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“Emotional blindness” and the sociopath

Editor’s note: The following article was submitted by the Lovefraud reader who comments as “Pearl.”

By Pearl

Someone on this blog once mentioned a book by Alice Miller and Andrew Jenkins, and it caught my attention. So now I’m reading The Truth Will Set You Free—Overcoming Emotional Blindness and Finding Your True Adult Self.

Even though I’m only about halfway through the book, I wanted to share parts of it because it is so important to what a lot of us are working on—forgiving ourselves and trying to understand why this (fraud) happened to us. I know this won’t apply or appeal to everyone, but it might help some of you as it has me. Miller’s ideas help me understand why I was susceptible and forgive myself for my blindness—my inability to spot a “bad guy.”

Miller focuses on childhood—on how corporal punishment (spanking/whipping) and humiliation—cause a type of blindness in adulthood that can lead to being manipulated and UNABLE TO SEE THROUGH LIES. She emphasizes that the kind of parenting and education aimed at breaking a child’s will and making that child into an obedient subject by means of overt or covert coercion, manipulation and emotional blackmail leaves long-lasting imprints on the way we think and relate to one another as adults.

Here is the cycle as she sees it:

  1. Traditional methods of upbringing, which have included corporal punishment, lead a child to DENY suffering and humiliation. (Can anyone related to having a high pain threshold? Where did I get that bruise or cut—I don’t remember getting it? Ever feel humiliated at being spanked, paddled or whipped as a child? Ever experience a parent being insensitive to suffering?)
  2. This denial, although essential if the child is to SURVIVE, will later cause emotional blindness.
  3. Emotional blindness produces “barriers in the mind” erected to guard against dangers. This means that early denied traumas become encoded in the brain, and even though they no longer pose a threat, they continue to have a subtle, destructive impact. (The memory of how to respond to such crappy behavior from our parents and authority figures is still there.)
  4. Barriers in the mind keep us from learning new information, putting it to good use, and shedding old, outdated behaviors.
  5. Our bodies retain a complete memory of the humiliations we suffered, driving us to inflict unconsciously on the next generation what we endured in childhood, unless we become aware of the cause of our behavior, which is embedded in the history of our own childhoods.

As children, some of us learned to suppress and deny natural feelings. Some of us lived in a world where our feelings were ignored and denied.

All the beaten child remembers is FEAR and the face of the ANGRY parent, not why the beating was taking place. The child may even assume he had been naughty and deserved the punishment. Miller writes that in the absence of a witness who can empathize with us in childhood and genuinely listen to us, we have no other way of protecting ourselves from the pain but to close our minds to it.

In a bid to blot the fear and pain of our abused younger self, we erase what we know can help us, we can fall prey to the seductiveness of sects and cults, and FAIL TO SEE THROUGH ALL KINDS OF LIES.

Having this information helps me understand why I was “ripe for the picking.” It also goes a long way toward helping me forgive myself and move on in the healing process.



561 Comments on "“Emotional blindness” and the sociopath"

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  1. lov10 says:

    Thank you kaya48 your kind words mean a lot to me. It’s amazing how your experience could pass as my own. Incredible how we all feel the same. I just left my therapists office and i told him I just keep replaying his horrible words and the way he discarded me, then i think of an amazing happy moment and I just hysterically cry. How could someone that seemed so normal, so rational. And then act so evil. Like how? He told me to practice diffusion excercises where I pretend to write out my negative thoughts and place them into a running stream. I’m going to try that as well as your sticker calendar. Just take one day at a time is all I can do. So hard to let go hopefully in time the love I have for him will go away.



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  2. kaya48 says:

    Believe me, the love you have for him will go away. I was thinking the same last year at that time. How could someone you love unconditionally for decades do this? There will never be an explanation. I don’t question this anymore as it will not make a difference or make you feel better. I would have never thought this person would become my number one enemy. In the divorce he is trying to manipulate the court, his lawyer , anyone who could be useful to him. He wants to take everything away from me and my son. Thinking back now I saw so many red flags throughout the years but I wanted so desperately see the good in him. The truth is there is nothing but evil about him. I had to laugh when he told me that his co workers called him “captain America “. He wanted to be worshipped and admired but when he took his mask of, he was a liar and an abuser. I find myself much stronger than before. I will make much better choices in life. And I will never, ever let someone treat me like garbage. He can do this to his little co worker now. For ever I owe her to come into this marriage. Without her I would still be his doormat now.



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    • Champwen says:

      Kaya48, how refreshing to read a similar story. I to was with a sociopath for 23 years, but we never married. We have a 20 year old son. I strongly believe faith helps you through this difficult time. He and I speak because he is currently helping me financially because I am unemployed and finishing my bachelors. I found out about 6 months ago he married woman, which he said to help for citizenship. I lost it! I moved away from him 11 years ago, but he used my son as a pawn to continue to come over. He is the hugest liar I know besides my mother. I was so vulnerable and prey for him. It was easy to hook me in to his webs of lies. When I think back to all the years I lived like a Gerbil on a Gerbil wheel it is astonishing. I do go to therapy which has helped tremendously. I have learned to confront him and let him know the games are not welcomed no more. So difficult.



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      • kaya48 says:

        Yes like a hamster on a wheel. You just never get to your destination being with or being married to a sociopath. For decades I tried to see any good in him, just maybe a glimpse of empathy or compassion or love. I was so addicted that this kind of life became my “normal”. I still remember sitting in a closet covering my ears, shaking, my heart racing. He was standing outside hurdling insults at me. What kind of crazy person I am, how fat I am, how old and boring I am, how my hair is so short and so on. I was crying hysterically at this painful insults. Thinking back I am astonished I let done one do this to me for over 2 decades. I was blamed for everything that went out if the ordinary. Sometimes I questioned myself if I really was going crazy.
        I cut if all contact almost one year ago. Nothing, no e mails, no text messages , no phone calls. Just nothing. And that is when I started healing, really recovering and bringing me back to reality to distinguish between abuse and normality. And now I realize that I did not miss him, I missed what I wish he was. A caring, loving, empathetic husband and father. All the qualities I wished for but never received. So it’s ok now that he left us. I didn’t see the reasoning behind it last year but I do now. God was helping me to find peace and happiness. Something I could have never established with him as my husband. Sometimes you don’t see the light right away but eventually you will and all makes sense then 🙂



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  3. HopingToHeal says:

    Lov10 and kaya48,

    It’s amazing to me that every story here on Lovefraud is the same, and every survivor is left with the same despair and pain. It’s as if all of these partners are created from the identical mold. In one way, it makes it easier to spread the word of their manipulation and abuse because they all behave the same way.

    I look at the people I have in my life circle and they are all good people (except the Spath). They are selfless and considerate, but of course each struggle with some issues….anger, sadness, sickness, loneliness…..but their true personalities would never allow them to hurt or take advantage of others. They are givers. They are lights in the darkness of the world. But EVERY story of psychopaths,sociopaths, borderline or narcissist all begin and end in the same way with seduction by over loving and then discarding of the target of their love. That is why we and all of those around us sit stunned at the total turn around and mess we are left with.

    The pain I have is so intense and like lov10, I’ve felt it will never end. But the stories of others who’ve lived through this have been so encouraging. As I’ve fought through, their assurances have actually started to come true. I am beginning to feel better, I am becoming stronger, I do realize that I will survive.

    It’s true that one must go through the grief to come into a healthier, more joyful place, but I realize that we also are so vulnerable and have a tendency to get “stuck” in the pit of this sucky experience. I guess I’m trying to say that sometimes, pushing yourself forward is important. I wanted to hold onto the facts of my story, to scream and yell, to have it explained and someone make sense of it.

    There’s no logical sense to evil. The Bible says that the enemy of God comes to kill, steal and destroy. It’s obvious that this is exactly what happens with Spaths. My life was destroyed, my dreams were killed, my future was stolen. When I look at the warm fuzzy love moments compared to the destruction, it jerks me into reality.

    Sometimes the best thing we can do is forcibly jerk our thoughts away from the memories of feeling loved and throw ourselves back to me moment of realization that someone completely BETRAYED us. Picture your Spath as the gargoyle, slimy skinned, beady eyed demon that he/she is. We have lived in the presence of true evil. We have slept with a worker of the dark side. Demons.

    Unfortunately, it still hurts like crazy. Sorry lov10.



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    • WantMyLifeBack2 says:

      Well put – God bless you and your strength. You deserve the best, not what you received. We were groomed early to be easy targets as children. I cannot trust my radar anymore after 16 years and two children with a P.. I exist to only protect them for the rest of their lives and I am no good for anyone but them at this point. Just wanted to give you encouragement. I know this would help me, so I give to others.



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    • otoole says:

      Tonight I find myself experiencing what you have just explained. I’m remembering the time period when I fell in love with my Spath. As a child, I never received much of the warm, touchy feely love as my mother was/is a narcissist so having someone love me the way the Spath did in the beginning was so refreshing and it felt mutual, genuine, special and like it would last forever. Then in an instant it changed to a weird tale of mystery after he asked me to marry him (we had look at venues and I had purchased a dress). I started receiving emails from multiple women, he vanished for months and then resurfaced after claiming he had to hide because the mafia wanted to kill him; but when he came back, he was working with the authorities to put the bad people away. He showed me just enough to convince me and gave me just enough to remind me of when we first fell in love, that I’d continue to stay. Then, like clockwork, he’d vanish again and reappear with a similar story. Tonight, I cried again because I miss the love, but keep telling myself that it wasn’t love, it was manipulation. This latest round–after 5 years of misery that included so many broken promises–ended with his latest woman emailing me as she pretended to be him. She said some really mean things to me as if she was him and then confessed to being her. Really confusing, bizarre stuff. Weird thing is that he never said anything abusive like mean names; he was always complimentary and kind when he was with me. But would lie about why he would stand me up which was all the time! I think he probably is the worst kind of Spath because when around him, I would get along with him so well, but then when he was away, who knows what he was doing. He wouldn’t follow through with anything that he promised and I’d catch him in so many lies. When I’d call him out on his lies, he’d give me such a logical explanation and then smooth it over with compliments and kindness towards me. He knew how to work me. So again, I’m reminding myself that I’m dealing with evil. In no way is it love. It does still hurt like crazy and will for quite some time.



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      • NotWhatHeSaidofMe says:

        otoole
        REMEMBER:
        He pushes the buttons that gives the outcome he knows will follow. Your buttons were different than her buttons.

        YES. You are Different than she is. BUT HE’s NOT. He’s a FRAUD.

        I remember my ex had this friend who decided to take me to task for not seeing my husband clearly. That man said, “Your husband accepts people as they are, he doesn’t judge people, he likes everybody.” That man was a fool. I ate dinner with my husband most nights and he LOVED to sit at the table and talk about how he fooled this person or that person into doing something unethical. ONE of the people that my ex loved to boast about fooling? Was the man who INSISTED that I was wrong to say my husband was not who he pretended to be. My ex learned peoples buttons, that’s all he did was push buttons to see which ones controlled people. And once he knew, he OWNED that person.

        I also accused my ex of dangling a carrot. (same type thing as button pushing… buttons being the stick) My ex knew what mattered to me and he implied if I would just submit to him, I’d get my “carrot” (love). Of course, that’s the scam. He was incapable of giving the “carrot” (love), and he kept that part secret until I finally figured it out… that if he was capable of that carrot (love), he would have already given it to me.



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        • hollycgate says:

          My heart sank when I read the part about he thought if you would just submit. Mine use to say that a lot. He would promise to be this and that but I had to submit completely to him first and quit going against him and anything he said.
          So scary how they say and do the same exact things! How is that possible that they use the same phrases and same exact actions down to the T? Only way I can make sense of it is that they literally have a demon in them. Not just the kind people see on tv but an actual demon. To use the same words and actions and not know each other it can only come from one place and that is Satan.



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      • emtuoba says:

        Oh god. This was my relationship. Always good and kind while with me. Have a great weekend. Promise to meet up for dinner on Monday. And no show. Wait for ever and no show. Home again by day break with the most incredible stories. I believed every one. I felt like he must have been born under a dark cloud. How could one person have so much bad luck.



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  4. kaya48 says:

    Hoping to heal,
    I love your comments here on Lovefraud. They are so true and very well written.
    I totally agree with all of it. We all met the “unseen enemy”. He is so intensely powerful and the very fount of evil influence in this world. He comes in the form of Satan. We offer him a seat on the couch, and begin to converse with him. Bad idea. Don’t give him the time of day. Ignore him. The bible tells us “resist the devil and he will flee from you” (James 4:7). It works. Be consistent in your refusal to be drawn into conversation with him. He wants to be worshipped and feared, so when we afford him no respect and let him know he is a loser destined for hell,he leaves in anger.
    I have found that ignoring my soon to be ex husband (I was married more than 20 years) is truly a life saver for me. It keeps me sane and grounded. Anything that comes out of his mouth has the intention to hurt and belittle. So why even listen. By filing for divorce I put a stop to this “crazy making” experience.
    I am sorry for all of you going through the same nightmare. Yes we all have one thing in common and that is we have met a sociopath and invited him into our life.
    It does get better. One day we will look back and say “this is what happened to me, but it made me stronger as a person, maybe stronger in my faith, it made me wiser and it gave me peace and sanity in my life. ” I am not wasting any more thoughts on him, I don’t have any anger or hate. He just does not exist any longer, because there is no place for evil in my “new ” found life.



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    • HopingToHeal says:

      Kaya48,

      It’s good to hear that you are in a better place. 20 years is such a long time to be with someone and realize it was all a lie.

      I had a friend tell me how significant it is that many of us are from long term marriages. She said it actually is a testament to what truly good hearts we must have. We have had such understanding and compassion, focusing on raising our families and sustaining a marriage that we had no idea our life was so brutal compared to the rest of society’s unions. Her words made me really stop and look at myself and realize that I have truly given it all I have to give.

      The word coaddiction is thrown around a lot by the counseling/medical community. Personally, I find it insulting. Knowing what I know now, I understand that the most abused in the world are the most innocent. Innocence and vulnerability are awesome traits and should be judged as assets, not flaws. The world teaches us to give our all, to believe the best, to serve others and to see the best in people. I think that is how a long marriage survives. It’s tragic that the real truth of the evil that could possibly impact us is not on the forefront of the media. Just as Disney movies promote the idea that “love is wonderful” and “happy is a way of life”, there should be an alternate message that there are real predators out there who will suck the life out of you. I was never taught this side of the story.

      I’m so thankful to have found Donna’s book and this site, as well as others that support those of us who are battling to recover, but i was only drawn to help AFTER I became a victim. Had I known the message beforehand, I might not have stayed so long, or maybe have never been caught up in the Spaths trap.

      I just want the hurting people to realize what special people they are. It’s not wrong to have loved, believed and trusted. And NOONE deserved the mess they are in. But now that they know better, they can do better, recover and help others.

      Your words, of where you are in your life, give me hope. To know that you have no regret for your divorce, that you have peace without hate and anger, and that you are happy proves to me that I am heading in the right direction. I’ve spent too long waiting for change that will never come. I want so bad to NOT think of him.
      Stories like your’s are so hopeful to me.



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  5. kaya48 says:

    Yes, most definetely I am in a better place. Material wise i have lost everything, the court ordered my house to be sold since he won’t let me have it. It’s fine, all material things are replaceable. Had I stayed with him, I would be either dead by now or committed to some mental institution. Him being a sheriffs deputy makes everything more difficult . Who are they going to believe? A police officer or some middle age “crazy” housewife?
    Do I regret filing for divorce ? Not once did I regret that decision. Yes, it took all my strength to put an end to it. I have a wonderful attorney who sometimes has to remind me that I am divorcing a sociopath. I hope this divorce will be finalized soon.
    I also do not like the word “co-dependency” which my counselor often used. I am just a loving person, full of empathy and compassion. That’s all.
    I was ” blind” and I thought it was “normal “. Looking back it was an illusion. I picked up my life,I love my job, I have my son and my pets and that’s all I need.
    When my 18 year old son found nude pictures of my soon to be ex and his co worker on the home computer I lost all respect and love for my husband. That was the moment I decided that I do not want to be a part of his sick, perverted world anymore. Soon after he left to live with her anyhow. I am sure by now he acquired a new narcissistic supply. Do I care? Absolutely not.
    We all will be ok because we are survivors.



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  6. Champwen says:

    Kaya48 my ex too is retired NYPD. He always enjoyed porno, naked women and had tons of affairs. He had the ability to make me feel awful. My son was subjected to so much with him. His mother told me once he was sick, but I never understood what she meant. My ex has two other children with the woman before me. Years ago she tried to warn me about him, but I did not want to acknowledged her words neither. I needed him to help me finish school; however, that did not happen while living with him. It was pure HELL.

    I would try to convince him I loved him, but that was just ammunition to a sociopath, wearing your vulnerability your sleeve. I use to think of all the adjectives used to describe a sociopath but did not know the social science term. One day, when my son was young, he actually told me – my father is a narcissistic sociopath. I was stunned and asked him how do you know. He replied, I researched it and knew for years. I felt so bad because it made me realize I subjected him hurt. Now I understand why I felt so inferior and always depressed. After researching about sociopaths. I realize I was a victim of a vicious cycle.

    Now when I start look back his ex looks just as opaque as I once did. She is actually an amazing woman, who endure so much pain. He would make sure to keep us apart. She always made sure the boys stood in contact and I thank her. But the new wife of seven years never met my son. Odd is it? Oh yeah to keep coming around to torture me. The strange thing they don’t live together and no one knew that they have been married for seven years. He is just Lucifer.

    These days, I am doing way better because I see the signs when he tries to entangle me in the web. I have no physical contact with him. We do text, but he sneaked in calling me and had to tell him that phone communication is not good for me because all the ill feelings come back. I have to set barriers with him and this is what I learned to do to protect my sanity. I would want to be friends for the sake of the kids, but I don’t allow him to bring nothing up of the past. I just cut him off. I don’t hate him and working on not being angry. I want to love again because I know there are great people out there. I want a second chance, but I have learned to spot the signs early.



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  7. kaya48 says:

    This is exactly who he is, Lucifer. Wow, your story sounds exactly like mine. My soon to be ex was also obsessed with pornography, naked women, sex and Viagra. His father was the same way. I guess it just carried on to the next generation. The difference is that his mother became bitter and angry even 20 years after being discarded. I refuse to be like that. This is something that happened to me but it will never define me as a person.
    Stories like yours give me hope. I enfocrced the total no contact. I changed my email phone no and anything. I want nothing to do with him. If he something to say he can tell my attorney. Because the attorney sure won’t take his b/s.
    Thanks for all your support here 🙂



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