Moral Injury: The Hidden Wound to the Soul

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When inward tenderness finds the secret hurt,
Pain itself will crack the rock and
Ahhh! let the soul emerge.

~ Rumi

You were victimized by a psychopath, a person with a disorder characterized by egocentricity, deceitfulness, impulsivity, a lack of empathy, the inability to love, and a lack of guilt and remorse. As well, they have have an inability to care for the rules of morality.

Because of the way a psychopath thinks, he or she cannot see their victim as a separate, whole, meaningful, real person, who has his or her own feelings, thoughts, and perceptions. They are reduced to objects with no meaning except to gratify the psychopath’s desires. (R. Meloy, PhD)

In other words, the psychopath dehumanizes his victim.

Thoughts and opinions are not welcome. Displays of emotion are not tolerated. Normal human reactions to his behavior are invalidated with demeaning labels like insecure, jealous, paranoid, and crazy.

We are effectively silenced.

And In the process of being silenced, we are dehumanized.

As people with empathy and a conscience, we consider dehumanization morally reprehensible. Dehumanization brings to mind genocide, eugenics, and sexual objectification through pornography, for good reason, but it can also happen on an interpersonal level. It happened to us.

After being victimized by a psychopath, the rage we feel is moral outrage.

“Dehumanization describes the denial of ‘humanness’ to other people. It is theorized to take on two forms: animalistic dehumanization, which is employed on a largely intergroup basis, and mechanistic dehumanization, which is employed on a largely interpersonal basis.

The mechanistic form occurs when features of human nature (e.g., cognitive flexibility, warmth, agency) are denied to targets. Targets of mechanistic dehumanization are… likened to machines or objects. Mechanistic dehumanization is usually employed on an interpersonal basis (e.g., when a person is seen as a means to another’s end).”  ~ Wikipedia

We run into dehumanization again as we learn of the psychopath’s lack of the  very qualities we feel make us human. It is a shock to learn people like this exist, and that we were victimized by one of them. We were dehumanized by someone with a disorder that dehumanized them.

The experience violated our deeply held moral values and defied our expectations of how others might behave.

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Dehumanization and abuse are moral injuries. If you’ve been victimized by a psychopath, you were morally injured.

What is moral injury?

I first came upon the term just a few days ago, in an article about war veterans. As I read, I realized that I had sustained moral injury from my experience with a psychopath. I scoured the web for more information about it, but everything I found was in the context of war and veterans. But if the following is the definition of moral injury, then we have also been morally injured. Just substitute the word “person” for “service member,” and see if you can relate to it:

“Moral injury refers to the emotional and spiritual impact of participating in, witnessing, and/or being victimized by actions and behaviors which violate a service member’s (person’s) core moral values and behavioral expectations of self or others.”

~Syracuse University, Moral Injury Project

Drescher et al. (2011) define moral injury as “disruption in an individual’s confidence and expectations about one’s own or others’ motivation or capacity to behave in a just and ethical manner.”

Litz et al. (2009) describe moral injury as “the inability to contextualize or justify personal actions or the actions of others and the unsuccessful accommodation of these… experiences into pre-existing moral schemas.”

Silver (2011) speaks of “a deep soul wound that pierces a person’s identity, sense of morality, and relationship to society.”

It’s important to recognize and address moral injury. It is a trauma to the soul. Like psychological trauma, moral injury is a concept that describes extreme and unprecedented life events, including the harmful aftermath to these experiences. Events are considered morally injurious if they “transgress deeply held moral beliefs and expectations.”

Moral injury can lead to serious distress, guilt, shame, self-handicapping, depression, and suicidality. Moral injury can “take the life of those suffering from it, both metaphorically and literally. Moral injury debilitates people, preventing them from living full, healthy lives.”

As I read on, I finally found a reference that extended moral injury beyond war veterans:

“In the context of a soul, with respect to the diversity of beliefs… moral injury is damage to the soul of the individual. War is one of, but not the only thing that can cause this damage. Abuse, rape, and violence cause the same type of damage. ‘Soul repair’ and ‘soul wound’ are terms already in use by researchers and institutions in the United States who are exploring moral injury and paths to recovery.”

~Syracuse University, Moral Injury Project

Georgetown University’s Nancy Sherman thinks of moral injuries as an erosion of “a sense of goodness and humanity.” People suffering moral injury lose faith in humanity and are often unable to trust themselves or others.

People who are victimized by a psychopath frequently blame themselves for “not knowing better,” and feel their continued “participation” enabled their victimization, which in effect makes them partially responsible for their own moral violation. They look back and can’t comprehend how or why they behaved the way they did, not understanding that manipulation was responsible. It’s almost if they see themselves as having been a different person, one who behaved in ways that were out of character and that violated their own boundaries and beliefs.

Self-blame only makes the moral injury worse because it implies that you participated in the moral transgression against yourself,  as well as having been a victim of it.

I have always advocated for understanding what we experienced in order to overcome self-blame, which stands in the way of healing. As it turns out, understanding events and moving beyond self-blame are part of recovery from moral injury, as the following paragraph explains:

“A moral injury can also be described as a sort of disconnect between one’s self and second self, where the second self is the part of a person that develops in the face of combat or another situation requiring difficult decisions. Moral injury confuses these two selves, and the individual experiencing the injury may need to understand and reconcile the event or trauma that caused the injury before he or she is able to repair that disconnect.”

~ GoodTherapy, Moral Injury

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If you suffer from PTSD, it’s important to note that it is not the same thing as moral injury, so treatment for PTSD will not resolve moral injury. It is possible, though, to have moral injury without PTSD.

Experts in moral injury advise that treatment must be defined by the individual according to their beliefs and needs. Outlets for acknowledging and confronting moral injury include talk therapy, religious dialogue, art, writing, discussion and talking circles, spiritual gatherings, and more. Group therapy has been shown so far to be the most effective method for treating moral injury; those who communicate with others who have experienced similar injuries seem to find themselves better able to vocalize their emotions and pain.

Since being dehumanized played a large role in our moral injury, I think ‘rehumanization’ is a key to healing. Rehumanization is the restoration of human dignity. It happens by seeking out people and experiences that are the opposite of what we encountered with the psychopath. What’s needed are others who are empathetic, accepting, validating, trustworthy and non-judgmental; experiences and activities where we are comfortable and free to be ourselves; and pursuit of the things we find important, inspiring, and meaningful.

We must also rehumanize ourselves, and we can do so by practicing self-compassion and nurturing ourselves with good self-care.

As you go through the healing process, don’t neglect your soul. Soul wounds stay quietly hidden, but left unrecognized and untreated, they will profoundly alter our lives.

♥ Thank you for reading.

LOTUS DIVIDER

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36 thoughts on “Moral Injury: The Hidden Wound to the Soul”

  1. deborah

    Thank you for your insightful post.
    When I started researching the behaviour of the psychopath, I was involved with, I’d started with narcissism as my first husband is, I believe, a narcissist albeit I didn’t know it until decades later. But I knew the psychopath was more then just a narcissist. It was a start but certainly not the end. I read and read and read and finally was lead to Love Fraud and
    I recognized, clear as a bell, what had
    been done to me. Of course that was
    just the tip of the iceberg. I instantly
    went numb and into a form of shock. In
    fact I’ve never ever experienced the
    kind of rude awakening I did then. It all made imperfect sense. I was devastated like I had never experienced before.Before I started researching his curious behaviour I just abruptly stopped texting and calling him. I texted him often throughout the day ( we live in different countries) and we spoke nearly daily. I didn’t go No contact but would only talk to him if he called. Actually, I pretty much gave him Grey
    Rock but not deliberately as I wasn’t
    aware of Grey Rock at that time, but in
    all honesty I just found it impossible to
    find my voice. He’d literally take my
    breath away along with my voice. He is
    so skilled at manipulation that when
    we, or more appropriately he spoke, I
    had the phone glued to my ear and all
    my focus was on what he would be
    saying. I’d get off the phone and be in
    LaLa Land for a few hours before
    starting to come down. Then my
    immediate thought would be I NEED TO
    SPEAK TO HIM NOW!When he would phone me late at night, after hanging
    up, I’d think about him for hours on
    end. Just lie in bed hour after hour
    thinking about him. Thinking about
    what, I can’t say, but whatever it was it
    was surreal. I loved the feeling.
    This man was absolutely nothing to look at, extremely short, but after some time he was able to pull off the illusion
    of being a giant. He’d walk towards me
    with a much much larger man walking
    a long side of him and he dwarf the guy
    next to him. He also came across as exceptionally sexy just to find out that was so so far from the truth. A prude is what he is. I refused to sleep with him when he defined oral sex as dirty. Only,though, when it came to him
    reciprocating. But he had no problem receiving it. That put an end to receiving it or anything else regarding it.
    He was an outstanding illusionist.It has to be so exhausting always playing
    some role or another. Hour after hour,
    day after day, week after week, month
    after month, year after year with no
    end in sight until Death.
    How absolutely tedious it must get!
    No wonder the mask eventually starts to slip or the Fuck its start to rear their ugly heads.
    Better him than me. That’s all I can say.
    I’m healing very slowly but still think about him regularly. My guess is I always will in some way or another.
    These individuals are so sick it’s mindboggling.
    Your posts are always thought provoking.
    Thank you once again.

    1. Admin

      “Illusionist” is the perfect word to describe them. Their masks do feel tedious and even unbearable at times, so they can’t help but slip. I’m glad to hear you’re healing. You probably will continue to think about him. I do, but the difference is that it happens much less and it doesn’t hook my emotions… although I can still muster up some moral indignation now and then. Glad you liked the post. Thank you.

  2. Dee

    Great post. I continue to be so grateful for the insight and information you provide to us. It’s been difficult to wrap my brain around how manipulative psychopaths are. I had heard that psychopaths morph into whatever they need to be, to get what they want, but it’s only been very recently that I have actually seen this play out before my eyes. When I was with the psychopath, he was a creative renaissance man: writer, musician. singer, artist, producer , etc. Today, with his new gf, he is all business, using her money to invest. He no longer does anything creative. She is a business exec., so he has transformed himself into a person she can relate to. They are actually in business together. This is complete proof that the man I shared my life with has no core. He was one big fat lie. So, you are absolutely correct when you say we cannot assume the responsibility for being involved with a psychopath because we had no idea of who we were dealing with. He is an “illusionist” ( as Deborah said). I can now see that when I was with him he possessed all of my best qualities. I am a total creative person and I served as his muse. Without me, his incentive and desire to be creative has dried up. What fuels him now is spending the new gf’s money and living the high life.

    The realization that the psychopath was not the man I believed him to be is deeply morally wounding. I am experiencing another layer of pain. He absorbed every ounce of me to become the man he needed to be, so that his ego could be feed and he could impress his fan club. I am actually in shock seeing this. I suppose it’s so shocking because it’s literally unimaginable to see someone change like that. The level of misrepresentation and being so false is causing my brain to short circuit. While I do have many facts to my personality, there is a definite through-line that makes me ME. I wouldn’t know how to alter my core without giving up my soul. It would be so uncomfortable, actually unbearable, to pretend to be someone I am not.

    Moral injury. Yes, I am feeling it. Thanks for writing about it, so that I can address it. xo

    1. Admin

      Wow, what a chameleon he is! My brain short circuited, too, when I found out what mine really was. It’s incomprehensible. The one I knew constructed his entire reality around preying on people, from his illusion of a marriage to his business, which provided a steady stream of new potential victims. He was like a spider in a web.
      It’s much easier for them to pretend to be someone else, since they aren’t restrained by an identity. Under whatever mask they’re wearing, there is simply a predator.
      xo

      1. Dee

        Yes, psychopaths are like spiders. The thing about spiders is that the never get caught in their own webs. His new gf has no idea what she is dealing with. I wish I could warn her, but that would only backfire and be used to make me look crazy. She would just cling tighter. So, I am actually helping her by steering clear. Eventually, his mask will slip, as it always does.

        1. Admin

          I agree, if you warn her it won’t do any good. He’ll call you his psycho ex, and she’ll think you’re his jealous ex. If anyone had warned me, it wouldn’t have done anything except relieve their conscience. In fact, someone DID warn me and I just smiled and wondered what the hell he was talking about. He was a retired NYC detective, of all things, and he told me to stay away from him (the psychopath) because he was ‘intimidating.’ I thought, “is he nuts?! He’s the least intimidating person in the world! How the heck did this guy ever become a detective?” Whoever is reading this, if a NYC police detective warns you about someone, please take it seriously, OK?

  3. Salvation

    I look forward to your posts. Slowly but steadily I’m healing. I’ve missed him a little less all week, with indifference being the predominant feeling – at least for the moment. I pray this feeling stays. Your articles akways serve to reinforce and slowly cement what I know deep down. Thanking you for what you do. Xx

    1. Admin

      Thank you! That’s what I try to do, reinforce and cement and hopefully make it just a little bit better than it would have been otherwise. Indifference is a good thing and a peaceful way to feel. But please don’t be discouraged if you backpedal! The road out isn’t a straight one, not at all. Keep your overall progress in mind. This whole thing is a major challenge, and we slowly but surely develop what we need to get through it as we go along. Resilience isn’t something we’re born with, but you’ll end up with a lot of it from this experience. It’s yours to keep afterward. xoxo

  4. Aurora

    Blessings to you yet again for helping us to recognise and heal those hidden aspects of the damage done. In my case many around me couldn’t understand why I was taking so long to get over what was a relatively short relationship. They kept saying ‘well better to know now’ and ‘you dodged a bullet be grateful’. I didn’t lose money, status, property or any of the other external things that many people have to grapple with upon exiting a relationship. But I lost myself. I lost my bearings in the world, I lost my trust in having my feet safely anchored in the earth and I lost hope. My whole schema of the world and my place in it was severely disrupted. I would not wish this experience on anyone. But how do you explain that to well-meaning friends and family who have no understanding and keep telling you its time to get over it and move on. Normal time and rhythms come to a grinding halt. Hours and days pass and you are on autopilot just managing the daily tasks of living. I truly believe that coming to terms with this moral damage and its repercussions is crucial to healing. Learning to trust in the world again. Learning that you have your own agency and are in control of your own life. Learning to accept that you have been harmed.
    Thank you again for explaining this and helping all of us to grieve and heal.

    1. Admin

      Thank you, Aurora. Incredible harm can be done in a short period of time. My own experience lasted 8 months, and this website would not exist if the consequences I suffered weren’t severe.
      I gave up long ago trying to get friends and family to understand. Like you said earlier, it’s beyond reality. There’s a line in the post about moral injury affecting one’s relationship to society. When no one in your personal community understands what you’ve experienced, a gap develops and a feeling of separation takes hold.
      The repercussions of this experience extend inward to the soul, and outward to connections, view of the world, and beyond. Everything is affected. Even with healing, everything is changed. Many changes are for the better, but even so, it forced me to acknowledge that this thing has the power to turn our entire worlds upside down, both inside and out. That’s not a bad thing, but it is a huge thing.

    2. Dee

      Aurora – I loved reading what you wrote. I completely identify. All of my friends and family could not understand why it took me so long to get over the psychopath and can’t believe that I still think of him. I don’t think the duration of the relationship matters. Long or short, we were manipulated into believe a huge lie that altered our senses. I, like you, would never wish this on anyone. I’m happy to be on the other side of the pain now.

  5. Depressedempath

    Admin, Thank you for a great post. I can tell you that the “group therapy” on this discussion forum is helping me a lot. It’s been one year post breakup for me and I’m still not “right”. I still think of him- good and bad things. I still battle with convincing myself that he actually did those awful things to me knowingly and purposefully. I remember one night that I had just driven up to his house, a four hour drive from mine. He attacked me as soon as I arrived, because I was using my mobile phone to reply to a message from my son that I received while driving. He then kicked me out of his house at 10pm. In tears, I faced a four hour drive home in the middle of the night. Later, he told me that the drive home was my choice. When I reminded him that he kicked me out, he said I could have made a detour and stayed at a motel. Yes, he was a manipulator, an arsehole and I was scared of him.
    Like you, Admin, I was warned by a number of people who knew him- his past university lecturer told me that he argues for sport and is never wrong. I told the psycho this later, he just said that the lecturer was just jealous, lol
    Also a couple of strangers who had just met us in a pub. When the psycho got up to get me a drink, they told me “he’s very aggressive, be careful”. At the time, I thought these people just didn’t know him like I did. But as it turned out, they knew him better than me, and saw him for what he was.

    1. Admin

      It is a form of group therapy, isn’t it? We need others who understand. It would be better if it was an actual forum, but I don’t know how to do that so it’s safe for everyone. There are people who are very good at subtly undermining others, and they can do damage before they become obvious.

      Wow, very interesting (and scary) comment by the pub strangers… gave me a chill…

      Unfortunately, the police detective was WAY too late to help, and I think he wanted to say more but couldn’t, because talking about him could have made things uncomfortable if the psycho found out.

      I think you’re doing great for being one year out! I was still battling at that time, too. It’s been 2 years now, and I still think of him but there’s no battle anymore. In fact, I can’t believe I ever questioned it to begin with. The truth is obvious now. He was prototypical; he followed the formula. I have no doubt everything he did was purposeful. He was calculating and methodical. I talked about him to a Jungian analyst who had an interest in the ‘red-eyed demon,’ and he called him a genius — a diabolical genius.

      BTW, this analyst (whom I spoke with casually) took my experience and re-framed it. He saw many archetypal characters and stories in it. It was amazingly helpful, and it inspired me to write the post about the Hero’s Journey. Maybe I’ll write more about this…

      1. Depressedempath

        Admin, I would love to hear about that! Look forward to it.

        1. Admin

          I have added it to the cue!

  6. Jamie

    Thank you for a wonderful and insightful post. It’s helpful to illuminate the patterns and ploys at work in these interactions and relationships, since the cultural default is to self-blame … that over-simplified message that “well you created it” etc. Much more helpful and liberating for those of us who’ve experienced these types of relationships to name it, see the patterns and dynamics. Thanks again.

    1. Admin

      So glad it helped, Jamie. There’s no reason to take the blame or responsibility for something that isn’t your fault. How did that “you created it” message ever become the cultural default, anyway? It is so hurtful to people who’ve been victimized or become ill. Not to mention that it lacks empathy. I blame the ‘law of attraction,’ but I won’t even get started on that.

      Be sure to read Emergency: Self Blame
      Thanks for your comment!

  7. Justine

    I’ve been so sad lately, to be morally and emotionally devastated by someone you loved( but really didn’t know) does cut your soul. It’s been almost two years, sometimes I feel like I’m getting better, and other times I think I will die, like your post stated. I guess I have to aait until I feel better again. To many losses in life can destroy a person, just like the war veterans.

    1. Admin

      Don’t lose Hope.

      I’m concerned, Justine. Please seek out a support group and/or a therapist who’s an expert in trauma and abuse. ‘Waiting’ won’t resolve the feelings or injury behind the way you feel.

      Neither you or the war veterans, or anyone else, has to be “destroyed” by loss. That’s what all the research and attention to Moral Injury in regard to soldiers is about — this aspect of trauma has been overlooked, but is vitally important to address. It is felt that moral injury is the cause behind many veteran’s suicides, because it wasn’t recognized or treated; they were only treated for PTSD, which does nothing for moral injury.

      It does cut the soul, but your soul can heal. Recognizing it’s been harmed is the first step. Believing it can heal, and finding what you need so that can happen, is the next step. Best wishes to you on your healing journey.

  8. feeling stupid

    Would be interested in knowing how psychopaths are to their children. Mine had 3 from a 20 year marriage that ended 2 years ago-he seems devoted to them all are teens one is autistic. Spends a lot of time with them, buys them things they need, never denies them, disciplines them when needed, doesn’t abuse them-does whip them on occasion to discipline-but nothing abusive, never speaks about the mother in front of them, in fact insists to the kids to respect her, but has told me on occasion that he cant stand her and that she sends him the most abusive texts that he responds to in the same way (very odd).
    He told me how he was always taking the kids out to restaurants and changing their diapers.
    He doesn’t seem to have that deep emotional love that I have always heard parents have when they talk of their kids, almost like a sparkle, but who am I to judge how a person shows love…right?
    Is it possible for the psychopath to have love and be bonded to his kids?

    1. Admin

      My first thought is this: Did you SEE him do these things, or did he just tell you about it?

      My second thought is to question his claims regarding his ex. They always turn the tables and make the victim out to be the abuser, either through outright lies or through provoking them, and then using their reaction to claim that they’re abusive or crazy. While it is certainly possible to have an abusive ex, as many of us know, when someone claims to have had one it is something that needs to be explored.

      He whips his kids? That sounds terrible to me!

      It’s not possible for a psychopath to love or bond with anyone. Psychopaths inflict serious emotional harm on their children. Either this man’s story is bunk, or he’s not a psychopath.

    2. Depressedempath

      I am not convinced he is a psycho, maybe some other personality disorder. My psycho was estranged from his 2 daughters. Once their mother died (psychos wife) they cut him from their life. Seems he never did anything for them, told me he never changed a nappy and was not a hands on dad. He spent family funds on sports cars instead of fixing his daughter’s teeth. Both daughters left home young , got into drugs, alcohol and got pregnant. Psycho blames their mother for her supposedly bad parenting skills. Lol. He is to blame, big time. Yours is either not a psycho or an expert illusionist.

    3. Dee

      My ex is a psychopath and when he was with my children he was always very helpful, funny, kind and always up for an adventure. So, why did my children dislike him so much? Because it was all an act. There were no true feelings behind the actions. After I broke off the relationship, one of my sons said:”You know he was only nice to us, so he would look like a good person. He didn’t really care about us, he only wanted to impress you.” Psychopaths don’t like children because parenting can sometimes be inconvenient. Psychopaths are selfish and they don’t like to be bothered. Also, they don’t like patterns and the routine of raising children bores them to tears. Psychopaths use children to improve their image. Children are objects, like pieces of furniture, used to decorate an empty, boring home. My Ex never had children himself, but he has a dog. This beautiful dog is used, much like a child, to attract female attention. I wonder what will happen when the dogs gets old and no longer serves a purpose? Psychopaths are dangerous around children. At the end of the relationship, my ex started to expose himself in front of my children. He had no boundaries and I felt he was getting a perverted thrill by doing this. It made my sons very uncomfortable. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was grooming them for molestation. Psychopaths are capable of anything. The psychopath explained his behavior to be nothing more than being free and how could there be any harm because they were of the same sex. He made fun of me and said, “Well, I guess you need to shut down all male locker rooms then.” My protective mamma bear instinct rose and that behavior was the catalyst for ending the relationship. What I couldn’t do for me, I did for them.

      1. Admin

        Thank you, Dee, for sharing your experience to explain how psychopaths view children. It’s heartbreaking. I’m sorry your children went through this. Thank goodness for that Mamma Bear instinct.

  9. Connie

    I can not begin to tell you how spot on this last article really touched me and helped me to see that my inner suffering was not something only I thought I was dealing with after my involvement with a psychopath. ‘Moral Injury’ – the depths of it have caused me such anxiety and silent suffering —- the psychopath used my moral convictions to rape me emotionally, spiritually and physically. As I look back to the times I shared with him and the deepest recesses of my mind and soul I can see now that it was all just a game to him in seeing how he could weaken my convictions and to watch me slowly fall into the fiery pit of Hell. Not once! has he ever apologizes for any of his lies of false hope and promises he and I had discussed and planned together. It is amazing how often it was sooooo easy for him to offer me the world and showered me with words of affection and love and then in an instant when he knew I was aware of ‘other’ activities in his life that he could only vent that I was…..jealous, crazy, annoying, lacked personal confidence , not trusting, as well as inconsiderate. Mind you, he walked into so many lies that he couldn’t even remember the lies that led to more lies. This man was capable of stealing my heart with his manipulative tongue and false pretense of compassion. Ladies and Men out there!!! These people are for REAL and their goal is to strip us of all dignity and morality that we hold strong in our minds and our hearts–it really is just a game for them to see if we will only fall in the end. I do know-now-what my weakness was,and how he took advantage of that—I was dealing with a very ill child and an an extewly troubled marriage at the time he entered my life—-he knew these things about me because HE made the effort to pull me into his web in order to make me ‘think’ he really cared about me as a person —- it was his plan to cause strif in my life, and in my marriage. I trusted this man with my heart and my word and he in turn has yet to acknowledge that he meant nothing of what he shared with me. I will never forget these words that he told me years ago, “it takes two to Tango” and believe it or not those words didn’t mean anything to me at the time because during that time I tried every effort to get him to leave me alone!!!! He was insistant of his presence in my life and never gave me much breathing room once he weakened my resistance to him and his cozy words of affection and affirmations of just how wonderful and beautiful I was to him and to his life. YES! These preditors are very REAL. Women and men out there! Do Not let your guard down if you have personal problems at home or in any part of your personal lives to those of the opposite sex-in most cases it is a set up because there are very few people in this world who really can be trusted with your HEART and your personal secrets. Thank you for this article – you have been filled with such wisdom and reflection that you are capable of giving those of us who struggle each day in our healing a positive hope in recovery . May God bless you in your life with abundant graces for helping many of us in this world who have actually encountered and dealt with the ‘Devil’ but really didnt feel we had anyone we could reach out to, to share our pain and understand our pain.

    1. Admin

      Connie, thank you, and may God bless you, too. I’m sorry you were injured so deeply, and for all of us who were. I once heard that one of the greatest gifts you can give someone is the gift of being understood, but I didn’t really know what that meant until I needed understanding, but couldn’t find any. When I can give that gift to another, it truly means the world to me. And I thank you, and everyone here, for giving that gift to me.

    2. Perelien

      I can so relate to what all of you are saying. I have been married to an introvert narcissist for 23 years. Yes, they can also be introvert! Very dangerous and extremely hard to spot. But all the manipulations, gaslighting, not being able to have any empathy whatsoever, it was all there. We went through years and years of therapy, where it was always me who was the crazy and instable one.
      Up until the end of our marriage he played the blame game. Was extremely pious and finally left me feeling empty and crazy. He remarried within the year after our divorce.

      Five years later I meet this great guy. Promises me the moon, tells me all about his (multiple) exes-from-hell, plays into my helpers-syndrome and programs me to NEVER EVER turn into one of those bitchy creatures. Tells me I was so great, he has never been more happy with anyone, he could not imagine ever having to argue with me, because I was so sweet…
      I really believed I had finally found him… (I did notice a lack of personal development and spirituality on his side, but DID NOT listen to what my intuition told me from the very beginning.)
      I was impressed by his good looks, his smile made me go weak (still does) and OMG he was a great lover. He took me out to dinner, to the movies and the theatre, to London and Paris… We could spend hours talking (well, he did most of the talking, I listened), had great fun together (if I did what he said), and I was so very very in love with him.

      I saw (still see) the vulnerable boy in him, he has this great charisma and tenderness (when in public) and is always ready to help out the needy (mostly women, preferably single and vulnerable – I now see: his spare supply). And I know I am not perfect, (but am always willing to better myself). I cán be moody, strong-willed and stubborn. I ám HSP and cán have strong reactions to shouting and strong words being used. But that’s my bad, not his, isn’t it? I should toughen-up a bit! (that was the inner dialogue)

      And then the other women came in. I accidently discovered email conversations that were inappropriate and far over the edge. So I asked him about it and got severely bullied. I was overly jealous, he was only being nice to this person who was so needy, he couldn’t help himself, she threw herself into his arms… and I forgave him again and again.

      I tried to end the relationship multiple times. But then I didn’t. Why? I don’t know. I guess because I still believed the illusion he had spun in the beginning and I just could not give that up as being a lie and a pre-planned scheme. That just hurt too much.

      It took me more than three years to finally, finally come to the point where I couldn’t take anymore and gave it up. To his complete surprise (of course, he never saw it coming, yeah right). He is now portraying me as a monster, just like the other exes, to our friends, of whom some of them finally start to wonder if he really is the victim that he claims to be, or that there may be something else going on here.

      So here I am, having mourned the loss of my relationship and love I thought I had found for the pas two months. I crave for him to call me (which he won’t do because he will have a new supply already who will be played the exact same way I was). I miss him more than I thought I would. And I cannot seem to be angry with him. Rationally I can see what he did, what damage he has caused. Emotionally I just cannot seem to come to grips with it all. I know I should stand tall and walk away. Part of me wants that, part of me just cannot do it. Because walking away is like admitting who he really is: a big fat psycho who never ever cared one bit for me and I being the one he used and discarded like waste.

      I am so glad I have found this website, which almost is a community ;) I felt I could share my story here without shame, because you all went through the same thing. I guess you all are strong, loving and independent women, just like me. I work as a therapist and I know who I am. And I feel bad about myself that I have let this happen to me.

      I am going to see my therapist this afternoon. I have a lot of work to do. And I will do it with the utmost self-care, self-love and gentleness. Sharing this with you is part of that.

      Love to you all, especially Admin for creating this opportunity. We will be in touch.

      1. Admin

        There is no shame here, and no reason for any. I’m sorry for what you’ve been through.
        It’s very difficult to accept an awful truth, and the doubt they plant in our minds also gets in the way. When we finally do, we have to deal with the betrayal and anger and grief. I’m glad you’re seeing a therapist, and that you will go forward with “the utmost self-care, self-love and gentleness.” I’m in the middle of writing a post about self-compassion right now! I wish you the best of luck, and look forward to hearing an update about how you’re doing.
        Love to you too, Perelien.

  10. Connie

    I just left a lengthly comment-and felt the need to clarify something to your readers. Before I met the psychopath in my life, I regarded myself as a ‘married’ women who would NEVER engage in the company of another man in such a way that would be morally illicit….I thought that I was strong enough in my spiritual walk to NOT be tempted into a relationship—-I was, and am a very caring person by nature. and this man used such tactics as the ‘poor me’ syndrome in relating his own woes in his marriage….believe me, or not, I was nieve enough to think he was only sharing common ground -when in fact he was measuring me up in just exactly how innocent and trusting I would break down any barriers I may have had with him coming into my life….yet, I walked straight into his web of deceit and lies. When it became very apparent that I was dealing with a man that didn’t seem to function with a ‘full deck’ I researched many of his mannerisms and that is when I realized he had serious qualities of being a psychopath. I have known this man well into nine years of my working career, and then my personal relationship with him – so when I found the ‘Psychopatic checklist’ – I was able to do my own score tally of him by how I knew his behavior, in relationship to his relationship towards me— his score tallied out to 32!!!!! YES! These people are capable of saying and doing everything in order to get their way. He is a grand manipulator, and truly believes he is the nicest person around. So, admin-your readers are being well advised when you tell them that anyone can be taken in by the Charm of such creatures. It is vital that we know our vulnerable points and to be on constant vigil towards those who appear as Sheep, but are really Wolves in sheeps clothing. Ironically, I was given this insight several years ago and tried to overlook it – thinking I was being ‘judgmental’ towards the psychopaths bizarre behavior. Guess what? it was my Gaurdian Angel trying to steer me away from evil.

    1. Admin

      I understand your need to come back and explain this. I considered myself someone who would never have a relationship with a married man… and then along came the pity ploy and the charm and the deceit. There are no rules that say even though psychopaths are skilled manipulators and no one is immune, they can’t manipulate married people or people who aren’t married to them. It’s hard enough to find understanding, but if infidelity is involved, forget it. Here, there is no need to explain. You won’t be judged or blamed for something that wasn’t your fault.

      1. Depressedempath

        So true! I had been married for 32 years when I got “taken” by the psycho. Been completely faithful to my husband for all the 35 years of our relationship together. But the psycho detected the hiccup I was having with my husband (who doesn’t have them??) and he offered my everything, showered me with love and attention. He zombified me, I was so drawn to him, I wouldn’t listen to anyone else’s concerns.
        After I broke free, my husband took me back. I’m never, ever going to let anything draw us apart again. The psycho did me a favour, he made me see what is good in a relationship- trust, autonomy and respect. It was fate, I needed to see the dark side, what an abusive, meaningless relationship feels like, so that now I can appreciate what a good man can offer.

        1. Admin

          Your husband is a special man, one who truly loves you. I’m sure you appreciate each other more than ever.

          Zombified — that’s the perfect way to describe what they do!

  11. BetterBe Anon

    Thank you for all your thoughtful posts! I don’t think I’ve said thank you to you yet – too wrapped up in my own shock, disbelief, anger, confusion and need to share. This post was another piece in the big jig-saw puzzle, particularly the line that ‘those who communicate with others who have experienced similar injuries seem to find themselves better able to vocalize their emotions and pain’.

    Thanks again, Admin!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      You’re welcome, BetterBe, and thank YOU for letting me know. I’m glad the puzzle is coming together for you.

  12. Tracy

    Thank you so much for this particular post. My soul has definitely been scarred since I realized what I was involved in the ”Game”. I’ve had a HUGE awakening, found my spirituality, and a year-on I feel like I’m getting my life back together, but of course some days aren’t so great. I am trying to deal with the remnants of anger/hurt/moral outrage and I needed to read this post today. This whole website is incredibly helpful, informative and healing; I just wish it wasn’t needed! Thank you again and sending you blessings.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m so glad you find this site helpful and healing, and so very happy you’re getting your life back together! Some days may not be so great, but you’re moving forward overall, which is wonderful. I wish you all the best as you heal and in the future. Blessings to you, too, Tracy.

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