Book Summaries

Book Summary – Psychopath Free: Recovering from Emotionally Abusive Relationships With Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People by Jackson MacKenzie.

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“Nobody deserves to be abused. The truth is, it is not your weaknesses that they target—it is your strengths.”

All around us, every single day, human beings devoid of empathy are wreaking havoc and destroying lives in the coldest, most heartless ways imaginable. In constant pursuit of money, sex, influence, or simple entertainment, psychopaths will do whatever it takes to gain power over others. They hide behind a veil of normalcy, arranging their friends and partners like pawns in a game of chess.

The thing about life is that you’re not aware that the short path exists until you’ve already taken the long path.

The Dark Journey

Finding yourself involved with a psychopath is an adventure, that’s for sure. It will open your eyes to human nature, our broken society, and, perhaps most important of all, your own spirit. It’s a dark journey that will throw you into spells of depression, rage, and loneliness. It will unravel your deepest insecurities, leaving you with a lingering emptiness that haunts your every breath. But ultimately, it will heal you.

You will become stronger than you could ever imagine. You will understand who you are truly meant to be. And in the end, you will be glad it happened.

More than 15 percent of our population  is made up of people with a severe and incurable emotional disorder—and yet, due to the hidden nature of their symptoms, we know practically nothing about them. Usually by the time someone decides to learn about personality disorders, the damage has already been done.

More than 15 percent of our population is made up of people with a severe and incurable emotional disorder.

Psychopath – narcissist – sociopath

They’re manipulative people—completely devoid of empathy—who intentionally cause harm to others without any sense of remorse or responsibility. And despite some differences between each disorder, the bottom line is that their relationship cycles can be predicted like clockwork: Idealize, Devalue, Discard.

“Understanding psychopathy requires letting go of your basic emotional instincts. Remember, these are people who prey on forgiveness. They thrive on your need for closure. They manipulate compassion and exploit sympathy.”

Vultures

Vultures often seem exceptionally kind and warm at first. They want to fix you and absorb your problems. They are fascinated by your struggles. But sooner or later, you will find yourself lost in another nightmare. They begin drowning you in unsolicited advice. They need constant praise and attention. You are never allowed to disagree with them. They feed off drama and an insatiable need to be appreciated by others.

Grooming

Toxic people condition us to ignore our intuition, and we must learn to trust it again. Instead of judging outwardly, we need to perceive inwardly. When we start focusing on our own feelings, this is where the healing begins. And if you are anything like me, we can agree on this simple truth: good people make you feel good and bad people make you feel bad.

Your Constant

Your Constant is a private reminder that you are not crazy, even when it feels like you’re taking on the entire world. With time, you will begin to filter out the people who make you feel bad. You realize that you do not need to put up with negativity when there is a Constant who brings out the best in you.

Personalized Grooming

The psychopath trains you to become the perfect partner. In a matter of weeks, they take over your entire life, consuming your mind and body with unrivaled pleasure. Ultimately, you are to become their newest source of endless adoration and praise—but first, you must fall in love. Then your heart will be open to their every suggestion. There are three key components to this process: idealization, indirect persuasion, and testing the waters.

Idealization – Love Bombing

The idealization phase in a psychopathic relationship will be unlike anything you’ve ever experienced. You will be swept off your feet, lost in a passionate fantasy with someone who excites you on every level: emotionally, spiritually, and sexually. They will be the first thing on your mind when you wake up in the morning, waiting for their cheerful, funny texts to start your day. You will quickly find yourself planning a future with them—forgetting about the dull realities of life.

Indirect Persuasion

After they’ve idealized you, they’re ready to begin conditioning your behavior. Using indirect persuasion, psychopaths are able to make subtle suggestions that will ultimately be accepted by their victims. They maintain an illusion of innocence, since most people won’t believe “they made me feel these things.

Testing the Waters

Once they have you programmed, psychopaths will begin experimenting with their newfound control to see how far they can push you. A useful victim will not talk back, and they certainly won’t defend themselves if the situation calls for it. If the idealization phase worked as planned, you should be more invested in maintaining the passion than standing up for yourself.

During this period, you will see tiny glimpses of the psychopath’s darker side. They may teasingly call you a “whore” in the bedroom to see how you react. If you’re married to someone else, they might casually joke about your spouse’s ignorance about the whole situation. They will begin making subtle digs about your intelligence, abilities, and dreams.

Identity Erosion

The psychopath strips you of your dignity by taking back everything they once pretended to feel during the idealization period. They make a mockery of your dreams, subtly suggesting that you may not be the one for them after all—but nonetheless stringing you along for the added attention. After grooming you to be dependent and compliant, they use this power to manufacture desperation and desire. In a whirlwind of overwhelming emotions, your fantasy gradually shifts into an inconceivable nightmare.

Destroying Your Boundaries

Like sandpaper, the psychopath will wear away at your self-esteem through a calculated “mean and sweet” cycle. Slowly, your standards will fall so low that you become grateful for utterly mediocre treatment. Like a frog in boiling water, you won’t even realize what’s happened until it’s far too late. Your friends and family will wonder what happened to the man or woman who used to be so strong and energetic. You will frantically excuse your partner’s behavior, unable to acknowledge the painful truth behind your relationship: something has changed.

Crazy-Making

When you’re in the grip of these emotions, it is natural to wonder what’s wrong with you. You might even think you’re going crazy. Well, psychopaths want you to believe you’re crazy because it makes you seem more unstable to the rest of the world. But you’ll find that once they’re gone from your life, everything starts to make sense again. If you went from normal to “crazy” to normal again, that’s not crazy. That’s someone provoking you.

Gaslighting and Projection

Gaslighting is when the psychopath intentionally distorts reality—often with trivial lies and wrongdoings—to bring about a reaction and then deny that it ever took place. Like most victims, you are probably exceptionally easygoing and will hold off on reacting for as long as possible. But inevitably, you’re going to feel frustrated enough to finally speak up, and that’s when the psychopath will either rewrite history or reject that the incident ever even occurred. You may start to doubt your own sanity as the psychopath slowly erodes your grasp on reality.

The Black Hole

Psychopaths always see themselves as victims, no matter how horribly they’ve treated someone else. Nothing is ever their fault—they’ve always been wronged in one way or another. To them, the problem is not their lying, cheating, stealing, and abuse. The problem is that you started to notice all of those things. Why couldn’t you just remain happy with the idealization phase? How dare you betray them by standing up for yourself? Encounters with these people are like drowning in a black hole, because no matter how much they hurt you, it’ll still be your fault.

Transitional Target

To the psychopath, you are merely a diversion. Psychopaths are especially indifferent with transitional targets, not really caring one way or another—leaving you with the feeling that they’re being insensitive. You tend to fill in their abuse with your own love, in hopes that you can restore the brief idealize phase. Targets often experience cognitive dissonance, trying to project their own reasoning onto an unreasonable person. But the psychopath’s behavior is neither accidental nor unintentional.

And then comes the most heartbreaking moment: they discard you and go running off with another person whom they suddenly seem ready to settle down with. They move in together, post pictures, pay for things, and live the life you always dreamed of. It’s the ultimate insult when you were not given any of that special treatment. Basically, as soon as they got their quick fix of power and control over you, they felt re-energized and ready to scout out their next great adventure.

The Fan Club

The psychopath also needs to keep a close watch on their supply of friendships. Even the least perceptive person in the world could notice when a relationship coup is happening. So instead of openly cheating and replacing one victim for another, the psychopath must be more careful. They will engage in serious talks with their friends about how much the current relationship is hurting them, and start to hand out shallow praise as a way to ensure loyalty. This is preliminary damage control, to make sure they remain in a favorable light even after the obvious cheating.

 Psychopaths don’t just break up with their targets—they use breaking up as an opportunity to watch you self-destruct: physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

Never Explain

You are not crazy. You’re not bipolar, insane, hypersensitive, jealous, or needy. You’re a survivor of emotional abuse—and you can escape this trap. Just remain calm, patient, and always kind to yourself. Someday you will be able to talk about this experience eloquently and believably. Do not worry about convincing others of your story right now. This is what the psychopath hopes for.

By putting you on the defensive when you are at your most damaged, you end up looking guilty and unstable. So say farewell to these games. You are not alone. Share your story with people who get it, and slowly you will find that this nightmare becomes nothing more than a strange, distant memory. The psychopath does not matter. It’s the subsequent recovery journey that changes everything.

Why Does It Take So Long?

Breakups with abusers are much different from breakups with healthy human beings. Relationships with psychopaths take an unusually long time to recover from. Survivors often find themselves frustrated because they haven’t healed as fast as they’d like. They also end up dealing with friends and professionals who give them well-intentioned advice about how it’s “time to move on.

Whether you were in a long-term marriage or a quick summer fling, the recovery process will be the same when it comes to a psychopathic encounter. It takes twelve to twenty-four months to get your heart back in a good place, and even then, you might have tough days.

Stop blaming yourself

The important thing here is to stop blaming yourself. Stop wishing it would go faster. Stop thinking that the psychopath somehow “wins” if you’re still hurting. They are out of the picture now. This journey is about you. If you come to peace with the extended timeline, you’ll find this experience a lot more pleasant. You can settle in, make some friends, and get cozy with this whole recovery thing.

Human Nature

It takes a great deal of time to come to terms with this personality disorder. You end up having to let go of your past understanding of human nature, building it back up from scratch. You realize that people are not always inherently good. You begin to feel paranoid, hypervigilant, and anxious. The healing process is about learning to balance this new state of awareness with your once trusting spirit.

Unexpected Wisdom

Ultimately, you will leave this experience with an unexpected wisdom about the people around you. Your spirit will return stronger than ever before, refusing to be treated that way again. You may encounter toxic people throughout your life, but you won’t let them stay for very long. You don’t have time for mind games and manipulation. You seek out kind, honest, and compassionate individuals. You know you deserve nothing less.

Cognitive Dissonance

It’s a state of mind where your intuition is telling you two competing things. It’s totally natural after a psychopathic relationship, because you’re used to repeatedly being told things—instead of seeing them with your own two eyes, or feeling them in your heart. You constantly heard the psychopath make sweeping declarations of love and devotion, but you never actually felt them. You fondly remember the dreams you shared with them, and the future you planned together—but obviously those things didn’t happen.

The danger of cognitive dissonance.

And that’s the danger of cognitive dissonance. It brings you back to the addictive love memories. It causes you to long for a broken dream, a manufactured lie. As you begin to work through these feelings, the diametrically opposed thoughts will become less and less extreme. But in the meantime, you are still very susceptible to their ongoing abuse. As long as you’re experiencing cognitive dissonance, make no mistake: they will be able to trick you again. All it takes is one sweet word to send you right back to the idealization phase.

TRY TO LET GO OF THE ILLUSION

The first step in healing from psychopathic abuse is to stop all contact with the psychopath. And the only way to do that is to let go of the image you had of the person you loved. Unfortunately and sadly, that person never existed. He or she was only an illusion, a mask the psychopath created in order to mirror and manipulate you. As crushingly hard as it is and as much as it hurts, the only way to find freedom is to stop believing in that illusion.

Un-Brainwashing

Your mind needs to be washed with, and awash in, the truth. The percentage of truth you put into your mind is in direct proportion to the percentage of psychopathic brainwashing that you put out of it. To put it simply, as the truth grows larger, the psychopath’s brainwashing will grow smaller. The more your brain is washed in the truth, the more the lies that the psychopath pounded into your brain recede and eventually fade away. Then, finally, one morning you will wake up and realize that the truth has found its way into your mind; it’s slowly filtered up from your gut, to replace all the lies the psychopath told you. There is inner peace, at last.

Trauma is Different

The most important thing to remember for all trauma survivors: there is nothing wrong with you. You are beautiful. You were thrown into an impossible situation, and you survived. Your innocence was taken away without your permission. You were violated. But in this violation, you regained something that takes most people a lifetime to find.

Your path may be painful, but it is also special. The universe has different plans for you. Remember, there are others who are permanently barred from any access to the spiritual world. Psychopaths have no place there, and it is why they hate empathetic beings. You are a nagging reminder of something they will never find. They will die here in the material world, with no deeper connection to this great universe.

The Loss of Innocence

The ability to distinguish your innocence from genuine happiness is essential to your healing process. Simply because you once felt euphoric with the psychopath and with friends who frequently insulted you does not mean that life was actually great at the time. Likewise, just because you feel sadness now does not mean that your life is somehow bad. On the contrary, things are looking brighter than ever before. You’re just struggling to enjoy the world without your light.

The Psychopath-Free Pledge

  • I will never beg or plead for someone else again. Any man or woman who brings me to that level is not worth my heart.
  • I will never tolerate criticisms about my body, age, weight, job, or any other insecurities I might have. Good partners won’t put me down; they’ll raise me up.
  • I will take a step back to objectively look at my relationship at least once every month to make sure that I am being respected and loved, not flattered and love-bombed.
  • I will always ask myself the question “Would I ever treat someone else like this?” If the answer is no, then I don’t deserve to be treated like that either.
  • I will trust my gut. If I get a bad feeling, I won’t try to push it away and make excuses. I will trust myself.
  • I understand that it is better to be single than in a toxic relationship.
  • I will not be spoken to in a condescending or sarcastic way. Loving partners will not patronize me.
  • I will not allow my partner to call me jealous, crazy, or any other dismissive accusations.
  • My relationships will be mutual and equal at all times. Love is not about control and power.
  • If I ever feel unsure about any of these steps, I will seek out help from a friend, support forum, or therapist. I will not act on impulsive decisions.

A lot of people hear the words “relationship abuse” and immediately think of weakness and vulnerability. This is an unfortunate social stigma because the reality is that anyone can fall prey to a psychopath. In fact, psychopaths pride themselves on grooming and tearing down strong, successful targets. So whether you’re cheerful, insecure, happy, sad, popular, lonely, confident, self-conscious, emotional, reserved, funny, shy, awkward, or any combination of the above—it makes no difference.

“Nobody deserves to be abused. The truth is, it is not your weaknesses that they target—it is your strengths.”

Learning the Hard Way

The thing about life is that you’re not aware that the short path exists until you’ve already taken the long path. People can tell you all about how to take the shortcut. You can read lots of books about how to take the shortcut. A parent can tell a child how to take the shortcut. People spend tons of money trying to find the shortcut. I’ve just shown you the shortcut in the form of a beautiful diagram. But none of that actually works. You will only see the shortcut after you’ve already walked the long path for yourself.

And that’s a good thing! We learn so much when we take the long way. It’s scary at first, but you’ll soon find that there are so many mysteries and opportunities at every corner. With each step, you gain more and more perspective about yourself and the world. Some days feel miserable and hopeless, others feel promising and full of insights. Maybe you started with compassion and blind trust at the very beginning of your journey. Later, you decided those qualities made you a vulnerable human doormat. But closer to Point B, you found that those were actually wonderful things—they just needed a little awareness and self-respect in order to function fully.

The thing about life is that you’re not aware that the short path exists until you’ve already taken the long path.

Every tiny thing we discover along this path contributes to our perception and our understanding. This is why, when we get closer to our destination, we look back and wonder: “What the hell was I thinking—there were so many better ways!” Well, duh, in retrospect. It’s easy enough to stare back down the shortcut and wonder how we missed it, but the only reason we’re even able to judge ourselves like that is because of this long path we’re walking—because of the mistakes, embarrassments, failures, and lessons learned.

All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.

Lifelong Learner | Entrepreneur | Digital Strategist | Marathoner | Bibliophile -info@lanredahunsi.com

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