Category: Mental Health


Schizophrenia effects a young newly wed couple

Schizophrenia is truly one of the cruelest mental illnesses in existence. The illness does not discriminate, and lies dormant for almost 2 decades before surprising both the individual and their loved ones.

This week, I had a chance to work with a couple that I had seen for premarital counseling only two years ago. Chris & Rose were planning their wedding celebrations at the time, and had family flying in from all over the USA. The Las Vegas M Resort had been booked and paid for by Rose’s father, as a gift to the couple for their wedding, and their academic success. They had both completed law degrees at UNLV, and had huge goals. Both had full time employment. They both desired to have their first child by age 30.

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Recognizing & Coping with Emotional Manipulation


“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

– Chinese proverb

We’ve all been manipulated by other people, and it’s likely that we’ve done a bit of manipulation ourselves. Telling a white lie in order to get what we want is one way of manipulating someone.

  • Students are notorious for telling teachers that they couldn’t get their paper in on time because their computer crashed last night.
  • Employees claim to have car trouble in order to miss a day of work.
  • Politicians inflate a problem or make misleading statements in order to gain public support for their agendas.


When we manipulate other people, we deprive them of their integrity and their ability to make decisions based on their own accurate reading of reality. When we tell a lie, we provide an alternate reality to the other person – and they make decisions that may be to our advantage, but it may not be a decision they would make if they knew all the facts.

Manipulation shows disrespect to the other person – but ultimately we are disrespecting ourselves and compromising our own integrity when we manipulate others. We give ourselves the illusion of control, but it is hardly a feeling of control that we can be proud of. Even if nobody ever finds out about it, we know that we got ahead by taking from another person. “I win and you lose – and that makes me feel good.” We deprive ourselves of the knowledge that our accomplishments in life are based on our own resourcefulness.

Most of us want to trust and assume the best in other people. We believe that when someone tells us something, the other person is telling the truth. When we have been repeatedly hurt because others have taken advantage of our trust, we may change our beliefs about the world. We may become cynical and try to undermine others before we are hurt yet again. The best strategy is probably to trust until someone shows us that they can’t be trusted. Hopefully, then, we can learn how to recognize emotional manipulation when it appears.


“I keep my ideals, because in spite everything, I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

– Anne Frank


Recognizing Emotional Manipulation


Many of us don’t recognize manipulation when it occurs, mainly because manipulation violates our basic assumptions about how people should behave. We simply don’t expect it. Manipulators engage in “covert aggression.” They hide their anger toward the world in subtle ways and gain power over us in ways that are not obvious.

– We may sense, however, that we are on the defensive in their presence and this serves as our first clue. We feel somehow that they are trying to overpower us.

– They come across as caring, hurting, defending, vulnerable – almost anything but fighting – and these tactics obscure their real motives. You might pay attention to your need to take care of them, but you don’t recognize that they are trying to take advantage of you. “I care so much about you and now I’ve twisted my ankle. Can’t you give up your afternoon to drive me around?”

– All of us have weaknesses or insecurities, and sometimes we are aware of them, but we don’t expect that someone will take advantage of our vulnerabilities. We sometimes have the need to please others so that we’ll be accepted – and this trait can be spotted easily by an emotional manipulator. They sometimes know our vulnerable areas better than we do, and they exploit them to their advantage.

– Be aware of the degree to which you have empathy toward others and how much you might hate to make harsh judgments about other people. If you are overly trusting, you are vulnerable to being manipulated. The healthy stance is to learn how to recognize manipulation readily. You cannot be manipulated if you are aware that it is happening – at the moment it happens.


Take a look at some common examples of how manipulators work –


Emotional manipulators turn your statements around and make you the problem. Trying to be honest with the manipulator opens up your vulnerability. He or she is an expert at playing the game of “blame the victim.” For example, if you say, “I really wish you had taken a dish to the potluck, and I feel embarrassed that you didn’t,” the manipulator might respond with, “I wish you could understand the pain I’m suffering right now – and have been for some time – but then I guess your life is so happy that you can’t really feel empathy for someone else. So, sorry.”


They’ll say one thing and later assure you that they didn’t say it. “I’ll pay for half the groceries this time,” and then later the manipulator comes back with, “I never said any such thing.” This is a crazy- making experience because your sense of reality is challenged. The manipulator offers such a convincing argument that they had never promised to pay for half the groceries that you begin to doubt your own sanity.


The manipulator will offer to help you, but then the torrent of sighs begins. “Yes, yes, (sigh) I’ll take out the garbage.” You feel that you are the one to blame, as if you’re trying to control the manipulator. Again, you are considered the problem.


The manipulating person will set a negative emotional tone in a group and others feel compelled to make the manipulator feel better just to ease the tension. “John, if Keira can’t drive you to the dentist tomorrow, I’ll do it. Here, have a cup of coffee. Now do you feel better?” Notice how we tend to enable the manipulator, rewarding him or her for the controlling behavior.


Manipulators don’t fight fairly. They might talk behind your back and encourage others to confront you – and then they come in to save the day, placing the blame on the other people. Manipulators don’t deal with issues directly. They use passive-aggressive tactics so that you don’t realize that they are actually being aggressive toward you – “I love your hair that color. It does a nice job of hiding the gray.” You respond graciously to the compliment, but are then left with the lingering feeling that something is not quite right.


They negate what you say by outdoing you. If you want to talk about what a rough day you’ve had, they’ll come back with an account of their exceedingly brutal day, which makes your experience look like a day in the park. “Well, if you think that’s bad, listen to what I’ve been through today.” They bring attention back to themselves so that you find it difficult to feel any degree of validation. This is how emotional manipulators distance themselves from you and gain the upper hand. They lack the ability to relate to others with healthy boundaries and maturity.


Emotional manipulators are experts at playing on your emotions. If they sense that you respond easily to guilt, then they will try to make you feel guilty (“I feel embarrassed for you when you play with Dora’s kids as if they were your own – and it’s all because you’ve never had children”). Manipulators also play on our sympathy by playing the role of victim (“All I do is work, work, work – You’ll be sorry when I have a heart attack”). Or they might blame you for your anger, even though they have induced it (“Look, you’re the one who can’t control your emotions, not me”). Emotional manipulators have difficulty in expressing their desires or emotions directly, but by playing on the emotions of other people they covertly get their way.


Manipulators project blame onto other people or circumstances. They fail to take the responsible path of believing that they are accountable for their own lives. Their focus is on what others have done to them, and they are forever the victim (“My father was the first one to treat me badly, just as every man has done since”).

How Do You Deal with the Emotional Manipulator?


Manipulators work in covert ways. It is sometimes difficult to know that you are being manipulated, but then your frustration with this person grows over time and you know that something must be wrong with the relationship. You may feel pulled toward the manipulator, but then repulsed by this person at the same time. These relationships are generally conflict-ridden.


You may find yourself in a double bind. That is, if you go along with the manipulation, you feel angry – and if you drop the relationship, you feel guilty. It may seem that you can’t win. But there is a way out of the bind –


  • Be aware of your own emotions within the relationship. Your emotions are your best tool for sensing that there is a problem between you and the other person. Examine whether you feel defensive, guilty, angry, or sympathy toward the other person. You may not have these feelings during the interaction, but afterward, when you are thinking about what happens between the two of you, these emotions might emerge.


  • Define the emotion and understand the pattern. When you think about what happens between you and the manipulator, describe the emotions that you feel. Put your feelings into words. What specifically was said that led you to a certain feeling? How did you respond at the time? What was the effect of your response? (It may help at this point to work with a professional therapist who is trained to help you sort through this often puzzling set of questions.)


  • When you have a good understanding of the pattern of interaction between you and the manipulator, ask yourself whether you want to continue with the relationship or not. Sometimes we find ourselves in toxic relationships, and if we aren’t getting anything positive from the relationship, it might be in our best interest to terminate it, or else place good boundaries around it (like limiting our time with the other person). Some relationships cannot, or should not, be ended unless there is a pattern of abuse present.


  • Whenever a manipulation attempt occurs, right at that moment point it out to the other person. This is your way of taking control of the manipulation. There is no need to express anger when you give the manipulator this feedback. Do it assertively and calmly. The manipulator at this point might come back with a guilt trip or an angry response. Say something like, “I feel that you are trying to manipulate me at this point, and I am not going to go along with it. I would like a healthy interaction between us, so could you try to say what you need to say in a more positive and direct way?”


Why Do People Manipulate Others?


Manipulative people have a strong need to be in control. This may derive from underlying feelings of insecurity on their part, although they often compensate for these feelings with a show of strong self- confidence. Even though they may deny it, their motives are self-serving, and they pursue their aims regardless of the cost to other people. They have a strong need to feel superior and powerful in their relationships – and they find people who will validate these feelings by going along with their attempts at manipulation. They see power as finite. If you exert power over them, they will retaliate in order to gain back the control they feel they are losing. They cannot understand the idea that everyone can feel empowered or that everyone can gain. When they are not in control – of themselves and over other people – they feel threatened. They have difficulty in showing vulnerable emotions because it might suggest they are not in control.


Those who are manipulative usually don’t consciously plan their maneuvers. They emerge from the manipulator’s underlying personality disorder, and are played out within the context of a victim who colludes with, and unwittingly encourages, the manipulation. There is a wide range of tactics used by manipulators ranging from verbal threats to subtle attempts to arrange situations to suit the manipulator.

For example, one of the more common forms of manipulation is called splitting – turning two people against each other by talking to each one behind the back of the other, getting them to dislike or distrust each other, and leaving the manipulator in a position of control. They may use active techniques like becoming angry, lying, intimidating, shouting, name-calling or other bullying tactics. Or they may use more passive methods like pouting, sulking, ignoring you, playing the victim, or giving you the silent treatment.


Some manipulators can be described in terms of having an antisocial personality (these people are sometimes called psychopaths or sociopaths). This is a personality disorder often associated with criminal behavior. They feel little compassion for other people, don’t really feel guilty when they do something harmful, pathologically lie, show superficial charm, tend to be impulsive, and don’t take responsibility for their own actions. Changing their ways can pose a challenge. Some people who have a need to nurture others may feel that they can help an antisocial person change their lives – and this would be a formidable task.

#1 Marriage Counselor and #1 Infidelity Recovery Coach


Do you need to talk to someone about your depression? I offer Phone & Skype counseling. Talk to me about your situation. Leave your contact details HERE and I will return to you within 24 hours.

Recommended books on a manipulative partner & relationships

The Manipulative Man: Identify His Behavior, Counter the Abuse, Regain Control

Paperback: 256 pages

By Dorothy McCoy

This review is from: The Manipulative Man: Identify His Behavior, Counter the Abuse, Regain Control (Paperback)

When my marriage was falling apart, I quite literally wondered if I was going crazy. Everyone loved my husband. Even my parents loved him. I felt as if perhaps maybe there was something intrinsically wrong with the way I was feeling. My husband was so passive, and non aggressive that I began feeling as if I was the one that was the problem.

This book was like a breath of fresh air. I was not crazy for being frustrated with a man who always had an excuse for why he couldn’t do what he promised he was going to do. I was not crazy for being angry at him when he refused to make a decision or follow through. In fact, my anger and frustration were appropriate responses, and my depression was just the result of me talking myself into the notion that I had no right to be angry or frustrated by such a ‘nice passive’ man.

My husband wasn’t violent. In fact he was so passive, I sometimes wondered if he cared about anything at all. It was like living with a wet sponge.

The MM taught me to recognize extreme passiveness as a sign of manipulation and control. His passiveness controlled everything. I just didn’t see it, because I had been conditioned to think manipulative men were more obvious and aggressive than he was.

MM helped me detach from blaming myself, in spite of what even my family thought about my decisions. It was a valuable tool on my road to recovery.

It not only helped me to recognize my ex husbands behavior as disrespectful and manipulative, but it also taught me to be on the look out for other types of manipulative men as well. Girls, this is a must read!!!! This book is like a manual for self care…You must be willing to look at yourself and what you are attracting into your life as well. You must be willing to take accountability for the way you think, and ultimately for your decisions to keep the men you do, in your life.

I highly recommend this book…

Lisa A. Romano


Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men Paperback – September 2, 2003

#1 Best Seller in Domestic Partner Abuse on Amazon



“He doesn’t mean to hurt me-he just loses control.”
“He can be sweet and gentle.”
“He’s scared me a few times, but he never hurts the children-he’s a great father.”
“He’s had a really hard life…”

Women in abusive relationships tell themselves these things every day. Now they can see inside the minds of angry and controlling men-and change their own lives. In this groundbreaking book, a counselor shows how to improve, survive, or leave an abusive relationship, with:

€ The early warning signs
€ Nine abusive personality types
€ How to tell if an abuser can change, is changing, or ever will
€ The role of drugs and alcohol
€ What can be fixed, and what can’t
€ How to leave a relationship safely


Should I visit a therapist for my depression?

#1 therapist for depression Savannah Ellis

One of the most prominent and popular ways of dealing with depression is undergoing therapy with a psychiatrist or psychologist. Should you take that path? Let’s first give a brief rundown on the options that are out there:

Freudian Psychodynamic Therapy

  • Form: Seeking to uncover the source of your depression by exploring your emotions and experiences.
  • Effectiveness: 30% to 40% of individuals who undergo psychodynamic therapy will see a reduction in depressive symptoms.
  • Possible Pros: Research suggests results may be longer lasting than other forms of therapy.
  • Possible Cons: Seeing results can take a longer time commitment than other forms of therapy — several months to a year or more.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT)

  • Form: Identifying and transforming faulty cognitive patterns that may be leading to depression.
  • Effectiveness: 30% to 40% of patients will see a reduction in depressive symptoms by the end of a 12-week treatment cycle. Individuals who combine CBT with medication see a higher remission rate and have less chance of relapse.
  • Possible Pros: More practical and shorter in duration; CBT doesn’t focus on analyzing past emotions or past experiences, and lasts for 4-12 weeks.
  • Possible Cons: Research shows that preventing relapse after an initial CBT treatment cycle may require periodic follow-ups to “tune-up” your thinking skills.

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy.

  • Form: Teaches mindfulness meditation and how to step back from negative thoughts in order to neutrally observe them.
  • Effectiveness: Just as effective as CBT, but less effective in individuals who have had only one or two major depressive episodes.
  • Possible Pros: Cultivates practices and a mindset that may be just as beneficial during non-depressed periods. Can be effective for severe cases.
  • Possible Cons: n/a


As you can see, each type of therapy is about equally effective, and research suggests that the type you choose to use doesn’t ultimately really matter — just talking to a helping and understanding person on a regular basis is what does the trick. Which type of therapy you decide to do will end up being a matter of preference.

If you do decide to begin therapy, do some homework first. See if you can set up an initial appointment to ask some questions. Inquire about the therapist’s background and training, as well as their experience specifically treating depressed patients. Ask about their approach — CBT? Psychodynamic? — as well as their philosophy on medication. You’ll also want to know if they take insurance. Many therapists don’t (like me), and that could make treatment unaffordable for you. If that’s the case, ask about setting up a payment plan. For lower cost options, look into community health centers or psychologist training clinics at local colleges. If you’re a student yourself, schools often offer free counseling.

NOTE: I offer very affordable payment plans for those suffering from depression. Contact me to ask for more information.

Your primary goal during this initial visit is to see if the doctor seems trustworthy, and just as importantly, if you feel comfortable talking to them. That fact alone can go a long way in your success with therapy.

So, how/when do you know if therapy is the right choice for you? There are no clear-cut answers, but there are a few things to consider. Therapy may help you dig into the fundamental origin of your depression and is free of negative neurological/biological effects. But it will cost you time and money. Antidepressants, on the other hand, are very convenient, but may have deleterious effects on your body and mind, and work by treating depression’s symptoms rather than addressing its potentially deeper roots. Antidepressants also take time in working out which antidepressant is right for you, and that can also be an expensive exercise.

So weigh both sides of the coin.

My advice both as a Psychologist, & one who has fought depression, would be to try the suggestions in this article first, and if you don’t find success with them, then take the action to seek professional help.

NOTE: If you EVER think suicidal thoughts,  you need to call for help IMMEDIATELY. Call emergency services in your country, or a depression HOTLINE, who has trained professionals ready to help you for free.


e75c88b4a14444fae1a598346ac3522fDo you need help with your depression?

I treat depression via Skype or Phone counseling. CONTACT ME about how affordable it is to start counseling for depression. We will work on your condition, on a weekly basis, where you don’t even have to leave the comfort and safety of your own home. I am looking forward to talk to you.



How to fight Depression


Many of my clients have depression. Some of them are on medication, and others are opting for holistic options. I have found there is no best solution with medication. Yet I do know of what does work on a consistent level, and that my friend is exercise.

You need to exercise. Regularly. From now until you take your last breath.

If you struggle with depression, but aren’t regularly working out, you haven’t begun to fight.

This isn’t rah-rah cajoling; it’s a research-backed truth.

Numerous studies(1) have proven that exercise is just as effective as antidepressants in treating depression. Research has also shown that people who exercise are about 3X less likely to relapse into depression over the course of a year, than those who take medication alone.

And of course, unlike drugs, exercise is free, and its side effects are 100% positive.depression

In 1999, a randomized controlled trial showed that depressed adults who took part in aerobic exercise improved as much as those treated with Zoloft. A 2006 meta-analysis of 11 studies bolstered those findings and recommended that physicians counsel their depressed patients to try it. A 2011 study took this conclusion even further: It looked at 127 depressed people who hadn’t experienced relief from SSRIs, a common type of antidepressant, and found that exercise led 30 percent of them into remission—a result that was as good as, or better than, drugs alone.

Exercise’s antidepressant effect is thought to be a function of the way in which it boosts endorphins — a natural painkiller and mood booster. It also increases norepinephrine, a neurotransmitter that may enhance mood. Plus, exercise stimulates the growth of new brain cells, which counteracts depression’s neuron-retarding and brain-shrinking effects.

Exercise also has more intangible benefits — increasing confidence, discipline, and willpower, and fostering the satisfaction that is born of using one’s body as it was intended — to move, work, push, run, jump, and lift.

Studies show that the more vigorously you exercise, the more depression-destroying benefits you accrue. Aerobic exercise seems to be particularly effective in boosting mood, but weightlifting has its unique satisfactions as well. I’d recommend doing both. Aim to work out for 45-60 minutes at least 3-5 times a week.

If that seems like too much to implement, know that simply walking vigorously for 45 minutes 3X a week has been found to have depression-squashing effects.

And if you can’t even motivate yourself to start walking? Take a page from a college student who was interviewed for an Atlantic Monthly article about exercise and depression and adopted the baby steps approach we recommended above:depression

“He thought getting some exercise might help, but it was hard to motivate himself to go to the campus gym.

‘So what I did is break it down into mini-steps,’ he said. ‘I would think about just getting to the gym, rather than going for 30 minutes. Once I was at the gym, I would say, ‘I’m just going to get on the treadmill for five minutes.’

Eventually, he found himself reading novels for long stretches at a time while pedaling away on a stationary bike. Soon, his gym visits became daily. If he skipped one day, his mood would plummet the next.

‘It was kind of like a boost,’ he said, recalling how exercise helped him break out of his inertia. ‘It was a shift in mindset that kind of got me over the hump.’”

When you’re having trouble dragging yourself to the gym, think of the admonition of psychology writer Tal Ben-Shahar: “Not exercising is like taking depressants.” If you’ve already got the melancholic deck stacked against you, don’t ingest metaphorical despondency drugs by living a sedentary lifestyle.

Do you need to talk to someone about your depression?

I offer Phone & Skype counseling. Talk to me about your situation.

Leave your contact details HERE and I will return to you within 24 hours.




  1. Exercise Interventions for Mental Health: A Quantitative and Qualitative Review,

  2. For Depression, Prescribing Exercise Before Medication –

The Silent Enemy from Within – Depression

  • Depression is a very complex state which is why the signs of depression are wide-ranging.
  • Many people are depressed without realizing it.
  • Depression is certainly much more than just feeling sad.
  • It’s not a disease that a person either has or doesn’t have.
  • Like most mental conditions it exists on a continuum — in this case from mild to severe.
  • Depression can last for weeks, months or even years.

10 signs of depression

In general people who are depressed often feel that life is hopeless, that their lives are worthless and they are out of control.

Since the mind and body are so intimately connected, many of the symptoms are not purely mental.

For a positive diagnosis, a person would be experiencing some of the following signs of depression almost every day.

1. Sadness, low mood and anxiety, or often a combination of these. It could include crying for no reason. In depression some combination of these negative feelings usually persists for at least a couple of weeks.

2. Low motivation: a general loss of interest in things a person used to find enjoyable. It could include loss of sex drive or interest in work, socialising and hobbies.

3. Low energy: a feeling that normal daily tasks are too exhausting. It may also include being unable to get out of bed at the usual time, speaking slowly and having unexplained aches and pains.

4. Changes to sleep patterns: people who are depressed often find their sleep is disrupted. They have difficulty getting to sleep and may wake frequently in the night.

5. Poor concentration: finding it hard to make decisions or finding that negative thoughts take over the mind. As a result, people with depression can also feel very restless or impatient.

6. Hopelessness and helplessness: thinking “What’s the point?” and seeing little hope for change in the future. Depressed people often describe feeling ‘empty inside’ as well as out of control.

7. Weight change: people with depression may lose weight or gain weight depending on how they respond. The weight change, though, can be an important sign of depression.

8. Thoughts of death: while thinking about death occasionally is normal, becoming preoccupied with it is less so. Depression can lead to an unhelpful focus on death. Self-harm or suicidal thoughts may follow.

9. Worthlessness and guilt: depressed people blame themselves for their situation. This lowers their self-esteem and creates feelings of guilt and worthlessness.

10. Self-medication: using alcohol, cigarettes or other drugs more than usual.

Living with depression

Since it can come on gradually, the signs of depression may be difficult to spot.

That’s why many people do not realize there is a problem until it is pointed out by someone else.

Depression is often classified into mild, moderate or severe, depending on its impact on daily life.

Mild depression has some impact on daily life, moderate has a significant impact and severe depression makes it very hard to get through the day.

Depression is often classified into all sorts of sub-types and is frequently found with other mental health problems.

Most people who have an episode of depression are able to recover and be symptom free, but it depends on the severity.

However, 50% of people who have an episode of major depression go on to have at last one more episode.

Latest research on treatment for depression

Mild depression may go away by itself or with a little self-help therapy.

For moderate and severe depression, talking therapies are often used in conjunction with medication.

However, there is much controversy over whether modern antidepressant do much good (e.g. Science of Antidepressants Is Backwards and Long-Held Belief About Depression Challenged by New Study).

Research at the Black Dog Institute and elsewhere has demonstrated the enormous potential of ketamine as a new treatment for major depression.

Whilst ketamine is approved for use in anaesthesia and pain relief, it has not received approval for use in depression. This is because there are still significant gaps in our knowledge about both dosage levels and treatment protocols.

Ketamine may be effective in specific circumstances. Its ability to rapidly lift mood could help the acutely suicidal and people with treatment resistant depression. (Conventional antidepressants may take up to 8 weeks to become effective.) Though study subjects all relapsed within a week, even a temporary reprieve can be a ‘game changer’. An added advantage of ketamine is that it can be used with other antidepressants: useful in maintaining sleep and appetite during recovery.

While ketamine’s side effects can be considerable so is effectiveness, though both seem dose-related. However, mode of administration is important, with subcutaneous injection offering promise.

If you would like to know what the study has shown so far read the research update: Using ketamine as an antidepressant ways and means.



Lai R, Katalinic N, Glue P, Somogyi AA, Mitchell PB, Leyden J, Harper S & Loo CK, Pilot dose-response trial of i.v. ketamine in treatment-resistant depression, The World Journal of Biological Psychiatry, 2014; Early Online: 1–6. Posted online on June 9, 2014. (doi:10.3109/15622975.2014.922697)

Gálvez V, O’Keefe E, Cotiga L, Leyden J, Harper S, Glue P, Mitchell PB, Somogyi AA, DeLory A & Loo C, Long-Lasting Effects of a Single Subcutaneous Dose of Ketamine for Treating Melancholic Depression: A Case Report, Biological Psychiatry, 2014. DOI:



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