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Kathy Marshack News

My Book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you” is Available!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying youWhat do these all have in common…narcissists, sociopaths, addicts, brain injured, autistics, a vengeful ex, corrupt city officials and greedy neighbors, bullies, stalkers, fake news mongers? They lack some level of empathy. I ought to know. I’ve endured a 12-year perfect storm of a high conflict divorce, lawsuits, assaults, cyberstalking, false arrests, predatory prosecution, and the loss of my daughters to parental alienation. Throughout all these experiences I’ve noticed a common theme, namely people with Empathy Dysfunction (EmD).

The increasing prevalence of Empathy Dysfunction helps explain societal and family decay today. On the other hand, empathic acts are the stitches that hold the fabric of all relationships together. As neuroscientists map the human brain, we see the numerous connections that must be made to activate empathy. It’s a complex system that requires the brain to connect Emotional Empathy and Cognitive Empathy, and multiple transitions between the two. If one part of this amazingly intricate and complicated connection of circuits doesn’t work correctly, the system malfunctions. When the brain is damaged, whether through a war or sports injury, substance abuse, or congenital brain disorder, Empathy Dysfunction occurs. Empathy Dysfunction is so prevalent it's no longer if you meet someone with EmD, but when...

Have you ever...

  • Been victimized, swindled or lied to by your best friend?
  • Loaned money to loved ones who squandered the gift and never paid you back?
  • Had to fight unscrupulous prosecutors for your freedom?
  • Been forced to defend yourself from your vengeful ex or your ungrateful children?
  • Bumped into a beguiling, but shifty, stranger?
  • Felt someone following you?

If so, you've crossed paths with someone operating with Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). My new book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS,” helps you not only understand why this is happening, but how to protect yourself from those hell-bent on destroying you. 

What will you find inside “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS”?

  • Hard-learned lessons on how to stand up for yourself when dealing with people who literally couldn’t care less about you.
  • A way to identify those with a dysfunctional lack of empathy using the new Empathy Dysfunction Scale (EmD Scale), so you can shield yourself from the destruction they leave in their wake.
  • Clues you should never ignore for your own safety - like a rotten neighbor, friends who start believing the nasty gossip spread by your ex-partner, or a nagging feeling you're being watched. Pay attention, it may be because "they" really are out to get you.
  • Warrior training to protect yourself from dangerous people. If you've been hurt just once, or maybe too many times to count by a person with EmD, apply the warrior training in this book, increase your own empathy to a higher level, and reclaim the beautiful life you are meant to live.
  • Seven life-preserving tips that will protect you and enhance your own level of empathy.

The truth is, sometimes, people are out to get you: Be prepared. Use “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS” to help you navigate the unruly world of Empathy Dysfunction. If you haven’t done so already, please download a free sample chapter. I’m pleased to announce that you can now order the entire book on Amazon in paperback or kindle edition. And after reading it, please be sure to go back to Amazon and leave a review. I’d appreciate it!

Never Give Up Hope On Your Estranged Family Relationships

Monday, March 12, 2018

Never give up home on your estranged family relationshipsToday I’m addressing a very, very painful subject…that of family estrangement. We’ve all heard the sayings: “Blood is thicker than water.” “Family comes first.” “No matter what you do, I’ll always love you.” Family is precious. It makes us feel accepted and loved for who you are, without reservation. It’s the mainstay of civilization. When the family unit breaks down, civilizations actually crumble. History proves that, i.e. the Roman Empire.

However, the state of the American family today is not good. Life isn’t like the Norman Rockwell pictures of generations ago. Of course, it wasn’t perfect then, but family cohesiveness is eroding. People aren’t just drifting apart. They are purposely estranging themselves from other family members. A recent NYTimes article addresses this topic. It generated a huge storm of comments; mine included.

There is nothing more emotionally devastating than being estranged from a family member, especially your own child. It can be worse than experiencing their death, because there’s a personal rejecting attached to it. It’s always nagging you in the back of your mind. The hurt never goes away.

The NYTimes article seemed to me to be very one-sided. It focused on children who felt they needed to cut off their “bad” parents. In my personal and professional life, I’ve seen the other side of the coin all too often. I’ve personally felt the heartache of children with emotional and mental disorders who foolishly cut off the very parents who support them. I’ve written in great depth about this phenomenon in my book, WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you.

For example, my autistic daughter cut me off 12 years ago because she was the victim of parental alienation by my ex. Another daughter, alcoholic and suffering from TBI also cut me off right after assaulting me and knocking me into a plate glass door. It’s naive and narrow-minded to write of estrangement from only the estranged child’s point of view. There are lots of factors. But as for me, I have never cut off my children and never will. With each passing year, I hope to hear from them, even though they shred my letters and block my calls.

Some of those commenting on this article say that holding onto hope makes it more painful. I believe that hope keeps us going. Of course, it would be naïve to put your life on hold as you hope. That’s not true hope, that’s fantasizing about an outcome you’re attached to. As I often counsel couples, hope for the best but plan for the worst. That keeps your eyes wide open and in the proactive place of fixing problems before they escalate.

When estrangement occurs, hope, based on agape love, allows you to wish them the best in their lives as you continue to grow and find peace in your own. It’s not about changing them. It’s about your own approach to life, choosing to be positive and happy despite the circumstances. As you move on and continue to give to others, their love and appreciation soothes your hurt emotions. Perhaps somewhere down the road the two lines of estrangement will once again intersect, and you’ll be able to build a new relationship. That is my hope for all those estranged in the world today.

If you’d like to read the first chapter of my book, WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you, please take advantage of this free download. After you read it, I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page and tell me what you think.

People with Severe Empathy Dysfunction Don’t Have Close Friends – Why Is That?

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Most of us crave friendships where we can spend time with people who will share thoughts and feelings back and forth. Jim Rohn famously said, “We’re the average of the five people you spent the most time with.” This illustrates the fact that we are greatly influenced by our friendships, which can be a good thing if we choose our friends wisely. But what happens to a person with Empathy Dysfunction (EmD) who doesn’t have any friends?

They’re left battling the world alone. Not only does it make their life harder. It makes the lives of those they come in contact with harder too. Here are some of the traits of a person with EmD…

  • They have little or no talent for generosity.

  • They haven’t learned to see the world through another’s eyes.

  • They have mercurial moods and give into whims at the drop of the hat.

  • Narcissism and paranoia are rampant.

  • What they call “friends” are just people they tolerate or use when convenient.

  • They can’t tolerate rivalry or anything that challenges their position.

  • They’re suspicious and vain.

  • Compassion and compromise aren’t in their dictionaries.

  • There is no give. It’s always on their terms.

I know it goes against everything we’ve been taught about manners to call people out. You might even think I’m being mean. However, it’s imperative that everyone becomes aware of the growing number of brain disorders that contribute to Empathy Dysfunction. EmD is so common, in fact, it’s no longer if, but when, you will meet someone with EmD.

High IQ, artistically gifted, natural athletic ability, or psychological diagnosis as healthy—none of these characteristics exempt people from having Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). It’s my belief that once you understand how empathy works and how it can become dysfunctional, you’ll have a better handle on navigating life.

Protecting yourself from EmDs requires two vital skills. First, as soon as you suspect or identify EmD in a person, disengage as soon as you can. Second, cultivate your own empathy, so that you operate at the highest level, EmD-5.

I’ll show you how to protect yourself and cultivate greater empathy in my book, When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you. The first chapter, “No One Calls Me Mom Anymore” is now available for free download. After you read it, I’d love it if you’d visit my Facebook page and tell me what you think.

The Heartbreaking Link Between CTE and Empathy Dysfunction

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Link between CTE and Empathy DysfunctionI have read countless stories of professional, college and even high school athletes struck down by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Athletes in all contact sports—football, hockey, soccer, and baseball—are being diagnosed with CTE. But a new article still caught my eye on CNN - Former NFLers call for end to tackle football for kids.

Several former NFL players are working with the Concussion Legacy Foundation to support a new initiative, Flag Football Under 14, that pushes for no tackle football until 14. In the article, one player, who has been diagnosed with dementia and probable CTE, made a heartfelt plea to parents, “I beg of you, all parents to please don't let your children play football until high school. I made the mistake starting tackle football at 9 years old. Now, CTE has taken my life away. Youth tackle football is all risk with no reward."

The article went on to discuss something that many people misunderstand when it comes to CTE. People are under the impression that concussions are what lead to the disorder. However, CTE is actually much more likely to be found in soccer players and other athletes exposed to repetitive minor hits. Instead of pointing specifically to “concussion” as the cause, this is called Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (or Mild TBI). As if there is anything mild about CTE.

Since I’ve been writing my new book on empathy dysfunction, I found research studies on empathy disorders and mild traumatic head injuries that made the connection between TBI and loss of empathy quite clear. It makes sense since the circuits responsible for empathy are a complex system located throughout the brain.

I went through this with my own daughter who played soccer. At 23 she assaulted me, knocking me across the room into a plate glass door. I believe that brain trauma explains the mood swings, the paranoia, and the assaultive behavior.

I don’t want any other parent to have to stand by and see their child suffer from traumatic brain injury. Do your research before putting your child in a sport that could have long-term negative consequences. Some worse than you could ever have imagined!

Are you wondering whether you’re dealing with a family member, friend, co-worker or neighbor with severe empathy dysfunction? My upcoming book, “When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” delves into Empathy Disorders and offers advice on how you can protect yourself from people who can’t or won’t demonstrate empathy. You can read the first chapter here.

Work with Toxic People? Here's How to Cope

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

If you work with a toxic person, someone who is abusive, controlling, or try to cause you harm, find out how to cope with their behavior and what steps you can take to minimize their bullying.Do you have any toxic people in your life? People who are abusive, controlling, or try to cause you harm? Generally, you can get rid of this negativity by cutting toxic friends, family members, and acquaintances out of your life or at least drastically reducing contact with them.

But when you work with toxic people, the solution to your problem isn’t that easy. You have to work with them whether you want to or not. So how can you cope?

Here are some ways to protect yourself from a toxic workmate:

  • Assess if the person truly is toxic. Are they abusive or just difficult? Are they absorbed in themselves to the detriment of others, or are they just overcompensating? It’s worth considering because sometimes people who are not truly toxic can be won over by kindness and compassion and become less difficult. Behind their annoying behaviors, there may be feelings of inadequacy, vulnerability, or a longing for attention and personal connections.

  • Don’t take to heart what toxic people say to you or about you. Words can hurt, especially when we’re barraged with subtle digs all day long. It's easy to withdraw into yourself, feeling hurt and rejected. Then you replay, rehash, and relive the experience over and over again. Don’t do that. Don’t absorb what toxic people say and let it reach you emotionally. Stay calm and rational. Doing so will help you diffuse the situation, rather than providing the bully with the reaction they hoped for.

  • Improve your emotional intelligence (EQ). This may sound counterintuitive because the toxic person should be the one working on their EQ! But really, people with a high EQ can neutralize the effect of toxic people. They stay aware of their emotions and remain calm and objective. They establish clear boundaries and decide when they have to put up with a toxic person and when they don’t. They can keep an emotional distance from the person without becoming cold and uncaring. People with a high EQ also understand that holding a grudge doesn’t do them any good, so they have an easier time letting things go that bring them stress.

  • Continue to do your best work. Rudeness in the workplace is known to stifle creativity, problem-solving, and efficiency. Counteract the inclination to lay low at work by continuing to put your best foot forward. In addition to helping you be your best self, this also casts doubt on any negative things your toxic workmate says about you.

  • Keep your interactions with the toxic person to a minimum. Engage with them as little as possible, and they may move on to someone or something else. Speak in a neutral voice. Keep your responses short and unemotional. Stay on topics that are boring or inconsequential. Don’t engage when they taunt you or make eye contact. Avoid sharing personal information with them and don’t ask them anything personal. Make yourself seem as uninterested in them and as uninteresting to them as possible.

  • Document everything.
    Make sure to keep a record of toxic behavior. Write down what happened, when it happened, who witnessed it, etc. Keep emails, notes, and even voicemails. If things reach a point a point where you need to bring the problem to the attention of your employer, Human Resources, or beyond, this ensures you have the necessary information to make your case.

  • Focus on yourself. You can be happy if you keep your focus on what you can control, not what you can’t. You can’t control your workmate or make them change their personality. But you can continue to work becoming the best possible version of yourself. And remember, sometimes they healthiest choice is to walk away. You can work elsewhere!

Toxic people in the workplace often have severe Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). This is characterized by an “all-about-me” attitude and is manifested in thoughtless, self-absorbed behavior. The result is contemptible harm to those around them. My upcoming book, “When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” delves into Empathy Disorders and offers advice on how you can protect yourself from people who can’t or won’t demonstrate empathy. You can read the first chapter here.

Are you in a position of leadership and see signs of toxic behavior in your business? Or are you on the receiving end of this type of demoralizing behavior and want it to stop? Many have found that consulting with a trained therapist and business coach has helped them find positive solutions. Please contact my office in Jantzen Beach to schedule an appointment or take advantage of online therapy.

My New Book Introduces You to the Empathy Scale (EmD Scale)

Monday, February 12, 2018

Over a decade ago, it felt like my life turned into a nightmare of intrigue not unlike a Hollywood crime mystery script. I felt like Julia Roberts in the movie “The Pelican Brief,” wondering how she’d gotten herself into such a mess, being forced to learn on the fly how to protect herself from a group of unscrupulous conspirators.

In my case, it wasn’t a fictional plot. It is a true crime story about a suburban mom in the eye of a perfect storm of greedy neighborhood bullies wrongfully enlisting the aid of pawns — several of them elected — in judicial, legal, and law enforcement systems.

My decade from hell began with a sad, but not uncommon, divorce story. My scorned husband used parental alienation to harm me. His efforts were effective. Neither of my daughters has spoken to me for years. Following the divorce, I was besieged by a host of unethical and absolutely selfish power brokers, who stirred up a hateful and destructive mob.

Sadly, my daughters are also among those who were victimized by the perfect storm of dangerous players in our lives. In turn, my two girls victimized me. That’s why the first chapter of my new book is entitled: “No One Calls Me Mom Anymore.” You can read chapter one for free by downloading a copy here.

For years, I’ve puzzled over what toxic people have in common. It finally occurred to me that all of them have one thing in common: deficiency in empathy to some degree or another. This was my “Eureka” moment! It made everything clear.

Next, I had the revelation that I could categorize empathy dysfunction into various levels of empathy (or non-empathy). My hunches and hard work had begun to take shape and culminated in my designing the Empathy Dysfunction Scale (EmD).

I’ve already introduced you to EmD-5 Radiant Empathy, in an earlier blog post that described it as “the ability to care for the feelings and thoughts of others without any need for reciprocity. It takes a lifetime to develop Radiant Empathy because it’s the combination of a healthy brain and life experience.”

My new book, When Empathy Fails – How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you clearly defines the six levels of empathy, from EmD-0 to EmD-5. (It will soon be available in Kindle and print editions on Amazon. Sign up for my newsletter, so you’re notified right away.)

The most important thing I want you to take away from reading Chapter One “No One Calls MeMom Anymore,” is how to spot people with Empathy Dysfunction, and then stop them dead in their tracks, using the tools that worked for me — before they damage you or your loved ones.

Eventually, I came out on the other side of it all, triumphant and at peace. So can you. Be sure to download your free chapter today. After you read it, please visit my Facebook page and tell me what you think.

Empathy Dysfunction (EmD) Is More Common Than You Think

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

You’d think that everyone has at least a little bit of empathy, right? Contrary to this popular belief, I’ve discovered that this is not so. Some people have no empathy at all, while others display a limited measure of empathy. That’s why Empathy Dysfunction (EmD), although it isn’t a household term, is so important to understand. It explains so much about the state we’re in these days.

I’ve spent over 40 years observing and treating people with a variety of problems, such as narcissists, sociopaths, autistics, alcoholics, and the brain-injured. What do they all have in common? Empathy Dysfunction (EmD). The one constant I’ve discovered among all of these is that their problem with empathy causes the greatest damage to their relationships.

These are a few examples of Empathy Dysfunction (EmD):

  • Your wallet is stolen by someone who looked you in the eye.
  • Your good friend lies to you repeatedly.
  • Your loved ones accuses you of interfering when you try to rescue them from their harmful choices
  • Your heart breaks when your children turn against you.

Empathy Dysfunction (EmD) also explains most of the problems we experience in our NT/AS relationships. As far as I am concerned it’s the most important factor. Once you have mastered the mysteries of your Aspie loved ones Empathy Dysfunction (EmD), you stand a much better chance of surviving and even enlivening your relationship.

It's not that I have a cure for Autism Spectrum Disorder. Far from it. But I do get it. I get that they don't get us. They don't think like us. They don't think about us. They don't plan their lives around their relationships. They don't know themselves in relation to us.

It’s such a conundrum, isn't it? We spend every waking moment considering others. It’s not that we’re self-serving martyrs. Rather it's just natural to think about the thoughts of others, to consider how they may feel about our actions, and to get why others think the way they do even if we disagree. That's empathy. We have it. They don't.

It’s freeing to have this realization, so that you’re never again stuck in the despair of wondering what's going on, or if you’re loved, or if you’re wasting your time seeking to be understood from an Aspie who doesn’t seek understanding at all.

In my upcoming Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD video conference entitled When Empathy Fails, I'll share with you the highlights of I’ve learned about Empathy Dysfunction or what I call EmD. It will be held on Wednesday, January 31st, at 11:00 AM PT (FULL), Tuesday, February 6th at 9:00 AM PT (a few spots open) or Wednesday, February 21st at 3:00 PM PT (a few spots open). Make sure you register today and put it on your calendar. You’re not going to want to miss this one!

I have a lot to say about Empathy Dysfunction (EmD), because I’ve just finished writing a book about it. It’s entitled "WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you." Download your free copy of the first chapter, "No One Calls Me Mom". Of course not all of our Aspies are hell-bent on destroying us, but it feels like it some days, doesn't it?

How Do You Cope with Unwanted Male Sexual Advances in the Workplace?

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

When the Seattle Times reported that former Washington Rep. Jim Jacks was forced to resign his seat in March 2011 for “inappropriate behavior” toward a young female staffer, it got me to thinking about why this problem is surfacing now.

Women and girls have been sexually harassed and assaulted for centuries — and it continues to this day. What’s different in our culture that encourages the painful, horrible truth to surface now?

As I state in a recent article for the US~Observer, I just don’t believe women who tell me “It has never happened to me.” I suspect they’re in denial or are fearful of opening up — or worse they accept that this is just the life of being a woman. There isn’t a twelve year old girl alive who hasn’t learned how to handle grown men who make sexual comments or reached out and touched her inappropriately. As a watchful mother myself, I kept a careful eye on my daughters and taught them how to handle themselves, too.

How do you cope with unwanted male sexual advances in the workplace? Here is a list of some common answers I’ve heard. This is excerpted from my recent article in the US~Observer.

1. “It’s just part of what I have to deal with. I shrug it off.”
2. “I’ve never told anyone. I would lose my job.”
3. “I’ve been told to let it go. No one will believe me.”
4. “It’s never happened to me.”
5. “Why would any woman put up with that? I wouldn’t.”
6. “I wish I had been brave enough to speak up long ago.”
7. “Irrational fear kept me quiet.”
8. “I spoke up and got fired. He got promoted.”
9. “That doesn’t still go on, does it?”

As long as any of us keep quiet about the harassers, we’re leaving women to protect themselves, which has lasting and traumatic consequences. As a psychologist, I know only too well how long it takes a woman to recuperate from sexual harassment (and abuse) — years, if ever.

Let’s keep the #MeToo Movement going strong. The US~Observer wants to know your story. If you’ve been victimized by Jim Jacks or any other unethical, corrupt politician or strongman, let me know. And, if they haven’t been brought to justice, let the US~Observer champion your cause.

My newest book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” is about people like Jim Jacks. If you’ve felt powerless in the face of abuse by someone with severe Empathy Dysfunction and are ready to take back your power, please grab a copy as soon as it’s available. (To stay up-to-date on it’s release, please sign-up for my “Enriching Your Life” newsletter.)

If you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA and need to talk about your experience so you can begin the healing process, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

The #MeToo Movement and Why I Decided Never to Be Silenced

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Victims of sexually assault and harassment often suffer in silence, and since it’s the silence that kills one’s spirit, it’s time to speak up and fight backFor too long, women and men have suffered in silence as victims of sexual assault and harassment. As the recent stories about celebrities, such as Harvey Weinstein, Kevin Spacey, and Louis C.K. unfold, women and men are finally admitting “Me Too”.

Many people feel it began on October 15, 2017, when actress Alyssa Milano tweeted:

Me too.
Suggested by a friend: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

But the #MeToo movement didn't start this year. It started more than 10 years ago with activist Tarana Burke. However, the celebrity connection has caused a flood of women pouring out their stories of hurt, fear, and isolation on Twitter and Facebook.

We are victims no longer! We are telling our stories and enacting change.

For example, on November 15th, a bipartisan group of Senators and Congressional members introduce the 'METOO Congress Act' aimed at reforming how Congress handles sexual harassment.

I’m ready to tell my story now too.

Amid the flurry of these news stories, I was listening to an OPB newscast and heard a familiar name, Jim Jacks. He’d been forced to resign in 2011 for “inappropriate behavior” toward a young female staffer (verified this week by the Washington State Democratic House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan). Hearing his name made my stomach lurch.

No, I wasn’t sexually assaulted by him, but his unfounded actions forever changed my life.

In 2004, Jacks was part of a ring of three Vancouver government employees, who set out to destroy me with a defaming memo. His single untruthful memo set off a decade-plus witch hunt that cost me half a million dollars in legal fees; many emotionally frightening nights; and the loss of my children. Jim Jacks stole from me just as he stole peace of mind from his more recent victim. Not only is he guilty of defamation, he’s guilty of never giving me a chance to defend myself (just as many women suffer in silence about their sexual assaults).

It’s the silence that kills one’s spirit. As for me, I won’t be silenced anymore about Jacks or the rest of the scoundrels in Vancouver, Washington. Victims shouldn’t have to stand by watching their abusers and others cover up these injustices.

Throughout my lifetime, I’ve also encountered many males who have crossed the line into sexual harassment and they’ve left me speechless and afraid. I detail these experiences in my recent exposé in the US Observer.

My newest book, “WHEN EMPATHY FAILS: How to stop those hell-bent on destroying you,” is about people like Jim Jacks. If you’ve felt powerless in the face of abuse by someone with severe Empathy Dysfunction and are ready to take back your power, please grab a copy as soon as it’s available. To stay up-to-date on it’s release, please sign-up for my newsletter.)

If you need to talk with someone about how to standup for yourself, please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.

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