Thursday, July 30, 2015

Do You Work With a Psychopath?

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

There really isn’t any job a psychopath wouldn’t do so long as it benefits them in some way. Psychopaths can be business owners, surgeons, lawyers, data entry clerks, waste managers, salesmen, politicians, waiters, and even therapists. They don’t have to be serial killers or mob bosses to be a psychopath.
The term psychopath is over used in our culture and has come to mean something that it doesn’t. Episodes of Criminal Minds highlight the extreme violent behaviors of the disorder. However, many psychopaths do not commit heinous crimes. Some are involved only in white collar crimes while others don’t do any obvious criminal behavior.
What is a psychopath? The term is encompassed under the definition of Anti-Social Personality Disorder along with sociopath. However, psychopath and sociopath are not interchangeable terms. Think of them as two separate parts of a whole personality disorder. A psychopath has the ability to create an entire persona in direct contrast to who they really are. It is as if they are an entirely different person without the dissociative or multiple personality elements.
In a work environment, they can appear to be very responsible, charismatic, friendly, too good to be true, and a hard worker. Their resume which has been custom designed to match the job description will leave employers feeling like they are getting the better end of the bargain. They can talk whatever talk is needed to get the job, to excel at the job, and to get promoted. However, there is a darker side.
Psychopaths will appear to work within a team environment but really they don’t. The work generated is frequently at the expense of someone else and not a product of their own efforts. Back-stabbing, gossip, and manipulation are frequent tactics utilized to undermine authority, gain dominance, and eliminate competition. Rules are for fools to follow, not psychopaths. There is no social, corporate, or legal restriction that will keep psychopaths in line. Because they have no conscious, they are only bond by what they choose.
The goal for a psychopath is to gain as much power and control as possible with the least amount of effort. To a superior, a psychopath presents the better side in order to gain trust and confidence. Their magnetic personality is appealing to upper management as they easily fit into any environment. As a quick study of personalities, the psychopath is able to transform their appearance and body language into something that is appealing in as little as 30 seconds.
But to co-workers, the psychopath presents the darker side frequently stealing new ideas, destabilizing the team atmosphere, and refusing to complete assignments. Often, co-workers pick up the slack in an effort to maintain the collaborative work environment which psychopaths are all too willing to allow them to do. However, if a co-worker complains about the arrangement, the psychopath will attack with such force as to cause the co-worker to get fired. This enlists fear in the other co-workers who are then more willing to comply with the psychopath’s demands.

Diagnosing a psychopath should be left to a professional but even professionals sometimes do not see the deception. It requires an ability to assess the person in multiple environments before some of the fraud can be seen. Even then, it may be hard to tell. The best advice is to avoid anyone who fits this description. Better to be safe, then sorry. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Whirlwind of Social Media

The Lie of Facebook
By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

I don’t know about you, but if I see one more “cute” cat video on Facebook, I’m going to scream. How is it that my friends have time to find and then post silly videos? Are their lives so ‘purrfect’ (pun intended) that they have the luxury to do this? Or… is it a façade? Facebook allows a person to literally paint and alter their image without any consequences for false identity or misrepresentation. Think of it as a giant modern art canvas where realistic images are absent and abstract images are present. There is plenty of room for interpretation. My frustration over the videos is more about my interpretation of their time in comparison to mine, rather than an accurate reflection of my friend’s life.

Don’t waste energy on interpretative art. Instead, let it be what it is. 

Facebook: America’s Addiction
By: Cara Griffin-Locker

If you are like most people you probably have a Facebook account. You posts pictures, follow friends and family and maybe check into a place from time to time to get the occasional discount.  For some, this social media outlet is a way to stay connected but for others it is a socially populated outlet in which depression is generated.  It can create, envy, jealousy, hatred and at times an extramarital affair. Facebook, to many, is a new addiction. 
            Here are four of the most common ways in which Facebook can create depression in those who obsess over the materialistic things and unrealistic happiness that people can display.
1.     Isolation: Depression by itself is an isolating disease. Combine that with staring alone at a screen, reading about other people's lives, hoping and waiting for someone to comment on or like something you wrote and you have a recipe for disaster. This often creates even more isolation because of the obsession that results.
2.     Comparison: The art of looking at Facebook repeatedly can lead to the inevitable comparing game. So-and-so has this and I do not, or so-and-so is doing this and I am not.  This type of comparison makes us feel like we are missing out, inadequate or a loser. It creates a sense of worthlessness in our own being that can ultimately lead to depression.
3.     Fantasy/reality: Seldom do people post negative things on Facebook. In reality is their life perfect and all roses and butterflies? Of course not.  It is all about perception and what they want the world to believe. Their life is not perfect. No one’s life is.
4.     The Numbers Game: Like all social media platforms, Facebook is a numbers game that consists of how many friends you have and how many people comment on your posts or pictures.  These types of expectations can easily lead to depression.
Think about this the next time you scroll through Facebook - do you spend numerous times a day looking at other people’s pages and what they are doing? Do you obsess over what others have? If so, it may be time to cancel or at least take a break from Facebook and get back in touch with reality.

Life Through the Lens and the Keyhole
By: Matthew W. Sandford, LMHC

We all have a tendency, and some more than others, to view other peoples lives through our “lens” and assess their relative success, happiness and level of fulfillment. We all have longings inside of us and these longings play a large role in making up the “lens” through which we interpret the world. Often, the more dissatisfied we are with our lives, or the farther we are from being able to realize our longings, the more we are influenced by what we interpret about others.
But here’s the thing; we never have an objective view of the inside world of others, we only have a view that is akin to peering through a keyhole. Let’s say you hear of a party that you were not invited to and in your jealousy, you go the location and peer through the keyhole. From what you can see through the keyhole, it seems that everyone is having a wonderful time, moving around, chatting, happy, even dancing. Your heart sinks. Suddenly the door flings open as someone exits, and a clear and full view is exposed to you.  You see that the event was for disabled persons; a wheelchair here, crutches and braces there.  No one was moving around so freely as you had perceived.

 We really only have a keyhole view of anyone’s real life. That is, unless you are a counselor….

Thursday, July 02, 2015

The Addicted Narcissist

By: Christine Hammond, LMHC

One of the hardest types of people to deal with is a narcissist in the middle their addiction. They are completely exhausting. The combined selfishness of narcissism and addictive behavior is overpowering, relentless, callous, and frequently abusive. This destructive blend of arrogant thinking in that they are always right and that they do not have a problem leads to devastating consequences.
There are many parts to the addicted narcissist and their road to recovery. The point of this article is to recognize the injurious behavior so more reasonable expectations can be established during the process and for the family.

Origins. In both addicts and narcissists, shame is the common denominator. Stage two of Erik Erikson’s Psychosocial Development which occurs between 18 months and three years old has shame as the negative outcome. Not all narcissists or addicts have trauma during these years, but it can be a good place to begin. Because there is a strong concurrence, about 50% of narcissists are addicts of some sort. Some studies suggest that fetal alcohol syndrome in a child is a sign of a female narcissist.

Enablers. There are frequently two enablers. One bolsters the ego of the narcissist and one unknowingly encourages the addiction. The narcissistic enabler minimizes all signs of addiction and fosters feelings of superiority over others. The addiction enabler is likewise blind to symptoms of addiction therefore justifying financially supporting it. Both are needed to maintain the self-image of the narcissist.
Sometimes, the victim of narcissistic abuse is the sole enabler. This person naively empowers both behaviors to continue. They have been told that the addiction is in their minds and they are the one to blame for it continuing. Saying like these are common. “No one else sees what you are seeing, you are the crazy one.” “If only you would do…, then I won’t have to…”

The Cycle. The addiction cycle is comingled with the narcissistic abuse cycle. It begins when the narcissist feels threatened. They become angry and take out their frustration on a victim. Sensing resistance from the victim, they retreat to their addiction. The drug of choice reinforces their idealistic fantasies, perception of omnipotence, and extravagant schemes. However, this results in the enablers retreating from the narcissist. Now confused, the narcissistic ego feels threatened and the cycle repeats.

Step One. The most difficult step is to get a narcissist to admit to their addiction. This is the first mandatory step of all addictive recovery which is particularly problematic for a person who believes they are above others. Not only are they reluctant to admit there is a problem, but they refuse to allow someone inferior to point it out. This is why confronting a narcissist about their addiction usually results in substantial rage.

Rehab. The only rehab a narcissist willingly attends is an elite facility.  Even there, they expect special treatment and believe the rules are for others. During group counseling sessions, they are bored and view it as trivial. Sometimes they become intolerant and even abusive towards staff members. Instead of taking the time to heal, they look for loop holes in the system, complain about inefficiencies, become single-minded about insurance/costs, and blame others for having to be at rehab.

Recovery. A narcissist is unwilling to wait the prescribed time period to see if the recovery is effective. Instead, they expect immediate results and others to comply fully with their miraculous healing in a very short time period. Unfortunately, because the narcissist has grandiose beliefs about self, they rarely learn during treatment thus making their prognosis poor.

Relapse. It is not impossible for a narcissist to recover from an addiction. In fact, when they see it as damaging to their image, they are able to eliminate the addiction almost instantly and without emotional consequences. However, they do return to the addictive behavior later as a way to demonstrate they ultimately have power and control over the drug of choice.

Just because the narcissist feeds off illusions of grandeur, doesn’t mean the family support system needs to strengthen that belief. A family can be supportive while having reasonable expectations for the narcissist’s prognosis. It is far more loving to accept someone within their own limitations than to insist they become someone they are not.