Has Your Therapist Gone Rogue?

On a Personal Note

Things - and people - are not always as they seem. Transactional Analysis has a neat phrase, that people may utilise a "chosen camouflage" to portray the opposite of their real nature.

A woman, who shall be nameless and happens to live close by, elected to get counselling qualifications and open part of her home for counselling sessions. It is not a problem as such, in that there are a few visitors coming for their 50-minute hour and leaving, though often not returning. Counselling is no easy process and can be quite expensive. Maybe some are not happy their sessions are held in a room with an adjoining wall to this property. I never tested out if one can hear voices or words. If the counsellor in question has doubts about my integrity, she should hold sessions in a different room or rent somewhere suitable. I question why she ever thought her plan a good one, or has not since modified it.

And I question why a counsellor who aims or claims to be a professional, antagonises her older neighbour, who could perhaps make legitimate observations regarding activities on adjacent property. Might the counsellor be seeking an excuse to give up? Are some people reluctant to return as things do not feel right to them, or for them? Different styles and environments suit people differently. If something works for you, use it. If you don't feel easy, try to work out why, and move on or away if that feels better.

A counsellor or therapist can be competent and ethical, yet still engender a great deal of anger or resentment in clients, their spouse, or any family or friends who take issue over something. With a therapist who is not so well-meaning or ethical, all hell can break loose! Most therapists make mistakes, or something misfires, but usually clients are able to see that for what it is, and continue.

I won't go into detail about my experiences and misgivings about the on-surface pleasant neighbour. Actions speak louder than words, and anomalies stand out eventually.

An old Proverb
Comparisons are odious, says a 15th century proverb. I knew another counsellor who has since changed her spots, about whom similar veiled criticisms were made, though clear enough for her to be recognisable by others. Watch out for yourself and those for whom you have concerns. Be careful what you say. Stand by and be ready to step in, if need be, to save unnecessary grief.

Another Proverb
Empty vessels make the most noise, which usually implies that people sound off for the sake of getting noticed. Or it can be a manic defence mechanism if you are familiar with that. I use it here to drop a hint that someone with emptiness in their lives may conceal it in a number of ways. People who are reasonably happy or in a good relationship, tend to share or wish others well, and not to cause problems, or aggravate or score points. Most of us have some good times and "worser" ones, or times when we're tactless. Watch out for a person with a long empty day, trying to portray goodness and light. What happens when it doesn't wash? Who might they then attack and blame?

Health check/Reality check
If you wake up tearful or shaky or it descends in the daytime, with a feeling you've been bullied or harassed, examine what else it could be, and also get your health checked. Don't assume it can't be bullying just because you can't pin it down. Chances are that someone has got under your normal defences or found a soft spot. Ask a friend or colleague if they notice any changes in you, like you've been on a short fuse lately.

Covert Bullying and Stalking

Bullying can be a bit like stalking - probably because people think they have a right to, or can get away with it. If you're lucky, someone else notices. Sometimes someone unexpected offers support, almost simultaneously. Who knows how these things happen? There have been a lot of coincidences along the way, going back to when we first moved in.

I had the shock of a bereavement and needed to be left pretty much alone to get my bearings. As I started to do more, this bullying thing happened. Why? It can be easy to get paranoid after bereavement but that was not it. I am older than the other party and not likely to be a subject for envy or jealousy. As with being stalked, that simply does not come into it. Sometimes it has been a younger, pretty woman, as in a situation where a newcomer to an office excluded people I'd known for years from talking to me. Only one other person could see what was happening, a single factor which helped immensely. I have tried to step in for others at the receiving end, with no-one to support them or who 'sees'. It may be possible to step into the firing line and take the brunt of it, but that can be detrimental to one's own health.

In the present situation, the other party suddenly became friendly, and within 2 months turned the opposite, and it is hard to see why. What she has told her partner I have no idea, but he now looks at me with a gape like Fozzy Bear, as if I have 3 heads with horns on. I try to keep my distance, be a bit unpredictable (I guess this thing is about 'control'), and make sure our property has a very different style from the neighbouring one and is well marked, so that even if someone is distressed or not thinking clearly, there should be no confusion.

Anomalous Dynamics

Over the years I have tried to indicate where therapy can go wrong. Never did I think I could be at the receiving end of strange behaviour from a counsellor who knew my circumstances, and who offers to counsel the bereaved for a fee.

Think what seems strange about your own situation, and who is having some input or impact on it, or on you. Have a think and a re-think, get a short change of scene if you can - a bus ride helps me. If any of this matches, be ready to change, or move on in some way when you are able. These things may seem irrelevant or trite, but it is easy to lose one's equanimity, personal dignity or integrity when under pressure. Perhaps that is the true aim behind it. Anyway, I do not suggest confrontation, particularly when you are upset, because it would only sound as if you're not making sense. Where could it go afterwards?

Internet Bullying
I write this, having worked in many everyday jobs, some supportive and like being in a nice family, and the other kind where there is bullying and undermining. Both sorts still exist, though the latter variety seem to have further deteriorated, with an added dimension of the Internet, emails, sniping and trolling, so that the workplace can be even more intrusive. For the young, who may be bullied online, as well as during time at school or the bus journey home, things can be particularly hard, and we need to recognise that too.

A Man's Home is his Castle

As more homes are built as far as the eye can see, with small gardens at angles and little privacy, more people living longer and being at home, I think neighbourhood disputes are likely to increase. It is probably a matter of luck. People like to feel master of all they survey, and control their environment with colour schemes, extensions, DIY. Previous owners nextdoor had a beanfeast ending in high fences and a highly bald yard, a style that attracts more of the same. Each time it changes hands it gets decorated top to bottom, front to back, immaculate over pristine; then start all over.

What do people do when the work is done, cupboards bought, stuff in place? Most leave, with nothing or no-one to seek to control in that setting, no more cardboard boxes, delivery vans or electricians. There may be no need to work for a living, or their job has folded. People are left with themselves or their partner to try to control. They open doors and windows, and presto, uncontrollable neighbours intrude on their dream of perfection. Innocent people can get hurt from the spin-off, which is something I wish to pre-empt.

Channel-flipping, I watched a True Crime slot on neighbour problems along the lines of Neighbours from Hell, close anyway. Several people targeted were aged 50 plus or pensioners, home most days on limited means, or in poor health and often alone. In attempting to sort out what was a strategy against them and how they reacted, an interesting factor emerged: Many had virtually allowed themselves to get painted up a corner. They did not want trouble and adapted their own habits, including when they flushed the toilet so as not to disturb anyone. Obviously some older people are less pleasant than others or play some part in the mix. But when some tried to take a stand, they tended to be the ones ending up in court with perhaps a suspended sentence. One can suddenly be in a situation with no clue as to why, with people making things up and molehills becoming mountains. Things you'd think would settle down over time, just do not.

A Feeling of Control or Entitlement?

I poke around picking up bits, and sometimes a theme comes to mind in another context. When problems arise or people try to solve a quicker route home in their car (another 'castle' thing for sure), psychologists suggest a need to feel in control, no matter if there's no difference in journey time. If you look at crime, murder particularly, the underlying dynamic often seems to be that the perpetrator no longer feels in control of the situation, the victim, or himself: Snap.

In the last few days, I read about an increased feeling of 'entitlement' in sections of the population, leading I think to increased narcissistic or selfish behaviour. Check it out, but you get the drift and my aim is not to harp on. It's been a nice long Summer. Roll on privacy of Winter: Draw the curtains, pull down the blinds, fish out the duffle, no need for a show or pretence.

Why do other people pretend to be more than they are, or to have special entitlements?

Self Image

People portray themselves in a way that will get kudos, and it does not go down well if others fail to reinforce that or undermine it. I'm a bit of a Dumbo, in that it takes a while for me to see the wood for the trees. When someone realises instinctively that I no longer endorse their act, it is not a good sign! My belief is this happened in the scenario I describe. The other party believed she had a handle on things, on me or my territory. This was based on my appearing unable to assert myself, or to do much. People generally accept changes in others. I wonder what it says about a counsellor who behaves like a virtual teenager when something thwarts her, perhaps by refusing to fit her self image or personal myth. Perhaps there are too many of those myths, or the metaphors have become overly mixed. Who knows?

I'll spare you speculation about the so-called 'Shadow Self'. Some people behave more than others as if they think they're the Good Fairy, and descend into a virtual Hell while projecting that or protecting it. If any of the dynamics or feelings I mention here strike a chord, it has been worthwhile writing.

In a recent re-run of an NCIS episode, 'Ducky' put it succinctly: that people may cast a narrative with themselves as hero or heroine, and make other people into a villain. Part of it may be a control mechanism to get a victim to behave in certain ways by pushing their buttons. Others may get drawn into the mix.

I have been drawn into someone's unpleasant mix, and cannot yet see why. Tiny issues to do with living in close proximity, or ordinary comings and goings, turn into much bigger ones. If I start to explain some of it to friends, or seek advice, my listeners would think (or say) that I am being overly sensitive. Anyone who has been through this knows what it is like. The best way to describe it is like mis-direction performed by a stage magician or a con-man. There is deception somewhere, in an attempt to portray themselves as being one thing, while doing other things to divert, confuse or cause discomfiture. That I cannot explain all of it or go into detail here, does not make it unreal. There are some avenues open to me, but my guess is that when 'it' does not work, or the cover-story proves inadequate, things will change. The area where we live has advantages. There is little privacy, but even if people have a disagreement, if they see someone doing wrong behind the other person's back, they'd still tell them about it.

To return to the point, a counsellor or therapist behaving in an unprofessional or unkind manner to someone living nearby, bodes ill for some of her clients, who will have an instinct about how the process should affect them, and it's never too late to change one's mind. Most people have experience or awareness of how life, health, relationships, job or finances, can take a sudden downturn through a 'quirk of fate', unfortunate decision, or unintended consequences. It has happened to us or people we know, or we see it in film or TV dramas, so there's quite a repertoire to draw on. I question how or why anyone trained in counselling concepts, can act as though ignorant of things that occur out-of-the-blue or longer-term, and risk possible spin-off. Or do they somehow wish things to get worse?

However plausible someone seems, and in whatever setting, you are the person best equipped to make decisions. Some friends or colleagues may be able to talk some of it through with you.

Playlists on Bad Therapy

About Turn!
In a bizarre twist, this 'whatever' situation changed. You could say I was mistaken about much of it, but rather this appears to confirm it. I do not know what lay behind the virtual gangstalking behaviour, though I always felt it unnatural. Some had the appearance of acting, a skit put on for my benefit. Why? I simply add to observations up on this page, that it is just as spooky when people backtrack on months of what seemed like a campaign. Did they realise it could look bad to others, or if I spoke out? They seemed to assume it was in-the-bag people would think me batty or inadequate. Well they can do if they wish.

But what changed, I wonder? Could someone else have warned them not to draw attention to themselves, or risk damaging their reputations? Or does something altogether different lie behind the behaviours? I just could not see why I was drawn in in any way. If you find yourself in a difficult situation such as bullying, whispering campaigns, harassment etc., try to ride it out as best you can. It does tend to go elsewhere in time, or fade or switch. I can tell you that I am wary of anyone who suddenly becomes friendly, with a bright smile and a wave, which is a pity.

My guess is the person involved has a likely history of doing her capers in an ordinary workplace, offering sympathy to someone she encouraged others to target. She has simply transposed that onto a neighbour situation, which is now her workplace. Look for books on workplace bullying or 'mobbing' which can show incredible alliances among some workers to discredit others.

Just Suppose

Everyone has their own thoughts or input, something they can offer to the mix, or others can take things forward in their own way. Just when you think a situation unlikely to change, another angle may reveal itself, or parts of the mosaic shift to a better focus.

It is likely to be easier to scare or hurt people who already have had bad experiences, like abuse or a bereavement. Suppose you actually give people bad experiences, particularly when they are young, then you insist they need help or to talk things through with a 'qualified person', i.e. you create a 'new reality' where more labels are given to more behaviours, implying there is something wrong emotionally or biologically that requires intervention. There are plenty of good websites and books on the labelling process, or where medication or ECT are given which do more harm than good in some situations. Because of the labels, or could it be something else?

I don't class myself as a conspiracy theorist, but just suppose people responsible for making policies affecting significant portions of society, have ideas contrary to what you feel are best for you and yours. They find it easier to handle society if they have-a-handle on it, in other words moving the goalposts over what is 'normal behaviour' till the majority feel inadequate, or in need of what is called talking therapy - or worse, unnecessary or harmful drugs or ECT.

Therapists and counsellors can indeed Go Rogue and you can find information in the Sources below. Prescription drugs can become addictive and cause problems, and I don't adhere to the idea they cannot ever be life-savers too. What I aim to show is that the trend towards more therapy or talking-through, particularly in a longterm and paying situation, can become a deliberate policy to entrap, or engender dependence. It can be an individual therapist's notion that people need a particular approach (research tends to show that the type of trusting relationship that develops matters more than the therapeutic model used). I believe that there is value in many approaches, but that some are being used in ways that probably were not intended by their founder/s.

If that policy is being accentuated, fuelled, by subversive techniques and practices such as retraumatising those who have already been hurt, you'll see why I and some others have concerns. It is therapy in reverse; knowledge being used to 'undo' people. If some parts of society are actually being traumatised by those who have the know-how, what would that suggest? Have you watched the News lately?

Some writers suggest there are deliberate attempts to destabilise the strength of families, to denigrate the role of fathers or mothers, or family bonds in general. That really does seem to be throwing out the baby & bathwater and much more, because often it is family loyalties and care, and the traditions, that get people through the bad times. If you are fortunate enough to have friends, neighbours or colleagues to give at least some support, that can make a big difference too. Otherwise I hope there is something here to follow up.

This is for you, if you find yourself wondering about the legitimacy of individuals or movements, whatever things look like, and particularly if people try to convince you, or - something even nastier - ostracise and bully you.

Project Caressing

You can look this up on search engines. Going from memory (I hate looking at this stuff but feel it is behind a lot of this), Laura Huxley promoted the idea that older people, particularly on their own, would benefit from close proximity to or touching young children. Some countries or individuals have tried to bring in very early sexual education, or ages of consent for actual sexual activity.

I am no expert, but recall horrific films of sexually transmitted diseases shown in the school hall when we were teenagers, let alone toddlers.
Exactly: Let alone toddlers.

If you wanted to destabilise some individuals, or a whole batch of society, what easier way than to sexualise them early, then claim something is wrong with them that needs sorting out, as in more grist for the therapy mill? Then, as can be seen through 2013-2016, start a hue and cry over #CSA/child sexual abuse, stir up memories, emotions, resentments, stoke it up with Inquiries into historical and institutional abuse, and create animosities amongst survivors and those concerned for them. A nice little earner, a way of 'control', a way to whitewash events and people that one hoped would be seen for what they truly are. 

The Gas Man Cometh

'Twas on a Monday morning
The Gas-Man came to call;
The gas tap wouldn't turn - I wasn't getting gas at all.
He tore out all the skirting boards
To try and find the main,
And I had to call a Carpenter to put them back again.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

'Twas on a Tuesday morning
The Carpenter came round;
He hammered and he chiselled and he said: 'Look what I've found!
Your joists are full of dry-rot
But I'll put it all to rights.'
Then he nailed right through a cable and out went all the lights.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

'Twas on a Wednesday morning
The Electrician came;
He called me 'Mr Sanderson' (which isn't quite my name).
He couldn't reach the fuse box
Without standing on the bin
And his foot went through a window - so I called a Glazier in.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

Twas on a Thursday morning
The Glazier came along,
With his blow-torch and his putty and his merry Glazier's song;
He put another pane in -
It took no time at all -
But I had to get a Painter in to come and paint the wall.
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

'Twas on a Friday morning
The Painter made a start;
With undercoats and overcoats he painted every part,
Every nook and every cranny,
But I found when he was gone
He'd painted over the gas tap and I couldn't turn it on!
Oh, it all makes work for the working man to do!

On Saturday and Sunday they do no work at all:
So 'twas on a Monday morning that the Gas-Man came to call!

SOURCES & LINKS: Counsellors/Therapists 'Going Rogue'

'Managing Monsters: Six Myths of our Time' by Marina Warner, (Reith Lectures 1994)

'Recovering Your Lost Self from Adversity', Art Martin, Tony Stubbs
31 people recovering from financial ruin, life-threatening illness, betrayal, insanity, incarceration, child abuse, tell how they face gigantic obstacles.

'Disrupted Lives: How People Create Meaning in a Chaotic World', Gay Becker

'Is it Time to Regulate Psychotherapy?' The Guardian, 9 May 2010
(Note: Some organisations are better than others. The fact that someone belongs to a reputable organisation does not necessarily mean that they are ethical, or would suit each person.)

More Links at Middle Ground: Allegations of Abuse, Bad Memory, Bad Therapy http://middlegroundable.blogspot.co.uk

Note: This is the first and main post. To see other posts, pages, labels and side links, use the Web version which has a link right at the bottom of the page.

But it Takes 2 to Tango?

So I should take some responsibility? What I have done is remain visible at times to demonstrate that I live + breathe and am going nowhere, and I have a right not to be overridden via someone's fantasies, however pervasive.

I have stood by as the 'lady' in question has surrounded herself, sometimes not with ease, with folks who think she's the bee's knees, or those in need of help who have found somewhere congenial. I don't question that she has skills that would help in some situations. I feel there are problem areas, not just my own concerns, but that generally opening one's home to people in trouble is more risky than say 20 years ago.

If a counsellor or therapist bites off more than they can chew, or some things crack off or combine, there can be the kind of trouble that made more than one good-intentioned helper shut up shop and head for the hills. If the helper is not well-intentioned or boundaried, or is seeking too much kudos, even more so.

The play-acting I've been viewing and subjected to does not bode well for some people going through difficulties, feeling they may have been short-changed by someone who should not get close to doing that with anyone who may be presently vulnerable. I have concerns over her safety - believe it or not (and my own), from possible spin-offs or unintended consequences through someone trying to mix 'n' match too many things in one small place at one time.

That's as maybe and is obviously my opinion. The only thing I am guilty of is standing up for myself, albeit ever so slightly. You think that warrants this situation? I cannot give more specifics in case it reveals too much. But the last few weeks there have been glances from passers-by at the upstairs to both houses, a carload of lads outside offering an unrequired, unlikely explanation before racing off, and people peering through the fence. All is unprecedented (I had a weather eye open), and is due to nothing I've been up to.

My thinking returns to:

1) Usually in situations that have grown awkward, people settle back into a more strategic and comfortable routine, with Hi, how are you? and something about the weather.

2) Are there strategic reasons behind the behaviours I am faced with, which seem increasingly concerted? Do we all play out our roles instinctively, or much more strategically, or a bit of both?  What happens if we meet ourselves coming backwards, when something we do is inconsistent or maybe we'd be shooting ourselves in the foot? Sure, we need to adapt at times, and often people do gain insight and make changes.

3) I am not sure why the female in question appears to have changed significantly. I guess we all behave differently at various times in life, and in different situations. I tend to appear pretty anaemic, as though I can't stand up and fight. Even when distraught, I give back what I get. That message has got across, and probably explains this pantomime reaching Act III. Is all life a strategic game? Maybe one day we'll find out. Meanwhile I continue to fight for those who cannot fight for themselves because of their own tragedies or circumstances. A so-called counsellor making anyone's life harder is something I really cannot countenance.

4) Do the couple eye this property as a future acquisition for empire building, and I am currently in situ? That may sound daft, but it happened when someone wanted to buy my mother's flat. They'd been neighbours of hers, and decent both to her and me, not antagonistic. One would expect this female counsellor to court co-operation rather than the very opposite. It seems every small way I assert myself over anything-at-all is red rag to a bull and treated as major, though I have kept a very low profile. I refuse to be virtually painted into a corner, as some older residents find happens, often with their being blamed rather than the other way around.

5) I've grown tired of being a stand-in floor show for a couple with nowhere interesting to turn their gaze. Ordinary work situations have other events and people, and so the focus tends to wane unless someone stirs the pot. Here there is no-one else to even notice or be affected by their antics, showing off, or whispering their way down the path in my line of sight, something I have changed in the hope it extinguishes their behaviour. Sadly no other commonsense approach has improved things, which in itself is a cause for query. I have not stirred any pot, simply stood my ground.

6) There is some paranoia here, and anyone is welcome to wave a finger in my direction. Hey, you won't be the only one. I do not feel I am the only one either. What scares me most is people speaking with forked tongue and brittle smile. Now there is much traipsing along the side fence to this property as if she's pulled off a coup, and grimacing at our windows. It is my only private place. Why start this after several years? Whose obsession is it? I never experienced anything like this except in a hostile workplace where some people wish you succumbed to something horrid overnight! I am not everyone's favourite person, but can you say this un-neighbour's behaviour is ordinary? I make light of it here, but it is upsetting day in, day out.

7) Instead of the phenomenon easing up or getting clearer, 'it' has worsened despite my efforts to absent myself physically much of the time, and psychologically all the time. Since it began, her partner has hardly been left on his own without her a foot away. When I did bump into him, he chattered like he always used to - limited but ordinary - while she hovered in the doorway. I believe this has been part of some strategy of control largely nothing to do with me, but which grew to involve me: there's no-one else around. There have been big changes 2 days on from the last chat, and hopefully this silly saga will soon be done with.

8) Time and time again, I wonder if something or someone else, is at back of this situation, as if it were part of a confidence trick. It seems to be like a fit-up, only part of which came off. And I am bearing the brunt of the wider failure.

9) Could it be part of some obscure cult-like growth or political scheme, where Mata Hari's are placed into sensitive relationships or locations! But I digress...

If a phrase or paragraph or just a crucial word, clues you in on something to follow up, or to work out how to get by and protect yourself, my job is done.

Good Luck.

Chameleon or Sociopath? Toxic or Predatory?

Books about Sociopaths on sites like Amazon or Google range from short, painful, personal accounts, to the work of academic or mental health professionals. Your experiences may tie in with some of it, so just find what suits you as an aid to understanding, and keep an open mind. I am no expert and hate categorising people, but found I'd puzzled over factors that some writers did mention. Those accounts were helpful in stopping me going in circles! I do not think there is a definitive answer, but sometimes we need to accept that and move on. I was seeking a way to explain things to a friend who I knew would doubt and question, and rightly so. I found explanations better than mine, from people who had been through far worse. There were also some descriptions written from the point of view of the sociopath or narcissist. Whatever terminology seems apt, 'chameleon' is a good place to start, and may clue you in.

There does seem to be a toxic atmosphere, an uneasy quiet or frenetic cleaning purges that rattle our doors and windows. I am never easy about labelling people as 'toxic' though can see how that happens. My thinking is more in terms of predatory behaviour.

I have been known to flatter myself for playing an occasional part in altering someone's behaviour. Some things have changed here - for the better on this side of the fence, but I am not holding my breath. If any words or ideas are useful, it all helps to get some of it in the past. That has happened in this instance, though it has been a medium-term 'haul'.

Below is a short list of some Books on Sociopaths that are inexpensive and easy to read. Start simple, and search deeper if you need. I'm sorry not to have packaged this more neatly: It did not happen neatly or nicely. You are welcome to the information, and may be able to pass it on at a crucial time for someone else.

Prima Donnas
Something that may not seem to fit with this, is behaviour generally associated with stage or celebrity, or diva status: The 'lady' in question here behaves as though she has extra privileges or entitlement, exhibiting increasingly diva-like traits. I liken it to vandalism (something I have experience of), where perpetrators do things basically because they can. i.e. No-one stops them. That is not enough reason for not doing what we can to survive situations, to disseminate information, to support someone else, or to believe what may seem a heightened sensitivity in them. It could be real, and it could happen to you. My concern is that someone with intent to harm, will do it to someone like my elderly mother, to someone gentle and kind to others whose tendency is to allow others leeway. And it is too much for me to feel I will forgive, yet-awhile anyway.

I am a firm believer that Forwarned is Forearmed, and if one sees or recognises parts of the dynamic or puzzle, it shoves a substantial and significant spanner in. Proceed with caution, because part of this neighbour or territorial psychology dynamic seems to be that, whatever one does to be less obtrusive, or do simple, reasonable things to assert a style or right, can swiftly turn into a Really Big Issue in a bizarre or perverse way.

This is for you, if you find yourself wondering about individuals or movements, whatever things look like, and particularly if people try to convince you, or they bully or shun you, or they try to cut you off from others.


THE NARCISSIST'S SECRETS: (Know the things they don't want you to know!): Leyla Loric, Richard Grannon https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01ITFG65U/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_TcExybM49CGS0 … via @AmazonUK

Black Hole : The Narcissistic Hoover by H G Tudor https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01D7OPOFQ/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_maExyb4HKZNPK … via @AmazonUK

Confessions of a Sociopath: A Life Spent Hiding in Plain Sight by M. E. Thomas https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00BUOA2TY/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_s1Dxyb18CEWYS … via @AmazonUK

Puzzling People: The Labyrinth of the Psychopath by Thomas Sheridan https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00ADQGR12/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_D4DxybH4PQMB4 … via @AmazonUK

Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us by Robert D. Hare https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005O0AVZU/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_K1DxybMK0MTDN … via @AmazonUK

The Empathy Trap: Understanding Antisocial Personalities by Jane McGregor https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CKDE9IE/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_iZDxybB0Q757G … via @AmazonUK

The Sociopath Next Door by Martha Stout Ph.D. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000FCJXTC/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_x_VUDxybHEAPRAH … via @AmazonUK

SOURCES: Counsellors/Therapists 'Going Rogue'

'Managing Monsters: Six Myths of our Time' by Marina Warner, (Reith Lectures 1994)

'Recovering Your Lost Self from Adversity', Art Martin, Tony Stubbs
31 people recovering from financial ruin, life-threatening illness, betrayal, insanity, incarceration, child abuse, tell how they face gigantic obstacles.
'Disrupted Lives: How People Create Meaning in a Chaotic World', Gay Becker

'Is it Time to Regulate Psychotherapy?' The Guardian, 9 May 2010
(Note: Some organisations are better than others. The fact that someone belongs to a reputable organisation does not necessarily mean that they are ethical, or would suit each person.)

More Links at Middle Ground: Allegations of Abuse, Bad Memory, Bad Therapy http://middlegroundable.blogspot.co.uk

Un-Neighbourly or NFH?

TV Programmes on Neighbour Problems
I've dipped into True Crime TV on neighbour problems, such as Neighbours from Hell, The Nightmare Neighbour Next Door, and A Stranger in My Home. Several people targeted were aged 50 plus or pensioners, home most days on limited means, or in poor health and often alone. Many had virtually allowed themselves to get painted up a corner. They did not want trouble and adapted their own habits, including when they flushed the toilet so as not to disturb anyone. But when some tried to take a stand, they tended to be the ones ending up in court with perhaps a suspended sentence. One can suddenly be in a situation with no clue as to why, with people making things up and molehills becoming mountains. Things you'd think would settle down over time, just do not. See more on Standoffs here.

Books on Neighbour Disputes

Amazon is usually a good source of books, or being able to see something about the nature of a subject without having to buy, but there is not a lot available about neighbour problems. One that I seriously recommend is not my usual kind of reading, and dealing with past eras and peoples. It is rivetting stuff:
'Cheek by Jowl: a History of Neighbours' by Emily Cockayne, who traces the story of the British neighbour through nine centuries spanning Medieval, Tudor and Victorian periods, two world wars and up to today's modern, virtual world.
Also see:

'Neighbour Disputes' by Paul Benedek: A complete Guide on How to deal with them, How to prevent them, How to survive them

Advice on neighbour problems

You can contact Citizens Advice Bureau. There is a branch in most towns, and I believe you can arrange to get advice from an office which is not in your own immediate area. They have prepared a section on their website dealing with neighbour disputes www.citizensadvice.org.uk/housing/problems-where-you-live/neighbour-disputes/

Search on the Internet for Neighbour Disputes. Some links may be sponsored or advertisements, so choose where to get information or advice suitable for you without risking your safety, privacy, or cash!

A Man's Home is his Castle - or an Extra Membrane?

As more homes are built as far as the eye can see, with small gardens at angles and little privacy, more people living longer and being at home, I think neighbourhood disputes are likely to increase. People tend to want to be master of all they survey, and control their environment with colour schemes, extensions, DIY. Each time the neighbour's house changes hands it gets hacked about, decorated top to bottom and the little yard, no speck of dirt or leaves, high fences too. When problems arise literally close to home, it feels like psychic vandalism - an attack on the soul from within one's own 4 walls, a battering of fences or defences, by someone who is likely some form of psychological predator.

If you read 'Cheek by Jowl' by Emily Cockayne mentioned above, you see how these problems have indeed gone on through the ages, often associated with close homes, thin walls, shared facilities, and most importantly privacy. The refreshing aspect of the book is that, although it is based on scholarly research, it raises good laughs along the way.

Good laughs get scarce when the chips are down, and you feel under virtual house arrest as you think twice about a potter in the garden, or which way to walk to the shops to avoid awkward greetings and pretend smiles. To my mind, it has all been about pretence, acting roles, posing, switching, trying to upset, confuse, triumph, control. If someone does not like me, that is fine - they can avoid me or ignore me. Can't they? Why not just do that, I wonder?

Sitting on a rattling bus as it whizzed through pretty villages in the sunshine, looking at Spring flowers and bushes, I wondered how many inhabitants were happy with their neighbourly 'lot'. People tend to buy a house that they think they can commute from, and are away for a long day, or find it unfeasible so the house changes hands again. If you're lucky it works. If not, you could always move - and hope to hell you don't end up with a Neighbour from Hell...

Workplace Bullying, Harassment or Mobbing

Just as a bullying neighbour can fetch up in a home near you and single you out, hellish situations can arise at work which defy belief or description, with their undercurrents, collusions and machinations.

I will add more on this shortly. Meanwhile you can search the Web, Amazon etc. Stalking and harassment fit in with bullying a lot of the time, in essence if not having strictly the same definition: the effects can be much the same.

Keep a private journal, however brief or cryptic, just to see the dynamics. It's easy to forget which month things happened or in what order, particularly when you have become upset or sensitised. When things get complex and you flounder round, asking Why would someone want to see you hurt, How it works, What it actually is, Why no-one else can see it, just remember that some people seem to have been born with these tendencies or skills. Some may have been subjected to abusive experiences, or have just learned what works to get kicks or one-up-manship for themselves.

And men can act like prima donnas too! They tend to get thought of as Narcissists - a term that also applies to women.

Take your pick...

More Than One Persona?

I used to joke - with myself - that some things done by my neighbour 'must have been done by the other one of her'. We all have differing aspects to us, or maybe they are modes or moods.

Something she is 'into' is playing people off against each other without apparently ever getting herself into lumber: it's always the other guys. Sure I noticed, and uncleverly put it to one side as par for the course being played. Add it in with later concerns, and you'll know if you meet it one fine day.

This person certainly packs in a range of people and activities, and seems able to compartmentalise and switch from one to another with ease. That is something I actually find hard, I don't know why. If my head is deep into something it's like a physical pain to come out of that and get into something else.

Recently I overheard a conversation in what sounded like a 'social' or formal voice of hers, which was quite new to me, though the subject under discussion was anything but formal. Another of those anomalies, and it wouldn't do for us all to be the same, yet something made my blood run cold. It was the sort of voice people use in the street to put on a front, over a family member perhaps.

It set me wondering about the whole charade being enacted. This individual (or set of personae) looks natural, even wholesome, except for some puzzling bits and pieces and bad feelings. I have been fortunate to know people who would have pieced this mosaic together more successfully than I have. My husband would say 'It makes no sense. Best thing is to have absolutely nothing to do with them.' A colleague would say 'It's the unconscious that drives behaviour, dear.' A friend would tactfully ask whether I was thinking something present that may not be (I was right the last time she said it though).

My mentor would say something enigmatic with a twinkle in his eye, to get me to work it out. Being honest, I know this is not the only situation where this kind of thing has happened, always with an element of my not buying someone's act wholesale, or questioning motives. Although I've learned not to voice that, people can pick it up, and I get flak even if I haven't twigged yet.

Something weird is happening in this instance psychologically or behaviourally. As months roll awkwardly by, I am probably being used to score points with another person, or for a sense of triumph over me. Perhaps they just want to buy this house - now that could well figure.

Here's a gem that dropped into my head: You know the old movie about sisterly rivalry and deceit 'What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?' Don't take this literally but it could have oblique relevance. I was an only child (you guessed!) so I never had the old sibling rivalry thing going. Makes it harder for me to recognise what's staring me in the face hating me. But there was a weird upper lipcurl I didn't grasp at first. I recognised someone doing frantic antics in the hope of fooling me or others, over what, I can only hazard guesses.

The Poison Fairy

I have come across people who seem to switch personality quite significantly, sometimes literally not recalling things that seemed relevant. I'll leave this here for now. It has helped to clear my thinking. And I hope you can find some peace in your own situation.

We all dissociate, put things by, or dream to some extent, and have useful ways of handling things or just coping. When one person's problems become mine, for what I feel is no good reason, then I dig deeper. To coin a phrase, it is what I do, and obviously I am wrong a lot. Time will maybe tell.

I do not know if there were clues I should have picked up much earlier. I only wish I could have! The person or persons outlined here somehow fixated on me, rather than just ignore me. My every action gets clocked. All I can tell you is she smiles a lot, and yet seems hollow. The feeling I get is she earmarked me as the one to implode, but I'm a tough old boot who's survived much worse. I'd have preferred not to endure this troublesome episode over the past year, and hope I learned something. As you'll see, these neighbours are the ones moving out. It seems quite a sudden and secretive decision. The pseudo-stalking behaviour has worsened. Is that weird or what? At any rate it indicates an inability to leave me alone.

Unnecessary Evil: When There's Nowhere it can Go


It is weird being haunted by people goggling at things on my sill, or my garden handiwork, though it does look nice! I wish it felt better being the focus of such attention from my neighbours. You might not question some people ridiculing my ways. I think you would wonder at the degree of this: I do. No-one has to like me, or to target me either. They can reduce contact, live and let live, and not go damning me for some nebulous thing, or imply things about me. That is not nice or normal, and creates tension for all.

Someone cast me into her Psychodrama, as being the only target near enough, and has drawn in her supporting players almost non-stop. I try to stay out of it all, as the thing is kicked off by her constant need to get a reaction, and it needs no further grist. It simply demonstrates what she can do to a virtual sitting target, because somehow she just has to. As another mentor would say: 'Gee, that's real pathetic.' I am inclined to agree there, and as I have already said, bullying, setups and all the rest can happen in the workplace too.

For those who cannnot wade through further, one of this peculiar pair got eaten up by the other who is a predatory female. Sound familiar? Black widow spider, though her partner may fare more favourably than some. Her plans for me or anyone who stands in her way, have nothing to do with being humane, rather wishing her adversaries to unravel like a skein of thread, or 'turn of the screw'. I can only imagine how the #blackwidow in question is really feeling within, because her behaviour surely stems from there and, I think, a fear.

Things are definitely afoot, much shoe leather getting pounded round and around. Much ado about nothing, I hear you cry, as if to imply little basis to all this. Hmm, maybe. On the other hand (or should that be foot?) I heard on the grapevine that it's all going to change - - - but let the details remain secret for now. Don't hold your breath, but do please cross your fingers when you can. I'll appreciate that. I am very tired from this continual game of homes 'n' castles 'n' hostilities. If someone attacks me and I withdraw behind my ramparts, the thing has nowhere to go. It's a wonder they kept at it so long, but they seem to have suddenly realised.

Obviously I see the point of patrolling one's own ramparts or boundaries, but why has this neighbour started patrolling mine, after a long year of giving me and mine such a wide berth? It is disconcerting. What I deplore most about the time and headaches through deflecting the hostile energies, is that I was unaware another neighbour was back in hospital. I need to ignore what is too close to home, get human again, and accept that some people love to smirk. Reminder to remember that word (along with 'chameleon'). I can add, with sigh of relief and widening smile, that the sound of neighbours unfixing fixings in readiness for removing themselves and belongings, is music to my ears. It is a dark cloud lifting.

If you find yourself in a standoff or atmosphere, it helps to get away with music, interests, what you believe in, a walk or bus ride, visiting a friend. I was fortunate in being able to get out on buses, have a wander, some retail therapy or eBay, books and DVDs for when the TV channels wouldn't work. I also had somewhere to spend time away. It was still hard and I lost sleep. I felt things would have to change sooner or later, but was giving up hope. I wrote notes to clear my mind, and bought more books. I had my training to fall back on, so there was a previous framework for ruminations. When the chips are down, theories don't really hack it but they are a place to start. What helps most people, is realising that others have been through something broadly similar. I hope some of this helps. 

I developed a policy of staying out of the way until the neighbours went out, and latterly until they actually move, though it is inconvenient. I mentioned it to no-one, and will not - even when they are gone. However, I believe other people will clue me in with their views or information. I've had experience of something similar in workplaces, only some of which involved me. Sometimes people develop an animosity that beggars belief. See them six months later and they shrug it off as being nothing. And I recall bumping into a chap who never spoke to me in the work situation, yet now poured his heart out over being scapegoated, in a place where he had fitted and I never did.

During a varied working life I saw decent people targeted by those who should have known better, and I sometimes played a part in turning things around or diffusing focus. I observed how things could switch about with unexpected outcomes. Often people who had plans to move on, would be extra controlling or vicious, and one wonders why. I did several years of group dynamics training, and saw experienced facilitators stunned by what some people were capable of beneath the surface. Perhaps other factors come into play to send things off the scale, or some people have a natural propensity to do just that. It takes some combatting.

I do not have answers, but it seems best not to try to mediate or confront some situations, but also not to close every avenue. If you are careful and fortunate, things subside or remain an uneasy truce, rather than get into a screaming match, legal fees, or worse, violence and arrest. I jest not. What concerns me most is how someone for several years, comes across as pleasant, ordinary, empathetic, ethical. Then to learn it is for the price of an hourly fee and people spilling out their private life, or it is something else that the dubious party wants or needs. What did I miss? It does bother me. There are good professionals and volunteers out there, so take your time in finding help for yourself or someone you care for. When I burn the midnight oil with information on things people do that make others' lives harder, it is because I hate 'unnecessary' hurt. There are so many 'necessary evils'. Why on earth do people create more distress? We all make mistakes and cause hurt. What is important is to accept that, and be honest with ourselves so that we - or others - can move on.

As this 'whatever' situation nears an end at 12 months, I see with some hindsight: It breaks into 3 blocs of 4 months, each with characteristics. I do not understand and can prove nothing, but this is surely not her first undermining and/or infiltrating gambit, and I believe I shall learn more. It was not planned out exactly, rather that predators will try what they can. My guess is she found herself played out by my persistence, and my having some time to juggle. The price has been high, as I was too preoccupied to perceive others. If this type of scenario darkens my horizon again, I aim to recognise it sooner and stand back more. Now I see a thread of being thwacked each time I felt more confident, becoming unpredictable, or less likely for someone to categorise, control, or hurt. This was a situation where someone needed to hurt another in order to survive. It was OK in their book to criticise and take the mickey out of me, when I was on my own and vulnerable. When 'the foot was on the other shoe' as my friend used to say, the neighbours could not handle my poking fun and decided to quit, but delays nearly threw things for six. It was a fine line. Watch out Folks, if someone who seems concerned for your welfare has bigger issues of their own, cannot adapt any further, and feels compelled to persist and destroy.

Relationships have mixed elements and can work just fine for the parties, so there's no need to analyse them out of existence. But do be careful over who is offering help. A counsellor or therapist is expected to work on issues of their own, and admit to human weaknesses, gaining insight as they go along. The best ones do, and not just by paying lipservice to the idea.

I believe it is OK to admit defeat, or not to feel up to facing the battle that presents itself. This time for me, there were too many issues at stake, not least of which is that I hate to think of a con artiste taking advantage of my family members when they were not up to protecting themselves. If I can give some clues to others wondering what the hell's happening around them, and if they're going nuts or losing it, it has been worth it. Here are a few more:

a) She thought I would not notice her chopping and changing, and other tactics to confuse, but that I would be easily influenced to leave;

b) She thought she could get away with it all, and I'd be rendered unable to do anything to improve my lot, or even to withstand it;

c) If she could get me to challenge anything at all, it would be proof I was nuts, talking rubbish, causing trouble, and she could get her partner to move them out;

d) If I did throw in the towel and sell up, they could buy the property and knock some parts together. This would make sense for reasons I can't get into here;

e) She did all she could to gain control over some others in her life. I am particularly sensitive and resilient. Ergo she had to act destructively, and keep on or else she would be invalidated. Remember - it takes just one person to suss things out, and if that is you it's bumpy ride time!

f) Some people can keep the peace while seeing things for what they are. In other words, they act with diplomacy or they know when to let things be. Sadly I lack that gift, so I use the ones that I have.

g) Although I refer to 'sociopathy' elsewhere in this Blog, I am basically uneasy with using that or 'psychopathy' to label or attempt to explain people. You could check out Joe Navarro for further information. What I am happy to do, however, is say when I think someone is playing her face. This has been a prime example of someone playing her face off. Young children do it, teenagers do it. Most people grow up more and find better ways to get along.

This was someone who was nice when she wanted something, and the rest of the time it was Open Season. She thought me too dumb to notice. Now their departure is imminent, she initiates little chats like the old days. It helps me to see what I did not twig then. Perhaps she is scared I might hint something to others, and that would not be in her bees-knees self-interest. She really is 'something else', and an encounter with certain people can affect you for a long time to come.

I am pretty sure she has hinted plenty about me. Poisoning the well? Putting down the poison? Right. It is also cult-like, not because it happens to a large group, so much as influencing or controlling people one-by-one whilst keeping them apart. You could look up 'predatory alienation' for some analogies and links. Or call it 'stalking' or 'undue influence' or 'coercive control', however you can reach a way to combat it. I read a short book that said plant curry plants for getting a neighbour to move. I had actually just bought a couple of healthy specimens - coming into flower now - so don't knock it eh? Two words that stick in my mind to describe the experience are 'pernicious' and 'bizarre', and I'm sure you can come up with some for yours. Time and distance do not make me feel I got things wrong, or they weren't so bad; rather that they have indeed been determined and nonsensical.

For several years I have poked around on the Internet, and watched True Crime TV channels offering the chance to see cases unfold in unlikely ways. All this has added to stacks of books read long ago. My interest has been bullying, scape-goating, and people taking advantage or being deceptive. These things have always gone on, and the Internet and news media play a part in their spread, operation, and defences. Too often a lone or somewhat vulnerable person is targeted by a stronger person, a pair or a group. That is how it works. That is why it happens. It can be demoralising to even the strongest targets. Let's hope and work for something better!

View the Web Version for other pages, side panel and labels. Full Blog at http://unneighbourly.blogspot.co.uk

If the page hangs, leave it and load again - technical hitch.

Full Web Version for More Info

To access other posts (top), pictures/links (top right), labels (righthand side), click Web Version. If the page 'hangs' you may need to close it, visit another site, then come back into the Blog.