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Resources & References

Soo’s List of Recommended Emotional Support or Self-Help Books to Aid in Recovery from a Toxic Marriage with a Disordered Individual

  1. Patrick Carnes, Ph.D. (1997), The Betrayal Bond: Breaking Free of Exploitive Relationships

Study of types of exploitive relationships that can lead to betrayal bonding or trauma bonding, and why these types of relationships create an intense bonding to the abuser that makes leaving so difficult. This book also has a good recovery or self-help section at the end.

Our thoughts: Great for all stages of healing, especially in the beginning, when cutting ties with the abusive other.

  1. Bessel van der Kolk, M.Dl. (2015), The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

Trauma expert discusses his experiences from treating trauma survivors and how trauma rewires the brain and can reshape the body. Trauma-focused treatments that focus upon the mind and body connection are key to reshaping the body and brain to help rewire the brain’s neuroplasticity. He discusses reasons why yoga, meditation, and trauma-focused therapy modalities, including EMDR, seem to work so well to help us with trauma.

Our thoughts: Great for all stages of healing, but it is geared more towards helping people understand combat veterans and their healing. It contains a great discussion of more physical types of trauma-informed therapy, like EMDR and yoga, but it is very clinical.

  1. Judith Lewis Herman, M.D. (1992), Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence, From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror

Groundbreaking book that discusses psychological and physical trauma and their effects on our wellbeing. She discusses how we can heal trauma and what healing looks like.

Our thoughts: Great for all stages of healing. She does touch upon personality disorders, but she really focuses more on Borderline Personality Disorder. We all have some childhood trauma, but not at the levels that she discusses.

  1. Arielle Schwartz, Ph.D., The Complex PTSC Workbook: A Mind-Body Approach to Regaining Emotional Control and Becoming Whole (1997)

Dr. Schwartz provides a great framework for helping us understand the nature of complex posttraumatic stress disorder and helping us understand what occurs when we walk around with unresolved trauma from childhood. She provides guidance and insight into the types of exercises that can help in resolving unresolved trauma.

Our thoughts: We haven’t used this workbook, but it was highly recommended by Dr. Barbara Smith, a wonderful clinical psychologist in Northern Virginia, when she came to speak with our group last year.

  1. Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear: And Other Survival Signals that Protect Us From Violence (1998)

Leading expert on violent behavior shows us how to listen to our body to spot the red flags in dating, etc. Most of us have physiological responses to even the smallest signs of a dangerous person or situation, but we (through training, society, not trusting our intuitions, etc.) may have learned to disregard them. He shows us how to spot the dangerous person before he/she can wreak havoc. The “gift” is your gut instinct and using your intuition or gut instinct to avoid harm or trauma is precious and often, overlooked.

Our thoughts: Great for all stages of healing, especially, before dating. Dangerous people often use forced teaming (using “we”), unsolicited promised, or use charm and superficial sweetness to induce trust from their victims, which in our opinion, parallel the “lovebombing” phase used by Cluster Bs. What we found particularly fascinating is learning that sometimes, the physical manifestation of fear can be the same as the one for excitement, so in the beginning, when you felt the hairs stand up on the back of your neck when you were around the Cluster B, may have experienced a fear response, not an excitement response.

  1. Pia Mellody, Facing Love Addiction: Giving Yourself the Power to Change the Way You Love (2003)

Bestselling author of books focusing upon trauma, addiction, and recovery, including codependence recovery, describes the co-addicted tango between a love addict and a love avoidant. She explains why these relationships are so addictive and often, toxic. Her books are used in many 12-step programs. She provides exercises and recovery steps for breaking free of the cycle, and she briefly talks about the childhood deprivations that may lead to intimacy avoidance or addiction in adults.

Our thoughts: We thought this book was great, and particularly helpful for the person fresh out of the toxic relationship. Many believe most Cluster Bs are love avoidants, and those who end up relationships with love avoidants are love addicts. Both fear intimacy, even though for the love avoidant, the fear of intimacy is a subconscious fear and the conscious fear is one of rejection/abandonment, whereas the love avoidant has a conscious fear of intimacy and a subconscious fear of abandonment/rejection. The dysfunctional tango often leads to a very toxic relationship. Similar to the attachment intimacy model (fearful/dismissive/anxious).

  1. Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel Heller, M.A., Attached: The New Science of Adult Attachment and How It Can Help You Find – and Keep – Love (2012)

Expands upon the basic theory of the famous attachment model to predict common intimacy pairings and what attachment styles can be successful. A developing infant and child’s tie to his/her mother would form his/her attachment style based on any disruptions, separations, or deprivations of maternal. During infancy and early childhood, primary caretaker (mother) sets child’s attachment style by providing security, space to learn, and feeding child’s ego by allowing satisfaction of some impulses and restricting others. To grow up securely into a mentally healthy and secure adult, infant/young child needs to experience a warm and intimate relationship with his mother or permanent maternal substitute.

Our thoughts: We love attachment theory and absolutely believe that most people who end up with Cluster Bs have attachment traumas, as do personality-disordered individuals. Most of our emotional healing paradigms come from attachment theory, and I believe that children of narcissistic parents typically become avoidants or anxiously attached because secure attachment become interrupted in their first three years of life. Usually mom, as primary caregiver, is narcissistic to these children, and they believe their feelings are invalid and unimportant. Narcissistic mom runs hot and cold, and these kids learn love may be conditional. The unconscious hope of these insecurely attached children is that they can heal their childhood wounds through relationships so seek similar problem partners.

  1. Jackson MacKenzie, Psychopath Free: Recovering From Emotionally Abusive Relationships with Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Other Toxic People (2015)

This author explains covert abuse extremely well. He helps explain how Cluster Bs use power and control to destabilize their partners and to instill a false sense of hope. Cluster Bs use fake promises and charm in order to hook their victims, and they callously throw them away when their utility wears off. If you don’t understand what the hell you’ve been through, and you feel very confused after being discarded, read this book.

Our thoughts: Great for the first stage of recovery. This book was the book that helped many recognize that what we went experienced with a Cluster B was a psychopathic relationship with a con artist. The author is so compassionate, and we could feel his empathy throughout the pages. There are several trigger sections because the book can be so spot on. We think it’s a must-read for all wondering about Cluster Bs and whether their relationship was one with a Cluster B/narcissist/psychopath.

  1. Shahida Arabi, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself (2016)

Extremely comprehensive self-help book that describes narcissistic abuse and the hallmark toxic behaviors and manipulation tactics used by disordered people. Very detailed self-help section with tips on how to avoid further abuse and how to spot disordered people by looking closely at their actions and abuse techniques. She also describes why we form biochemical bonds to these people and why we often stay in lengthy relationships with these toxic partners. Learn about the three stages of narcissistic romance: idealization, devaluation, and discard. She describes gaslighting, triangulation, emotional stonewalling and silent treatments.

Our thoughts: Great for early stages of recovery to mid-stage of recovery. This book can help you understand why you are constantly craving the nonexistent validation from a narcissistic person and why most abused people may keep cycling back to dysfunctional partners for more abuse. It also helps to understand what we need to do to break the trauma bond, which was to have absolutely no contact with the other person, which may be legally possible when there are no children involved. We think it’s a great book that explains agency vs. victimization.

Soo’s List of Recommended Legal Support or Self-Help Books to Aid in Dealing with Divorce or Co-Parenting with a Disordered Individual

  1. Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, Randy Kreger, Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder (2011)
  2. Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, High Conflict People in Legal Disputes (2006)
  3. Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People (2011)
  4. Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, Don’t Alienate the Kids! (2010)
  5. Bill Eddy, LCSW, JD, So, What’s Your Proposal?: Shifting High-conflict People from Blaming to Problem-Solving in 30 Seconds! (2014)

HCPs (high conflict people) love blaming other people for all of their problems. If an HCP is blaming you, it’s tempting to blame back, but this creates more problems and nothing gets resolved. These books provide some tips to avoid crazy-making traps and endless circular arguments with high-conflict or disordered people. Reasonable people expect others to have empathy, understanding and a willingness to resolve conflicts or disputes with their intimate partners, but high-conflict people lack these skills and may not care to resolve disputes. There are also good tips for when you are involved in litigation with high-conflict people.

Our thoughts: We frequently use these books and have helped train our clients in learning how to avoid conflicts altogether by refusing to engage in the circular arguments. First-hand, we have seen high-conflict people use abusive trial tactics during litigation, and knowing when they’re taking place can be key to effectively litigating high-conflict cases.

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