Customer Reviews: Character Disturbance: the phenomenon of our age
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on September 16, 2011
George Simon has a genius for organization. He takes a complicated subject of human behavior and breaks it down to easily understandable subtopics, exploring the gamut of character traits from neurosis to psychopathy. He gives simple, easy to follow strategies for dealing with the manipulative people in our lives, whether they are patients or relatives. He even addresses the concerns of people who have rid themselves of the disturbed character that plagued them and suggests ways to move on.

I was particularly impressed with his chapter on the process of character development and his conclusions as to how character - or the lack of it - affects everyone in our society at every level. It's the most pressing issue of our day, yet seems to be the most ignored.

Personally, I found the book engaging because I have read multiple works on psychopathy, abusers, victimology, narcissism, etc., even scanning the DSM IV on and off for years trying to pin-point the pathology of a disturbed character in my life. He didn't fit into any of the boxes in any of the books. Finally, in Simon's first book, "In Sheep's Clothing," I found my answer. I was thrilled to find an author who understood those people who do have a conscience but act as if they don't because it is so underdeveloped, and who could explain to me how to deal with them.

By the way, if you've read the 1-star review (I always start with the lowest review, myself) you'll probably have come the conclusion I did: that the reviewer has...issues. Yes, Simon does say that disturbed characters refuse to submit to any authority, because they want what they want now in the easiest way, and they want to "win." They have great insight, and understand that others in our culture submit to a "God," a "higher authority," or the will of "society." They just refuse to do so. So yes, the word "God" is in the book, along with many other words.

Laypersons and professionals will both benefit from this book. Enjoy!
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on April 2, 2012
The time for this book is way past overdue, and Simon's subtitle couldn't be more appropriate. Character disturbance is the phenomenon of our age, plain and simple. What does that mean? Well, in a nutshell, Dr. Simon defines character disturbance (and their more intense form of character disorders, which includes psychopathy) as the degree to which people LACK specific virtues, ethics, social conscientiousness, and commitment to social behaviour worthy of respect. It is the degree to which a person evades personal responsibility, feels entitled to things they have not earned, lies, cheats, cons, and steals. The problem is, our society has become so inured in these narcissistic patterns, to see them for what they are is as difficult as asking a fish about water. They are our new norms, rewarded in business and daily life, while true character is derided as weakness and out of date.

This book is just full of gems and is probably the best primer on manipulation tactics I've read. Simon makes the difference between neurosis and character disturbance very clear and shows how they need totally different techniques in order to correct. The old psychological concepts that were developed in order to deal with neurosis are the ones that are out of date, and are totally ineffective when it comes to poor character. They also lead to a culturally self-reinforcing blindness, where we treat people with extreme character disorders as if they just lacked 'self-esteem', had 'bad childhoods', or are just 'acting out' their own insecurities. As Simon points out, in cases of character disorders, these simply aren't true. The people engaging in such tactics know what they're doing, are perfectly fine with it, and will say anything to convince you they're not as bad as they seem. And as long as such behaviours aren't recognized and dealt with, nothing will stop them. Result? Just look at the amount of fraud and corruption in the financial industry. If they can get away with it, they will.

The book has chapters with very clear explanations of all the concepts, tactics, and disorders, as well as transcripts from some of Simon's own sessions. All are highly informative, simply written, and applicable to everything from teenagers to convicts. Highly recommended.
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on July 23, 2011
This is a must-read for anyone going through any part of life with a person who is character disturbed. Understanding how your own behavior and weaknesses contribute to the situation is of paramount importance, and this book will help people understand how to change those behaviors. Getting inside a character-disturbed person's head is a little scary, but this, too is extremely important in order to effectively respond to them. The author knows his topic thoroughly. Great book!
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on April 29, 2011
"I had already read George Simon's "In Sheep's Clothing" and was pleasantly surprised by his new book. George makes no bones about challenging traditional methods of treating character disturbance and provides practical skills that both layman and the professional can use to learn about how these people tick and operate but more important how to deal with them and offer an alternative treatment.

What struck me the most was the way in which George addresses all types of character disturbance including the more disturbed individuals like psychopaths. Some people might find it an uncomfortable read recognising their own character flaws and deficiencies as they read through the chapters. Although for anyone who is willing to change and see their own deficiencies, I do not see this as a bad thing.

This is a brave book that challenges the traditional books and I hope that it gets the same deserved attention as his previous book did. The other thing I enjoyed about the book is the fact that he gives many examples including those of how character disturbed people "appear" so show real emotions such as shame and guilt when they are actually not.

My only criticism although minor is that in making reference to what George describes as the "Ten commandments for building character" when he refers to them in later chapters you have to go back to the previous chapters to remind yourself of which ones they were. The other thing that some people might criticise is George's reference to God or higher self. Perhaps it might have been more appropriate to have made reference to the lack of "higher self" rather than God since many well behaved people do not necessarily believe in god."
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on June 26, 2013
This is a great book for anyone who knows, lives with or works with a power hungry, controlling & manipulative jerk. While I liked Dr. Simon's other book "In Sheep's Clothing" more, this is a good follow up to read. (In Sheep's Clothing was the better of the two.) Both books let you know you are not alone & are in fact seeing what you think you are, and that someone is indeed manipulating & taking advantage of you.
Sadly, no "quick solution" or comments are offered to set these sort of people back in their place, getting them to stop. However once you read these books, you should realize that there is no easy comment or solution to set things right anyway. "Manipulative Covert-Aggressive" people are using others & taking advantage of them, & that is just the way they are & choose to be. THERE IS NO CHANGING THEM. Like wolves, there is no way to stop them from being who they are.

It is therefore, the "sheep" who must learn how to not allow themselves be victimized, as the wolves will NEVER change nor stop their behavior. (Making you think they will or can change IS one of their tactics...beware!) The sooner this fact is accepted, the sooner you can get the situation back in your control (for some part). The best thing to do is get away from these sort of people, & get them out of your life. Until then, you can learn to deal with them to some degree. (Is isn't easy & is a lot of work that never gets better.)
And forget thinking that they are like normal people & simply "don't realize the pain they are causing others", for they already do know & simply don't care. They want the advantage over others & don't care if you have to pay the price. They want you to believe they are like normal people however, as that is how they maintain their power. It is that sort of "normal" outlook that people have, that they take advantage of. But they are NOT like normal people & as such do NOT respond like a normal person would. They will use you, especially if you let them, & in any way they can. For them it is about their winning... and you losing. And if they are made to lose, then they will take you down with them, just so someone else loses worse then they do. In their world, they have to win no matter what the cost.

Again, this book is a good follow up, but I'd recommend getting "In Sheep's Clothing" first. Just don't expect any quick or easy solutions in either book. Dr. Simon would offer them if they were available, but sadly the situation requires the victim (sheep) to do all the work of finding ways to deal with these monsters. It took me time to understand why, but indeed it is the best & only way.

We are most all like sheep, peacefully relating to other sheep, ...& when we encounter a wolf, we need to learn how to not be eaten. It is simple as that. Wolves are NOT sheep. The wolves are NOT ever going to stop feeding on sheep nor ever feel guilty about it. Get over the fact that they look like us (sheep), but are not at all like us inside. Remember this, even if they are your brother/sister/Mom/child or friend. If they take advantage of you or manipulate you repeatedly... they are taking inappropriate advantage of you. They manipulate you to do things they should do themselves. If you find yourself feeling bad after an encounter with them, then you are dealing with a covert manipulator. If you find you feel used when dealing with them, or feeling bad about yourself, then trust your gut, for it is right!

I bought both books after researching on the net about a sibling who was being difficult to get along with & who kept making excuses & avoiding direct confrontation. They always seemed to have to look better than others & avoided responsibility for & trivializing the things they did wrong, while always pointing out & making a big deal out of the mistakes of others.

My wife & I were eventually avoiding them (as we couldn't take their tactics any more) and were surprised at what we read in these books, as it was like the writer knew this person (sibling) personally. Apparently we are not alone & there is a small segment of the population who are like this. We thought this "sibling" was just being a self-centered arrogant jerk... but discovered that their tactics & ways were a lot more deliberate & thought out than originally assumed. We also thought that perhaps they didn't realize their behavior was inappropriate & hurting people. Turned out we were wrong on both accounts.

You can learn to deal with these people by learning their tactics & what they do to gain advantage over you. You don't have to become a wolf yourself, in order to deal with them (although it might help to do so to a small degree if that were possible).

But you can learn to become less a victim as well as how to avoid letting their tactics succeed so easily. To do this, you have to stop acting like you are dealing with another "human being" (sheep). They are "covert manipulative people" (wolves), hiding their devious tactics from you in order to appear innocent while taking advantage of you, & you can't ever forget that fact. Never!

That alone will go a long way to helping you to protect yourself. While most of us don't want to turn into wolves ourselves, by at least realizing we are dealing with a wolf, we don't necessarily have to treat them like other sheep. They can't handle being treated like other sheep (like ourselves) anyway, as they will respond like the wolves they are. They have to!
They ARE wolves! And once you realize that fact (which we often have a difficult time accepting, especially the first time) you can begin the work of protecting yourself around them. (Although your ultimate goal will be to eventually sever your relationship with them, as it is the only way to not be seen as their potential victim.)
So once you accept that they are indeed "wolves", you need to realize that if you treat them like any other normal human being (sheep), it isn't their fault entirely if they use you (eat you) in response. A wolf is a wolf. Respect that fact.

Identifying these sort of people & accepting that they indeed are how your gut is telling you they really are, is half the battle. Dr. Simon helps with that aspect by giving you descriptive concepts of their behavior, along with what to expect from them. After that it is then up to you to figure out what you want to do about it & how to handle these people.
These books are a good start. Eventually however, it will then be up to you. As for us, we are biding out time, only as long as we have to. After that, we will again sever our relationship with them, only this time we will not give in to requests to try to relate with them again, for keeping the family. THEY are the ones who cannot relate normally, even though they claim & make it appear that they are the innocent ones & the victims.
I no longer ask "why" or "how", as it actually doesn't even matter. It took a long time to realize that they simply are not like normal human beings & that they do not live on the logic & understanding that the rest of us do. That alone was an extremely difficult thing to realize and accept. But indeed, it is only after doing that, that the real work can begin.

I highly recommend both books (In Sheep's Clothing first & primarily) & you have my sympathy if you (like us) find you need a book like these. But indeed if you do, these are the books to buy.
Good luck.
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on May 17, 2012
I've been through group training with future therapists and, when I bring up the issues of character disturbance, I am shocked that so many people seem completely ignorant of the matter. George K. Simon has done the world a huge favor by bringing much needed attention to this issue, as so many people in the helping profession are still using the traditional model of psychology, that everyone is basically hurting inside no matter how cruel they may be, when in fact the character disturbed aren't at all burdened by their antisocial conduct. In fact they're often the reason others are in so much emotional turmoil! How much suffering goes on because someone with a full range of emotions is led to believe that they are the reason they must suffer at the hands of a cruel person; because they haven't given enough, haven't loved them enough, haven't healed them yet, etc? A big thumbs up to George K. Simon for helping us take one more step out of the dark ages of "why can't we be friends" psychology. It's saved me from a lot of suffering.

I have only one gripe with the entire book, and it's so small it really does nothing to affect the 5 star rating I've given. That gripe is the fact that George advocates the use of the label predatory-aggressive for psychopaths. I personally think that, until everyone's on the same page, muddying the terminology will only continue the confusion people have over what a psychopath really is. I do believe that he is fundamentally correct that predatory-aggressive is much more explanatory but, in our current situation I think we need to all be using the same terms to address these "people."
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on June 9, 2012
The book "Character Disturbance: the phenomenon of our age" by George K. Simon Ph.D. is one I would recommend to a lot of people. Especially, those people interested in persuasion, influence and how the mind works.

The book Character Disturbance is a psychologists description of how the most manipulative people in the world think and operate. Believe me, it is not a pleasant experience for those who live with them.

Those people who are "character disturbed" will use guilt, blame, lies, coercion and fear with very little hesitation to get what they want. It's important to understand that us normal neurotics can seldom correct their behavior.

Why? Because it works.

The author clarifies that Disturbed Characters cannot be dealt with using traditional counseling methods because traditional methods focus on how to cope with negative emotions like guilt, shame, anxiety and fear and these emotions are typically not felt by Disturbed Characters!

For the Disturbed Character "doing the right thing" simply means giving them what they want regardless of the sacrifice it causes you.

Does this sound like anyone you know?

Dr. Simon draws a clear distinction between us normal "neurotics", who are susceptible to negative emotions and the Disturbed Character, who is not. This dynamic will make the average neurotic seem like a tasty meal for the Disturbed Character. Once they've sucked the life from the neurotic, taken their money, affection and emotional stability they move on to the find someone else to devour.

How do you deal with these people? Avoiding them is the best advice but that is harder than one might think. Their Character Disturbance will only reveal itself once you are seduced and entwined within their icy grip.

There are ways to deal with these people . One of my favorite examples in the book is how the psychologist deals with the relationship between a manipulative son (the Disturbed Character) and mother (a severe neurotic). It has to read to be appreciated.

The book provided me a with lots of opportunity to self-reflect so that I might measure just where I might be on the neurotic/Disturbed spectrum. It also reveal some great ways to deal with some situations that I occasionally experience with people.

Dantalion Jones
Author of LOTS of book on Mind Control
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on January 30, 2012
This is a great book bringing in different characterstics of nuerotic personality and pathological personality. Though author tried to avoid the words pathological or psychopathy, he was right on how these people work and use others weaknesses. I was impressed by his case studies how he deals with character disturbed people.I liked how he puts limits to these people and waits until they are ready to volunteer for the change. As usual easy to read , direct to the point and with nice examples/
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on October 17, 2011
In working with juvenile offenders for close to 20 years I would highly recommend this book. It is very insightful not only in working with juveniles or offenders, but the entitled co-worker or family member. It is a must read!
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on February 28, 2012
This book is very helpful to the layperson. Easy to read and understand.I was looking for some insight into how my son thinks and moves through the world. For years we have been dealing with his recklessness, drug addiction and interactions with the legal system. While waiting to go into court most recently he asked me if I thought he was crazy. It was the proverbial lightbulb moment.

And so I started to read. This book gave me hope. My son is probably is character disturbed, but he can aknowledge this and begin to minnimize its impact in his life if he wants to. Most books that deal with the subject(s)of Antisocial Personality Disorder, Psychopathy or Character Disturbance leave you feeling pretty hopeless. This is the only book I have read that A) gave me hope and B)didn't make me feel like I spawned a monster.
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