The Emotionally Dissociated Hero

As intuitives we’ve all come across people who seem completely dissociated from their emotional bodies.  To us, they feel jarring because on the outside they appear normal, happy, and even like they have it all, but on the inside, they look hollow and empty.   Underneath the emptiness they can be filled with unresolved grief, fear, anger and deep unworthiness. 

Sometimes intuitives can be pulled toward these people out of curiosity to see what’s causing the contradiction.  Our clear seeing will either frighten the dissociated person away because we aren’t buying their image, or attract the dissociated person right to us because it’s a relief to drop the persona.  Because intuitives operate from their hearts, and emotionally dissociated people are separated from their hearts, to us the emotionally dissociated person’s efforts at relationship can seem insincere and shallow even though everyone else is responding well to the dissociated person, and even though the emotionally dissociated person is doing or saying all the right things.   

If we’re in relationships with emotionally dissociated people it’s important to understand the affect they can have on our own energy system.  While intuitives will feel the affects the most, others who don’t consider themselves empathic will on some level, too.  On top of this, many beginning intuitives and spiritual seekers are also somewhat out of touch with their emotional body, mostly because we are in a culture that ignores our emotional responses, especially the negative ones.  Our society is competitive and goal driven, which can lead to many great strides in knowledge and technology, but it also tends to reinforce achievement oriented behavior.  Being achievement oriented can lead to being disconnected from our hearts and emotional bodies if we look outside ourselves to see if our achievements please others.  (See the essay, Giving Up Outside Approval—Achievement Oriented.)

The person who is dissociated or disconnected from his emotions literally needs someone to process emotional energy for him in order to function in everyday life.  The emotionally dissociated person tends to attract to him a few others who are extremely empathic and giving.  (See The Giving Persona)   The emotionally dissociated person and the empath make an unconscious energetic contract that can be extremely hard to break.  The empath processes the emotionally dissociated person’s unwanted emotional energy for him, usually in exchange for being loved and appreciated, or for being taken care of.   (This is usually unconscious, but sometimes unhealthy empaths make this choice consciously.)  Because our emotions act as our feedback system, signaling us when we are under stress or in danger, the emotionally disconnected person is able to engage in situations that would overwhelm most people.  Emotionally disconnected people need more and more stimulation to feel alive, and so tend to lead stressful daily lives.  Becoming workaholics or being in constant doing mode is very common.  Because their high energy impresses others, the producing and achieving continues.

For the empath in relationship with the emotionally dissociated person, (and most empaths are intuitives with unhealthy boundaries) she is processing her own emotions plus someone else’s who’s tolerance level for drama and stress is much higher than her own.  When the empath calls the dissociated person on his behavior or lifestyle, the dissociated person will truthfully claim his life isn’t dramatic or stressful because he’s successfully shifted the energy onto the empath.  Because the energy is not hers, it is difficult to process.  Ironically, as she takes on more and more of the dissociated person’s emotional energy, the dissociated person will like her less and less, blaming the empath for her sensitivity, which he needs.   However, since the empath is liked and loved by others, the emotionally dissociated person knows subconsciously that the empath is carrying him in their
presentation to the outside world as a couple.  The emotionally dissociated person will hang on to the relationship until all closeness and respect for the empath has vanished, or until it becomes apparent that the support of the empath can no longer help him on his achievement-oriented life goals.

What is ironic is that these people are naturally intuitive, but they are using their intuition to monitor others’ responses to them to make sure they are making a good impression.  If they aren’t getting the response they want, they will literally do anything to change that, sometimes resorting to outright deceitfulness.  If they cannot change others’ minds about them, they will shift into denial that the situation exists at all.  For the intuitive, who has had to work hard at building a strong inner core based on integrity, the dissociated person appears to have no ethics and no inner core at all.  In fact, the dissociated person has substituted outside approval for his inaccessible inner core.  Also, if the beginning intuitive hints that the emotionally dissociated person is lacking his inner core, the dissociated person’s feelings will likely turn to disrespect and even hatred.  This is because emotionally dissociated people can not stand to be considered bad or lacking in any way.  It brings them too close to their hidden fears of unworthiness.

It is very common for the relationships of the emotionally disconnected person to be extensions of him and so also models of success, too. For the empath in relationship with the dissociated person, she is seen not for who she is, but for what role she plays.   The most common adjustment I have seen beginning intuitives make is changing their relationships to honor their emotional health.  They usually have a few relationships with dissociated people to rebalance.  As they strengthen their boundaries, they will hear the most objections from the most dissociated people in their lives.  For the dissociated person, they no longer have a recipient for their unwanted energy, but if they actually look at their emotions, they will be overwhelmed by them.  The beginning intuitive’s new boundaries can be seen as unnecessary and unreasonable at best or as abandonment and betrayal at worst.

When the intuitive confronts the dissociated person, the dissociated person is literally unable to respond in a way that the intuitive needs.  Usually the dissociated person will reject the intuitive’s point of view as ridiculous and completely out of reality.  What’s really happening is that the dissociated person is out of reality in a very profound way.  By being disconnected from their inner selves, they cannot properly interpret the emotional signals from others.  And because they’ve chosen a persona that most of their outside world applauds, they can discount the feedback of the closest people to them when they don’t like what their spouses and close friends have to say.  So, both the internal world and the external world offer no genuine feedback for the emotionally disconnected person.

Even if they are not conscious of their emotions, theemotionally dissociated person is still experiencing anger and disappointment, but it’s slowly accumulating to a critical mass.  Eventually their souls will lead them into dramatic or even risky behavior in an attempt to wake them up.  This moment of personal crisis, (sometimes mid-life crisis) while messy and painful for everyone around them, can lead to major transformative healing.  Emotionally dissociated people, when forced into their inner selves by losing the career, relationships, and image with which they identify, confront the deep unworthiness and self hatred that led them into taking on a persona in the first place.  This is actually the best thing that can happen to them.  They begin to see outside themselves clearly and understand the effect their actions have on the others around them.  They feel true remorse and regret and realize they are not their persona.  Finally, they are in touch with their hearts and do not take others for granted.  They are still highly motivated individuals, but now the achievement oriented behavior is for self improvement and joy.

For the beginning intuitive dealing with her own emotional dissociation, it is essential to come back into deep relationship with the heart.  For the beginning intuitive in relationship with dissociated people, it’s essential to strengthen boundaries so emotional energy is not being passed to her.  Move out of the way as gently as possible and let the emotionally dissociated person awaken on his own.  (See the essay, Forgiveness: Setting Boundaries for how one of my client’s dealt with an emotionally dissociated relative.)  Do not try and explain what is “wrong” with the dissociated person; the only way for them to be able to know it is to experience it on their own.  Usually that takes a crisis of a magnitude that intuitives would normally avoid.  It is essential for beginning intuitives to take care of their emotional and psychic health and put enough distance between themselves and these old relationships.

Want to know more?  See 3’s and 3 wings in Riso and Hudson’s Personality Types

If you found this essay helpful, and you identified with being the Empath in this situation, you may want to read more in my ebook for sale in the shop called Motivations of the Empath.  If you would like to know more about the Empath Hero interaction and what creates a Hero read the ebook called The Empath and the Hero-Fan Family System.

Questions from Readers:

Click here for a question on revealing this information to the Hero

Click here for a question on when to leave the Hero/Empath marriage

 Click here for a question on how to manage the heavy emotional energy when the Hero does his healing work

If you found this essay helpful, and would like to know when new essays are published on the site, please sign up for my blog.  Please contact me if you have more specific questions   Thank you!

15 Responses to The Emotionally Dissociated Hero

  1. Pingback: Fearlessness: If you had no fear, what would you do? - Quora

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  4. anna says:

    What you have written here sounds like it could explain the behaviour of my spiritual teacher. I worked with him for many many years. Then somethings happened based on his guidance and I started to question him in our sessions. This teacher had told me for over a year that I needed to stay in a relationship with an extreme Narcissist as it was the only way I’d learn how to love myself. Everytime I brought up the toxicity and abuse from this relationship my teacher would admonish me that I’d finally found someone who really loved me and I was just trying to sabotage it by misperceiving. Finally I broke up with the N on my own. Then I relentlessly questioned my teacher’s guidance. At this point my teacher refused to see me anymore. It was devastating. I had bonded and invested deep trust in this man. It’s been a year and I finally just called him. His response to my question “why did you refuse to work with me anymore?” his response was “how could I work with you when it wasn’t you showing up in the sessions” So I did some research on his spiritual beliefs which stem from the church universal triumphant and realized to my horror that this man, rather than walk the walk of what he teaches and admit his human fallibility has convinced himself and the other members of our group classes that I am a reincarnation of some fallen angel. When I realized this I started to feel better because I KNOW I am one of the most loving and genuinely caring people in this world. I am a highly sensitive empath and truthseeker who has made some poor choices to manage that sensitivity in this unfit world. However, there is still a part of me that is in deep conflict and despair – this man sounds SO convincing even today on his class recordings. He has many people under his thumb including friends of mine who will now have nothing to do with me since I’ve gone against him. The other spiritual teacher I worked with knows him and worked with him extensively. I do not experience her as abusive at all. She has high integrity and never has told me what to do or who to be in relationship with – she has never taken my sovereignty. However she does not see through him at all. I feel like the little boy raped by the priest and no one believes him and he’s made to feel crazy and as if it’s his fault. This is the best description of how it feels. How can you help an empath who has experienced such immense spiritual abuse? Our sense of spirituality and beauty and nature is usually our sanctuary. Mine feels like it’s been broken.

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Anna,

      I’m so sorry you are living through such a painful betrayal by your teacher, and that you are experiencing being ostracized by your group. You should congratulate yourself that you were able to get out of a bad relationship despite your teachers bad advice, and that you were strong enough to question his advice. That sort of strength will serve you well in your healing. It is so easy for Empaths, who are looking for a safe group, to give themselves fully over to a group or to a teacher. One of the hardest things we must learn is to be safe in our own skins without the group.

      I don’t know if you have read my books yet, but you might want to take a look at Motivations of the Empath. One of the things I talk about that is common to many Empaths is that we are looking for a safe group, but what we are really looking for is the ideal family and parenting that we didn’t get in our original homes. We project that need onto our new communities, which makes us easy targets for unscrupulous gurus.

      For us the true healing comes in knowing that we have wounds stemming from our original families that influence our relationships with groups and teachers/leaders in the present. If we address those we tend to not to give our authority over to gurus. Instead we seek out teachers who help us stay in our own authority as we learn what they have to teach while keeping them off pedestals and allowing them their humanity. We also can spot teachers/gurus who have been caught up in the guru persona and either take the lesson they have to teach without becoming glamoured, or avoid them all together.

      Stick to your truth and your inner knowing, Anna! You are on the right track.

      much love to you,

    • 7soulopen7 says:


      What are some of the tell tale signs to identify the narcissist who is on a spiritual path? I could really use your help. Any signs you can list? Also any cues in your meditations / how you saw them as “light beings”? Examples of how their soul appears to you in meditation or just upfront 3D signs?

      Thank you so much!

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  6. Rainbownomad says:

    Dear Elaine

    Thank you for all your insights and postings on the net…It seems for the last couple of years it was about my relation dynamic you wrote about 🙂
    It is so much rewarding. And my plea to God for being able to forgive the man I love so much, while being stuck in his narcissistic personality and destruction towards himself and loved ones is finally answered. I could not understand what drove a person, whom I felt wanted to be so different than from his personality to be so selfish and destructive. We have had so many conversations with the part disassociated from himself, and I couldn’t understand how he wasn’t able to ground our relationship. I have lost so much energy and self love over a period of 8 years, but gained a treasure of wisdom in its place… I know my own illness and weakness too now 🙂 The more narcissistic he became, the more empathic I became… I knew that I was some kind of a prisoner, until I learned the lesson, so in the end all my efforts where focussed on learning my part and reason of being in the relation. This way I was able to break loose, and with the help of family and friends who kept me into reality. My son was witnessing the whole process and as he wasn’t in the contract he was reacting all the time on my friends feelings of unworthiness, pushing him more down, by triggering him. Of course my son is a child, who wants to have his world peaceful with a mum who is happy, so he was in his way defending me and pushing my friend out. And that was a life safer. Time after time I gave my soul mate (that’s what I believed him to be, because of his being able to copy me) a chance to prove that he had good intentions and to do better… His personality was narcissistic with drugs/gambling/alcohol abuse, but very much workaholic and lack of sexuality. He was a compulsive ‘taker’… and it became worse and worse the longer we were together. As you write about… Somehow deep down he knew he was acting wrong and always wanting another person in his life for him to be able to exist. And as you write he projected all his negativity on me, so he could feel better about himself. As I too am suffering from the same wound, only handling different and becoming a ‘giving’ personality, I swallowed this all, and that triggered my unworthiness, in megaforce…. How many times I felt guilty after a fight where I stood up for myself, and he cursing me doing this to ‘him’… And how many times I felt so bad, that i had become a monster (I tend to shout when I am angry, and I know that isn’t loving and respecting either), and felt I had hurt him back, which I wanted to avoid…. But something within me stayed on the alert, and we were testing each other all the time… And more and more I became confused, cause I couldn’t put my finger on it, that why is it that I can’t say ‘yes’ to this relationship being in it….And now I know… I have been confirmed in my intuition, in the love of my heart, and knowing this will make it easier on me to move on. Somehow I felt responsible for him, cause he acted as if he needs me so much.
    Thank you Very much, dear Heart, love and blessings, Rainbow <3

    • Elaine says:

      Hi Rainbow,
      Thank you for sharing your story! I’m so glad you are moving on from the relationship. These kinds of relationships can be so confusing. Give yourself a break for falling into the Drama Triangle. It is something everyone does. The practice is to stay conscious. Whenever you find yourself trying to help someone that is blaming you, that is the Rescuer Role, and it is always a dead end. It will lead to Bullying, it will lead to you feeling Victimized. But good for you in having that part of you that stayed alert and led you out of this relationship! Stay strong!
      sending love and hugs,

  7. Mark says:

    This sounds exactly like a relationship with a narcissist. However, narcissist are incurable. I enjoyed the read.

  8. Elaine says:

    Hi Mark,

    You may enjoy my blog post on the Empath and the Narcissist. The dissociated Hero if severely wounded usually is a narcissist. While anyone can heal and get better, for dissociated heroes it can be a long and hard road because they are so defended from feeling any negative feelings about themselves. It’s important for friends and partners of dissociated heroes to be realistic about the hero’s healing path, especially if they decide to stay in a relationship with a hero who says he/she is committed to healing.

    thanks so much for your interest,

  9. J says:

    I appreciate this article a lot as it seems to describe many of my relationships, but I feel like it also demonizes the dissociated hero. That’s ok because I understand the damage it seems to cause, but how can a dissociated hero get in touch with their heart / inner self / intuition? My life is imploding and I don’t want to be this way (if the identification is accurate)! Thank you.

    • Elaine says:

      Hi J,

      That is wonderful that you would like to change yourself! That is always the first step to healing. Dissociated Heroes have such a hard time changing because to heal, they have to go through a lot of old core pain. You must remember that becoming dissociated is a defense–it is there for good reason. So, treat yourself gently as you move forward. If you haven’t already, start working with a therapist. Then consider going to a good shaman who can help move some of the old wounding out in such a way that you do not have to reexperience the wounding. You have to heal the broken heart first. (You can read about this type of healing under EnergyWork on this site.)

      As you move forward consider dropping some of your mask and becoming less identified with the image that you present to everyone. You are worthy and lovable simply because you exist–not because you’ve accomplished some goal or achieved some triumph. Move the focus away from protecting your image and look at other people’s needs and wants based on what they tell you, not on what you think they should say. If you aren’t sure you are a Dissociated Hero, I did a family case study of them in my fifth book, The Empath and the Fan-Hero family system. You can download my first book for free on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Nook. If that book is helpful, you may like the others. Read them in order so that the last book will make sense.

      Wishing you all the best in your journey! Remember, the fact that you want to change is the very first step–you are taking the reactions of people around you seriously and not making them the problem–that means you aren’t as defended as many dissociated Heroes typical can be.

      much love,

  10. Sarah H. says:

    Wow..this is so incredibly on point I almost couldn’t believe what I was reading! I had no idea that there was a rhyme or reason for the crazy cycle of drama, hurt, resentment and victimization I was experiencing in my relationship. Like many people on here, I thought that if I just gave a little bit more, my partner would be inspired to change by my own selflessness, but this was just a bottomless, draining pit with no payoff.

    The point about mimicking also explains why, after each break-up or fight, I truly felt I had gotten through to my partner and that he understood what he had done and the impact of it – and that we would never have the same issue arise again (which it inevitably did in some form a week or so later).

    Thank you so much for sharing this wisdom and knowledge, it has truly given me a new perspective on my relationship and why I cannot afford to give any more of myself away.

  11. Jasmine- Spiritual Seeker says:

    Elaine, We connect!

    Thank you for posting this article. While reading your articles it has really gotten me I tune with my own emotional disconnection and the person I’ve been dealing with emotional disconnection as well. I’m here to say that, my gut instincts are TRUE and were RIGHT the whole time I was anylizing my situation with the disconnected person! Now I know what I need to do! And that is too believe the reality and follow my gut instincts, b/c it knew the whole time what was going to happen! That you so much for proving me right!

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