To move on after a psychopath, you have to first recognize that you were in a relationship with a psychopath and then you have to accept it. If you are reading this, then well done! It's actually quite difficult to recognize someone as a psychopath and it's even more difficult to accept it, so if you're here then you are at least recognizing the possibility that the person you were involved with in some way was not what you thought they were. Getting your head around that and realizing that the relationship was based on lies and deception can be painful and devastating and the more information you have the better for you.
I will talk here about a romantic relationship with a psychopath but you can equally apply the ideas to a relationship between a teacher and student, mentor and mentee, boss and employee and so on.
If you want to know how to get a psychopath out of your head, it helps a lot to understand how they got in there in the first place. Understanding how and why they changed your beliefs, your thinking and your behaviors allows you to undo these things and replace them with your own once again.
Typically the first thing the psychopath does is to make friends with their target. They pay the target a lot of attention (even if it's unwanted), there are compliments, praise and lots of feel good comments. This is called love bombing and it has the effect of making the target feel special and unique and it also makes the target think that they have found someone who really understands them. The target is led through the process of developing a friendship very quickly. In fact, if you think that a relationship is moving very fast, or someone is pushing you along, this should act as a warning to you and you need to step back and re-evaluate the relationship.
The reason the psychopaths want to make friends is that they know that they have much more influence as a friend. People like and trust their friends and the psychopath wants to build trust as quickly as possible. This is compounded by the fact that the psychopath will typically be offering the target exactly what is wanted or needed at this time.
For example, someone who is going through a separation wants someone to listen and support them and even to love them. The psychopath will offer this. Someone who has lost a job will be looking for another. The psychopath may offer this. Someone who has a particular problem will be seeking solutions or a way to improve themselves. The psychopath will offer exactly this.
The psychopath at this point is playing a role, they are acting as the perfect partner for you. They present you with a person that you feel would be very good for you to be around in that moment. And, unfortunately, it's a trick. They act out this role in order to deceive you into thinking that they are the ideal partner for you. The character that you fell in love with at the start, or the character that you felt was going to change your life in some way, doesn't actually exist. This character was invented in the moment to hide the psychopath's true nature and to manipulate your impressions into thinking that the psychopath was a good choice for you.
And you will have noticed that this role playing didn't last very long. It probably only lasted until there was a level of commitment on your part, for example, until the psychopath moved in with you, or you got married, or until you have paid a pile of money to do some course, or invest in some business or other. At this stage, the psychopath knew that you couldn't get out easily and the bad behavior kicked in.
The first couple of times he/she does something nasty you excuse it because, after all, it's not like him/her because he/she has been so nice so far, and he/she must just be having a bad day or something. And besides, they have an excuse and may apologize for it.
But the apology actually means nothing because very soon afterwards they are doing the same thing again. Then, over time, the bad stuff gets more frequent and the good times happen less often and last for shorter periods of time.
If you want to know how to move on after a psychopath, understanding this 'bad behavior' is very important. In fact, it's essential because this is how the psychopath sets up the power imbalance in the relationship and maintains control throughout.
While the psychopath may become unreliable and not do things they say they will, and/or they ignore your opinions and decisions, the worst part is often the criticism and humiliation. The manipulators find a way to criticize you for anything and everything. They criticize you for doing something or not doing it. They criticize who you are, what you believe in, your skills and capabilities, your behaviors and your environment, including where you live, who you spend time with and your family.
In this way they set up a lot of 'damned if you do, damned if you don't' situations where you always lose. You are criticized no matter how hard you try to please them. Somehow, whatever you do is never enough.
This criticism is typically levelled at who you are, even though they may be talking about something you have said or done. For example, there is a difference between "That's a stupid thing to say" and "YOU are stupid for saying that."
This constant criticism directed at you destroys your self confidence and your self esteem and eventually even your personality. This is exactly what the psychopath wants. Believing that they are superior beings and that others should be like them, they set about changing you to be more the way they want you to be. This means changing your thinking to be more in agreement with them and changing your behaviors so that you do more of the things that he or she wants.
These changes are then frozen in place with a system of rewards and punishments. Whenever you do something they don't like there is hell to pay until you learn to stop doing it. When you do something they want, there may be a reward, even if that reward is that they don't shout at you! In this way, your thinking and your behaviors change and for all intents and purposed, your personality is different from what it was before. This new personality is called a pseudopersonality (meaning false personality) and it suppresses but never completely destroys your real personality.
When your family and friends said that you had changed when you started the relationship with this person, this pseudopersonality is what they are referring to. Maybe you didn't spend so much time with friends or you lost your sense of humor or you became more withdrawn and secretive, but you may not have noticed these changes as much as your friends did.
This pseudopersonality idea is very useful in understanding many of the problems that happen during and after a relationship and undoing the pseudopersonality is a fundamental part of being able to move on after a psychopath.
The pseudopersonality is programmed to be very dependent on the manipulator, it is programmed to believe what the psychopath says, it is programmed to take care of the manipulator and to put it's own wants and needs aside to better support the psychopath. It is programmed to be submissive and loyal to the manipulator, to defend the manipulator against criticism and to project a good image of the relationship to outsiders.
So basically the psychopath breaks down or unfreezes your personality with all the criticisms and belittling, forces changes in your thinking, emotions and behaviors and refreezes this new personality in place. The psychopath affects his or her victims at their very core, at the level of identity or personality. This is an important factor in understanding what was done to you and in knowing what you need to do to move on after a psychopath.
This double personality is not the same as multiple personality disorder or dissociative personality disorder where a person has two or more split personalities that take control of the individual at various times. The pseudopersonality is a false personality that has been imposed on an individual by a manipulator in order to control the person for the manipulator's personal benefit and it disappears when the individual learns about mind control and psychopathy and what exactly was done to them.
The pseudopersonality model goes a long way to explain many of the problems that a person has while being manipulated and after the person has left the coercive environment. For example, a person may be fed up with the bad treatment and want to leave the relationship, which is desire of the real personality, but the pseudopersonality is dominant and is programmed to stay in whcih case the person may endure more abuse for months and even years.
After the separation, the real personality realizes that it was abused and is better off away from the psychopath but the pseudopersonality is so dependent on the manipulator that it can hardly imagine a life without the abuser and the draw back to the psychopath can be very strong. Knowing that they need to stay away and wanting to have the manipulator back at the same time can be very disconcerting for the individual and can make them feel that they are going crazy.
Trying to ignore what happened in an abusive relationship or hoping to just forget about it and carry on is a very common thing for people to try and do. Unfortunately, it doesn't work. The effects of the mind control and the changes made by the psychopath are too profound to simply carry on as if nothing happened.
Lots of people around you may tell you to just forget him or her, find someone else and carry on with your life. If you are reading this, you know that it's not as easy as that. This nasty piece of work you were involved with is still in your head 24/7, there may a lot of confusion about what you want, what you need and what's best for you. It's difficult to make sense of a lot of things and decison making is very difficult at times.
Some people even have difficulty deciding whether to have a shower, what clothes to wear or what to eat. It's natural to think that you are actually the problem because you are the one having so many difficulties and that nasty piece of work seems to be just carrying on with life as if little has happened. (You were programmed to accept the blame for anything that went wrong in the relationship and this idea is a hard one to get rid of!)
As hard and as long as you may try, just trying to forget about the psychopath and the relationship doesn't work. People continue to have problems with relationships, trust, emotions, sleep, memory and concentrations and knowing who they are, often for years, if they just try and ignore what happened to them.
A person may think that now that they are out of the relationship that they are no longer affected by the manipulator and therefore when problems arise, they don't connect them to the psychopath. They assume that the problem is their own (remember that you were programmed to blame yourself or accept responsibility for anything that goes wrong) and they may seek help for the particular problem.
They may seek professional help for the issue or issues but if the therapist does not recognize that the person was in a mind control situation, the problem is misdiagnosed and a treatment program is instituted for the misdiagnosis. Needless to say this does not resolve the situation although the person may feel better because they are in treatment and actively doing something to remedy their problems. Many times, the therapist may actually make the situation worse because the treatment involves getting the person to change in some way, even though the problem is that the individual has already been changed tremendously by the psychopath. They shouldn't be pushed to change further, the trick is to undo the changes that have been forced upon them.
In order to move on after a psychopath you have to undo the programming that was put in place. it's vital to get rid of the pseudopersonality so that your real personality can dominate and develop once more. This means learning about influence, manipulation, destructive mind control as well as learning about psychopaths and narcissists and the tactics they use to control and dominate. In particular you need to understand the specific techniques they used against you and why those were used.
When you comprehend the techniques and the effects they had on your thinking, your emotions, your decision making and your emotions, the effects of the manipulation wears off, the pseudopersonality disappears and you get to take control of your life again. The psychopath no longer dominates your thoughts, your thinking slows down and all those thoughts that are typically swirling around in your mind are no more!
There is a period where you have to get used to living without the abuse, the chaos and the drama in your life and you have to get used to making your own decisions once again. Only then can you begin to assess what a friendship is, what it means to you, what you expect in a relationship and what you are no longer prepared to accept in a relationship and so on. This allows you to establish limits and boundaries for yourself so that future relationships are healthy and satisfying for you and those you choose to have around you.
This is all best done with an expert in the field. Because of the nature of mind control, undoing a pseudopersonality alone is for all intents and purposes, impossible. Someone who understands mind control can help you to question the beliefs and ideas that need to be undone as well as help you to avoid many of the pitfalls in dealing with a psychopath and recovering from a psychopathic relationship. They will save you time, money, effort and heartache.
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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