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Archive for February, 2010

Practice makes perfect

By Ox Drover

I remember when I first learned to ride a bicycle. Most of us remember the day we first took off the training wheels, because generally, we fell down a few times before we got it right and were pretty safe from falling. It took practice. I can’t remember many days before I was about twelve that I didn’t have at least one band-aid on at least one knee. Even with the continual road rash I usually had on my knees and elbows, it never even occurred to me to not keep on practicing or to give up on learning to ride the “big kid’s bike.”

The past couple of months have been rather stressful for me with some deadlines I was facing, some big decisions I had to make, and the usual anxiety that I face when making a big decision that will seriously impact my life. Once the decision is made, I can usually accept it and the consequences of that decision and say to myself, “I did the best I could with the information I had at the time.”

LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: I fell for it a million times

Editor’s Note: Lovefraud received the following story from a woman whom we’ll call “Abigail.”

I met my now ex-boyfriend June 2004. I had been divorced for 4 years; my kids were 7 and 10. He is a police officer. The night I met he seemed depressed, I asked him, “Why are you so sad?” He replied, “I got divorced this week.” By the end of the night I was really excited; I really liked him!

I had been alone for four years. We started dating. Since I thought he was recently divorced, I didn’t question him when he didn’t call and sometimes, although I would speak to him, I wouldn’t see him on the weekends. That only lasted for a couple of months. Then we were seeing each other all the time, going out every weekend. We would go everywhere, alone, with friends.

Articles recommended by Lovefraud readers

Several readers have sent links to articles that may be of interest to the Lovefraud community. Here they are, with quick summaries:

Doubts raised on book’s tale of atom bomb, in the New York Times

The Last Train from Hiroshima, by Charles Pellegrino, tells the story of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima at the end of World War II. James Cameron plans to make a movie based on it. The book reveals a secret accident with the bomb that killed one American, dosed others with radiation and reduced the weapon’s power. The information came from Joseph Fuoco, who claimed to be on one of the observation planes that escorted the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the bomb. But Fuoco apparently was lying, and the book’s author was duped.

For professor, fury just beneath the surface, in the New York Times

BOOK REVIEW: Slow Motion

Not long ago, I had an opportunity to meet Dani Shapiro, author of five novels, who just released a memoir called Devotion. The new book is actually her second memoir. Her first, called Slow Motion—A Memoir of a Life Rescued by Tragedy, describes circumstances that Lovefraud readers will find disturbingly familiar.

When Shapiro was a college student in the early 1980s, she was seduced by her best friend’s stepfather. The man, named “Lenny Klein” in Slow Motion (a pseudonym), was a famous, wealthy and aggressive New York City attorney. Shapiro was a beautiful, blond 20-something who, because of him, lost her way.

Lenny Klein felt entitled to take what he wanted. He was a middle-aged married man who wanted a hot young thing on his arm. He took Dani Shapiro.

ASK DR. LEEDOM: What is dissociation?

A reader asked the following question this week:

Recently, I’ve started doing more research into sociopaths and have run into a condition with which I’m unfamiliar: dissociation. Do you know if sociopaths/psychopaths have been considered to have this disorder, or if it is part of what makes them who they are?

The term dissociation has two distinct meanings in psychology. These two uses of the same word do not necessarily reflect a similar process operating in each.

The first kind of dissociation is a response to stress, and peritraumatic dissociation (dissociation during a traumatic event) appears to be a risk factor for stress-related illness. Symptoms of this kind of dissociation include disturbed experience of reality related to time, memory and nearly every sensation. For example, during trauma, time may stand still and people report that things do not seem real. Male sex hormones or androgens (that women also have in lower levels) protect against this kind of dissociation. For a good but technical article about peritraumatic dissociation read, Symptoms of Dissociation in Humans Experiencing Acute, Uncontrollable Stress: A Prospective Investigation.

Comeuppance for an abusive lawyer

A veteran lawyer known for, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “his impatient, bombastic and confrontational approach,” has had his license to practice law revoked by the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

A Lovefraud reader alerted us to the news about Alan D. Eisenberg, a Milwaukee lawyer who has a long history of professional discipline problems in Wisconsin. By long, we mean the guy is 68 years old. The first time he was reprimanded was in 1968. Then, Eisenberg publicly predicted that a judge would resign rather than face prosecution for an unspecified crime. The judge committed suicide.  Eisenberg, of course, said the judge was mentally ill.

Eisenberg was reprimanded and suspended multiple times over his career. The case that finally got him disbarred was a 2001 divorce case. Eisenberg represented a man who had battery charges filed against him for allegedly attacking his wife. Eisenberg got the guy off—a jury acquitted.

How Sociopaths Think

When reflecting on the sociopath’s style, I often find myself thinking metaphorically. For instance, in an early LoveFraud article (Sociopaths’ Cat and Mouse Game) I explored the mind of the sociopath via the metaphor of the cat toying with the mouse.

In this article, I probe a different metaphor: the small child abusing the captured insect.

But a caveat’s in order: Just as I wasn’t impugning cats as literally sociopathic in my earlier piece, I’m not suggesting here that all children, including bug torturers, are developing sociopaths (anymore than in my last LoveFraud article I was suggesting that all practical jokers are sociopaths).

On the other hand, I am suggesting that there are states of mind—normal states of mind—that approximate (more closely than we might think, or want to think) how sociopaths perceive and relate.

LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: I was still in love with the jerk

Editor’s note: This story was submitted by the Lovefraud reader who we’ll call “Margie.”

One night I went to a bar by myself (but always knew someone there). I sat at the bar next to this lady I knew and started talking to her. Well Steve (my ex-sociopath—not his real name) was sitting next to her talking to her. I thought he was kind of cute so started flirting.  He actually said to me that night, “I think I like you better,” like he had his sights on my friend first. He bought me a flower and all my drinks the rest of the night. Well that should have been my first and only red flag to run, but I didn’t! But stupid, naive me (never dealing with a sociopath before that is) fell for his good looks, as he was 6’1″, blond and blue eyes and had a football player’s body!

A Valentine to you: Yes, after the sociopath, you can love again

Not long ago, Lovefraud received the following note from a reader:

Your articles have given me a lot of peace and the ability to see good in life again, though I’ll never go back into the mainstream of society because of the abuse and betrayal I’ve experienced. It’s sad that the vision and understanding one achieves after being victimized by a sociopath prevents you from ever being able to get close to anyone again. I’m working through that though, so I just take it one step at a time. Maybe you could write some more about that?

Yes, dear readers, we do need to take recovery one step at a time. But know that we can go back to the mainstream of society. We can recover to the point of allowing ourselves to open to love again.

How does ODD relate to sociopathy?

This week a reader asked about a disorder called ODD and its relationship to sociopathy. ODD or oppositional defiant disorder is a childhood disorder. According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists:

In children with Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), there is an ongoing pattern of uncooperative, defiant, and hostile behavior toward authority figures that seriously interferes with the youngster’s day to day functioning. Symptoms of ODD may include:

• Frequent temper tantrums
• Excessive arguing with adults
• Often questioning rules
• Active defiance and refusal to comply with adult requests and rules
• Deliberate attempts to annoy or upset people
• Blaming others for his or her mistakes or misbehavior
• Often being touchy or easily annoyed by others
• Frequent anger and resentment
• Mean and hateful talking when upset
• Spiteful attitude and revenge seeking