How Pathological is Too Pathological?

(this is a follow-on to the previous article on Why Abusers Can’t Change / Pathology)
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How Pathological is “Too Pathological”?

In other words, ‘How sick is TOO sick?’

One of the characteristics of women who have been in pathological relationships is that they are very ‘forgiving’ and ‘tolerant’ of less than stellar mental health qualities in their intimate relationships. That’s because the women tested very high in traits like compassion, empathy, tolerance, and acceptance. These are excellent and humanitarian traits to have… except in a relationship with a pathological person in which these traits create ‘super glue’ that keeps you in a relationship you should NOT be tolerating, accepting, or being empathetic about. The problem is… women often don’t realize that someone can simply have ‘narcissistic traits‘ or ‘psychopathic traits‘ and STILL be a danger to her in a relationship.

That’s because it doesn’t take much pathology to dramatically negatively effect her and the relationship. It only takes a ‘drop’ of abnormal psychology to really screw up the relationship and the others around him. This is why even ‘just traits’ are important to identify. ‘Just traits’ means he has SOME of the criteria for, lets say narcissism or psychopathy but not enough to fully qualify for the full diagnosis. But let’s not split hairs here… a few traits are enough to qualify for ‘too’ pathological.

It DOES matter that he is a ‘tad bit’ pathological because any of the traits of pathology are negative and harmful.

Would it matter that he had a little or a lot of ‘no empathy?’ No — the end result is the same — no empathy for the pain he causes others. ‘None’ is none — it doesn’t matter if he is a little unempathetic or a lot. Not being able to have empathy is the bottom line.

Would it matter if he had a little or a lot of poor impulse control? I doubt it if his poor impulse control effected his sexual acting out, his drug use, or his wild spending habits. A little goes a long way in poor impulse control.

Would it matter if he had a little or a lot of rebellion against laws, rules, or authority? Probably not… even just a little bit of rebellion has the propensity of getting him arrested or fired, ignoring a restraining order or refusing to pay child support. How about ‘just pathological enough’ to really screw up your children with his distorted and warped world view, his chronic inconsistency, his wavering devotion to you or them, his role modeling of his addictions, or his display of ‘the rules aren’t for me’ attitude?

I watch women ‘look’ for loopholes to minimize the pathology he DOES have instead of looking for ways and reasons to get out. They find reasons ‘it’s not THAT bad.’

But just a little bit of a ‘bad boy’ is probably too pathological… too sick for a normal relationship. Since pathology is the ‘inability to change/sustain change, grow to any meaningful depth, or develop insight about how one’s behavior effects others’ even just ‘some’ pathology is too much. Because if he can’t sustain change (you know… all those things he promises to change about himself) or grow or have insight about how and why he hurts you… he’s TOO pathological — TOO sick — TOO disordered to have anything that resembles a normal relationship. Why would you ‘want’ a relationship that has NO capacity to grow, change, or meet your needs?

Bad boy enticement is very real… that edginess he has makes many women highly attracted to him. But beyond the edginess can be anything from ‘just traits’ to ‘full blown pathology.’ Nonetheless, women must learn to draw a line in the sand that even ‘just’ traits is enough to guarantee their unhappiness and harm in the hands of a guy who is ‘too pathological’ for her!

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Article written by Sandra L. Brown, M.A., Director of The Dangerous Relationship Institute and author ‘How to Spot a Dangerous Man Before You Get Involved’ and ‘Counseling Victims of Violence.’ The Institute is involved in helping women achieve relational harm reduction.

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