How long does recovery from a psychopathic relationship take is a common question when someone realizes that they are, or have been, in a relationship with a psychopath (or a sociopath or a narcissist). Sometimes it takes a while for the victim to get to ask the question because the first thing they have to do is to recognize and accept that they are, in fact, involved with a psychopath, and this can take some time.
The length of time it takes really depends on many factors. For example, the time spent in the relationship is important as well as proximity to the psychopath. The age at which the person was caught by the psychopath, either in a cult or an intimate relationship, affects recovery. If the psychopath is a family member, there are added complications in the recovery from a psychopathic relationship. There are special considerations to be dealt with if it was a sexual relationship. The specific mind control tactics and techniques used by the psychopath are significant, too.
Perhaps the most important factor in the ability to recover from psychopathic abuse is the path one takes to recover. There are basically 3 options, go it alone, work with a therapist to deal with whatever problems that you are aware of or to work with a specialist in mind control and psychopathy.
Many people end up going it alone and they may have various reasons for doing so, including financial problems, shame, underestimating the gravity of their situation, believing it was their own fault or that they deserve what happened to them and so on.
What people who take this route often don't take into consideration is that not asking for help is actually one of the consequences of having been in a relationship with a psychopath. The victims of psychopaths are typically forced into a position where they believe that they are to blame for all the bad things that happened in the relationship. They are also made to believe that they are responsible for fixing things, too. The isolation of the victims in psychopathic relationships means that the victim becomes used to doing everything, for example, all the housework, all the shopping, most if not all of the childcare. Therefore after leaving the relationship, these patterns of thinking and acting persist and the victims think that they should be able to get over this themselves.
This is often compounded by those around who don't actually understand mind control and psychopaths, and who, with the best of intentions, say things such as, "You are out of the relationship now, just carry on and live your life", "Just forget him/her, find someone else and move on" and "Are you still thinking about him? What's the matter with you? You haven't seen him in 6 months..." These types of comments simply reinforce the pseudopersonality's belief that it's all their own fault and that they should be able to sort it out alone.
The reality is that, because of the nature of mind control, it is, for all intents and purposes, impossible to fully undo a pseudopersonality alone. The thinking of the pseudopersonality is sufficiently distorted that the individual does not think to ask the questions that need to be asked.
For example, many people leave a bad relationship thinking that the abuser is basically a good person, because at the start of the relationship that belief was implanted by the psychopath or narcissist. They don't think to challenge that belief on their own, rather they continue to act as if that is the reality. It often takes an outsider to point out to them (very frequently) that their ex-partner is not actually a good person. Even then it often takes people months to accept this idea.
People who have left an abusive relationship typically continue to have problems while the pseudopersonality persists. They also typically blame themselves because they have been programmed to do so. This may lead them to seek professional help for particular problems, such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, intrusive thoughts, problems in their next relationship, disordered sleep, difficulty making decisions, eating disorders and a whole host of other problems.
The difficulty here is that if the problem is treated in isolation and it is not recognized that the problem originates in the abusive relationship, then therapy will often be ineffective and may even make things worse. This occurs if the person believes that they are the problem and that they need to change themselves in some way, or if the therapist places the responsibility on the person for the problem and for solving it.
I have written more extensively here about the difficulties of working with a therapist who does not understand mind control, psychopathy or narcissism and how this prevents a full recovery from a psychopathic relationship.
This is the ideal situation because you need to be able to express what happened to you to someone who does not judge or criticize you but rather who understands how the dynamics of such relationships work. Such professionals do not mistakenly make you responsible for things that were out of your control and/or out of your awareness.
The sequence of the recovery is important, too. It should be to get rid of the effects of the mind control, then to examine vulnerabilities and lastly to examine any problems from prior to the relationships or childhood traumas etc.
Many therapists who do not understand mind control start by checking how the victim got themselves into the situation in the first place along with how the relationships were with parents and siblings. This approach often causes more problems because it reinforces the pseudopersonality's (false) belief that the victim is somehow to blame for what happened.
Someone who understands mind control will help you to unravel the subtleties of what was done to you, what techniques were used against you, why the manipulator chose to use those particular techniques with you, what effects did the techniques have on your thinking, your emotions, your decision making and your actions.
They will help you undo the false beliefs ideas and behaviors of the pseudopersonality and support you in re-establishing your own identity and personality. They will help you to make your own decisions again, establish your independence and they will also teach you how to spot and avoid other manipulators as well as educate you in the differences between destructive mind control and normal, healthy influence processes.
This is not an easy process. Accepting that a person that you loved and trusted has been abusing you the whole time is a lot to come to terms with and is not always an agreeable task. However, putting in the effort and aiming for a full recovery from a psychopathic relationship is always worth the effort.
Undoing a pseudopersonality takes 12 to 18 months, and depends on factors such as how much attention you pay to recovering, whether there is continued contact with the manipulator or not, and whether there are other psychopaths in your life that need to be dealt with.
Irrespective of which path is taken, some people are so badly affected that there is never a full recovery from the psychopathic relationship. The psychopath or narcissist can so distort a person's self, they can so disrupt a person's thinking that the individual can be driven into psychosis or other mental illnesses from which the person may never heal.
A not insignificant number of victims commit suicide because they are so tangled up in the world of the psychopath that they no longer consider that they have any escape other than to end it all.
There are many, many people who have been in mind control environments who try and forget what happened to them as a way to cope. This rarely if ever works. The manipulation of a psychopath or narcissist is so profound and far reaching that it's just not possible to carry on as if nothing happened.
If you are reading this, then you already know or suspect that you have been caught by a psychopath or narcissist. You recognize that you are having problems. Working with a professional will save you time, money, and a lot of heartache. I know it's not fair that you should have to put in time and effort to get yourself sorted out again and that nasty piece of work just carries on doing what they have always been doing, but you owe it to yourself to get then out of your head and out of your life. They say that the best vengeance is taking back control of your life.
Would you prefer 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.
You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...
Do you think you are being taken advantage of emotionally, physically, sexually or financially in your relationship? Do you want to leave but you can't seem to get away?
Do you think you may be in an abusive relationship? Are you realizing that your life is not how you want it to be, despite following your group's ideas faithfully?