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Author Topic: VIDEO | Critical Review: Shrink 4 Men  (Read 4262 times)
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« on: December 02, 2014, 01:11:07 PM »

Going Mental: Borderline Personality Disorder Enablers and Apologists
by Tara Palmatier, Psy.D.
July 30, 2014


TEXT OF THE ARTICLE: There are therapists who specialize in treating individuals with characterological disorders who are realistic about the prognosis and, depending on the severity of the case and commitment to change, can help an individual with these problems, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, develop better impulse control, reality testing and how to consider other’s feelings and needs if only to avoid the consequences of not doing so (e.g., the loss of an important relationship).

Then there are therapists who can best be described as BPD enablers and apologists. They tell the BPD individual and her or his significant other, who is often on the receiving end of tremendous emotional, psychological, financial and/or physical abuse, that the BPD’s partner must learn to practice “radical acceptance” because the individual with BPD can’t control themselves and doesn’t know what they’re doing. They insist that the BPD’s victims need to be more understanding and empathetic of their abuser’s pain.

Unfortunately, a lot of these therapists provide services to those seeking marriage and family therapy, and it appears the bad ones far outnumber the good ones.  

This attitude toward BPD individuals as victims, even when they’re perpetrating egregious abuse, is also rampant on a number of support sites that supposedly exist as resources for men and women who are being abused by spouses, boyfriends/girlfriends, friends and family members with BPD.

They are quite literally sending the message that the victims of personality disordered abusers need to react to that abuse by making themselves vulnerable to more of the same.

There is very little open discussion of just how dangerous these therapists and “support groups” are to the victims of personality disordered abusers. It is important for people to know how to spot this problem in professionals, and in supposed support groups. It is the only chance they have of obtaining help from people who are actually interested in ending abuse rather than perpetuating it.



Added 8/18/14:
I think of BPDs as self-pitying bumbling sociopaths. I can absolutely see how treatment makes some of them more dangerous. ~ Tara Palmatier



Date: Mar-2015Minutes: 3:37

Video Short | Tara Palamatier
Full video: bpdfamily.com/message_board/msg12539682
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« Reply #1 on: December 02, 2014, 03:56:48 PM »

BDFamily Member Reviews
"I think of BPDs as self-pitying bumbling sociopaths. I can absolutely see how treatment makes some of them more dangerous. ~ Tara Palmatier, Psy.D."

Rather than quote more colorful language from this article and video commentary (hopefully this one line says enough), I will summarize and paraphrase the six main points as follows:

  • If you meet someone who is obviously abusive, leave.
  • If you meet someone who is a damsel in distress, leave.
  • If you're in an abusive relationship, leave.
  • If you don't leave you probably have issues.
  • Do not go to couples counseling.  There is a feminist conspiracy at play in the mental health community that will trap you into taking more abuse.
  • The authors are the only chance men have of obtaining help from people who are actually interested in ending abuse rather than perpetuating it.

It's a very simple message akin to - "if you're fat, stop eating". And while it would be silly to criticize the advice to "leave an abusive relationship", the authors do not seem to understand why people stay in emotionally abusive or uncomfortable relationships, in the first place. One thing for sure, if shouting "leave"  were effective, Janay Palmer would not have married Ray Rice (NFL football player) 45 days after he knocked her out in a viral video event that monopolized the national news for 15 days -  "Leave!" - was never shouted more loudly.

We all know why she stayed and married him.  There is something more powerful in the relationship than the emotional abuse, and in this case, even significant physical abuse; all of which which Janay Palmer is well aware of. Awareness is not the issue.

Understanding this is critical to any advocacy hoping to reduce abuse, in the case of the authors above, against men.

Emotional Abuse Evolves

The authors impassioned pleas for men to walk away from the person that "keys their car" on a third date is laudable but this is not typically how it happens.

Emotional abuse is insidious and slowly evolves over time.  It is a transaction between two people with both playing a part -- the "controller" and the "controlled". For the controller, the role is having dysfunctional psychological defenses and coping mechanisms.  For the controlled, the role is providing an conciliatory and enabling reaction to these dysfunctional reactions.  It take these two personality types, together working through one experience at a time to eventually cultivate an abusive relationship.

There are many underlying conditions that can lead a "controller" or a "controllable" to act in this way.  They are:
    low self esteem,
    immaturity,
    short term mental illness (e.g., depression),
    substance induced illness (e.g., alcoholism),
    a mood disorder (e.g., bipolar),
    an anxiety disorder (e.g., PTSD),
    a personality disorder (e.g., BPD, NPD, 8 others),
    a neurodevelopmental disorder (e.g., ADHD, Aspergers), or
    any combination of the above (i.e., co-morbidity).

There is More than One Way to Solve a Problem

There are many ways to arrest relationship chronic hurtful behavior or emotional abuse.
 
Severing the relationship is one, of course. Treating the underlying conditions of one or both partners is yet another. Redefining the relationship is another. Relationship skill building is another. Controlled separation is another.

Determining which method is best for any relationship depends on many factors -  the severity/frequency of the emotional abuse, the willingness to work on the problem, and the success of prior efforts to work on the problem. And there are often a myriad of complicating factors to be considered - the relationship type (parent/child, dating, spouses, spouses w/ children, employer/employee), finances, dependencies, religious/family values, mobility, financial independence, etc.

Most will hold off breaking up the relationship until after they have tried other approaches. This is a natural response and, in many relationships, solutions can be found (improvement).  In others, time only serves to condition or normalize hurtful behavior and emotional abuse/stress as being an accepted part of the relationship (conditioning). Unfortunately knowing which is happening (improvement or conditioning) is often not immediately clear or obvious to the relationship partners. This is where it gets complicated.

Ultimately, the decision to leave/stay needs to be unilaterally determined by each partner.  The couple needs to be reminded of this unilateral aspect - this is one decision they can't make together.  Its also a decision that the each relationship partner should revisit periodically if there has been abuse. Often these situations fall into the "too bad to stay, too good to leave" category, which is also very complicated.

Having a trusted confidant with knowledge and credibility to weigh in is really important here - not a stranger shouting "leave".  The stranger, who can't know these details and subtleties, isn't going to be credible.  The author's advocacy would be far more helpful to encourage anyone in an hurtful or abusive situation or hurtful relationship to get an accountability partners - a confidant and/or a support group.

Are the Caregivers Dangerous?

In an article/video that broadly labels anyone seen as emotionally abusive to be BPD and a "self-pitying bumbling sociopath", it not too much of a leap to paint the majority of the mental health community as "feminist abuse enablers against men". And while there is biases against men in the family court systems and with local law enforcement with respect to domestic abuse, there is really nothing like this in the mental health system.

There is far more bias in the writings of the authors. To state that the majority of therapists, working with families were one member has BPD, tell the family members that people with "BPD can’t control themselves and don’t know what they’re doing" and that "they need to accept "tremendous financial and/or physical abuse" is an absurd proposition. What's most concerning is that the author knows that it is not true, just as the author knows that BPD is not the same as ASPD (sociopath). Apparently this has been pointed out to her before because in the video she spontaneously defends her position and states that the DSM manual (American Psychiatric Association) is wrong.

But clearly there can be issues with marriage counseling when both parties are not committed or able. This is typically when individual counseling is prescribed. It also can be when it fails. Marriage counseling can fix many things - but it can be ineffective, too.

There is a need for a laymen's guide to selecting mental health services. Selecting a mental health resource today is often a stab in the dark for many.

Understanding what marriage counseling is, and is not, is a place to start.

There is also clearly a need for clearer and more standardized labeling of services and specialization and better referral dynamics among mental health providers.

In healthcare, by contrast, people have a much better idea of when to involve specialists and how to select them.  In mental health, too often people pay top dollar to sit on a couch across from someone, or get on the phone with someone, who is simply not skilled/experienced in dealing with their issues and/or has a poor track record.

Rather than label the mental health field as feminists with an agenda, a better message might be to encourage people to give as much consideration to a selecting a mental health professional as they do a cardiologist. Mental health services can vary significantly from one practice to another.

There is also a need for better relationship assessment and assessment tools. Relationship assessment is complex and multidimensional and there are few tools available on how to make progressive, reoccurring assessments. The current self-help books are pretty shallow.  Most people view this process as being static, as if time doesn't change the way we should view certain conditions. Most people struggle to sort out and trade off the multi-dimensional aspects of the relationship (finances, family, custody, religious values, etc.).  Any advocacy wanting to address abuse might consider taking this on.  It's really needed.

Is the Hyperbole and BPD Bashing Helpful?

When has bashing and name calling any group of people been the answer to our well-being? Is there a successful model for this?  More importantly, is it harmful to our well-being?

The hyperbole and the BPD bashing plays to the male ego but creates an environment where openness and self-awareness become very hard.  As one author repeats in the video, "if you stay in the relationship, there is more wrong with you than BPD".  We have all seen the affect of this style of coaching - the members who will trash talk for days and then scamper like puppies back into their relationship, if allowed, and pick up the problem relationship exactly where they left off.

It might be worth pointing out that the hyperbole and the BPD bashing / class warfare generally comes from people who are out of a romantic relationship or who are holding onto the last vestiges of the romantic relationship and who are struggling to cope. The "BPD" person is gone. We rarely see class warfare and bashing with members who are working on the relationship, their focus is very individualized.  We don't see it in parent/child relationships where the anger is typically targeted to the individual or the bad acts.

People with codependent tendencies tend have diminished skills and ability to see themselves. They are prone to blame it on the partner (and be blamed by the other codependent partner).  People with depression (upward of 73% of people in abusive relationships) can get lost in cognitive distortions - overgeneralizing being one.  An environment of hyperbole and class warfare only makes this worse.

At  bpdfamily.com, the anger and the class bashing is understood. So are thoughts of revenge and suicidal ideation. We encourage members to accept and work through these - but not to indulge them.  We try to limit the hyperbole and the BPD bashing to the newer, emotionally raw members who are making their way - and we encourage the more established members to start weaning themselves off and lead the newer members.  Class bashing it is a real impediment to their personal growth and the growth of others.  Targeted frustration and anger is a healthier way to deal with these feelings - as is uncovering the emotions behind the anger.  

Does  bpdfamily Encourage the Mollycoddling of BPD Abusers?

The one thing we hope to bring members at  bpdfamily is perspective (what is healthy/pathologic/normal, what is important/not important) and the ability to see the other side of the human relationship (empathy). These are very powerful tools for going forward.  

Isn't the lack of these tools where many us have failed in these relationships?  

Trying to understanding how another person thinks (empathy) is not condoning their actions any more than an FBI profiler is condoning serial murderers. It's the information needed to safely and effectively co-exist with others - there will always be difficult people.  

And asking members to look at their role in the relationship dysfunction is not blaming them, its helping them find solutions that they have control over -- things that they can make happen.

More Information

Why Do Adults Stay In Abusive Relationships?
Kathryn Patricelli, MA
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=136322.0

How Often do We Return to a Hurtful Relationship and Why?
Survey of 500 members
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=120215.0
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2014, 12:18:57 PM »

I would like to make a small point. I haven't watched the video and I have only read the blog excerpt above. It mentions the word victim and it neglects survivor and thriver. I personally think people have more than one choice.
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« Reply #3 on: December 09, 2014, 05:45:24 AM »

It's always interesting to hear other perspectives on BPD.

In fairness to bpdfamily I don't think its ever suggested that partners should validate bad behaviour or stay in unhealthy relationships. That choice of whether to stay or go it left up to us, as it should be. No one can make that choice for you.

bpdfamily does offer skills for those who chose to stay with the understating of the enormous challenges involved.

Nor do I think that this site underestimates the damage that borderlines can do to their partners and families or suggests that we are responsible for their behaviour.

Elam sees a huge difference between mental illnesses and disorders but he almost seems to suggest that borderlines have chosen their disorder or the behaviours that it causes.

Do those with bipolar and schizophrenia deserve more sympathy than borderlines? Neither category chose their illness. BPD is very resistant to treatment but there are many people with Bipolar and other serious mental illnesses who chose not to manage their illnesses; refuse or stop taking medication, self medicate with alcohol, don't rest or take exercise.

I don't think that either of the speakers really acknowledge that many of the people who end up in relationships with Borderlines have their own issues. Though the letter that Tara read is a perfect example. A man who writes that his mother was a narcissist and who ended up in relationship with BPD.

I think one of the greatest strengths of this site is that it allows us to be heard, to express the hurt, grief and anger that comes with loving a BPD while gently encouraging us to take responsibility for our own choices (not theirs).

To my mind it's a gift that is worth its weight in gold.

When I came to this site I was angry and confused. Learning about BPD and the dynamics of my relationship opened my eyes and made me much more self aware. It not only helped me to recover from the relationship - it's put me on the road to healing myself

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« Reply #4 on: December 09, 2014, 09:19:49 AM »

From Victim to Survivor to Thriver

Really like this Mutt. I have identified that I wanted to thrive. But this gives great benchmarks of where I am on the journey. Thanks for sharing.
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« Reply #5 on: December 10, 2014, 05:25:30 PM »


Date: Mar-2015Minutes: 6:37

Full video | Tara Palamatier

Paul Elam and Tara Palamatier's generalization of people who are diagnosed with a PD as "people of bad character or an a-hole," was ridiculous. He does not classify PD's as a mental health disorder and suggests that there is a huge difference between clinical depression and PD's.  Palamatier then contradicts him and says they are all really just psychopaths.

Elam fails to discern that the origins of clinical depression are from an influence of biological and environmental factors.  The same can be suggested for PD's.  

Essentially, both Elam and Palmatier classify all pwBPD as manipulative, violent, emotional abusers, lack of morals or empathy, and vindictive.  The types of traits are more commonly associated with sociopaths.  Subjective thinking, such as Elam and Palmatier portray, is why there is stigma attached to a BPD diagnosis.  The stigma of a BPD diagnosis is a predominate reason why there is such a low prevalence in the community (Dr. Palmatier touches on that in the beginning of the video).  It would be more advantageous to properly diagnose and treat these individuals than to shun them.  
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« Reply #6 on: December 23, 2014, 03:24:08 PM »

As a mental health professional, I don't think the article contains great clinical credibility. I have been in the field for over 20 years and I can tell you I would not have been doing it this long if I didn't have hope for change as well as the philosophy that opportunities for change must be presented.   As a wounded ex-partner of a BPD, I have a great deal of shame I didn't recognize the red flags sooner.  Maybe I could have know what to do when the train started to careen down the ravine but that's why I go to therapy now.  Humility is the talisman of survival.

That said, I found the Mutt's flow chart to contain some wonderful benchmarks I would like to reach under the Thriver section.  Ironically, I found it interesting that my expwBPD possessed many of the traits of the Victim section while I am still in the survivor section.  Cannot wait to move further into the Thriver.  Thanks Mutt!  Oh, and thanks, Skip. Good analysis.
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« Reply #7 on: December 23, 2014, 04:01:23 PM »

I can testify from what I have worked out.  A pwBPD in therapy is someone who is a lot better than out of therapy. 

My ex was in therapy before she was pregnant, without being told what she had specifically, "mood regulation disorder" is what they said, she said it was like Bi-Polar... .  When she was pregnant and they took her off the meds and told her BPD.  She quit therapy.  We are all responsible for our actions, I wish I had more insight then to encourage her and be more supportive. 

I like her have made bad choices.  I can say though that the therapy helps a huge amount, for her it was a pretty phenomenal difference.  For me living with her as well... . 

To place every person with a mental illness in one category is black and white thinking.  I cant support that, nor can I say its healthy. 
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« Reply #8 on: December 23, 2014, 05:46:37 PM »

Essentially, both Elam and Palmatier classify all pwBPD as manipulative, violent, emotional abusers, lack of morals or empathy, and vindictive.  The types of traits are more commonly associated with sociopaths/psychopaths. 

No doubt. For "professionals," they certainly don't appear to understand how to properly classify a disorder. Honestly, I shudder just knowing that two such unempathetic, self-righteous humans are actually mental health professionals.

Elam and Palmatier also encourage people who have had relationships with pwBPD to just lay all the blame at the pwBPD's feet without critically examining the role they played in the dysfunction. The "non" is absolved because the pwBPD is a demon.

How is this effective healing for the "non"? 

These two do a disservice both to people with personality disorders and to the people who are or have been involved with them.

Subjective thinking, such as Elam and Palmatier portray, is why there is stigma attached to a BPD diagnosis.  The stigma of a BPD diagnosis is a predominate reason why there is such a low prevalence in the community (Dr. Palmatier touches on that in the beginning of the video).  It would be more advantageous to properly diagnose and treat these individuals than to shun them.

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)
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« Reply #9 on: December 23, 2014, 05:54:06 PM »

Essentially, both Elam and Palmatier classify all pwBPD as manipulative, violent, emotional abusers, lack of morals or empathy, and vindictive.

it's ironic how this mimics the stage in detachment where we feel nothing but anger towards our ex, and still haven't progressed to understanding our role in the dysfunction... .

it's a crucial stage to completely feel and satiate yourself in... .its equally crucial to move out of it too!
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« Reply #10 on: December 23, 2014, 05:57:41 PM »

Shame on us doomed from the start.
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« Reply #11 on: December 23, 2014, 06:23:03 PM »

Elam and Palmatier also encourage people who have had relationships with pwBPD to just lay all the blame at the pwBPD's feet without critically examining the role they played in the dysfunction. The "non" is absolved because the pwBPD is a demon.

Doing the right thing (click to insert in post)

It is ironic Elam and Palmatier chastise pwBPD for their devaluation/idealization , while they have no problem portraying all disordered people as demons. 

I agree HN, according to their rationale the non is completely absolved for their role in the dysfunctional dance in the relationship.  This type of thinking is not helpful to the non-disordered partner.  It just fosters a constant "victim" mentality and does not encourage the non to heal or grow. 


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« Reply #12 on: December 28, 2014, 09:43:16 PM »

Great observation Antelope.  
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« Reply #13 on: December 28, 2014, 10:09:11 PM »

What I find striking, is everything Dr. Tara says about these people has happened to us. She said (these people leave a trail of destruction) is this true? Read the boards here, not many if any success stories. Should we lay all the blame on them? No, that would make us a narcissist? We should blame ourselves for staying. bpdfamily.com has plenty of members and viewers, no need for competition. Abuse is abuse.
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« Reply #14 on: December 28, 2014, 10:10:49 PM »

It's funny because when I was going through major issues with exN/BPDw shrink4men was the site I found. I have to be honest, coupled with my therapist it did help establish what was going on within my marriage.

However, given finding this site, I've learned far more from here, especially around resources, tools and other peoples viewpoints at different stages of relationships that although I respect Dr Tara's opinion, I would have much rather have found this site first time around.

She is clearly focussed on exes and partners but what about if it's a parent or someones child? The irony I see from Dr Tara appears to be a very black or white stance with no grey area  Smiling (click to insert in post)

Likewise, I think her approach stigmatises the disorder. Yes, molly coddling is the wrong approach too towards the abused but it's the attitude presented in the article that can cause the most damage. If pwBPD read that, it may cause them to close up further, try and hide their disorder and create further unsuspecting victims of abuse. Likewise, they may see it as hopeless and a sign that treatment doesn't work so why bother?

As Antelope states, it seems to follow only part of the process and then stop at that point. We gain clarity through acceptance and by working through ourselves in the process, in order to be truly free takes much forgiveness both to ourselves and to those who abused us. Only then do you find peace.
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« Reply #15 on: December 29, 2014, 01:51:07 AM »

 I remember early on when I was really confused I came across their site before bpdfamily.  I read all of their articles and their youtube videos and even then it didn't sit well with me. At one point I sort of bought into that stance becuase I was hurting so incredibly badly.  It harmed me though.  I actually find their information to be dangerous.  Honestly in my personal opinion they strike me as being somewhere on the spectrum of of Narcissism  being so filled with contempt and cynicism. It's like they let the anger and hate simmer and fester in their heart and soul and now they are jaded.

Next thing you know people will be gathering in the street with pitchforks and torches.
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« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2015, 05:30:30 PM »

it's a crucial stage to completely feel and satiate yourself in... .its equally crucial to move out of it too!

Good comment.  It is Step One (of 5) in detachment.
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« Reply #17 on: December 02, 2015, 09:56:55 AM »

I looked into these people and mostly felt "scam", in the same way I felt about Shari Schrieber. Reading their articles or watching their videos makes me feel that I am being emotionally manipulated to buy their stuff.
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« Reply #18 on: December 02, 2015, 01:10:55 PM »

Well. I must say when i started here on the staying board I felt this was a poor article. Now that I am going through a high conflict divorce and had manipulated  psychologists support my BPD/NPD wife's version of events including supporting her bogus DV claims, I am more in line with it . I think pwBPD are adept at garnering support from inept psychologists who really compound the problem by supporting the abuser.

I do not support the extreme views,  and the angry rhetoric but they have a point
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« Reply #19 on: December 02, 2015, 01:46:41 PM »

Well. I must say when i started here on the staying board I felt this was a poor article. Now that I am going through a high conflict divorce and had manipulated  psychologists support my BPD/NPD wife's version of events including supporting her bogus DV claims, I am more in line with it . I think pwBPD are adept at garnering support from inept psychologists who really compound the problem by supporting the abuser.

I do not support the extreme views,  and the angry rhetoric but they have a point

The family court system is formula and it's a nightmare with a HCP.

Bill Eddy has some constructive material that you may find helpful.
https://bpdfamily.com/message_board/index.php?topic=300568.0
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