Tag Archives: narcissism author

Stop Trying to Change the Malignant Narcissist (Why You Should Never Give A Narcissist My Book).

Stop Trying to Change the Malignant Narcissist

malignant narcissistI am so grateful to the many people who have told me that my book The Human Magnet Syndrome was life-changing. Having such a positive impact on the human condition is my teenager “gonna change the world” dream come true. I couldn’t be happier!

My book was written to inspire and motivate people to understand their part in thedysfunctional dance they have been irresistibly drawn into their whole life. It WAS NOT written to be used as a defensive or offensive strategy in dealing with harmful pathological narcissists (PNarcs).

The “codependent” and “narcissistic” designations in The Human Magnet Syndrome were designed to identify a very serious personal and relational problem so the reader would be motivated to get help to disconnect from it. The book was never intended to be used as a retaliatory weapon to be used by angry, vindictive and/or controlling codependents, or what I now refer to as individuals with Self-Love Deficit Disorder (SLDD). Similarly, it wasn’t written to be used as a countermeasure against narcissistic harm.

The mere mentioning of my book to a PNarc is almost always counterproductive, as it will ALWAYS trigger a negative reaction, no matter how much you believe otherwise. I strongly suggest that you never give a copy of my book to PNarc. Never! It will always trigger a narcissistic injury and set up a dysfunctional interaction, or dance, where the PNarc has complete control and the person with Self-Love Deficit Disorder does not.

If a PNarc learns or is told that their partner is reading my book, they will react in one of two manners:

  1. They will exhibit various forms of vindictive and indignant rage, which compels them to openly intimidate, manipulate, and consequently sabotage their partner’s attempt at SLDD recovery.
  2. This is the more insidious and harmful reaction that is common with Covert and Malignant Narcissists. In this scenario, the PNarc covertly executes a plan of sabotage and disempowerment, which may include gaslighting, mind manipulation, and continued brainwashing.

The latter is more dangerous as the PNarc is allowed to maintain their victim role, while manipulating their partner into believing that they have the problems, not them. In these cases, some of my clients, in the beginning of therapy, are convinced that they are the PNarc and their significant other the SLD. Believe it or not, a few of these clients’ PNarcs read my book, and then gave it to their partner with the continued brainwashing narrative that they are the “codependent” and their partner the “narcissist.”

Plain and simple, any suggestion that the narcissist is at fault will elicit a narcissistic injury. Giving them my book, or referring to it, while telling them you are SLD or codependent, is and will cause them to react in one of two ways. One, they will project onto you that you are the narcissist and they the codependent; or, two, they will be triggered with a narcissistic injury, and subsequently rage against you for the comment or suggestion. You will be the target of their unmitigated fury and vitriolic criticisms, and they will punish you.
The following excerpt from the Human Magnet Syndrome exemplifies the predictable negative response that PNarcs have to my work.

“According to their verbal and/or written feedback, they feel the seminar is offensive, ill-conceived, biased and even absurd. In particular, they are quite bothered by what they perceive as prejudice. These participants hear me say that codependents are the victims and emotional manipulators are the perpetrators of their dysfunctional relationships. Nothing could be further from the truth, as the training (and this book) specifically details how both the codependent and the emotional manipulator are equally willing magnets in their dysfunctional “dance.” The codependent’s tendency to find harmful partners and remain with them cannot and should not be blamed on emotional manipulators, or vice versa.

It would appear that the severe reactions from my audience are likely products of a narcissistic injury, which occurs when the narcissistic individual felt criticized, judged or defeated.

Anger and defensiveness are the common reactions of a narcissistically-injured emotional manipulator, as they feel offended, degraded and/or humiliated when confronted about their wrongdoings.” (Rosenberg, 2013).

Depending on the PNarc’s sub-type or diagnosis, their narcissistically prompted rage will be either delivered directly (“in your face”) or passive aggressively/covertly, which is the common strategy by Covert Narcissists and Malignant Narcissists. The covert and passive aggressive form of the narcissistic injury is more harmful than the reactions from the garden variety overt narcissists. They deliver maximum damage to the triggering (activating) SLD because of the invisible, secretive and manipulative nature of their counter-attack. Examples include triangulation of family, friends or co-workers, in order to promote their victim narrative.

Sadly, and ironically, the mere fact of fighting for what SLDs most want and need — unconditional love, respect and care (LRC) — results in the loss of it. Once in a relationship with a PNarc, any attempts to control or coerce the narcissist into loving, respecting and caring for the SLD are quickly offset by a dizzying array of self-serving manipulative countermeasures. These come in various forms, depending on your PNarc’s subtype. Unfortunately, as long as codependents fight for LRC in a manner that renders them powerless and ineffectual, they are virtually guaranteed never to receive it.

I learned 22 years ago that setting boundaries, resolving conflict, and defending myself from a PNarc was a complicated and dangerous endeavor that left me feeling worse than I felt before the ordeal. I was surprised to learn that my repeated and unsuccessful attempts to control my PNarc’s neglectful and harmful treatment were the primary interactional components of our relationship. My behavior was so automatic and reflexive that I was completely oblivious to it. Adding insult to injury, the only predictable outcome of my control compulsion was feelings of shame, loneliness, anxiety, and anger.

We must learn that PNarcs are never the primary problem. Instead, it is a SLD’s distorted and delusional belief system that compels them to keep trying to change and control their PNarc partner, who has a great deal riding on not letting you succeed. Despite ample evidence that SLDs can rarely effectively and consistently control their PNarcs, they blindly continue.
In conclusion, please do not use my book or other works to wage a battle against your PNarc. In the words of George Bernard Shaw, I beseech you to Observe and Don’t Absorb your PNarc into oblivion!

I learned long ago, never to wrestle with a pig.
You get dirty, and besides, the pig likes it!
– George Bernard Shaw

About Ross Rosenberg, MEd, LCPC, CACD, CSAT

Ross is the author of the Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us.

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT © 2016
Clinical Care Consultants Owner
Advanced Clinical Trainers Owner
Psychotherapist, Author & Professional Trainer
Author of The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us

BPD, codependency, codependency author, codependency expert, dysfunctional relationships, human magnet syndrome, love advice, love help, narcissism,narcissism author, narcissism expert, narcissist abuse, narcissistic abue, narcissistic abuse, narcissistic abuse syndrome, narcissists, npd, relationship advice, ross rosenberg, why he love people who hurt us,  addiction expert, aspd, best codependency book, best narcissism book, BPD, codependency addiction, codependency author, codependency book, codependency cure, codependency expert, codependency help, codependency treatment, human magnet syndrome, narcissism, narcissist, narcissistic abuse, narcissistic victim syndrome, npd, observer don’t absorb, pathological narcissists, ross rosenberg, ross rosenberg author, self-love, self-love deficit disorder, sldd, trauma expert, trauma resolution

 

Why Opposites Attract: Introducing The Continuum of Self Theory

Why Opposites Attract: Introducing The Continuum of Self Theory

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT

Originally appeared in Counseling Today at http://wp.me/p2BxKN-3Vv

The most potent of love potions, “romantic chemistry,” draws lovers into a trance-like experience that results in a steamy dance of infatuation, intrigue and sexual desire. Romantic chemistry, or the “urgeOpposites_smallto merge,” typically controls our rational mind, so much so that lessons learned and pledges made are neutralized in an instant. Although conscious desires, choices and preferences are crucial to the pairing of a romantic partnership, they play a secondary role to the forces of the unconscious mind. No matter how we try to fight our relational destiny, we still fall prey to our reflexive urges.

The irresistible and hypnotic allure of romantic chemistry creates what I call a “soul mate conviction.” What seems so perfect in the beginning often unfolds into a disappointing, dysfunctional relationship. In my book The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us, I explain why, for so many people, the soul mate of their dreams often ends up becoming the cellmate of their nightmares.

Although the human magnet syndrome is an intuitive explanation for the ubiquitous forces that bring partners to and keep them in dysfunctional romantic relationships, it lacked a theoretical foundation. To account for these irresistible and predictable attraction forces, I was compelled to create the continuum of self theory. I believe it explains why all people, not just individuals who are labeled as codependents and narcissists, are predictably drawn to a certain type of partner who is their “opposite” match.

In a nutshell, the continuum of self theory offers an intuitive explanation for why so many people remain in relationships despite feeling lonely, frustrated or resentful. Similarly, it explains why some people tend to repeat their dysfunctional relationship choices despite wanting something different. Additionally, it describes why relationships become fragile and often terminate when one of the partners independently achieves greater emotional or mental health.

The self-orientation concept

The continuum of self theory rests on the self-orientation concept, which represents a distinctly human and universal personality characteristic — we all have one! Self-orientation is defined as the manner in which a person expresses or does not express his or her emotional, psychological and relational needs when in a romantic relationship. There are only two self-orientation types: “other” and “self.”

The “other” self-orientation (OSO) manifests as a natural and reflexive predisposition to be more oriented toward the emotional, personal and relational needs of others than for oneself. On the other hand, the “self” self-orientation (SSO) is the natural and reflexive predisposition to be more oriented toward one’s own emotional, personal and relational needs and desires than those of others.

Both self-orientation types are represented as dichotomous and inverse personality characteristics on the continuum of self. As opposite self-orientations, they land on opposite sides of the continuum of self. The most severe manifestations of both self-orientations are placed at the farthest ends of the continuum.

The most severe form of an OSO is codependency. The most severe form of an SSO is pathological narcissism, which is exhibited in narcissistic, borderline and antisocial personality disorders or an addiction. People are considered codependent or as having a severe OSO when they are hyperfocused on the relational and personal needs of others, while neglecting the same needs for themselves. Conversely, people who are considered pathological narcissists or who have a severe SSO are almost completely focused on their own relational and personal needs, while neglecting the same in others.

The middle of the continuum represents individuals whose self-orientation compels them to equally fulfill their “other” and “self” needs. The continuum of self, therefore, represents the full range of self-orientation possibilities, from healthy to dysfunctional.

Relationship math

The continuum of self is a qualitative construct because it can predict a relationship’s degree of healthiness or dysfunction. It is also a quantitative construct because it demonstrates relational compatibility and stability through the use of interacting numerical values. Through “relationship math,” or simple addition and subtraction of single-digit numbers (the continuum of self values), it is possible to identify relational compatibility and stability. The term stable is used to describe relationships that are enduring and resistant to breakup. Conversely, an unstable relationship is likely to either not progress beyond the initial courtship stage or end when frequent conflict or discord is present.

As a whole, the continuum of self measures the full range of self-orientation pairing possibilities. It is designed to measure only interacting self-orientations; it does not purport to measure any other personality construct.

The continuum of self theory suggests that all people are consciously and unconsciously attracted to romantic partners who have an opposite, but proportionally balanced, self-orientation. It predicts that OSOs and SSOs will be attracted to each other while experiencing feelings of relational compatibility. Like an award-winning dance couple, because the care “needer” (SSO) leads the dance and the care “giver” (OSO) follows, the dance is perfectly coordinated; neither steps on the other’s toes. The resulting bond of opposite yet balanced self-orientations may not be happilyconnected, but it will likely endure hardships and be resistant to change.

By definition, people who are codependent (severe OSOs) are prone to focus on the love, respect and care of others, while dismissing, devaluing or being afraid of seeking the same from others. Conversely, people who are pathological narcissists (severe SSOs) are disposed to satiating their own love, respect and care needs, while devaluing, ignoring or neglecting those same needs in their romantic partners. As opposite but balanced personality types, they almost always experience immediate and intense feelings of romantic chemistry.

Continuum of self values

In total, there are 11 values on the continuum of self, representing the full range of self-orientation possibilities. Continuum of self values increase or decrease in a series of single digits. (Examples of each continuum of self value can be viewed at http://goo.gl/gT1dMD.)

Because individuals who are codependent and individuals who are pathological narcissists have diametrically opposite self-orientations, they are represented on the farthest ends of the continuum of self (-5 and +5, respectively). As a person’s relational health improves, so does his or her self-orientation, which is represented by a lower positive or negative continuum of self value. The middle value is zero, which represents an equal balance of love, respect and care given and taken in a relationship. The positive or negative designation does not imply that one self-orientation is better than the other but merely that they are on opposite sides.

COS update 2016 copy rz

The farther the values pairing moves away from zero on the continuum of self, the less mutuality and reciprocity are evident in the relationship. In other words, higher negative and positive values pairings (for example, -4 and +4) represent a relationship that lacks a fair distribution of love, respect and care. Conversely, lower pairings on the continuum of self represent an increased mutual exchange of love, respect and care. The former represents a dysfunctional relationship, while the latter represents a healthy relationship.

According to the continuum of self theory, romantic relationships remain viable or endure because the matching opposite self-orientations create a sense of relational equilibrium. If one partner becomes healthier, as evidenced by a shift in his or her lowered continuum of self value, then tacit and direct pressure is placed on the other partner to respond with similar positive movement and growth. If the partner of the healthier individual does not want or is unable to change and grow, then stress is placed on the relationship. The stress will either lead to a breakdown of the relationship or create pressure for the healthier partner to regress to former levels of dysfunction. Failure to maintain a balanced inverse bond may result in the failure of the relationship. It should be noted that family systems theory influenced the conceptualization of the continuum of self theory.

Corresponding zero values do not signify an absence of self-orientation. Instead, they represent an exact balance of love, respect and care being given and received. Although having a zero value would be ideal, in reality, the vast majority of people fall somewhere on one side or the other of the continuum of self.

The lower inversely matched couples are able to ebb and flow because of the reciprocal and mutual nature of their well-matched self-orientations (continuum of self values). They are able to ask for what they need — and even disagree with each other — without experiencing resentment or conflict. However, higher inversely matched couples create a dysfunctional relationship. With polar opposite higher continuum of self values, the two are unlikely to reconcile their vast differences in self-orientation. In particular, the person who is a pathological narcissist is an unlikely candidate for any substantive personality change.

Except in the case of a pathological narcissist, who may have a personality disorder, a person’s self-orientation and continuum of self value are neither fixed nor permanent. A person’s continuum of self value typically rises and falls throughout his or her lifetime. It is even possible, albeit not usual, for a person to move from one side of the continuum to the other. In the case of a switch in self-orientation (from SSO to OSO, for example), the person usually begins with a lower positive or negative continuum of self value. In addition, this person has likely participated in some form of long-term or regular mental health service. With motivation, emotional fortitude and good counseling, most OSOs and SSOs are capable of learning to practice a mutually satisfying level of give-and-take in the areas of love, respect and care.

The zero-sum relationship

Relationship stability is achieved when the negative and positive continuum of self values of each partner equal a zero sum. In other words, zero-sum relationships occur when two partners have an exactly opposite self-orientation.

Note that the zero-sum relationship describes the quantitative state of a relationship, not the qualitative state. To illustrate, a -5 continuum of self value, or someone who is codependent, will likely form a stable and lasting dysfunctional relationship with a +5 value, or someone who is a pathological narcissist. On the contrary, a mildly giving and overly empathetic person with a continuum of self value of -2 would make an ideal partner for a mildly self-centered person with a value of +2. Therefore, a zero-sum relationship isn’t necessarily healthy or stable. It is just balanced.

Consider this vignette of a healthy -2/+2 zero-sum relationship. Sandy (-2) is a mother and wife who enjoys her role as a busy stay-at-home mom. She stays busy caring for her family and serving in several volunteer positions. She is married to Dan (+2), who is a successful corporate executive. With the support of Sandy, Dan works long hours to build his status and reputation in the family business. Although Dan likes the attention that being in the public eye brings him, he still makes himself available for the personal and emotional needs of others, especially when it comes to his family. Sandy and Dan’s lower opposite continuum of self values result in mutual feelings of love, respect and care. When Sandy is sick and can’t care for the children, Dan doesn’t hesitate to take a few days off work to cover her domestic responsibilities. If Dan needs help, Sandy steps up in any way she can to help him.

Now consider this vignette of an unhealthy -5/+5 zero-sum relationship. Ken (-5) works two jobs to care for his wife, Allison (+5), and their three children. Ken harbors deep resentment toward Allison because he has to work multiple jobs to make ends meet for the family. Allison has been largely unresponsive to and, at times, unaware of Ken’s unhappiness. Although Ken is highly bonded to his children, his work schedule keeps him away from many of the quality moments with them. When they got married, Allison unilaterally decided to quit her successful accounting career because she wanted to be a stay-at-home mother. Despite Ken’s repeated assertions that they needed two incomes, Allison insisted that she needed to be at home with their kids and that Ken was being unreasonable. Ken’s fear of conflict and fear that Allison might leave him resulted in the suppression of his resentment. Allison’s narcissism prevents her from understanding Ken’s need for mutuality and reciprocity in the relationship. They are likely to stay married but remain miserable (particularly in Ken’s case).

Relationship categories

Continuum of self values are categorized into three groups: healthy/balanced, problematic and unhealthy/dysfunctional. Lower values pairings illustrate healthier relationships that are characterized by higher levels of mutuality in the exchange of love, respect and care. Higher continuum of self values pairings demonstrate less healthy relationships that are characterized by a lopsided exchange of love, respect and care, with more going to the SSO and less to the OSO. Couples who fit into a specific category can move forward or backward on the continuum of self as they either evolve or devolve relationally.

  • Healthy/balanced: 0/0, -1/+1
    and -2/+2
  • Problematic: -3/+3
  • Unhealthy/dysfunctional: -4/+4
    and -5/+5

Unhealthy/dysfunctional relationships

According to the continuum of self theory, individuals who are codependent have a severe OSO, which is numerically represented by a continuum of self value of -5. When in romantic relationships, they focus almost completely on the needs of a pathologically narcissistic partner, while ignoring, diminishing or neglecting their own similar needs. Although unhappy and resentful, they remain in this relationship.

In contrast, pathological narcissists have a severe SSO, which is numerically represented by a continuum of self value of +5. When in a romantic relationship, they predominantly focus on their own needs, while ignoring, diminishing or neglecting their partners’ similar needs. They seem oblivious to their partners’ resentment or unhappiness about the relationship. Therefore, they have no investment or interest in changing the relationship.

The unhealthy/dysfunctional range for relationships is -4/+4 to -5/+5. Although “balanced” and “stable,” these dysfunctional pairings result in one-way “narcicentric” relationships. The +4 and +5 SSOs receive the lion’s share of love, respect and care, while the -4 and -5 OSOs are typically on the short end of the receiving stick. As such, the OSOs suffer in the relationship significantly more than their SSO partners do.

In an effort to avoid upsetting the narcissistic partner, the -4 and -5 OSO partner tolerates and, consequently, adapts to the SSO partner’s narcissistic ways. Because the OSO partner is neither adept at nor comfortable with communicating anger, displeasure or resentment, he or she is likely to suppress these feelings. In addition, the OSO partner may have learned that communicating resentment or anger is likely to result in rejection, conflict or harm (personal or relational), all of which he or she actively avoids. Therefore, the OSO partner perpetuates or enables the dysfunctionally balanced relationship by adjusting to the other partner’s narcissistic behaviors.

The -5/+5 zero-sum relationship is typically resistant to change, mostly because of the pathological narcissist’s inability to acknowledge his or her role in the relationship’s dysfunction. Denying culpability or responsibility for the relationship problems reinforces the narcissist’s position that psychotherapeutic services will be neither personally beneficial nor helpful to the relationship.

The partner who is considered codependent is correspondingly resistant to change because it would potentially result in emotional, psychological or even physical harm or in deep and profound feelings of guilt, shame and loneliness. However, people who are codependent are sometimes able to accept responsibility for their problems and seek help.

Although the -4/+4 relationship also constitutes a dysfunctional relationship, both individuals have some capacity, albeit minimal, to break free of their polarized self-orientation differences. To illustrate, the -4 OSO is minimally capable of setting and maintaining boundaries regarding the love, respect and caring imbalance in the relationship. Likewise, the +4 SSO partner, who does not have a personality disorder, has some limited capability to demonstrate concern and some limited willingness to better meet the partner’s needs. This relationship is still resistant to change because the +4 SSO is negatively reactive and fragile about accepting constructive or critical feedback about his or her narcissism.

Problematic relationships

According to the societal and cultural standards of most developed Western countries, the -3/+3 relationship is often considered problematic because the distribution of love, respect and care is not equally and fairly distributed. In this relationship category, the balance is significantly tilted toward the SSO. Even with the inequity of love, respect and care that is given and received, this couple is still capable of minor to moderate levels of mutuality and reciprocity. For example, the OSO partner is able to set some boundaries and communicate some of his or her needs. Conversely, the SSO partner is capable of minimal to moderate levels of empathy and motivation to meet his or her partner’s needs, while also being open to some constructive and critical feedback.

The delineation between healthy and unhealthy continuum of self values pairings is not always clear. From the vantage point of modern Western culture, a couple with a -3/+3 pairing may be considered unhealthy because of the distinct disparity between the exchange of love, respect and care. However, from the perspective of other societies, cultures or ethnic groups in which the norm is oriented toward an acceptable discrepancy between the giving and taking of love, respect and care, the relationship would be considered healthy and normal. If these romantic partners are satisfied and happy with their relationship and there is no harm perpetrated against the OSO, then their somewhat polarized exchange of love, respect and care may actually constitute a culturally specific healthy relationship.

Healthy/balanced relationships

The healthy values pairings in the continuum of self are -2/+2, -1/+1 and 0/0. Healthy relationships are defined by both a zero-sum balance and an equitable distribution of love, respect and care. Although a -2/+2 couple may not share an exactly equal exchange of love, respect and care, they still experience an affirming, balanced and mutually satisfying connection. This relationship is considered healthy because both partners are content and satisfied with their unique flow. In other words, this relationship works because both partners feel loved, respected and cared for in a manner that satisfies their healthy self-orientation.

An example of such a relationship is a healthy counselor who enjoys helping others but still sets boundaries when feeling ignored, or a healthy writer who lives for affirmation and recognition but can still fulfill his or her partner’s needs for the same.

Maslow’s hammer and nail

As much as the continuum of self theory attempts to identify and quantify human relational behavior, it is neither feasible nor appropriate to rely on just one theory to explain complicated human behavior patterns. There are inherent dangers to having a limited or narrow view of human psychology.

Abraham Maslow, one of the founders of humanistic psychological theory, said, “I suppose it is tempting, if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treat everything as if it were a nail.” My hope is that the continuum of self theory can serve as just one of the many tools in a counselor’s toolbox to help understand and change our clients’ or our own dysfunctional relationships.

I would also like to offer some disclaimers. First, because an addiction can mimic pathological narcissism, a significant period of recovery is needed before determining a person’s baseline self-orientation.

The continuum of self only measures a person’s self-orientation. It does not purport to measure more complicated and multifaceted personality or relational characteristics or dynamics. Also, the theory should be applied only in a clinical setting with a competent and qualified counselor who is trained in the continuum of self and other related psychological theories.

Although the continuum of self theory attempts to explain and simplify the complex attraction dynamic, it does not pretend to be bigger and more inclusive than it was designed to be. It is a narrowly focused explanatory paradigm that measures an individual’s self-orientation, while accounting for the attraction dynamic of opposite but compatible personality types. It is not intended to be a stand-alone or comprehensive theoretical explanation. However, it may be useful as an adjunct to other psychological theories.

As a new psychological theory, the continuum of self has not yet met the rigors of scientific scrutiny. However, I hope that it will contribute to the current understanding of human behavior and stimulate further thought and discussion on the topic.

Ross Rosenberg is a licensed clinical professional counselor and professional trainer. He is the author of The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us. Contact him at info@advancedclinicaltrainers.com

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT © 2016
Clinical Care Consultants Owner
Advanced Clinical Trainers Owner
Psychotherapist, Author & Professional Trainer
Author of The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us

                  

A Poem: Codependent Love. By Ross Rosenberg

Codependent Love

Heart made of fire

Codependent love is illogical,
transient and shapeless.
It resists definition.
Defies explanation.

Good, bad,
healthy, dysfunctional,
long-term or fleeting.
Here, there
and nowhere
It is just what it is.

It is paradoxical.
Pain beckoning hope.
Sly like a fox.
Pretending to be big,
happy and permanent.

It’s like a shiny new diamond
Larger than life
Symbolic happiness
Sparkly deception
Promising forever smiles.

This love lies!
It promises delivery
from eternal loneliness
But perpetually disappoints.

Look in the mirror!

Gaze deeply into the face
that needs to love you.

 

Look carefully

Because that same smile

will eventually be on the face

Of the lover you always deserved.

.

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT

Counseling Today’s Online Magazine Top 15 Read Articles

2014yearinreviewCT Online’s most-read articles posted in 2014:

As we flip the calendar forward to January, we’re taking some time to reflect on the more than 150 articles that were posted at CT Online in 2014.    From a remembrance of Maya Angelou to an in-depth piece on eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), we’ve focused on the news and issues that affect the counseling profession.

Milestones of 2014 include approval of a newly revised ACA Code of Ethics and the Association for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Issues in Counseling (ALGBTIC)’s first-ever conference, held in New Orleans in September.

15. The dance between codependents and narcissists (Online Exclusive, posted in March) bit.ly/1nMLV3K  Ross Rosenberg

1. 2014 ACA Code of Ethics approved by Governing Council (Online Exclusive, posted in March) bit.ly/1i4ehSO

2. Addressing clients’ prejudices in counseling (Knowledge Share, posted in January) bit.ly/1i3TuAG

3. A living document of ethical guidance (Cover Story, posted in May) bit.ly/1B28EP1

4. The toll of childhood trauma (Cover Story, posted in June) bit.ly/1JOMshA

5. EMDR for the co-occurring population (Magazine Feature, posted in May) bit.ly/1JON7Q5

6. Counseling goes to the movies (Online Exclusive, posted in December) bit.ly/1AWKDcq

7. The inner life of the counselor (Knowledge Share, posted in April) bit.ly/1CCkktk

8. Sex offender therapy: A battle on multiple fronts (Magazine Opinion, posted in March) bit.ly/1HvTqU

9. Connecting with clients (Cover Story, posted in August) bit.ly/16Nb2Az

10. ACA’s first counselor compensation study reports varied pay, good benefits (Online Exclusive, posted in September) bit.ly/1xdNJLT

11. Quieting the inner critic (Cover Story, posted in January) bit.ly/LZ0Uu9

12. America’s mental health disparities (Online Exclusive, posted in December) bit.ly/1E7Z2bA

13. CACREP degree to be required for counselor licensure in Ohio (Online Exclusive, posted in May) bit.ly/1x0e4uP

14. The toughest kinds of groups (Knowledge Share, posted in February) bit.ly/1mBAfAq

Ross Rosenberg – The Illinois Counseling Association’s Outstanding Professional Counseling Publication Award

download

Ross Rosenberg, LCPC, CADC, CSAT Candidate is the recipient of

The 2014 Wendell S. Dysinger Award:

Outstanding Professional Counseling Publication

Established by ICA in 1983 to honor and recognize the professional counseling contributions made by Dr.Wendell S. Dysinger, one of ICA’s founders. The outstanding professional counseling publication award is given to person(s) for an outstanding published article in professional counseling, human development, student affairs, and/or related areas.

IMG_0672_resize

   ScreenShot009

 

 

Ross Rosenberg Award Winning Author

Articles Written by Author Ross Rosenberg

 Articles Written by Author Ross Rosenberg    

articles

Human Magnet Syndrome Blog

American Counseling Association’s Counseling Today Magazine:

Huffington Post:

PsychCentral

TheGoodMenProject. com

The Shakti Yogi Journal

YourTango.com

Moods Magazine

Academia.edu:  

Articlebase.com

Ezine Articles

Articles for Which I was Interviewed

Chicago Tribune by Jen Weigel:  Are You A Magnet for DisasterHelper, Don’t Forget to Help Yourself Too.        Letting Go Of Toxic Relationships,       Online Infidelity: Identifying, and Dealing with, Cyber Affairs

Huffington Post:  11 Signs You Might Be Dating A Sociopath      Why You Can’t Stand To Be Alone — And How To Learn To Love It     When Divorcing a Narcissist, Prepare for the Rage

PsychcentralWhy You Can’t Stand To Be Alone — And How To Learn To Love Yourself       Tips on Setting Boundaries in Enmeshed Relationships,       Coping With Loneliness During the Holidays  

Ozy.com: Is Your Facebook Creeping a Sign of Something Worse?  

Rewireme.com: Seasonal Survival Skills (Holiday Blues Survival Kit)

Everup.com: Self Love Deficit Disorder: Where Do You Fall on the Continuum of Self?              How the gray area between codependency and narcissism is defining your relationships.

                  

Ross Rosenberg,
3325 N. Arlington Heights Rd., Ste 400B
Arlington Heights, IL  60004
(847) 749-0514 ext 12
Rossr61@comcast.net

The Dance between Codependents and Narcissists

couple man woman ballroom dancers tangoing  silhouetteThe Dance between Codependents and Narcissists

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC, CSAT Candidate

We therapists live for moments when everything “clicks” and our client arrives at an understanding that, until that moment, had eluded him. There is nothing more rewarding than when a well-placed analogy or metaphor creates the breakthrough moment.  When spot-on, the resulting “light bulb” reaction or “aha” moment is priceless!  

Of all of the metaphors I use in psychotherapy, “the dance” has been the most provocative and powerfully impactful with my codependent clients.  It has helped them understand their predilection for choosing “dance partners” who are irresistibly attractive to them, but ultimately controlling and harmful.  It has also assisted them in coming to terms with their seemingly magnetic attraction to narcissistic romantic partners.  Over time, the dance metaphor would develop into one of my favorite psychotherapeutic techniques, which would ultimately facilitate perception of rigid thought patterns, break down systems of denial and enable emotional and intellectual understanding of dysfunctional relationship dynamics.

The dance metaphor works because it almost perfectly aligns with what we know about real dancing partnerships.  For example, compatible dancers are well matched in their dance approach or dance roles: one always needs to be the leader and the other the follower.  The leader always navigates the dance with precision and the follower acquiesces seamlessly.  These two choose songs to dance to that they know completely and intuitively.  They are exquisitely experienced, familiar and attuned to the other’s dancing style, moves and idiosyncrasies.  To an onlooker, it appears that they dance with ESP, each knowing and predicting the other’s moves before they happen.

Codependents and narcissists “dance” so well with each other because their pathological personalities or “dance styles” are complementary or, in other words, they are perfectly matched partners.  Their well-matched dance preferences bond them together in a resilient and lasting partnership, even if one or both partners are unhappy, resentful or angry.  As well-matched dancers, they perform magnificently on the dance floor because they instinctively are able to expect each other’s moves.  They dance effortlessly with each other, as if they have always danced together.  Each knows his or her role and sticks to it.  Dysfunctional compatibility is the driving force behind this dynamic dancing duo.

As perfectly compatible dancing partners, the narcissist dancer is the “yin” to the codependent’s “yang.”  The codependent’s giving, sacrificial and passive nature matches up perfectly with the narcissist’s entitled, demanding and self-centered traits.  Like metal magnets or, as I call them, “human magnets,” codependents and narcissists continue their rocky and seemingly unstable relationship because of their opposite dance roles or, as I refer to it in my book, The Human Magnet Syndrome, their “magnetic roles.”  The lasting bond created by perfectly matched human magnets or dysfunctional dancers is interminably powerful; binding them together despite myriad consequences or shared unhappiness.   Although their rollercoaster-relationship provokes more anxiety and disconnect than happiness, both seem compelled to continue the dance.

These perfectly matched dancers always seem to nail their dance routines, which are to be expected, as they have been practicing their passive and predictive dance moves their whole adult lives.  Codependents’ dancing skills are distinctly connected to their reflexive dysfunctional agility – the ability to be attuned to the cues, gestures and self-serving movements of their pathological narcissist partners.  Codependents, in almost every facet of their life, pride themselves on knowing what people want and need, almost before the friend, family member or partner knows it themselves.  Hence, they are adept at anticipating their narcissist partner’s moves, while still experiencing the dance as a positive experience.

Conversely, narcissistic “dancers” are drawn to codependent partners because they are allowed to feel dominant, secure and in-control in an activity that brings them much attention, praise and appreciation.  They habitually choose or fall in love with codependent “dance” partners because they are given open and tacit permission to be the center-focus, lead the direction of the dance and, ultimately, determine where, when and how the dance will proceed.  In other words, the narcissist’s grandiosity, entitlement and need to be in control are not only allowed by their codependent partner, but also paradoxically make the partner feel safe and secure in the dance.

The dance metaphor has been instrumental to my work with codependent clientele because it assisted them understand their persistent dysfunctional attraction pattern to hurtful and selfish narcissistic romantic partners.  It also helped them in breaking their perpetual and reflexive pattern of choosing a dance partner who initially felt perfect, but eventually would reveal themselves to be so wrong and harmful to them.  As my dad, who sadly is a narcissist, once told me when he was explaining the nature of relationships: “The soul mate of your dreams is gonna become the cellmate of your nightmares.”

Therapy that utilizes my dance metaphor consistently provokes a deeper understanding of dysfunctional relationship patterns.  Over time, my clients developed the confidence, insight and feelings of personal efficacy and power to break free from their dysfunctional relationship patterns. Released from their propensity to fall in love with narcissists, these “recovering” codependents would finally be able to fall reflexively, if not magnetically, into the arms of a loving, desirable and emotionally healthy dance partner.

In 2007, following an inspiring breakthrough therapy session with one of my clients, I decided to consolidate all of my ideas about the codependent/narcissist dance phenomenon into one essay, which I would entitle “Codependency, Don’t Dance.”  The essay flowed from me with ease, as I had been thinking, contemplating and talking about these concepts for over five years.  I would later realize that the ideas/concepts had been marinating in my mind ever since I made the promise to myself that I would put an end to my own penchant for dating, falling in love with and marrying narcissistic women.  I have no doubt that if I didn’t figure out how to change my own dysfunctional dance pattern, the dance “light bulb” would never have appeared above my head!

It was an immediate hit with my codependent clients as it seemed to galvanize their understanding of their own dysfunctional and self-defeating relationship choices.  It worked for them as it represented my own truism about the psychotherapy process:  you can’t change a long-standing dysfunctional pattern until you first understand what it is and from where it comes; the deeper the understanding of the internal processes, the more apt the therapy experience will yield positive results.

Since writing this essay, it has become the most requested piece of my written work and is also included in my book, The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us.  Over the past six years since it was written, I’m honored and grateful that the essay has helped thousands of people to analyze and, ultimately, understand their seemingly mysterious and habitual relationship patterns with narcissists.

What follows is an excerpt of the essay:

Codependency, Don’t Dance!

When a codependent and narcissist come together in their relationship, their dance unfolds flawlessly: The narcissistic partner maintains the lead and the codependent follows. Their roles seem natural to them because they have actually been practicing them their whole lives; the codependent reflexively gives up their power and since the narcissist thrives on control and power, the dance is perfectly coordinated. No one gets their toes stepped on.  

Typically, codependents give of themselves much more than their partners give back to them. As “generous” but bitter dance partners, they seem to be stuck on the dance floor, always waiting for the “next song,” at which time they naively hope that their narcissistic partner will finally understand their needs. Codependents confuse caretaking and sacrifice with loyalty and love. Although they are proud of their unwavering dedication to the person they love, they end up feeling unappreciated and used. Codependents yearn to be loved, but because of their choice of dance partner, find their dreams unrealized. With the heartbreak of unfulfilled dreams, codependents silently and bitterly swallow their unhappiness.   

Codependents are essentially stuck in a pattern of giving and sacrificing, without the possibility of ever receiving the same from their partner. They pretend to enjoy the dance, but really harbor feelings of anger, bitterness, and sadness for not taking an active role in their dance experience. They are convinced that they will never find a dance partner who will love them for who they are, as opposed to what they can do for them. Their low self-esteem and pessimism manifests itself into a form of learned helplessness that ultimately keeps them on the dance floor with their narcissistic partner.  

The narcissist dancer, like the codependent, is attracted to a partner who feels perfect to them: Someone who lets them lead the dance while making them feel powerful, competent and appreciated. In other words, the narcissist feels most comfortable with a dancing companion who matches up with their self-absorbed and boldly selfish dance style. Narcissist dancers are able to maintain the direction of the dance because they always find partners who lack self-worth, confidence and who have low self-esteem — codependents. With such a well-matched companion, they are able to control both the dancer and the dance.   

Although all codependent dancers desire harmony and balance, they consistently sabotage themselves by choosing a partner who they are initially attracted to, but will ultimately resent. When given a chance to stop dancing with their narcissistic partner and comfortably sit the dance out until someone healthy comes along, they typically choose to continue their dysfunctional dance. They dare not leave their narcissistic dance partner because their lack of self-esteem and self-respect makes them feel like they can do no better. Being alone is the equivalent of feeling lonely, and loneliness is too painful to bear.  

Although codependents dream of dancing with an unconditionally loving and affirming partner, they submit to their dysfunctional destiny. Until they decide to heal the psychological wounds that ultimately compel them to dance with their narcissistic dance partners, they will be destined to maintain the steady beat and rhythm of their dysfunctional dance.  

Through psychotherapy, and perhaps, a 12-step recovery program, the codependent can begin to recognize that their dream to dance the grand dance of love, reciprocity and mutuality is indeed possible. Through therapy and a change of lifestyle, codependents can build (repair) their tattered self-esteem. The journey of healing and transformation will bring them feelings of personal power and efficacy that will foster a desire to finally dance with someone who is willing and capable of sharing the lead, communicating their movements, and pursuing a mutual loving rhythmic dance.  

In conclusion, it is my belief that all codependents, if motivated and committed to a healing and engaging psychotherapy process, are able to stop their insanity-inducing dance with narcissists.  Through a non-wavering belief in one’s self-worth and commitment to the ideal of healthy and resilient love, we all can finally experience personal and relational joy.  The quote that best captures my philosophy of the codependency recovery process comes from George Eliot:  “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”  Or, as I might say it, “It is never too late to dance with the partner of your dreams.”

 

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC
Psychotherapist & National Seminar Trainer

Owner of Clinical Care Consultants
Co-Owner of Advanced Clinical Trainers
Author of the Human Magnet Syndrome

book iconx   images    Clinical Care Consultants on linkedIn    twitter-icon    Clinical Care Consultants YouTube Channel     huff post icon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Covert Narcissists: Wolves in Sheep Clothing ( Closet Narcissists). Ross Rosenberg

images

 Covert narcissists are masters of disguise – successful actors, humanitarians, politicians, clergy members, and even psychotherapists who are beloved and appreciated, but are secretly selfish, calculating, controlling, angry and vindictive. Covert narcissists create an illusion of selflessness while gaining from their elevated status. Although they share similar basic traits with the overt narcissist, i.e., the need for attention, affirmation, approval and recognition, they are stealthier about hiding their selfish and egocentric motives. Unlike the overt narcissist who parades his narcissism for all to see, the covert narcissist furtively hides his real motives and identity. These narcissists are able to trick others into believing they are honest, altruistic and empathetic individuals. They are successful at pretending to be a more likable version of themselves, knowing that if their true identity was uncovered, they would not be able to maintain the respect, status and prestige that they have so furtively garnered.  From Ross’s book, The Human Magnet Syndrome: Why We Love People Who Hurt Us.

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC
Psychotherapist & National Seminar Trainer

Owner of Clinical Care Consultants
Co-Owner of Advanced Clinical Trainers
Author of the Human Magnet Syndrome

book iconx   actz  images  Clinical Care Consultants on linkedIn  twitter-icon   psych central icon   Clinical Care Consultants YouTube Channel

The Continuum of Narcissism – From Normal to Pathological. Narcissistic Personality Disorder

From my training: Codependents and Narcissists: Understanding the Attraction

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC
Psychotherapist & National Seminar Trainer

Owner of Clinical Care Consultants
Co-Owner of Advanced Clinical Trainers
Author of the Human Magnet Syndrome

book iconx   actz  images  Clinical Care Consultants on linkedIn  twitter-icon   psych central icon   Clinical Care Consultants YouTube Channel

 

How and Why Someone Becomes a Narcissist. The Development of Narcissistic Personality Disorder NPD

How and Why Someone How and Why Someone Becomes a Narcissist.

The Development of Narcissistic Personality Disorder NPD

Ross Rosenberg, M.Ed., LCPC, CADC

 

Ross Rosenberg Codependency Expert

Clinical Care Consultants YouTube Channel       Clinical Care Consultants on linkedIn      Ross Rosenberg on twitter      images