Archive | June, 2012

Toxic Mom Toolkit: Thoughts While Editing – Time is Short

27 Jun

I always wanted to write a book. In grade school I carried around small leather-bound classics hoping I’d impress my teachers and schoolmates. I wanted them to think that I understood Dickens and Twain when I was EIGHT.

I could always imagine my name on a best-seller list. But for writing what?

It was brave of me to leave my newspaper job to write this book. As I dedicated myself to the writing effort, blogging about it and building an online community, I learned to truly trust my husband, the universe, and myself. It was one of the most difficult and ultimately rewarding journeys of my adult life.

Accepting that I was simply doing what was right for me was a huge leap of faith. At each transition the next step rose up to meet me. Choosing to forget about what others thought was crucial for me. It was very hard.

Of course, I had doubts all the way through. I remember wondering what former colleagues and co-workers thought. To some, I was weird enough to begin with. Were they poking fun at my efforts? Was I too obsessed with my childhood? Was I propping myself as an expert on a non-topic? Was I inventing a passion to have something to do? The chatter raged in my brain. But eventually, it died down allowing space for quiet contemplation.

I remembered, time is so short.

I travelled back in time and studied my life, the life of my parents and relations and I wrote it all down.  I remembered how I earned my courage. I was ready to tell readers about it.

That I signed up with 8WomenDream.com and wrote my little heart out on the topic of toxic moms for an entire year is pretty astounding to me now. I found my focus early on and I trusted that readers got it. At Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook we grew from the 30 or so “likes” I needed to start my stats to nearly 60,000 people reached around the world each month.

As I got to know my followers in the U.S., Australia, Japan, the Middle East and Europe, I began to think of my book as a wonderful life form that needed me as its midwife. On days when it was too hard I worked anyway on blind faith. If I had to tell myself I could have chocolate after writing a chapter, that was okay. I’m sure plenty of surgeons imagine cocktails or golf or other rewards waiting for them when the nurses take over the suturing.

As I racked up chapters, I taught myself to embrace the work joyfully even if I’d rather be doing anything else.

The very last bits included stories of sexual abuse. Feeling sickened I stalled and stalled and stalled, not wanting to welcome my own abuser back into my head. I was cranky and tired and a pain to live with. An emotional war raged in my head. I dreaded and resented having to revisit these events, yet I had to. I had kicked these stories out of my head long ago and even a brief visit made me dizzy with sadness.

My husband complained about my attitude.

“I’m walking around with my abuser in my head right now so you’ll just have to forgive me,” I told him.

“Don’t think about it,” he suggested.

“The problem is, I can’t kick him out again until I write the whole story and I can’t decide how much of the story I can live with out in the world. How much? How much? How deep? It’s a struggle,” I replied.

Our eyes met. Enough said.

I married a man who expects great things from me. Sometimes I can do things to impress him that I can’t do for myself. That I finished this book is in great part due to his complete faith that I would.

As I edit and shape and clean up I’m realizing that his book taught me to value my dreams, make room for them, and commit time and energy to them without apologies. Time is so short.

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TOXIC MOM TOOLKIT FOLLOWERS GATHER NEWS ARTICLES YOU CAN USE

20 Jun

One of the best things about Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook is the global reach and depth. Women all over the world are checking in, offering wisdom and support and forwarding interesting and helpful articles – like this:

“Narcissistic Perverts: The Most Intelligent People are the Most Exposed.”

This is an interview with the author of the book: “THE MALADY OF THE CENTURY: To Understand and to Fight Manipulation.”

In your manuscript, you analyze the relationship where you have a grip on someone, the real “getting one’s mitts on their spirit,” according to the psycho-analyst Saverio Tomasella, that allows someone to take power over someone else. What does this consist of?

We can only define this with one word: “de-braining.” The process of de-braining consists in the progressive loss of the psychological capacities of a person submitted to daily manipulation that acts as micro-aggressions. The poison is instilled at homoeopathic doses.

The manipulated person becomes little by little unable to make a difference between what is good or bad for him, and is not conscious of this “de-braining.” Incapable of discerning, robbed of his analysing capacities, his critical spirit and his free arbitration capacities, he will obey the orders of the manipulator without resisting. This is where the passivity comes from that characterises a subjected person. The relationship where one holds a grip on another has not been analysed very well yet. Therefore this gives the wrong impression and a number of perceived ideas that are wrong.

Why do we think that manipulated people are “weak”?

Indeed, they are not. It is often the most intelligent people, the most brilliant ones that paradoxically are the most sensitive or the most exposed to manipulation techniques.  Philippe Breton, one of France’s best specialists in the spoken word and communication, explains this in his book: “The Manipulated Word.” This book received the award for Moral Philosophy from the Academy of Moral Sciences and Politics in 1998. What you have to understand is that manipulation installs a relationship ‘grip’ that is totally asymmetrical, the more that it is a long-term project. There is absolutely no equality between the manipulator and his victim. In the most ferocious version, it talks about a predator whose intention is totally eluded by the majority of the analysts who study these questions.

But today we start to better recognize the process thanks to the work of certain neuropsychiatrists like Dr. Muriel Salmona, president of the Association of Traumatic Memory and Victimology. It describes how the mechanism of disconnection works with a traumatized person. The same happens as with someone who is submitted to repetitive psychological aggression. What works in this case is not the intensity of the traumatic experience but the repetivity. What this research teaches us coincides with the notion of “de-braining,” which has been described by psycho-analyst Paul-Claude Racamier, who discovered a number of concepts and neologisms amongst others the one of narcissistic perversion. We now know how the neurocircuit of auto-inhibition functions in a manipulated person. This auto-inhibition translates itself by a phenomenal auto-destruction of which the psychological consequences can be very grave. The de-braining only represents a phase before the devitalisation, of which the effects will be reflected in the mental and physical health of the manipulated.

How will the multi disciplinary approach favour a better comprehension of this?

I think that to go even further in the knowledge of these problems, it is necessary to establish that which the sociologist Edgar Moring calls the inter-disciplinary “reliance.”

This consists of regrouping the knowledge of different disciplines such as psycho-analysis, psychology of communication, neuroscience, anthropology, sociology… that all study the mechanisms of manipulation, the ‘grip’ relation and the consequences for the last ones on the individual.

In short, this field of investigation needs to be cleared, especially since more recent discoveries have been made in the field of molecular biology and genetics that support this thesis of “stressing agents” as certain manipulations that deteriorate our genes and make them “mute.”

You describe that “the manipulation deteriorates profoundly the personality of the manipulated”. What does this deterioration consist of?

Because of the “de-braining” the manipulator can “imprint” his way of thinking with the manipulated person exactly like you can engrave a new file on a virgin CD disk. These new behaviours will then appear and these “trans-acting agents” as Paul-Claude Racamier calls them, will act as a no-return stop sign in the evolution of the manipulated person. According to the theory of engagement borrowed by psycho-sociology, the individual will re-adjust its thinking system to cohere with its actions. This psychological re-organisation provokes a cognitive dissonance with the manipulated person and thus finds himself in loyalty conflict between what the manipulation “imposes” him to do and the moral values that these new behaviours transgress.

However the loyalty conflict is, according to Ariane Bilheran, clinical psychologist and author of many works on the subject of psychological violence, the most fundamental operating mode of torture. However, so that the manipulated cannot get back his psychological capacities, the state of mental confusion has to be carefully maintained.

One of the best ways to succeed in this resides in the use of the paradoxical speech (aka: word salad or schizophasia) that I will cite: “Do as I say, but not as I do, and most of all do not understand a word of what I tell you in a way that, whatever you think, whatever you say or whatever you do, I will always be right.”  This type of communication, that tends to pit one against the other in the different aspects of the personality of the manipulated, and generates loyalty conflicts and is “schizophrenic.” To say it more simple, this kind of communication makes you “crazy.”

 * translated from French by Nadine V.

If you would like to submit an article that helped you to better cope with your toxic mother, please email it to me, Rayne Wolfe, at newsyrayne@gmail.com or post a link at Toxic Mom Toolkit on Facebook.

TOXIC MOM TOOLKIT: WHEN FOUR ACES IS A LOSING HAND

1 Jun

If you follow my Toxic Mom Toolkit Facebook page you know that I have finished the first draft of my book and that I’m editing chapters. I was thinking how valuable this chapter is and thought I’d put it up here. I hope this is helpful to you.

 TOXIC MOM TOOLKIT:

        ACES – Adverse Childhood Experiences

 

I’m not a scientist, nor will I ever play one on T.V.

In fact, I am SO not a scientist for many reasons including extreme medical squeamishness and an empty folder in my brain where my multiplication tables should reside. But I’ve long thought I should have some scientific perspective to help illuminate the fallout from toxic mothering or some really smart analysis of how children are negatively affected.

How do people sort out how much their toxic mothers negatively affect their adult lives?

Ask the universe and it will come to you.

I met a new friend for coffee. This man happens to be a saintly sort, the director of a very interesting and progressive homeless shelter in the town where I live. A former attorney, he comes across as part professor, part priest, all compassionate caring. Which, couldn’t be more different than my first impression of “looks good on the outside” but “emotionally limping” on the inside.

I decided not to hold his brains and confidence against him. Maybe I could learn something.

He’s the one that introduced me to the exact information I sought in the form of a Kaiser Hospital study in which patients were asked a series of questions for a project that focused on Adverse Childhood Experiences, or ACES.

In a nutshell, the study focuses on how the number of ACES one experiences in youth can be a point of calibration to predict emotional problems that could be serious in adulthood. My friend values the study as a way to look at the causes of homelessness, which is often the result of emotional turmoil or hopelessness. Sessions for homeless clients that utilize this measuring tool are taking place at my local shelter and the feedback has been positive.

I, on the other hand, immediately valued the scientific study of taking a person’s life story and pulling out the ACES as a way of exploring what daughters of toxic mother’s experience. I like that by clicking off a page of questions a person could really see objectively that damage was indeed inflicted.

I ran straight home and found the study online and the questionnaire and found that I scored 5 on this test. I knew from my coffee chat that anything over a four ACES was considered the tipping point for bad things including a high risk for becoming homeless.

You can find even more information about this study at: http://www.seclinicatcots.org/page12/page12.html

ACES QUESTIONAIRE

Prior to your 18th birthday:

1. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often

Swear at you, insult you, put you down, or humiliate you?

                                    or

Act in a way that made you afraid that you might be physically hurt?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

2. Did a parent or other adult in the household often or very often

Push, grab, slap, or throw something at you?

                                    or

Ever hit you so hard that you had marks or were injured?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

3. Did an adult or person at least 5 years older than you ever

Touch or fondle you or have you touch their body in a sexual way?

                                    or

Attempt or actually have oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse with you?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

4. Did you often or very often feel that …

No one in your family loved you or thought you were important or special?

                                    or

Your family didn’t look out for each other, feel close to each other, or support each other?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

5. Did you often or very often feel that …

You didn’t have enough to eat, had to wear dirty clothes, and had no one to protect you?

                                    or

Your parents were too drunk or high to take care of you or take you to the doctor if you needed it?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

6. Was a biological parent ever lost to you through divorced, abandonment, or other reason ?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

 

7. Was your mother or stepmother:
            Often or very often pushed, grabbed, slapped, or had something thrown at her?

or

Sometimes, often, or very often kicked, bitten, hit with a fist, or hit with something hard?

                                    or

Ever repeatedly hit over at least a few minutes or threatened with a gun or knife?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

8. Did you live with anyone who was a problem drinker or alcoholic or who used street drugs?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

9. Was a household member depressed or mentally ill or did a household member attempt suicide?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

10. Did a household member go to prison?

Yes   No

If yes enter 1     ________

             Now add up your “Yes” answers:   _______   This is your ACE Score

Someone who scored an 8 on this quiz filled out one of my questionnaires. Her story is included in my book Toxic Mom Toolkit.