Given the recent events unfolding in this country, and around the world, it seems important to have a conversation about evil. Evil is not something any of us are comfortable talking about or looking at. It IS something that exists, however, and the emotional trauma and fallout from encountering it leaves scars that can take time and support to heal. Whether we are talking about healing an individual, a group, a country, or the planet itself, having the courage to look at the monsters hiding behind the masks is essential. There is a reason why certain types of books, movies, and TV shows have become so successful, or have become classics when others fade away. The works of Alfred Hitchcock, Stephen King, Tolkien, William Peter Blattey, Shakespeare, J. K. Rowling and Edgar Allen Poe are just a few examples of writers whose work confronts and exposes the frightening reality of monsters. The most successful computer and video games along these lines are the ones that allow the players to do battle, vanquish the bad guys, become a hero or warrior, and save the world. While some people might decry these games as being too violent, in a culture where bullying and abuse of all kinds has reached epidemic levels, these games have become a way for young people to feel empowered. They are in direct contrast to the social apathy kids struggle to deal with in their day to day lives.
A number of recent tragedies contributed to my decision to write about this topic. The deaths of black people at the hands of the police, racism, increased violence against women, the slaughter of elephants and rhinos through poaching, the shocking and brutal killing of the beloved lion Cecil at the hands of a trophy hunter… All of these events, plus a lifetime of being a healer, holding a space for clients who are attempting to understand and recover from the actions and choices of the people around them, made it clear to me that now is the time to share some different perspectives on this.
First, I want to comment on some articles I’m seeing on the Internet saying how sad it is that the death of a lion is prompting more outrage and more media coverage than the police killings of black people. What those comments fail to take into consideration are two very important things: Denial and Cognitive Dissonance. It is much safer for many people to access their own repressed fear, grief, and rage through the death of an animal than it is to access those emotions through the death of a human being. No human being that they know has been lured away from a National Park with a piece of meat, shot with an arrow, tracked, and then been butchered as a trophy. It is the impossibility of this happening to them, or to their loved ones, that allows the protective mechanism of denial to be bypassed. In contrast to that, it is the very real possibility of violence directed at them, or someone they love, that prevents many people from breaking through that mechanism, speaking out or taking action against predators of all kinds. It is a type of internal paralysis, shock, a numbness that exists on a subconscious level. It has nothing to do with animals being more important than humans, and everything to do with fear. Fear of being overwhelmed by a lifetime of suppressed grief and pain. It is much safer to get in touch with that reservoir of pain through the death of an animal rather than through the torture, sexual abuse, or murder of a child, a woman, or a man, no matter what color they are. We should not be shaming people who ARE responding to that death by telling them that human suffering should be more important than animals suffering. All suffering matters. It is not a contest. Allow people the right to access their own pain in their own way.
With the statistics on domestic violence, where an estimated 1.3 million women a year are battered, and that number continues to rise, with not much media attention about those figures, that does not mean people don’t care about women. What it does mean is that people can’t handle looking at it, or pretty much anything else, like mental illness, racism, poverty, climate change, the sexual abuse of children… and continue to function. The things that are the most heinous are the things most people’s minds are the most defended against knowing. Any therapist understands this, and I always try to respect that subconscious protective strategy in my clients, while gently moving them forward in their healing process. It is very delicate work, where the mind is shielded against remembering trauma. Which brings me to a type of trauma that results from having been in contact with the most difficult type of individual to deal with: people with Personality Disorders.
There are a number of Personality Disorders listed in the DSM V. Some are considered to be a form of mental illness, some are not. All of them share certain attributes, however, with pathological narcissism being at the top of the list. There are differences between them, but many more marked similarities. Some, like Borderline Personality Disorder, have become widely used to describe a pattern of behavior over the past decade or so. Others, like Paranoid Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder, or Narcisstic Personality Disorder, are less well known. All healers end up having to address the flaming wreckage these people leave behind them. Each healer has their own techniques or protocols that they use to help people recover from the damage caused by a personality disordered individual, which can be extensive. Having one of these individuals as a boss, a co-worker, a parent, a lover, a spouse, or a friend pretty much guarantees the need for some kind of healing work. ( Some helpful books on this topic are: “The People of the Lie”, by M. Scott Peck, a psychiatrist best known for the book ” The Road Less Traveled”, “Malignant Self-Love”, by Dr Sam Vaknin, “Children of the Self-absorbed”, by Nina Brown, “Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psycopaths Among Us”, by Robert D. Hare, PhD, “The Gaslight Effect” by Dr Robin Stern, and “In Sheep’s Clothing” by George K. Simon JR., PhD. )
This complete lack of empathy or conscience is extremely difficult for most people to understand, as is the capacity to manipulate and lie. These people are predators, users, and takers, hiding behind a facade of intelligence and charm. They are very good at appearing to be “normal”. By not understanding the reality of what is behind that facade, it sets kind and compassionate people up to become targets for what is, in fact, a very dangerous person.
Taoist and Shamanic traditions have had protocols for helping people to heal from the emotional and psychic after effects of being exposed to the toxic energies of these beings for thousands of years. One of the first places that I start, when working with a client who is, or has been in a relationship with one of these beings, is restoring the structural integrity of the Root Chakra. The Root Chakra is where we connect to our bodies and to the Earth plane. The psychic and emotional abuse by these people can leave one feeling anxiety and exhaustion. We can have difficulty trusting others, but more importantly, trusting ourselves after having been taken in and fooled by these master manipulators. I use guided meditations and visualizations to help people reconnect with their inner wisdom, and I work towards removing the shame and self-blame that goes along with having been exploited through one’s compassion and kindness.
My next step is restoring the structural integrity of the Third Chakra. ( The Solar Plexus Chakra). This Chakra has to do with identity, self-worth, and self-esteem. The rampant narcissism of the personality disordered individual includes a competitiveness, a need to demean and diminish others in every way, in order to feel a sense of power and control. Humiliation is part of their arsenal. After even a limited exposure to this, even a very strong person can be worn down by it. Again, using inner work, meditation and visualizations, stones, essential oils, herbs, we work together to restore the awareness of the authentic self.
Another Shamanic practice is teaching people to have strong psychic boundaries. When dealing with narcissists, the word “no” needs to become your best friend. They tend to bully, wheedle, cajole, manipulate, or cry to get what they want. Learning to say no, and mean it is essential. Learning to develop shields around your energy body is also essential, because these people are energy vampires, in the truest sense of the word. You can feel drained and depleted after a brief encounter with one, without understanding why.
Narcissists tend to gravitate towards jobs that fulfill their need for power and attention. Most workplaces have people who have maneuvered their way to upper positions. Working for or with one is a nightmare, as they tend to take all of the credit for the efforts and ideas of others, and do as little work as possible.
An important thing to understand about dealing with them, is refusing to engage with them. Confronting one gets you nowhere, since they are masters of deflection and spin-doctoring reality. Avoid them whenever possible. Read some of the books I mentioned for tips on handling them while preserving your sanity. Understand that these people thrive on chaos and drama. That is food for them.
I believe now is the time to have this conversation, because we are seeing the damage these entities are creating absolutely everywhere. No species is safe, no economy, no country, and certainly not the earth itself, because narcissists don’t care about anything or anybody but themselves. Becoming the spiritual warrior is about living from empathy, compassion, and courage. The courage to look at what is being done by them, and what will happen if we stay silent and frozen in the trauma they have created. There is no time to debate about which species is suffering more, the entire planet is at risk. By coming together as a community of heart-centered people, we can heal each other and the planet. Earth Mother is counting on us. Our hearts are huge, and together, there is room in our hearts for every living thing. We can love the animals, the children, all races, the trees, the water, there is room in our hearts for all. Love can push back the darkness. It always has. Blessings, Judith
( On the advice of one of my daughters, Hope, I will be adding a part two to this teaching down the line.)