“There is no anchor any more. At the core of the administration of the most powerful country on earth, there is, instead, madness.”
~ Andrew Sullivan, “The Madness of King Donald,” The New Yorker
It came as a twilight, an eerie dusk whose faded light revealed the shadows of long-hidden beasts. Trepidation hung in the air like a damp chill as a steady wind blew, carrying whispered warnings. Low clouds gathered overhead as thunder rumbled from some distant place.
And then the storm was upon us. Lightning crashed and hard, cold rain fell as the wind howled like a chorus of injured beasts. Somewhere in a dark forest, an ancient door creaked open and mad dogs were loosed—an army of them—barking and ravenous, tearing to pieces everything in their path.
The storm didn’t pass. Every day brought with it more darkness, more cold rain, more barking, more chaos, more outrage and injustice. What becomes of a society when the mad dogs take over? What becomes of it when truth and reason are torn to shreds, and replaced by greed and hate?
What becomes of us when morality has nothing to do with anything?
“In a time of deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.”
(George Orwell, 1984)
Something bizarre is going on. Every day, there is more drama. Everywhere, despite mounting evidence, people are denying facts. At every turn, we hear words unbound by truth or logic. False arguments have replaced reason and rationality. Even the Russians are involved! Thoughts of Kafka and Orwell dance through our heads. It seems that reality itself has fallen down the rabbit hole.
This could only mean one thing:
There’s a pathological personality in our midst.
“One does not establish a dictatorship in order to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.”
(G. Orwell, 1984)
Although plenty of mental health professionals have given their opinions and unofficial diagnoses, no one needs a psychology degree to know that the president-elect isn’t mentally fit for the job. Those of us with knowledge about personality disorders know that he is affected by pathological narcissism, at the least.
“The lessons I learned in kindergarten — not in medical school and years of psychiatric practice — are what tell me that Trump is unfit for the job,” said Matthew Goldenberg, assistant professor of psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine,“A professional opinion: You don’t need a psychiatrist to know there’s something wrong with Donald Trump” (LA Times)
According to Glenn Carle, retired CIA officer and interrogator, “The facts hurt. Trump won’t like the truth, and he will without question seek to destroy those individuals or organizations that say or do anything that he thinks harm his precious grandiosity…
Look, in my professional assessment as an intelligence officer, Trump has a reflexive, defensive, monumentally narcissistic personality, for whom the facts and national interest are irrelevant, and the only thing that counts is whatever gives personal advantage and directs attention to himself. He is about the juiciest intelligence target an intelligence officer could imagine. He groans with vulnerabilities. He will only work with individuals or entities that agree with him and build him up, and he is a shockingly easy intelligence ‘target’ to manipulate.”
(Glenn L. Carle served twenty-three years in the Clandestine Services of the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr. Carle holds a B.A. in Government from Harvard University, and a M.A. in European Studies and international Economics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Currently he is an Associate Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School Carr Center for Human Rights Policy.)
Far more significant than the opinions above are these official statements:
- In a joint statement, twenty Nuclear Launch Officers wrote:
“Only the president can order a nuclear launch. That order cannot be vetoed and once the missiles have been launched, they cannot be called back. The consequences of miscalculation, impulsive decision-making or poor judgment on the part of the president could be catastrophic…
The pressures the system places on that one person are staggering and require enormous composure, judgment, restraint and diplomatic skill. Donald Trump does not have these leadership qualities. On the contrary, he has shown himself time and again to be easily baited and quick to lash out, dismissive of expert consultation and ill-informed of even basic military and international affairs – including, most especially, nuclear weapons…
Donald Trump should not be the nation’s commander-in-chief. He should not be entrusted with the nuclear launch codes. He should not have his finger on the button.”
Read the rest here: JOINT STATEMENT BY FORMER NUCLEAR LAUNCH OFFICERS
- In another joint statement, 50 former national security officials wrote:
“We are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being. Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President.
He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commander-in-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal…
We understand that many Americans are profoundly frustrated with the federal government and its inability to solve pressing domestic and international problems. We also know that many have doubts about Hillary Clinton, as do many of us. But Donald Trump is not the answer to America’s daunting challenges and to this crucial election. We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history.”
Read the rest here: STATEMENT BY 50 FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY OFFICIALS
“We are convinced that in the Oval Office, he would be the most reckless President in American history.”
How did so many give him their approval anyway? And…
What made it possible for people to vote for a candidate who refused to disclose his tax returns?
After all, it’s extremely important to examine a presidential candidate’s taxes. It’s not legally required, but it should be. If anyone in our congress had a spine, they would be demanding to see it now, in light of recent events regarding election tampering.
As Mitt Romney put it,
“Tax returns provide the public with its sole confirmation of the veracity of a candidate’s representations regarding charities, priorities, wealth, tax conformance, and conflicts of interest. Further… the potential for hidden inappropriate associations with foreign entities, criminal organizations, or other unsavory groups is simply too great a risk to ignore.”
It seems like Trump was (and still is) hiding something. Why didn’t that matter to his supporters?
“simply too great a risk to ignore.”
“The real division is not between conservatives and revolutionaries but between authoritarians and libertarians.”
(George Orwell, The Lost Orwell: Being a Supplement to The Complete Works of George Orwell)
How is it possible so many people got on the Trump bandwagon?
Authoritarianism might be the foundation of Trump’s popularity.
Trump is authoritarian, and so are his followers.
“The political phenomenon we identify as right-wing populism seems to line up, with almost astonishing precision, with the research on how authoritarianism is both caused and expressed,” according to the Vox article, “The rise of American authoritarianism.” Psychological profiles of individual voters were characterized by a desire for order and a fear of outsiders. When people who score high in authoritarianism feel threatened, they look for strong leaders who promise to take whatever action necessary to protect them from outsiders and to prevent the changes they fear.
The researchers concluded that “the GOP, by positioning itself as the party of traditional values and law and order, had unknowingly attracted what would turn out to be a vast and previously bipartisan population of Americans with authoritarian tendencies. This trend had been accelerated in recent years by demographic and economic changes such as immigration, which ‘activated’ authoritarian tendencies, leading many Americans to seek out a strongman leader who would preserve a status quo they feel is under threat and impose order on a world they perceive as increasingly alien…
Authoritarians are thought to express much deeper fears than the rest of the electorate, to seek the imposition of order where they perceive dangerous change, and to desire a strong leader who will defeat those fears with force. They would thus seek a candidate who promised these things. And the extreme nature of authoritarians’ fears, and of their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics — and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms. A candidate like Donald Trump.”
Trump pledged to defeat all that his base feared—globalism, crime, immigration, terrorism, and changes in social norms and demographics (Read Trump’s RNC speech, with fact checking, here). “I am your voice,” said Trump, in his RNC speech. “I have joined the political arena so that the powerful can no longer beat up on people who cannot defend themselves. Nobody knows the system better than me. Which is why I alone can fix it.”
“The extreme nature of authoritarians’ fears, and their desire to challenge threats with force, would lead them toward a candidate whose temperament was totally unlike anything we usually see in American politics — and whose policies went far beyond the acceptable norms.”
“How dependent are our fundamental values—values such as decency, reason, and compassion—-on the fellow we’ve elected President? Maybe less than we imagine. To be sure, the country voted for a leader who lives by the opposite code—it will be a long and dark winter—-but the signs are that voters were not rejecting these values. They were rejecting élites, out of fear and fury that, when it came to them, these values had been abandoned.
… Many of them saw an establishment of politicians, professors, and corporations that has failed to offer, or even to seem very interested in, a vision of the modern world that provides them with a meaningful place of respect and worth…
Repealing Obamacare, which has provided coverage to twenty-two million people; cutting safety-net programs; downgrading hard-won advances in civil liberties and civil rights—-these things will make the lives of those left out only meaner and harder.”
Read the rest of this short essay, along with fifteen others: HEALTH OF THE NATION, By Atul Gawande, The New Yorker
“2 + 2 = 5”
(George Orwell, 1984)
How have people been manipulated into irrational denial of facts? Could it be that Trump ran his campaign in a fascist manner?
Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale University and author of “Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning,” talked about fascism on “The Diane Rehm Show,” December 13th, 2016. Some excerpts:
“Fascism was a reaction against globalization. It was the claim that one should put one’s own country and one’s own people first. Fascism put a face on globalization. It said that globalization wasn’t just a matter of rules or challenges, but of specific enemies, usually ethnic enemies, often arrayed in some kind of a conspiracy. Fascism said we shouldn’t try to understand the world with a reason, but instead rely on faith — not faith in God, but faith in a particular leader. So fascism put emotions ahead of thoughts. It put will ahead of reasonability…
Fascists and their followers by way of elections or other means, were able to overturn democracies throughout Central and Eastern Europe. And we see something like a similar pattern emerging now…
We’ve gotten ourselves convinced that ideas don’t matter anymore, that all the big ideas have left the framework, which is just not the case. The idea, for example, that truth doesn’t matter, the whole post-factual business that we’re now getting used to. That’s actually a fascist idea for the 1920s and 1930s, that one should have faith in individuals, one can ignore the facts, right? Those are old ideas. Those are the kinds of ideas which allow regimes to change. So those are — that’s another thing one should pay attention to…
I find it very hard to know what the man [Trump] actually believes. And I would be suspicious of anyone, you know, except perhaps his family and closest friends, who would make confident claims about that. But I think that, itself, is precisely one reason to be concerned. The way fascism works is to deny the importance of consistency. And Mr. Trump is someone who has generally taken both sides of every position…
If you watch the rallies… there are some patterns which are quite familiar to those of us who have watched the films or read the transcripts of rallies from the 1920s and 1930s. The first is the total hostility to facts, right? That you just most of the time say things that aren’t true. The second is the kind of shamanistic incantation, which in Trump’s case was, ‘build the wall’ and ‘lock her up.’ Things which are criminal, things which we know are not actually going to happen, but which establish a kind of mystical relationship between the crowd and the person…
The third is magical thinking. You know, the constant promise at the rallies that we’re going to simultaneously cut taxes, pay off the national debt, increase spending on domestic policy and on defense. We all know that this is impossible, right? But we embrace it.
And then, finally, the final element, which is very similar to Interwar fascist rallies would be the misplaced faith. Where Trump says things like, ‘I alone can solve this,’ or ‘I am your voice,’ which can lead people to confuse their faith in the leader with truth or can lead people to abandon their own claim to individually discern what’s actually going on. That’s very similar and that’s alarming…
I think it’s very important for us to take history seriously and rather than focus on what fascism means to you and to me, to remember that fascism was actually a thing in the world which brought about tens of millions of deaths and a Second World War and a Holocaust. It was something — to move to the question of whether, you know, one is insulting one’s fellow Americans or not — it was something that appealed to patriotic Italians, patriotic Romanians, patriotic Germans, and in the ’20s and ’30s, also many patriotic Americans. That is precisely the problem. We can’t get away from the problem by saying we’re insulting this or we’re insulting that…
That things that happened in the past, teach us about what’s possible in the present and in the future. So we have to be alert to this, precisely because we are vulnerable to it…
[Trump] uses technology to get through, to get by, to get over the normal conventions about what’s true, right? And in that, I have to say, it’s extremely important — and it’s something I think conservatives in particular should be alert to — the indifference to facts, or the attempt to create a new reality, isn’t just some kind of detail…
When we get to a world where fiction trumps fact, we’ve taken a big step towards fascism. Not towards conservatism, that’s something completely different, but towards fascism. This whole post-factuality business, I think, is pre-fascist…
The reason why this question, Diane, is so interesting is that it calls us back to what I think the really important question is, not the analogy with fascism, not the comparison with fascism, not the term but what we learned from it. And what we learned from the history of fascism is how democracies die, right, and one thing which Hitler, just to take that example, was in fact very good at was communicating in one way to his followers, in a way they understood, and in a different way to the political establishment. And thereby if you look at the end of 1932 and the beginning of 1933 when he came to power, in this respect it actually was very similar…
I think this is what Americans should be thinking of, and don’t — the question of how democracies die, what it looks like when a figure comes to power who we don’t know — I agree, we don’t know, but a figure who may be an anti-systemic figure. What are the things that happen next? The history of the ’20s and ’30s gives you landmarks. One of them is this kind of confusion. Another is a disaster which happens, which then leads to a state of emergency…
The interesting thing about fascism is that as a historical phenomenon, it’s precisely neither right nor left. The claim that fascism makes is that’s beyond all of that, which is, by the way, another similarity to our present situation…
Fascism is not something that can be dismissed from history just by saying that left-wing people call other people fascists. Fascism is something that happened to people who were very similar to you and me. That’s why we have to be concerned…
Global capitalism brings wealth, but global capitalism also brings inequality and lots of challenges. Because people feel inequality, subjectively, objectively, you get extreme reactions, both fascism and communism. The repair job that we did in the second half of the 20th century was to remember that if we want to have capitalism that doesn’t radicalize people, we also have to have a state which gives people a sense that they and their families have a future. That’s a kind of bare minimum.
We learned that lesson as an answer both to communism and to fascism. I think it’s a lesson worth remembering.”
“What are the things that happen next? The history of the ’20s and ’30s gives you landmarks. One of them is this kind of confusion. Another is a disaster which happens, which then leads to a state of emergency… “
To finish Snyder’s thought, read this short piece, if you dare: The Burning of Reichstag
What’s going on now, with Trump’s choices for cabinet positions and advisers?
He’s picked a Goldman Sachs executive to run the US Treasury; chose a woman who wants to dismantle public education as education secretary; picked a man who is on the record saying “fear of Muslims is RATIONAL,” for national security adviser; chose a lawyer who is an anti-EPA activist and who doesn’t ‘believe’ in climate change for Environmental Protection Agency administrator; wants the Department of Energy run by a man who wants to get rid of the department, and who has no background in science; picked a fast-food executive—who is against overtime pay and a living wage—to run the Dept of Labor; and for Attorney General—protector of our civil rights—the man he chose thinks the KKK is fine, except for the fact that some smoke marijuana.
The foxes are in the hen house, it seems. Are his followers concerned yet?
Laura Ingraham, conservative radio host, said “As long as they effectively implement and advocate for the Trump agenda, all this criticism will fade away.”
But what IS the Trump agenda? He never made it clear, and when he did reveal some of his plans, they were unrealistic and never backed by how he planned to carry them out.
For a clue we can look to Stephen Bannon, his chief strategist and senior counselor, ex-Goldman Sachs banker and former head of Breitbart news. Bannon has been searching for years for someone to carry out his own agenda, according to the New York Times article, “Combative, Populist Steve Bannon Found His Man in Donald Trump”:
“More quietly, Mr. Bannon systematically courted a series of politicians, especially those who share his dark, populist worldview… Finally, in Mr. Trump, Mr. Bannon found his man. Mr. Bannon told a colleague in multiple conversations during the presidential campaign that he knew Mr. Trump was an “imperfect vessel” for the revolution he had in mind. But the upstart candidate and the media entrepreneur bonded anyway.”
And what is Bannon’s agenda? In his own words:
“Lenin wanted to destroy the state, and that’s my goal, too . . . I want to bring everything crashing down, and destroy all of today’s establishment.”
Remember what the former CIA officer, Carle, said about Trump: He groans with vulnerabilities. He will only work with individuals or entities that agree with him and build him up, and he is a shockingly easy ‘target’ to manipulate.
ThinkProgress author Ned Resnikoff offers an explanation of Bannon’s manipulative strategy. An excerpt:
“In [Trump’s] political universe, facts are unstable and ephemeral; events follow one after the other with no clear causal linkage; and danger is everywhere, although its source seems to change at random… President-elect Trump offers an ever-shifting phantasmagoria of sense impressions and unreliable information, barely held together by a fog of anxiety and bewilderment…
It is tempting to suppose Trump built this phantasmagoria by accident — that it is the byproduct of an erratic, undisciplined, borderline pathological approach to dishonesty. But the president-elect should not be underestimated. His victories in both the Republican primary and the general election were stunning upsets, and he is now set to alter the course of world history. If he does not fully understand what he is doing, his advisers certainly do. Steve Bannon… knows. In a recent interview with the Hollywood Reporter, Bannon suggested that the key elements in his strategy are dissimulation and ‘darkness.’
“Darkness is good. Dick Cheney. Darth Vader. Satan. That’s power,” he said. “It only helps us when they get it wrong. When they’re blind to who we are and what we’re doing.”
It’s working. The media’s coverage of the Trump transition is blurry and confused. Stories that should be real scandals — such as Trump’s apparent efforts to manipulate international diplomacy for personal financial gain — get lost in the shuffle. Because of the constant media focus on his campaign, Trump was able to bombard the airwaves with an unending stream of surreal falsehoods… Many… were obviously false and easily debunked. But the sheer volume of these stories had their intended effect. When fake news becomes omnipresent, all news becomes suspect. Everything starts to look like a lie…
It is tempting to take solace in the belief that, if Trump cannot be taken literally, his extreme rhetoric might conceal a secret moderate streak. But that hope would be misplaced. Non-linear warfare is intrinsically authoritarian.
The president-elect is speaking the language of dictators.
… When political actors can’t agree on basic facts and procedures, compromise and rule-bound argumentation are basically impossible; politics reverts back to its natural state as a raw power struggle in which the weak are dominated by the strong…
That’s where Donald Trump’s lies are taking us. By attacking the very notion of shared reality, the president-elect is making normal democratic politics impossible. … If he succeeds, then the very notion of political reality will have been reduced to little more than a bad joke. The logic of democratic discourse will have been wholly replaced with the surreal anti-logic of nightmares.”
(Excerpt from “Trump’s lies have a purpose. They are an assault on democracy,” ThinkProgress)
Despite all of this, some people are still giving Trump the benefit of the doubt, which means they somehow still have doubt, and others are cautiously optimistic:
“I think the next few years will be a kind of stress test for the liberal, democratic constitutional institutions that we have built with such pain and such struggle over the last two-and-a-quarter centuries,” said former Clinton White House aide Bill Galston. “I am cautiously optimistic that our institutions will pass that test, but they will be tested.”
That might be the best we can hope for with a pathological narcissist for a president.
“Freedom is the freedom to say that two plus two makes four. If that is granted, all else follows”
(George Orwell, 1984)
Debunking One of the Many Lies
Trump has dismissed the US intelligence community’s findings that Russia was behind the DNC’s hacking, and that the act was committed to interfere with the election. He calls the claims “ridiculous,” and said that the US has no idea who was behind it.
“No, I don’t believe that at all,” Trump said. “They have no idea if it’s Russia or China or somebody. It could be somebody sitting in a bed some place. I mean they have no idea.”
That’s not true, and he knows it. But he expects to be believed anyway, which would mean believing that every intel agency in America is either incompetent or corrupt. As he tries to change our perception of reality, his attempts to gaslight us have no bounds. He doesn’t even hesitate to ruin his relationship with the very agencies he will be expected to rely upon in order to make important decisions regarding our national security and that could seriously effect the rest of the world.
All 16 US intelligence agencies agree that Russians hacked the DNC, and that the goal was to interfere with the US election process. Trump’s claim that the US has “no idea” who is behind recent email hacks is just not true.
On October 7, 2016, the Department of Homeland Security and Office of the Director of National Intelligence issued a joint statement on behalf of the U.S. Intelligence Community, which is made up of the 16 agencies. Here is the statement, from the Department of Homeland Security’s website:
“The U.S. Intelligence Community (USIC) is confident that the Russian Government directed the recent compromises of e-mails from US persons and institutions, including from US political organizations. The recent disclosures of alleged hacked e-mails on sites like DCLeaks.com and WikiLeaks and by the Guccifer 2.0 online persona are consistent with the methods and motivations of Russian-directed efforts. These thefts and disclosures are intended to interfere with the US election process. Such activity is not new to Moscow—the Russians have used similar tactics and techniques across Europe and Eurasia, for example, to influence public opinion there. We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities.”
Yet Trump—and some of the right-wing media—still insist the story is “fake news” created by the left to “make excuses” for Clinton’s election loss.
During the third presidential debate, Clinton said about Trump: “He’d rather believe Vladimir Putin than the military and civilian intelligence professionals who are sworn to protect us.” Trump was able to manipulate his followers into believing Putin, too, even though the joint statement from the US intelligence community printed above had been released two weeks prior to the debate.
Trump succeeded in his ongoing manipulative campaign to create distrust of the media, which he did to keep his potential voters from the facts. Most of them likely never even saw the statement from US intelligence, or the statements from the nuclear officers and former national security officials declaring Trump a danger and unfit for the presidency.
Today, the New York Times published a well-written and detailed report: “The Perfect Weapon: How Russian Cyberpower Invaded the U.S.” If you have doubts, read it, and then decide for yourself. It should create the point at which the evidence clearly outweighs claims based on someone’s uninformed opinion, especially when he has personal motivation to deny it.
At this point, no one is saying that the voting process itself was tampered with. The release of the DNC emails was intended to damage public opinion about Clinton and thus effect how many would vote for her, according to the CIA, in an effort to tip the election in Trump’s favor.
Should the US have to live with the results of an election that was tampered with by foreign agents? The course of history will be changed. Unless the electoral college overturns the election on December 19th, or some other bombshell drops, Trump will be president. Political experts warn that an Electoral College revolt next week — particularly one waged on the heels of such a bitter election — would cast the nation into crisis.“It would give a lot of people serious confusion and create a sense of panic, even though it would be a perfectly legal, logical progression,” said Brandon Rottinghaus, a political science professor at the University of Houston. Trump’s presidency could cast the nation into a crisis, too, but it’s impossible to be certain of that, so he’ll continue to be given the benefit of the doubt.
“Throughout the campaign, Trump described his philosophy as one of ‘America first.’ He drew an enthusiastic response from his supporters for signaling that he would refocus U.S. foreign policy, away from the course pursued for the past eight years by President Obama and seemingly abandoning a broader consensus that has guided presidents of both parties for decades.
But if standing up to Russian attempts to interfere with American democracy isn’t a foundational principle of an “America first” policy, what is?
Trump’s response has suggested a different focus and different philosophy, one that might be described as ‘Trump first,’ rather than ‘America first.’ His instincts appear to be aimed at shielding himself.”
With all of this chaos—and speculation about Trump’s ties to Russia because of it—you would expect that he would release his tax returns immediately to resolve any ideas of wrongdoing or conflicts of interest on his part. Unless there is some reason to keep them hidden, it does not make sense.
“I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
(Trump, at a campaign rally)
Trump was probably right. He knew his campaign of manipulation had its intended effect. Trump waged a war on reality, one fought with tactics such as gaslighting, distraction, and blatant lying—often in a way that was (and continues to be) outright bullshitting.
In his 2005 book On Bullshit, Harry G. Frankfurt, emeritus philosophy professor at Princeton University, writes that bullshit is more dangerous than lies, since it removes even the possibility of truth existing and being found. Frankfurt observed that even though the liar might spread untruth, he or she inhabits a universe where the distinction between truth and falsehood still matters. The bullshitter, by contrast, does not care what is true or not. “By virtue of this,” Frankfurt writes, “bullshit is a greater enemy of truth than lies are.”
A few examples of Trump’s BS:
- He said that Obama “came out of nowhere,” and that “the people that went to school with him, they never saw him, they don’t know who he is. It’s crazy.”
- He claimed to have seen “thousands and thousands” of Muslim Americans cheering 9/11 New Jersey. When asked why there are no videos of it, Trump told reporter Joe Scarborough that the evidence has disappeared. “Don’t forget, 14, 15 years ago, it wasn’t like it is today, where you press a button and you play a video.”
- He has repeated and vigorously defended his claim that 81 percent of whites who are murdered are killed by blacks, even though the actual number for last year is 15 percent.
Trump’s bullshitting isn’t an anomaly. The Republican party has increasingly adopted positions that defy facts and science. If climate change doesn’t exist, there is no reason to discuss it and no way to solve the problem, because there isn’t any problem to solve.
Trump lied when he feigned outrage over the Clinton email issue. After all of that outrage and all of his promises to “lock her up” because of her threat to national security, Trump considered Gen. David Petraus for Secretary of State—a man who is still on probation after being found guilty of sharing classified documents. And for his national security adviser, Trump picked Ret. Gen. Michael Flynn, who Army officials found guilty of sharing classified material with foreign officials. Trump admitted at a post-election rally that he never really intended to prosecute Clinton, saying that it was good for getting elected and now it was time to forget about it. “That plays great before the election,” he told supporters at a rally. “Now we don’t care, right?”
Trump lied to create distrust in mainstream media. He kept up his anti-media rant throughout his campaign, calling journalists liars, biased, disgusting and scum, and even threatened to sue them and to end freedom of the press if elected, to keep voters from the facts. “Distrust of legitimate journalism is no joking matter. What happens to democracy when an uninformed, misinformed, or dis-informed populace tries to make sound decisions? The simple and terrible answer is, democracy fails,” wrote Kathleen Parker in Fake news, media distrust and the threat to democracy. After the election, Trump met with NY Times editors and said, “The New York Times is a great, great American jewel. A world jewel. And I hope we can all get along well.”
“As a candidate, Trump’s gas lighting was manipulative; as President-elect it is a deliberate attempt to destabilize journalism as a check on the power of government. The threat of deception is not a partisan issue.”
Lauren Duca, Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America.
What is the effect of all of this manipulation and psychological warfare on us? It’s probably not going to stop any time soon.
Trump supporters will be affected, too, as they come to realize that the reality of their candidate is very different from what he presented.
I suspect the effects will be the same ones that so many of us experienced from having been involved in manipulative, abusive, exploitative relationships: Mistrust, betrayal, doubt, confusion, moral injury, grief, depression and shame. We’ve been thrust unwillingly into the chaos and unreality a highly narcissistic and sociopathic public figure has created, one who will soon have the power to change our lives. It’s important for us to have strong boundaries, and to take extra-good care of ourselves at this time.
Read about post-election stress and trauma, and how to deal with it:
This calls for kittens.
I once wrote here that “in the psychopath’s world, things are topsy-turvy. The psychopath sees our strengths as flaws, and sees his flaws as strengths. Things like love and trust and compassion make us fools who are easy to manipulate, while their ability to lie, manipulate, and act without remorse makes them strong and superior.”
Hate, and a lack of compassion, make people easy to manipulate, too. And so do frustration and desperation. We just witnessed this firsthand. Because of it, we now live in a world that is more topsy-turvy than ever.
Why did you stay?
Why did I, and why did the rest of us? If you’re still involved, why can’t you leave?
Find out below. In the process, free yourself from needless self-blame and shame. It is tremendously powerful to understand the facts of your experience. It can help you heal.
The person you loved—maybe more than you ever loved anyone before—and who loved you just as much, is gone from your life, never to return. Of course you’re grieving.
But wait a minute, you tell yourself. You shouldn’t be grieving because you know this person didn’t really love you, and, in fact, your soul mate didn’t even really exist at all. You know now that after the glorious beginning, your relationship slowly became an ever-worsening emotional hell because of manipulation and from being treated with a stunning lack of empathy by person who was incapable of it, and who was also unable to love.
What are you supposed to do with that? (more…)
Early on in my trauma,
I felt incredibly and unbearably vulnerable. And I hated the psychopath I’d been involved with. In fact, I hated all psychopaths. I feared them, too. They terrified me. I felt there might be one lurking behind every bush and every smiling face. I felt paranoid; every time I interacted with someone I drilled my eyes into them, searching for some kind of sign. For a short time, I believed the one I’d known may very well have been the devil himself (something I’d never even believed existed before).
All of those feelings were normal reactions to the trauma I’d experienced. And all of them resolved eventually, because they could not co-exist with empowerment.
None of us wants to be involved in another abusive relationship. How can we prevent it? I regularly hear from people who want to know the difference between narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths and how to tell them apart. They want to know what to look for, in order to prevent another abusive relationship.
I propose another solution, one that is simpler and much more effective, and that doesn’t require us to become some sort of experts in diagnosing mental health disorders.
“Talking with my ex-husband is like smashing my head against a wall or drowning in a river. We were not speaking the same language and misunderstandings were the rule. I learned the hard way what Asperger Syndrome was.”
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Quotes from Partners of People with Aspergers Syndrome
“Do not minimize the extent of my having been changed from a vivacious, sensual, happy, loving, athletic, healthy, wealthy, bright, articulate, fairly socially adept human to being melded and molded to accommodate an autistic adult into exactly the opposite of who I am for the sake of a one-sided relationship.”
“We struggle every day with this apparent arrogance they portray and our own sense of powerlessness to influence them to consider our perspective, comment or suggestion as valid or acceptable, and so we become silent. Or eventually leave. No other option seems available to us.
What is even more horrifying and disabling for us is the requirement on our part to patiently endure being corrected, directed, criticized and often rudely spoken to regularly by our AS partners, sometimes constantly, as they work on forming us into more complete and tolerable partners for themselves, while we weather the torpedo blasts of rage and reaction they direct towards us if we suggest an imperfection in them.
Survivable? I think not.”
“Sitting in the kitchen in the evening, Harry was verbally cruel. At that time I knew all about the Asperger’s arrogance and uncontrollable urge to belittle anyone who didn’t have his special knowledge and didn’t share his opinions. It was exposed to me almost every day and I had trained myself not to pay attention because it was too stressful for me. But this time he was unusually verbally cruel. He did not respond to my requests to stop, but increased the cruel verbal abuses. I was exhausted and despaired…
Smash. He struck me violently. I lay on the kitchen floor and bled. He kept beating me hard. At every stroke he shouted furiously: ‘I’ve never hit you, I’ve never hit you, I’ve never hit you.’ I was terrified. He went on and on; I couldn’t move. He did not stop beating me, until I begged: ‘It is my fault, pleeease forgive me.’ I called our friend; the only person who knew the truth. I was stunned how he spoke with such control and so friendly on the phone as if nothing had happened. … He never apologized after the violent abuse. He never expressed any remorse.”
“I have lived with an AS spouse for 14 years. It has been a long, lonely and frustrating life. Walking on eggshells is the ‘norm’ for living. Enduring repetitive verbal abuse and witnessing adult tantrums has become a routine event. AS individuals learn coping behaviors that allow them to ‘act’ their way through social situations and personal intimacy, but that they don’t actually invest any feelings or emotions in them. It is simply an action that is expected of them. A social convention. A NT spouse feels empty, unheard and frustrated. Life is short. Find a healthy and well functioning partner or live with a dog. Life will be far more rewarding.”
“I dated someone who had Asperger’s syndrome and it led to me having a breakdown and suffering from severe depression. He denies to this day that he has done anything wrong… He is a high-achieving professional but lacked the capacity to understanding that his actions and words were deeply damaging. If someone told me they had Asperger’s now, I would run in the opposite direction.”
“He barely notices I am gone, is healthy and still calls me his wife, even though I am no longer. He calls to ask me to do his laundry and never once said he missed me. He is on a robotic myopic mission he calls life. Nothing has changed really. I, however, have lost all my friends and social support, have chronic illness and a nervous disorder and may well lose my house because of the financial ineptness of the person who was supposed to be my partner in a relationship. The deprivation of basic human needs was NEVER on the table for the AS person, as the NT does the bulk of the basics in the home and oft times at work as well, and almost certainly with the children. Yet the NT person could be on the floor dying or in labour and the AS individual would walk over them to get to get to the computer. Where were my human rights in that marriage? We are the housekeepers, house maintenance, child rearers and unpaid caregivers and Mental Health workers in the home. Notice how I did not say ‘wife’ as that would mean there was a family, sharing dynamic involved, but the wife aspect was ink on a registration form for most of us.”
“I have been married for 5 years to an aspie. Five years of his aggression, lack of affection, constant criticism, put-downs, failure to even attempt to make the marriage work, even though I have begged him to come and see someone together. I realized the marriage I had worked so hard on, was over. I cannot get him to move out—he just keeps coming up with excuses why he can’t. He doesn’t care that I’m unhappy, isolated, unloved. He just cares about himself. End of it. Life with an aspie hubby is unbearable. I just hope I can hold out long enough not to top myself before he moves out. I had a life once.”
“I lost my hair, I lost my home, my friends, family, health, career… Watching my kids cope with a man who never considers anyone but himself. For 15 years I have been mother and father. My kids cannot communicate with their father. The older they get the problems become worse.I would have stayed and worked it out, so I thought, but by the end of the last two years and suffering a nervous breakdown I could not do it. I wanted to chose my life. Why is it our duty to stay and be serially abused?”
“Last night, I sat on the edge of my bed and cried. I felt like I was crazy. It is so hard to describe what it feels like to be married to this. I told myself yesterday that if I could make myself more like him, then maybe it would be better. If I could remove all emotional desire from myself, then I would be able to do this. I actually asked God to make me like Spock. That has to be one of the weirder prayers that has gone before the throne of God. Like some weird psalm.
“Oh Lord, make me like Spock. Purge me of emotion. Oh my soul, shut the hell up so that only my brain will speak and my heart will sleep a thousand years.”
Poetic but not possible. I found a better thing to ask. I asked for a sense of being accepted and validated by someone. I felt so misunderstood. Like not one person understood the exact nature of what I was experiencing, and this was so isolating. This sense of isolation is intolerable to me.”
“Recently I heard a sermon on loving your enemies. The pastor said that sometimes our enemies are in our own families. That seems a strong word to apply to a spouse, but sometimes a lack of empathy, no matter what the cause, can honestly make you feel as if you are with an enemy rather than a friend! When illness strikes and say, for example, my spouse comes home to find me coughing, congested and moving slowly due to aches and pains, I expect an empathic response. My toddler hears me cough and says ‘You okay, Mommy? You okay?’ But my aspie spouse may not even think to ask ‘How are you feeling?’ once throughout my illness. This can be extremely depressing and upsetting. I try to remember that it just doesn’t come naturally for an aspie to have the typical empathic response. But when I am sick or weak and am not offered any help or emotional support I tend to be filled with grief, anger and self-pity at how lonely and uncared for I feel.”
“I have been here for 27 years. I’m also disabled so I’m dependent upon my as partner. It’s frightening, lonely and soul destroying. Others outside the relationship not only disbelieve me but see my partner being an angel of mercy for caring for me. My soul feels trapped in an airless coffin. I dread every single day.”
“It’s always ME. Its always MY FAULT. I don’t ‘get him’ why don’t I just do it ‘his way’ why don’t I just make everything easier for him by doing what he wants and acting like a void all the time? Learn to speak ‘aspie’ aka: no relative human emotions. No insight, no foresight, no thought, no consideration, no love, no respect. JUST SPEAK ROBOT. YEAH. NOT HAPPENING. So, I am MISERABLY STUCK IN THIS FOR ALMOST 5 YEARS NOW. Honestly I wish he would just disappear and never return. There’s no hope. If I didn’t have a child, I would have left him a long time ago. He prances around with out a care in the world. ignoring my sadness, ignoring my anger and my feelings, because why? Because HE HAS NONE. The only emotion he feels is anger. WHERE IS MY TIME MACHINE? WHERE?”
“He lacked empathy, and he didn’t understand why I expected him to be able to anticipate needs or intuit things. As an example, when I was pregnant with our first daughter, I was put on bed rest for the last few weeks of my pregnancy due to an inability to walk from pelvic instability. I had no friends where we lived as I hadn’t lived there very long. I was, therefore, unable to go to the kitchen and prepare food. I would have to sort of slither up the hall on my side to make it to the bathroom. I literally could not walk or stand. I was famished when he would get home. He was never able to remember that I was home and unable to meet my needs. One evening, he came home with food and ate in front of me. He didn’t ask how I was, talk to me, or even engage. He just sat there, glazed over, and ate his food while playing computer games. He rarely greeted me. I was so frustrated and angry. He looked at me with wide-eyed innocence and asked, ‘What’s wrong with you?’ Pregnant wife on bed rest unable to walk? He just didn’t get it or understand why that had anything to do with him or why he had any responsibility there. It bewildered him. That is, however, a typical interaction. It has played out over and over again in different contexts over the years.”
“My husband has Asperger’s, as did his father and uncle. It is stressful and I am exhausted. The groups I’ve tried to join basically say the same thing: Be positive,accept him, it’s not his fault. I’m not a good wife for not ‘enduring.’ I understand that. I really do-but I am losing it. It’s been 15 years and I am EXHAUSTED.”
“The aspie may not be able to help that he only sees things from his own perspective, due to his brain wiring. This means, in my situation, that he will believe I am always wrong anytime we disagree. I can expect him to believe I am always wrong. I can accept that it is pointless to try and share my perspective or ever reach mutual understanding.”
“There is zero desire to hear the other person’s perspective (of course). There is no compassion or empathy for the struggles the other person is going through. There is an air of superiority, and there are many demands to have his own way. And it’s all making me sick.”
“Being with someone with Aspergers is the most exasperating experience. In the end you’ll feel like you’re going mad. But they are wired differently, so it’s not their fault. But being on the receiving end feels nothing short of abuse and bullying, even though my ex always said he was the bullied one.”
“What do we do about aspie men? Do we just name and shame them on a website so other women can avoid? And what about the issue of being a man enough to confess you are an aspie, on the first or second date? Shouldn’t that be mandatory? This is a psych condition that badly hurts women like me, after all. I think we have a right to know.”
“If the Asperger traits intensify over time and decades (and most of us partners have experienced that it will) then all that is left for the NT to experience is sadness, loneliness and infinite sorrow and grief.”
“Don’t let these people try to make you feel worse than you already do. You people have no idea what it feels like to be on the receiving end of your so called “love”. You have no idea how hurtful it is to be married, or in a relationship, with someone like YOU! Yeah, get it tattooed on your forehead or whatever, I don’t care what you do, just stick with your own kind and stop destroying people!!! Difference is, I won’t be a victim, nor will I be broken down, life’s too short to deal with assholes, no matter what their hangup is… Just because you clueless dumbasses don’t mean to hurt someone, doesn’t mean that you don’t. If I ran over someone with my car accidentally and killed them, they’re still dead, right? Same thing. If you’re pissed about what this blogger has written, then don’t read it… go back to tracking weather statistics … stick with your own kind is all I’m saying.”
“Aspergers men are a nightmare. I accidentally married someone with AS. And I stress ACCIDENTALLY, as I have seen the devastation that is “being” with one of these people. They should come with a warning and anyone displaying these behaviors should be tested in school so that us normal people don’t get trapped in something that ruins our lives. Yeah they’re all different yeah yeah, I know, some are worse than others. No one can be happy with these people. NO ONE. WHATSOEVER. Seriously. My life is devastated from one of these un-empathetic, desolate wasteland-of-emotions people. Learn to think like them? F*** that. That’s impossible and would require losing most of the characteristics that make us human, that allow us to connect to others.”
“Thank f**king God. For some time I’d honestly thought I was going insane. The issue with aspies is that what they’re doing is by any objective and subjective definition, abusive.”
“We are isolated, no one validates us, we lose friends and family, and we feel like ‘hostages’ in our own homes.”
“Yesterday, my aspie spouse started yelling at me in the car. What started the argument was, of course, my fault. Because I’m a total idiot. Mainly, because I have feelings. And (cardinal sin that it is), I tried to share said feelings. So stupid of me! Will I never learn? Obviously not… “
“Days, weeks, months, go by where you go into hiding. Staying away, staying silent, refusing to engage in any conversation that may possibly divulge a remnant of feeling, brought some semblance of peace. But that won’t last. It cannot possibly last. Because you have a neurologically typical brain, heart, soul. And he doesn’t. In a moment of . . . What was it this time? Intense feeling? A desire to share? Forgetfulness? Foolishness? Mere stupidity on your part? Whatever the cause, you did it yet again. You shared something of yourself. And the result was utter destruction. Sheer madness. Wondering again ‘What the hell just happened here?’ Oh, yeah. Now I remember. Back into the hole I go. I choose peace.”
“I have been with my husband for 26 yrs. Raised two boys, ran the household, have taken on all the financial responsibilities of home loans car loans, everything. I home schooled my boys and have been severely emotionally and verbally abused by my husband who has both adhd and aspergers. He’s selfish, rude, he throws tantrums like a four year old to get his way, he’s deceitful, and manipulative to make sure he gets his way, he takes forever to get his task done and he ignores me and never talks to me. He’s only nice when he’s trying to get what he wants (sex), and when he doesn’t get his way, he gets loud and he says horrible things about me, with no understanding of really what he just said, he’s never sorry because he’s never to blame, and I feel like I’m raising a third child that will never grow up, and … I been dealing with this for a very long time and I am worn out, sad, lonely, a little bitter, and I feel I’m losing my self through all of this and I just don’t have any strength left to fight, and he denies that anything is wrong and won’t seek help. I’m sorry that he has this, but it doesn’t give anyone the right to severely abuse their partner because of it. Help!”
“I am married to a man who has diagnosed Aspergers and is extremely difficult to live with… The most difficult thing I’ve had to endure is married life with someone who only worries only about himself and doesn’t even really know me or his children. I am by far the main care giver and feel I have raised the kids on my own.”
“Now I realize that there must be many many exhausted, isolated, deeply sad women out there trying to cope with a very difficult situation alone, because so few understand. My husband is a beautiful, gentle, intelligent individual but this does not prevent my suffering. Denying one’s self and sacrificing all basic emotional needs every single day, giving up the most important personal desires bit by bit as the years go by is so damaging. I wish support was better organised for partners of Asperger’s… It is enough to make one crazy and there is no help around.”
“No passion ever. Rigid sex. You become a human safety net for the Aspie partner. Doing everything, alone. If I had any idea then what I know now, I would not be in what feels like a trap with a spouse who is kind, gentle, and intelligent but has never once told our four children he loves them without a prompt or reminder from me to do it. I had to ‘train’ my spouse to reply to me when I tell him I love him. It’s very stressful and lonely.
“Being married to someone with AS is so lonely. I feel that all my time is spent on how I can make things better for my husband to cope with life. Yet I am the one that has to handle everything and there is never someone there to help me. For a long time I pushed aside my friends when it came to social outings since my husband always seemed so awkward at these events. I have started going to things by myself which may sound rude but at least I feel alive! To have another adult to talk to is worth more than anything.”
“After 23 years of marriage to an AS husband who is a good provider and basically decent person, all I can say is “DON’T DO IT. Run, run, run as fast as you can. You may love this person, but unless you also despise yourself, you need to leave the relationship as far behind you as possible.”
“My husband was diagnosed with Asperger’s a little over a year ago. We have been married almost 37 years and the stress and sacrifice of dealing 24/7 with a man/child has cost me my health, my job, college, and my sanity. While dating, I thought he was just quirky and shy. He made me believe we were on the same page about the future. After marriage, he lost interest in sex after three or four weeks and made it clear he did not want children. I always loved to travel but he refused to go anywhere. In my area, a wife just did not travel without her husband, and if she did the gossip was terrible. After moving to our current home 30 years ago, he refused to move to another state, city or house. Now I am disabled in a non-accessible house and my life is a living hell. An outsider looking in would see a man who is very smart, emotionally flat and likes to tell funny stories. Most people like him. The outsider would probably feel sorry for him for having a fat, handicapped, angry and terrified wife and have no idea that when she married him she was pretty, healthy, fit, smart and people often commented on her beautiful smile. He took all of these things from me. I did not realize what was happening to me because I loved him. It was like a slow leak that you don’t recognize until it is too late. If you are willing to give up your every hope, dream, and ambition for someone who is unable or unwilling to be a partner in your marriage and does not appreciate you or your sacrifice, then a life with an Aspie spouse is for you. If I had known what I was getting into, I would never have gone on the first date. You also need to consider this–what if YOU become seriously ill and need to lean on him? It’s like leaning on a five-year-old child who has equal control of your finances. My home is a bio-hazard because I am no longer physically able to clean, he is unwilling to clean and refuses to allow me to hire someone to help. If you are considering marriage with an Asburger’s person, my recommendation, after having lived it for these many years, is to RUN IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION! Marriage is hard enough without having one of the partners emotionally stunted and having no common sense.”
“Think carefully is my advice after 28 lonely years battling with something so subtly pervasive often visible only to me and the children. While being able to maintain a facade of normality in the work force, my husband comes home overloaded.He tries to be sociable but ends up taking insult from the most harmless conversation which then escalates into an argument which results in him becoming angry,accusing me of blaming him for something I didn’t even think, then comes the verbal abuse and ranting during which he seems quite confused and delusional ending in him crying and shutting himself off in the spare room.Thank god our sons are grown and seldom home.I feel like my life is over!”
“It has been a long lonely road bringing up the kids basically on my own, watching them hurt and confused by his lack of genuine interest in their lives.Being isolated and anxious because he functions well outside and sees helping people as part of his job. When at home he is either overly affectionate or a “cold fish” and seems resentful if family need his help. After many years I have succumbed to depression and ill health,feeling worn down by the constant demands to behave in a certain way to make things run smoothly at home the expense of my own health and happiness.As he has gotten older he is more controlling (he has a position of authority at work within the community)and yet is completely different at home, rarely shows compassion for us while claiming we are the center of his world.When we are alone he will often find fault in what I say resulting in outbursts of temper which escalates into verbal ranting lasting for hours .when we are in company(including our sons) he is the model attentive husband I feel more like a possession than a loved one.He says he loves me but it,s an unhealthy love which is all about his needs.It almost feels as if the novelty of having a wife wore off after he got promotion at work and didn’t need my support anymore. God why am I still doing this!”
“I fell in love with, and married this handsome, gentle, hardworking man. 6 years of trying to understand why he was so peculiar, I decided I had to get away from him. Then I broke my leg in a parachute accident which scuppered my bid for freedom. It was my mum who mentioned AS so I started researching it and (light bulb moment) all the odd behavior started making sense. I didn’t leave him, we’ve been married for 13 years now. I felt guilty because I now knew it wasn’t his fault. I would have felt like I’d left a child in the middle of a road. I regret my decision to stay with him. I regret ever having met him. I am at the end of my tether. He has taken everything I have to give. He will not acknowledge that he has problems…. it’s me that’s not normal. I am lonely, worn out, and emotionally drained…”
“I am the wife of a man recently diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome (AS). I was reaching out for support and information for myself when I came upon a description of Affective Deprivation Disorder (AfDD). When I saw those words my heart leapt – resonance – someone has put a name to what I have been feeling for many years. It feels like I have no more reserves for tolerating a lack of resonance, understanding, and empathetic validation. I feel depleted and cannot tolerate sharing my feelings and having them unacknowledged or invalidated. I have become COMPLETELY DEPLETED (CD). In this CD state I have been reaching out for help, information and empathetic validation. I went to my therapist after a week of emotional devastation over my husband’s diagnosis – I shared how I saw the situation as hopeless. She responded, ‘I disagree.’ For the record, it feels like a hopeless diagnosis FOR ME god damn it! And YES I am suffering from AfDD – and I don’t give a F**K who doesn’t agree. You see, now I’m not reaching out for anymore god dammed help. AfDD can lead to depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, apathy, isolation and feelings of exhaustion and emptiness. It occurs when one’s feelings are un-reciprocated and/or invalidated over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again. Gee, I’m feeling a little better. Thank you Me, for understanding and validating my feelings! Many wives of AS husbands (we are also known as NT’s, i.e. neurotypicals, normal people married to people with AS). You see, we’re nothing special, just typical people married to “special” people who do not return our warmth, expressed feelings of love and encouragement. In return for loving deeply and completely from the bottom of our hearts, we receive… nothing at all – or perhaps some good old fashioned invalidation from our therapists (the people we f**king PAY for a little empathetic validation). I say to those of you who are also suffering from AfDD, your feelings are valid, reasonable, and completely understandable! You matter. Your feelings matter. You deserve love, warmth, and empathetic validation. Your lives are not “typical,” they are tragic, and your efforts to persevere, one day at a time, are nothing short of heroic. I have lived my life on crumbs. But, at present, I am starving and unable to sustain myself on crumbs. Sorry! So now, I say to you and to MYSELF – find a therapist who offers EMPATHY. Pay them to feed you empathetic validation. If they blow it – FIRE their asses. If you can’t find ANYONE and/or can’t AFFORD a therapist who can and will provide this, well I guess you’re going to have to provide it to yourself! By definition empathy comes from an “other” so this is impossible. But let’s give it a shot, shall we?”
“My husband has Asperger’s Syndrome. For me it often feels very much like adopting a special needs child. According to my husband, for him it seems like taking on a bushel of trouble to no purpose. We do love each other and don’t plan to end the marriage. However, I have exhausted us over the years through frantic activity that veiled my frustration and horror in the realization that my husband cannot love me the way I need/want/deserve/expect… I don’t even know which of my above attitudes about love are really true any more. I feel a gigantic ‘cloudy’ kind of love from my husband but it lacks any focus or momentum and I can’t really understand how to relate to this love (and to him) other than to sort of bask in it. Meanwhile I feel like I’m living for two – exhausted all the time. Traditional marriage and careers have emphasized our differences to the point that we move in almost different spheres; any NT partner who works as hard as required to keep engagement in a marriage knows that this is a serious problem – it’s hard on any marriage. We are going to change our lifestyle. It’s not working. You can see that maintaining my marriage has become a primary activity of my life. I have mixed feelings about it.”
“I just found out that my husband has Asperger’s. It certainly clarifies things for me. I have been married for 7 years and have contemplated divorce many times and am at the end of my rope. We are in counseling again as a last effort to save this marriage and I am also seeing a therapist by myself for support and guidance in dealing with this so I am a very understanding wife. I believe in the vows I took and that marriage is forever, but this disorder is taking a toll on not only on the marriage, but my self worth, too and I am so tired of feeling unhappy and being alone despite the fact that I am married. I always knew that something wasn’t quite right with my husband. For the most part, I do all the chores and take all of the responsibility in the marriage. I make all of the plans and all of the decision. My husband works and grocery shops, but he only grocery shops because he likes doing it, so if he doesn’t like doing something, he doesn’t. Even though I now know why my husband behaves the way that he does, it doesn’t really change the fact that the relationship is challenging and exhausting. A relationship is supposed to be a partnership and my marriage is not that at all. I feel like we are roommates. Although my husband is basically a sweet and nice guy, it’s all about him and his needs and wants. Nothing is ever about me. I am the giver all of the time and it’s very hard doing all of the giving and not getting my needs met and because I cannot connect to him, I feel lonely and isolated. He never, ever gets how I feel and my feelings are seen by him as complaints and are always dismissed. We rarely have sex or talk unless he has something to say. His behavior can be crazy-making at times and he never takes accountability for his actions so he never apologizes or sees the world through any one else’s eyes but his and since he can’t communicate in a constructive way, talking to him is often pointless and most conversations result in him telling me to shut up and being called names. He has also been physically abusive and can’t keep friends nor does he have a good relationship with his parents or siblings.”
“I‘m 12 months out from a 9 month marriage to a man diagnosed with AS (diagnosed after our marriage). He changed literally overnight, the warm emotions that he was so good at role playing disappeared once he had the ring on my finger and a housewife to look after him. I’m still recovering from the emotional trauma and physical effects that almost have killed me. My advice, if you’re dating a man with AS: run, don’t walk, don’t look back, just get out NOW.”
“My husband of 9 years has been recently told he has a mild form of Asperger’s… I blamed myself for everything – every blow up, every sigh he generates, every look of disgust, the fact we are not sexual or even affectionate. I now know NOT to blame myself but I do not know how to start taking care of me. I get advice from some people who know that say leave, and my own parents think I am not patient enough. This is my second marriage. We would be great friends and I have suggested that to him. HE wants to stay (why not, it is easy for him – all his needs are being met). Rambling and frustrated and on the verge it seems. Not that tears will bring him any closer. It pushes him away. I want that strong woman back that I used to be and need help finding her.”
“Although I know it’s not his fault it is still hard to deal with the lack of emotional support and belonging. The isolation that becomes part of the lifestyle is too much after 20 years. I just want a normal conversation for 20 minutes without a debate and when there is a problem someone to stay and work it out. I’m at the end of my rope. I gave it my all and tried to cope but I can’t do it any longer or I will lose what I have left of who I am.”
“After a very difficult 21 years of marriage I recently realized my husband fits the AS profile only because my son was evaluated. This realization was truly eye-openning and validating as I have experienced utter despair over years of coercion, manipulation, and other forms of emotional abuse by my husband, as well as years of intense loneliness. The fact he doesn’t get it makes it all the more head-bangingly frustrating. I am now in therapy. I just started taking anxiety medication and I am suffering health affects including PTSD after years of enduring such a marriage. Finally, I am realizing I am not going crazy, I am not making up or doubting my experience.”
“I am heartbroken, angry, confused and terrified. I have recently been considering some kind of online affair type thing to try and get some of my needs met because I am DYING inside. *deep sigh* Its just CRUSHING to be trapped in this situation. Girls considering marrying an Aspie, you are kidding yourself. They cannot love you, they can *act* NT for short periods of time but that’s it. Run far and fast. Seriously.”
“I am SO Sick and Tired of hearing ‘They can’t help it. They are unaware of it. They are wired different. Have more understanding. Imagine what it is like to be him…’ Oh, Ok let’s talk about that one.. let me Imagine what it is like to be him… Well, everything is done for me. I can complain and moan until she does it exactly like I want it and then I will still find fault. I get to go everywhere I want to go and do everything I want to do. I get to have sex and get mine without having to show any love or passion. I get to talk about everything I want to and ignore and watch TV when she speaks. I get to tell her I think she is fat, her food is bland, her ideas suck, she is lazy. EVERY conversation revolves around me. I get to talk for hours about stuff that is sooo dry and stupid. If she asks me how was my day I will tell her what tool I used… how big the part was…if I turned it clockwise or counter clockwise… every word that was said… who worked with me… how long they took for lunch… what their wife is doing… what they had on… What THE HELL! It is like the Insanity plea… If a man with a low IQ stabs you 97 times he could be deemed CRAZY. If another man stabs you 97 times because he is just evil and wants your car and purse… what does it matter!!! You are STILL DEAD!… I am sinking and I am the one in need of alot of help… so Imagine what it is Like FOR ME for a change!”
“I am on the seventh year of marriage to a very successful professional man of 50 who has been formally diagnosed for a year and we’ve known for about the last three when ‘the penny dropped’ for me because I’d worked with AS students in the past. The last five years have been a descent into hell. I have lost a highly successful career because of the combination of confusion/emotional vacuum/and his obsession with work (he also works 150 miles away and commutes). I used to have a wide bunch of friends but he saw them off through rudeness/thinking he was much more important or making it difficult for me to see them. Two bouts of clinical depression. A ‘cry for help’ suicide attempt. Social isolation. I used to be in a caring profession and now I feel that I have no one to care about except this ‘brick’ who I can tell is faking what he thinks affection is and then flying into rages and violence when his fakery doesn’t work. No ‘conversation’ is possible. I get interrupted, reminded of my nervous breakdown and actually told what I’m thinking. If you live with an AS husband you have to give up the whole concept of a shared, reciprocal journey of a marriage. I have asked him to get help and he won’t.”
“I work as a counselor and have a degree in psychology but have missed some obvious and terribly painful and isolating patterns. The things that attracted me to my partner of 23 years were his high intelligence and his childlike way of seeing things. He teachers IT and has two masters degrees. The behaviors have slowly worn me down all seem to have to do with his inability to read or express care or emotional warmth. He has often stood away from me and lectured me, become angry or ignored me. When someone with reasonable emotional intelligence would respond differently. I am leaving the relationship. It has taken me two years to leave and try to shed the guilt I feel in not being loyal to my own values. It will sound dramatic, but those of you in the same position will understand, if I stay I may as well be in prison. I too get tired of all those people saying how interesting, gifted, talented, and special people with aspergers are. I’m sure they are in many situations. However, it simply does not work if you want an intimate and warm relationship. I respect other women out there who have laid it on the line, you have given me courage and empathy. And perhaps have saved my sanity.”
“If you are in a relationship with an Asperger man, give up all hope of a normal loving relationship, and run away if at all possible. There is nothing you can do to inspire him to actually care about you, so don’t waste your time. I screwed up 6 years of my life hoping for and desperately working towards the impossible. Don’t be a fool.”
“I went out with one for two years. He went obsessively interested in me. I was his special interest for about a year then it wore off…and the confusion set in. The facade was gone and the selfish, self-obsessed and unfeeling Aspie emerged. TOTAL EMOTIONAL DISCONNECT. Very very upsetting. Sought counselling for myself.He was perfect of course so didn’t need to be involved in that. His behaviour bordered on the sociopathic. I have been sensitised to their ‘traits’ and can now spot one within minutes of talking to them. Run. Run as far as you can and don’t look back.”
“They can’t own any part of their behavior and what it might FEEL like to receive it (i.e., they cannot empathize). It’s a trap because they will never understand or validate your concern about the relationship itself. You just have to get out if it is that bad.”
“My husband has Aspergers (I did not know when I married him). He is emotionally disconnected and when angry, which is every day, breaks things, destroys things, is quite cruel, threatens to kill me and my kids as well as himself. I would suggest that there may be some people with Aspergers who are of the passive type, and who may be easier to deal with, but my husband is not. It is hard to divorce someone who will most likely try to murder you and your children if you do so. People of the passive type with Asperger’s should not be so judgmental, as it shows that they and their cohorts lack any empathy for those of us who are essentially prisoners.”
“My husband has aspergers and has no social skills, no parenting skills….threatens me, intimidates me…is emotionally disconnected from the kids and has no empathy for anyone. The whole world revolves around HIM…he is only interested in things that affect him and thats it…yes he would kill me or kill us all if i left him. I ask God to forgive me for wishing bad things on him everyday…but my life is hell. He was not like this when we were ‘dating’, nice and normal as pie…after the wedding, i got pregnant and the HELL began. I am his carer and his ‘mother’, do everything for him and its not enough for the wretch…The only good thing to come out of this nightmare were my 2 sons, other than that…zilch. He has no friends and has anger issues, i dont know how much more i can take…I feel like I’m having a nervous break down! No-one deserves this BS.”
“They cannot help themselves and even if they could most won’t ever admit to having anything wrong. It is always the fault of the NT spouse. I was in a foreign country and needed emergency surgery and spent a week in the hospital. My husband didn’t come. He is clueless. No emotion. No empathy. No understanding ever about how anything else feels. Only how he feels. Always the victim. Always the martyr. Buys his friends. Loves being the center of attention or is completely withdrawn. Has fits and rages. Then never remembers the awful things he said and wonders why I was upset. The verbal and emotional abuse. I hope any NT spouses out there will have the strength and courage to find happiness in your life. Stay strong and don’t give up or give in to a life iof misery. The hardest thing is dealing with others who never see the brunt of what you are going through. Most will never understand.”
“We’d been dating a few months and were having dinner when he found out I attended public school during grades one through twelve. He exclaimed, “You don’t even have an education!” Meanwhile, this guy who considered himself so highly educated couldn’t install a curtain rod or connect a DVD player; when he became intensely frustrated because he got a picture but no sound, I went and had a look and found two cables clearly marked “audio” that weren’t connected. I pointed it out and he insisted they weren’t necessary. When I plugged them in and it worked, he got angry at me and left the room. He had told me that his mother, who was a nurse, worked overtime continuously on night shifts to pay for his private school education. When she asked him to visit her for Thanksgiving, he told me he wasn’t going because she was ‘just an old lady’ and he had ‘nothing in common’ with her.”
“I was addicted to a high that only my abuser could give me. Because the lower an abuser puts someone, the higher they can elevate them.”
~ Amanda Domuracki, Culture Shock, The Highs and Lows of Emotional Abuse
I t seemed that magic had entered our lives. It brought with it once-in-a-lifetime soul-mate love, true romance, amazing sex… We were swept off our feet and taken to an enchanted world just for two, one that floated like a bubble high above the mundane world below.
We never expected that bubble would burst. We believed the incredible intensity we shared indicated a deep connection, one that would last for a lifetime.
Normally, romantic love is an experience that fosters bonding and intimacy. That can’t happen if you’re with someone who isn’t capable of bonding and intimacy. You might not even realize those things are missing when you’re caught up in the extraordinary intensity of your experience and being manipulated and lied to. Smoke and mirrors distracts us from the truth.
“I have flown and fallen, and I have swum deep and drowned, but there should be more to love than ‘I survived it.'”
~ Lisa Mantchev, So Silver Bright
Intimacy has to do with trust, understanding, and feeling understood. People who are emotionally intimate can reveal their vulnerabilities without fear of being rejected, ridiculed or invalidated. Intimacy is based on emotional safety, acceptance, respect, and a mutual give-and-take. Without self-disclosure, there can be no intimacy—but intimacy requires that self-disclosure be met with empathy. Empathy means recognizing how someone else feels, understanding it, caring about how that person feels, and then expressing that care.
“There is nothing more intimate in life than simply being understood.”
~ Brad Meltzer, The Inner Circle
Intensity, on the other hand, is all about drama, anxiety, uncertainty, and fear. It’s all about push-pull, hot-cold, high-low.
“I was falling. Falling through time and space and stars and sky and everything in between. I fell for days and weeks and what felt like lifetime across lifetime. I fell until I forgot I was falling.”
~ Jess Rothenberg, The Catastrophic History of You and Me
“Intensity is being completely lost in the emotion of unreasoning desire. It is marked by urgency, sexual desire, anxiety, high risk choices, and the reckless abandonment of what was once valued. All-consuming euphoria similar to recreational drug use (addictive chemical reactions in the brain) …. loss of ability to make rational evaluations of what is true, valuable and worthy. Desire to be always close to that person at any cost.
An intimate relationship is one in which neither party silences, sacrifices, or betrays the self and each party expresses strength and vulnerability, weakness and competence in a balanced way …
Intimacy means that we can be who we are in a relationship, and allow the other person to do the same. ‘Being who we are’ requires that we can talk openly about things that are important to us, that we take a clear position on where we stand on important emotional issues, and that we clarify the limits of what is acceptable and tolerable to us in a relationship.”
~ Excerpt from DANCE OF INTIMACY, by Harriet Lerner, PhD
That’s simply not possible with a psychopath or narcissist. They aren’t capable of emotional intimacy, which means they aren’t capable of healthy relationships.
“The most important test of intimacy is to ask yourself the question, ‘Is this relationship a safe haven where I feel loved and accepted for being me?'”
~ Randi Kreger, Problems With Emotional Intimacy—Typical for BPs and NP
Bonding created by intense emotional highs and lows is maintained by oxytocin (the bonding hormone) and powerful surges of euphoria-inducing dopamine during the highs. During the lows, there is intense craving for more.
Learning theorists have found that a pattern of intermittent reinforcement, which is positive reinforcement alternated with punishment (a pattern of abuse and reward), develops the strongest emotional bonds.
Intermittent good-bad treatment triggers biological changes as well as emotional ones. Going ‘cold turkey’ (having no contact with him or her) may seem impossible. It is the same as an addiction to drugs, alcohol or gambling. This is why you can’t or couldn’t stop thinking about them, despite knowing how bad they were for you.
“Powerful emotional attachments develop from two specific features of abusive relationships: power imbalances and intermittent good-bad treatment.”
~ Dutton and Painter
This addictive attachment is known as a Betrayal Bond or Trauma Bond. A trauma bond is a highly addictive attachment to an abuser. Signs of a trauma bond include the inability to detach and self-destructive denial.
Rhonda Freeman, PhD, a neuropsychologist who helps survivors of psychopathic and narcissistic abuse, expertly explains trauma bonding in her article, The Spellbinding Bond to Narcissists and Psychopaths – What’s Happening in the Brain?
“We cannot walk away, though, because without us realizing it, our abuser has become our human needle; our Drug Lord of Love. The person who owns our self-value and self-worth and who, in the name of love, can reject us into deep lows with a single glare, or send us to euphoric highs with one simple smile.”
~ Amanda Domuracki
“As the relationship goes on, the less safe you feel. That’s a red flag that there’s something really wrong.”
“Your life is loaned to you through an abuser. It is on his or her whim that you thrive, struggle, hope, and fear. In abuse, you can endure a thousand losses for a single, shimmering penny that proves you’ve won something… “
~ Amanda Domuracki
Brene Brown, sociologist and expert on social connection, conducted thousands of interviews to find the root of deep social connection. An analysis of the data revealed that it was vulnerability. Vulnerability here does not mean being weak. On the contrary — what it means is the courage to be yourself. It involves uncertainty, exposure, and risk. We may want to run from vulnerability, but it is an inevitable part of social relationships that are to become close and rewarding.
Emotional intimacy comes from being vulnerable enough to allow yourself to be fully known, and to be accepted and understood when you do. That creates the potential for true intimacy. It does come with the risk of rejection, but if you’re rejected you’ll know that you’re not a relationship you should continue.
To know that you are loved for who you are, and to know someone else in all of their vulnerability and to love them as they are, may be one of life’s most fulfilling experiences. Intensity, on the other hand, is the opposite of fulfilling. It’s draining, exhausting, crazymaking, and ultimately empty.
In future relationships we can ask ourselves, “Is this real intimacy or just intensity?”
“Five Stars. Where was this Book before!”
“Excellent! A must read for anyone that is lost in a relationship. I would like to thank the author for an eye opening experience! This book has clarified more for me than I have ever understood in my entire life time… It is straight forward the author tells you exactly what you need to hear. To the author, again thank you for opening my eyes.”
“Great book!! Incredibly informative!! This is a great book. It help me realize what was happening in my relationship. It gave me the strength to move on and leave. I am so grateful I found this book.”
“If you’re wondering . . . ‘Gee, should I read this book?’ The answer is YES. It should be required for every human adult’s relationship toolkit.”
“The BEST Manual on how to protect yourself from becoming a victim again…
…I am going to recommend it to the facilitators in the divorce support group I am attending.”
“My eyes have seen the light. How I wish I would have read this book years ago.”
“”Worth your time! Well written, clear, and concise. So thankful I came across this quick, but powerful read. I so appreciate the wisdom I found in this writing. I feel empowered once more! Easily rated at 5 stars.”