness almost two years after the birth of my second daughter. To this day I'm unsure whether or no I was suffering from post natal depression, or just plain old depression, but either way the illness is and incredibly debilitating one. My symptoms were varied. On the physical side it was headaches, sleeplessness, loss of appetite, loss of libido. On the emotional side it was an extremely short temper, confusion, crying,and a general loss of interest in me and a feeling of failing as a mother. The worst thing though was the inextricable fear that I would somehow hurt my kids. Not deliberately, but simply by putting them in danger due
due to my lack of attention span. It was probably a completely irrational fear but it made me feel so insecure that I finally went to seek treatment. My doctor gaveme the standard medical treatment, but also referred me for therapy. It was my therapist who recommended jogging. I must admit that at this time I wasn't and avid jogger. I wasn't unfit by any means though. I had a cross trainer at home which I used regularly, but as the psychologist pointed out, you need to take exercise away from your home environment when you are depressed. Jogging go me out of the house, away from my family and allowed me to take some 'me time'.
At first it wasn't easy. I ran in short twenty minute burst and slowly built it up to forty/forty five minutes. This may not seem like much but it was the first time I was able to get out of the house and away from all my responsibilities to just concentrate on me.
Within a couple of weeks I was already starting to feel better. I looked forward to getting my running shoes on, plugging in my Ipod and just running away the stresses of the day.

Jogging for me has become a therapy. It's a well documented fact that exercise helps to fight depression, and I am testimony to that. When I stop exercising, I start to get low again.

Now, I'm not saying that everybody should do aerobics until they drop, but a nice, steady flow of cardiovascular exercise like walking, jogging, biking, or another form of low impact exercise is an excellent way to manage the symptoms of depression, while also promoting a healthy blood pressure level, a healthy heart, and bodily strength and endurance.

Yoga, forms of slow dance, tai chi, and other meditation-type exercise is also an excellent way to manage stress, anxiety and depression. These types of meditative exercises promote healthy bodily functions, a healthy state of mind, and mental focus, which are key factors in supporting a healthy sense of well being and peace.

Inactivity is one of the biggest perpetuators of depression and anxiety. The human body was designed to be in frequent motion, not to sit all day. So if you find you are inactive for any reason, go, get a drink of water, walk some stairs, or take a little walk outside whenever you get the opportunity. You'll be amazed by what physical activity will do for your mental state.

This is it

Here's a short story I wrote a couple of years ago. Just trying my hand really, before I got into the serious writing.
Would love to know what you think :-)

This is it.......

He knew it was close now, he could feel it all around him, drawing him, slowly but surely forwards. There was no going back from this point, and he felt no fear, just resigned acceptance of his fate.
Surprising how lucid he felt, his mind remained agile and free, skipping from one recollection to the next, up and down and all around, he was quite enjoying this final ride.

It was easier to keep his eyes closed, because then he could see for miles and with such clarity. When he tried to open his eyes all he could see was the halogen light above the bed, the watery profiles of the nurses, and the blurred yet visibly distressed faces of his loved ones. No, it was much better to keep them closed, and enjoy the views from the inside.

Suddenly he was surrounded by the familiar smell of summer, there was a warm breeze on his face, and the sun was beating down on his skin. He looked and saw the playing field with the children's playground in the distance, and he knew he had returned home, to that never forgotten place. He savoured the moment, inhaling the smell of fresh cut grass, looking at the dandelions on the kerbside. She was here, next to him on the bench, and she was smiling that wistful smile of hers, oh how he'd longed to see that beauty just one more time.
They would sit here for hours, it was their own special place. Here they could enjoy their time alone, putting the world to rights, sharing their dreams and aspirations. Young love in it's purest form, they had made plans whilst sitting on this bench, it was here that they laid down the foundations for their future life together.He had called her 'Treasure', for that's what she was to him, his very own pot of gold. He could never get tired of looking at her face, the flawless beauty of it, and he could listen to her voice for hours, the softly spoken yet determined words which fell from her mouth. She would sing to him sometimes, and he could hear her voice now, clear and enchanting, it was music to his ears.

Their wedding day had been the happiest of his life. She had radiated beauty, and he had felt as though he were the luckiest man alive. Life after the wedding hadn't always been easy. His job was demanding and not the best paid. He'd spent time away on business but she had never complained. She had poured her energy into making their home a special and loving place. The connection they had to one another was a once in a lifetime occurrence, it was the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and had made him into the person he was.

And the laughter, how much they had laughed together! Her sense of humour was one of the things which he'd always found so endearing about her. She had the capacity to laugh at herself, and to find the brighter side of any situation. She had seemed to know him inside out, she had known exactly what made him tick. She had been his soul mate, his Treasure.

Just briefly, he opened his eyes. Shimmering, a face was in front of him. He tried to focus, for a brief second came recognition, it was his granddaughter.

Now he was back inside their home, the small terraced house not far from the city centre. He could see the furnishings, that old three piece suit with the threadbare arms, the gramophone in the corner of the room. They'd spent many hours listening to records played on that machine. He could smell the cake she'd baked that morning, and he felt the familiar rush of pain and fear.......he was back in 'that day' again.
He tried to open his eyes but they were too heavy now, he was right back there. The fear began to rise, he was powerless to stop it.
He heard the car pull up outside before it actually happened. He'd replayed this moment in nightmares over many years, but now he was actually here again, in the moment, re-living every detail.
Somehow his leaden legs carried him into the hallway, past the gleaming new perambulator she'd insisted they purchase as soon as her pregnancy had entered it's fourth month, three months previously. His hand was reaching for the door but he was willing it to stop, the door opened, and there stood the policeman. He never did remember that young mans name, but the face was etched on his memory. That look, a mixture of apprehension, pity and nerves.

Again, his eyes were open,just briefly. He became aware of a man in white, a doctor maybe, and behind him, a black shirt with a dog collar, but no face.

Now he was back, standing in the hospital corridor, hands shaking, heart pounding. The swing doors opened, and out walked a nurse, she met his eyes, but walked straight past. How long had he been standing here? he glanced at his watch, half past nine, when did he get here? How did he get here?
And then the doors opened again, and he sees the doctor, still wearing scrubs. Time stands still as the doctor approaches. He starts to speak but there are no words, just the motion of his lips.
'head injury'
'blood loss'

Oh the baby, what about the baby? He comes to his senses as he feels the weight of the doctors hand on his arm. His lips are still moving...

'I need to know Mr Wright, I realise this is an impossibly hard decision for you, but if we don't take action now, we'll lose them both'

His head is swimming, his emotions overloaded. He recalls her excitement when she discovered she was pregnant, the elation in her eyes. She had involved him every step of the way, sharing her thoughts and her feelings with him. Holding his hand to her stomach as it grew, talking to him about the future as three.
He found himself nodding, just nodding, a wordless nod of the head, it was all he could muster. The doctor understood and turned away, he rushed back through the double doors.

Then there was darkness, but sound, as if from a distance, muffled voices....

'It won't be long now, he's comfortable'

Somebody was weeping.

Back in the corridor, he silence surrounded him, he was standing alone, wrapped in pain and loss. He was shivering, from the inside out, he knew it was over now, a light had gone out inside him, he just needed confirmation.

As he turned to the doors they opened once more, the doctor in the scrubs, beads of sweat on his brow. He walked slowly this time, head slightly bowed.
Behind the doctor, a nurse followed, walking slowly, her face full of compassion and hope. In her arms she carried a green bundle, a tiny form wrapped in layers of surgical blanket. As she drew nearer he could see a little pink face, eyes open and searching, they fixed on him, and in that moment he knew there was hope.

Familiar voices now, his son was close. He could no longer make out the words, but he felt the presence, and felt great comfort and peace.

In the hospital once more, the doctor in scrubs is leading him into the side room, the lights are dimmed, there is nothing but silence. His legs are shaking, he struggles to breathe, panic is rising. He knows what he's about to see, he's been here countless times, the lifeless shell, the beautiful form so familiar, yet now devoid, he can't bring himself to look again, he can't stand the weight of the pain any more.

His eyes are closed but he senses something different this time, the doctor is still leading him forward to the bed, yet suddenly the fear is gone. She's there, lying before him, his eyes are open, yet what he sees is not the battered and bruised form which has haunted him all these years. Light floods in all around him, warmth is radiating from the bed, he is drawn closer and closer to her, as she lies motionless.

He reaches out to her one last time, tears are burning his cheeks now. This overwhelming longing he feels, to touch her once again, to say goodbye once again. And has he reaches the bed, and looks down at her perfect features, her flawless beauty, the woman he loves, she opens her eyes, and she smiles that wistful smile. He's home at last.

In the distance, he hears his son weep once more.