Decisions Making!

When we make decisions, we’re not always in charge. We can be too impulsive or too deliberate for our own good; one moment we hotheadedly let our emotions get the better of us, and the next we’re paralyzed by uncertainty. Then we’ll pull a brilliant decision out of thin air—and wonder how we did it. Though we may have no idea how decision making happens, neuroscientists peering into our brains are beginning to get the picture. What they’re finding may not be what you want to hear, but it’s worth your while to listen.

Spots on Brains 

Eye-popping color images of brain scans in the popular press imply that scientists are pinpointing the precise location in the brain of feelings like fear, disgust, pleasure, and trust. But the researchers doing this work are highly circumspect about just what these colorful spots show. The two most common scanning methods, PET (positron emission tomography) and fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), offer only approximations of what’s really going on in the brain. PET, the older and less popular of the two, measures blood flow in the brain; fMRI measures the amount of oxygen in the blood. Local blood flow and oxygenation indicate how active a part of the brain is but offer a crude snapshot at best. These scanners typically can’t see anything smaller than a peppercorn and can take only one picture every two seconds. But neural activity in the brain can occur in a fraction of the space and time that scanners can reveal. Thus, the splashy images we see are impressionistic, and the conclusions researchers draw about them are usually qualified—and often disputed. Like the images themselves, the details of brain function are just beginning to come into focus.

A Bout of Delusional Jealousy

In his 1921 article focusing on the psychoanalytic examination of the psychic mechanisms of jealousy, Freud distinguishes between three “layers or grades of jealousy [that] may be described as
(1) competitive or normal, (2) projected, and (3) delusional jealousy.” [39][39]Freud, S. (1922). Some Neurotic Mechanisms in Jealousy,… In delusional jealousy, the subject and his object are of the same sex, its development requires a strong homosexual impulse, against which the subject defends himself by contradicting the fantasmatic statement that “may, in a man, be described in the formula: ‘I do not love him, she loves him!’.” [40][40]Ibid., p. 224. In this perspective, Freud presents the case of a young man suffering from attacks of delusional jealousy, which

32[…] regularly appeared on the day after he had had sexual intercourse with his wife, which was, incidentally, satisfying to both of them. The inference is justified that after every satiation of the heterosexual libido, the homosexual component, likewise stimulated by the act, forced an outlet for itself in the attack of jealousy. [41][41]Ibid., p. 224.

33Hence, for the subject, a crisis of delusional jealousy constitutes clinical incidence of sexual satisfaction. Freud then adds that the subject “had made no friendships and developed no social interests; one had the impression that only the delusion had carried forward the development of his relations with men, as if it had taken over some of the arrears that had been neglected.” [42][42]Ibid., p. 226.
Freud attributes to the delusion the function of allowing the subject to assume what initially was missing. But what was it precisely? On the one hand, Freud speaks about the absence of the father and a strong attachment to the mother – an attachment he had already underlined in the 1915 case of the young professional woman – and, on the other hand, about the existence of a homosexual trauma dating from the subject’s childhood, a traumatic nodal element in his doctrine of the psychoses. The new observation corroborates Freud’s theorization, insofar as the persecutor would be the subject’s most loved object of the same sex.

A Case of Paranoia in a Young Woman Patient

In 1915, Freud reports another observation of the onset of psychosis. Embarrassed by one of his clients’ complaints about the persecution she has suffered at the hands of a former lover, a lawyer initiates a meeting with Freud, to whom the young woman tells her story. After she had been courted for a certain period of time by a colleague at work, she finally agrees to meet him in his flat. During their lovemaking she is surprised by a noise – “a kind of knock or click.” [33][33]Freud, S. (1915). A Case of Paranoia Running Counter to the… On her departure she runs into two men who seem to whisper to each other as she passes them, one of them hiding a camera. The woman remembers the noise she heard in the room and imagines that the man must have taken intimate pictures of her. Concerned, she presses her lover with questions, but is not satisfied with his answers and eventually contacts a lawyer.
Since the woman’s account first seems to contradict his conception of paranoia, Freud asks her for another meeting. The young woman then changes her first version slightly and tells him that it was in fact only during the second encounter with her lover that she was disturbed by the strange noise, to which she then attached her suspicions: they have set up a trap in order to compromise her. Freud also learns that the day after their first meeting, the young woman saw her lover at work, in a conversation with her female superior. Observing the scene, she became certain that the man had revealed the secret of their love affair, or worse, that he is having a love relation with her superior as well. According to Freud, the superior represents a maternal figure and the lover, in spite of his young age, a paternal one. He thus refers the triad composed of the young woman, her lover and the superior to the Oedipus complex. Although the young woman is attracted to the paternal substitute, she remains no less under the domination of her maternal attachment, here figured by the superior, towards whom she harbors homosexual feelings. She is therefore confronted with an impossibility – her love for the man – which the delusion is trying to solve: “The [delusion] was at first aimed against the woman. But now, on this paranoic basis, the advance from a female to a male object was accomplished.” [34][34]Ibid., p. 270.
Thanks to this observation, Freud finds a way to confirm his main theses: the subject and his persecutor are of the same sex and the triggering of paranoia functions as a setting up of a defense against an excessively strong homosexual attachment, the latter representing “the paranoic disposition in her.” [

Parental Psychological Control

 Parenting aggression can take on different forms, such as physical aggression, verbal aggression, and psychological aggression (Straus, Hamby, Finkelhor, Moore, & Runyan, 1998), and one key form of psychological aggression which is understudied is psychological control. Parental psychological control refers to parental behaviors that are intrusive and manipulative, undermining child autonomy, and characterized by guilt induction, love withdrawal, instilling anxiety, and verbal constraint (Barber, 1996;Barber & Harmon, 2002;Schaefer, 1965). In guilt induction, parents coerce children into complying with parental demands by making children feel guilty. …
… Parental psychological control has been linked to various forms of child maladjustment, including lower self-esteem, internalizing symptoms, and externalizing symptoms (Barber, 1996;Barber, Olsen, & Shagle, 1994;Barber, Stolz, Olsen, Collins, & Burchinal, 2005). For example, parental psychological control predicted adolescent depression and antisocial behaviors even after controlling for parental support and behavioral control (Barber et al., 2005). …
… Children’s theory of mind does not develop until around 4 years old (Wellman, Cross, & Watson, 2001) and self-conscious emotions do not develop until around 2 years old (Muris & Meesters, 2014). This is consistent with previous research that documented the adverse effect of parental psychological control behaviors primarily in middle childhood and adolescence (Barber, 1996;Barber et al., 1994;Barber et al., 2005;Soenens & Vansteenkiste, 2010). Future research with larger samples should examine whether child age moderates the association between parental psychological control and child maladjustment. …

Continue reading “Parental Psychological Control”


Are you the adult survivor of emotional child abuse? The effects of childhood abuse on adults are…

  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Cognitive distortions (e.g., “highly fearful and overestimate danger and adversity in your current environment”)
  • Emotional distress (e.g., depression, anxiety, and anger)
  • Anxiety, disorders, panic disorders, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive order
  • Chronic irritability, rage, and difficulties expressing anger constructively
  • Impaired sense of self
  • Avoidance (e.g., disassociation, amnesia for abuse-related events)
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Physical health problems

In reading that list, you may relate to some effects and know you need help. Perhaps something within you is whispering (or perhaps even shouting) that you need to find some sort of livable peace, some direction, some guidance in your journey.

You didn’t just stumble onto The Invisible Scar for no reason. Something or someone brought you here.

Moreover, if you’ve found yourself wanting to share your story in the comments or via the contact form, you clearly do want someone to hear your story, to validate what you’ve endured, to make you feel not so crazy and lost and hurt by what has happened and to feel hopeful for the future.

You may long for that personal touch, that face-to-face interaction, and that’s all very normal and healthy and, if anything, a good sign that you want to heal.

Continue reading “I DON’T NEED A THERAPIST”

Self psychology

Not to be confused with Psychology of self.


Kohut maintained that parents’ failures to empathize with their children and the responses of their children to these failures were ‘at the root of almost all psychopathology’.[5] For Kohut, the loss of the other and the other’s self-object (“selfobject”) function (see below) leaves the individual apathetic, lethargic, empty of the feeling of life, and without vitality – in short, depressed.[6]

The infant moving from grandiose to cohesive self and beyond must go through the slow process of disillusionment with phantasies of omnipotence, mediated by the parents: ‘This process of gradual and titrated disenchantment requires that the infant’s caretakers be empathetically attuned to the infant’s needs’.[7]

Correspondingly, to help a patient deal in therapy with earlier failures in the disenchantment process, Kohut the therapist ‘highlights empathy as the tool par excellence, which allows the creation of a relationship between patient and analyst that can offer some hope of mitigating early self pathology’.[8]

In comparison to earlier psychoanalytic approaches, the use of empathy, which Kohut called “vicarious introspection”, allows the therapist to reach conclusions sooner (with less dialogue and interpretation), and to create a stronger bond with the patient, making the patient feel more fundamentally understood. For Kohut, the implicit bond of empathy itself has a curative effect, but he also warned that ‘the psychoanalyst … must also be able to relinquish the empathic attitude’ to maintain intellectual integrity, and that ’empathy, especially when it is surrounded by an attitude of wanting to cure directly … may rest on the therapist’s unresolved omnipotence fantasies’.[9])

The conceptual introduction of empathy was not intended to be a “discovery.” Empathic moments in psychology existed long before Kohut. Instead, Kohut posited that empathy in psychology should be acknowledged as a powerful therapeutic tool, extending beyond “hunches” and vague “assumptions,” and enabling empathy to be described, taught, and used more actively. Continue reading “Self psychology”

To all Authors, Psychologists, Parental Alienation‬ Syndrome experts:

Some moms & dads have no contact with our kids because of the psychological pain/punishment & rewards they receive & that results under the control of the alienating parent. Therefore, our kids desperately need materials to be made available to school libraries, online, etc.
Even in the form of a brochure, novel, or play — youth deserve to understand they are not alone or crazy. It would be ludicrous to ignore sexual abuse —— why is Parental Alienation abuse not taught to youth? It is as if this form of abuse is being condoned. The sociopath alreadymanipulates and controls information and every reality to their child. Is it healthy to just go alone with the abuser’s orchestrations & sick games requiring denial even for those who do have some contact with their kids? Even if that’s the better choice, then all the more reason we depend on intervention from experts via age-appropriate educational materials. The community is a must in many situations where a youth is living a risky lifestyle the system ignores. Some of our kids are suicidal in their confusion. Education would give them a sense of power (just the power to name & express the hurt in a diary or to a trusted friend or adult!) & hope when their relationship with their loving parent and all family members has been severed completely.

“My father was viewed as ‘the hero’ by his family, neighbors, friends, etc. After all, HE was the parent who stuck around. I am disappointed (to put it lightly) in the adults who did not question this at the time and did not step in to intervene. The alienating parent often convinces and intimidates the adults in his life into believing he is doing the right thing,” says author of musingsimplicity blog, an adult child of Parental Alienation who is in the process of writing her memoir.

Another formerly alienated daughter writes on One Mom’s Battle Facebook wall:  “My father was verbally and emotionally abusive to my mother, and did everything possible to alienate my siblings and myself against her. It worked. Even though my father abused my siblings and me, and terrorized the whole family, I was utterly brainwashed to think that my mother was the problem. I spent twenty years estranged from her.” […] “Let them know that their other parent is distorting things. Protecting them from this information isn’t protecting them, it’s setting them up.”

Sometimes the only person to let abused youth understand their pain and confusion is for someone other than the target parent to educate them on healthy relationships and how Parental Alienation may be the cause of many young people’s pain. Some young people are stepping up by creating youtube videos about their Parental Alienation experience for other youth. It’s time for professionals to support youth when parents are completely stopped and no avenues exist — YES, MANY TIMES NO AGENCY OR JUDGE WILL DO THEIR JOB NO MATTER WHAT DOCUMENTATION WE DO OR ADVICE WE FOLLOW FROM YOU EXPERTS. Thank you for all you already to do help those suffering from Parental Alienation.  Please help educate youth about EXTREME/SEVERE alienation.