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Meaning from Madness
Understanding the Hidden Patterns that Motivate Abusers: Narcissists, Borderlines, and Sociopaths
by Richard Skerritt

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Living with a Sociopath? You're not Crazy.
Learn the disease. Stop the Abuse
(this essay adapted from Tears and Healing Reflections
with selected pages from Tears and Healing)

Is your partner a sociopath? You may not know how to tell, but even worse, you may be thinking that you are the crazy one. Sociopaths' minds don't work like yours or mine, yet they feel perfectly confident about what they are doing. Something is clearly wrong, and we often question our own sanity.

So what is a sociopath? A serial killer that strolls from one victim to another? Possibly,  but not often. Ask yourself this: is the person you're concerned about unable to form any kind of emotional bond with another person? Does he or she seem to be always without empathy for others, even their own family? Does he or she do things that to you seem beyond comprehension; and then carry on as if those actions made no difference? Does she/he lie without compunction? Is he or she in trouble with the law and other authorities? Does he or she like dangerous, outrageous or socially/sexually unacceptable activities that provide a thrill? If you see this dynamic in your partner, family member, coworker, or friend, you are very probably dealing with a sociopath.

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If that isn't bad enough, most people who show sociopathic behavior aren't just sociopathic. They often also have narcissistic tendencies, sometimes intensely angered by anything that seems to suggest that he or she might have a flaw. In this mode, they will do anything, including brutalizing their own family, to maintain their own feeling that others see them as without any flaws. The combination is terribly painful to live with.

You're not Crazy

For many of us, struggling to live with this kind of abusive partner, the first handhold we need to grasp is that we are not crazy. Whether the person we live with has narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, sociopathy (antisocial personality disorder), alcoholism, or some mix of any of these, people who suffer from these disorders have extreme emotions, which lead them to actions that can range from puzzling to brutal. Living with them is painful and confusing. Personality disorders are aptly named, because the minds of people who suffer from these disorders work differently than healthy people.  

It is only by understanding how you and your partner function, how his or her personality disorder affects his or her behavior, and how you interact, that you can begin to really judge what is happening. To figure out what you should do, you need to understand your own emotions and how to handle the decisions you face. Tears and Healing deals with your situation, while Meaning from Madness explains a disordered partner. Both are written by a man who survived a violent relationship with a narcissistic/borderline/alcoholic wife and has been engaged helping others through these situations for the past 6 years.

Sociopath Pack
3 Books for a detailed view of Sociopath PD and it's overlap and difference with Narcissism
by Richard Skerritt

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They Spin our Reality: Disordered people can't deal with the reality of their behaviors. On some level they realize how hurtful they are, yet accepting this major flaw in themselves is just too painful. So disordered abusers spin our reality to make theirs less painful. One of the most common defense mechanism they use is projection. In projection, a characteristic of themselves that they find just too painful to accept is projected onto us. And the most frequently projected characteristic is mental illness. "I'm not a sociopath. You're the crazy one." Another common and difficult defense mechanism is blame shifting. It's your fault this happened because blah, blah blah blah...

After a while it becomes hard to distinguish what is real from what is being projected and what is being distorted. We begin to doubt our reality and question whether we're the crazy ones, or whether our disordered SO's (significant others) are really right about what they say.

The truth is, THEY'RE NOT RIGHT. But they feel better when they can get us to carry the burden of their illness and their behavior.

How Do I Cope with this Abusive Relationship?

Tears and Healing - the Path to the Light after an Abusive Relationship explores the feelings, issues, and decisions that we face in an abusive relationship. Brings out the issues of reconnecting with your reality; detaching from the abusive treatment; understanding how the disorder affects you; dealing with love and attraction; obligation to marriage; and healing the hurt of the abuse. More about this book.

Tears and Healing comes in all our packages  at a savings.

Light Bulb Pack
Start understanding
your abusive intimate Relationship

What's more, disordered people hide their problems very effectively. People with all of these personality disorders - narcissistic personality disorder, borderline personality disorder, and antisocial personality disorder - have serious maladjustments in coping with life. Thus, they live in emotional turmoil. They seek to present a very together appearance, hiding their disease from most people. It is only when we get into a close and private relationship with someone with these personality disorders that the abusive behavior comes out. And because their lives are wracked with emotional turmoil, there is a lot of pent-up emotion that can be focused on us. Yet those around us don't see it, causing us further confusion.

The different disorders have different underlying themes. People suffering from narcissistic personality disorder respond with extreme defensive actions to events which they feel threaten their perception as special and privileged.  Similarly, those suffering with borderline personality disorder respond to some events with extreme fear of abandonment - events that would have little meaning to a healthy person.  Those with antisocial personality disorder lack normal feelings of responsibility and compassion and thus have little motivation to restrain their reactions. And alcoholics can show any of these, while at the same time their natural inhibitions from hurtful behavior are suppressed by the intoxication.

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All of this leads a lot of confusion for those of us unlucky enough to be in committed relationships with someone with a personality disorder. My own experience was with someone who probably would have barely diagnosed at her worst - and definitely not at her best - with borderline personality disorder. What I have learned, as I have begun helping people with broader experiences, is that much of what I learned about abuse and borderline personality disorder also applies to narcissistic personality disorder and even antisocial personality disorder.

Another thing I've observed over time is the link to alcoholism. AA and Al-Anon have a culture that treats alcoholism as a disease alone and apart. Thus, people getting support through these channels tend to think that there is nothing more to learn beyond alcoholism. At the same time, this approach leaves some things unexplained. They talk about "dry drunks" and problems that persist long after alcoholics get sober. Why is this so? If addictive use of alcohol is the problem, why don't things improve when the alcohol abuse stops?

The reality is more likely that alcoholism and other addictions, like pot/marijuana, prescriptions drugs, cocaine, etc, are the result of a personality disorder. In the case of my ex-wife, a mixed addictions to alcohol and prescription psych meds was the result of self-medication to deal with the emotional pain of her disorder. Addiction is extremely toxic, and greatly worsens the effects of a personality disorder. But if the substance abuse stops, the underlying personality disorder is still there.

Thus, understanding how a partner borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, alcoholism, and substance abuse will interact with us is essential if we are to get a handle on our situations and our own lives.  And to begin with, we have to realize that even though we are victims a prolonged distortion campaign and may feel very confused about things,


What is a Sociopath?

Meaning from Madness - Understanding the Hidden Patterns that Motivate Abusers: Narcissists, Borderlines, and Sociopaths explains the simple psychological driving force that defines this disease; the callous indifference of sociopaths, their treatment prospects, and the impact of alcohol abuse. It explains how sociopathy fits in with the raging and controlling behvaior of borderline personality disorder and narcissism. More about this book.

Books are available in packages  at a savings.

About the Author

Richard Skerritt is a writer, inventor, engineer, and athlete. A survivor of a marriage that turned abusive, he forged a path through confusion, love, obligation, and emotional damage to safety and truer life. His experience and insight, shared in Tears and Healing, originated in his contributions to online support groups for people in relationships with a partner who has borderline personality disorder. He has been a respected contributor and mentor in these groups for the past four years. His writing and publishing work now includes six books (see them all here)and he continues to help people through books, daily email messages , and phone consultation. Not a mental health professional, his perspectives and guidance "from the inside out" have been especially relevant for people in abusive relationships.  More information is here.

Selected pages from Tears and Healing

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Editorial Reviews of Tears and Healing

Reviewer: J. Paul Shirley, MSW - Co-Author: Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook 

I highly recommend Richard's book, Tears and Healing. His writing is clear, and although his words are written with gentleness, he pulls absolutely no punches about dealing with the hard facts about BPD and its effects on everyone. Some people say there is a reason for the pain we go through having a partner with BPD, and in Richard's case I agree. He has a gift for lending a helping hand for others trying to walk that painful path. I don't generally get excited about new books on BPD, but Richard's left me feeling good & that's a rare gift for a writer to have.

Reviewer: Sam Vaknin - Author: Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited

There are bookshelves upon bookshelves of professional, scholarly, and utterly inaccessible literature about abusive relationships. Those who need it the most - the traumatized victims - are locked out by the jargon and the lack of practical advice. Recently, survivors and victims have taken matters into their own hands and have published their own books, replete with first hand experiences and tips. Tears and Healing is a fine specimen of such writing: sensitive, attuned to the emotional and pragmatic needs of the survivors, both deep and accessible, a helpful guide to the traumatic aftermath of abuse.

Reviewer: Randi Kreger - Coauthor: Stop Walking on Eggshells and the Stop Walking on Eggshells Workbook; Owner: http://BPDCentral.com .

In Tears and Healing, Richard Skerritt takes us along on his personal journey from his "lightbulb experience" to making painful decisions about his marriage to a woman with borderline personality disorder. It takes courage for non-BP partners to understand and take responsibility for their own role in the "borderline dance," and even more courage to write about it. Richard has done both.

Reviewer: Darla Boughton, Manager of Narcissistic Abuse Recovery/Psychopath forum (4000+ members)

Tears and Healing is a must read for anyone involved in a devastating relationship with a personality disordered partner. It is a must-have, top-notch, first-aid kit to understanding the emotional devastation such a relationship causes. The author reveals his first-hand experience and knowledge. Let Richard's words reveal how to reclaim your sanity in an insane interaction with a disordered partner.

How Do I Cope with this Abusive Relationship?

Tears and Healing - the Path to the Light after an Abusive Relationship explores the feelings, issues, and decisions that we face in an abusive relationship. Brings out the issues of reconnecting with your reality; detaching from the abusive treatment; understanding how the disorder affects you; dealing with love and attraction; obligation to marriage; and healing the hurt of the abuse. More about this book.

Tears and Healing comes in all our packages  at a savings.

Light Bulb Pack
Start understanding
your abusive intimate Relationship

Reader Reviews of Tears and Healing

Reviewer: Pamela

I just started reading Richard's book, Tears and Healing. It is excellent. Over the years I have been in and out of the mental health offices of many professionals. I kept wanting to know how to get beyond the hurt, the heart over-ruling my head...how to say enough is enough. As I started reading the pages of this book...for the first time I felt a weight being lifted off of me. Those mental health people hadn't lived with someone with a personality disorder. They couldn't identify with me. So...here's to you Richard. Your book is excellent and I recommend it to anyone who wants to get off this merry-go-round and to start healing their wounds.

Reviewer: Lynn from Massachusetts

I wanted to let you know how much I have appreciated your book, Tears and Healing. It is written with such insight, reflection, and courage. Once I started reading it, I couldn't put it down- I just received it Thursday afternoon, and was finished with it by Friday morning. My close friend has been trying to "tough it out" with his BPD (borderline personality disorder) wife until the kids are grown. Your book has shed so much light on her condition, the way he has been treated, and the way he has been coping. It also shows that there can be light at the end of the tunnel, if he lets himself listen to his Soul's messages to him.

After reading your book, and seeing that you were able to start a new life away from the stress and abuse of your marriage, my heart feels lighter. My spirit knows what kind of positive intention to hold for my friend- that he listen to his Soul's messages. Again, thank you for the candor, wisdom, and openness of your beautiful and empowering book. I know that many lives have been and are going to be touched, healed, and inspired because of it.

Reviewer: Cobalt

I originally hesitated to buy your book, because I thought it was geared to those ready to leave their borderline (personality disorder) partner. I think I feared being influenced to leave when I wasn't ready, a sure sign of my shaky boundaries. But I bought it, read it and feel I have benefited tremendously. A wet noodle, such as I, needed to hear it laid out plain: you're being abused and this is what happens to your psyche while you're being abused!. As a result of reading your book, other boundaries books, and my support group, that little washed out me is starting to stand up. I am working toward becoming the person I want to be in OR out of this relationship. There has been no miracle here, just a firmer awareness that I can teach him how I want to be treated. If he can't accept the stronger me, then so be it. At least I will know I have done everything I could to stay healthy while staying with my borderline husband. Thank you for writing your book, Richard. It is empathic and inspiring.

Reviewer: Kathy

Richard, I received your book on Friday. I began reading and finished it Saturday. It was absolutely wonderful! My husband and I are both dedicated Christians. I have been abused for over 23 years of the marriage but I was "committed" and "obligated" due to religious reasons as you addressed. Finally, I heard on a Christian radio station that if sex between a couple was not mutual then it wasn't right. I thought I had been the "submissive" dutiful Christian wife, but I had not had anyone to talk to and so did not know. I began seeing a therapist who was great and validated my feelings. She was a Christian, too.  I found out that my husband had a personality disorder. After gallons of tears over the years - like you, I tear up over simple things, music, the National Anthem, tender things - I finally became strong enough to see an attorney. I filed for divorce in May of this year. I am now seeing another therapist (a Christian, too) who is supportive as well.

I know it will take a lot of time to heal. I have begun, but true healing will only begin when I can finally be totally away from him. Thank you so much for your book. I have highlighted so many of the pages. And I will be reading them over and over again.

Reviewer: Denise

Richard,   Gratefully, I found your book using a search for Al-Anon. I have done extensive forms of inner-work and am intimately familiar with 12-step recovery programs.  Yet, I have found myself experiencing feelings in my current, soon to be past, relationship that I have not been able to understand or reference.The excerpts from your book, unlike most, reached out and grabbed a part of my soul that is searching for answers and understanding.The depth, as well as the honesty, with which you address the issues and feelings of living in an abusive relationship spoke to me in a way I haven't heard in a while.What I appreciated the most is the level of responsibility you encourage your reader to take in the journey of healing.Thank you for that.Amidst the anger and the anxiety, I hear the calling to learn more and love myself on a much deeper level than I have in the 13 years I have been on the path to wholeness.Thank you for your resonating messages of truth and wisdom, support and care.

Are you in love with someone hurtful?

In Love and Loving it - Or Not! - A User's Guide to Love and Being In-Love explains not just why we fall in love, but why we fall in love with the people we do, the difference between love and being in-love. You can't choose your feelings, but you can set the stage for them to develop with a healthier, happier person. This book explains how. More about this book.
Get it in the Light Bulb Pack, the Relationship Pack, or the Big Storm Pack.

Books are available in packages  at a savings.

 Books on Abusive Relationships by
Richard Skerritt 
Why They
do It

Meaning from
Madness - $20
Your Feelings
and Decisions

Tears and
Healing - $24

In Love and Loving
It - or Not! - $14
Seeing the
Big Picture

Tears & Healing
Reflections - $24

Surviving the
Storm - $24
Patterns of

The Hypervigilant
Click a cover for more info...              Get three or more books together in a package  and save.

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