Monday, August 22, 2016

Try This One Change with a Passive-Aggressive

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

One of the most frustrating experiences is to live or work with someone who is constantly passive-aggressive (PA). Their refusal to accept responsibility even for the most minuet things is aggravating. At home or work, there is a constant flow of tasks needing completion which are outside normal expectations. PA’s will not take the initiative and they refuse to see that the task needs to be done in the first place. When they finally agree to completing a task, it is rarely on-time, it lacks the quality they are capable of performing, and there is no added creative value.
However, when a PA decides they are going to achieve some level, they shine. This is perhaps because the expectations for their performance are already reduced to lower levels based on previous experiences. Or it could be that they conserve all of their energy by not doing other things so that they have more energy supply to complete what they want. Or it could be that unless they make the commitment, it won’t happen. Supposing that the last argument is the reality, here is the one change a person can do to motivate a PA.

Out passive their passive-aggressiveness. The natural initial reaction is that nothing will ever get done this way. Think for a moment about what methods have already been tried and failed:

  • ·         There is the bulling tactic where the PA is forced into doing something because, “I said so.” This rarely works because the PA will just highlight the other person’s aggression as an excuse to set some arbitrary boundary and therefore not do the task. In fact, many times the PA will incite a person into some sort of rage just to use their behavior as justification for non-performance.
  • ·         There is the cognitive argument tactic. In this case, the other person makes a case similar to a lawyer in a court room outlining all of rational reasons for the PA to complete the task. The person strings the PA along by asking them to agree to smaller points in an effort to get them to concur with the bigger picture. But when the final point is made, the PA will not agree and begin to poke holes in the argument. This conversation usually takes so much time that the other person decides that it is not worth the effort.
  • ·         There is the consequence/reward method. This is similar to an elementary school environment where a student receives a sticker or reward for good behavior. When the behavior is poor, the consequence is no play time. Unfortunately, most PA’s have learned how to outsmart this method at a very early age.  By internally saying they don’t like stickers or having play time, they are now free to do whatever misbehavior they want.
  • ·         Last there is the emotion plea. This is frequently done in the form of a guilt trip. The other person tries to guilt the PA into performing an action by saying, “I wish someone would do this task for me like Karen does it for Joe.” The usual response from the PA is, “Why don’t you get Karen to do it for you.” Again, the PA has not acknowledged the responsibility and has instead tossed it onto someone else.

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." - Albert Einstein 

How to out passive a PA. This is not about not having a conversation; rather it is about changing the manner of speech. Here are the steps:

  • ·         Step 1: Begin with the end in mind. Before the conversation starts, know exactly what point needs to be made. For instance, a person wants a website design to be completed. This is the goal of the discussion.
  • ·         Step 2: Don’t begin the conversation talking about the other person’s wants. Using the above example, don’t even talk about the website; rather make small talk in order to gain some commonality. Be sure to ask a few questions about the PA’s feelings on other matters completely unrelated to the topic.
  • ·         Step 3: Use one area of commonality to demonstrate empathy. This is the disarming step for the PA. When the PA senses an empathic response, they let their guard down.
  • ·         Step 4: Hint at the website. This can be done by saying, “I know you have so much on your plate right now, is there anything I can help you with?” This opens the door for the PA to bring up the subject of the website. If they do, they now own it and step 5 can be completed. If they don’t, repeat steps 2-4 but only do this once. If they still won’t own it, stop the conversation and resume it another day.
  • ·         Step 5: Ask open-ended questions. Do not ask leading or close ended questions which are limited to a one or two word answer. Rather, after they have brought up the website say, “Tell me more about how things are going.” This invites the discussion. Resist the temptation to direct the conversation, make suggestions, or take over the website project. Be vague in answers and responses. This forces the PA into accepting some sort of responsibility.
  • ·         Step 6: Be satisfied with whatever is accomplished. Small steps for a PA are better than no steps at all in the form of resistance.


Remember, this article is for PA’s and should not be used for other personalities. It can be quite dangerous to use this procedure with someone who is on the sociopathic scale because they will use the opportunity to take further advantage. Other personalities might become annoyed at the process and further shut down. But with a PA, this works.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.

What is Emotional Blackmail?

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
Movies love to portray the Inner and outer conflict that arises from being blackmailed, especially when someone’s life hangs in the balance. There is the villain (the blackmailer), the victim (the target), a demand (what is being asked for), and a threat (what negative thing will happen if the victim refuses to comply). But blackmail does not have to be a life or death threat to be real. It can be more subtle than that.
Blackmail. Here are a couple of examples in everyday life. At school, one child says to another, “If you don’t say I’m the coolest, then I’ll beat you up.” In a neighborhood, it is a neighbor threatening to do property damage if turned into the homeowner’s board. At the office, a co-worker who knows some private personal information threatens to use it against another in exchange for a small fee. This type of blackmail has some sort of physical or tangible harm attached.
Emotional Blackmail. This is a bit different. The threat is not tangible, rather it is emotional. Susan Forward and Diane Frazier (Forward and Frazier, 1997), coined the acronym FOG (fear, obligation, and guilt) to describe the three main emotions a blackmailer uses against a victim. Because the threat is not tangible, the villain can easily claim no responsibility. Their logic is that if the victim did not feel fear, obligation, or guilt then they wouldn’t be able to blackmail them. The target gives into the demand because they don’t want to experience the negative emotion. This is often cyclical and can build in intensity as the threats are effective.
Fear. In order for a blackmailer to be successful, they must know what the target fears. This fear is often deep rooted such as fear of abandonment, loneliness, humiliation, and failure. These fears tend to be unique in intensity to individuals so one person may not perceive that a threat is being made while another one is mortified. The allows the villain to have some additional cover in their deception. A common threat is “If you don’t do this,” the blackmailer will leave the relationship, isolate the victim from friends, ridicule the victim in front of family, or expose some past failure.
Obligation. This is a favorite blackmail tactic of most addicts. In order for an addict to justify their addiction, they need to blame others. This refusal of accepting any responsibility for their behavior translates into projecting responsibility onto others. Thus, emotional blackmail through obligation is born. The victim, who is usually the enabler, repeatedly falls into this trap hoping that by doing what is asked, the villain will stop. However they don’t, it just escalates. Here are a couple of examples. “I won’t need to look at porn if you gave me sex.” “If you kick me out of the house, I’ll be forced further into my addiction (or some criminal activity).” “If you don’t take the fall for me, I’ll wind up losing my job (in prison, homeless, or dead).”
Guilt. This type of emotional blackmail is more commonly known as “guilt-tripping.” Unlike the other two categories, this one has a mutual negative threat attached to the villain. The threat is designed to make the victim feel guilty for causing some negative outcome to the blackmailer. Many times the guilt is implied and the demand is not overtly stated. For instance, “You make me feel so angry (rejected, abandoned, or unloved),” “Only a selfish person would do that,” or “If only my life was as easy (good) as yours.” These backhanded remarks leave the victim feeling guilty for causing some pain to the villain. However, the pain does not have to be real for the blackmailer to utilize it, rather it is a projection of the pain the target might feel.

Understanding emotional blackmail is a critical step in eliminating its effectiveness. The next part is harder; the target must stop being a victim. This can be done by ignoring the comments or refusing to cave into the demands.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

The Power of Balanced Thinking

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
As a natural optimist, I’m great at seeing the glass half full. However, life has taught me that there are times when positive thinking can do more harm than good. For it is through the pain, suffering, hurt, sadness, and discouragement that a person gains strength, character, courage, determination, and perseverance.  
Optimists. It is natural for an optimist to overlook the negative. However, dismissing uncomfortable topics arbitrarily without allowing the opportunity for self-reflection, leads to a lack of awareness. This avoidance can prevent healing in the most inward parts of a person thereby creating an environment where the same root issue resurfaces over and over.
Pessimists. Likewise, it is natural for a pessimist to overlook the positive. But neglecting to embrace even the simple joys in life and feel the emotion can leave a person flat. This type of avoidance can also prevent healing because it seems like life will never get better again.
Balance. There are times when positive thinking is needed but there are also times when negative thinking is beneficial. The concept is to have a healthy weight of both so a person can continue to heal and grow. As with anything, the key is finding a balance between two extremes.
Thoughts. Creating a balance in thinking requires a person to analyze which beliefs are given more value and which are dismissed. The frequency of deliberations is not necessarily an indicator. Rather, it is the opinions that then turn into some emotional response or action that determine the weight. Try to spend just one ordinary day recording thoughts and then mark the ones that had some type of strong reaction. Then evaluate those few to see if there is a balance between positive and negative.
Promises. Throughout a person’s life, there are internal, sometimes external, promises a person makes. They come in the form of, “I will never do that again,” “I will always do that in the future,” or “I’m not going to be like that person.” These pledges are cemented into the subconscious causing a person to react a certain way as if on autopilot. This is especially true when a traumatic event generating an intense emotional response is attached to the phrase. Take some time to discover these promises and write them down. Again, a balance helps to maintain a healthy perspective.
Focus. Ever heard of the phrase, “You are what you eat?” Well, a person is also what they think. It takes mental discipline to put aside unproductive thoughts (these can be either positive or negative), and intentionally focus. Think of the brain as a muscle that needs to be worked on a regular basis. It is exercised through control of what is tossed around and what is tossed out. For some, this is a very difficult task due to attention-deficit, brain injuries, or chemical imbalances in the brain. So be patient if it takes a bit longer than expected.
Distractions. One of the best gifts a person can do is to allow some distractions to naturally happen. This can stop a thought train from going off the rails. Be flexible with simple interruptions as sometimes they are blessings in disguise. Have several intentional diversions available whenever needed to help keep the balance between the positive and negative.
There is great power when a person allows both the positive and negative to transform their thinking. It is like breaths of fresh air when then realize that life doesn’t need to be lived inside one extreme or another.


To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 
407-647-7005.


Exhausted and Overwhelmed – Understanding How Technology Can Steal Time and Destroy Focus

By: Dwight Bain

We all do it. We’ve all promised ourselves we won’t waste another hour on social media with mindless escapism, yet another week goes by and the projects pile up because of the need to‘like’ more cute pictures on Facebook.

So how can you protect yourself and your family from losing so much time on social media or the Internet? First, realize it’s happening, and that technology saturation leads to overexposure which only makes it worse, leading to elevated expectations which leads to depressed moods, then the dark emotions of envy over constant comparison and finally exhaustion.

Here are some proven steps to reclaim mental focus during this busy time of year.
1.     Routines – build in healthy routines where you ‘unplug’ from technology to plug into your friends, family and faith.  
2.     Environment – find a way to get you and your family outside. Take a walk, walk the dog, or teach a child how to ride a bike, throw a Frisbee… whatever it takes to be outdoors where you can recharge away from WI-FI
3.     Silence –Deep spiritual connection does not happen in loud noisy places. Spiritual renewal comes in the quiet. Steve Brown from KeyLife Radio Network, (www.KeyLife.org) says it this way, “It is in the silence that He, (Jesus), comes.” So as you get spend quiet time be prepared for a wonderful sense of spiritual peace instead of the chronic multitasking of those who can’t unplug from technology.
4.     Time- especially time spent in real relationship where conversation and connection are the goals, not finding more Pinterest recipes.   
When you practice each of these 4 qualities you will find rest for your soul and you will prevent being overwhelmed and exhausted from technology stress. By the way, did you notice it is easy to remember because it spells out the word, “REST” which is exactly what you need in these hectic times. Unplug and just rest. Your body and your family will thank you.


About the author -  Dwight Bain is a trusted professional with over 30 years of experience in solving complex problems as a counselor and coach. Follow him on Twitter or Instagram @DwightBain or like his page to find new inspiration at www.Facebook.com/DwightBain

Thursday, August 04, 2016

The Primary Purpose of Parenting

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC
The primary purpose of parenting is to raise fully functional adults who can take care of themselves and make a positive contribution to society. Generally speaking, this should be accomplished by eighteen. After this age, parents have less verbal influence but can still be a positive role model through actions, not words.
It is with intention that marriage and family are not mentioned. According to Erik Erikson’s Eight Stages of Psychosocial Development, the sixth stage, Intimacy vs. Isolation, does not begin until after eighteen. A person needs the successful outcome of the prior stage first, Identity vs. Confusion, which is realized in the teen years. When an adult understands who they are separate from their family and peers, they can then form a heathy attachment to another person.
Here are ten examples of a fully functional adult. This list is not meant to be inclusive or exclusive; rather it is a spring board for discussion.
1.       Value of hard work. There are many ways hard work can be taught: sports, drama, school, music, chores, and part-time employment are a few examples. The important lesson is that talent will only take a person so far; dedication, devotion, and determination will take them farther. It takes perseverance to struggle through the difficulties of a task to its successful completion. The work however must be done by the child and not the parent in order to gain the full benefit.  
2.      Get along with others. This lesson is generally taught in kindergarten but is forgotten in the tween years. As teens, they tend to segregate into like groups: nerds, jocks, artsy, drama, academics, and other categories. This concept is helpful in the development of peer identity but can create distaste for those outside their group. Parents should reinforce the kindergarten philosophy and downplay the seclusion.
3.      Spend money wisely. This essential element is best taught through modeling. Children who understand that the family budget has been spent and there is no more money between now and the next pay cycle will have an easier time adjusting to their working adult life. Some parents want to spare their children from knowing just how tight things are or how much things cost. This philosophy brings shock and overwhelming feelings the adult-child. Sometimes, the result is a passive-aggressive approach to work/budget where they would rather not do anything at all then have to live without.
4.      Good home economics. It is a shame that most schools no longer teach the basics of good home economics. Rather, the instruction is left to parents who may or may not have healthy habits. By the time a child reaches high school, they should be doing their own laundry, cleaning the bathroom, making their own meals, creating a balanced diet, picking up after themselves, contributing to household chores, ironing their clothes, able to sew on a button, capable of minor repairs, skilled in auto care, purchasing their clothing, and living within a budget. Those who are not taught these lessons tend to retreat home to be taken care of by a parent.
5.      Positive self-care. Most children will experience at least one major crisis, trauma, abuse, death, or accident during their childhood. How these incidents are handled by the parent greatly determines the lessons the child learns about intense emotions such as anger, anxiety, depression, guilt, shame, and inferiority. Positive self-care teaches a child proper management and coping skills for dealing with the difficulties in life. For instance, parents who model the ability to get angry without reacting poorly teach the child proper care. This is not about denying emotions, thoughts or events; rather, it is about a successful expression without harm to self or others.
6.      Set and achieve goals. A good practice at the beginning of the school year is to encourage children to set a personal goal for the upcoming year. Parents should not be the ones to set the goal. A child who achieves a goal they set for themselves receives a much greater satisfaction then those who achieve goals set by others. Parents can however assist the child in breaking down the goal from a year to monthly steps and then to daily actions. This reinforces the concept that goals are only accomplished one small step at a time.
7.      Strong ethical values. This is not about memorizing a bunch of rules or values. It is about understanding the importance of ethics in every aspect of life. There are ethics at school (no cheating), at a store (no stealing), at home (no lying), and in a neighborhood (no destruction of property). For each of these basic values, a child should be instructed in why these guidelines are in place. The words, “because I said so,” are not sufficient in understanding. The lack of direction in this area creates adults who are oppositional or resistant to authority.
8.     History of family. This is not a popular topic in our culture but is extremely helpful in establishing a sense of belonging. For every family, there are cultural or historical aspects that define the family for the better or the worst. Trying to “protect” a child from the bad aspects, disorders, or events of the family tree does not help them. Explaining that divorce, heart disease, depression, addiction, or a personality disorder runs in the family can actually provide relief to a child who might already be experiencing the early warning signs. Of course the positive aspect of a family is equally important such as courage, faith, determination, perseverance, commitment, loyalty, and professions/talents specific to the family.
9.      Spiritual development. All of the answers to faith do not have to be understood at this point. The essential part is that a person realizes they are a small part of a large life in which they are not at the center. Along with this should come knowledge of their own faith as well as a respect for other’s faith. Respect and agreement are two different matters. A person can respect the opinion of someone else without agreeing with them. Parents have a unique position to positively encourage spiritual growth without forcing it on their child.
10.  Giving back. From a social developmental aspect, this generally is not fully realized until much later in life. However, the seeds of giving back to others must be sown early on for generativity in mid-life to stick. This also reinforces the notion that not everyone has exactly the same advantage as others which assists in the development of empathy and compassion. Generosity should not be forced but explained with allowances given to where the child’s heart might be at the moment.

When parents strive to teach their child in these ten items, the child develops a healthy perspective of their world, themselves in the world, and their family. 

 To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 
407-647-7005.

Married to a Person Who Seems Addicted to Chaos?

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

There seems to be a revolving door of crises at any given time. Just when things begin to slow down, another chaotic moment arises out of nowhere and demanding immediate attention. When the underlying cause is addressed, the spouse claims they have no responsibility for contributing to the disruption. They emotionally site numerous external sources for the problem, some of which are very accurate. And so the pattern continues to repeat.
Is there a name for this? The name “Borderline” is not descriptive of Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). Rather, the old name of Chaotic Personality Disorder is more characteristic of the erratic behavioral pattern. Unfortunately, the DSM-V uses the name BPD. So what does it look like to be married to someone like this? Here are a few indicators.

1.      Constant fear of abandonment. The spouse makes numerous gestures and attempts to reassure the BPD spouse of their fidelity which work only temporarily. After a period of time, the intense fear of abandonment resurfaces with evidence from past, present, and predicted future behavior as justification for the distress. The BPD spouse does not have to have any rejection or desertion in their past to explain their trepidation. However, if they do, this only adds to the level of intensity.
2.    They love/hate their spouse. The BPD engages in a repetitive pattern of pushing away their spouse and pulling them in closer. They can do this verbally by assaulting, “You are the worst” and then hours later say, “You are the best.” Neither statement is vocalized casually or sarcastically. Rather it is very forceful and convincing leaving the spouse to believe they are headed for divorce.
3.    Can’t separate self from others. This momentary attachment onto others is not always about the spouse. When it is, the BPD is euphoric when the spouse is happy and depressed when the spouse is sad. There seems to be a lack of division in feelings and reaction between the BPD and those around them. However, this does not remain constant. It usually oscillates from a supportive connection to an oppositional response. 
4.    Impulsive, self-damaging behaviors. There is a history of numerous spending sprees (into the thousands), heightened sexual activity, substance use and abuse, random shoplifting, reckless driving, and/or binge eating. Despite any consequences the BPD faced for these behaviors in the past, they continue to engage. The BPD will gladly explain their reasoning as to why the behavior is justified. The spouse will not understand.
5.     Suicidal threats. When the BPD feels backed into a corner or completely overwhelmed, they sometimes threaten suicide. On occasion, they may do self-harming behaviors such as cutting, overdosing, or even attempting suicide. There may be numerous hospitalizations in their history that provide short-term relief.
6.    Extreme and rapid depression, irritability or anxiety. One minute everything seems fine and then the next the BPD spouse becomes instantly depressed, irritable or anxious. This will not go away quickly rather it lasts from a few hours to a couple of days. The trigger event may not be noticeable to the spouse. The BPD has the ability to absorb their environment so literally any negative aspect could be very upsetting.
7.     They say they feel empty. While this is descriptive of a BPD, it is also the most self-aware statement that they could make. Imagine the BPD like a sponge with holes in it. Just like a sponge can absorb milk, water, or other liquids so a BPD can absorb their environment and the people around them. They are only able to do this because of the emptiness they feel inside. Often their mood will accurately reflect what is happening near them.
8.    Rapid escalation of anger. Very quickly the BPD spouse can escalate frustration into rage and go from yelling to hitting. This usually happens when they feel misunderstood, discounted, discarded, rejected, or deserted. The BPD spouse feels every emotion at such an extreme level so when they are attacked, the anger rises instantly as well.
9.    Stress-induced paranoia. When the anger and anxiety are not properly expressed and addressed, the BPD spouse feels overwhelmed, misunderstood, and insignificant. This feeling of worthlessness becomes powerful. In order to counteract those feelings, the BPD develops paranoid thoughts of their spouse or others around them. Once this stage has been reached, it takes an enormous amount of reassurance to reorient them.


All of these indicators can led the BPD to believe the worst is about to happen. The fear of abandonment combined with the intense emotions can make a marriage seem to be chaotic and unstable. It doesn’t have to be this way. The best part of this personality disorder is the ability for it to be managed successfully. Thus, the marriage can survive as well if both parties are willing to work on it.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 
407-647-7005.

How to Set Adult Boundaries with Narcissistic Parents

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

When adults realize they were the product of a narcissistic parent, it can shock them into a state of grief. Instantly, they go from idealizing the narcissist to grieving their lost childhood and the God-like image of their parent. Suddenly, the parent is transformed from larger than life to a deeply insecure human being. With the rose colored glasses off, the adult struggles to rewrite their history without a narcissistic perception.
It is not an easy process. It requires time to recall events and alter them to a newly discovered reality. It entails massive energy to reprogram the negative words and competitive actions of the narcissist. It necessitates motivation to complete the process until a new level of healthy is achieved. But now that this process is finished, what new boundaries can keep the adult from falling back into old habits?

1.      Think before speaking. Before visiting or speaking to a narcissistic parent, the adult should remember the parent is a narcissist. It might be helpful to review some of their glaring characteristics so expectations can be more appropriately set. Once a person knows a lion is a lion, they should not expect a lamb. Thinking about the conversation before it begins allows the adult to plan accordingly. Boundary = I’m going to set reasonable expectations.
2.    Remember, it is all about them. It helps to have an expectation that the conversation will turn towards the narcissist. While the initial question may be about the adult, it very quickly switches to the narcissist. Adults should expect this and keep answers short and sweet to avoid giving away too much information. The narcissist will only use the additional data against the adult at a later date. Boundary = I’m not going to give away information.
3.    Refuse to be interrogated. A typical tactic of narcissists is to overwhelm others into a state of heightened anxiety so they are less able to think straight. Adults fall into this trap easily as the narcissistic parent groomed them through intense interrogation as a child. This is about power and control for the narcissist. As soon as the narcissist begins, the adult should slow down their breathing. Then answer the question they wish the narcissist asked instead of the one that was asked and immediately follow it with a compliment. This disarms and distracts most narcissists. Boundary = I’m going to be treated like a peer.
4.    Reject verbal assaults. Another typical narcissistic tactic is to verbally assault anyone they believe is a threat. The adult might find themselves a target for an aggressive (“You are lazy”), passive-aggressive (“Your sibling is so successful”), or guilt ridden (“I invested so much in you”) comment. This is about comparison maintains the narcissist’s superior status. If the adult becomes defensive, the narcissist has won. Rather, the adult should ignore the comment or say “that’s not appropriate” and again offer a distracting compliment. This prevents the adult from acting like the narcissist. Boundary = I’m not going to act like a narcissist.
5.     Be free of victimization. When all else fails, the narcissistic parent becomes the victim as a way of guilt tripping the adult into submission. Their “wow is me” routine is customized to match the weakness and vulnerability of each adult child. It is generally effective or the narcissist would stop this behavior. It helps if the adult child views this sequence like that of a two-year-old temper tantrum. The more positive or negative attention that the two-year-old receives, the more the performance is repeated. The key here for the adult is to ignore the narcissist’s conduct entirely. Just like a two-year-old, it will take several attempts before the new reality sets in and is not repeated. Boundary = I’m not going to cave to manipulation.


After a period of time, these new boundaries will become habits for the adult and the impact of the narcissist will be greatly diminished. The best part is that even though the relationship seems shallow, it functions at a much safer and healthier level.

7 Steps in Healing From a Narcissistic Parent

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

Healing from a narcissistic parent has a positive effect on all of the other close relationships in a person’s life. The distorted perception of reality a narcissistic parent imposes on a child can have damaging consequences as an adult at work and home.  The lack of self-esteem, obsessive thinking, minimization of abuse, excessive anxiety, and fear based reactions are common among adult children of narcissists. By addressing the impact of narcissism, a person finds relief. Here are the seven steps towards healing:

1.       Recognize Narcissistic Behavior. The first step in the healing process is to admit that there is something wrong with a parent’s behavior. A person can’t recover from something they refuse to acknowledge. Most narcissistic parents pick a favorite child, the “golden child,” who is treated as if they walk on water. The other children are frequently treated as inferior through belittlement, comparing, ignoring and even neglect. Occasionally, the parent switches their favoritism depending on the performance of child. The key to remember is that narcissistic parents see child as an extension of themselves so they take credit for the successes and reject the child who fails.

2.      Study Narcissism. Once the narcissism is identified, it is important to gain an education about the disorder and how it affects the entire family system. Narcissism is part biology and part environment. So chances are there might be other narcissists or personality disorders in family. The environment can further draw out the narcissism in a child which is cemented by age eighteen. Become familiar with the signs and symptoms of narcissism and begin to pick out the other narcissists.

3.      Connect the Dots. This next step will be easy in the beginning but becomes more difficult as the impact of the narcissism is realized. For each individual sign and symptom of narcissism, recall several examples in childhood and adulthood when the behavior is evident. It helps to write these down for reference later. The more time that is spent doing the step, the greater the impact of the healing. Recollect both positive and negative events that resulted out of the narcissism.

4.      Identify the Abusive Behavior. During the previous step, it is highly likely that some abusive behavior on the part of the narcissistic parent became evident. Abuse for a child can be physical (restraint, aggression), mental (gaslighting, silent treatment), verbal (raging, interrogating), emotional (nitpicking, guilt tripping), financial (neglect, excessive gifting), spiritual (dichotomous thinking, legalism), and sexual (molestation, humiliation). Not every event requires trauma therapy but some of them might, depending on the frequency and severity.

5.      Release the Anger. Anger is a natural response after the dots have been connected and the abuse has been identified. It is hard to believe that a parent who should be loving and kind would do the things they have done. Whatever glorified image a person had of their narcissistic parent is now completely shattered. Sometimes the anger is projected on the other parent for not fully protecting their child from the trauma. Or the anger is internalized for not realizing or confronting sooner. It is important to release the anger in a healthy manner such as physical activity, crying or venting to a safe friend.

6.      Gain Perspective. This is a good place to step back for a while to gain a better perspective. Begin by reflecting on how the narcissistic parent’s distorted image of the world and people shaped current beliefs. Then drill downwards towards the vows or promises that were made internally as a result of the narcissism or abuse. Counteract the distorted images, vows, or promises with a newly gained perspective of reality. This essential step frees a person from the narcissistic lies and false truths.

7.      Move Forward. The past cannot be changed, only understood. When forgiveness is genuine, it has a powerful transformational effect. Remember, forgiveness is for the forgiver not the offender. It is better to honestly forgive in small chunks at a time, rather than granting blanket forgiveness. This allows room for other future or past offenses to be realized and worked through in a thorough manner.


After doing all of these steps, it will be far easier to identify other narcissists at work or in the community. No longer will their dysfunctional behavior generate instant anxiety or frustration. Rather, the narcissist will be disarmed because their behavior no longer has an intimidating effect.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 
407-647-7005.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

How Sociopaths Deceive Others

By: Christine Hammond

Ever wonder how a person was able to earn trust so quickly and then exploit it for their own benefit? Perhaps they stole money, took over a business, or openly violated ethical conduct codes. One day they were a best friend and now for no apparent reason, they make themselves an enemy. Even now, it is hard to imagine that they were not the person they presented. How were they able to be so deceptive?
Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD) is the technical definition for sociopathic and psychopathic behavior. Imagine ASPD as a spectrum where there is evidence of subtle to extreme versions of the behavioral dysfunction. Sociopaths are generally thought of as a milder type than psychopaths. This makes them harder to recognize in the average work environment. So how do they do it?

1.       Survey - Sociopaths begin their deception by carefully observing their new environment. Since most sociopath burn up relationships fast, they are frequently forced into new surroundings in order to survive. They look for potential targets: those with money, power, position or anything the other person has that the sociopath wants. Sociopaths scrutinize the target’s friends, work habits, routines, family, strengths, weaknesses, and social affairs. Basically, they are stalking their prey.
2.      Scoping – After choosing the target, sociopaths scope out an informant. This person usually has the dirt on everyone, likes to gossip, and puts themselves in the middle of things. The sociopath will quickly become best buddies with this person in an effort to glean as much information as possible. In the future, they will use this relationship to disseminate bad intelligence about others.
3.      Chameleon - Sociopaths literally transform themselves into the most attractive version of self for their target and the informant. For instance, if their prey likes to rescue people, the sociopath will need to be rescued. If their victim likes independent gregarious people, they will become that. The interesting part is that sociopaths can be two completely different personalities within the same environment.
4.      Seducing – Once the sociopath feels they understand their target, they begin a seduction. It usually begins with making small talk about a hobby or other interest. Then they use that incident to initiate further contact alternating between praising the target and asking for their advice. Shortly thereafter, the sociopath shares some made-up secret personal fear or anxiety to draw the target further in. If the victim responds with any degree of kindness, they proceed to the next step. If the prey repels the sociopath, one of two things happens: either the sociopath will move on or they will refine and intensify their approach.
5.      Courting – This is a one-way dance where the sociopath does all of the work. They magically appear where the victim is, they seem to be friends with the same people, and they often invite themselves to meetings, projects and events. The sociopath escalates the praise to a level of adoration which draws in the target even more. Their charm is enticing and disarming so the prey begins to feel at ease with the sociopath.
6.      Isolating – The sociopath begins to use the data gathered from the informant to isolate the target from friends or co-workers who may try to protect them one day. These are subtle non-flattering comments made about the friends or co-workers which are easily countered if confronted. The intent is for the victim to feel betrayed by their friends while learning to solely rely on the false loyalty of the sociopath.
7.      Vengeance - Anyone who tries to stop the sociopath along the way will be met with swift and severe revenge, threats, or punishment. They will use tactics such as inappropriate rage, the silent treatment, intimidating stares, twisting the truth, and playing the victim card to manipulate others into compliance. By this point, the sociopath has too much invested in the deception to walk away. So instead, they push away protectors while pulling in the target.
8.      Projection – Here is where things become tricky. The sociopath now secretly turns on the victim to the victim’s friends and co-workers by projecting the sociopath’s selfish motives onto the victim. This completes the betrayal cycle. When the sociopath removes themselves from the environment, everyone’s fingers will be pointed at each other with none pointed at the sociopath. This sets the stage for the final act.
9.      Deceit – Now the sociopath is free to embezzle, exploit, take over a business, and/or commit acts of fraud or felony. Because all eyes will be on the fight between each other and not on the sociopath. By the time the dust has settled, the sociopath will be long gone with whatever money, power, position, or prestige they desired.


At any point in the game, this can be stopped. But it usually takes an outsider looking in on the situation to bring about clarity. Sociopaths should be taken seriously and treated as potentially dangerous.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.

Living Someone Who Has Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder

By: Christine Hammond

From the outside looking in, things look perfect. That is precisely the impression a person with Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD) intends to give. They seem to be the model spouse, parent, friend, and most especially employee. And they have many rewards, honors, recognitions, and promotions to prove it. But things are not what they seem from the inside looking out.
OCPD is not the same thing as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This article explains the difference: http://pro.psychcentral.com/exhausted-woman/2016/05/difference-between-obsessive-compulsive-personality-disorder-and-obsessive-compulsive-disorder/. For those living with a person who has OCPD, life is frustrating. There is a sense that nothing the spouse or children can do is ever good enough for the OCPD. The constant nitpicking, exactness, narrowmindedness, and rigidity over insignificant matters can cause family members to feel as though they were going crazy. Here are twelve ways that make them insufferable:

1.       Well-groomed and dressed. The first evidence of an OCPD is their appearance. They are meticulous about how they are groomed and dressed. They don’t need to be in the latest style (that is frivolous spending) but they do strictly adhere to dress codes, even ones that are unspoken.
2.      Black and white thinking. There is no area of grey for OCPD. Things are either one way or another. This often manifests in comparing meals, children, vacations, discussions, projects, and many other areas. It is as if they need things to only be black and white and therefore move anything that appears grey to one side or the other.
3.      Need to be “right”. OCPDs believe there is a right way to do things and a wrong way, and they do the right way. The difficulty is they tend to be analytical and therefore do evaluate until they find the better method. Their primary love language is to be told, “You were right.”
4.      Inflexible values. The black and white thinking frequently results in an inflexible value system which is designed by OCPDs. This is forced tightly on family members without any regard for their opinions because they are “right”. They might listen for a minute but then will lecture for hours explaining why their values are preferred.
5.      Interrogates for meaningless details. OCPDs are obsessed with details. They tend to put little bits of random details together to draw conclusions that are frequently inaccurate. But trying to tell them their perception is in error will only result in more interrogation to prove their point.
6.      Obsessed with rules and order. If a rule exists, there must be a good reason for it and OCPDs expect everyone to live by it. This includes non-spoken social rules, religious guidelines, dress codes, and body language. There is little to no grace for the individuality of another person because their rule is best.
7.      Workaholic. Work is a place for OCPDs to excel especially if their job demands attention to detail and strict adherence to standards. The more positive feedback they get, the more time they invest. If they are unsatisfied at work, this same process can be transferred to a hobby or special interest. Nearly all of their conversations center on this area.
8.      Miserly spending habits. OCPDs will spend money on things they want, but are miserly when it comes to other members of the family. They frequently do budgets to the penny and like to account for every dollar spent. Any unnecessary spending will be met with an intense discussion.
9.      Combs trashcans for things discarded. This is the most interesting aspect of OCPDs because it seems so counterintuitive. They hate to throw things out for fear of needing them again and border on hoarder mentality. In their obsessive thinking and miserly spending, nothing can go to waste. A family member throwing out a worn out item will frequently find it has returned “just in case they change their mind.”
10.   Perfectionist. They insist on doing things so precisely that frequently they are unable to complete tasks for which they cannot do exactly right. The result is unfinished projects all over the house. There is always some excuse for not completing it but they will never admit that it is their own impossible standards that prohibit them from moving forward.
11.    Micromanages. If an OCPD delegates a task, they insist that it be done their way or not at all. Every aspect of a project is micromanaged by OCPDs to the point that others give up. This then justifies the hidden desire to do everything themselves because no one can do it as good as them.
12.   Stubborn. Trying to get an OCPD to see that the above areas are problematic is nearly impossible. They literally have to be on the verge of losing a job, marriage, or child before they are willing to see things through another lens. Their stubbornness is so ingrained that all they can see is their rightness.

All hope is not lost. Just because someone displays these symptoms does not mean things can’t be different. It can be but it literally is a process of one small area at a time. OCPDs cannot change everything at once (their ego cannot handle that blow), rather it must be done incrementally.

To schedule an appointment with Christine Hammond, please call our office at 407-647-7005.