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The Importance of Sam’s Law

Hopefully, as I prepare to publish this article, “Sam’s Law”, House Bill 684, was being heard in front of the Senate Education Committee (Tuesday, April 30) and will be placed on the agenda for a vote prior to the ending of the current Texas State Legislature.

The reason this law is of vital importance is that it will require all schools to become epilepsy educated and aware. Epileptic seizures (of all kinds) are often misidentified and epilepsy itself is so misunderstood that many people don’t recognize a seizure when they see one. Some seizures such as absence, simple or complex partial seizures are simply unrecognized.

Even when a seizure is recognized, people often don’t know what to do. This is especially true in our schools. Children and teens with epilepsy can experience a seizure and depending on the type of seizure, teachers, coaches, principals, counselors and even some school nurses are unaware of how to proceed.

This is also true of School police officers and security. In fact certain seizures such as grand mal and petite grand mal seizures are all too often perceived by police and security as simply disobedience and a behavioral or drug related problem sending these epilepsy effected students needlessly and incorrectly to the local jail, juvenile detention facility or a behavioral hospital leading to misdemeanor or even felony charges against a sick person needing immediate medical attention and wasting valuable time.

Please remember, Epilepsy kills.

Sam’s law,  (HB 684), introduced by Rep. Travis Clardy, would require that ALL Texas public school personnel — meaning anyone who has contact with a child with epilepsy — will be trained in seizure recognition and seizure first aid. People who interact with children with epilepsy on a daily basis should be trained to care for them if they have a seizure.

Sam’s Law would ensure seizure education and first aid training for employees in Texas public schools who have contact with children. It would require teachers to take an online course effective Dec. 1, 2019. The bill proposes free seizure recognition and seizure response training for teachers and staff at Texas public schools.

The bill is named in honor of Samantha (Sam) Watkins, a Kilgore ISD student who passed away in December 2016 after complications from a seizure just three months after she had been diagnosed with epilepsy.

Again, not to be morbid (but as an epileptic myself) Epilepsy kills and both time and the proper response can be the difference between life and death.

Much of the foot work in getting this bill introduced into the Texas legislature was due to the efforts of former teacher, Shari Dudo who is also an epileptic. After suffering a seizure at the school where she taught, she founded the Purple Warriors of Texas. Samantha (Sam) Watkins’ mother, Barbara Watkins, also a teacher has worked with Shari to get this bill introduced into the Texas State legislature and bring it to its current point in the state senate.

At the same time, there are many others throughout the nation attempting to get similar legislation introduced into their own states.

Still others such as the RGV’s own April Flowers and her daughter Lili are spending time in Washington D.C. meeting with Congressional staff and Senators in an attempt to raise attention to the need for Sam’s law nationwide.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

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Post seizure counseling

The need for post seizure counseling

by
Dr. Lee Outlaw
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Use of a counselor/psychologist can be beneficial in post epileptic seizure recovery

After thirty years of counseling people in practically every area of life including epilepsy, I am obviously an advocate for counseling. In fact, I have written several papers and articles on the subject of the need for professional counseling.

Counseling, that desire to talk to somebody when you just can’t figure things out is always helpful even if the person you’re talking to is only a friend or relative; we all do it.

Don’t think I’m referring only to other people; in my thirty years as a pastor and Christian psychologist, I had standing weekly appointments with both a close pastor friend and a Psychiatrist colleague to simply talk and discuss “things”, to keep from losing my proverbial mind. If you think personal problems are tough, try dealing with hundreds of people’s problems; it can often be more than one person can handle. I might add that this was long before I had been officially diagnosed as an epileptic.

The point is, we all need help from time to time and we need to talk about our problems and issues with life.

Unfortunately for those of us who are epileptics, the ones we want to talk too either don’t want to listen or have pre-conceived ideas about epilepsy. They often perceive epilepsy as a mental illness, drug abuse, anger issues or even demonic possession. In addition, many think we make it all up and are lazy resulting from having to give up driving, unable to work and often afraid to go out in public for fear of having a seizure.

Another problem for many of our friends and family members is they have never witnessed us having a seizure, or so they think. This alone results in a variety of arm chair counselors making unsubstantiated accusations and incorrect recommendations or suggestions.

After my two recent grand mal seizures just 3 hours apart (as stated in my last article), recovery has been tough, really tough”; it has been the most difficult post seizure recovery and taken the longest time for recovery I have ever experienced. Only now nearly three months since the seizures am I beginning to feel almost “normal”.

I believe sincerely the only reason I am even close to full recovery is due to seeking out personal counseling.

A colleague suggested that I might want to consider a series of sessions with a mutual fellow therapist, which I did. I knew this man and like me he is both semi-retired and a Christian Psychologist and he has some experience in counseling epileptics. I agreed and it has been the best thing I have ever done.

The first thing he asked me was, “What are your two greatest fears with regard to being an epileptic?”

Those of us who practice psychology are well aware that the one thing common to everyone is fear; it either drives us to success or failure. Fear can also induce or reduce stress in our lives.

I believe sincerely this is why the Bible tells us, “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2Timothy 1:7

My first fear like most epileptics is that of the unknown; that is the not knowing if or when I will have another seizure and what kind I might experience. Also, the older I get is the realization that the next seizure could take my life.

The second fear I shared with my counselor is very personal and something I had held onto for 19 years. Once I shared it with him and God I felt stress almost immediately leave my mind and body. It was and is a great feeling.

The past we hold on to produces emotional poison and develops stress after stress after stress in our lives. This is extremely dangerous for anyone but for the epileptic it can be absolutely fatal. If a past problem is long past and buried deep in your mind it will probably require professional help to eliminate.

The point of this article is simple, Professional Psychological and/or Clinical Pastoral Counseling can be of great benefit to epileptics in relieving stress.

This is part of my reason for starting LIVE Online Counseling beginning April 2nd.

Although epilepsy is not a mental health disorder, due to the extreme impact on an epileptic and their family, there can be associated mental health issues which develop along the way such as mood swings, depression, anger and personality disorders.

All of this can contribute to stress for the epileptic and their friends and family. Counseling can possibly help.

If you haven’t done so, please give Epilepsy counseling a chance.

May God bless us all as we seek to find a cure for Epilepsy.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

Unrecognized Seizure Signals


 
Epilepsy is certainly a disorder of mystery and unpredictability as any epileptic will tell you.

 After ten years being grand mal seizure free, just one day after this past Christmas I found myself waking up in an ambulance from a grand mal seizure in route to the hospital where I encountered a second seizure only three hours later. This has been the worst seizure ever and roughest recovery. After coming home from the hospital, I slept for nearly 3 days and remember almost nothing.

 Although unknown to me until I was fifty-seven years old, I was born an epileptic and had experienced seizures all my life; in fact my grandfather was an epileptic as was his grandfather and his grandfather before him and who knows how far back.

 For those of us older such as me, we grew up in a time when epilepsy had many labels and taboos even linked to mental disorders and demonic possession. As a result, your family or even family doctor might not pursue any detailed medical investigation. In my case, my parents and I were told it was just part of growing up; or so I had always been told. But shortly before my father died, he confided in me that our family doctor had suspected I might have epilepsy but to quote my father, he told “old Doc Holden, there was no way his son was crazy”.

 My father also, didn’t understand that what he witnessed so often in his father as what was called “fits” was actually epileptic seizures as well.

 Although I don’t blame my parents for my epilepsy, it’s very sad to think what just a little more knowledge and information might have done to help me today.

 Since having my first full blown grand mal seizure in 2001, I have made every effort to learn everything I could about epilepsy and how to recognize and avoid the proverbial “seizure triggers” and how to prevent them.

 As most epileptics know the two basics to control and prevention are, 1) take all your meds as prescribed and 2) get at least eight hours sleep every night. In most cases, if an epileptic follows this regiment of treatment the chances of having a seizure are greatly reduced.

 Unfortunately Epilepsy is a neurological disorder and not a disease resulting in the reality that at present there is no cure. The best that can be done at present is the prescribing of a variety of medication, electronic stimulators and surgery. As such the bad news every epileptic receives once diagnosed is “epilepsy is for life”; so your neurologist will instruct you in how to recognize the possibility or the signs of an upcoming seizure.

 Most epileptics are well aware of the most obvious sign of a possible seizure which is the dreaded “aura”. For most of us, we hate the aura worse than the seizure. The seizure strikes and is usually over in just a few minutes but the aura is totally debilitating and can last from a few minutes to several days. Like it or not, the aura is usually a sign of a potential seizure.

 The aura is difficult to describe; especially to non-epileptics.  The average aura time for most epileptics I know is about 15 minutes. My average aura last 24 hours but I have experienced a pre-seizure aura which lasted 2 days and a post-seizure aura which lasted almost a week.

Auras are terrible. They can be mild to migraine headaches, the proverbial “seeing stars”, visualizing “saintly” like glows or halos around people, visualization can take on a yellowish hue as well as the experience of strange sounds and odors.

But the worst aura experience of all for most epileptics is disassociation; the feeling of uncertainty of where you are or what many epileptics describe as the sensation of feeling like you’re in more than one place at a given moment. Some have described it as feeling like you’re here but also somewhere else. Some have likened the experience to a type of “déjàvu”.

The aura often causes an epileptic to lose momentary thought, focus and concentration.

Some research now suggests that due to their debilitating effect on the epileptic, these auras are actually partial seizures. Regardless of what these auras are, they can certainly slow a person down, delay or even force a change or cancellation to plans.

It is important to note that although some epileptics never experience an aura, those that do have different aura experiences. One such experience is “mood change”.

Mood change (which is usually a side effect of anti-seizure medication and not epilepsy) itself is often a signal or precursor to a major seizure. Of great importance is the “Unrecognizable Mood Change”. It might be subtle or it might be drastic. It might not be recognizable to the epileptic patient at all but very noticeable to everyone else. The mood change can begin weeks before the seizure.

As a lifelong epileptic and Christian psychologist I was well aware that mood changes could be a part of epilepsy but as a lifelong epileptic I had never seen myself as having mood changes.  Recently however, my reaction to what I interpreted as a bad smelling slice of ham was actually seen by family members as both irrational and mean spirited. The bottom line is others saw the mood change but I didn’t. In addition my family informed me that over the past forty years I had many similar experiences. 

The bottom line is if you haven’t experienced an epileptic aura, you simply can’t understand but you can try and be observant of the epileptic in your life.

If the epileptic in your life begins demonstrating unusual or a sudden change in behavior, be certain to make them aware of those changes in a very caring and constructive way. You might ask if they have taken all their meds on time or ask how they’re feeling.

If you’re an epileptic, listen to those around you, they might see things happening in you that you don’t see in yourself and if you listen carefully you might prevent a seizure or even save your life.

Let others help you recognize the unrecognizable signals in you.

© 2019 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

 

Too much information

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As a Psychologist, I am continually amazed at the amount of information people are willing to post about themselves on social media. Having observed this phenomenon for nearly a decade, it seems people become more emboldened each day with what they choose to tell the world about themselves.

These are the same everyday people that when I was in the ministry and private practice would come to me with a problem(s) yet reluctant to say anything; it was often near impossible to pry any information out of them. Many times, it would take weeks just to get a patient to open up enough for the two of us to have a meaningful dialogue much less the “Nitti gritty” of the problem.  

Today however, people post any and everything on the web and especially social media; every conceivable personal problem (emotional or physical) is posted, elaborated, sometimes with photos and hundreds of comments from around the world are given.

It’s simply ridiculous. People on my social media pages have posted everything imaginable from their problem with toe fungus, corns and calluses, constipation, hemorrhoids, hurt feelings, depression, anxiety, what they’re having for dinner, their pet’s illnesses, whether they think someone is a liar or not,  questioning or diagnosing mental disorders of friends or relatives, sexual dysfunction and  so much more.

Again, these are the same people that will not seek out professional help.

With no apology, if I were still in private practice, I would consider having about half my social media friends temporarily committed for observation.

Seriously, what the hell is wrong with you people? I know many of you and some things you have posted on my social media pages, I just can’t believe.

I don’t want to hear about how your cat vomited all over you and the bed during the night, or how your hemorrhoids kept you up all night or why you think Uncle Jed or sister Sue is definitely Bi-polar or Schizophrenic or how you hope your boyfriend doesn’t find out about your one night stand with the guy you met at Starbucks on your way home from work; duh? He does now and so does everybody else.

The problems people used to bring to their ministers, psychologist, psychiatrist and counselors is now simply thrown out on social media like confetti being dropped from a tall building in a parade with their social media post dropped on anyone and everyone consequences be damned.

This is to say the least frivolous, irresponsible and (excuse the expression) just crazy.

Let me be clear, it’s not that I’m not concerned or don’t want to be your social media friend but frankly if you want to talk to me about it, contact me privately and personally.

I will be happy to listen as a Minister or Christian Psychologist or Addiction Counselor (take your pick, I’m all)  but be prepared to sign both a hold harmless agreement and non-disclosure statement along with my fee of $125.00 CASH (I also take Pay Pal) per hour (for a fifty minute counseling session) which I will be happy to conduct in person or via video chat.

Then and only then will I l be willing to listen to your earth shattering problems and difficulties which you feel  are so troubling that you must broadcast to the entire world over social media opening yourself to every Troll, Phishing scam, hacker, malware, ransom ware or worse and possibly losing everything you have including your very life.

Seriously people, grow up and stop thinking all of us as social media friends want or need to know everything about you; we don’t.

Posting too much information on social media is dangerous and psychologically speaking can speak volumes as to your mental and emotional state of mind.

If you are really troubled about something, please seek professional help.

© 2017 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD

NO Profanity Please

Updated September 5, 2018

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After writing this article almost two years ago, I felt it necessary to take a break from my current seven part series on “What is wrong with people? and time for an edit and update. It seems to me the flagrant and frequent use of profanity on social media is certainly another issue “wrong with people”.

Say I’m a prude if you choose but there is nothing more unpleasant and distasteful within social media today, than people using unnecessary profanity within their online post to make a point.

What amazes me most is that people who wouldn’t dare utter a “damn” or “hell” in public seem to have no problem utilizing the often known “Favorite Five” words of profanity without hesitation and cursing on-line like the proverbial sailor (no offense or disrespect to our men and women of the Navy; many of which I know seldom use profanity.)
Even more alarming is the use of the “F” word; used so much today, that it’s often referred to as the “F – Bomb”.  It seems some people can’t speak or write without using it. Especially upsetting is the ease and frequency of it’s use by women and children.
Since the original writing of this article back in February. 2017, I’ve noticed there are now even Facebook pages and websites all dedicated to the “F-bomb” with such titles as WTF, IDGF, WFC and many others. I even know several author friends that have incorporated this vile disgusting word into their email addresses and user names; how degrading. Why would any normal, rational and decent human being want to be known as “F’n this” or “F’n that”; it seems rather demeaning.
In addendum, it’s interesting that Facebook will allow the pursuit and use of profanity over their social media platform in defense of “Free Speech” while removing and blocking conservative news articles and those with differing intelligent opinions, including many Christian website posts.
Ok, it’s true on this point I’m extremely unapologetically conservative. I am also unapologetically a Christian. But right is right and wrong is wrong and profanity is simply wrong; don’t even try to justify its use. Nothing good ever results from the use of profanity; only those with uncontrolled anger issues and people given over to corrupt thinking feel the need for its use.
Women might be equal to men and share the right to freedom of  speech but “SHAME on you”!  Stop with the proverbial “potty mouth” and be a lady. By the way, we need more women becoming ladies again.
As to our children today, they simply need their mouths washed out with the soap that Man paying a swear jarfloats (completely harmless- can’t say the name because the company doesn’t advocate the practice) every single time they use a vulgar disgusting word. If we returned to that practice, we’d have most kids speaking correctly, decently and without profanity.
Call this practice abuse if you like but  my late mother, father and both grandmothers used that practice on me and it worked. By the way, at age 67, I don’t have any physical, social or psychological problems resulting from those experiences.  In Psychology we simply call it “Behavioral modification” and those that know me know I don’t curse. I find no need for it and find the whole thing disgusting.
Even in my time working in the auto body industry  while working my way through college, seminary and grad school, the body men, painters and techs were horrible with their use of profanity. Much of this filthy talk resulted from the difficult,frustrating and often dangerous work. For me, I simply chose not to curse or use profanity and I continue that same refrain today.
That’s not to say I’m a saint, I am not. I am a sinner saved by grace and yes, I have thought in profane words on rare occasions. Even in anger however,  I usually refer mentally to other descriptive words; words that actually have meaning, descriptive value and purpose.
The truth is, most people who use profanity actually have no idea what they’re saying. They’re simply repeating  words they’ve heard others say since childhood and because profanity is basically simple one or two syllable descriptive words, they became easy to learn and pronounce. If parents or grand parents didn’t squelch such use through stern reprimand or behavioral modification, the words were assimilated into their everyday vocabulary.
Most people only think they know what the curse words they use mean; in reality the meaning is not at all what they have been led to understand. The etymology (origin and history)  of the word is actually surprising to most people.
As a psychologist certified in the treatment of “sexual dysfunction” (and I’m not referring to the popularized medical ED term here), I have found in group therapy all too often the degree to which people are vocabulary ignorant. Men and women often can’t even describe their own sexual organs because they have been so used to a few descriptive profanity words.
The bottom line is there is simply NO need for the “gutter style language” so prevalent in today’s society.
If you’re a frequent user of profanity, ask yourself WHY ? Is your vocabulary so limited that any words containing more than 4 or 5 letters with the occasional adding of “ing”  are beyond your comprehension or ability to pronounce?
If that’s the case, start reading a Dictionary or Thesaurus  and develop a QUALITY vocabulary. Then, you can be stern, firm or “pithy” in your postings without the use of profanity. Vulgarity is never necessary and should not be tolerated by any of us; especially in on-line social media.  It is unbecoming, disrespectful and demonstrates a lack of character and morality; both which are sorely needed in social media.
I realize all of this is very Non-Politically Correct these days especially with regard to millennials and  those on the Progressive Left; so be it.  As a result, let me dig in a little deeper  in being Non PC by sharing a true story of one of the South’s favorite sons, General Robert E. Lee.
As the Civil War was winding down, Confederate General Lee was meeting with some of his key officers discussing serious strategy. The language was very hostile, frustrating and “colorful” (profane & vulgar) to say the least. In the midst of this very important and strategic meeting, history records that General Lee turned around and began to walk away. A Colonel called out to him and said, “What’s wrong General Lee, there are no women or children here?” General Lee turned around and responded, “No sir, there are no women or children here but there is a Christian Gentleman”; the general turned around again and walked away.
I am proud to say that my great grandfather, grandfather, father, myself and my oldest son as well as thousands of other men and women throughout the South were named after this Christian gentleman.
God’s Word reminds us, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone”. Colossians 4:6
There simply isn’t any reason ever for profanity.
May God both guide and guard your speech.
© 2018 Lee W. Outlaw III, PhD
Once again, as a side NOTE, I will no longer tolerate rude, crude and distasteful language on any of my social media sites from ANYONE.

Yes Lee, there are crazy people

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In light of the Christmas season and our recent Presidential Election, it seemed somewhat appropriate to examine in a slightly satirical way an often protected and politically correct aspect of the mental health care field known as “psycho-babble”.

So in the spirit of the New York Sun response to eight year old Virginia O’Hanlon’s question as to the existence of Santa Claus, in 1897 entitled, “Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus” this article is a reflection on the mental and emotional state of many people today and their inability to deal with life and react to difficulties and disappointments.

Following the recent United States Presidential Election with the surprise results of a Donald Trump victory and the accompanied whining, whaling and protesting from the losing liberal left, a Psychiatrist colleague of mine from Florida (now retired and living in Costa Rica) chatted online with me about his thoughts on the matter. He stated his view of the general mental and emotional state of people in America today. In our discussion, this MD, PhD Psychiatrist friend unexpectedly says to me, “You know Lee, some people are just CRAZY”. He went on to say, “And those that aren’t crazy are just MEAN and there isn’t enough psycho-therapy, anger management, Xanax, Prozac or even Thioridazine in the world that’s going to help”.

Now 75 years old, my friend and colleague admitted he was sitting on the beach of his beach house sipping on his fourth Corona of the afternoon but he continued to reiterate that after forty years in the mental health field he was fed up with all the “excuses” and “psycho-babble” of psychology and psychiatry. He just kept saying, these whiners and protestors were just crazy and mean; this mind you from a board certified Psychiatrist.

Although somewhat surprised by my friend’s very stern conclusions, most of us as colleagues know him well for his candid remarks.  Those of us in the mental healthcare field will usually be quick to tell you  we don’t use terms like “stupid”, “idiot”, “ignoramus”, “moron”, “retard” and definitely not “crazy”. We were taught the correct mental illness designations and as such over the years we’ve been told it is “insensitive”, “inappropriate” and simply wrong to use such terms; in fact we have been taught it is not “politically correct”.

To some degree, it has been much like one of those “big secrets” we hold on to and hide from our young or don’t want people to know about ; you know, like the “tooth fairy”, “Easter Bunny” or even “Santa Clause”.   There seems to be evidence or at least the inference that these mythical entities exist but most people don’t really believe it.  

Freud told us there is no such thing as normal, only what’s normal for you.  The  result over time has been the development  within the world of mental health and psychotherapy that there are no “crazy people”; there are only individuals which are mildly neurotic with any number of associated phobias or phobia of the day or neurological or psychotic conditions such as delusional (or other variations)  of schizophrenia, bi-polar disorder (or syndrome) OCD, OCS, HDD, HDAD, etc.

The result is the so called “millennial snowflakes” which simply can’t accept reality, the consequences of their actions or the disappointments and sometime failures of life; they believe life should be fair and when it comes to wealth everybody should share. The American people watched almost with amazement as thousands of these individuals suffered an entire emotional and mental breakdown live on Television and streaming media following Hillary Clinton’s loss.

As my friend and I concluded our on line chat, he went on to blame the psychobabble of mental health care for the state of these individuals and their inability to cope.

He sees this problem as very serious for the future of our country and has a suggestion to solving this problem for our President elect. He recommends that all colleges and universities which receive any Federal financial assistance or research funding be mandated to teach “hands on” courses on “How to handle life and failure”; not just class room instruction but courses required for all students regardless of major or minor which puts them in the non-academic real world, getting their hands dirty and being exposed to both success and failure.  He pointed out that many Christian and private institutions already have similar required courses and turn out some of the finest and most stable graduates in the world.

This very learned counselor went on to say that much of the problem (as he sees it) is and has been over the past three decades the teaching by colleges and universities of too many Positive Mental Attitude and Eastern philosophy courses which he calls a “cancer on the reality of life”.

He closed by saying, “Yes Lee, let’s be honest, we can call it whatever you like but the reality is, there are crazy people”.

Thank you Dr. G.K.

© 2016 Dr. Lee W. Outlaw III

Martyr syndrome by any other name

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Martyr syndrome by any other name

by

Dr. Lee Outlaw

Most of us are aware of the old saying, “Misery loves company”. For many people that saying can often move one step forward turning dependent and becoming, “Misery needs company”.

The idea of course, is that some people focus their entire life on either previous and present problems or difficulties attempting to draw attention to those life experiences. In turn, these individuals seem to enjoy and are even insistent on sharing these experiences anytime, anywhere and with anyone who will listen.

This personality disorder is referred to by many names: Martyr complex, Martyr mom syndrome, Martyr Victim complex, Martyr Personality Disorder, Relationship Martyrdom, Romantic Martyr Syndrome, Hero complex, Heroic Martyr Syndrome and even to some extent, Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissism and Social Anxiety Disorder (or SAD).

Although each varies slightly, regardless of the associated label, they each tend to fit into the general “learned behavior” classification of Martyr (or Martyrdom) syndrome. The important thing to emphasize here is that this is a real and genuine personality disorder and a legitimate mental health issue which should not be taken lightly.

Because this is generally a “learned behavioral problem”, it is important to remember that these individuals are unstable and can be dangerous (extremely dangerous) to both themselves and others.  The very use of the term “martyr” with the associated disorder is indicative as to the limit that these individuals are willing to go in order to emphasize their condition.

Generally speaking, Martyr Syndrome is a condition in which a person uses their suffering, self-sacrifice, and role as a victim to manipulate others into psychologically rewarding them for their ongoing misery. In other words, these individuals actually enjoy their suffering and unconsciously see it as a means of self-gratification and (to some degree) personal accomplishment.

Just like full blown narcissism, these individuals usually hide their personal belief that they are superior to everyone else and entitled to the very things for which they claim no desire. They actually hide deep emotions of envy and the desire to exploit their situation. They are controlling and manipulative without empathy, guilt or remorse.

Many of these individuals also tend to laugh at everything, leading many psycho-therapist to believe that some with Martyr Personality Disorder might also have a degree of  connected Hebephrenic Schizophrenia due to the fact many of these individuals appear at times as almost emotionless. Their drive and determination are lost and goals abandoned, so that the patient’s behavior becomes characteristically aimless and empty of purpose. Many patients will often refer to even serious situations with, “Let’s just wait and see what happens”.  There is also a superficial preoccupation with religion, philosophy, and other abstract themes which may add to the patient’s difficulty in keeping with an  obvious train of thought.

Unfortunately, these individuals also self-label themselves with fad, neo-religious or pseudo-philosophical identities such as minimalist, naturalist, Universalist, poly-ist (contemporary term for non-religious modified polygamy) and even veganism (as opposed to vegetarianism). Most with Martyr Syndrome usually know very little about such lifestyles or philosophies but associate with them simply because (for the moment) “it sounds good”; some would even initially say, “It’s the right fit”. As a result, they will often force themselves and their families into an associated lifestyle which they then emphasize and project to those around them; whether intended or not.  

The two current philosophies being mentioned by many Martyr Syndrome/Martyr Personality Disorder patients is minimalism and poly-ism; both are extremely dangerous philosophies and lifestyles because they’re pseudo-religious with roots in religion. There is also much about these philosophies on both cable television and the internet which simply adds fuel to a Martyr Syndrome fire.

As an example, some individuals who identify with “minimalism” will get rid of everything they own; just give it away and not even try to sell it. Their philosophy usually goes like this, “I don’t like things or I don’t need things I don’t use”. The problem is these “minimalist” (as they call themselves) are selective. They might give up chairs, beds, use only minimal clothing, no TVs, cars, have only one cup, bowl or plate for each house hold member to give an outward appearance of “being without or doing without”. But they also have high speed internet, thousand dollar phones, tablets and selective appliances of conveniences. In other words unconsciously they want to talk the talk but not walk the walk; a hypocrite by any other name. This usually ends badly.

Over the years as a counselor/psychologist, I have seen marriages end, children run away at an early age, unwanted pregnancies occur, the elderly, children and disabled abused or abandoned, criminal acts committed, deaths (that didn’t have to occur), suicide and homelessness result as a direct result of the minimalist lifestyle.

Still others will become fascinated with a different sexual lifestyle such as “poly-ism” which is a contemporary non-religious modified form of polygamy (this includes almost every sexually deviated relationship imaginable involving multiple partners); usually this lifestyle is chosen because of previous bad relationships and/or failed marriages. Like “minimalism”, this usually ends badly and often leads to another bad and ended relationship. Almost with certainty, someone usually ends up hurt and out on the street.

Martyr syndrome patients unconsciously want to be hurt and in pain. As such they recognize the potential for pain and suffering in both these lifestyles resulting in a desire to experience them both; it’s like another reference in their mental resume of pain and suffering.

What is important to remember here is the “martyr” aspect of the syndrome.  The person uses their suffering, self-sacrifice, and role as a victim to manipulate others into psychologically rewarding them with outward expressions of appreciation or sympathy for their ongoing misery. It’s because of the martyr syndrome, that a person’s actual (unconscious) enjoyment of their misery; their pain and their suffering that they desire to experience more of the same in these unusual lifestyles.

It’s also important to point out that these individuals might seem normal in every aspect of the word. They might occasionally desire things of convenience or comfort, express a need to have physical pain stopped or even to emphasize their enjoyment of the lifestyle or relationship they have chosen. But as soon the opportunity arises and the unconscious desire kicks in to be the martyr, everything is given or thrown away, philosophical talk and reasoning begins about mentally removing pain, changing to a diet that can eliminate an illness and any positive relationship is suddenly considered wrong.

The result is the reversion to full blown “Martyr Syndrome or Martyr Personality Disorder”.

It should be noted that the reversion factor in most patients comes without warning like most syndromes and personality disorders. A person diagnosed with Martyr Personality Disorder can be undergoing therapy, be making significant progress and then suddenly and out of the blue revert back to their former condition.

The great irony of Martyr Syndrome and Martyr Personality Disorder  is the patients don’t know they’re sick and when a person doesn’t realize they have an illness it is difficult to treat the illness. Part of the reason for this is that like most mental health problems, there are denial and avoidance issues.

When someone attempts to confront a person with Martyr Syndrome about their condition, they deny they have a problem. They subsequently avoid any further discussion about it or their related lifestyle.

Of special importance to those in the healthcare and home healthcare industry is the fact that many of them suffer from Martyr syndrome. Very often these individuals which give so much of themselves  get so caught up in the daily process of giving and witnessing the pain of others that they develop a Martyr Personality Disorder.

Groups which teach Eastern mysticism, unified or universal philosophical thought (or truth), self-healing, miracles, minimalism and advanced or “super-spiritualism” usually attract those with Martyr Syndrome and Martyr Personality Disorder. Such teaching is almost like a magnet to these seriously troubled people. It is unfortunate that many of these groups attempt to “counsel” these people increasing their pain, hardship and the inability to face reality.

Sadly, many of these people search their entire lives trying to “find their way”, seeking approval and the proverbial truth while just trying to “fit in”. Because most never find the answers they want (or need) their unconscious mind takes over and many end up in cults or dictatorial communes just to survive; still others end up as part of the tens of thousands of homeless which walk America’s streets every day.

Again, it is important to realize that Martyr Syndrome is a very serious Mental Illness which requires real, genuine professional Psycho-therapy. All the Eastern mysticism and the like will not solve the problem.

If you know someone or personally identify with “Martyr Syndrome or Martyr Personality Disorder”, please seek out a professional mental healthcare counselor immediately. Remember, your pain and suffering is real but does not have to continue.

I will have more to say on this subject in future articles.

 © 2016 Dr. Lee Outlaw