Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, divorce, Marriage, Psychology, relationships > Why Couples Counseling Rarely Works with Narcissistic and Borderline Women

Why Couples Counseling Rarely Works with Narcissistic and Borderline Women


queen of heartsI receive a lot of emails and comments from men who are involved with emotionally abusive narcissistic and/or borderline women who want to know if couples counseling will help. Many readers have shared stories in which they recount how therapy was a waste of time, money and energy because it only emboldened and validated their wives’/girlfriends’ crazy and hurtful behaviors. Why is this so?

The Perversion of Psychology

If used properly, Psychology’s ultimate benefit is personal responsibility and freedom. At its best, it can help a person:

  • Become more aware of how he or she is affected by and affects others.
  • Make clear, conscious choices.
  • Strengthen their ability to say “no” to unhealthy and/or abusive situations, people and relationships and open up the possibility of new, healthy opportunities.
  • Set an example for others to become fully developed, conscious individuals.

Ideally, therapy is used to help an individual explore his or her past in order to understand their pain in the present. It is then the individual’s responsibility to use that awareness to make different choices, change self-limiting behaviors and free themselves from the past and unconscious forces that control them.

Unfortunately, many practitioners have allowed Psychology to become a big cop out and blame game. As a result, we now have a few generations of professional victims who take little to no responsibility for their own happiness and who blame everyone but themselves for their difficulties and misfortunes. “It’s not my fault because my parents did x, y, and z to me, so you have to excuse and put up with my bad behavior. I can’t help it.” “If you weren’t so angry, selfish, etc., I wouldn’t have to yell at you right before bed and refuse to have sex with you.

NPD/BPD women usually fall into three categories when it comes to therapy:

1) Professional shoppers. This woman is usually the one who suggests therapy because she wants to portray you as the one with the problem. She wants a “professional” to say, “Yes, Mrs. Crazypants. You’re right. Your husband is an obnoxious jerk. You’re right about everything. If you don’t criticize him and tell him what to do and how to do it every minute of the day, it will bring on the apocalypse. So, by all means keep hammering away at him. You’re absolutely right to do so and he’s a defensive, overly sensitive crybaby for being upset about it. How ever do you tolerate him?

A BPD/NPD woman rarely attends therapy for her own issues, because it would mean admitting she has issues. Therefore, she has a different agenda for counseling than you do. Alternately, she may admit she has some issues, but stipulate that you need to work on your issues first because you’re the “cause” of her issues. By the time you fulfill her laundry list of grievances and it’s her turn to do some work; she ends treatment. (Please note: A good therapist doesn’t let one spouse/partner hijack couples therapy like this).

The professional shopper will often spend years dragging her husband/boyfriend from one couples therapist to the next. If she does individual “work” it usually amounts to weekly hand holding with a lame therapist who acts as cheerleader, confidante and expresses empathic statements about how much she “puts up with” and what an “angry, insensitive, unfeeling, selfish jerk” you are without ever really challenging her or making her the focus of her own therapy. Basically, she’s buying herself a best friend. Do you really want to pay for this?

2) Hell no, I won’t go! This woman refuses to go to therapy and believes it has no value. While it may be frustrating for her partner who’s desperate for relief, she’s actually demonstrating a rare moment of personal insight. She’s right. Therapy probably won’t help her. Alternately, she may have had therapy in the past and received a diagnosis she doesn’t want you to discover. She may fear her controlling, abusive behaviors will be exposed for what they are—abnormal pathology. She knows a good therapist will see through her and expose the truth.

3) Go to therapy or the relationship is over. A husband/boyfriend issues this ultimatum out of desperation. Here’s the problem: First, if you have to issue an ultimatum in order to get your wife/girlfriend to work on the relationship and treat you with basic kindness, it doesn’t bode well. Second, like everything else with a BPD/NPD woman, it’s about control and she certainly isn’t going to let you usurp her control even under the threat of divorce/break-up.

She may agree to go and then play games and stall in regards to choosing a therapist and scheduling a date and time. Or, she’ll lead you on a merry chase, going from one shrink to the next until she can find one she “likes” (i.e., one she can control). Or, she will go to therapy and spend the entire session criticizing you. If the therapist challenges her in any way, she’ll refuse to see them again and accuse them of “siding with you,” of having an affair with you or something equally preposterous. She will also twist your ultimatum into accusations that you are the abusive controlling one. There are many ways for this to blow up in your face, even though, ironically, you’re trying to save the relationship.

Why Couples Therapy Rarely Works

A BPD/NPD woman typically can’t tolerate effective therapy because it puts boundaries in place and holds her accountable. In this case, therapy often degenerates into yet another vehicle to complain about and blame others, namely you. It becomes a device to a) get you to do whatever it is she wants you to do (e.g., stay in the marriage or quit asking her to get a job); b) get you to shut up and do as you’re told; and/or c) co-opt the therapist into validating her distortions, forcing you to “prove” yourself and placing the entire onus of the relationship on you. Meanwhile, she continues to play the “Queen of Hearts,” declaring, “Off with his head!” when you inevitably displease her. The following are some key reasons why therapy rarely works with narcissists and/or borderlines:

1) Ego syntonic vs. ego dystonic. Personality disorders, particularly the Cluster B personality disorders (Narcissistic, Borderline, Histrionic, Antisocial) cause the most pain and suffering to those who come in contact or have relationships with the personality disordered individual rather than the person with the disorder. NPD/BPD individuals often experience negative consequences for their bad behaviors, however, they don’t see themselves as the ones with the problem. They believe they’re okay (syntonic) and blame everyone else for their problems and unhappiness. They will not connect the dots back to themselves, until their behavior becomes dystonic, i.e., they see their own behavior as the source of discomfort, pain, etc.

2) You can’t help someone who won’t admit there’s a problem. A NPD/BPD woman will readily admit that you have problems, but that doesn’t count. Therapy not only doesn’t work with an individual who takes no responsibility for their actions, it also becomes another mechanism by which this woman controls and emotionally bludgeons you.

Just like your wife/girlfriend twists the things you say and do, she’ll also twist what a therapist says—especially if the therapist holds her accountable. This woman “shops” for therapists she can use to blame and shame her husband/boyfriend into submission. The moment a therapist tries to hold her accountable, they’re denounced as a quack and she moves onto the next “expert” for hire or denounces therapy altogether and refuses to see another therapist.

Everything is about control. Controlling your reality, controlling the therapist’s perception of her and you—i.e., she’s great; you’re a boorish ogre. If she senses she’s losing control of the therapist and the session and the focus shifts to her behaviors, she’ll probably flee the scene and begin a smear campaign to devalue the therapist and/or the entire field of Psychology. She behaves this way in order to avoid being “outed” and held accountable.

3) Predators don’t get “better,” but they do become “better at being predators.” Predators don’t get better and they often become better predators with the help of an unwitting therapist. Bad therapy helps a NPD/BPD woman to manipulate her partner. It helps her maintain the pattern of blame and  zero accountability.  It strengthens her role of the professional victim, which hides the true aggressor lying just beneath the surface.

An ineffectual colluding therapist can also be used as an “ally.” In other words, she uses the therapist as an authority figure to beat you down. For example, “Dr Ann Abler said that you need to forgive me.” Translation: Let her get away with and forgive her abusive behavior. “Dr Ann Abler says I should do what my heart tells me to do.” Translation: I can act as badly as I want and you can’t say anything about it. “Dr Ann Abler said you need to be more sensitive to my feelings.” Translation: Tolerate her criticisms, put-downs, rages, and emotional/sexual frigidity. You get the idea. Sometimes, the therapist doesn’t actually tell her any of these things. A BPD/NPD woman is masterful at twisting everything to support her distorted beliefs and demands.

BPD/NPD predators use Psychology to engage in name-calling. They learn just enough psycho-jargon about their own pathology, but instead of recognizing the abusive behaviors, distortions, and emotional issues in themselves, they project it onto everyone else. Everyone else is crazy. Everyone else is a bully. Everyone else is a narcissist or a borderline. Some of them even buy books on these topics and begin diagnosing their partners, friends, co-workers, and family.

A BPD/NPD woman also uses therapy (usually with a shrink she’s manipulated into believing her tales of adversity in the face of lesser beings such as yourself who can’t appreciate how wonderful she is and who stifles her creativity, talent, intellect, blah, blah, blah) to cloak herself in a false shield of individuation. “I’ve done my work, you haven’t. I know, you don’t. I solved my issues, Dr Ann Abler says you’re an angry person and says it’s normal not to want have sex with such an angry person.” Meanwhile, the opposite of everything she claims is true.

4) FAILURE TO DIAGNOSE AND ADMINISTER APPROPRIATE TREATMENT. Many therapists fail to detect the real problem when a BPD/NPD woman enters couples or individual therapy. Or, worse yet, willfully don’t diagnose their condition and encourage the husband/boyfriend to “hang in there” and be more patient. NPD and/or BPD don’t improve on their own nor do they improve when you instruct the target of the abuse to jump through hoops and walk on eggshells. These conditions only improve if they’re accurately diagnosed and the individual with the disorder undergoes a highly structured form of cognitive-behavioral therapy. Working on “communication skills,” “exercising patience” and scheduling a “weekly date night” simply doesn’t cut it. It’s like putting a band-aid on an open chest wound.

5) Couples therapy doesn’t work if there’s ongoing abuse in the relationship. Couples therapy typically isn’t viable you’re in an ongoing abusive relationship. Since the BPD/NPD uses therapy to continue to blame and attack, all it does is set you up to be re-victimized. If you insist on couples treatment, it’s probably better to start off with individual therapists who consult one another—that’s if the abusive spouse will attend treatment and consent to sharing information. Since most abusive types fear a loss of control and being exposed, this is highly unlikely

How Therapy Can Help You

If you’re involved with an emotionally abusive BPD/NPD, you can benefit from treatment that:

  • Helps you decide if you want to end the relationship and, if so, how to best extricate yourself and mourn the loss.
  • Helps you work through your fears and worst-case scenarios about ending the relationship.
  • Helps you decide if you want to continue the relationship and, if so, learn how to manage and cope with her abusive behaviors.
  • Helps you understand what secondary gain you’re deriving from this relationship.
  • Helps you understand why you’re attracted to this woman and determine if you have a pattern of being attracted to abusive women.
  • Helps you work through these issues in order to make healthy relationship choices in the future.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.

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Photo credit:

Queen of Hearts on flickr.

  1. Mellaril
    January 27, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    You are going to collate these and publish them as a book, right? I’d like to give a copy to my son when he starts dating.

    • shrink4men
      January 27, 2010 at 6:01 pm

      Hi Mellaril,

      It’s in the works!

      Best,
      Dr T

  2. Jim
    January 15, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Hi Dr. T,
    When I initially suggested to my N wife (soon to be ex) that we go to counseling she told me that “men only go to counseling on the way to the divorce lawyers’ office” which is kind of weird but I think was her way of accusing me of not wanting to save the relationship. Kind of twisted but it was fear of abandonment and her other issues. Later, she claimed she “practically had to drag” me to go to counseling. This spinning the past to fit her present picture of things used to make me feel “crazy” and, from what I have read, is a very common experience for people dealing with NPD partners.
    Our first counselor was woefully inexperienced and tended to side with my wife. Progress was non-existent. I got so frustrated I terminated couples therapy and we went 9 months without counseling. The second therapist was very experienced and competent. When this failed 18 months later, I believe I felt that I had really “tried” to see if it could work out and I gave myself permission to leave the relationship. I don’t think I am a model for what to do or not do with a disordered spouse or partner. I think everyone has to make their own calls. I am guessing there are others out there who have tried to use couples counseling to make their relationships work and have found it unsatisfying. I used to think that if only my wife could….well, do something different, then the relationship would work. However, in hindsight, I don’t think that was it. The relationship (if you can really call it that) was pretty painful. So even if she could admit she played a role in the problems in the marriage, it probably still would not have been enough to save the marriage. It would definitely have made me feel closer. It might have been nice. But overall, one of the most valuable things I got from counseling (both couples and individual) was feeling GOOD about trusting my feelings about my marriage and about my wife.
    Peace!

  3. Scott Stokes
    January 10, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Wow,
    A smart, beautiful therapist woman who’s not out to emmasculate and torture me! I must be dreaming. Where we you 5 years ago when I was searching online for any advice and closure with my abusive wife. Marriage councelors told me to seek non-existent abuse help and the police told me I was entitled to abuse help after my wife was arrested but I gave up after calling 30 shelters that all turned me away except for one that might have a spot if I was gay or transgender.
    Thank you so much, I’m spreading the word,
    Scott in Wisconsin

  4. Sucked In
    November 20, 2009 at 6:50 am

    Dear Dr. T..Wow! I have happened across this site for the first time, I see my story in so many others. After 30 years and a decade of thinking I was the problem I am not in the middle of a nasty divorce and cannot believe I have been this sucked in. We had lots of problems lots of counselling she has an affair, I became the bad guy. It has been two years,she has counsellors lawyers and untold many on her side. She is going through buckets of money and after me with a vengence. I am better at boundaries, and have had to totally cut off all contact. We have adult children,I bite my tongue but I worry for their future too, they get drawn in to her victim role. I would like to settle this in a legal divorce but it seems to go on forever. It feels like the legal process is feeding her need for attention. I don’t think her lawyer gets it and there is not really a lot of money involved, just that i get to support her for the rest of my living days. What do I need to do to get this deal done?

  5. Recovering Alpha
    November 3, 2009 at 11:25 pm

    This blog references Dr T’s post over a month ago (September 28, 2009 at 9:12 pm #4): “Here are some other gems:

    – Take turns giving each other back rubs.
    – Wait for her to initiate physical contact.
    – No sex for a month (paradoxical intervention).
    – Practice non-defensive listening.
    – Use “I” statements. ”

    My ex required us to go to a counselor she’d been seeing for weeks (months?) before I knew about it and then she asked we BOTH go together. I felt tag-teamed from the first session. What’s striking is that EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THE BULLETS IN THE ABOVE “GEMS” WAS REQUIRED OF US TO DO X AMOUNT OF TIMES A WEEK.

    What continues to amaze me is the repeated identification of past experiences in the topics in blog entries by Dr T. Without them, I’d never have realized what was actually going on and continued thinking the D was “ALL your fault!” as I’ve repeatedly heard from the ex (and by proxy others she’s told). I’ll take some blame (I spent too much time on out-of-house pursuits, etc) but not 100%! That doesn’t seem fair or realistic.

    • Kev
      November 3, 2009 at 11:40 pm

      Just for fun:

      – Take turns giving each other back rubs.
      I would end up giving them to her, but never got them in return, because she was in “too much pain” from one of her many mysterious ailments caused by the “stress” of “having to put up with me constantly.”

      – Wait for her to initiate physical contact.
      “Why aren’t you interested in me anymore?! You’re sleeping with someone else, aren’t you!!!”

      – No sex for a month (paradoxical intervention).
      (see above)

      – Practice non-defensive listening.
      I would have been happy if she’d practiced any sort of listening. Instead, I was admonished repeatedly that I “didn’t get to” speak.

      – Use “I” statements.
      “Why do you have to make EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU, Kevin?!!”

      yep.yep.yep.

      • Mr. E
        November 4, 2009 at 2:33 pm

        -back rubs.
        Yep. Her arms hurt too much for that (from work, in her case…). But I’d better give her a good long massage whenever the idea pops into her head or I’m a jerk.

        -wait for her to initiate.
        The accusations of sleeping with someone else are rare, but the “You’re not interested in me anymore” comes up constantly. Of course, when I try to initiate, she’s not interested and will accuse me of being pesty, perverted or something else… And she’ll still claim I’m not interested.

        -No sex for a month.
        Yep…

        -Use I statements.
        …So she can tell me I’m wrong to feel that way because whatever the problem is, it’s my fault for making her act that way. I do use these, because saying “you did [x]” just guarantees a long fight. I statements take a bit of the wind out of her sails (not much, though)

  6. Greg
    October 30, 2009 at 2:00 am

    Counseling did help, it helped me see how messed up she was. With one or two questions to me for the counselor , I knew it had to be over. 1. are either of you violent toward one another. (she was, but denied it) 2. Do either of you have addition problems? she did, Xanax, and alcohol, but denied it. 3. Have you been trusting of each other. She lied, and said yes. I could see for the first time how mess up her reality was, and how she almost convinced me that she didn’t punch me that hard, and the Xanax and alcohol helped hers sleep, and that she trusted me(even though I couldn’t go to Wal-mart without ten phone calls in 20 minutes. My advise is to go no contact like I did. Do some self reflection on why you chose such a toxic person. Deal with any of your own addiction issues. and read great blogs like these. As an aside, BPD is in the news everyday,they just call it Wacky news. “Women cuts off mans penis” etc
    Be kind to yourself and be careful out there.

  7. StupidAgain
    October 26, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    Boy can I relate to this article and the postings. The time that we tried join counselling, I was labeled as a jerk because she started crying. No she has ber own therapist and every time she comes home she has a whole new raft of books and ammo to throw at me that her psychologist gave her. Evidently, the psychologist has told her that I am a number of horrible things, but she has never spoken to me even though I am willing. After one of the sessions I asked my wife if the counseller wanted to speak to me and she told me, “She said no, and it wouldn’t help anyway.” She made it clear that I was beyond hope.

    My wife is definately a shopper type in this. She isn’t looking for help, she is looking for allies. Even outside of counsellors, she only speaks to people that she is sure will support her, but completely cuts off anyone with wise counsel.

    • Jim
      October 26, 2009 at 11:16 pm

      The Cluster B is a little creature much like a mosquito that wants to suck the life out of you to make itself feel better and leave its own under dirt and waste under your skin. You get used and ultimately hurt from it. The Cluster B always must sting and bite you, and if counseling serves that purpose – all the better.

      My X loves to go to “family” counseling and bash me, try to control me, threaten me with loss of my children, ect … She will pay hundreds of dollars a month to do this.

      Since I am forced to do this “family” counseling, I want to find a way to deny her any narcissistic supply so that she feels worse after a session, not better. I am hoping that she will just get tired. Any ideas how to squash the Cluster B’s incentive?

      At most, during sessions I try to steel myself to her crazymaking efforts. I basically give her nothing – no reaction, no anger, ignore her essentially and plow ahead. I am sure this infuriates her but if I treat her nice that just infuriates her anyway as well.

      I am dealing with an mean little amoral five year old in the body of a middle-aged woman!

      • AnonymousT
        October 27, 2009 at 1:32 am

        Jim, pay the best divorce lawyer in town to force the court to implement Dr. T’s advice: no joint counseling without your own preferred counselor present. It works – you will be surprised at how easily. Chances are your ex-wife picked a low-quality lawyer who buys her BS and argues it because it’s convenient and right up his low class alley. Fight fire with fire – do not go to these things without good legal counsel, it is 100% worth it. Find someone who even the judges defer to because he/she has a good reputation.

  8. David Lebrocq
    October 19, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I have written before asking about how to protect my 4 year old from learning the BPD/NPD behaviour from her mother (thanks for the response to that Dr. Tara – very helpful). After finding this site a month ago I’m starting to be very fearful of my daughter’s future functioning as a positive human.

    My daughter is prone to the same tantrums her mother has especially for the first 1/2 day of the weekends I have her with me. It takes some time and patience to ‘deprogram her’ after which she’s incredibly well behaved and good mannered. loving, and by then end of our time together doesn’t want to leave Dad.

    My concern is the limited time I have with her. I’m trying to work through the horrible anti men court system here in Ontario, Canada but no one – including my own lawyer see’s how damaging the mother’s behaviour is.

    Which leads me to a very important question.

    How does one go about diagnosing a BPD/NPD. Is there a test they take or that doctors can do?

    I ask because if I can start laying the ground work in the judge’s mind that my daughter and I are dealing with a mental illness I may actually stand a chance of getting more custody – and hence be a better buffer over the long term for my daughter against the horrible behaviour she is subject to with her mom.

    Any info about the process involved to confirm a BPD/NPD diagnosis would be helpful.

    • Jim
      October 19, 2009 at 4:05 pm

      David,

      Based upon my experiences, you have very little or no chance of having a judge change custody because your X is a totally corrupt soul. It will literally cost $100,000 or more. Unless she simply refuses visitation or does something physically dangerous or is a drug addict or alcoholic, she is a “mom” and she gets to do what she wants. And you pay your support to her and the Government gets its cut.

      If you fight in court with her she will just turn your kids against you and you may never see them again. Or she will claim domestic violence and paint you as a child molester just to keep you away from your child. The law is set up to protect her at all costs and to marginalize you. It gives no ptotection to the kid if the mother is an evil nut.

      All you can do is have regular visitation and try to have fun and instill positive values in the little time that you have. My daughter became “enmeshed” with her mother at about 10 and still is enmeshed at fifteen – despite five or six different counselors. Her mother taught her how to hate me. (I have never hated anyone and still don’t even know what that emotion is).

      Any psychologist she sees will probably not diagnose her in their paperwork. You have to peel it out of them on cross examination – which means trial – which means bankrupting you for nothing.

      Read the Book “Divorce Posion” by Richard Warshak for some practical strategies on immunizing you daughter against brainwashing. If you have resources and people around you, you can make sure they treat you nicely and she sees it. You also can force your X into therapy where she will be forced to treat you nice in front of your child, militating some of the effects of her behavior.

      Some alignment of the child with her mother is normal; but if she gets brainwashed and starts to hate you this is not normal. There is little you can do however.

      But looking for help from the Court is a joke. They just want to get reelected.

    • Edgar
      October 20, 2009 at 2:45 am

      Biggest deal is it is not officially a mental illness for court or insurance or any other purpose. It’s a personality disorder. Generally most of the State statutes down here say all things being equal, minor children shall reside with the mother. It’s called the “tender years presumption” I’m betting Canada is the same sort of nut crunching legal system.

    • Troubled but Supported
      February 22, 2010 at 4:38 pm

      Ok, I find myself about to enter into the same position. On the positive side, at least I have discovered the worst after only one year with my BPD-ex. Unfortunately as she is pregnant, due in August I am now about to embark on what promises to be “interesting times”

      So after moving in with me, then persuading me to get a new place together (I was sharing with a friend) she discovers she is pregnant just a month later- the weekend before christmas. Well I was delighted to be honest- even though I had been worn down emotionally looking after this woman and dealing with never being able to satisfy her, constant critisism, lack of affection, all the usual warning signs that I kept ignoring because “when we get a place together it will get better” “When she has a new job is will get better” I really wanted children and I guess I was afraid I was getting too late (I’m in my forties). My business had been suffering because her unpredicatble behaviour made it impossible to keep appointments or work consistently while she was berating me for this or that.

      The day she tells me she is pregnant she blows up at me big time. It turns out in retrospect I think she was upset that I didn’t ask her to marry me right there and then. After a full on rage/ crying jag that lasted for 36 hours she went off to stay with her Dad for christmas and I realised that in order to look after myself, get my business going again and be in an emotional place to support a child I would have to leave her.

      Of course I couldn’t ask her to move out right? I mean she’s a pregnant woman, what kind of man would I be? So she gets the flat (rented luckily) she still has all my things (all the furniture and fittings are mine, she didn’t have anything when she moved in with me), she’s got the deposit the money I paid in advance for the rent … all my friends , my life and my clients were in that town and the only thing i could do was move in with my parents (who are wonderful!)

      It’s only now I’m starting to appreciate the sheer cunning of the woman and her ability to lie and deceive. One of the things I like about this website is Dr T’s not afraid to call a bitch a bitch. I’ve been having sympathy and understanding for her all down the line. I knew she had a tough time growing up. Even after I moved out I was still keeping in contact trying to be supportive – she’s a prgnant woman and she’s doing all this on her own right? No one is there to help her? I’m a waste of space etc.

      Well this last week I just flipped a switch. Nothing No more contact. No getting sucked in… thats the plan!! I still find myself getting my buttons pressed though becasue she has access to all my friends and is painting bbbaaad pictures of me that I am not in a position to defend.

      So I finally get that there is nothing I can do and there is no point trying to reasson or be nice to this woman other than the general civility and politeness you would give to strangers. But what am I to do about our child??

      I am terrified that I will not be part of her live growing up- I am terrified how my ex might with hold access or how she might damage the child or use her..

      My ex’s mum I have discovered is a Heroin addict, her dad is a very angry man who definately abused her verbally and physically .. I suspect sexually though it could be the granddad.

      She is actually very good with children (she worked as a nanny) and really wants to be a mum so part of me hopes that there is a chance things will work out. But what if I don’t get to see my child when she is little? Will she bond with me? I love kids and I look after my friends and my brothers kids all the time because I have a job that lets me work from home a lot. I always planned to be a stay at home dad..

      I would love to hear advice anyone has about how to handle this for the childs sake. I want to have shared custody (I’m in the UK so things might be different here) but I don’t know if that is going to happen or when it becomes practical – I’ve always thought a child needs its mum more in the early years- is that right?

      Some of my friends are telling me that I should just get as far away as I can. They think that I won’t be able to keep my boundaries in place and even if she cooperates with access she will still d**k me around and I won’t be able to handle the upset without it effecting my work. They could be right. One guy said I should stay away until the kid is older and can make his or her own decisions.

      Would love to hear your advice.

  9. Mike91163
    October 5, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    To all:

    While this post may have little to do with couples counseling, it is a classic demonstration of PROJECTION and THIRD-PARTY VALIDATION. Here goes…

    As explained elsewhere here, my wife is a product of a BPD/NPD mother (without a doubt!) and an alcoholic father (most likely due to her mother’s rages)…it is well-known and acknowledged by my wife, her siblings, and others that there WAS verbal, emotional, and physical abuse in the household, and I suspect, as others do, that there was probable sexual abuse. Keep in mind that ALL three of my sisters-in-law have NEVER married and NEVER dated (all older-ages 58 to 64), and my brother-in-law, while he was married for 9 yrs, has been divorced for 20 yrs and has not dated since, and has remained celibate as well, and life for him consists of casinos and work…

    In 1995, my mother-in-law passed away of a heart attack, and it was shortly thereafter that my wife began exhibiting the BPD/NPD symptoms in full force (hindsight is ALWAYS 20/20…) her doctor diagnosed depression, and put her on Paxil, which did nothing for her, and she stopped it after one year. However, in 2003, at her urging, my doctor said I was the depressed one, and rx’d Lexapro…again, I didn’t realize that my issues were due to HER issues! Last year, again at HER urging, I went to a psychiatrist, who upped my Lexapro dose AND added Wellbutrin. These are both SSRIs, and just look up “mild serotonin syndrome” to see what excess serotonin will do to you…I exhibited ALL the classic symptoms. Worse yet, during one of our “joint” sessions, the psych said that I most likely had Asperger’s Syndrome! Now, I will readily admit to being somewhat hyperfocused, but the “black and white / right or wrong” outlook? Sorry my friends, but I can see plenty of shades of gray, but what’s a typical symptom of BPD? SPLITTING!!!

    Earlier this year, I tapered off and stopped taking these horrible mind-altering drugs, and I gotta tell you, I have NEVER felt better! But, out of the blue last week, one of her sisters dropped off a pamphlet on Asperger’s…VALIDATION!! That is ALL she (my wife) needed…I am the one with a problem, NOT her!

    It never ceases to amaze me the lengths to which these women will go to in order to reinforce their mindset…and I cannot understand the complete lack of introspection. Us nons frequently ask ourselves “what did I do wrong? How can I make things better?” Seemingly, this is a capacity that is sorely lacking in these women…it’s never them, always us…

    • Nick
      October 12, 2009 at 4:22 pm

      on the subject of drugs. REMERON has been a lifesaver. I used to, and sometimes still do, wake 5 times a night and fret over who she’s with. Now I mostly laugh and tell myself who gives a shit/fall asleep. I cut the pills in 4ths and usually get at least 8 hrs sleep per night. Haven’t been able to do that for years. No sexual side effects either. Point is guys, when i wasn’t sleeping i was a sitting duck relative to her contacting me. Mood also improved during the day. I am also wearing out my tread mill and weight bench- plus i take b12 and omega 3 fish oil. I know this is a tough sell, but my hair is coming in less gray. I’ve gone from one third gray to much less. Probably because of lees stress and the b12/omega3.

      • Nick
        October 12, 2009 at 4:40 pm

        Tara
        Like the new format…seems calmer for some reason or maybe that’s just me…..

  10. NoSeRider
    October 4, 2009 at 8:53 am

    Here’s a video that shows the dynamics of anger in a family.
    To a certain extent my father use to behave like that, actually extensively like that…..I mean real manic rages that lasted all night. Some domestic violence, but infrequent. Still tyrannical as hell. I suspect my father was bipolar, but he was never diagnosed.

    This was during the 1970’s, so I just tossed it up to the insanity of the times: drugs, hells angle mentality, do your own thing at the expense of others mentality.

    So, I did see a lot of reciprocal anger. However, I guess it never really occurred to me that this kind of family dynamics could be instigated by women too.

    I’m with nick, I never struck any woman. Matter of fact I’ve seen emotional outbursts from people that I can’t match. I don’t have the energy for it. I always felt like Jane Goodall, just observing with amazement, and a little disturbed by the whole thing.

    • jham123
      October 4, 2009 at 3:23 pm

      Well you don’t have to go off into the realm of “Physical” abuse. The Emotional abuse is quite enough. It does more damage if you ask me. I could see her getting mad and striking me, but afterward if there was a period of normalcy and remorse….I’d understand it more. With this BPD thing however, none of that occurs.

      It’s all emotional mind games.

      • NoSeRider
        October 4, 2009 at 5:01 pm

        Here’s a video by Sam Vatkin about NPD. This will be the last video I’ll post. Basically, I recently encountered some behavior that was very reminiscent of High School, which I never thought I’d encounter again. So, I’m do’n a little research.

      • Mike91163
        October 4, 2009 at 5:47 pm

        NoSeRider:

        I watched that video…scary stuff! I definitely related to his remarks about the “environment” (kids playing in the background)…I’ve seen this out of my wife on many occasions…No control over environment=Frustrations, rages, and complaints…ugh!

      • jham123
        October 6, 2009 at 2:07 am

        Jeeze that last vid is scary scary stuff. Yes, the annihilation aspect exist here in my home. The “control” exist here as well….

  11. NoSeRider
    October 3, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    Do you feel this video has some validity?
    Basically, it’s saying that a lot of domestic violence is instigated by women, and even shows a study that backs up that hypothesis.

    I believe this is plausible since this website is about this subject matter, cluster B drama type personality disorders.
    Violence is often fueled by emotions, not deductive reasoning.

    Well, I’m assuming this video ties in with this subject since most marriage break ups are due to some sort of animosity. No matter which gender, it’s probably not a good idea to dwell on your anger and despair.

    • jham123
      October 3, 2009 at 4:28 pm

      The Study I showed my wife had results from over 100,000 different subjects (about 94 independent studies) over a 10 year period. It showed the same results…….Women are just as likely if not more likely than men for initiating domestic violence.

      My wife fought with me for days over the validity of the study…….yeah all those studies and all those subjects where all just lies.

      FACTS seem to always get in the way of Fantasies…

      • nick
        October 4, 2009 at 1:47 am

        personally i can say that i have never struck a woman. I have tho restrained a couple as they were striking me…domestic violence female initiated. I’ve been slapped, punched, shoved and had a few objects thrown at me. also had my face grabbed and twisted…a personal favorite. I think that these bpd/npd’s play this game for the power they feel doing it…and i guess it’s humiliating effect. It’s a sick win/win. You get get violent back and you lose BIG. Take it- and your humiliated. My ex used to like to punch me in the arm and grin…like we were a couple of school boys. That shoulda been my first warning. Also, the fact that her father used to punch and berate his kids….another big fat red flag. Had i been thinking with “the right head” i woulda bailed.

  12. Foghorn
    October 2, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    Dr. T,

    Another great article to remind myself why I am in this boat. I am a month into the divorce process and the validation process couldn’t be clearer.

    We recently went to a session to discuss our children (so I thought) the session turning into marriage counseling immediately. All of your points were exposed in this meeting. The counselor asked her to stop hyjacking the meeting, told her she was incapable of showing intimacy, and that both of us were to blame. The 50/50 thing really bugs since I have spent less than two hours with her. What could she honestly know about me or my impression of our marriage.

    Needless to say, one week later I received an email from my soon to be X that she was seeing a different counselor since the first stated she had an ethical conflict now that she had seen us both. My X told me the only way we could see the first counselor was if we both went. (I’m betting a fabrication)

    What I would say to anyone involved with women like this is they believe their own Bull$hit.

    They lie, manipulate data, people and events. They truely don’t remember what story they have told what person; especially when they no longer control their source. They are the true definition of Jeckyl and Hyde. The emotions are only extreme and fleeting. What is sad is nothing has any staying power. They have a need and will do anything to fill that need at that moment.

    My problem is I self actualize. Then for some mysterious reason I start to believe that they are normal, that maybe this time they will change. (Idon’t really believe that. However, the emotion seems so real when they can hold it together.. i.e. playing with the kids, interacting with friends.. etc) The hardest thing to do is constantly pinch yourself to bring back all the awful things that have happen. I guess that is some self preservation mode all of us have when involved with someone like this .

    Based on my experience the information management aspect is what is telling. My X will have a knock down explitive fight, then give me the house and farm the next minute/day. She is awful and I deserve someone that truely loves me, then I was an a$$ too and should look in the mirror to figure out why our marriage failed.

    Back to my point…. The outside, third party validation seems to be critical in my case. The counselor said, I went to the priest and he needs to see you, you should hear what people are saying about you, the kids really want us to get back together, you really need to treat me this way since your son even comments on how bad you treat me, you tell the kids you don’t want to reconcile. In my case she asked for a divorce. I gave it to her. Albeit, now she only really wanted to seperate and work on things.. This is after reconciling an affair of hers from five years ago.

    I don’t know why and I certainly don’t know how, however, these types of people are expert data managers. They thrive on taking data, working it to their benefit, and then conveying it as only they can. As I say to anyone that hears anything from my X ; Complete the circle. If she says anything make sure you verify with the source. Don’t take anything at face value.

    I have always been curious why the third party validation was so strong and seemed so real. Maybe I will never know.

    • shrink4men
      October 2, 2009 at 8:40 pm

      Hi Foghorn,

      Third party validation is a form of consensus building. For example, after having a disagreement, your wife/gf calls all of her friends (a.k.a, the ECHO CHAMBER) and smugly tells you, “I told all of my friends what you said and they think you’re a jerk, too. The expectation is that when confronted by the wise counsel of her “friends” or priest or shrink or manicurist, you will fall to your knees, apologize and tell her, “you’re right.”

      Meanwhile, these people may or may not have agreed with her. Who knows. Who cares.

      Basically, this is another example of the profound emotional immaturity of these women. It calls to mind how kids try to manipulate their parents by saying, “Katie’s parents are letting her do x, y, z. Principal So-and-So said it’s okay.” It’s also like when the “mean girl” marshals her minions to ostracize/pick on another kid. “We all think you’re a loser, so you can’t sit with us.

      It’s an illegitimate power grab. She’s trying to harness the authority of someone or something else—a therapist, religion, the law, her mother/father—to control you with it. When she does it with a group of people, it’s a form of mobbing in which she enlists others to bully you right along with her.

      Congratulations on getting out. I wish you the best in wrapping it up as quickly and painlessly as possible.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • Bert
        October 3, 2009 at 1:40 am

        Wow …. yet another great tidbit here Dr. T. You are versed and very astute.

        Just when I thought there was no other behavior that could’ve been so brutally inflicted. After reading this little addition here on your part regarding ‘third party validation’. Oh my….this was used on me at the very end extremely so. Her parents, my friends, etc., etc, told her that MY behaviors were grounds to ‘dump my a**.’ It was confusing and twisted to say the least when it was the exact opposite in reality. I recall a month or so ago when I asked one of these ‘friends’ about this they had no idea what I was talking about. The look of being very perplexed as if…’what, huh?’ You do have a related article to this I just re-read.

        I’m sure you’ll have more tidbits like this that you’ll share and I’ll realize yet another one again I’m certain. The realities are falling like rain now. Make that a tropical storm . . .

        Good stuff and insight Dr. Tara. Makes me really ponder if these behaviors are a template and that predictable.

  13. Bert
    September 30, 2009 at 11:23 pm

    Dr. Tara-

    Question that maybe you could help with. The answer may or may not be of relevence necessarily yet begs to be asked.

    Where does the line get drawn between the damaged mess of NP/BP actions behaviors and sociopathy?? Especially where it resides from this side of the fence regarding the female variety.

    My inquiring mind wants to know and it may even serve my soul well and hopefully others too.

    Thanks for yet another wonderful and highly informative article!

    Bert

  14. John
    September 29, 2009 at 2:44 am

    Jim,

    If I were in your shoes I’d get a different lawyer. I would also get a video camera and take it to the next couseling session, set it up in front of them, and just kick back and see what they say. It would be very interesting to see what both the counselor and your ex said about a session being recorded. You could always say you wanted to record in order to really learn and focus on what went on because you are committed to being the best co-parent you can be.

  15. nwest
    September 29, 2009 at 2:43 am

    Is there ever a variant of the professional shopper who manages to find a therapist who keeps the couple in weekly marriage counseling for years and years, with therapist never recommending individual counseling? Would that be odd?

    • shrink4men
      September 29, 2009 at 6:10 pm

      Not odd at all. You’re providing weekly income for that therapist. As long as your wife is content to sit there and bash you week after week while you pay the fee, why would the therapist recommend you give your money to another shrink?

      Furthermore, if you’ve been in couples counseling for more than 6 months and nothing has changed except that you’re feeling more run down and devalued, you have a crap therapist. If none of your needs and feelings are addressed early on with your wife’s needs and feelings in the course of treatment; you have a crap therapist.

      It’s COUPLES therapy—couple—2, count them, one, two people. It’s not “weekly bitch session for wife while husband sits there and takes it” therapy. If your wife can’t tolerate you expressing your needs and feelings in a therapy session in front of a professional, what do you think the odds are that she’ll acknowledge and respect them outside of the therapy office?

      Couples therapists who address this as they see it occurring will probably lose the couple as a client (because the wife will fire the therapist), but they do the husband a disservice by not intervening, educating the couple (whether wife wants to hear it or not) and accepting payment each week.

      Best,
      Dr Tara

  16. AnonymousT
    September 29, 2009 at 2:27 am

    Here is what I experienced:

    My ex started going to various counselors first, alone, I usually would not know until after she had been going a while. Then she would tell me she had been seeing a counselor, and I would be brought in and told to try to be more patient, more understanding, more forgiving, less critical, listen to her needs, and so on. Some of the same hackneyed “communication skills” and “date night” advice mentioned above. (Some of these counselors were apparently recommending or prescribing her meds, also, I only found out afterward.)

    This was all fine with me, but when I would ask what my wife could do, the tears would flow and that would be the end of the session. Later I would hear from my wife that counselor X (usually a woman) thought that I was “a jerk”, or too controlling, or something similar. This ramped up to “verbally abusive” toward the end of the marriage, this term was new to me, I had never heard it before and I don’t think it was my ex’s own original idea – I think she got it from a book or a counselor.

    I am pretty sure her last solo counselor talked her into a divorce lawyer, and she filed a lawsuit against me to kick me out of the house. This was during what I thought was a stable period, I had no idea any of this was going on until I was served. It was quite a shock.

    I got her to withdraw the lawsuit by agreeing to work on her demands (I was sincere about this), but at that point in desperation I picked a counseling service out of the phone book for couples counseling. I think it was the first time that I had initiated the counseling – and it was both of us from the start, rather than her laying the groundwork for some unknown period of time with the counselor before I got called in.

    This last counselor, a woman, suggested very early on that my wife might be the one with some issues. The response the counselor got was an absolutely stunned look and the cry “But what about MY needs?” My wife ended up quitting after a few months, simulataneously leaving me. Her leaving surprised not only me but the counselor, too.

    Before she quit she first “forgot” a couple of appointments (and she was one NEVER to forget appointments), and she made a strange ad hominem attack on the counselor’s personal background. She read a sort of declaration at the last counseling session, announcing her reasons for leaving (“my needs are not being met, nobody is listening to me”), and that was it. Afterward I learned that she had been secretly preparing to leave for some time during the counseling (bought a house on the sly, stole money from accounts, changed credit cards, etc.).

    So, in my case, it seemed that since she could not get what she wanted from this last counselor, who was actually listening to my side of things at least equally to hers, she used the counseling as a delaying tactic or cover for her preparations to leave.

    Dr. T, is this a common pattern?

    • shrink4men
      September 29, 2009 at 6:03 pm

      Hi AnonymousT,

      These women can be quite devious and cunning. I don’t put anything past them when it comes to hurting others and getting their own way. They show no remorse for these kind of behaviors and often adopt a self-righteous attitude about them. “You deserved it; she’s entitled.”

      Many men make the HUGE mistake of letting this kind of woman control the finances in the marriage. When you do this, you’re handing her the weapon with which to hurt you.

      So, to answer your question, it doesn’t surprise me at all that your wife did this with your assets. Men, if you’re married to a woman you suspect is NPD/BPD and she’s handling the money, I’d slowly start to get copies of all your records and accounts. Look for strange withdrawals and deposits (into accounts you don’t recognize). These women are not to be trusted with money. Period.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

      • Phil
        October 18, 2009 at 4:42 am

        Dr T

        Again your thoughts and advice have hit home. I recently discovered that my wife was secretly taking money from our joint account. I found a total of $17000 in her dresser drawer (cash). Since she has never worked it was stolen from my paycheck before or after it was to have been put in the bank. This happened because blindly trusted her. When I confronted her (cash in hand) she just grinned as if she was pleased with herself for having put on over on me. Plus she blamed me saying “I wouldn’t have had to do it if you were not so stingy”. What makes this statement so incredible is that I handed over my paycheck to her for 38 of our 40 year marriage. In my earlier post I outlined some of our other problems and my limited understanding of NPD/BPD is a recent event. She said she took the money over a 5 or 6 year period but I have no idea if this is all the money she’s hidden or if it’s the tip of the iceberg. The money is not the real issue (no we are not rich) the greatest loss is the loss of trust.

        I could forgive this except she still has no remorse for taking the money or for all the lies she must have told along the way. It says a lot about NPD/BPD behavior and confirms your remarks. I hope others take note.

  17. jham123
    September 28, 2009 at 8:59 pm

    We have had 3 therapist so far. As soon as the Therapist starts to focus on her….We have to stop going for whatever reason.

    The last one is sort of confusing, but I see what is occuring. The last one was in total communication with my wife and my wife was seeing her first…..then she brought me in.

    This Therapist was very sympathetic to my wife. Well as time went on, My wife didn’t like me there as I had a different view of situations in our past. One day we show up and the Office had “Moved’…….no sign, no communique…..nothing……My wife acted bewildered.

    She has and still does try to convince me that she had no idea that the office was moved…..we are standing out in front of the door 5 minutes early and the door is locked and the name plates are gone…..

    My wife claims that the therapist never called her to tell her they were moving their office and furthermore, they then never returned any calls from my wife. My wife claims she left messages asking where the new office is located and “No one” ever calls back.

    Wait, The Therapist is the Pastor at our church’ wife…..My wife see’s her every Thursday AM for Church Bible Studies and every Sunday…..So for months my wife had no clue where the office moved to and no one every called to offer any explanation about the entire staff moving from one location to another. This is hard to believe.

    Fast forward, My wife somehow found this same therapist and is now seeing her on a weekly basis, but the therapist thinks it’s a good idea for me not to be there for a while.

    Figure that one out…..(I have already)

    She likes this Therapist, but I was messing up her victim status the 3 times I showed up. I was exposing another reality that the Therapist was not privy to prior to me showing up……

    Wow, so somehow I am nixed out of these sessions.

    • Kev
      September 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm

      Wow, and here I was thinking the therapist moved and actually didn’t call her, to get away from her. :)

      It’s funny, reading all of these accounts. My ex and I had briefly considered couples therapy (her idea), but it never panned out. I think it would have gone down exactly as everyone here has described.

      • Rob
        September 29, 2009 at 2:02 am

        Jim, your therapy sounds familiar, though, mine did not last that long. I now have my podcasts, some sports talk or something, to stop the thinking about all i was accused of over 5 years and help me sleep. It is amazing the damage we take and do not realize it until it’s too late.

        In short, she went to the therapist first, I went after a few times with them, therapist made me apologize, I went by myself, tried to explain things, did not help much. So, after therapy ended, my ex used the therapy to prove me as the problem, quoting her and saying a professional said I am wrong, as are all my friends and family. (by the way, she has no friends, she has dumped all of them for various reasons)

        Like doc Tara said, a real therapist doesn’t take sides, they try to listen, and learn. I walked around in almost shock for a little while, thinking therapy would help, but, really just gave her more ammo.

        It’s been a month, still hanging in there. Good luck.

      • Nick
        October 3, 2009 at 2:44 pm

        Question…my ex, pretty much from the start, used to threaten divorce (in a screaming crazy manner) for relatively minor issues. It use to ramp me up and put me in fight or flight mode. It happened once every other month or so. I eventually took her up on it. She would berate me for not saying, and i quote, “now honey…you don’t mean that..what is bothering you?” No Shit! This is the response she required! Is this common out there with you guys? Or was this a unique brand of looney bin that i alone suffered?

        • Tim
          January 6, 2010 at 6:53 pm

          Man! Mine would threaten to leave almost like clockwork once a month starting about 7 months after she moved in and about a year into the relationship. First few months, I tried to figure it out, then I would start calling her bluff. Then the next time, I packed stuff for her. Third time, she actually was gone w/ a nasty note with all her stuff removed from the place. I changed the locks that night and turned off my phone. Next morning, about 20 emails from her raging about how I “broke up” with her yadda yadda.

          Week goes by, she shows up at my door at 3 AM with a bloody face; says her brother beat her up and has no where to go; I let her in. Didn’t take her a week to get abusive again; told her to leave; she’s all like “If you’re dumping me, I’m gonna hurt you so bad!” followed by, “OMG! Don’t you know I love you?! I’d NEVER hurt you!” At which point I’d say, “but look how horribly you talk to me!” and she responded with, “But you just don’t know how to approach a woman! You’re supposed to say, ‘Honey, I Need You'”.

          She always wanted me to “need” her. I kept explaining that she’s obviously the one that needs me, at which point she got really irate and threw a telephone at me so hard it left a quarter-sized hole in the wall. I said, “I can’t put up w/ this crazy shit, you need to be out when I come back!”, went to the parking lot, drove around about 5 min, called the cops and they wouldn’t evict her. Even though I had her name removed from the aprtment access (and she wasn’t on the lease). She was there every day when I came home from work, so I’d just leave immediately and got an extended stay.

          Everything was mine, everything, including the bed; all she had were some clothes and i don’t know if she was unemployed or not, b/c she was constantly there and would flip between “come to me, sweetie” to throwing things at me as i drove away…

          the best part was after everything was moved, it turned out she was sleeping on her own clothes on the floor, without even a chair to sit on as EVERYTHING was mine; no cable, no TV, no WIFI, no bed, no sofa, nothing she took forgranted all that time and constantly griped about and berated me over!

          She would call my work number and o how she would express how miserable she was and i would just listen and eat it up. Cant believe I spent 3 years of my life in that ;O

          According to the apartment complex, she refused to vacate the premises and didn’t come out during business hours for 3 days after the lease was over, so they cut the power. for apparently a few more days she lived in 100F weather w/ no power until she finally left for cooler pastures.

          All I know is that she must have burned every damn bridge to live in those conditions.

  18. Jim
    September 28, 2009 at 8:52 pm

    I have to go to expensive family therapy just to see my kids, meeting with her and the therapist. Every single week she either berates me openly or finds ways to dig a knife in me by using my kids. She has a history of false allegations and alienating my kids.

    I want no contact but counselors insist that you meet with her an hear her nonsense. I am sitting there with an abuser and it is damaging to me. It keeps my mind occupied on her and I do not want this. I don’t want to caught up in her chaos, hatred and evil. How do I get this witch off my back?

    Why do these therapist insist on perpetuating the abuse to me? Are they mesmerized by her? To they just buy-in to her crap?

    I no longer have supervised visitation nor mandated counseling by agreed court order (after false allegations were made and my kids kept from me). Now, having a supervisor see my kids at the begining and end of the vist protects me from more false allegations. I just keep agreeing to it for that sole reason – maintaining contact with my kids.

    But the “therapy” is just a bash session against me – always keeping the focus off her. It feeds this hungry emotional vampire I guess. I dread going to these sessions with my X because I end up thinking about all she says about me. I can’t stop these thoughts going over and over.

    It is all pure abuse against me and even my parents and relatives. It is the sickest thing I have ever seen and I still cannot fathom how or why the counselor keeps this going unless he has just adopted her viewpoint about me. It is mind-numbing – sucking the joy out of me.

    As an objective person, I cannot fathom how a trained psychologist could fail to see that this woman is a wacked out lunatic. Even if he recognizes this, why the hell would you put me through this? It is crazy.

    Six hundred years ago you would call this woman an evil witch. Now the parlance is that she is an undiagnosed Cluster B. Regardless, why am I supposed to be her constant victim. How is this okay?

    I dropped my son off at church Sunday and we were one minute late and this woman makes a scene right on the steps of the church throwing up her hands and all. What a total sin – doing that and then taking my kids inside to church. What kinds of message does that send?

    I just thank God that I am not her. I like to believe as this website suggests that she burns in Hell right here on earth because she has a big black hole in her soul. Than God I am not her.

    I just wish I could find a way to have absolutely no contact with her whatsoever. But the psychologist just keeps the pain going. It is just crazy-making.

    And no I am not a masochist. I will never, ever see my kids without following this program, absolutely. I have already been through contempt motions and the courts just want to give it to the therapists.

    I proabably have PTSD, who knows. Every woman I see now is a lunatic because this evil woman. I associate gross, sick thoughts seeing a mother and her baby – one of the most wholesome things you can think of.

    I can absolutely understand how and why people snap and lose it. Unless you have great personal self-esteem (which I do) and strength, this is just too much to deal with.

    It is all crazy-making. I just do not want my thoughts consumed by this creep. Please advise.

    • Mike91163
      September 28, 2009 at 9:19 pm

      Jim:

      RUN, don’t walk, and get your OWN therapist. It’s obvious that you’re a man “on the edge”-please, please, PLEASE do NOT allow her to push you over!

      You HAVE to talk to someone else-a therapist, friend, family, whoever, someone who you can “vent” to and help guide you through this mess. God forbid you let something slip to the “supervisor” and it comes back to haunt you…

      The sooner you can take care of YOUR mental health, the better…and hey, I don’t know how long these “joint” therapy sessions last, but try to focus on the 160+ hours weekly that you DON’T have to be there…it ain’t easy, but ANYTHING legal and safe that will help you re-focus is all good…(and alcohol doesn’t count!)

      • shrink4men
        September 28, 2009 at 9:27 pm

        Hi Mike and Jim,

        I just posted some questions for Jim re: his joint “therapy” sessions.

        Basically, if you’re not court ordered to do couples sessions (which makes no sense legally since you’re divorced), then stop going. If you’re worried she’ll retaliate by refusing to let you see your kids, drag her ass into court immediately for being in violation of your court-determined visitation rights.

        Meanwhile, get your own individual therapist and explain exactly what’s been going on. It may be to your benefit to have your own mental health ally in the twisted court system.

        Your wife will probably claim the joint sessions are to discuss parenting issues. If so, agree to do one joint session a month with your individual therapist present. If she refuses this offer, you can use it as evidence to show that you’re being a responsible co-parent and that she is being the difficult, controlling wingnut.

        You shouldn’t have to pay to sit there and be abused once a week by your ex and her therapist.

        Best,
        Dr T

    • shrink4men
      September 28, 2009 at 9:19 pm

      Hi Jim,

      I re-posted your comments to this blog because I’d like the discussion to take place here. I hope that’s okay.

      As for your situation, I have a few questions:

      1) Are you court ordered to attend therapy with your ex or is this her demand?
      2) If so, what happens if you stop attending?
      3) Are your children present during these “bash sessions?

      • Jim
        September 28, 2009 at 10:44 pm

        1. Court ordered therapy is technically over. This is the latest counselor’s idea.

        2. If I stop attending, my X will likely refuse visitation and/or file to modify my shared parenting plan (not even followed here) to require therapy and more “supervised visitation.” I will file for contempt and the counselor will testify we need more therapy of course. The court will just go along with the counselor. It will take months and months and in that time the kids will become estranged from me again and will then ironically really need therapy.

        3. The children are not in the bash sessions.

        This is the second counselor like this whose mode of treatment is the venting bash session against me.

        Maybe they think at least it is better than the sick X filing false charges with Children’s Services, police, false domestic violence ect … (all of which I have been through). Maybe they are just mesmerized by her.

        Note that for a simple straight-forward divorce, by my count no less that counselors have been involved!. It is shocking.

        I used to get anxious going to these sessions, then totally demoralized because of being devalued as a human being by both the law and psychology.

        Now my mind just whirls around and around all week. I am resorting to talking out loud and reciting memorized movie lines just to block this out of my mind for a moment. It is like she transfers her gross, chaotic inner world over to me. It is maddening.

        I take it because my children probably have no hope without me. And I cannot just say goodbye to them forever and leave them to be the target of her sick needs.

        (Speaking of couples therapy, I remember the first family therapist suggesting the “Couples Dialogue” by Harville Hendrix to communicate more better with my X. I tried this on the phone (after explaining the counselor’s suggestion) and she got hostile and hung up on me).

        There is a merciful God because she left me! If I was still married to her I would have keeled over from a coronary to be sure. Any single guy who fails to follow your advice about dumping this type of emotional vampire is crazy himself.

        Don’t sell Jack Daniels short. Sometimes when hope and faith and every healthy coping mechanism under the sun can’t keep your mind from obsessing, a couple of stiff drinks is all there is to do so.

      • shrink4men
        September 29, 2009 at 4:51 pm

        Hi Jim,

        Your predicament sounds just awful. Here are some suggestions. I don’t know if any of them are viable, but it might not hurt to run them past your attorney:

        1. Is the counselor you’re seeing court-appointed? Is she licensed? Is she a LICSW, LMHC, etc? If so, file a complaint against her for malpractice (although this might alienate other court therapists toward you). She’s allowing you to be abused in her office. I’m not clear if she joins in the bashing with your wife or mutely sits there nodding her head. Or, request another court appointed therapist except that this time, you meet with the therapist first and explain the situation. Your wife probably won’t agree to this because of her control issues.

        2. I don’t think your wife and her therapist will allow you to video tape them, but why don’t you make a digital recording without their knowledge and then play it for your lawyer and see what he/she says.

        3. What is your relationship with your attorney? Is he/she helpful or part of the problem? If you don’t think your attorney is protecting your best interests, I encourage you to find a better advocate.

        4. Is your wife at the post-visitation meetings? If so, meet with her then to discuss actual parenting issues rather than in a therapy office. She may behave herself with someone who can report her bad behavior.

        5. I still don’t understand how your ex manipulated it so you have to attend a weekly session with her. I’ve never heard of this before.

        6. Find your own therapist and insist that he or she is present during these sessions. This may be the best way to go. Also, let your therapist negotiate arranging the joint sessions. Your ex’s counselor will only shoot it down if you request it. Better yet, if your ex’s counselor is a Masters level clinician, find yourself a PhD or PsyD (higher credentials) and let him or her contact your ex’s therapist. She’s unlikely to reject a request from a colleague, especially a colleague with a greater level of education, training and status because there’s no way she could explain it. (Side note: There is a pecking order in the mental health field.)

        For example, if I were your therapist, I’d call her, introduce myself as Dr Palmatier, make some social chit chat, explain that you’re seeing me for individual therapy and that you’ve signed a confidentiality release form for me to speak with her about the “work” she’s been doing with you.

        She’ll probably start to get flustered and say she needs to have a copy of the release form before speaking to me. I’d then offer to fax it to her immediately. In fact, I’d probably want to have you in my office so you can give her verbal authorization to speak to me as well. Plus, it might be fun for you to watch;-)

        Then, I’d very politely explain that you contacted me to help you with the strain and stress of the divorce and parenting because you feel like you need your own source of support and advocate (I wouldn’t explicitly state, “because you’re being actively unsupportive to Jim”—it’s an implied accusation of negligence). At this time, the woman’s head will probably be imploding, while she struggles to not sound defensive.

        Then, I’d pay her a false compliment, like “great school you went to, do you know Professor So-and-So?” Next, I would hit her with the main purpose of the call: the request to have a joint session with her and your ex. She’ll probably want to know why. I’d explain that even though you’re divorced, you’re still co-parents and given the animosity that’s still present, I believe it’s clinically appropriate for each co-parent to have their own advocate present during a parenting session, so that both parties feel equally supported.

        She’ll probably stall and try to resist by stating she needs to discuss it with your ex and have her sign release forms, “I don’t know if she’ll agree to this…” In turn, I’d be gracious and say I totally understand. I would then advise her that I’ve already drafted nearly complete letters to Jim’s attorney, ex-wife’s attorney, the court evaluator, the visitation supervisor (and anyone else involved), to notify them that I’m now Jim’s individual therapist.

        I’ll state that she’ll receive a copy of this letter as well and say, “Let me summarize it for you. The letter states what a loving, devoted father Jim is, how committed he is to participating in his children’s lives, etc., and to that end, Jim has sought my services because he’s concerned that ex-wife’s rancor, hostility and animosity only seem to be growing, as evidenced by her behavior in their weekly sessions and ex-wife’s continued threats to deny visitation. Jim’s sole reason in working with me is to learn coping techniques to deal with ex-wife’s attacks, set appropriate boundaries and learn how to communicate with ex-wife in a way that doesn’t fan her hostility, but makes it possible to be civil, emotionally controlled, good co-parents.”

        I would conclude by telling her that I sincerely hope to include in my letters that she, ex-wife’s therapist, has agreed to work together with me in resolving the lingering animosity between you and ex for the sake of the children. Alternately, she should be advised that if she and ex-wife refuse the joint sessions, I would like to include the reason why in my letter, however, I will state that they both refused even if they don’t provide a reason.

        At this point, I would have your wife’s shrink backed into a corner. She could flat out refuse, but that makes both her and your ex look bad. She could draft her own letter to the court, attorneys, etc., but what is she going to say? It’d be damned hard to make you look bad when you’re independently seeking individual support because you want to be a good parent and minimize the stress on your children and are paying for it out of your own pocket. Or, she could stall for time while she tries to wrangle your ex into agreeing to the joint sessions.

        Meanwhile, I will state that until we can agree to joint sessions, you won’t be attending the weekly session with your ex, and recommend that she and I act as intermediates for any legitimate parenting issues the two of you may have in that week.

        It’s highly unlikely that this therapist and your ex could endure more than 2 or three joint sessions with a witness, i.e., your individual therapist, present for their shenanigans and will probably agree that it’s better for you to do your own individual work and meet jointly only when necessary.

        Of course, you should run all of these suggestions by your attorney.

        Best,
        Dr Tara

        • Jim
          February 17, 2012 at 7:27 pm

          It has been two and a half years since I posted the comments above. I was able to shut down all the counseling sessions and supervision. The only contact I have with the woman is via text messages whenever there is a change in my plans in seeing my kids. What peace I have obtained. Though I am still dealing with all the financial strain that all this entailed, my life has really improved tremendously. I hope she will get remarried soon and she will forget about me altogether. Though I must say, I feel sorry for the next guy!!!! Eventually he is going to be the next victim of her hate and rage eventually. At least it is not me or my kids. : )

          • shrink4men
            February 18, 2012 at 4:09 am

            That’s wonderful, Jim! I’m very happy for you. Thank you for checking back to let everyone know that it can and does get better.

            Best wishes for peace and happiness,
            Dr T

      • jham123
        September 29, 2009 at 5:06 pm

        Just awesome Dr. T…..simply awesome.

      • shrink4men
        September 29, 2009 at 5:19 pm

        Thanks, jham. The head cold from last week has finally lifted and my synapses are starting to fire up again.

      • Mike91163
        September 29, 2009 at 5:33 pm

        You know what, guys? Re-read Dr. Tara’s reply to Jim, and this time read between the lines…methinks the good doctor is teaching us two things here:

        1–Straightening our backbones/re-growing our cojones; and, most importantly…

        2–Establishing BOUNDARIES!

        If you read carefully, it’s obvious that Dr. T thought everything through, and had virtually all bases covered. Some might say that she’s “blindsiding” the other therapist in a few spots, but so what? What do you think YOU have been going through with your BPD/NPD spouse?

        To me, this example shows how vitally important it is to be organized, and have all of one’s “ducks in a row”.

        Well said, Doc, and would this indeed be a good “template” for trying to carry on a conversation with one’s BPD/NPD spouse?

      • shrink4men
        September 29, 2009 at 5:54 pm

        Thanks, Mike.

        When dealing with a NPD/BPD woman, especially when it comes to legal issues and your children, you have to have all of your bases covered. These women can spot a chink in your armor from a mile away.

        These women know how to manipulate the court system and mental health workers. I’ve simply taken a page out of their playbook and turned it around on them, but here’s the difference: My way doesn’t abuse or harm anyone. You take control of the situation with intellect, calm reason and by establishing clear boundaries and consequences. I’m also taking advantage of the fact that bullies, NPDs/BPDs, and bad therapists usually behave themselves in front of witnesses/peers.

        If they don’t behave themselves, even better because they’ll be hoisting themselves by their own petard if they act out in front of an objective third party witness. Also, women like this often cloak their attacks by using the authority of professionals (attorneys, therapists, etc.) or religion (priests, pastors, the Bible), so find your own authority figure, but a good one.

        As for using it as a template to have a conversation with a BPD/NPD spouse or ex, well, I don’t think you can have a real conversation with these individuals. They do one-way communication only. They set forth their demands, criticisms, etc., and the only thing you’re allowed to do is agree with them and thank them for the abuse.

        It doesn’t pay to try to reason or reach a compromise with these people. They’re not capable of it, so set your boundaries, get your ducks in a row and enforce real consequences for their bad behavior. Women like this seem to only understand life and relationships in terms of reward and punishment.

        Hope this helps,
        Dr T

      • Mike91163
        September 29, 2009 at 6:46 pm

        Dr. T, a simple question for you, based on your #2 suggestion above, as well as “coping strategy #18″:

        Can you recommend a particular brand or model of digital voice recorder? Quite honestly, I could care less about its legal admissability…I’m more interested in being able to combat gaslighting and other “I never said that” or “you said this” statements, if only for my OWN peace of mind. I have no problem going out and spending $100-150 on one of these, IF it picks up voices sufficiently while in one’s pocket.

        Any suggestions or ideas???

        Thanks in advance!

    • Ron
      October 5, 2009 at 2:13 pm

      JIm, that just sucks. I hope you can someday get away from her. For me, no contact is a Godsend.

  19. Mike91163
    September 28, 2009 at 8:16 pm

    Wow, Doc, I heard these phrases word-for-word:

    “… “communication skills,” “exercising patience” and scheduling a “date night” …”

    Funny though, when I told the therapist that my lack of “communication skills” was because I was afraid of the frequent angry replies, she never said “Mike’s wife, you need to (x), (y), or (z)…” It always boiled down to:

    –I was the one who really had to work on MY communication skills;
    –I was the one who had to “exercise patience” by carefully considering MY words before speaking; and
    –I was the one who had to setup those “date nights”…nevermind that when I would do just that, I would get the “I’m tired/don’t feel good/don’t know what we’ll be doing that day/night”…

    Your #2 “Rarely Works” comment is spot-on…after a few joint visits, the therapist told us that since she had my background (childhood, etc.), she also wanted to delve into my wife’s. Ironic now, looking back, it became “You go-you’re the one who needs the help, not me…” and my wife never went again, either with me or on her own.

    • shrink4men
      September 28, 2009 at 9:12 pm

      I can always spot the chestnuts given by graduates of your average MFT mill.

      Here are some other gems:

      – Take turns giving each other back rubs.
      – Wait for her to initiate physical contact.
      – No sex for a month (paradoxical intervention).
      – Practice non-defensive listening.
      – Use “I” statements.

      These techniques are fine if the couple you’re treating are relatively sane healthy individuals who just need to work out some communication and intimacy issues. However, they do not apply if you’re involved with an emotionally abusive predator. In fact, these interventions actually make you more vulnerable.

      Just like you shouldn’t apply most relationship self-help books to individuals with NPD/BPD. They twist the information into crazy pretzels and use it to hurt you.

  20. Mr. E
    September 28, 2009 at 6:24 pm

    HA! That picture is perfect. My wife actually identifies with the Red Queen… And I’ve definitely witnessed more people around her than just me “painting the roses red.”

    • shrink4men
      September 28, 2009 at 8:56 pm

      I’ve been considering titling my first e-book Off with his head! Relationships with Narcissistic and Borderline Women. I can’t decide if it’s “scary, but good” or just scary. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

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