Toxic jealousy is difficult to eradicate

Toxic Jealousy is complex and obsessional. Any obsession is consuming. When we are obsessed we cannot interact properly with others and we certainly cannot make any emotional connection with them. It stifles our creativity and our spirituality, kills our souls and fills us with paranoia and depressive thoughts. Obsessional thinking brings us into a world of negativity and distress. Morbid jealousy is a close relative of toxic jealousy and seems to be based upon other underlying pathological conditions such as paranoia or Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (Borderline Personality Disorder). Irrespective of how we label it, the destructive power toxic jealousy wields over an individual can be overwhelming.
Jack came to me some years ago distraught at the breakdown of his marriage. He had been with his wife, Lynn, for eight years and they had two children. Initially Jack had been an attentive and loving boyfriend, whom she regarded as a soulmate. But, within a month of getting married she noticed a change in him. He became more and more possessive. Initially, she had been flattered and misunderstood his possessiveness and jealousy for love. When they went out at the week-end he continuously watched her and noted if she seemed to be admiring other men. After some years, however, she felt smothered and became alarmed when Jack grew more threatening, as she tried to preserve her independence within the relationship. Lynn was a faithful and loyal wife, but his toxic jealousy accompanied by anger destroyed her happiness and left him bereft. I felt saddened by his haunted face as he began his story.

“My wife, Lynn, left me a month ago and on no account will come back to me. I manage to see my children every week end, but my heart is broken. I miss the three of them so much and I can’t get a wink of sleep. I normally wake up at 3 or 4 o’clock and that’s it. I lie awake for hours waiting for the clock to go off. What’s killing me is that she begged me two years ago to go for counselling but I refused point blank. I know now that I did wrong but I could not bear the thought of her being with another man. Not indeed that I knew that she was seeing someone else. She told me I was being ridiculous. I could feel my anger rising when she came in from a night out and my imagination went into overdrive. The more I thought about it the more I fantasised about her being with another man and the madder I became, until one night I pushed her. I wanted to hit her hard, to hurt her, to make her feel my pain. Why should I suffer while she was gallivanting all over the country? I can even feel my anger coming on now when I think about it, even though I know she was only out with her friends, except that I know there was one fella in the group who fancied her, because she is a beautiful woman. I used demand to see her text messages and made sure I checked her Facebook. When she closed me out of her Facebook I became paranoid. I just was not able to trust her. Whenever we were in the pub I watched her to see who she was looking at and could feel my stomach turn. I could feel myself turning sour and worked myself up so that we always fought, when we got home. Eventually we stopped going out together and she moved into another room. The next day I always said I was sorry, but in the end she got fed up of it and took the children and went home to her mother. She is now living in another house that she rents.”

That is only a small part of Jack’s story and although he worked hard his relationship never rekindled. You can probably see echoes of Nancy’s story, told earlier. Toxic jealousy is the angry cutting edge of fear of abandonment. It is the essence of this fear. The relationship counsellor, Lynda Bevin, also concurs that fear of abandonment is a main source of jealousy. Altogether, she lists thirteen fears associated with it, such as fear of being betrayed, of losing face, of being criticised or rejected because of body image problems and feeling inadequate. Toxic jealousy is, therefore, complex and multifaceted. It is an irrational but profound feeling of anticipated loss that keeps the sufferer on a treadmill of hyper vigilance. Mired in suspicion, he is driven to endless questioning of his partner, checking her phone, phone bills, text messages, Facebook activity, bank statements, and speedometer, to name but a few. It is intrusive in every sense and torments both partners. Jealousy powered by the need to control extends into almost every aspect of a relationship, sometimes, as with Jack and Lynn, inflicting fatal damage to it.

THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
SHAME

Posted in jealousy, Uncategorized
Tags:

Jealousy affects all sexual orientations – heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual etc.

There is always a triadic relationship when jealousy arises, and it is evident in all gender orientations. I have, for example, come across intense toxic jealousy in homosexual relationships. In the Old Testament there is God, his people and rival gods. In Shakespearean drama you have Othello, his wife (Desdemona), and Cassio. In reality there is no relationship between Cassio and Desdemona. Either Othello was gullible when he was deceived by the ploys of the cunning Iago, or he had toxic jealousy! In toxic jealousy the third person in the relationship is generally a figment of the jealous person’s imagination. Sometimes, and in what seems to be a contradiction, the fictional third party is used by the jealous person as an excuse to abandon a relationship, ironically because of fear of abandonment. Nancy Friday sums it up well when she wrote that she treacherously dreamt of her partner’s next lover. Nancy’s unfortunate and unsuspecting successor will soon become the target, and on it goes destroying relationship after relationship. Generally speaking, it is not the rival, but the partner, who attracts the ire of the jealous person, although a rival by his or her flirtatious behaviour can do so. This can be the case in both normal and toxic jealousy.
Toxic or core jealousy is the great destroyer of relationships, where so much fruitless energy goes into driving a partner away and sometimes those afflicted with toxic jealousy can be jealous of their own children. Jealousy of one’s children is often unconscious, but I have heard mothers voice it clearly. It is one of the most self-defeating and self-destructive traits known, where even threats of suicide are used to control and isolate the victim. There is plenty of evidence that such threats may also be real, because the pain of jealousy can generate suicidal thoughts, and suicide can on rare occasions be a futile act of jealous revenge. It is generally accompanied by all or nothing thinking. Jealousy at first excites the lover, who feels flattered at such intense attention. She thinks she is being adored rather than trapped, but that soon changes with the emotional strangulation. Yet despite the torture suffered by this asphyxiation, the sad fact is that faithfulness rather than betrayal is the norm in most relationships. I have seldom seen a case even in an abusive relationship, where the victim does not strive to save the relationship in the face of all odds. This is a sad and ironic reality.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY

Posted in jealousy
Tags:

Jealousy is a very painful wound from childhood

Toxic Jealousy Stemming from an insecure childhood attachment.

In my experience toxic jealousy is one of the most painful wounds of childhood and is worth understanding. It is related to envy, but is not the same. Envy is a coveting of something another has, such as wealth, achievement, or fame, while jealousy is a fear of being replaced by another person. Jealousy can be about a sense of unfairness, sibling rivalry, fear of being betrayed and above all can be found in romantic relationships. It is, therefore, about relationships and has been in existence for as long as human kind. Toxic or pathological jealousy is one of the most excruciating realities you can come across. Not only is it extremely painful, but is very difficult to heal. It applies to all races and civilizations; although in cultural terms, research shows that there are high jealousy and low jealousy societies. In societies where male dominance is the norm, jealousy is more evident.
Jealousy has been described by Hildegard Baumgart as a relational conflict and a response to the provocative behaviour of a partner. Such provocation would, for example, include blatant flirting at one end and infidelity at the other. This type of jealousy is normal and not toxic. It could be seen as reactive jealousy.
You can find plenty of references to jealousy in the Old Testament, and a good example of toxic jealousy is in the story of Cain and Abel, the sons of Adam and Eve, which does not say much about the latter’s parenting! Abel drew the jealous wrath of Cain because his offering was favoured by the Lord, and he paid for it with his life. The God of the Old Testament is also portrayed as a jealous God, although this is interpreted as a loving God, who wishes to save us. Likewise, it is a frequent theme in films and literature. Shakespeare used jealousy as the fatal weakness in his flawed hero, Othello.
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER

Posted in jealousy
Tags:

Shaming children leaves a lasting impact and gives them core shame which they bring into adult life

Shaming remarks made to children under twelve have a more drastic and permanent impact that can become core because, like parents, teachers spend a lot of time with them, and the frequency of these remarks is a key element in laying the crop of shame. A combination of parental and teaching shaming is particularly damaging and reinforces the sense of not being good enough in the child. We can choose not to shame any child. Education is not just about intellectual or cognitive development, it must include emotional nourishment as well, which is facilitated by praise and allowing children the space to interact with each other. So, I will leave this part of the blog with a simple poem by an unknown poet on the practical difference between shame and praise –

“I’ve got 2 A’s” the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee
His father very bluntly asked
“Why did you not get three?”

“I’ve mowed the grass” the tall boy said
“And put the mower away”.
His father asked him with a shrug,
“Did you clean off the clay?

“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done,”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother very calmly said
“And did you sweep the floor?”

The children in the house next door
Seemed happy and content.
The same things happened over there,
But this is how it went:

“I’ve got 2 A’s the small boy cried,
His voice was filled with glee.
His father very proudly said
“That’s great! I’m glad you live with me.”

“I’ve mowed the grass,” the tall boy said
“And put the mower away,”
His father answered with much joy,
“You’ve made my happy day”

“Mom, I’ve got the dishes done”
The girl called from the door.
Her mother smiled and softly said,
“Each day I love you more.”

Children need encouragement
For tasks they’re asked to do
If they’re to lead a happy life,
So much depends on you.

Posted in Shame
Tags:

Shaming others is horrible and can be seen in many institutions including school

One of the hidden ingredients that foment anger in school is rarely mentioned – being shamed. Shame sometimes forms part of the anger jigsaw, and hierarchical institutions are breeding grounds for it. I have observed this poisonous ingredient as a teacher and Principal for over thirty years, and as a primary school pupil long ago, when the school ethos was based more on power and inequality. There is a strange, almost subconscious, contradiction in school relationships, because while school is a place of formation and extraordinary hard work, shame can sometimes discolour that development. This was more evident in my childhood, and indeed for many years afterwards. Society itself was shame based in those days, and a culture saturated with shame was passed from generation to generation in many aspects of life. Poor people were obvious targets. As a historian researching the Poor Law, I was taken aback at Minute Book headings such ‘No. of lunatics/bastards in the workhouse’. You can imagine how people and children labelled in this shameful way were treated!
In my own small, rural school as a young child, I remember rows of dunce’s hats peering down from the tops of presses and small children standing in corners wearing these shaming badges. I recall shaming remarks made to children which would not be tolerated today. Yet, I doubt if shame has been eradicated from our schools. There is no reason to assume that teachers are no more or no less shame based than others, and their sarcastic and belittling remarks, especially in primary school, where children are most vulnerable, are particularly detrimental. Like parents, teachers make negative remarks to small children and, no more than parents, do not realise the damage that this causes. It is the great killer of creativity, creating doubt and confusion that ultimately may hold us in a barren place. The infant is the most creative of all people, mainly because she has not yet been exposed to a shaming environment.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
CHILDHOOD DISTRESS

Posted in Shame
Tags:

Teaching is a demanding profession

Professionals dealing with teenagers, in particular, are vulnerable to burn out from the impact of constant exposure to anger. Students may express this anger in different ways, such as avoidance of doing their tasks, procrastinating, being forgetful, being sarcastic, or, unfortunately, using abusive language. Some writers use the phrase projective identification, whereby one person (a teacher) absorbs the anger of another (the student) and acts out the other’s anger. Teachers have many sources of frustration. Sometimes the job seems impossible and despite very hard work they are open to criticism because they cannot cater for the educational needs of the wide variety of students they deal with. I think that students nowadays feel much freer in expressing their anger. In my school days we would not dare show it and the result was buried anger and fear. The lesson to be learned from the past is that anger is a feeling and its expression is important, but such venting must be within proper boundaries.
There is a workbook entitled The Anger Workbook for Teens. Activities to help you deal with anger and frustration, which is a practical and useful tool for school staff to help angry teenagers explore their anger. Compiled by Raychelle Lohmann, a professional school counsellor in North Carolina, this workbook contains thirty-six activities and advises that two or three is the maximum that should be done each week. Some of the most important sections deal with keeping an anger log, recognising anger buttons, understanding family dynamics, physical symptoms of anger, burying emotions, using anger positively, relaxation techniques, an anger contract, taking responsibility for one’s own actions, stages of anger, coping with conflict, good listening, clear communication, assertiveness and change. Photocopies can be made of each section, for example, the anger log or family anger pattern (a type of genogram looking at anger in the wider family.

Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
CHILDHOOD DISTRESS

Posted in anger, anger management
Tags:

School can be a pressure cooker of anger

Because of the huge numbers involved in many schools, the pressure cooker atmosphere from nine o’clock to four, and the dynamic of so many relationships, school is a place where anger can suddenly blow up and create very difficult situations. When I look back on my life as a school Principal, I realise that some of the many issues that came to my door involved feelings of intense anger. Teachers would arrive frustrated at the behaviour of some students, who disrupted their classes, abused them, or refused to do their homework. Students would erupt because they may have felt they were being treated unfairly. Additionally, some teachers and some students brought an ancient anger with them, and when a particular trigger was pulled or a particular button pressed the anger emerged. My job was to try to defuse the anger both of the teacher and the respective students. I now realise that I also had to deal with my own anger as well. There were certain things that angered me and fuelled the childhood anger that I carried. My anger was over-provoked by the very idea that a student would disrupt a class, or had drawn graffiti on a wall, or misbehaved in the town at lunchtime. When I explored it later during my counselling sessions I realised that behind my anger lay fear; fear that I was losing control or that students did not respect me or were not afraid of me. Perhaps my greatest fear was that the school would get a bad name and reflect poorly on me. I personalised all this through my own shame and subconsciously focussed on my own shortcomings. When I look back at my time as a teacher, I can see that I did not always control my anger and I regret it. It was based on the treadmill of fear, a fertile ground for chronic anxiety. So, as teachers or Principals we focus on the behaviour, because that is our job, as counsellors, however, we look for the hurt, and in that we may discover our own wounds.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
CHILDHOOD DISTRESS

Posted in anger
Tags: ,

In Ireland we always addressed a married female teacher as ‘mam’

The adolescent life stage is a particularly difficult one for the human. That stage stretches from about thirteen to nineteen years, or even later. Early and mid-adolescence bring painful challenges. Teenagers in that stage are dealing with profound physical changes and emotional upheaval. Their emotional responses become more intense, heightened and easily triggered. Parents can be bewildered by the startling changes they see in their children as their brain develops in an extraordinary and complex way. Teenagers themselves may become equally bewildered and troubled at the intensity of their feelings, including their anger.
I have researched several works on teenage anger and I recommend Nick Luxmoore’s book, Working with Anger and Young People. Nick is an English psychotherapist and school counsellor, and he highlights many issues that provoke anger in teens. The most prominent ones are body image problems, feeling left out, being hurt by negative comments from parents, being disrespected, disregarded, run down, criticised, losing a relationship, being bullied, bereaved, suffering loneliness and, above all, experiencing abandonment. Anger can be seen as a defence against all of these, masking the hurt and the fear. The feeling of anger must be allowed and acknowledged and then the pain, hurt and fear explored. That does not mean allowing teenagers to inflict their anger on others, including a parent or teacher.
What is really problematic in dealing with teenagers is trying to help those who are unable to properly express their anger, who have been ‘taught’ at home that anger is not a nice feeling, that good children do not get angry, or, on the contrary, that anger is the only way to communicate. There is also the question of how comfortable a teenager feels in second level school. Some therapists use the word attachment for this and see schools as unconsciously offering a mothering experience. That is a thought that might make teachers, who rightly wish to keep boundaries clear, uncomfortable. It is probably more relevant at primary school level. I recall that as a young child we always addressed a married female teacher as ‘mam’! It is possible to be warm and nurturing and yet keep appropriate boundaries.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
CHILDHOOD DISTRESS

Posted in anger
Tags: ,

How to deal with an angry child

There are many quick decisions to take when you are faced with an angry child, but basically you should not retaliate inappropriately. Always remain in your adult shoes. It is not uncommon for adults to regress into their childhood shoes when dealing with certain situations, including dealing with an angry child. When this happens we can end up with two angry children in confrontation – the angry child and the angry inner child of the adult. By staying in the adult’s shoes you can remain calm and show the child how to deal with anger. If you show control and calmness in an angry situation they too will learn this behaviour.
It is also beneficial for the child if you reflect and acknowledge the anger that he is showing. Allowing him to express the reasons for the anger helps to allay it. Perhaps you might ask yourself the questions posed by Whitehouse and Pudney – have your children the opportunity to express their anger at home (or in school)? Can they take it for granted that they can express their feelings, or are you as a parent too fearful of anger to allow it to be vented by them? If so why? You may have to look back at your own childhood to find the reason. You could also check if you are more comfortable with giving boys the space to express their anger, but not the girls. Your belief might be that it is more acceptable for boys to express anger than girls, that it is a sign of masculinity, a testosterone fuelled feeling! Overall, therefore, listening to your children is of the utmost importance, and listening means hearing what they have to say, acknowledging it and taking it seriously. That does not mean giving in to a child’s demands, but giving her respect and time, and letting her see that what she has to say is important.
Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY

Posted in anger, anger management
Tags: ,

There are always other feelings masked by the feeling of anger

If you understand the other feelings that lie behind anger of the child, you will be in a much better position to help your children process it. There are numerous other feelings masked by anger. These include hurt, fear, shame, feelings of abandonment and rejection, vulnerability, feeling unloved and unlovable. Very often hurt is the main feeling behind anger, and if you talk to your children about that hurt, you will have a healing effect on them. Sometimes with younger children fear is the feeling that triggers anger. Fear is about survival and being in danger ultimately provokes anger. There are many fears that a child may harbour and hence many reasons for their anger. Anger is very quick to fill a vacuum, and it can readily fill the emptiness in an unloved child. Children who have not experienced love, will not know why they are angry, the parent or parents who are unable to give love will be puzzled and possibly blame the child. How often do we label our children without pausing to consider why they are as they are? Let us not label them as angry children. Let us look at ourselves as parents and take responsibility for forming them this way. Children need unconditional love, and those who get it will thrive and never suffer core anger. Anger will also fill the vacuum in a child who feels a failure, feels powerless, unwanted, is hungry, is in danger of being hurt, is deprived of something essential, is not liked by other children, or is confused.

Extract from Understanding and Healing the Hurts of Childhood. Publication 2018
THERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
PSYCHOTHERAPISTS IN TIPPERARY
COUNSELLING TIPPERARY
DEATH OF A CHILD
ABUSE AND DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
FEAR
ANGER
JEALOUSY
CHILDHOOD DISTRESS

Posted in anger, anger management
Tags: