The Sociopath’s Among Us

We may not know what we are experiencing when we encounter a sociopath, but most people near a sociopath know something isn’t quite right, there is an uneasiness and tension when you encounter them. The best predictions are that the sociopath’s among us constitute 2-4% of the general population.

The mental health official handbook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders, doesn’t recognize “Sociopath” as an official disorder. They instead use the term Antisocial Personality Disorder to define a Sociopath.

Most mental health professionals agree that sociopath’s share a similar set of traits. Sociopath’s have a poor or absent sense of right or wrong. Sociopath’s may appear to have empathy for other’s, but any empathy shown is for the purpose of being able to control their victims.

Many Sociopath’s are very successful as measured by our society. They often rise to positions of leadership in our culture. “Winning at any cost”, is often what drives their behaviors. They may be able to look you in the eye and lie to you very convincingly. From the perspective of the sociopath a lie may be the same thing as the truth. This is often because the are void of a conscience and really can’t discern between the lie or truth or between right or wrong. Many trusting people that encounter them don’t realize that they’re being lied to and thus fall victim to them.

How can you determine if you meet a sociopath? Here are 10 signs that can clue you in that you may be dealing with a sociopath.

  1. They tend to be more intense and spontaneous than others.
  2. They can be very charming with a high degree of charisma which often attracts a following of others that desire to be around them.
  3. They often truly believe that their lies are sincerely the truth.
  4. Most are incapable of feeling any guilt, shame or remorse.
  5. Invention of outrageous lies about their experiences are often shared with others that they seek to influence.
  6. Most everything in their lives is a “contest” that they must win at any cost.
  7. They tend to have high IQ’s and are highly intelligent, making them very dangerous to others.
  8. Most are incapable of little if any love for others.
  9. Their speech patterns are very eloquent.
  10. They never apologize.

Are there any close relationships in your life where you may be dealing with a sociopath? Most of us are exposed to the sociopath’s among us unaware! Many individuals who are exposed to the games of sociopathic behavior feel like they are the one’s who are going crazy. Most people want to be able to trust others, but when you’re dealing with a sociopath mutual trust can lead you down a dark path.

There are three things that have proven to be helpful when dealing with sociopathic behaviors in others. First, recognize the behavior for what it is. You’re not the one that’s crazy. Second, stick to the facts! Fact check their claims. Don’t accept what they say at face value. Third, set firm boundaries for their behaviors. Of course with every boundary there must be an adverse consequence for the offender.

If you would like more help in dealing with the sociopath’s in your life relationships please contact me at Family Christian Counseling Center in Phoenix, AZ, http://www.familyccc.com

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Being Married to a Spouse With a Bipolar Disorder

Help, I’m married to a spouse with a bipolar disorder! Being married to a spouse with bipolar can be a very difficult challenge. Often a marriage where bipolar is present can be described by the offended spouse as being on an emotional rollercoaster. Many marriages can be serious jeopardy when the disorder is present in a spouse, but there is hope for the marriage if the disorder is properly diagnosed and both partners are willing to get outside help with their marriage and the disorder.

Bipolar disorder is a neurobiological brain disorder that severely affects approximately 5.5 million Americans today or 2.6 percent of the adult population. Although bipolar disorder usually begins in adolescence or early adulthood, it can sometimes start in early childhood or as late as age 40 or 50.

Bipolar disorder, formerly called manic depression, causes extreme mood swings that include emotional highs (mania or hypomania) and lows (depression). When you become depressed, you may feel sad or hopeless and lose interest or pleasure in most activities. When your mood shifts in the other direction, you may feel euphoric and full of energy. Mood shifts may occur only a few times a year or as often as several times a week.

The tricky part comes up when neither you nor your spouse knows bipolar disorder may be behind the tension and trouble between the two of you. Often the individual doesn’t even know she has bipolar disorder. People can go years and even decades without a diagnosis or treatment. It might take you to get them in for a diagnosis.

Below, is a list of common behaviors that may be exhibited by a sufferer of bipolar disorder

  • exaggerated optimism and self-confidence
  • an inflated perspective about abilities and qualities
  • racing thoughts
  • brisk, speech
  • impulsive behavior
  • bad decision-making
  • reckless behavior
  • excessive shopping sprees
  • irresponsible driving choices
  • rash business decisions
  • sexual promiscuity
  • experiencing delusions (holding untrue beliefs) and hallucinations (seeing and/or hearing things that aren’t there).

Another way to determine if you spouse has bipolar disorder is to consider his or her childhood. The lives of teens struggling with mood disorders can be marred by poor decisions and/or ineffective, misguided attempts to cope. Mood disordered teens may experience or perpetrate:

  • academic failure
  • destruction of property
  • struggling to maintain employment
  • social isolation
  • drug and alcohol abuse and/or addiction
  • frequent misunderstandings
  • inability to finish projects
  • reckless behavior (speeding, unprotected sex, over-spending)
  • extreme defiance
  • poor social relations
  • suicide attempts
  • explosive anger
  • extreme mood swings

Why is My Spouse So Difficult?

Keep in mind that, beyond the behaviors their chemical imbalances create, adults with bipolar disorder endured a childhood where they sensed their moods and behaviors were not the same as those of most of their peers. As a result of this sense of difference or disconnection, they developed coping strategies that often ended up doing them a disservice eventually.

Disconnection: When young people with bipolar can’t understand or predict others’ moods and behaviors, they cope by withdrawing. Usually, they interact with one or very few people who can meet their needs.

Controlling Behaviors When you can’t predict someone else’s behavior, one way to feel safe is to learn to control others. Control is a subtle art, and often-controlling people have been practicing it for decades. A portion of the bipolar population becomes “controlling.” This at first can show up as a talkative, outgoing bent, but soon suggestions and discussions become manipulative.

Drug/Alcohol Abuse: The feelings someone with bipolar disorder experiences can be so overwhelming, the only way out is with street drugs. A significant proportion of those who abuse alcohol and narcotics have an underlying mood disorder, particularly bipolar disorder and depression.

Overspending: While in a mania or hypomania, someone with bipolar disorder can find all sorts of reasons to rationalize spending gobs of money on whatever their hearts desire. Those who treat their bipolar disorder often let their spouses control the money, particularly when they recognize a mania coming on. This may involve the other spouse keeping the credit cards or even the car keys.

Irritability: People with bipolar disorder and even those with depression can experience uncontrollable irritability. A spouse often serves as an outlet for their overwhelming anger, but so can children, other drivers and other family members.

Grandiosity: The imbalance of chemicals in the brain can cause those with bipolar disorder to have inflated images of themselves. They may feel they’re more talented or more psychic than most. They may believe that they’re needed to take care of governmental or worldwide problems.

If your affected spouse fully accepts the diagnosis of bipolar disorder and resolves to get treatment, you could begin working together and make the marriage stronger than ever.

If, on the other hand, your spouse refuses treatment, you must learn to protect yourself from abuse. Abuse can take the form of

  • verbal abuse (rampant blaming)
  • financial abuse (spending money; taking on massive debt)
  • emotional abuse (controlling, cruel behavior)
  • physical abuse (when irritability spins out of control)

If you would like help coping with your bipolar spouse and would like to begin improving your marriage please contact a licensed therapist. For those in the Phoenix, AZ area seeking help with their marriage please contact me at Family Christian Counseling Center of Phoenix http://familycccp.org/

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Marriage/Divorce and the Effects on Children

In marriage counseling a common question in the minds of a couple is, “if we do end up in a divorce how will it affect our child or children”? The goal in marriage counseling is to help repair and strengthen the marriage. Unfortunately sometimes, despite the best of intentions and hard work in marriage therapy couples do terminate their marriages. Because a couple is so focused on their own issues relating to their marriage the effect of breaking up the relationship and the affect on the children is overlooked.

The family is the building block of our society. It is the place where everyone begins life and to which they always belong. The more that members of a family belong to each other, the more each individual and each family thrive. When rejection occurs in the family, especially between the parents when they separate or divorce, or even when they never come together, the entire family and especially the children, suffers.

Research shows that a break up of a marriage does adversely effect the the children except in the cases where active abuse of the children is taking place within the family. 

Amy Desai J.D. in her research on “How Could Divorce Affect My Kids”? determined the following.

While virtually every child suffers the lost relationship and lost security, for many, the emotional scars have additional, more visible consequences. More than 30 years of research continues to reveal the negative effects of divorce on children. Most of these measurable effects are calculated in increased risks. In other words, while divorce does not mean these effects will definitely occur in your child, it does greatly increase the risks. The odds are simply against your kids if you divorce.

Research comparing children of divorced parents to children with married parents shows:

  • Children from divorced homes suffer academically. They experience high levels of behavioral problems. Their grades suffer, and they are less likely to graduate from high school.
  • Kids whose parents divorce are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile.
  • Because the custodial parent’s income drops substantially after a divorce, children in divorced homes are almost five times more likely to live in poverty than are children with married parents.
  • Teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families.

Before you say, “Not my kid,” remember that the children and teens represented in these statistics are normal kids, probably not much different from yours. Their parents didn’t think they would get involved in these things, either. Again, we’re looking at increased risks.

A few more statistics to consider:

  • Children from divorced homes experience illness more frequently and recover from sickness more slowly. They are also more likely to suffer child abuse.
  • Children of divorced parents suffer more frequently from symptoms of psychological distress. And the emotional scars of divorce last into adulthood.

The scope of this last finding – children suffer emotionally from their parents’ divorce – has been largely underestimated. Obviously, not every child of divorce commits crime or drops out of school. Some do well in school and even become high achievers. However, we now know that even these children experience deep and lasting emotional trauma.

For all children, their parents’ divorce colors their view of the world and relationships for the rest of their lives.

If your marriage is struggling and you would like to learn more about how to repair your marriage please contact me at Family Christian Counseling Center of Phoenix. familycccp.org/

Mike DeMoss MAPC, LAC

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Gottman Marriage Counseling

The Gottman’s have thoroughly researched what works best in couples therapy. The Gottman method follows seven basic principles to help couples build healthy relationships. If you are interested in couples counseling and believe this method would be helpful, please contact me.

Mike DeMoss, MAPC, LAC

Family Christian Counseling Center of Phoenix,  familycccp.org


 

The Gottman Method for Healthy Relationships:

Gottman Method Sound Relationship House

1. Build Love Maps: How well do you know your partner’s inner psychological world, his or her history, worries, stresses, joys, and hopes?

2. Share Fondness and Admiration: The antidote for contempt, this level focuses on the amount of affection and respect within a relationship. (To strengthen fondness and admiration, express appreciation and respect.)

3. Turn Towards: State your needs, be aware of bids for connection and respond to (turn towards) them. The small moments of everyday life are actually the building blocks of relationship.

4. The Positive Perspective: The presence of a positive approach to problem-solving and the success of repair attempts.

5. Manage Conflict: We say “manage” conflict rather than “resolve” conflict, because relationship conflict is natural and has functional, positive aspects. Understand that there is a critical difference in handling perpetual problems and solvable problems.

6. Make Life Dreams Come True: Create an atmosphere that encourages each person to talk honestly about his or her hopes, values, convictions and aspirations.

7. Create Shared Meaning: Understand important visions, narratives, myths, and metaphors about your relationship.

8. Trust: this is the state that occurs when a person knows that his or her partner acts and thinks to maximize that person’s best interests and benefits, not just the partner’s own interests and benefits. In other words, this means, “my partner has my back and is there for me.”

9. Commitment: This means believing (and acting on the belief) that your relationship with this person is completely your lifelong journey, for better or for worse (meaning that if it gets worse you will both work to improve it). It implies cherishing your partner’s positive qualities and nurturing gratitude by comparing the partner favorably with real or imagined others, rather than trashing the partner by magnifying negative qualities, and nurturing resentment by comparing unfavorably with real or imagined others.

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The Unfaithful Spouse

In today’s culture the proliferation of unfaithfulness by a spouse is an all too common occurrence. All affairs violate the sacred trust of marriage and involve unfaithfulness. Affairs fall into two major categories: those that involve physical contact and those that involve emotional intimacy. Physical affairs consist of varying degrees of physical and sexual contact between a married person and someone other than their spouse. Emotional affairs also violate the exclusivity of the relational bond of marriage. When married people invest time, money, conversation and emotional energy that should be reserved for their mates, they are guilty of breaking the union with their spouses that God intended.

Tim Jackson believes that affairs are primarily matters of the heart. While external factors do tempt, entice and entrap a person, in the end it is the heart that determines the path one chooses. There are many factors that fuel an affair; a craving for romance, yearning for connection, giving up hope of romance in a marriage and giving into sexual lust outside of the bonds of marriage.

From a Christian perspective, people who get involved in affairs are deceived by their sinful, foolish hearts and refuse to remember God. It is impossible to enjoy an affair and remain in close fellowship with God.

For marriages where an affair has taken place there is hope for reconciliation after the breech of trust. First the unfaithful spouse must give up the affair by cutting off all contact and communication with the third party. Second, individual and marital counseling is suggested to identify and express the reasons for the affair and to expose the issues needing to be addressed in order to pave the way for reconciliation. For the offending spouse it may be important for them to move out of the home (if requested by the injured spouse) while, if necessary, still maintaing the financial provisions for the family. This move should in no way allow for reconnection to the affair partner, but rather provide for a buffer zone for the wounded spouse to begin to heal. Be patient with the slowness of forgiveness from the offended spouse. Do whatever it takes to help the wounded spouse to begin to trust again. Be accountable to several trusted individuals and couples who know the whole story and who have access to both partners. Refuse to request church leaders or others to help pressure the faithful spouse for quick forgiveness and restoration.

The decision to divorce or reconcile is given exclusively to the wounded spouse. The best defense against an affair is to guard our own heart. For counseling help with a troubled marriage in the Phoenix area please contact Mike DeMoss at:  http://familycccp.org

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Dealing With Depression

The experience of depression has been referred to as a heavy darkness. Others have described it as falling overboard in a rough ocean and struggling to keep your head above water while treading without a lifejacket. In Jeff Olson’s “When Hope Is Lost”, he quotes Charles Spurgeon as likening depression to “the horror of a soul forsaken by God”. It is a hellish experience when people give up on life or feel that life has given up on them.

The Signs of Depression

  • I feel consistently sad or numb nearly every day
  • I have little or no interest in activities that I used find enjoyable
  • I’m having difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much
  • I’ve lost my appetite
  • I’m eating too much nearly every day
  • I feel tired most of the time
  • I find it difficult to concentrate or stay focused
  • My interest in marital intimacy has lessened
  • I feel overwhelmed by the burdens of life
  • I don’t hold out much hope that my life will improve in the future
  • I shift from feeling powerless and unworthy to feeling angry and victimized
  • I think about death or killing myself
  • I am involved in an unhealthy behavior that I can’t stop

Depression rarely comes out of nowhere. Although depressed people may feel utterly confused about their plight, there are multiple factors at work, both in their control and out of their control. These factors usually fall into one of three areas: physical factors (disease, diet, exercise and genetics, outside influences (family background, past abuse, loss and unfairness), deferred hope. 

The process of recovery may include recovering hope by facing despair, acknowledging the pain of loss and admitting the failure of misplaced hopes. Many facing depression find help in strengthening their faith and relationship with God, while recovering joy by giving to others.

My suggestion to you if you are facing moderate to severe depression is to not face it alone, even though you may feel like doing so. Eat wisely and exercise regularly. Also it may be helpful to seek professional help and keep a journal of your journey through the dark abyss called depression.

Please feel free to seek additional professional help by contacting me at familycccp.org

 

 

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Marriage counseling, Communication

Most would agree that good communication in a marriage is important. Check out this humorous link from Jason Headley of how good communication can go bad at  http://vimeo.com/66753575

“Don’t try to fix it. I just need you to listen.” Every man has heard these words. And they are the law of the land. No matter what.

For more information on couples counseling please visit our Family Christian Counseling of Phoenix website at, http://familycccp.org/

Mike DeMoss, MAPC, LAC

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