It was said by Mark Twain that “ Truth is stranger than fiction !” In my line of work as a therapist, I have never been able to desensitize to the fact that when you are dealing with human beings, the truth is often more painful, destructive and bone chilling than fiction, yet at the same time ignored, denied to oneself and rationalized as, “ No, that could not happen !
Truth is real, and although often ignored at our own peril, there are consequences for when it is not dealt with openly and upfront.
Now, as a Psychologist for some forty-two years, I have specialized in dealing with severe anxiety, panic attacks, phobias and agoraphobia with some real success. But, the use of medications to extinguish the anxiety, in most cases, was only putting salve on the wounds, not fixing the causes or source for the anxiety. I was never satisfied with this, so for those not wanting a temporary fix, but a successful treatment to find and eliminate the source, I had much success. I will stress that at least fifty percent only wanted the medications, and would find themselves getting worse over the years.
Having had panic attacks when I was younger, and working through the causal factors, gave me a heads up to help others, but it was still a challenge.
One thing I learned, and this is an over-simpllification, is that most of the anxiety that was experienced by my clients was due to conflicts or issues in their life that they were avoiding, for fear of failure, rejection, ridicule for shame. They had learned, mostly since childhood, to avoid conflict. Most of them had at least one person in their life that they just could not please, and that list of persons grew as they went through life. They were addicted to pleasing, adapting to fit in, and conforming to seek approval. They were already setting themselves up for conflict.
It is my impression that at least a third of the population are caregivers, conformers or a subtype of perfectionists who fit into this group of adapting personalities. The rest are either so focused on success and are less emotional so they do not need approval, get their dose of approval from what they do, or have less empathy and less a realization as to how things they say or do effect others so that they experience less anxiety and conflict.
Then there are the Sociopaths who are selfish, lack empathy, are controlling and manipulative, and lack much of a conscience. These manipulative, often very successful, even charming personalities have the natural characteristic to look for other’s weaknesses and use them for their own advanatage.
Now, you might be saying to yourself, “ I do not know any sociopaths ! ”
My response is that you most likely have such a personality within your extended family, friends, colleagues and do not realize it. Charming for sure, but if you dare explore most closely, they are selfish, say what you want to hear, but do what they want without a hint of care for how it effects you. They are specialists at manipulation. They use awareness of what you might be sensitive about, mistakes you have made, to have leverage and use the tools of blame, shame or guilt to have control over others.
I can say that at this moment, I know of mothers and fathers who are sociopaths, High School Principals who are sociopaths, parish priests who are sociopaths and therapists who are sociopaths. These are real people, who can entrench themselves into your life as they have my clients. To be armed to protect yourself from their manipulative ways, you need to know they exist and set strong boundaries while at the same time finding healthy ways to meet your emotional needs.
Gene Benedetto, Psychologist
The Benhaven Group