Wise Woman

Sometimes you need help, but be careful who helps you!

"In my practice as a psychotherapist, I frequently observe that the clients who first appear the gentlest and most forgiving, often end up having the greatest anger. Their anger burns so hot they have never felt safe even to feel it. While insisting they are not angry, they are very afraid of other people’s anger. "
Katherine Armstrong


She listened to me and began to see patterns of behavior. She told me I was not crazy but that other people were using me as a trash bin for their nastiness. (See Transference, Splitting and Projecting) My unconscious began to tell me things in my dreams. For those of you who do not believe in Freud (I must admit I was one) I can only say that most of you are living in ignorance - some ignorance is bliss. Fortunately I was told stories that helped be understand.

One of the things my Wise Woman told me was the story of the flea circus. If you take young fleas and put them into a glass aquarium then place a cover on top, the fleas learn that they will hit the top (fleas are the world's champion of jumpers) so self limit their jumping. When the fleas are older you can remove the top from their cage, and the fleas will not jump out because they have learned they can't. People have similar experiences when they are young. (In some poor countries, parents break their children's legs so they can beg.)

The second story she related was how a man would walk down the same street over and over, and every time he would fall into a hole. She asked me to place myself in the man's position; what would I do? I replied I would see the hole. But what if you couldn't, what if you were like the fleas in the circus, trained not to. So we worked on seeing. Then she related the second part of the story, how the man would walk down the street, see the hole, but still fall in. What to do? The third and final part of the lesson was not only to see the hole, but to avoid it. Mental blindness is like a bad habit - hard to break.

She recommended a book that opened up more vistas. Alice Miller wrote a seminal book, The Drama of the Gifted Child, that breaks the taboo of the 'good mother'. In a more recent book The Body Never Lies, Lingering Effects of Hurtful Parenting she denounces the Biblical law that forces children to honor and obey their parents.

As I progressed, I searched the internet and found both the DSM IV and NPD. The funniest part of my journey was watching the TV character Tony Soprano's mother wanting to kill him because he found out she was a terrible mother - enlightenment is dangerous.

Alice Miller writes, “Experience has taught us that we have only one enduring weapon in our struggle against mental illness: the emotional discovery of the truth about the unique history of our childhood."

A Caveat on therapists or caveat emptor

another Caveat from

A self administered test to see if you need therapy

Go to Alice Miller

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Narcissistic Personality Symptoms

  1. grandiosity / exaggeration
  2. fantastic thinking / romantic
  3. believes special / unique
  4. requires admiration
  5. entitled / demanding
  6. exploitive / manipulative
  7. lacks empathy
  8. envious / jealous
  9. arrogant / haughty

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All text is copyrighted © Stephen McDonnell 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007,2008, 2009. 2010, 2011.


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