The Rescuer (continued)
Subconsciously some men are attracted to such a narcissistic woman, because it provides a welcome alternative to the women who usually make hím the nucleus of their existence. If it is all about her, then he can be the Hero, fulfilling her needs. That makes him feel good, and wow, the sex is good. However, that narcissism needs to be constantly fed, and she feeds on him. The narcissism actually camouflages a deep seated dependency and desperate neediness.
There is another neuro-psychological theory explaining the seemingly narcissistic behaviour of the damsel in distress / victim, who is solely focussed on having all her needs gratified and shows no empathy for the suffering Rescuer. The anterior cingulate cortex of our brains integrates cognitive and emotional information. It assists us with interpreting emotional signals from other people – it is the emotional intelligence part – and it activates our fear of rejection. When it is damaged, it reduces our expression of empathy.
Another part of the brain involved in directing the behaviour of the damsel in distress is the amygdala. Emotional instability and cognitive impulsiveness are behavioural manifestations of the amygdala, which reacts severely to negative stimuli. The amygdala attaches severe negative emotions to memory. A lack of serotonin in the frontal cortex inhibits the amygdala and impairs the ability to evaluate, integrate and act on cues from the environment. It also prevents both the Rescuer and the damsel in distress from ceasing responding to unhealthy stimuli and returning to healthy stimuli.
There is a psychological phenomena called disorganised attachment style, characterised by ambivalent behaviour. As children, these women were probably emotionally impoverished, which can literally cause an increase in the size of the amygdala. When the dopamine levels in the amygdala fluctuate, it causes the extreme fear of rejection, which leads to totally irrational behaviour. “I will love her more and promise never to leave her,” he reasons, but no amount of love can cure a chemical imbalance in the brain.
I ask these men their opinions about women who return to abusive men who hit them. “They are crazy to go back, it is ridiculous and makes no sense for them to go back,” is the general consensus. “Then how come you return to the woman who emotionally abuses you?” I ask. “Somehow, the moment I am with her again and I hold her in my arms, I immediately forget all the hurtful things she has done to me,” states one Rescuer. Oxytocin, the powerful cuddle hormone, inhibits some memory consolidation and increases positive social memory. This may be the reason why we forget and forgive the hurtful things done to us by people we love. Oxytocin overrides the rational neo-cortex warning us. The trick is in not going back at all and to avoid that situation where the oxytocin is released.
In an experiment involving rats, every time the rat presses a lever, he gets a food pellet. However if the dispenser completely stops giving the rat a pellet, he becomes despondent and gives up completely. When he is randomly rewarded with a pellet, he becomes almost addicted to pressing that lever. When the damsel in distress rewards the Rescuer now and again with a smile or approval, he becomes addicted to her and keeps on trying harder and harder to please her, despite not getting a “pellet” most of the time.
These women have serious abandonment issues. Sooner rather than later, he realises he is trapped and his life energy is being sapped and he wants to get out. Instinctively she recognises the alarm signals, and she grows more tentacles. Often she falls pregnant to trap him or she already has a child or two to string along. I know of one woman who has four different children with four different fathers and still the men do not catch on. Such a woman falls pregnant deliberately in an attempt to tie him to her. The moment he makes it quite clear that he has no intention of marrying her, or when he insists on a paternity test, she aborts the foetus. Some of these women have the baby, purely to have a lifelong hold and connection with the man. They will callously use the child to play on his guilt complex and to bleed him dry with maintenance. FOR EVER.
The men are just too scared to tell her outright to leave, because then the women “go mental.” The men feel like anti-heroes for “hurting her feelings”. These Rescuers then try to justify their situations by convincing themselves that the women truly need them and that it’s not that bad. It is that bad. As a matter of fact, it is worse. Then they try the bad behaviour tactic, hoping she would break up with him. Forget it. She won’t. She will just make your life more miserable. In the meantime he is still getting the incredible sex, and she gets all cuddly and cute afterwards (when the oxytocin is flowing).
Then he wakes up in the middle of the night to find her downloading all the info on his phone and transferring his computer data to hers and she sends rude and nasty messages to his ex-girlfriends and his female buddy under his name. When he confronts her she cuts her wrists, because she “loves him so much and she can’t stand the thought of living without him.” She makes him promise he will not leave her and then banks on the knowledge that he would despise himself if he breaks his word, for the sad thing is, the Rescuers are often honourable men. Terribly misguided, but honourable.
When she cuts her wrists, or “freaks out”, please take her to hospital and since she is out of your house, pack her stuff, change the locks and leave her stuff with the friend she stayed with originally. Go to hospital and tell her. She cannot commit suicide in a hospital. Inform her therapist.
Also tell her you are going on vacation, you will not be at home and you are not going to take her calls. Go to a safe place, alert a security company to look after your house, alert your friends, and DON’T TAKE HER CALLS or respond to the messages. When such people are rejected, their egos react by turning up the volume. If you can resist this turned up volume and just sit it out, they will eventually tire and turn their attentions to someone else.
Advice regarding that stray cat: Put the cat out. She will meow and growl and scratch at your door and try to sneak in when you leave a window open, but eventually she will leave and don’t worry, some other sucker will take her home.
They are locked in a deadly dance, until he breaks away. Breaking an addiction implies a period of extreme withdrawal symptoms, but eventually he will form new neuropaths and alternative behaviour, develop a sense of self worth, and attract a woman with self worth.
I agree that these women need help. Professional help. Some of them, however, visit psychologists not for the purpose of healing and coming to terms with their hurt, but only as an added bonus to elicit sympathy. Men would be advised not to get involved with these women, but to wait until she completes therapy. A professional therapist may guide her to reach a point of forgiveness, healing and maturity, where she has gained insight into her manipulative behaviour, learnt that she cannot control another human being with her own disturbed emotions, learnt to love herself, and where she is prepared to give and receive freely, without scorn.
We all encounter emotional obstacles in life, in one way or another. No one is exempt from pain, loneliness, heartbreak, betrayal, loss, rejection, abandonment, ridicule or trauma in various forms and intensities. To the women who recognise themselves in the above scenarios, please get professional help.
Find a therapist who will attend to your pain, who will walk the road with you, who will guide you to find your own true north and help you to liberate yourself from unrealistic expectations, who will develop your insight into your own manipulative behaviour. Manipulative behaviour holds no true benefit for you. A good therapist will assist you in finding the core and becoming the stable, mature woman you were meant to be. Would you not rather one day want a man who stays with you willingly, because you are adorable?
And to the Rescuers out there, please don’t waste your valuable heroism in a bottomless pit.