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The Doctor Is a Quack!

shrinkYesterday, I was driving around nowhere Texas, listening to my satellite radio as one does, when driving across a desert, feeling a bit vulnerable and alone and wishing I had renewed my triple A membership… when I happened across a talk radio show called “The Doctor Is In” on Sirius radio.

I like medical things, and I love shrink talk shows, being a big fan of Dr. Jenn on Cosmo Radio (really, don’t turn up your noses folks, because it’s Cosmo Radio. She’s wonderful.) So I thought this show might be an interesting distraction from the dismal landscape.

(To any defenders of the Texas landscape out there — I was inspecting farms and had to look at 900 acres of withered corn, killed by the drought. I stand by “dismal.”)

The channel was EWTN Global Catholic Radio Network and the doctor is  Dr. Ray Guarendi. I’m telling you this so you can avoid this channel at all costs, perhaps melt the radio dial so it won’t turn in that direction, or write a letter to the Pope and see if this doctor can be defrocked.

A very timid sounding woman called in to say she was in an abusive marriage and she wanted to know how to leave. Guarendi stopped her right there and trumpeted “ABUSIVE?!” And then in the most condescending of tones he said that, well, in his practice, people — mostly women — come in and say they’re in an abusive relationship. “But what does that mean?” The other person (the “abuser”) may think its just a “difficult” relationship, or an unloving relationship, or really have no problem with the relationship at all! So this abuse thing, is totally in the eye of the beholder!

He refused to listen. He refuses to honor her reality. He refused to consider there could be any sort of power or abuse dynamic in a relationship. And if there was one? Well, hey, it was equally shared. What did you do to make him that way?

And I confess I didn’t listen past that point. I tried to. But I just got angrier and angrier, while he pontificated and this woman didn’t say another word. Perhaps she did later, but after a long diatribe about people making up abuse, I had to turn the channel.

I wondered how many horrible shrinks are out there saying similar things to people. As it’s a Catholic channel, well, hey their bias is going to be against divorce. But I want to believe there are compassionate priests and shrinks out there who would urge a person to leave an abusive relationship. This guy, the guy with the radio show — he wasn’t that voice. He was shaming that woman for speaking up. He was minimizing her abuse and denying her reality.

So, why would she say another word? Because you KNOW her abuser is pulling the same mindfuck on her. Whether he hits her or cheats on her or verbally abuses her — you know that man has tried to get her to believe it’s her fault. That she’s exaggerating. It’s Not That Bad. And abusers isolate you, so the fact that she called a radio show (and refused to give her name), was probably a big step — and this asshole, quack Guarendi just shut her down.

When you get a bad shrink, or a bad priest, or heck, even a bad friend — it can really set you back. It takes a lot of reality checks to leave an abuser — so when you turn for help and that “professional” just abuses you further? It’s reprehensible. And yeah, I say abuse — that’s what that man did. He mocked her. He minimized. He made her pain about him and his platform.

Whatever you feel about the information age, I think one big positive is that chumps can come together and compare notes. I hope that woman googles and finds a support forum of other people who have lived what she’s living. Guarendi clearly has no clue. The collective wisdom can provide her with hundreds of reality checks – as many as she needs — to finally leave that abuser.

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  • What a complete ASS. Sadly, I agree that there are few who really understand and when they find out your marriage is over because of the X’s infidelities they are quick to blame the left-behind spouse a la ‘what did you do to make him/her do that?’. Like we really wanted them to go fuck someone else and destroy our marriage, upend our family life and risk our well-being. Fucktards.

    Thanks for pointing out that channel on Sirius—I am a subscriber but I will just scan over THAT channel from now on!

    What gets me is that he is supposedly a ‘professional’. If my therapist had been as callous as this man, I don’t know WHAT I would have done…Even my Catholic priest was telling me that divorce was the best option for ME (which, yes, goes against the teaching of the Catholic faith but abuse should not be tolerated). Also, my former priest does not sound at all like this Nimrod you speak of.

    I cringe every time I hear about someone getting reamed by their therapist/family/friends/pastor. It is hard enough to be here, but talk about kicking a dog when it’s down…I just end up getting angry with the complete insensitivity.

    Sadly that jackass is just another in a long list of people who have never experienced it but speak as ‘the voice of reason’.

  • Dear CL,
    The sad reality is that there are only a few who get any support and that is true about many countries and cultures around the globe.
    “What did you do to contribute to your abuse/ cheating?”
    Hell, life seems so ruthless at times.

      • Maybe you are right CL. Its a strange paradox with me. Whenever I am betrayed or abused I go weak in my knees…probably I am flabbergasted every time such a thing happens. (I generally am nice to people. In family or in public sphere, I do not eat up others’ space or knowingly harm people. If I ever compete, I don’t use unfair means or veils to hide my competitive intentions)… But, when I absorb that somebody has hurt me (which invariably takes time)…I fight back…Probably, the absorptive capacitor of my brain has inbuilt time-lag 🙁
        Are all chumps like that?

        • I definitely have a time-lag. I have to absorb the situation and figure out what to do. I don’t just automatically go on the defensive to attack back when someone wrongs me. It’s just not in my nature. I can fight back, but must contemplate it first. It’s just the way I am.

  • It’s literally more abuse. Just a way to mindfuck with someone who is already screwed. I swear these people are in a cult to support abusers everywhere.

  • Telling a betrayed spouse that they somehow are responsible for their partner’s cheating a lying is the hallmark of therapists who are either: a) cruel; b) stupid; and/or c) have no personal experience with infidelity and insufficient empathy to allow them to imagine being in that situation.

    This Dr. G dude seems to tick all three boxes and is a tool to boot. Here’s a video sample from Youtube, a sermon titled (I’m not kidding), “JESUS AND MOSES WENT GOLFING.” Nuff said.

    I was raised Catholic by parents educated by Jesuits. This new Catholic media bears no relation to the Catholic Church I knew. A more compassionate view can be found at places like (great essays there now questioning the hostile reaction of U.S. bishops to the recent Supreme Court rulings in favor of gay marriage).

    In defense of Texas landscapes, judging any place in the depths of drought is like judging a Chump in the depths of serial cheater mindf*ckery. Not at our best, you know? I find West Texas and Big Bend National Park an acquired taste but also a world of staggering beauty:

    • Well, that’s a good analogy and I haven’t been to west Texas. (Does a dementia ward in San Angelo count?)

      It’s flat, dusty, and hot. I’m sure that’s some folks cup of tea, but I miss green things and freezing rain.

      • CL, San Angelo doesn’t count (that’s brush country). The desert really starts about 100 miles west of there and even then you’ve still got 300 miles to El Paso (where there are big stretches of literally nothing but sand). Everything in West Texas is hot, sharp, or poisonous. It’s magnificent, grand, and beautiful in its own way but whoever said “Hey, let’s live here” must have been out of their minds. Stay east of about I-35 but don’t go too far east or you’ll hit swamp and that’s a whole other story.

        • I know — who settled Texas? They must’ve been desperate or crazy or both. Was it General Sherman who said “If I had a choice between hell and Texas, I’d rent out Texas and live in Hell”?

          HB, I think you need to be a connoisseur of deserts to distinguish between brush and desert. It all looks like desert to me. I guess it’s something to do with the cactus to people ratio or something.

      • My Parents live in The Woodlands, and they have trees. I-45 North of Houston has trees, and all long 59 almost to Texarkana is trees if I remember correctly.

        I wouldn’t want to live in Hill Country, but The Woodlands is pretty nice for Texas.

    • Nomar, I agree with you about the modern Catholic church being way more conservative. The church used to be all about Social Justice. Priests walked with Martin Luther King. Now, conservative priest talk about Social Justice being a mark of a wishy- washy church. It is so over-the-top conservative that some even claim Jesuits aren’t really Catholic anymore.

      I found older more liberal priest were encouraging me to leave, but most of the younger ones told me my suffering was beneficial and that if I sacrificed my happiness by staying in a terrible situation for the sake of my husband and children, it would take time off the years I would have to spend in Purgatory.

      I’m so glad I woke up!

  • I must admit that some of the best support I got , when I first google emotional abuse, was from, mainly, a bunch of women on Dr Irene’s site. I was f doubting my reality, thinking I was exxagerating things. I described the frequent cold water dousings, the emasculating remarks, the silent treatments out of nowhere.
    I was assured the behavior was abusive.
    As you say, CL, abused people are , often, doubtful about their perceptions. Thye have been gaslit, discounted nad , over time, simply worn down to a shadow of their former selves. Thank God for the internet and the support sites.
    I have found a few good sites for men, as it seems society has not caught on to the reality that men are abused as frequently as women, and there is a paucity of support sites for men.

    • Arnold,
      I’m a witness to a lot of those abusive women, and I always wondered what the HELL men saw in them, now I’m sure they were all a bunch of N’s and P’s! It’s a whole new life view, not a good one either..

    • I didn’t even realize I was in an abusive relationship. It sounds funny to even say it. I really just thought my wife was difficult. When I started reading about abuse (here mostly) I recognized so many of my wife’s tactics, and so many of the effects on me, that I kind of have to think it was abusive.

    • Arnold, I really feel for what you went through and certainly women do abuse men. The emotional abuse you suffered is truly damaging, I dealt with emotional violence too, it’s how it starts on the road to control. Despite that I cannot let your assertion stay here unchallenged, you said: “it seems society has not caught on to the reality that men are abused as frequently as women”. This is not true, there is no study or other data to back that statement up.

      There is a huge repository of reputable research that shows the opposite, women are abused far more frequently. Men are primarily the aggressors in domestic abuse according to all available research. Men are also the primary aggressors in male rape and assault outside of intimate relationships.

      If you want to assert that women engage in emotional abuse at equal rates I can’t say if that is right or wrong because no decent research has been done in that sphere. I would say it’s doubtful based on the physical abuse rates. But, what Tracey posted here is about domestic abuse in which the partner is in fear of being, and/or is being physically assaulted. Even in cases of a woman emotionally abusing a man, it is well documented that there is little fear of major damage or death from the woman and statistics show physical abuse is not prevalent or as damaging in that situation.

      Incontrovertible statistic: In 2000, 1,247 women and 440 men were killed by an intimate partner. An intimate partner killed approximately 33% of all female murder victims and 4% of all male murder victims. The number of females shot and killed by their husband or intimate partner was more than three times higher than the total number murdered by male strangers using all weapons combined in single victim/single offender incidents in 2002.

      More? 2000 report: Women experience more intimate partner violence than do men: 22.1 percent of surveyed women, compared with 7.4 percent of surveyed men, reported they were physically assaulted by a current or former spouse, cohabiting partner, boyfriend or girlfriend, or date in their lifetime.

      I support everyone of any gender or oritentation (LGBTQ) who is or was in an abusive relationship. I do not support the assertion that men and women are equally abusive because the research doesn’t support that assertion, quite the opposite.

      • Just my 2 cents worth, I think that a debate on which sex is abused more is really missing the point. Any abuse, no matter who is the victim and who is the abuser, is wrong. Period. All people that endure an abusive relationship need and deserve support, love and hope for a better future. Arguing over who has it worse does a disservice to us all.

        • Angie I sooo dissagree with you. Denying women are actually suffer more domestic violence than men is like denying black people suffer a lot more of racism than some white people that suffer racism too. One thing would be to deny men can be abused too, which would be a lie, another thing is to ignore how one sided domestic violence is towards women actually and not start looking at what our society is doing to contribute to it.

    • She said she hardly listened to the rest of the Doctor’s segment. Usually Dr. Ray is very intense and brings it back down after that. He gives great advice of you just listen. The problem with your opinion and this article is that you didn’t stay to listen. You can’t give an opinion of you only heard 5 min of an hour/30 long min show. Now you have people bashing the Catholic Church etc. Not sure how you feel about not judging before you get the full story/picture, but I would assume you wouldn’t want people to do that to you. Next time give the guy a chance listen to all he has to say. Yeah it might be frustrating, but that’s the problem with our society. We suck at listening. Even to someone on the radio who won’t even respond back to us! If we want to be a society that isn’t quick to judge we need to shut off those thoughts while listening and try to listen fully. If we can’t do that how do we expect anyone to do the same for us?

      • That’s a good point! I’ve listened to Dr. Ray many times, and found him to have a lot of insight into human nature. However, he will often start with a more or less stunning comment, and then use it to make a point. It gets your attention.
        Perhaps if she would have listened to the rest of his reply she would have heard what he was getting to. But she missed it because she turned the radio off a couple minutes too soon. I think I remember the episode she was talking about; it was a while ago, and he did go on to explain in a way that made sense. Sometimes just hearing part of a comment out of context doesn’t get the full meaning.

        • I absolutely love Dr. Ray and YEEES he does say things that are brass and offensive only to turn it around to help make a point. I have even called and spoke with Dr. Ray myself. He is very caring… Genuinely caring. I do not appreciate the 5 minute research involved in not inly bashing him entirley but the entire network in general. My summation of ChumpLady would not be very kind based on this dismal 2 minute read. Thankfully, I know there is more to a person than can be understood in 2 dismal minutes.

          • I’ve done my research. Read his book, heard him speak. Very popular in my area. Don’t care for is act nor his therapeutic approach.

      • I’ve known this therapist for many years. Loves the spotlight. Catholic radio is his bread and butter. He’s a performer. Advice is mediocre at best.

  • A poster on Huffpo stated the other day that it’s always much harder on the person being left, than the leaver.

    I explained my situation which of course is very similar to a lot of others here – ie we may have left our exes, but that was for the sake of our own sanity in the face of our ex’s complete dysfunction.

    She told me I was wrong, and she was a therapist with 30 years experience, so she knew what SHE was talking about (and I was clearly just a big stupidhead).

    Can you imagine what she says to her clients? How she treats them?

    I was kinda terrified on their behalf.

    • What a NUT!

      Okay, imagine if you were talking about physical abuse. And you said — I had to leave him because his “dysfunction” was hitting me. Would she say “Oh, well it’s really much worse for him, because you left.”


    • If the marriage is completely broken down and dysfunctional, doesn’t someone need to leave? How can spiritual leaders feel that it’s better to stay where your spirit is being corroded by your spouse treating you as if you are invisible, and have NO rights. Making up my mind to go, and telling people what he ‘d been doing was the bravest thing I’ve ever done! And I knew it was going to tear me and my sons up. But, what’s the point of principles if you don’t act on them? I just couldn’t roll around in the gutter with him, And I would expect a true leader to tell me ‘good for you! You left.’

    • FG, when my wife said “Don’t leave me” I said “YOU left ME a long time ago, you just never mentioned it.” Who left whom has nothing to do with what roof you sleep under.

      • HB,

        I said the exact same thing to my ex…I honestly don’t think he was ever married to me. Disordered jerk.

      • HB – That conversation sounds very familiar! My ex continues to play the victim and act like I am the reason we’re divorced. Like nothing he did such as CHEATING ON ME has anything to do with it.

        He’ll also even still say things about how good it would be if we were still together… though, usually he’s referring to the fact that we would each have more money to spend, of course. He’s so romantic.

        • Apparently I wasn’t nice to my ex and that’s why we divorced–according to him. My not being nice, of course, might have had something to do with him cheating but who knows. It’s all a blur now. 🙂

  • I’m no Roman Catholic, but I have family members who’ve joined the Church and have had to had previous marriages annulled. The Church will grant annulment in cases of abuse. This doctor should know that.

    Of course, if we took Guarendi’s position and extended it to child abuse, we’d see that the child must have done something to bring the abuse upon the child.

    • And that is despicable!

      (Editing error–the cursor went to the submit button before being able to add that last sentence)

      • I had my marriage to Mr. Not-So-Wonderful annulled as well. My priest told me that he was abusing me—the type of abuse did not matter, abuse was abuse, he said. He told me I should get it annulled. And other friends from my parish told me the same. Do it while it is still fresh and as soon as you get your civil divorce (as in the court system, not ‘civil’ as in turning the other cheek or letting that shit just roll off).

        No matter what your religious beliefs are or are not, I still feel abuse is abuse and no one deserves that.

  • I wouldn’t spend time on that radio station either. This guy sounds like a Narc.

    I must be lucky. The two priests and the one counselor that I spoke to were not that way at all. In fact one of the priests I spoke with became a priest after his wife cheated on him. So he knew exactly what I was going through. He was able to relate to what I was feeling and shared some of his stories. He even said some of the things that are talked about here. (minus the F bombs of course) Non of these people came out and said we should divorce as this needs to be our decision not theirs. They did ease my mind that I should feel no guilt in divorcing. (This was weighing heavily on my mind.) Sorry but that is just the way I was brought up. I married for forever. She is the one that broke the bond. She severed the marriage.

    Now my cheating wife’s therapist wants to put blame on me. or so it seems and my cheating wife was loving that, at first. Now my wife does tell me that it was her fault and she takes full responsibility. So I do feel that she has taken ownership for her poor choices.

    • Hi Bud, don’t forget to never believe what someone says their therapist is saying, because especially if it’s self-serving, it’s often
      a) a flat-out lie or distortion of what the therapist said
      b) a true statement about what the therapist said AFTER the person speaking lied to the therapist about what was going on.

      These narcs lie and distort and manipulate w/other people, why wouldn’t they do that with their therapist, and about what their therapist said? I actually think it’s great that many therapists DO see through their BS!

      • +1 on the cheaters lying to and about their therapist, the one they are seeing only in order to prove to you they want to stay in the marriage. My ex stopped seeing his first therapist because I had one 10 minute conversation with her. He said he couldn’t trust her any more because she had talked to me. Yeah, they lie to their therapists.

      • I can speak to first hand experience that some people do lie to the therapist in order to get the instructions they want to hear.

        Andy came home one day and told me his therapist told him he needed to focus on himself and table everything between us.

        I asked him if he had told his therapist he was cheating on me? Weeeell, not exactly.

        I asked him if he had told his therapist I was about 30 seconds from grabbing our daughter and moving in with my parents 3 states away? Weeeelll, not exactly.

        I asked him if he thought his therapist would have a different interpretation if she knew these little, unimportant details about the situation. His response: Probably.

        They lie to you; They will not hesitate to lie to anyone else.

    • Wow, Bud, thanks for the comment about not feeling guilty, because that’s what I’ve been fighting. It’s partly because XH might crash and burn without me, but mostly exactly what you said- i was the one who married for life, and wanted nobody but him. So ironic that he kept cheating, and refusing to let me have a say in our life decisions (resulting in financial horrors for years). So finally I had to get out. I can’t believe how that means so much to me, that your counselors told you not to feel guilt. I so want to get to that aspect of Meh!

      • Just because the counselor said it doesn’t make it any easier. I’ll get there someday.

        Wanted to add and point out why he told me that. I should feel no guilt because she had already broken the bond we had and there is no longer anything to break.

        Because of my upbringing I still feel responsible for her soul. Before we were married I was her sponsor to be confirmed in our church. I made two promises to her. So I struggle with this a lot. Again, I’ll get there someday.

      • We weren’t married, but I did feel horrible about the crash and burn thing, now that I’m getting closer to Meh, I’m not as worried, how long could I try and “keep” him on the “straight and narrow” as far as drugs, etc? I don’t think I realized what pressure I was under because I never wanted anything bad to happen to him.

        Now I feel as if he doesn’t care, why should I? And for years NO ONE out of the 2 of us gave a damn about me…so there’s that too…glad it’s over. He looks bad but it was his choice and her problem now…let’s just say they have at least one thing in common. Crashing and burning.

      • This is really interesting. One of the things my mother said to me about STBXH was something to the effect of whether he realized that I grounded him in the real world. I think the answer is that sometimes he does, and that’s one reason why he’s not so very unhappy that he wants a divorce. He’s pretty happy with the kibbles and cake thing.

        • Yeah, that whole reality thing was a big bummer for the ex. He actually told me he didn’t want the baggage of a long relationship, he wanted a clean slate, he wanted to see if he could create a new and perfect life for himself. Not sure how that’s working out for him, to be honest. He seems a bit pissy a lot of the time.

  • I was a homeschooling, daily mass attending, EWTN watching Catholic mom for about 10 years. I met this guy at a homeschool conference. Even back then in my “holier than thou” days, he came off as a pompous ass.

    I must emphasize that his attitude is common in conservative, traditionalist circles. Women are to be meek and submissive. The common refrain is that the man is the head of the home and the woman is the heart of the home.

    I knew many abused, depressed, and anxious women who were told over and over that their problems were caused by not embracing their vocation as wife and mother with enough zeal.

    I left that lifestyle and the Church. I am divorced from my cruel conservative husband. My kids are in public school. I am working and loving it. Life is soooooo much better. The problem is that many women hear these guys and consider them the voice of God. Especially when they are promoted by popular priests. It is so sad that misogynist ideas are still so prevalent in some circles.

      • Me, too!!!

        I feel like I am awake and that my ideas and desires and dreams really matter. I spent years thinking that I had to bury a huge part of myself. I forced myself into a very small and uncomfortable box, because I thought it was the only way to be holy and pleasing to God and my husband. I had so much fear.

        Losing my husband and my religion are the best things that ever happened to me!

        • That is so interesting because as I see it, religion is not the same as faith. Lots and lots of abusive dudes hide behind so-called “religion.” Its such a great cover. Ya know… church going “believers?”

          believers in what exactly? not to say that there are not many people who find strength, solace and wisdom in their religion, but the difference is they are not cheating, perverted, unfaithful liars!

          I have also found that “conservative” frequently is accompanied with cruelty. I never got conservatism anyway. A lot of it it pretty freakin’ radical to me! And notice that the root is CON? yeah. Although, my BFF is a conservative, but she doesn’t cram it down my throat; she’s there for me through thick and thin, good and bad and me for her and that’s why she’s my BFF.

          A lot of time, I hear people think that God does what THEY want even though God is clearly SHOUTING at them to get the fuck AWAY! (YES! God swears!!!)

          I’m so glad that you could get out from under Solange. That takes a LOT of strength, faith AND belief! But its real belief, not some BS fake-faith imposed on you. xo

          • I doubt there’s much correlation between political ideology and douce-bagery. There are cruel people and chumps all across the political spectrum.

              • My MIL is an exemplar of religious con artist. She has extraordinary powers (Ugh.) and she has some direct connections to Goddess Durga (Diety of Power)…There are charlatans all around to keep chumps in submissive positions

    • What is truly sad is that this is a gross distortion of Christianity.

      In the early church, women flocked to the faith.

      Christianity as a faith demanded men be faithful to their wife, that they could not divorce for their wife without *good* reason. Christianity forbid child sacrifice, (a practice *extremely* common in the ancient world; if a man did not want another child of that gender, it was left on a community hill to be adopted by another family or die).

      A faith that said women should not be beaten without good reason, that they should not be abandoned without good reason, and that they had a right to keep their children?

      In the ancient world, this was a radical faith, and women were beating down the doors, metaphorically speaking. The Bible is riddled with passages ordering people & lawmakers not to take advantage of the widow or orphan (all grown women in that society were married or widowed; unmarried women lived with a male relative).

      It is sad to see what several sick & thick individuals have warped this faith to resemble.

  • There are some bad radio people out there who use the medium to their advantage – they have the mic, and can cut off callers anytime they want, so they always get the last word. How is it even a fair conversation when the other person doesn’t get a chance to respond? Since you couldn’t bear to listen to the rest of the segment (understsandably! I would have been mad, too!) I don’t know if this was the case with this particular caller, but it seems to the MO of selfish radio hosts. Not to mention, when the radio host uses their Dr-status to project that their advice is golden; beyond reproach. Ugh.

    This guy sounds very callous and cruel. The woman caller was reaching out to him for help, for understanding, and for reassurance. He did none of those things. Shame on him.

    Makes me grateful that my in-person therapists were so competant. They all saw through my STBX and told me to leave. Even the Catholic therapist. Bless him.

  • Just because he’s a dr. or priest doesn’t mean he’s right. It’s just one opinion. But the fact that he is a dr. and totally dismissed her claims without even finding out what the abuse was, was irresponsible for him as a dr. and to me an abuse of his power and trust. Dr.’s take an oath to at least do no harm. As far as I’m concerned, he did harm to someone very fragile and vulnerable already., and for what? His 15 min in the limelight? Shame on him!

  • OMG! What a narcissistic freak that idiot is. But that’s what abusers do; they turn it all around and blame their victims.

    I would love this loser to live with my autistic son and then tell me that abuse is most often NOT provoked. Of course, he will just say that we are lousy parents and didn’t raise him properly. That’s because abusers are never wrong. They don’t make mistakes and bear no responsibility– cannot see the part they play, NO MATTER WHAT, if someone else is upset, hurt, angry… because they cannot understand the feelings of someone else; only their own. Somethin’ in their brain is actually missing. So, when he says this, its because he cannot understand it any other way. Or as I often say… how can you explain the color green to someone who’s never seen.

    What’s so scary is that this fraud is actually on the air spewing out this garbage. grrrrr…

  • I know that a lot of couple’s therapists are trained to think of ‘family pathology’ and that both partners in a relationship have similar levels of problems. I actually don’t think that’s right; us Chumps have our own difficulties, but not anywhere near the level of PDs!

    I think many therapists, in their desire to be ‘neutral’ and not push people don’t give enough information about personality disorders, or about the likelihood of someone actually changing.

    The ex and I saw a very well respected couple’s therapist after his first affair. She was helpful in some ways, but it would have done me a world of good if she had clarified that the ex was avoiding doing the work required to repair, didn’t show appropriate remorse, and was unlikely to change because of those behaviours. Especially after he refused to attend any more sessions! I’m not sure how much it would have changed, but I would have understood some things much earlier.

    • I dunno… I find it hard to trust someone who’s going to lose a lot of money if she loses a client and is therfore walking on narc eggshells herself. Coincidentally, my mom’s a marriage shrink, but she absolutely will call an abusive partner to the mat and agrees that it doesn’t always take two. God, I hate that phrase… “it takes two.”


      • Actually the good shrinks I know have way more people seeking therapy with them than they have the time to see, so losing some patients because they call it like they see it would not be a problem! I’m glad your mother is one of those who doesn’t tolerate or spread BS!

    • In my experience, both marriage counselors privately encouraged me to get out.

      I don’t think reputable therapists would string a client along for the sake of money.

      I remember at one point thinking it felt more like solo therapy where Andy was sitting in the room, rather than marriage counseling.

      Once L started calling his bullshit, it went down hill reeeaal fast.

  • There should be a special level of hell for professionals who heap salt in the wounds of the abused, aggrieved parties within the (supposed) sanctified, protected confines of therapy.

    We saw a couple therapists over the years, one good and most poor. The worst were one from years ago who would give us “homework” and then when STBX failed to deliver in the next session, would brightly ask, “Well, what else would you like to work on instead?”

    Then another recent one – joint counseling during False Reconciliation this spring, after my own shocking discovery of decades of infidelity (I truly never suspected, he’s quite a smooth liar it turned out) – was really the very worst. I brought up my concerns over continued incessant texting, and was told by the therapist to just believe STBX’s statements that the contacts were innocent, and an important source of support in his delicate emotional state. I easily found evidence that they were additional affair partners, and ended the reconciliation. To my own credit (I hope) I did tell the therapist off after that – I told him I thought he was clinically negligent to tell me to “believe” STBX after having been briefed by me on his previous lying and cheating behaviors – and that I felt I was the victim of therapist-assisted gaslighting, just another blow dealt me by his very ill client. He did not have a satisfactory response to me :-P. Curiously, I was disinvited from joint sessions after that . . . and FTR, this was counselor was exactly the polar opposite of the Conservative Counselor portrayed here. He was a pro-feminist, hippie peace freak who would open and close therapy sessions with a moment of medatative silence. Uh-huh, I know.

    STBX signed up for OK Cupid almost immediately after that, and (thinking I didn’t know about that) continued to tell me he wanted reconciliation. I’m thankful I was able to stick to a line of telling him what mattered to me were his actions and not his words – and his actions were not worthy of my reconciliation efforts. We now live apart and I have filed for divorce. It ought to be final in a couple more months. I still can’t believe he managed to lie to me successfully for so many years – but I was trusting and incurious, and that is not a character flaw. Lying and cheating . . . those are of course.

    CL, I wanted you to know I have a file of my favorite quotes from your posts, and I re-read it frequently.

    • I too found out about years of cheating – several with people I know. I swear I don’t think I actually believed what I had read for a long time because it was just too astounding. It was like being caught up in a telenova soap or something. Really shocking. It took my amazing therapist to lead me towards accepting just how fucked up my ex really is.

      • Nord, what did your therapist actually do? I’ve been going for months now and there doesn’t seem to be any plan. I know it’s not magic but I thought there would be some sense of “here’s what we’re going to work on.” She just seems to tick off cliches. Am I expecting too much?

        • HB,
          I’ve had that experience, too. You may want to find a therapist who does EMDR therapy. Others here are way more articulate about it than I, but after years of on-off talk therapy with middling results, I am seeing progress with my new EMDR therapist. It seems a little weird at first, but after several sessions, I am crediting it with lessening my trauma symptoms (like most of us chumps, the cheating ex isn’t our first ride on the trauma wagon).

          Good luck.

          • Thanks, I’m going to look for one. I read about it the other day when a few people here mentioned it.

            • HB, find another therapist if you feel like all that is happening is you venting, I went thru 4 and two of tem were helpful, yet others useless to me. I too had most help from EMDR

        • HB, my therapist lets me blab on a bit, then she breaks down what I’ve said with me, guiding me toward understanding what is reallygoing on and helping me find ways to cope, both practically and emotionally. Sometimes I ‘get it’ pretty fast. Other times I nod my head but it doesn’t sink in and she drags me back there in another session to pick over things so that I finally, really, truly, in my heart get what has happened in any particular instance.

        • You might consider a different therapist. If you’ve been seeing this one for several months, and you still feel like all you get are clichés, that’s not a good indicator.

          I’ve been seeing my psychologist for almost two years now, and we are just starting to get into some of the sexual abuse schtuff, but part of that delay was building enough trust to open it, and part of that delay was me growing strong enough to face it.

          Sometimes just hearing, over and over again, that my experiences were not normal or healthy or reasonable or rational, is as helpful as anything else.

    • “CL, I wanted you to know I have a file of my favorite quotes from your posts, and I re-read it frequently.”

      I do this, too! Re-read them when I need a boost of emotional support, and it really, really helps.

      • We should all submit this and maybe CL could post somewhere on here for others to benefit from.

        “Readers Fave Chump Lady Quotes” (for those times when we find ourselves crawling around on the ceiling)

        sometin like that.

    • “There should be a special level of hell for professionals who heap salt in the wounds of the abused, aggrieved parties within the (supposed) sanctified, protected confines of therapy.”

      Eighth Circle of Hell: Fraud
      Ninth Circle of Hell: Treachery

      That ought to cover it. That’s a high as you go.

    • KarmaBuilder, if you are with an abusive person marriage therapists are the worst, first they are invested in “saving” your marriage without really looking at whether that is good, ours kept saying that after 17 years surely we had something. Yeah we did, me unaware of my wasted care and getting little from him. Second, most important, if there is abuse the therapist helps your abuser by insisting that both of you are responsible for the cheating and in my case he would accuse me of anger issues, like when I’d get upset cos he tells me the OW is so wonderful, a fucking saint…I was supposed to be ok with that. Eventually I was but not due to that crap “therapy”.

      This says all you need to know:

      • Specifically about believing his texts were innocent, our counselor insisted I should understand that it was hard for my husband to let go of the OW, he cared about her. So I should be ok with emails as long as they don’t see each other. I should give him time to grieve the loss, and let him have some contact, not one word about my grief, my needs, no way. After all I was half responsible for this, right? Wrong.

        • Speachless.
          Whaaa, whaaat?
          He should be able to stay in contact with her? He cares? This to me is insane, especially from a therapist. Aren’t they supposed to give the two of you tools to fix the relationship? if he can hang on to her, why even be married then?
          This seems like worse than no help at all!

          • I was shocked when I started reading “surviving infidelity” books at how they all talked about don’t expect the affair to end abruptly, be understanding when the involved partner is heartbroken if the affair ends, expect relapses, and on and on. I read two different books that said a Fatal Attraction psycho can be a great bonding experience for the married couple to rally around so be on the lookout for that opportunity. I really think you’ve either experienced this calamity we call adultery, with all of the subtle nuances and sledgehammers to the heart, or you haven’t. I’m beginning to realize I just can’t relate to people who haven’t. At least not on this subject — not yet.

            • HearthBuilder, I agree. People either get it, or they don’t. And being cheated on is much worse when you actually *care* about the person who betrayed you (as opposed to it being just a fling or something).

              Datdamwuf & PattyToo – I can’t believe therapists say its okay for the cheater to keep in contact with the OW/OM. Ridiculous. In my STBX’s case, texting and emailing each other was a big part of the fantasy of their affair. So if they keep texting, then the affair is still going strong. Not to mention the sexting. How is that okay??!?!

              Both therapists said flat-out that if he is still texting the OW (or contacting her in any way), that he is still *in* the affair. Made it perfectly clear to me. I was very thankful for their honesty.

  • The healthcare industry as well as the judicial system and religious leaders really need to get schooled on the subject of verbal, mental and emotional abuse as well as all the other issues that result because of a spouse’s affair. The thought that it is something we (the chumps) did or did not do is ludacris. We chumps always tend to be blamed by the spouse who in turn convince the powers that be that it wasn’t their fault. I had never heard of this until I went to counseling and my therapist had me read a few books. Whoa! I’m not crazy?! This stuff is real?! I learned terms and read examples of things that happened to me on a daily basis over and over again that I thought was normal. Gaslighting – finally a definition to explain that I truly was NOT crazy. The internet proved to be a valuable source for validating what I had/was experiencing. I joined an online support group and found out that I was not the only one suffering from this. That alone made me feel better. Imagine finding out that your asshole stbx is not the only one that does horrible things and there are plenty of people out there willing to help and support you. What a lifesaver it is for me.

    I was also raised as a Catholic. I didn’t think twice about filing for divorce. Yes, when I married I married for life. I tried to work it out. stbx wasn’t interested. Love, honor, respect was a one way street in my marriage. It wasn’t fair to me or my children to live without those basics. It also wasn’t right to raise them to believe that this was a “normal” marriage, because it wasn’t. When people find out I am in the middle of a divorce they sometimes say “sorry” I tell them not to be sorry for me. It was the best decision I ever made. Is it difficult sometimes yes, but it is so worth it!

    • Margo,

      A GREAT thought when you wrote:

      “Whoa! I’m not crazy?! This stuff is real?! ”

      A lot of narc abuse is a bit like what they call “white torture,” i.e. the kind of torture that leaves no marks. And we Chumps are only too eager to own up to our own faults (that’s what makes us nice folks, maybe too nice sometimes), and narcs take advantage of that. In any case, your description of “the recognition moment” is right on target.

      CL, maybe we should consider a thread on “recognition moments,” that one instant when a chump suddenly realized: “Hey, I’m not dealing with a normal person here. This is not going to get fixed. He (or she) really doesn’t care, really does feel this entitled. I really am invisible/an instrument to them….”

      I think there’s a great line in one of the books you recommend, CL, about this. I can’t recall it, but it says something about people who do the bad things they do because they really want to/really don’t give a spit.

      Anyway, Margo, a great description of the Road to Damascus moment that is part of the pathway to Meh.

  • Hardest thing for me was the whole “married for life” thing. I was totally faithful, I was willing to work out problems, and he bailed out and cheated multiple times. Now, in answer to his petition for divorce, I have finally hired my own lawyer. Would never go back to him, but don’t want to be divorced!

    • Same here. Don’t want to be divorced at all! I was/am totally faithful, I was willing to work out problems, and SHE bailed out. “married for life”.

    • Didnt’ want to be divorced but I am and I’m ok with that. Funnily enough, he hired a lawyer long before I did. I was trying to work it out calmly and without a big court thing. Finally I couldn’t handle the threats anymore so hired a lawyer. HE WENT NUTS. Could not believe that I hired a lawyer months and months after he did. How dare I, you know?

    • I can totally relate. I was also willing to work on the problems, but he wasn’t interested.

      I told one of my friends, “I fought and fought for that marriage.”

      Her wise response?

      “Yes, Red, but you were the only one in the ring.”

      It takes two to make a marriage. But only one to walk away…

  • I’m a Methodist. Once when we were discussing the verse on forgiveness (Matthew 18:22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, … but 70 times seven.) and I asked my pastor “well how can you keep forgiving if he doesn’t admit he is sinning? He told me I was under no obligation to stay in a marriage with someone like that.

  • I don’t like to mince words and whenever I hear of a faith based counselor, priest, minister… whatever… try to blame, force a self examination, or question what a betrayed spouse’s “contribution” is I want to say “number six of the Ten Commandments does not have a but or unless clause”

  • My shrink told me to work on being friends with my ex…I was still in hopium at the time and jumping through every hoop tossed at me when she said this. I looked at her and said I am friendly, he isn’t. He is the one stonewalling and lying.
    Ha! Be friends….my friends don’t treat me that way. Part of the reason I haven’t been back to counseling is because of the it takes two part of my brain and the self blame and self loathing I still have going on and I am scared I will find another shrink like that which is NOT what I need.

  • Great comments and I think it’s all been said.

    I think some of the MC’s just aren’t that bright and believe in the rubbish they learn in their training. And it’s a lot easier to be neutral, involve the chump in the blame, ( us chumps are usually not aggressive by nature) and appease the cheater ( who is almost always an aggressive PD’d loon). They’re gutless wimps who haven’t got the courage to face the real problem, that the cheater is a nutcase.

    The other group of MC’s I believe are PD’s wing nuts themselves. They relate to cheaters, virtually empathize with them. The second psychologist we used was definitely NPD. He ripped into to me in one session. He told me I was wasting everyone’s time, because I wanted to discuss what was wrong with my cheating wife, and because I wasn’t committed to the R process. Asshole!:(

    • Unfortunately, a lot of MC are simply psychologists who took one class on MC and then added that to their advertisements.

      Those who have actually made a focused career of marriage counseling are generally pretty good at identifying abusive bullshit.

      I had two MC encourage me to get out.

    • One of our MCs was a former cheater himself. At first, I was worried about this. But actually, it probably helped. He called my STBX on his shit really fast. It takes one to know one? In the end, I was thankful that the MC had himself been a former cheater because he really did understand the situation from minute-1.

      Our second MC had never cheated, and was a Catholic minister. But he still called my STBX on his shit.

      Two for two. Helped me tremendously, and I’m so grateful to have good luck with MCs.

  • I consider myself spiritual, but church has never been a big part of my life. I asked someone I really trust, a police officer that’s also a reverend and helps alot of people in my town. He gave me a referral fora therapist and luckily it worked out fine. Abuse from X definitely acknowledged, it felt so good to hear from a “profesional” stranger, the relief was immense! Glad I followed everyone’s advice here starting with CL! XO

  • Are bones broken based on the eye of the beholder?

    Does it require perspective to know that if one person is telling all the lies, you share equal power because you are allowing yourself to be lied to? (Funny, I always thought if they were lying, that meant the power in your relationship was unequal, since they were denying you a fundamental right to make choices based on the truth.)

    Absolutely un-fucking-believable that there are professionals who believe this shit.

  • CL,

    Just re-read your post, and I was thinking about it. Margo, above, makes a really good point. It can be hard to recognize this stuff. Now, I didn’t hear Dr. Guarendi, but no one should dismiss abuse out-of-hand. If someone is feeling down enough to call in to a radio show, they deserve a hearing, and a sympathetic one.

    Families, particularly ones where there is abuse, can be very isolated. This is a situation that really lends itself to camouflaging problems. “Abuse” isn’t always a physical injury (though that certainly happens). There are other kinds of “white” abuse: screaming and shouting, insults, put-downs, run-downs, one partner being so unstable everyone else has to walk on eggshells “to keep the peace,” etc. I think that the Chump Connection you have created will shed light on that. From what I’ve seen, narcissistic abusers lose a ton of power once light is shed on their situation. There is also no point in battling them, since they thrive on this. Low to no-contact and/or contact with boundaries (breaking contact off when the boundaries are broken) really cuts them down. They will then move on to find some other chump. In the end, the personality disordered narc is not a tough person at all, but just a bully looking for an easy mark.

    In any case, I just wanted to chime in and echo what has been said above. Dr. Guarendi says abuse is exaggerated. I would say the opposite. I think there is a lot of abuse that flies under the radar, and that CL is doing a great deal to reveal that. We should also remember, too, that kids are more sensitive. So where an adult can decide, “OK, I’ll put up with this,” that adult had better be careful. Children don’t have the same options, and shouting, verbal abuse, put-downs can work on kids in strange ways. In the short term, the kids will conform. Sometimes they will even become high-achievers in the hopes of making a bad family “happy.” In the long run, problems will crop up. Some will come during adolescence, when the kid individuates and rebels against the narc (hopefully not in self-destructive ways). In other cases, the kids will feel the problems as adults. I thought that some good books on this were written by John Friel and Linda Friel, “Adult Children: the Secrets of Dysfunctional Families;” and Steven Farmer, “Adult Children of Abusive Parents.” Nina Brown also writes very academic, but very good stuff on the Narcissistic Family System.

  • I only recently learned of Dr. Ray Guarendi when looking up resources on disciplining children. I’ve been reading up on this doctor to see if his materials were worth reading when I happened to land on your post about him. What you said in your post is so contrary to what I have read of him so far and so contrary to what I know of Catholics that I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I decided to investigate further, given that you admitted you did not stay on to listen to the entire conversation between the Doctor and the abused woman who called in. After some doing some Googling, I found his archive shows. You wrote your post on June 28, 2013 and mentioned you heard the show “yesterday.” I went to the June 27, 2013 and skipped around until I found the conversation you mentioned you heard. It was at 41:30, and I listened to the entire conversation. My conclusion was that you were too quick to judge and had mischaracterized the entire conversation.

    You wrote that you did not take time to listen to the end of the conversation between the doctor and the abused woman, and you probably also didn’t tune in early enough or pay attention to the question that the woman posed to the Doctor. You wrote in your post that she called in wanting to know how to leave an abusive relationship. That was not what she wanted to know. The doctor rephrased her question as, “What is the effect of staying in an abusive relationship for the kids? What does it do to the kids? Are you really doing them any favors?” The caller then thanked the Doctor for taking her call to “answer her specific question.” The Doctor She did not want to know how to leave the relationship. She just wanted to know if her decision to stay in the relationship for the kids was a good decision. The Doctor asked, and the caller confirmed, she has been in the relationship for a long time.

    The Doctor did say some of the things about “abusive relationships” you attributed to him saying, but you did not accurately recount what he actually said. He did not say abuse is in the eye of the beholder. What the Doctor said was when a patient comes to his office and tells him that she is in an abusive relationship, he has to do a lot of exploring to do to understand what that person is going through. In his experience, each person uses the word “abusive” differently, and it can mean there’s real abuse or it can mean the person is overly sensitive. Then he goes on to say, for the sake of answering her question, he will assume that her relationship is really ugly and any observer would wonder why she put up with it. This is far from him refusing to honor her reality, as you put it.

    The Doctor went on to answer her question about the effects on the kids of her staying in the relationship. He offered her statistics and surveys to answer her question. Whether the surveys and statistics are trustworthy is another story. Because she said she was staying in the relationship, the Doctor also offered the caller advice on how to stay in the relationship.

    Of course, as a Catholic, the Doctor is biased towards keeping a marriage in tact; while a non-Catholic would be biased towards divorce if the marriage is not turning out as the couples had hoped. But to say that the Doctor shammed the woman for speaking up and ignored her reality is wrong.
    Before judging a fellow human being so critically, you should at least take the time to listen fully to what he said. Here is a link to the show that you heard on June 27, 2013. The conversation began at 41:30.

  • Thank you, Vi, for taking the time to give this response. I completely agree with your assessment. I’ll also add that the call screener already interviewed the woman. A pre-assessment was done, permitting Dr. Ray to most likely be relaxed with her.

    Dr. Ray assisted the woman. The responses given here do not take all the information into account.

    For the Catholics that have left the Church, do you miss the Eucharist?

  • I don’t believe for a minute that Dr. Ray Guarendi advised a woman who said she was in an abusive relationship in such a manner. As I read further into the responses, I see that Vi clarified the entire segment of the broadcast, much to what should be the embarrassment of this original blogger’s opinion. Frankly, “Chump Lady” owes Dr. Ray and EWTN an apology.

  • The question that was asked by the woman, that was in the abusive relationship, was, what is the effect of a abusive relationship on the children that are present. Dr. Ray then went into describing what he has experienced a psychologist. He made a distinction between a abusive relationship and a difficult relationship. He also assumed that it was a very ugly relationship. You do not have to take my word for it. Go to Then go to the radio archive. Find the doctor is in and find the show from June 27, 2013

  • Sadly, it doesn’t surprise me to hear this at all. Dr. Ray Guarendi also makes parenting books, and my parents are longtime fans of his. The attitude he very openly takes towards children is that they’re all rebellious, and just waiting for their next chance to disrespect or disobey.
    He advocates not only spanking, but also “blackout” (removing all electronic devices, books, and contact with friends) as a punishment, and tells parent’s its ok to snoop through their kids’ stuff and read their personal diaries. In the anecdote he shares, he even admits to having thrown away his daughter’s diary!
    I think now he’s been teaching parents how to monitor and control even their teenage/adult childrens’ internet use.
    Does this hurt kids? Sadly, as an adult, I can confirm that it does. I’ve been diagnosed with anxiety and am on expensive medication. I still get nightmares about my parents going through and throwing away my property.
    Dr. Ray Guarendi teaches parents that their children must “respect” them (a.k.a defer and obey at all times without question), but that parents don’t need to respect their children.

  • I have seen him in person about twice. I have a couple of his books. I have listened to his radio show. I have tried his techniques. They really don’t work. One of them is to not feed your homeschoolers if they don’t study. The end result is that kids will stash food in their rooms.
    As far as Blackouts go–defurnishing a room is more trouble than its worth. Regular grounding does work. Part of blackouts is taking away food–some food–maybe milk.
    During one live show he spoke of crumbling his kid’s cookie because she would not say, ‘Thank you’. During one radio show he spoke of how his 15 year old son intimidated his wife when he (Ray) was not around. So much for teaching respect.
    Yes he does downplay domestic violence–“Offer it up” and all that jazz. Even the Church does support leaving an abusive relationship, as it is not sacramental.

  • I am a regular listener of Dr. Ray. I have never heard him be insensitive to someone in an abusive relationship. That being said, he does use a lot of humor while giving sound, practical advice. If I were you, I’d give him another chance. He makes me laugh and he uses common sense. He’s been a successful psychologist for many years, is still married to his first wife, and has 10 kids (all adopted and many of them have special needs). I lost my 24 year old son a year ago and often feel sad. Listening to Dr. Ray always puts me in a better mood.

    • I agree w the comment above but also agree w/ what you wrote, until i listened to dr. Ray further… Sometimes, yes, it seems as though he is rude and harsh, but as u continue to listen, u begin to understand why he reacts in such manner… Very dry humor, but honest. God bless dr. Ray. I hope and pray that you would search your heart and Truth, listen to him again and re-evaluate this article that basically, does to dr. Ray, what you said he did to his “abused” caller… Peace!

      • And by being rude and harsh, many people tune out before the point is made. I’ve heard Ray many times and have read his books. He thinks he’s funny. He’s not. Why does he always make sure people know that his kids are adopted? Why that distinction? Why, when his own grandson passed away wasn’t he even named as his grandfather in the obituary? You can’t be the parent and brag about all the good you did for your adopted kids and then turn your back on them when they mess up. Maybe he should write a book on that.

  • The latest is pretty sad–Mary Gurarendi is standing trial in May for the brutal murder of her toddler son in 2021. She also was in an abusive relationship with her SO/husband.
    Ray had guardianship of Mary for a year, but gave it up a year later when she did not want to interact with him. She suffers from some sort of mental illness. I question his understanding of Adult Protective Services, and how they could have helped. In theory, she could have been committed a few years ago before any of this happened. Anyway, she had all her full rights and privileges restored until this unfortunate incident. It really makes me wonder if he failed her, or how he can help any of us if this is the best he could do. (This is all from news sources)

    • Very sad. But why wasn’t he even named in that poor child’s obituary? That sweet innocent baby did nothing wrong. Only the baby’s father’s side of the family. The mom’s side was listed as Mary Guarendi’s “extended family”.

      • I majored in journalism and mass communications. Generally obituaries are either written by the family, or from a press release submitted by the family. They control the content. Dr. Ray was mentioned initially when this crime occurred. He had guardianship at that time. It as if he does not acknowledge Mary’s existence. His FB admin keeps playing clips from the past 30 years–really out of touch if you ask me.

    • Yes it’s sad that he wouldn’t even acknowledge that precious baby as his grandson. It really says a lot about his character. I would have thought that a family therapist, and someone who supposedly is a devout Catholic, would be more supportive of his daughter.

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