Have you ever been sailing?
My family sailed with friends when I was a child.
One day we were all out on the bay in their beautiful boat, Kareela. The wind was racing and we were whipping along. Then the wind changed, very suddenly. The spinnaker ripped, the bow swung, and the boat lurched.. and the boom slammed into the side of my head.
And that was the end of life as I knew it. From then on I lived in overwhelming, devastating pain. Pain that never stopped, and never got any better. Pain that burned throughout my body in ever-changing forms of agony. If I focused on the sensations in any way, it became terrifyingly close to being simply too much.
SURVIVING TO THRIVING
But I determined to not only survive this on-going trauma, but to thrive. I wanted an extraordinary life.
I studied psychology, psychotherapy and relationship therapy, economics, psychoneuroimmunology (mind/body medicine) and the science of happiness, sexuality, philosophy, meditation, coaching, and a myriad systems within and beyond those parameters. I studied with the experts themselves, and I studied their work. I learned a great deal about “life optimization” as I now call it. I distilled the best from many hundreds of self-help books and programs and research papers.
I put ideas together and created healing systems, models for teaching others, and a vast array of very effective ways of creating a wonderful life – for myself and others. I became a therapist and life and relationship coach and attracted clients who also wanted big lives – success in all its forms – emotional, financial, and social contribution. Those already “rich and/or famous” wanted guidelines for achieving more love and more meaning, and those on their way wanted guidelines for creating it all.
I’m riveted by new ideas – ideas that sit at the cutting edge of our understanding as a community of minds, especially recent developments in neuroscience and ideas from quantum physics about the ways we can affect our reality with our minds and emotions. These ideas can catapult us to new places, make quantum leaps in our lives, and help make our world a better place. I eventually became expert in a number of energy psychology modalities and healed myself from the pain and other consequences of my injury using the truly remarkable techniques of EFT. EFT is now a major part of my work with most of my clients.
NARCISSISTS AND PSYCHOPATHS
When your body is in a state of perpetual overwhelming pain, you can feel and appear very vulnerable at times. And just as the wounded deer attracts the prowling lion, the wounded human can attract human predators.
This happened to me several times before I happened upon some of the early studies of narcissism and psychopathy. I quickly discovered I was an ideal target. People who love to help others are very attractive to these predators in disguise. We generally look for the good in everyone and we give others the benefit of the doubt – that is, we tend to buy their story!
You too? Are you relating?
I was more attractive to them because I’m very successful in my field (which gives them something to exploit), and because I’m very empathetic I’m likely to feel sorry for them.
I’VE LEARNED FROM THE EXPERTS
I’ve now been studying Narcissism and Narcissists and the continuum of traits and behaviors that comprise the Narcissism-to-Psychopathy spectrum intensively for about a decade and a half. I study the clinical research, the psychological and neuroscientific research and also the popular literature. There is also a valuable and rapidly growing genre of “personal survival stories” by victims of N/Ps. You’ll find some of the best in the Resources section of this site.
I’ve been a psychotherapist and life coach, and more recently a coach, consultant and trainer for more than thirty five years, and I’ve worked with a large number of narcissistic clients. Many are very successful – high achievers in business, government, and the arts. Most are wealthy, some famous and others very influential. I’ve learned a great deal about how they think and feel about themselves and others, what motivates them, and how they behave under various circumstances, and in a variety of life situations. And of course I’ve worked with many victims of N/Ps, helping them to survive the situation if they could not leave, to recover when they finally can, to develop new skills and helpful traits, and finally to grow and thrive as a result of the trauma they’ve inevitably endured.
I also learned heaps from the N/Ps I’ve known personally. I’m well-equipped to avoid them now, but those I got to know well in the past often spoke openly with me about their lives and their motivations – unaware that I was horrified by what they were saying. One person who confided in me a great deal told me exactly how he goes about getting others blamed for his misdoings, how he grooms the very elderly, wealthy and vulnerable people in his community to love and trust him. This particular person is very good at getting himself into situations with those who are dying, and he ingratiates himself and then exploits for all he’s worth.
So I’ve learned from the experts – the N/Ps themselves, over many years, in many circumstances, and a cross section of demographics. From the well-disguised but incredibly dangerous kind of psychopath, to the bloated, grandiose narcissist who almost chokes with self-appreciation, gathers a coterie of “admirers” carefully selected because they will constantly compliment and preen her ego, and reinforce her remarkably inflated perceptions of herself.
BEYOND THE INDIVIDUAL
The damage wrought by narcissists and psychopaths extends far beyond our own individual lives.
Many leading commentators believe that the recent global financial crisis was initiated by the selfishness of various psychopathic individuals and organizations. Bernie Maddoff – the monster who destroyed so many financial lives, ruined so many futures, who took for himself what thousands of his “clients” had worked their lives to save, clearly has psychopathic character traits.
Psychopathic leaders throughout history have destroyed the lives of millions usually in atrociously cruel ways, and continue to do so. I’m sure you can think of some murderous leaders governing today.
IS THERE A “CURE”?
Right now we do not know how to “cure” psychopathy or pathological narcissism.
Neuroscientists have identified the neural corollaries of much of their behavior, but no-one as yet knows how to change it substantially. I’m pinning my hopes on neuroscience and some of the subject areas it informs. Maybe we’ll learn how to rebuild/rewire neural material en masse and quickly in the near future? Or some other technology will produce the seeming miracle we need. At the moment, learning to avoid them, alerting others to the dangers, and not contributing to their power, seem our best strategies.
BECOME PART OF THE CHANGE
So, the more of us who understand N/Ps, the better for everyone! Come along and join us for a seminar, invite me to speak to your organization, train your hiring people, consult at your workplace, or schedule some private coaching sessions for yourself and your staff, family or colleagues.
It’s vital, essential, that we learn to recognize these predators who live among us before they do their damage, and equally important that we learn ways to take away their power.
Saturday October 10, 2015, 2:00pm-4.30pm. And please join us 4.30 to 5:00pm for light refreshments and informal conversation with Dr Claudia and the other participants.
BOOKS WRITTEN BY PSYCHOPATHS:
NARCISSISTS AND PSYCHOPATHS IN THE WORKPLACE:
DIVORCING A NARCISSIST/PSYCHOPATH:
NARCISSISM AND POLITICS:
LEARN TO TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS: