Editor's Note: Do you need sound, Biblically-based advice on an issue in your marriage or family? Dr. David will address questions from Crosswalk readers in his weekly column. Submit your question to him at: TheRelationshipDoctor@gmail.com.
Gauging from the overwhelming response I’ve gotten from this past series, taken from my book Dealing With The CrazyMakers in Your Life, many of you are wondering about the health of your relationships, and whether you are enmeshed in a destructive relationship and perhaps how you may be contributing to the chaos yourself.
This is a messy and complicated topic. There are no perfect relationships, yet those with CrazyMaking qualities are particularly challenging.
Let’s review what makes a CrazyMaker a chaos creator, asking ourselves to what extent we may have these traits. CrazyMakers:
• Are egotistical, caring primarily about themselves rather than others;
• Twist the truth to fit their point of view;
• Are unable to examine an issue from various perspectives;
• Are critical and accusatory, finding fault rather than seeking solutions;
• Justify, rationalize, deny and make excuses for their problems;
• Hide behind those thinking errors, rarely making positive changes;
• Thrive on chaos.
Healthy individuals don’t like chaos—they are seekers of peace. They want to solve problems, not cast blame and keep the crises going. CrazyMakers, on the other hand, have a high tolerance for chaos and seem able to generate craziness where none existed previously.
Most tragically, innocent people are caught in the CrazyMakers web of deception. In a recent email a woman shares how she finally broke free from an abusive relationship, but because of his power and control, he still has a negative influence on her and their child.
Dearest Doctor Hawkins:
Do these five personality characteristics culminate into creating a 'malignant narcissist'? At the end of your 'borderline' discussion you write that they have no idea what they are doing. The crazymaker in my life is all five and is incredibly calculating - it would appear that he knows exactly what he is doing and finds much delight in it.
What disturbs me most is the affect on my child. He manipulates and controls her mind, at only 8 years of age she does not have the cognitive ability to process or understand what is happening to her. He fills her head and heart with deception and hate, particularly towards myself and God. While I accept that I can not change him and realize I am only now just been 'released' from his powerful control (It has taken me 8 years to comprehend it), knowing that I have to respond rather than react to him, what about my child?
I am no longer in the relationship with him - praise God and know that no matter what I do - Jesus like or otherwise - he 'hunts' me and makes my life a misery. I feel I need to get as far away from him as I can to keep my sanity but I am trapped because of my child. What does one do? Leave the child in his care? ~ Deeply Concerned
While I know it appears to you that the CrazyMaker in your life knows exactly what he is doing—and he does sound incredibly dysfunctional---I don’t believe he strives to be a CrazyMaker. Does that mean he is not manipulative? Of course not. He can be calculating, manipulative, as well as chaotic and still not be aware of how destructive he is. His behavior is “normal” to him—he knows no other way of behaving.
Is he a “malignant narcissist?” While I’ve never used that term before, his behavior sounds “malignant” and he certainly sounds narcissistic. He seems to care only about one person—himself. You do well to guard yourself and your daughter from his chaotic behavior.
This man, and every CrazyMaker, must be held accountable and responsible for their behavior. We cannot wink and allow them to continue their destructive habits. We must, as you did, learn to respond instead of react, plan ahead instead of being caught off guard, set healthy boundaries rather than allow them to bulldoze their way into our lives.
You have pried yourself free from his grasp, but ask about your innocent daughter. What can you do to protect her? First, and most important, because you’re familiar with his patterns of behavior, you can predict how he will behave. Seek ways to limit the impact his behavior has on her. If you believe he is harmful to her, which sounds quite possible, you may want to consult a professional therapist or attorney about the possibility of protecting her legally. If it can be shown that his behavior is harmful to her, legal steps can be taken to protect her.
We must all remember that CrazyMakers are able to do their CrazyMaking because we allow them that power. Let’s take the power away from them; let’s set healthier boundaries and limit their impact on our lives. Let’s protect ourselves and our innocent children. Let’s choose not to respond in like manner, always choosing to do good even in the face of troubling people.
David Hawkins, Ph.D., is the founder of the Marriage Recovery Center. He has worked with couples and families to improve the quality of their lives by resolving personal issues for the last 30 years. He is the author of over 18 books, including Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage, Saying It So He'll Listen, and When Pleasing Others Is Hurting You. His newest books are titled The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Healing a Hurting Relationship and The Relationship Doctor's Prescription for Living Beyond Guilt. Dr. Hawkins grew up in the beautiful Pacific Northwest and lives with his wife on the South Puget Sound where he enjoys sailing, biking, and skiing. He has active practices in two Washington cities.