When Fear Rules !

Loved to Death: Introduction

by on Dec.16, 2020, under First Book : Loved to Death

Before I tell this true story, I feel the need to set the stage for you. I am a Psychologist, now retired after forty-two years in private practice, which I thoroughly enjoyed. That said, I am about to fulfill a promise made to twenty year old girl who called herself Meagan. That promise was to share her story in hopes that it would save someone else, anybody else, from the pain of what she went through…the pain resulting from her avoidance of a conflict due to fear.

Her Conflict ?  She did not want to face the reality that she was in a mind-numbing and self-destructive relationship with a man she thought was the most important person in her life, so she allowed his control and manipulation over her day by day, year after year, to destroy her self-esteem and the will to fight the battle to take back her life. She wanted so much to help others and she felt this was the only way to redeem herself.

I want to make clear, I believe there are degrees to which a person may attempt to control or manipulate another person’s life and well-being. Many may actually have the thought that, yes, I can see that a certain person that touches my life is controlling and/or manipulating, but “ I can handle it and it does not give that person any power over my thoughts and actions.” I would respond, “Are you sure or are you just avoiding the issue.”

But before I go there, let me define some terms.

Controlling Persons:

I know some clients and friends who have the personality trait of being very adept at taking control as in being able to create and build a successful business or venture. Everything they touch seems to turn to gold. Many of these individuals, although able to exert control in business were able at the same time be very sensitive and caring with persons in their personal life. 

Yet I have met others who were ALL business, and so into control that they were totally ineffective at recognizing or dealing with feelings in relationships, and did not have a clue as to what it meant to be intimate, in a loving way. I can say from my professional experience that it is a real challenge to teach intimacy to this type of personality. If they are in a relationship, it may serve other purposes for either party, but it is far from a loving intimate relationship.

Then, there were those whose intent was to restrain, dominate and control others both in their business and personal lives. They were obsessed with being in control and did not realize or care about other peoples’ needs or boundaries, seeing those feelings and needs as weaknesses that made them potential victims.

Manipulating Persons:

Manipulation tends to have a negative connotation, for sure. A manipulative person may tend to dominate and skillfully influence or use others, and most often in an unfair manner. They are able to adapt or change to suite their advantage or purpose, but they are not going to relinquish their needs or wants in any significant manner.

Degree of Control or Manipulation:

Not unlike first, second and third degree murder charges, there are degrees to which a person may be controlling or manipulative. 

I would see cases where I would consider an offender’s goal  as first degree control or manipulation,  in that there is Premeditation ( to meditate, consider, or plan beforehand ) and Intent [or purpose} in order to control and manipulate another. 

Second degree control and manipulation may not be premeditated, but is intentional at the time. 

Third degree is not premeditated or intentional, but may still cause harm to the potential victim’s self-esteem and well- being. This offender may realize, after the fact, and if it is brought to their attention, that their behavior was inappropriate and hurtful.

Now to bring a more psychological or medical picture into your mind, let me briefly talk about Personality Disorders I have known,  unfortunately !

Now there are a few personality disorders who may frequently cross the line when it comes to control and manipulation.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder may present as a personality characterized by extreme self-centeredness and self-absorption, fantasies involving unrealistic goals, an excessive need for attention and admiration, and disturbed interpersonal relationships, with a noticeable lack of empathy. Narcissists, in my opinion, usually display second or third degree control and manipulation and limited  consciences.

Sociopathic Personality Disorder  may have all the characteristics of a Narcissist, but there is a greater chance for control and manipulation of the first degree. They are anti-social schemers and need to win against all odds, but they can be charmers. Their behaviors often reach the level of criminal. The sociopath lacks a sense of moral responsibility and has a very limited degree of conscience, if at all. They do not form loving relationships, but ones that serve their more basic needs. However, they can drown themselves in their lust for power, and make mistakes that are costly. 

The Psychopathic Personality Disorder  may have many of  the characteristics of the Sociopath, but there is no moral compass or conscience, and no remorse. However they are so cunning, such plotters, planners and schemers, that they are seldom caught as they make few mistakes.

Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths do exist all around us, not just in the movies. Now that is something I hope you can accept and learn to protect yourself  from, and which I pray, Meagan’s story will teach you how to do.

Now, let’s talk about trauma. As a Psychologist, I have seen many clients struggling with what they expressed as an overwhelming amount of stress, anxiety, depression, intrusive thoughts and compulsive behavior as a result of conflicts or traumas that were draining the energy out of their lives.

Trauma may be defined as a  deeply distressing or disturbing experience or an emotional shock following a stressful event or injury. We all might expect a person experiencing physical, in-your-face traumas to have symptoms. Coming home to a house burnt to the ground, finding out one of your children has been kidnapped, being robbed at gunpoint, experiencing a home invasion or a tragic auto accident, would all be traumas to most of us, and symptoms would be expected as the person’s sense of safety, security and feelings of control of their lives would have been threatened.

However, many of my clients had no idea why they were experiencing their anxiety symptoms. They had not experienced any of the in-your-face traumas, but had the symptoms nonetheless, which made it all the more anxiety producing and frightening for them, but fascinating to me. Most were experiencing full-blown panic attacks, obsessive worry or just a constant anxiety and a reasonable amount of depression.

Can you imagine having these symptoms and not consciously having any idea where they are coming from, why they are happening, not being able to pinpoint the reason ? These clients would often express not feeling in control, but again, could not explain it. I would consult with their primary care physician or one of our staff psychiatrists, but if that turned up no medical reasons for the symptoms, we would turn to uncovering emotional issues or conflicts in their lives. Often I would find that the clients had numbed themselves to the real people or issues that might be causing their symptoms because they did not want to deal with the true antagonist[s] in their lives. In reality, their lives had become impacted by some emotional trauma, but since there were no physical traumas with physical evidence, they did not allow themselves to explore them further.

I might suggest here that they were avoiding the source of their symptoms due to fear of rejection, failure, abandonment or somehow being blamed, shamed or guilted, or not believed.

I would express to them as I do here to you, that there are often times that significant emotional conflicts are playing out in one’s life but you subconsciously might not want to face them and then have to deal with the source , the need to take some action, or make some uncomfortable changes. So, we would work together to uncover the covert issues you might be avoiding that could be creating emotional stress and develop a step by step plan for the you to take control of that issue in your life. That means you would have to choose whether you wanted to deal with the source, continue to avoid or just rely on medications. If you choose to deal with the conflict, I would then be a part of your Support Team where there is no shame, blame or guilt to be had, only frank and honest discussion of all feelings and options. I would ask if there is anyone else in your life that you have talked to about the issue or conflict and whom you trusted just to know how strong your support team is, because a support system is important when we are about to make potential changes.

I would want to help you find what emotional needs { approval, respect, acceptance, sense of control, sense of belonging , etc.} or fears { failure, rejection, not being in control, etc.} you have that, while mostly shared by many others, may make you a target or potential victim of controlling and manipulative people. 

I did not enjoy seeing my clients in pain, but I was able to establish a professional and yet personal relationship with them that truly enhanced our therapy together. A therapist must be trusted by the client, and I needed to trust that my clients were being honest and open with me. That mutual respect allowed for some truly fulfilling, gratifying and successful therapeutic relationships. The end game was to discover the sources of whatever emotional turmoil they were experiencing as we uncovered the conscious, subconscious or unconscious issues causing their emotional pain, and then develop a game plan to take control and to build and support a healthier, more rewarding and less conflicted life.

Beyond that, we established a web-site and Chat Room where clients, even after therapy, could come for support. Being on the internet, we were open to non-clients who would stop by after doing a search for terms like anxiety attacks, panic attacks, self esteem, obsessive compulsive, Ruled by Fear, etc., which are all terms that would often be related to what many people go through after experiencing trauma. Our website was OneStepataTime.com.

Meagan was of one of those non-clients, someone I never met face-to-face, with whom I took on the role of a “Coach” for almost two years, and it was a life-changing experience for me. Meagan was the name she signed into the Chat Room with, so I respected her boundaries and will use that name throughout this story, based on her life, her challenges, her strengths and weaknesses, as she gradually realized she was being controlled and manipulated, not loved, by the person she trusted most in her life.

So, why tell this story  ?

Most importantly, as I mentioned above, I promised Meagan I would ! 

Even after my forty-two years in the helping profession, dealing with so many clients, so many emotional traumas, Meagan’s story has taken me two years to put any words on paper. Every day that I would sit down to write, I would re-live the whole ordeal. And even as I wrote, the real story was still unfolding through the courageous efforts of her Support Team we established with her and for her. I cannot possibly tell you how exhausting and emotionally painful but meaningful and life-changing this experience was for me and to others on the Support Team.

Meagan wanted this story told and shared because she wanted others, maybe even you, to learn from her journey, successes and failures.

Bare with me while I attempt to create pictures in your mind with this intense, powerful and for me emotionally draining psychodrama based on a true story of a young lady, who loved her father to death and theSupport Team who although also victims of her father, came to her assistancein the end.

Meagan was a beautiful, sensitive, caring but terribly naive daughter who allowed her need to be loved to create a dependency on her daddy, Lucius. She was an avoider of conflict, a Peacekeeper. That dependency blinded her to the truth and morphed her precious life into one of a victim of a controlling, manipulative and I believe sociopathic father. She just wanted to know she was loved and had a plan for her life. She believed and trusted that her daddy had nothing but love in his heart and that he would guide her in developing and carrying-out that plan. 

She avoided or numbed herself to any thoughts that her daddy could have any negative or malicious intent.

In the following pages you will see a narcissistic and sociopathic father systematically take control of his supposedly beloved daughter without a suspicion on her part, or at least not one that she would allow herself to see and believe. The term that comes to mind is Narcotization, a numbing of thoughts and feelings that are in conflict with what she desperately wanted and needed to believe. Her dependency on her daddy made her weak and needy. This was, in the end, her Peacekeeping Personality in full bloom, as you will see.

The villain, of course, does not have to be a father. He or she could be a boss, a supposedly dear friend, a mother-in-law, a spouse, the minister, a primary care physician or anyone who has gained your trust. I have seen them all !

As I have alluded to, it takes Support Team to go up against a person with little or no conscience and so the sociopaths always attempt to isolate their victims from any support persons in their life. Remember this as you turn the pages.

As she very painfully faced the reality of who her father was, she began to open up to her Coach, and that would be me. Upon her Coach’s insistence that he would not abandon her but that she needed to see a Psychologist or Therapist, face to face, she began her a dark and arduous journey.

You might feel overwhelmed at the power this evil man possessed, as he attempted to  shame, blame and guilt Meagan and each witness into submission. I was personally a witness to his attempts to silence me. It was an experience I will never forget.

You may also be moved as to which family members and witnesses, after experiencing grave consequences, gathered the strength to band together to bring Meagan’s daddy to justice. Too late for Meagan, but not for anyone who reads this book and realizes that just maybe, to a lesser or greater degree, you might be a potential victim. This is especially the case for co-dependent, adapting personalities. 

Again, you might think this story is unique and rare, and that narcissistic, sociopathic or psychopathic personalities are mostly depicted in the movies. I am here to warn you, this is not the case. Carry this thought with you as you read the story of Meagan.

Potential Victims

In my private practice, my clients were more of the adapting, approval-seeking and caring personalities and time proved they were more often the potential victims of the controlling, manipulative narcissists, sociopaths or psychopaths. I came to know of the manipulators in my clients lives as I worked with their anxiety and depression. 

To be more specific, my clients were mostly Caregivers, Conformists, Peacekeepers and Perfectionists. The common personality trait of these four personality types is that they really cared about people, needed people in their lives to feel fulfilled, and had a strong emotional and feeling side. I would estimate that four out of ten persons are one of these adapting personalities.

The Caregivers would get much of their self-respect and sense of worth and value through their efforts of helping and taking care of others, they liked to be needed.

The Conformists attempted to blend in and conform to what they saw others wanted or expected of them in order to be accepted and appreciated. 

The Peacekeepers sometimes were numb to their own needs and desires as they went out of their way to avoid any type of conflict, and therefore increased, in their minds at least, a fantasy of a conflict-free relationship or friendship.

The Perfectionists worked very hard to please by doing more than their share and to be perfect at whatever they did because of wanting to be liked, respected and appreciated. It gave them a sense of value and purpose.

Yes, I became indirectly acquainted with hundreds of controlling, manipulative, narcissistic, sociopathic and psychopathic demons who were in many ways as dark as Meagan’s father because so often my clients, while again unaware, were suffering from anxiety and depression because there were individuals who were making efforts to take advantage of, or manipulate them. They were totally focused on their anxiety symptoms or depression and were most often looking for medications to magically relieve their symptoms. Not until we began digging into the dynamics of their lives did I hear about deeply conflicting issues that were in fact creating havoc, and emotional pain.

Not all abusive situations are equal in severity and not all controlling, manipulative or even sociopathic individuals are as heinous as others. Remember what I described above as the first, second and third degree cases of controlling and manipulating. However, if the comments or actions of one human being are such that they create significant level of emotional hurt or pain for another, and most importantly, if those words or actions are not addressed or are avoided by the person on the receiving end, there is harm being done. There is a way to express opposing thoughts or views without attacking someone’s self-esteem and character

Names and identifying information have been changed because at one point I was repeatedly warned and threatened about telling this story by a very well-connected sociopath, Meagan’s daddy.

But then something unexpected and remarkable happened !!!


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