(Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)
Everyone always writes about the positive aspects of coming out of a relationship with a psychopathic personality . You read things about how as a result of being in such a toxic relationship it empowers you and teaches you how to recognise and spot predators. If you have never learnt how to have boundaries in the past you learn how to have them. You learn about healthy self-respect for yourself and self-love and most people decide if they have had proper counselling that they will never come have this type of relationship again.
When it comes to future dating If you have never been able to spot the warning signs of the beginnings of what could be a relationship based on power and control you learn those too. That way you never enter relationships that are likely to harm you again.
There are many many positives that come out of the relationship with the narcissist or the psychopath but what is the downside of having had a relationship with a psychopath and do people really understand the impact of how the relationship has really affected their victims?
Few therapists really understand what goes on with a psychopathic personality and the damage they can do to their victims. Chances are the abuser will often turn the tables on the victim and try to blame them. Sometimes they might even tell the therapist that the victim is crazy and being such charming convincing characters it’s not long before the therapist is on the narcissists side questioning the sanity of the victim.
Most victims of psychopathic personalities suffer from PTSD long after the event. It takes many forms and it needs a very understanding therapist to understand exactly what is going on and to not judge the victim for being triggered. It could be something as small as a smell that triggers them or the fact that they bump into someone in the street that looks like their abuser. If a victim has a history of attracting abusive types throughout their life then the victim may start to develop the “girl/boy who cried wolf” syndrome whereby if the victim feels they want to tell the therapist something the feel the therapist wont believe them. Perhaps the therapist may appear to be disinterested in what the victim is telling them. They will say things like “Well you should be happy, after all think of all the positives” “You have a nice job now, things are going good aren’t they”. “Think how lucky you are to be rid of xx”
A small trigger like the above is easier for the victim to deal with but what happens if something more serious happens within a few years of leaving a psychopath. Say for example you are put in a situation where you meet another psychopath who threatens your safety. This is challenging enough for anyone who has never even been in relationship with one but its even more challenging when you have already had a relationship with one. Victims are often left hyper vigilant and know exactly how to spot abusers far better than they could have before. so when another abusers slips through their radar they victim will immediately blame themselves and say things like “Why didn’t I spot them?” “Why didn’t I see it coming” Why because the person doing it is a psychopath and they can trick any con anyone. Even with the best tools in the work experts get conned by these people day in day out. Like myself my friend is an “expert” on psychopathic personalities and yet she still got caught out again by these insidious individuals. The therapist on the other hand may just poo poo it and think its just another trigger.
Most recently a friend contacted me who was unfortunate to have had a run in with another psychopath after her relationship with the previous psychopath had ended. It had been more than two years so she was already well on her way to being completely healed.
The event that happened was pretty disgusting and would have been enough to upset any normally stable person but this particular situation had sent my friend into a tailspin. The therapist not recognising that she had PTSD from her previous encounter re-triggered by this new event with a different psychopathic person decided to prescribe her anti depressant. As a result of her interactions with the therapist when she eventually went back for counselling she decided to tell the therapist she was OK and that nothing was wrong.
Nothing could be further from the truth but what happens is that victims may start to feel like there is no point in even telling their therapist anything because they just don’t get it. The therapist may put the victims reaction down to being “hyper sensitive” or “reactionary”.
I have been in a similar situation myself and it puts the target in a difficult situation. They don’t want to go and see another therapist because the new therapist will ask why the victim has left the previous therapist. If they do find someone else it then means churning everything all over again from the past that isn’t necessary that the victim doesn’t particularly want to talk about thus reinforcing any old traumas that may well have been dealt with. The therapist may blame it on the victims old pattern and not even understand this is a “brand new trauma” with a “brand new psychopath” complicated by the fact that they are also dealing with being re-traumatised and probably a bit of PTSD thrown in for good measure.
Notice I use the term target as psychopaths will target both people who have been victims of psychopaths and those who have never had the misfortune of meeting them
As a result the target feels helpless and victimized again and although like any normal person they may wish to seek help because of their previous experiences they are left with a couple of options.
1) sharing their experiences with people who have been through the same I.e. other victims/targets. This can be OK but sometimes this can prolong the healing especially if they go on forums where the victims actually enjoy being stuck in victim mode and then they have to churn up all the old stuff again which they don’t want to or
2) share their experiences with friends and family, most of whom do not understand at all and really don’t want to hear it all again least of all the victim may have met psycho number xxx Or
3) to internalize it and to try to go figure out for themselves why they are being re-traumatised again and deal with it the best way they can.
The third option is OK IF they have done enough healing and had a good therapist in the first place but what if the therapy they got in the first place wasn’t enough. The victim is back to square one and may have to start their healing all over again.
My hope is that one day therapists really start to understand what it feels like to be in a relationship with a psychopath and not just to lecture their clients about what victims should and shouldn’t do. Most therapists may have had a few run ins with the odd narcissist which although unpleasant enough in itself is compared to the psychopath pretty easy to spot and a walk if the park to some degree. However few if any have ever had to deal with a true psychopathic malignant narcissist..
Having had more than a few run ins with psychopaths when I wrote Dark Souls it took me many months after thinking I was completely healed to realised that PTSD was what was keeping me stuck and not that I was some kind of psycho attractor. It was a colleague who finally reminded me that the only types of people who are likely to read a book like mine are those who have been victims or those who are psychopaths who might think they are buying a book that will teach that some new tricks. Sadly for them my book is to empower victims of psychopaths not the other way round.
The general public is not aware of psychopathic behaviour but very few therapists on the other hand understand psychopathic behaviour at all unless they have worked directly with them or been on the receiving end of one of their scams.
There is no quick fix when it comes to getting over a psychopath and you will only heal as quickly as you allow yourself to. The good news is that therapy works for neurotics who have been victimized by these people so by seeking therapy you are on the first step to recovery. My advise to anyone seeking help if they have been with someone they know to be a psychopath is to make sure you seek someone who understands their disordered personality and has dealt with victims of psychopaths, sociopaths or narcissists or you could be in for a long bumpy ride.