Duggars, law, mental health, psychology

Josh Duggar must be a full on psychopath… there’s just no other explanation!

Today’s featured photo is a screenshot of video taken by KHBS of Josh and Anna leaving court in September. What in the world would make the two of them smile at this point in time? It just defies logic.

Good morning, y’all. I had a completely different topic in mind this morning. I was fully intending to write about something else that has nothing to to do with Josh Duggar. I might be back later to write my originally conceived post. And before I get started, I want to issue a strong warning to anyone who is easily triggered. This post is going to be extremely disturbing and dark. Please proceed with caution.

Still with me? Okay…

Yesterday, it was reported in The Sun that Josh Duggar’s distant relative, Matthew Waller, took the stand during Josh’s court proceedings. Waller was the only other employee at Josh’s used car lot, which is where Josh’s HP desktop computer was located. This was the computer that had the illicit “CP” material on it that has Josh in so much legal trouble today. Waller had initially said that he didn’t know the password to the dark web on Josh’s computer, but when defense attorneys asked if he recognized the phrase “Intel1988”, he said it “rang a bell”. This revelation showed that it was possible that someone else had access to the dark web on that computer and might have downloaded the illegal material.

US Assistant Attorney Dustin Roberts reportedly responded with fury. According to The Sun, he “screamed” at Waller, demanding, “Was there something you’re not telling me? You didn’t tell me or law enforcement about Intel1988? I told you I thought you were hiding something from me.”

Roberts continued, “You’re recalling today knowing about Intel1988, after talking to Homeland Security, then the defense?”

Waller reportedly said that he hadn’t remembered the password when he was questioned by federal agents, but now that the defense attorneys were mentioning it, he’d had a sudden flash of recall. Waller said the password was “vaguely familiar.” So what does that mean? Is Waller admitting that he could have been the culprit? And why would he do that? But then it gets even sicker, and much more disturbing.

Yesterday, it was revealed during Josh Duggar’s trial that federal agents located a folder on Josh’s computer that had 65 thumbnail files of cached downloads found on Josh’s computer. In the folder that the agents found, there was a video of a three month old baby being tortured and abused. There were many more videos and images found on the computer, although experts couldn’t say whether or not Josh had viewed any of them. Meanwhile, Josh and his lawyers have been doing their very best to try to pin the blame on someone else– anyone else— who might pay the price for Josh’s disgusting crimes.

It was also reported that Josh’s wife, Anna, who has, in the last six weeks, just had her seventh baby with Josh– another girl– abruptly left the courtroom before this very disturbing evidence was disclosed. Below is a video Katie Joy of Without a Crystal Ball made. I know Katie Joy is a controversial YouTube personality, but her explanation of what was discovered is probably good enough for those who want to know more. Additionally, some of the court transcripts are available here.

More on what was disclosed during Josh Duggar’s trial yesterday. Proceed with caution.

I don’t even know how the people in that courtroom could stand to hear about what was found on the computer, let alone view some of the images and videos. I think I read that they were, at least, spared the footage of the infant being abused. What a sick, vile, revolting discovery. There are just no words for how completely horrible this is. And now I sit here thinking that, for years, the Duggars were held up as this wonderful Christian family, with Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar bragging about how God kept “blessing” them with children. Josh, as the oldest, was the very first of their many “blessings from God.”

We now know that Josh has zero respect for other people’s “blessings from God”, does he? He had no heart for the victims who were abused and tortured for his own sexual gratification. I am convinced that he is a very sick man, and if he doesn’t go to prison for this, I suspect he will have a short life and not a moment’s peace until he goes straight to Hell.

I really think Josh must be a full on psychopath. Or… to use a more official term, he’s probably an individual with antisocial personality disorder. And no, I am not qualified to “diagnose” anyone, nor does this opinion count as a diagnosis. This is just an educated guess. But I really think Josh has a lot of the signs and symptoms of someone with antisocial personality disorder. Fortunately, there aren’t too many of them in the world. According to Dr. Todd Grande’s video below, 3% of males and 1% of females in the general population could be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder.

According to the Mayo Clinic, these are the symptoms of antisocial personality disorder:

  • Disregard for right and wrong
  • Persistent lying or deceit to exploit others
  • Being callous, cynical and disrespectful of others
  • Using charm or wit to manipulate others for personal gain or personal pleasure
  • Arrogance, a sense of superiority and being extremely opinionated
  • Recurring problems with the law, including criminal behavior
  • Repeatedly violating the rights of others through intimidation and dishonesty
  • Impulsiveness or failure to plan ahead
  • Hostility, significant irritability, agitation, aggression or violence
  • Lack of empathy for others and lack of remorse about harming others
  • Unnecessary risk-taking or dangerous behavior with no regard for the safety of self or others
  • Poor or abusive relationships
  • Failure to consider the negative consequences of behavior or learn from them
  • Being consistently irresponsible and repeatedly failing to fulfill work or financial obligations

The symptoms usually appear in adults with antisocial personality disorder before they’re fifteen years old. As it’s been widely reported, Josh was having issues with abusing children when he was thirteen or fourteen. He was fourteen when he admitted to abusing four of his younger sisters and a babysitter. The Mayo Clinic continues:

Signs and symptoms of conduct disorder include serious, persistent behavior problems, such as:

  • Aggression toward people and animals
  • Destruction of property
  • Deceitfulness
  • Theft
  • Serious violation of rules
Todd Grande explains what antisocial personality disorder is.

In the above video, Todd Grande explains that there is an association between child abuse and early childhood trauma and antisocial personality disorder. Grande states that some studies show that as many as 80% of incarcerated males could be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. People who have this problem do not respect laws, which often leads them to prison.

This video offers Dr. Grande’s analysis of Josh Duggar’s behavior.

In the many years before the public came to know about just how sick and perverted Josh Duggar is, he was often jokingly called “Smuggar”. I can remember reading the now defunct Television Without Pity pages about the Duggars, and the most egregiously obnoxious characters from the Duggar family were given nicknames. Josh’s nickname came from the fact that he was arrogant, but “charming”. Now we know that underneath that layer of superficial charm was a complete disaster of a human being.

For weeks, we’ve all heard about how Josh has tried to pin the blame for these charges on other people. According to Katie Joy, it even looked like Josh’s lawyers might have been able to cast reasonable doubt on the charges. But after yesterday’s bombshell dropped, I don’t think Josh is going to get away with this. If he does, there will likely be a reckoning carried out beyond the prison gates– like, I think Josh would have reason to fear for his life. I am just so sad for Josh’s innocent children, as well as all of his victims.

Whether or not he is convicted, we know that people HAVE been victimized by Josh Duggar. He has openly admitted it, and some of his victims– his sisters– have confirmed it. However, I remember when Jessa and Jill were interviewed by Megyn Kelly on Fox News, Jessa really downplayed what actually happened. In short, she LIED. But she probably did so because her father ordered her to lie. So much for following The Ten Commandments. It just shows that like his son, Jim Bob Duggar thinks he is above the law. Rules are for other people, not him.

For years, Jim Bob Duggar has justified his behavior by pointing to his huge brood of children and his significant wealth, which I’m sure is dwindling by the day, thanks to this very public trial featuring his eldest spawn. Meanwhile, his daughter Jill, who is one of Josh’s victims, is frozen out of the family circle for defying her father and trying to live life on her own terms. It’s just sick and wrong on so many levels.

It was also reported that Josh Duggar did not appear to be particularly serious while he was in court. It was said that he was smiling, cheerful, and joking with the court reporter.

I think about what it means for a person who have antisocial personality disorder. People with this problem often suffered severe child abuse and neglect when they were very young. There are also some genetic roots to this disorder. Josh is the eldest child of Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar. Consider that he was raised in an environment in which corporal punishment is not only tolerated, but highly encouraged. Josh’s mother, Michelle, is well-known for “blanket training” her children when they were babies.

Blanket training is a technique that is described in Michael and Debi Pearl’s very controversial childrearing book, To Train Up A Child. It involves placing a baby on a blanket or a play mat with a toy just out of reach. When the baby tries to get off of the blanket, the parent or caregiver is supposed to hit the baby with a ruler or other implement. Eventually, the baby supposedly learns not to try to leave the blanket. That technique likely comes in handy in families that have as many children as the Duggars do. However, it’s also a very sick and abusive disciplinary method. I’m sure for someone who has a genetic or environmental tendency to develop a personality disorder, blanket training and techniques resembling it are particularly damaging. I don’t know if Michelle Duggar used blanket training for Josh. She probably had no need to, since he was her first baby. However, it’s pretty clear that Josh’s father, Jim Bob Duggar, is authoritarian and, being a believer in the Old Testament, probably used harsh and possibly abusive disciplinary methods with Josh and the rest of his children.

I think of Josh being raised with that type of disciplinary method and any others that involved abusive methods. I also think of him likely having a much higher need for his parents’ attention, particularly if he was a budding narcissist. Imagine having that type of personality and your mother keeps having babies, each of whom diminishes the attention she can give to her other children. Every time Michelle had another baby, there was less of her to go around to the others. And I suspect that Josh, being the oldest child who had once enjoyed all of his mother’s attention, must have really resented his siblings and the attention they received. Especially the girls, whom he was taught from an early age are inferior to boys, simply because they’re girls. In the fundie Christian world, females are always subservient to males.

Now consider that Josh was married at a very young age. He wasn’t the youngest of his siblings to marry, but he was the first, and he and Anna were wed when he was just 20 years old. It was at the height of the Duggar family’s fame. I’m sure Jim Bob and Michelle felt they needed to get him married off, if not to protect their daughters from Josh’s deviance, then to give him an outlet so he didn’t do anything to destroy the family’s reputation. But now, as we can see, that tactic didn’t work. And God only knows what Anna has endured besides the humiliation of being cheated on and repeatedly impregnated by her husband, who clearly has some very serious problems and reportedly enjoys “rough sex”. She won’t leave him, though, and it really wouldn’t surprise me if she and Josh are trying for one last baby before Josh goes to prison.

It was reported that several family members attended Josh’s trial, including Austin Forsyth, who is married to Joy Anna Duggar Forsyth. Joy Anna was victimized by her brother, Josh, when she was just five years old. Derick Dillard, married to Jill Duggar Dillard, another of Josh’s victims, was also in attendance. Imagine how these two men must feel, seeing and hearing what a disgusting pervert Josh is and what he did to his sisters, who are also their wives. And yet even that wasn’t enough to satisfy Josh’s depravity. I’m sad to say this, but I think this is just the tip of the iceberg. What we’re hearing about now is probably just a fraction of what Josh has seen and done. He’s probably gotten away with a lot more than what we know.

Again… I am certainly not trying to officially diagnose Josh. I am only offering a theory that makes some sense to me. If he does have antisocial personality disorder or is a sociopath or psychopath, he will likely be in good company if he winds up in prison. As Dr. Grande says, up to 80% of incarcerated males could possibly be diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder, even though only 3% of males in the general population could.

I am, once again, completely horrified by this train-wreck of a story. Every time I think this situation is as bad as it can be, it gets even worse. There are few lifeforms more helpless than a three month old infant. Anyone who would enjoy watching the abuse of such a defenseless creature must be completely depraved and sick. Anyone who would conceive of, and make money off of, producing such revolting content is someone with no morals or decency whatsoever. It’s just unconscionable.

I think if there’s anything to be learned from the Duggar family, it’s that there’s almost always nasty stuff beneath the surface. People who try to hold themselves up as role models, rather than being held up that way by others, are usually hiding a lot of skeletons. Perhaps on the positive side, it does appear that locals in Arkansas are losing their enthusiasm for Jim Bob Duggar. Maybe that will mean he won’t win his Arkansas Senate election. One can only hope.

Well… we’ll see what else comes to light today. Maybe I’ll come back and write about the topic I was planning before I heard about this latest news. Or maybe I’ll save it for later. Have a good Friday.

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book reviews, LDS, psychology, true crime

Repost: A review of Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight

Here’s an as/is book review that was originally posted on February 10, 2016.

So, I just finished M.E. Thomas’s Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight (2013).  I think I’m left with mixed impressions of this book.  On the positive side, I thought it was reasonably well written, if not occasionally a bit dry.  Thomas offers some interesting theories as to how having sociopathic tendencies could be a positive for some people.  On the negative side, I found Thomas to be rather unlikable, occasionally disturbing, and really more narcissistic than sociopathic.  Also, though she frequently describes herself as “smarter” than regular people and above being emotional, I notice that she does some really dumb things.

I think one of the dumbest things Thomas (a pseudonym) did was go on the Dr. Phil show after she published this book.  I own a newer edition of Confessions of a Sociopath.  At the end of the book, there are some extra materials that include an epilogue about the aftermath of Thomas’s decision to publish Confessions of a Sociopath. 

Thomas writes that she was very careful not to share too much about herself on her blog or in her book.  And yet, Internet sleuths being what they are, her real identity was discovered and she was promptly fired from her job as a law professor.  She was also barred from being within 1000 feet of the university where she worked.  Thomas writes that she doesn’t think the restriction is legally enforceable and notes that it is a significant inconvenience to her, since the area around the school includes her bank, several public transportation stops, and other places she’d need to visit.  Thomas writes that personality disorders are legally protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), but she doesn’t think a jury would be sympathetic to her if she decided to sue. 

From what I can tell, Thomas is still LDS, which I think is pretty much the height of stupidity.  Based on what I’ve read, Thomas was employed by Brigham Young University, which is a Mormon owned school.  She complains that they are discriminating against her; just as they do to many people, to include homosexuals and apostates.  And yet, she’s still in the church.  

Even if I didn’t have serious issues with the way some Mormons treat others who aren’t like them, and even though I realize that there are many attractive, talented, and otherwise intelligent people in the church, I just think Joseph Smith was a liar and a con man, among other things.  People who choose to believe the lies the church was based on and accept its policies are, in my opinion, showing some serious logic deficits.  But then, Thomas writes that she frequently does things that other people might think of as crazy or stupid.  She habitually lives in the sketchiest parts of town, where rents are cheap but burglaries are frequent.  She even walked in on a burglary once, yet didn’t decide to move. 

A lot of the examples Thomas uses to describe her so-called “sociopathic” behavior don’t seem all that sociopathic to me.  She writes of one incident where she gets angry at a guy working at the metro in Washington, DC.  The guy yells at her for trespassing.  She says she wants to kill him and follows him for a couple of blocks before she loses him.  In another passage, she writes of trying to kill a baby opossum in a swimming pool.  It fell in there and was on its way to drowning before she found it.  She isn’t able to do it.  Later, she fishes the corpse out of the pool and tosses it over a fence.  Big deal.  She fights with her father.  Who hasn’t? 

Thomas repeatedly explains that she doesn’t really enjoy being a lawyer.  She says she’s a lazy person who thrives on any activity that allows her to game “the system”.  Maybe law was a good field for her for that reason, but one thing good lawyers should be able to do is show good judgment and protect one’s reputation.  I don’t think publishing this book was an example of good judgment, even though Thomas claims that she’s okay with the consequences.  Given that she admits to being sexually attracted to and acting on her attraction to both males and females, I’m surprised she’s still LDS.  She does write that being Mormon forces her to be accountable and a “good person”, so maybe that’s a good thing.   At the same time, she writes about how bloodless and calculating lawyers are.  Hmmm…

I did find Thomas’s anecdotal examples of what makes someone sociopathic versus narcissistic somewhat interesting, though I’m not sure I totally agreed with them.  And, again, I have certainly read books that were not as well written.  I don’t think Thomas is very likable, though she insists that she is… and that people don’t seem to notice her sociopathic tendencies.  I find that somewhat hard to believe, though maybe I’m biased.  Thomas does write that she runs into a lot of people who think sociopaths are inherently evil people.  I’m not sure if that’s true, since I’m not really certain that Thomas is a sociopath.  To me, she seems a lot more like a malignant narcissist than a sociopath.  I’m no expert on sociopaths, though…. On the other hand, I’m not so sure Thomas is, either.

Anyway, I didn’t hate this book.  I didn’t love it.  It has three stars on Amazon.com and I think that’s what I’d give it, too.  Thomas is clearly intelligent and some of what she writes is interesting.  Since she lost her job, maybe it’s not a bad thing that I bought her book.  Of course, given her self-proclaimed ability to charm people, she’s probably landed on her feet somewhere.  Who knows?  Read it if it interests you, though I certainly wouldn’t call Confessions of a Sociopath a must read.

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book reviews, true crime

Repost: Dr. Debora Green… the face of evil

I posted this piece on my original blog on February 22, 2014. It contains a review I wrote for Epinions.com on September 29, 2003. It appears here as/is.

Maybe fourteen years ago or so, I read a book by Ann Rule called Bitter Harvest.  The book was about Dr. Debora Green, a woman who, as a young woman, seemed to have everything going for her.  She was extremely intelligent and had sailed through high school, college, and medical school.  She was pretty and talented and had a thriving career.  She had started out as an emergency room doctor, but then decided she’d rather be an oncologist.  She married her second husband, Dr. Michael Farrar, a cardiologist in the Kansas City area, and bore him three healthy children, a boy and two girls.

As the years passed, Debora Green’s career hit the skids.  She drank too much, was subject to rages, and gained a lot of weight.  She failed her medical boards and eventually lost her license to practice medicine.  And finally, she determined she wanted her husband dead.  As she poisoned the children against their father by filling their heads with lies, she served him food that she had prepared.  The food contained castor beans, which is where ricin comes from.  Ricin is a deadly poison and the contaminated food made Dr. Farrar very sick. 

But Dr. Farrar didn’t die.  He just went through hell.  Finally, Debora Green decided to off him and her children, once and for all.  In October 1995, she set fire to the $400,000 home they had recently purchased, despite the fact Farrar and Green were separated.  She told her thirteen year old son, Tim, not to try to escape the blaze because the fire department was on the way.  Her six year old daughter, Kelly, asphyxiated, along with their dog, Boomer.  And ten year old Kate jumped off the roof to save herself, with no help from her mother.

Dr. Debora Green was eventually tried and convicted for murder and attempted murder.  She sits in prison in Kansas and will soon be celebrating her 63rd birthday.  I thought about this case recently and looked up Debora Green to see if anything new had happened.  I came across this photo.

This woman’s eyes look like pure evil to me.

I’m sure prison life is hard and that has something to do with the way this woman looks.  But to me, she looks like a brute.  It’s hard to believe she was once considered beautiful and brilliant.  I would not want to meet her in a dark alley, let alone go to her for treatment of cancer.

The first time I read that book, I had never run into someone like Debora Green.  Now that I’ve learned about narcissists and sociopaths, this story is easier to believe.

I liked Ann Rule’s book on this subject. Below is my review from 2003.

Is the mother of the year award in the cards for Dr. Debora Green?

Not likely. As a matter of fact, she’s rotting in prison as I write this. Why? Because she murdered two of her three children by burning down her house and tried to poison her husband by spiking his food with ricin. How did all of this come about? The whole sordid tale is spun for us in Rule’s 1997 true crime book, Bitter Harvest, a truly amazing story of a brilliant woman whose personality seemed to change dangerously by the minute.

Debora Jones (aka Deb) started life simply enough. Born to Bob and Joan (pronounced Joanne) Jones, she and her sister Pam grew up in rural western Illinois. Both girls were exceptionally bright. Deb never earned less than an “A” in school– her IQ was tested at 165. She was athletic, witty, musically talented, pretty, and popular, and she had a special gift for chemistry. After high school, Deb went to the University of Illinois to study chemical engineering; however, she was told that there was a glut of engineers. She ended up majoring in chemistry: pre med by default. It was in college that she earned her first “B”, a devastating blow to her ego. Nevertheless, she was able to graduate in three years and go on to medical school at the University of Kansas. During that time, she was married to Duane J. Green, an engineering PhD student at the University of Illinois.

After medical school, Deb became an emergency room physician. She divorced Green and met Michael Farrar, a medical student four years her junior. Farrar fell in love with the attractive, vivacious senior resident who drove a sportscar. They married in May 1979, but Deb kept Green’s name for “professional reasons”. In the early years of her marriage to Farrar, Deb supported Mike with her ER physician’s income as he completed his training as a cardiologist. However, she soon grew tired of the mundane cases she saw in the emergency room and decided to change her specialty to oncology (cancer).

Mike recalled that he knew he was making a mistake as he walked down the aisle on his wedding day. His parents didn’t like Deb and her parents didn’t like him. Nevertheless, he went through with the wedding. On the first night of their honeymoon, he had a hard time getting Deb to consummate their marriage; she preferred to read a novel instead. When they did have sex, it was uninspired. The couple managed to have three children anyway, a boy, Tim in January 1982, a girl, Kate (called Lissa in this book) in December 1984, and another girl, Kelly in December 1988.

Mike enjoyed great success in his career as a cardiologist and was regarded as a rising star in the medical community of the Kansas City area. Deb, however, experienced problems. While she was technically quite proficient, her patients found her cold and uncaring. Her colleagues found her hard to work with, especially when they disagreed with her. Deb rarely kept up with new advances in her field and was unable to pass her boards, while Mike managed to pass with flying colors. While their marriage had never been good, it soon became worse. At one point, Mike caught her stealing painkillers from her patients. Deb eventually ended up leaving medicine altogether.

More disturbing were Deb’s temper tantrums, which she would sometimes indulge in public. Mike would usually see her go off in airports when flights were delayed. She’d cuss out ticket agents, using the “F” word and various other epithets liberally in front of her children and throwing her professional title and Mike’s around in order to get her way.

Despite the horror of their marriage, Deb would not grant Mike a divorce, so Mike moved out of their upscale Kansas City, Missouri house and into an apartment. Four months after his move, Deb implored him to move back home, promising him that things would be better. Mike decided that if he complied, they would need a larger house. They found one in Prarie Village, Kansas, and at a bargain. But at the last minute, Mike changed his mind. Not long afterward, the Kansas City house caught on fire, forcing Deb and the kids to move into Mike’s apartment for awhile. The reconciliation was enough to convince Mike to cave in and buy the house in Kansas, for considerably more than he had originally agreed to pay for it. The fire in Kansas City was ruled an accident, so insurance paid for the damage. Mike and Deb ended up making $20,000 on its sale.

From there, things really started to go south, until the night of October 24th, 1995, when Tim and Kelly Farrar were killed by fire in their parents’ beautiful home. On several occasions during August and September 1995, Mike was in the hospital, suffering from a mysterious illness that brought him to the brink of death over and over again. His symptoms baffled doctors, until Mike found castor beans in Deb’s purse. Castor beans are very poisonous. They contain ricin, which is the third deadliest toxin on earth, next to botulism and plutonium.

I realize that I’ve given quite a bit of information here, but really I’ve only scratched the surface of this very convoluted story. Ann Rule has done a great job of presenting a horrifying case in great detail. There’s a lot of information to digest, but it’s interesting enough that I wanted to keep reading, even though the book is 482 pages long. Rule includes pictures which I found astounding– they show how Deb Jones changed from her high school picture to her middle aged adult picture. As a teen and young adult, Deb had been quite attractive. By the time she was in her forties, she no longer resembled the same person. She had gained a lot of weight, cut off all of her hair, and even her face looked different. In short, the woman was unrecognizable.

If you’ve ever read one of Ann Rule’s books before, you know that she provides several components to her books– the background story, the legal story, and the police story are a few that spring to mind right now. Readers get to examine Deb’s cold detachment as police interviewed her after the fire. Readers also get to read the accounts of other family members and witnesses who noted Deb’s strange reaction to the loss of two of her children.

I’ll admit that it took me awhile to get into this book the first time I read it, but once I started to really read it, I got hooked. This is definitely a fascinating read, and I for one am very glad that this is one mother who won’t be celebrating Mother’s Day in the comfort of her own home. 

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Ex

You took the part, that once was my heart…

so why not take all of me?

The first time I heard the classic jazz song, “All of Me”, was back in the 1980s when Steve Martin, Lily Tomlin, and Victoria Tennant made a goofy movie by that name. It was about a very wealthy but bitter, nasty, dying woman (Tomlin) who wishes to transfer her soul into a young, beautiful, healthy woman’s body. The young woman who volunteers (Tennant) is a criminal who doesn’t believe the soul transfer will work. She figures she’s about to inherit a beautiful home with horses and money. Through a twist of fate, the rich woman’s soul ends up in Martin’s character. Adding to the conflict, besides the obvious inconvenience of sharing one’s body with another soul, is the fact that Martin’s character can’t stand Tomlin’s character. It’s classic 80s cheese, but I love it because Martin and Tomlin are so great together. I also love the song, “All of Me”. I even love to sing it. Maybe I’ll get around to doing another version today.

I love this… I’m actually sitting here with tears in my eyes. It’s oddly moving to watch Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin dance with with wild abandon, especially since Victoria Tennant was once Steve Martin’s wife. I think Lily and Steve have more chemistry. Maybe that’s why Martin and Tennant eventually split.

I think the song “All of Me” would make for a good theme song for any story involving someone with narcissistic personality disorder. People who have NPD require that everyone in their sphere give them everything of themselves. But, narcissists don’t give anything in return. They simply take and take until their victims have nothing left. And then they accuse their victims of being “selfish” when their victims finally object to the abuse.

My husband hates Shel Silverstein’s book, The Giving Tree. He also hates a number of popular songs from the early to mid 1990s. Why? Because his ex wife used them as teaching aides to him about what kind of man she expected him to be. She was never satisfied with who he was. She always wanted him to be someone else. And every time he tried to change for her, she criticized him. But Ex wasn’t satisfied with simply being unhappy. She had to ruin songs like “To Really Love a Woman” by Bryan Adams and “Strong Enough” by Sheryl Crow. She’d take the lyrics to those songs and use them as “teaching aids”– examples to Bill as to what kind of man he should strive to be. Even when Bill tried to be what Ex expected, she wanted more, and was unfulfilled. Nothing was ever good enough. Nothing appeased her.

But, if Bill had done the same thing to Ex, she would have objected strenuously and accused him of abuse. Somehow, she gets a pass because she had a very fucked up childhood. Bill’s childhood was also a bit fucked up, but he has parents who love and cherish him, while Ex’s parents were truly abusive. Bill had the experience of meeting Ex’s adoptive parents, as well as her stepfather, and he confirms that they were not good people. I can’t deny that Ex was abused when she was growing up by the people who should have protected and cherished her. And that experience, no doubt, helped turn her into who she is today.

Of all of the parental figures in Ex’s life, her adoptive father, whom she didn’t know until she was seven (!) years old, was probably the best of the lot, although that doesn’t mean he was much of a dad. He was in the Merchant Marine, so he was away at sea a lot, and Ex’s mother had an affair with Ex’s stepfather, who turned out to be a sex offender. Ex’s adoptive parents got divorced when she was too young to remember. She spent the first few years of her life thinking her stepfather was her dad. And then her mom had a baby with her stepfather, and Ex’s sister was treated differently because she was a blood relation. Stepdad sexually abused Ex, but left his bio daughter alone. Meanwhile, Mom would do things to sabotage her children, like get them drunk the night before they took the SATs. Yeah… not good people.

Add to the fact that Ex already felt rejected by her natural parents, whom she later found out had conceived her in an affair. Ex’s bio mom was married, and her husband didn’t want to raise another man’s baby. So instead of divorcing her husband and raising Ex, bio mom put her up for adoption, and Ex landed in a terrible situation.

Unlike Ex’s current husband, Bill got to know all of these folks (with the exception of Ex’s biological parents), and he verifies that at least this part of Ex’s narrative is mostly true, even if a lot of the other stuff she says is either outright lies or distorted versions of the truth. Ex’s mother was as bad, or possibly even worse, than Ex is.

I remember one time, Bill called his ex wife’s house to speak to his children. That was back when there was still some hope that they would come to the phone. He heard his former mother-in-law’s voice for the first time in many years. The children, unsurprisingly, weren’t available. This was during the active parental alienation phase, when there rapidly decreasing chances that Bill’s kids would talk to him. He was sad that he couldn’t talk to his children. At that time, he’d included his ex stepson, whom he had always regarded as his son. However, he was chuckling as he hung up the phone. He turned to me and said, “Wow… I bet #3 is in Hell right now…”

“Worse than usual?” I asked.

Still laughing, Bill said, “Ex’s mom answered the phone. You want to talk about a social engineering psychopath? If she’s in that house, he’s got to be in Hell!”

I responded with an evil laugh, “And your daughters are around puberty age, too… That means lots of hormones.”

For a moment, the prospect of #3’s situation kind of made us both feel better, although Bill had always wanted to be there for his daughters, even when they were struggling with teen angst. But thinking about #3 trying to deal with Ex, Ex’s mother, a resentful adult stepson, two teenage girls, and two little kids, one of whom has special needs, brought on an extreme case of Schadenfreude for us. Frankly, #3 has always been a colossal asshole to Bill. Bill has always been a gentleman as much as possible to everyone, and he always tried to treat #3 with respect, even when #3 and Ex invaded his Bill’s dad’s house for the disastrous Christmas gathering of 2004. Instead of responding in kind, #3 repeatedly treated Bill with contempt. And so, we didn’t and still don’t have a lot of pity for his situation. We figure he deserves it for being such a disrespectful and unrepentant asshole.

Over last weekend, when Bill was visiting with his daughter, he learned Ex’s adoptive mom, whom I’ll call “Granny”, had moved in with Ex for the last few years of her life. This wasn’t the first time Granny was living with Ex. She had a long habit of glomming on to family members, claiming to offer free childcare, while she drained their resources and abused everyone with her sociopathic ways. At the end of her life, she had significant health problems and was still a heavy smoker. At one point, she even accused the children of stealing her cigarettes. That’s quite a statement, given that they were practicing Mormons. She also brought a loaded gun into the house, which Ex didn’t know about until after Granny died. Given that there were small children living there, that was a potentially very dangerous situation for everyone.

It’s possible that Ex felt “drained” by her parent figures, so maybe she figures she’s “owed”. She went through a terribly abusive childhood, so it’s “okay” for her to abuse other people. Maybe someone like Bill is irresistible, because he’s so safe. Bill is an extremely empathetic person who tries hard to be forgiving and understanding. He isn’t violent or the slightest bit abusive. So maybe she saw him as “safe” to project all of her shit upon… I’m sure she thought Bill would never leave her, not just because he’s incredibly loyal, but because she knew how much he’d been hurt by his parents’ divorce and how much love and empathy he had for his children.

In a way, in Bill, she had a perfect victim. She probably looked at him and thought he was someone she could mold and control, because he’s very eager to please others. It never occurred to her that what she was doing was horribly abusive. Even if it had occurred to her, I doubt she’d care.

I don’t know what it’s like to be Ex. I don’t know if she’s really a hollow person, or if there’s a lot of pain and misery inside of her. I only know the aftereffects of being exposed to her. How? Because I know a lot of people who have spent time with her. They’ve all reported the same devastating symptoms of narcissistic abuse. And they’ve all reported feeling much better when they were able to get away from her, even if they were completely drained and on the verge of destitution. She could take everything and still demand more, with no thought about how she was hurting the people she took from. She has no empathy. And as someone who has never met her, but has been exposed to several of her victims, I too, have experienced the ripple effects of her narcissistic abuse.

Aside from acting like a bottomless pit and taking until her victims wither away, Ex sees anyone in her world as a possession, to do with what she pleases. That’s why she was so afraid that Bill would “steal” his daughters from her, even though his daughters are their own people and can’t be “stolen”. That’s why she accuses me of “stealing” Bill, even though Bill was divorced when we met. She was sure he’d come crawling back to her. She’d convinced him that no other person would ever want him, and even though she treated him horribly, she had some very powerful “bait” in her trap– Bill’s daughters and, to some extent, his dad, stepmother, and sister. Fortunately, Bill isn’t by any means a stupid person, and though it broke his heart to lose contact with his children, he knew that in reality, he hadn’t lost everything and was much better off by himself. And though we hadn’t met in person at the time of his divorce, he was already talking to me, and he had his job with the Army. He also had his wonderful mom on his side. So he was able to rebuild, although it took a long time and he still has some issues to overcome.

Last night, Bill told me that he doesn’t get angry. Or, he does get angry, but he doesn’t stay angry. I, on the other hand, have no issues getting and staying angry. Bill said he was actually a little envious of my ability to stay pissed off. That surprised me, because although I don’t think anger is a useless emotion, I do know that being angry with no resolution can be destructive and painful, although not being able to express anger can also be problematic. I guess Bill has a very different kind of “anger issue” in that he can’t express anger in a way that is healthy and validating. It’s like he’s either afraid to express anger or simply doesn’t know how.

Anger can be wonderfully energizing and motivating. Channeled properly, it can lead to necessary change. But I get angry and stay angry, mainly because my anger often never gets properly resolved. As an abuse victim myself, I’ve learned to stuff the anger until I can let it out in a safe place. However, I’m now so full of it that it still fizzles out. I have this fear of confronting people assertively because when I was growing up, being assertive often led to being abused. This isn’t to say that I’ve never been able to assertively express myself when I’ve been angry. There are some people, like Bill, with whom I can be assertive with no fear. But to other people– especially overbearing authority figures– I often have a hard time being properly assertive. My anger tends to be either expressed too aggressively, or too meekly. In contrast, Bill barely expresses anger at all… except when he’s in traffic.

Besides that, a lot of people have trouble being assertive themselves, so even if I tried to be assertive, there’s a good chance the other person is incapable of that. And so, my tentative efforts at being assertive are met with verbal abuse, which I can no longer abide. Like I said… I am full to the brim of abuse– saturated with years of being yelled at and occasionally hit for being who I am. So now, when someone is like that with me today, my reaction is usually over the top, and I stay angry for much longer than I should. That kind of anger is not very healthy at all. And yet, Bill says he’s kind of jealous that I can be that way.

If anyone has a right to be angry, it’s Bill. I think that I’m angry on his behalf, because I see how he’s been treated and how people have been quick to assume that because he’s a man, he’s automatically the guilty party. So it’s almost like I have a double dose of anger– my own from shit from my past, and Bill’s, because Bill doesn’t get angry… or stay angry. We’re quite a pair, aren’t we?

Well, I figure this post has rambled on long enough. It’s a bit more personal than I was expecting it to be, but who knows? Maybe someone out there can relate. Or maybe someone thinks this saga is like a soap opera. Recently, I haven’t felt the need to write so much about Ex, because she hasn’t been bothering us personally. But, as I mentioned earlier in this post, Ex is a special kind of toxic and, kind of like genital herpes, she’s pretty much impossible to totally get rid of, even if we’re now asymptomatic a lot of the time. Every once in awhile, we still have the occasional unpleasant flareup, and this is one of those times. I suspect it won’t be the last.

Time for me to sign off and do some reading… I hope everyone enjoys their Friday and stays safe from the Coronavirus.

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