July 28, 2016
Latest Entry: Bransongirl
So happy on 20/20 diet. Lost 8 pounds
July 27, 2016
Latest Entry: Enabler or A Bad Mom???
Hi everyone,

At what age do you stop being the banker for your children and start using your own money on yourself?
July 25, 2016
Latest Entry: My great nephew
Hello Dr. Phil, I know that you get a lot of letters from people and are a very busy man,but I am writing you for the sake of my sister (Vickie) and her family.....I am scared for my sisters life and even my own when I go to visit her......Her grandson (Andrew) moved in with her and her husband David) last November.. His mom (Jessica) has left him there with his grandparents while trying to get a stable job and place to live, and there has been nothing but tension and grief ever since.My brother in-law, Dave was a Marine for 25 years, is an avid hunter/fisherman and has had to lock up all of his guns, he has not and will not talk to Andrew since the 1st attempt on his life, he is a very stubborn man...Andrew was born with some type of mental issues and has been having social problems all of his life, he has been in and out of mental wards, and has had problems at school, been prescribed all kinds of medications that haven't worked, and now it has gotten worse since he moved in with his grandparents.....He has tried killing himself twice now (that I know of) and says that it's because he had to move here to Minnesota from Indiana when his mother got divorced...The Dr. has diagnosed him with all sorts of things like as-burgers, ADHD, Autism spectrum, etc, but have never figured out what is wrong with him....He has symptoms like demons in his head telling him to do things, horrible rage (he took a bow and arrow after my sister when he was about 8 years old), hostility, anger, there is no talking to him, he thinks that he knows everything and will not take any advise from anybody...Now my sister is so wrapped up in Andrews life that she has stopped doing the things that she loved, she thinks that everybody hates Andrew, so she does everything for him, because she feels like his only advocate, it is even getting between her and her husband....PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE HELP HIM and my sister, I don't know where else to turn.
July 24, 2016
Latest Entry: Life Law which I am concentrating on for July 24 thru July 30
#2 - You create your own experience.

My current circumstances would allow me to write a lengthy book about this Life Law.  Due to lack of work, I was laid off from a job which I held for only six months.  Prior to that job, I had been employed for over 25 full-time years in a career.  That career was lost when the employer went bankrupt, leaving thousands with no choice but to start over.

Being in my late 40s, I now find myself being out of work for the longest amount of time ever ( so far, just under a month ).  While I could ( and originally did ) be constantly in a state of stress and depression, I have finally decided to CREATE MY OWN EXPERIENCE with nothing less than positivity.  

( comments disabled )
July 24, 2016
My comment is on episode of the Mother In-Law Yyevone, her son and the ex-wife Amanda. First of all I congrats on how you handled that whole situation but, the mother/mother in-law I needs professional help! So I'm asking you to please get in touch her and offer her kind of professional help. Please! Plus it probably wouldn't hurt for the son to get some kind of professional help. It's just not normal for a 40 year old man to be this dependant on his weird mother or be this controlled by his mother.

July 23, 2016
Latest Entry: Adult babies or ab/dl's
Just for information. For years i have heard being gay isnt a choice. I have also for yrs have been forced to try to believe that society is mean. I have for yrs i have believed in what i was told. For lack of better words brainwashed. At 3 i told my mother i never wanted to be toilet trained, in return i was lied to. I was told noone would accept me and i would be ridiculed my who life over my choice of underwear. Also i was told they dont make diapers big enough for adults. So now i am 36. I have discovered lots of helpful sites and great info. First off wanted to wear diapers isnt a crime, doesnt hurt anyone, or doesnt involve real children. For most of the ab/dl community we wear for fun (in the privacy of our home) or need. Also wanting to be a baby doesnt mean we are pedophiles, it means for most that we want to return to a simpler or less stressful enviroment. Most of us just need that type of love when another party is involved (caregiver, mommy, daddy, big bro, big sis, nanny, grandma) and i can speak on my side. For me its not a choice i have done everything from counseling to trying to find a happy medium. And when my children are arround i do act big but i cant fall asleep with out something in my mouth (pacifier or thumb) with my teddy. I have made empty promises towards god. I even prayed to god to set me free from it. In saying all of that my only comment is that god created us for a purpose and who we are as long as it lines up with gods word then it shouldnt be a prob in my eyes. And for those that read this i hope it enlightens u even if a slight bit. By the way here is a few links on the polls i have started on the subject.

Real life parents

And here is if people had to choose


The results actually threw me for a curve.

July 22, 2016
Latest Entry: A difficult Reunion
I just watched "A difficult reunion" part one and two for the first time and would love to know what has happened with Erica and Mark since this aired.
July 22, 2016
Latest Entry: So angry
I am a long time fan of Dr. Phill, been recording the show for a long time. Just watched the episode where the teen lost her daughter to another woman through social services. Sounded like she got a raw deal. The pain in that mom was so raw and visable, it was heart wrenching. Then the show jumped to Robin crying for happiness because her son'a band was singing., and we were told how we could view his band. What??? Normally I love seeing the McGraw family, but that episode was so wrong, my heart hurt for that woman, the show put her on and then went onto singing and happiness. I say again... WHAT?!!!!! So disappointed in the show and Dr. phill. Most of all disappointed in the system that took that baby girl from her mom.
July 20, 2016
Latest Entry: Elder Abuse and Exploitation
Elder exploitation is the new crime of the 21st centurry.  One in forty cases are reported. The perpretator is vey likely to be a family member.  Some signs of elder exploitation are insidious such as the mail is intercepted, phone calls are unanswered or the elder stops calling you ( your  phone has been  number erased), an elder defers to another family member even though he/she is capable of making decisions. More obvious signs are physical neglect, weight loss, payments for expensive items that an elder would never purchase, missing bank statements, cancelled credit cards, a sudden change by appointing a new Medical and Financial Power of Attorney and a new executor of a will.  The elder is isolated from family and friends by the perpretator. Elders over 70 are more likely ( 50%) to have a decline in cognition such as judgement. While families focus on internal rivalries, they are missing the fact that their loved one is suffering emotionally at the hands of another. The Greatest Generation was raised to take care of their family and to never complain. Expoitive children usually have drug, alcohol and gambling addictions and also have a misguided sense of entitlement. If you suspect that your loved one is suffering and I emphazise suffering -  report it to the common entry point of your county. They investigate elder abuse and exploitation. No amount of money will ever replace a parent- do not dwell on that- rather be aware of the emotional pain that an elder suffers usually when they are at the frailest stages of their life. REPORT THAT !
July 18, 2016
Latest Entry: The little-known reasons why you need to leave the narcissist ASAP!
The effects of psychological and narcissistic abuse come with many devastating consequences, but there are two that almost no one knows about--unless they're a doctor or neuroscientist.

In fact, these two outcomes may be the most destructive result of emotional trauma over the long-term and is an added reason why--if you have children with a narcissistic partner--you should try to leave as soon as reasonably possible.

By now, most of us know that repeated emotional trauma leads to both PTSD and C-PTSD, which should be reason enough to leave an abusive partner.  But, what many people don't realize is that over time, these repeated emotional injuries shrink the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning, while enlarging the amygdala, which houses primitive emotions such as fear, grief, guilt, envy, and shame.

Hippocampus basics

The hippocampus, which is Greek for "seahorse," is a paired structure tucked inside each temporal lobe and shaped, in fact, like a pair of seahorses. It helps to store and release memory. The hippocampus is especially vital to short-term memory, the retaining in mind of a piece of data for a few moments, after which it either gets transferred to permanent memory or is immediately forgotten. Learning depends on short-term memory.[1]

Further, among the many analyses that have been conducted, one in particular shows very disturbing results.  In a study conducted by a team of University of New Orleans and Stanford University researchers, patients with the highest baseline cortisol (a stress hormone) and greater number of PTSD symptoms had the greatest decreases in hippocampal volume over time.[2]

In other words, the longer you stay with an emotionally abusive partner, the more deterioration you can expect of your hippocampus. It can be easily understood how this neurological process may enhance feelings of confusion, cognitive dissonance, and abuse amnesia in victims of narcissistic and psychopathic abuse.

Amygdala basics

Narcissists keep their victims in a constant state of anxiety and fear, which in turn causes their victims to react from his or her amygdala (or "reptilian" brain).  The amygdala controls life functions such as breathing and heart rate and the basic emotions of love, hate, fear, and lust (all of which are considered "primal emotions").

It's also responsible for the fight or flight reaction.  Victims of narcissistic abuse live in this state almost daily.  Over time, the amygdalae remember the things we felt, saw, and heard each time we had a painful experience.   Subliminal hints of such stressful events (even photos) will set off the organ's attack or escape routines--triggering avoiding behaviors or internal turmoil[3] (another good reason to refrain from stalking your ex on social media).

Even after the toxic relationship has ended, victims suffer PTSD, C-PTSD, panic attacks, phobias, and more... due to the triggering of their primal fears by their overactive amygdalae.  Out of these fears, targets of narcissistic abuse often engage in primitive defense mechanisms including (but not limited to):

  • Denial – Victims use denial to escape dealing with painful feelings or areas of their life they don't want to admit.
  • Compartmentalization – Victims pigeonhole the abusive aspects of the relationship in order to focus on the positive aspects.
  • Projection – Victims project their traits of compassion, empathy, caring, and understanding onto their abuser, when in fact, narcissists and other emotional abusers possess none of those traits.
Narcissistic abuse changes your brain

According to Goleman (2006), everything we learn, everything we read, everything we do, everything we understand, and everything we experience count on the hippocampus to function correctly. "The continual retention of memories demands a large amount of neuronal activity.

In fact, the brain's production of new neurons and laying down connections to others takes place in the hippocampus" (Goleman, 2006, p. 273). Goleman also stated, "The hippocampus is especially vulnerable to ongoing emotional distress, because of the damaging effects of cortisol" (p. 273). When the body endures ongoing stress, cortisol affects the rate at which neurons are either added or subtracted from the hippocampus. This can have grave results on learning. When the neurons are attacked by cortisol, the hippocampus loses neurons and is reduced in size. In fact, duration of stress is almost as destructive as extreme stress. Goleman explained, "Cortisol stimulates the amygdala while it impairs the hippocampus, forcing our attention onto the emotions we feel, while restricting our ability to take in new information" (pp. 273-274).  Goleman adds,

The neural highway for dysphoria[4] runs from the amygdala to the right side of the prefrontal cortex. As this circuitry activates, our thoughts fixate on what has triggered the distress. And as we become preoccupied, say, with worry or resentment, our mental agility sputters. Likewise, when we are sad activity levels in the prefrontal cortex drop and we generate fewer thoughts. Extremes of anxiety and anger on the one hand and sadness on the other push brain activity beyond its zones of effectiveness. (p. 268)[5]

But, there is hope.  There are reparative activities you can do to restore and rebuild your hippocampus and stop the hijacking of your psyche by your amygdala.

What to do

Luckily, as brain scans have now shown (thanks to the magic of neuroplasticity), it is possible for the hippocampus to regrow.  An effective method includes the use of EMDR therapy (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing).  One recent study showed that 8 to 12 sessions of EMDR for patients with PTSD showed an average of a 6% increase in the volume of their hippocampi.[6]

EMDR is also beneficial for counteracting the hyperarousal of the amygdala, allowing the brain to more appropriately direct what needs to happen rather than remain stuck and unnecessarily trigger problematic emotions.

Other methods that have been shown to repair both the hippocampus and amygdala include:

  • Guided meditation - Recent studies from Harvard University show that daily meditation can help repair the brain by actually rebuilding the brain's gray matter. Study participants who spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing "mindfulness" exercises showed a major increase in the density of the hippocampus and amygdala and associated reductions in stress, compared to a control group.
  • Performing acts of kindness - simple, daily practice of altruism can dramatically alter your outlook on the world.
  • EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) - helps correct the biochemical short-circuiting that occurs with chronic anxiety.
Of course, the first course of action would be to plan and implement an exit strategy.  It takes time to recover from narcissistic abuse and one short encounter can set you back enormously.

_________________________________________________________________________________ [1] Goleman, D. (1995, July 31). Severe Trauma May Damage The Brain as Well as the Psyche. Retrieved January 17, 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/1995/08/01/science/severe-trauma-may-damage-the-brain-as-well-as-the-psyche.html?pagewanted=all

[2] Stressing the Hippocampus: Why It Matters. (n.d.). Retrieved January 12, 2016, from http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/news-blog/stressing-the-hippocampus-why-it-ma/

[3] Thomas, E. (n.d.). The Amygdala & Emotions. Retrieved January 17, 2016, from http://www.effective-mind-control.com/amygdala.html

[4] Dysphoria. (2015, November 29). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:36, January 17, 2016, fromhttps://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Dysphoria&oldid=692983709

[5] Effects of Stress on the Hippocampus. (2013, March 19). Retrieved January 17, 2016, from http://drgailgross.com/academia/effects-of-stress-on-the-hippocampus/

[6] Shapiro, F. (2012). Getting past your past: Take control of your life with self-help techniques from EMDR therapy. Emmaus, Pa.: Rodale Books.
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