Sandra L. Brown, M.A. joins us on Mental Health News Radio. We can’t top that sentence. The volume of work, information, healing, education, and advocacy that has come from one of the original clinicians working with Narcissistic Abusers and Survivors is, quite frankly, legendary. It’s always a pleasure when I really connect with a guest on the show. Sandra is definitely a kindred spirit that has worked tirelessly to help survivors heal from psychological trauma. Enjoy getting to know her in our intimate format and learn from the healer that created the movement finally getting the attention it deserves.
Questions and Answers by Sandra L. Brown, M.A.
You have been referred to as a ‘pioneer’ in the field of Pathological Love Relationships (what some call Narcissistic Victim Syndrome) and wrote the seminal books on this topic over a decade ago.
Most of what is now common knowledge about the field was first introduced in your earlier work:
- Why personality disorders are so harmful in relationships
- The unusual relationship dynamics
- The traumatic impact of the relationship (referred to as Aftermath)
- The identification of cognitive dissonance as originating trauma
- The first, and continued research, on the personality trait elevations in women which makes it extremely difficult for them in attraction to, attachment to, tolerance of, and disengagement from, pathological partners
- The Institute’s Clinical Model of Care Treatment for the Aftermath Treatment
- Therapist Training in Treating the Aftermath
- Public Pathology Education for Everyone
With laying the ground work over the last few decades for the understanding of these relationships, what’s next for The Institute? Where do you go from here? Is there anywhere to go?
We have seen a proliferation of new writers on the topic – public education is always good – if it’s accurate. Clients, readers, are going forward in a grass roots movement in pathology education–websites, social medias, survivor generated books and writing–so I think we are finally seeing what took a decade (my second book How to Spot a Dangerous Man came out in 2005) to spark, come alive.
But I think there is a lot more to do in terms of better understanding each element related to these relationships and I have yet to see much new–it’s mostly the items we unearthed last decade that people are writing about.
The Institute’s identification of inevitable harm in these relationships, the dynamics, the trauma, the Super Traits – all that needs to be more deeply analyzed. That’s where the field needs to go – not just a regurgitation of what is already there. I want to see new stuff that is spawned from the psychology field – professionals not just pop psych writers–more about effective treatment – more about the unique trauma reactions and how and why they are created–and certainly more about the personality, cognitive, transpersonal, intrapersonal, and self-conceptual idiosyncratic nature of these survivors.
We have tried to come along others who show interest in digging more deeply into these elements in new ways such as Dr. Rhonda Freeman who is one that is actually doing something with this genre in a new exploratory way by identifying and documenting the neuro impact of pathological love relationships. While it’s work she began back in the mid 2000’s, it is still innovative and bringing something new to the field. And we appreciate that. We’d like to see more of that in what we consider to be a new emerging counseling genre field.
You said you see this as a new emerging ‘counseling genre’ field. How so?
We began training mental health professionals around 2006 or 2007 in ‘Treating the Aftermath’ program. And keeping a data base of those trained so we could refer to them. There weren’t that many for the whole country! But because of the grass roots nature of what is building, we are seeing more mental health professionals saying they treat these issues–writers on Psychology Today etc. So it IS becoming an identified genre and with topic-specific material, an identified genre with training, and now an identified genre with university-backed research and neuro documentation. So I think we can say we are well on our way to becoming a specialized counseling field. The Institute hopes to lead that in some formalized and clinical ways in the future.
The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education
Sandra L. Brown, M.A., is the founder of The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education. She is a former psychotherapist in the field of psychopathology, community educator on the intersections of Mental Illness, Personality Disorders, Violence, and Recidivism. She is a clinical lecturer and trainer, TV and radio guest, and an author. Her books include the highly popular How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved, the award winning Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm With Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists, as well as, the clinically relevant Counseling Victims of Violence: A Handbook for Helping Professionals.
The Institute’s History with Various Types of Research
Victimization and Treatment Issues 1990-1991
The Institute (then called Bridgework) began their interest with research as early as 1991 in our first book ‘Counseling Victims of Violence First Edition’ where we researched and catalogued appropriate crisis, short term, and long term approaches to victimizations creating a treatment consideration for various typologies of victimization.
Late 1990’s Historical Data Collection on Relational Dynamics of Personality Disordered Relationships
The Institute (then called Bridgework) was involved in Historical Qualitative research, gathering data over a number of years on relational dynamics of personality disordered relationships.
2007 Case Study Research on A Survivor’s Relational Dynamics with a Cluster B Partner
The Institute expanded their development of relational dynamics theory of Pathological Love Relationships first through an in depth Case Study Qualitative Research of a survivor’s relationship with a Cluster B disordered partner.
2007 Grounded Theory Research Outcome on Relational Dynamics in a Pathological Love Relationship
This lead to the development of a Grounded Theory outcome related to Pathological Love Relationship dynamics documented in our White Paper articles on our website and in the first book ever written about the relationship dynamics about women in relationships with psychopaths in the First Edition ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ book. This theory helped to explain the early, mid, late, and post relationship dynamics as well as the impact of these dynamics on the survivor leading to aftermath symptoms.
2007 Aftermath Symptom Survey
During the writing and evaluation of aftermath symptoms for the book ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ First Edition, The Institute conducted a Symptom Survivor Survey to document types of aftermath trauma-specific reactions, responses, and symptoms.
2007 Grounded Theory Outcomes on Cognitive Dissonance as Psychological and Neuro Injury & Self Perception Injury
Both the Relational Dynamics Theory and the Aftermath Symptom Survey influenced the development of a qualitative Grounded Theory Outcome on Cognitive Dissonance as the primary psychological injury from Pathological Love Relationships and its self-perception schematic distortion impact. This theory was described in White Paper articles on our website, in our books, products, digital products, power points and other teaching materials.
2008 Temperament Character Inventory Assessment—Research on Women’s Personality Traits in Relationships with Cluster B/Psychopathic Partners
During the writing of the First Edition ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ book, The TCI (Klonninger) was used on a female sample of 75 women for personality trait elevations. The outcomes of that research developed our theory of the Women’s ‘Super Traits’ reflecting proclivities to being attracted to, and tolerant of, psychopathological partners. Trait-targeting Theory was also discussed. This was the first documented research of women’s personalities in relationships with pathological partners. The outcome was published in the First Edition book, as White Paper articles on our site, on other Psychology-oriented sites.
2010 Expanded Theory Development Related to Relational Dynamics, Hypnotic/Trance/Suggestibility of Survivors, Word and Language Differentials in Pathological Relationships, Pathological Dichotomous Behavior and the Development of Cognitive Dissonance as Trauma, Personality Super Traits of women in relationships with Cluster B partners
2nd Edition of ‘Women Who Love Psychopaths’ enhanced the expansion of the relational dynamics, postulated hypnotic and trance influences, highlighted word and language differentials between pathological and non-pathological partners, and theorized that pathological dichotomous behavior impacted the development of cognitive dissonance as presenting trauma. Expanded understanding on personality Super Traits taken from Case Studies was also expounded on, in the book, White Paper articles, in training materials, and widely on the internet.
2014 Quantitative Empirical Collaborative University Research: Personality Traits of Women in Relationships with Cluster B/Psychopathic Male Partners, Purdue University
Collaboratively performed with Purdue University, utilizing the Five Factor Model and Five Factor Form, a large sample of over 600 women completed the research supporting earlier research with The TCI that personality ‘super’ trait elevations exist in multiple domains. First university supported research on this population of women in pathological love relationships. Findings are currently in process of publication.