Is Your Parent or Partner Emotionally Impaired?

If a person has a diminished ability to engage in healthy relationship interactions, s/he may have some emotional impairment. Find out.

Emotionally Impaired? There’s no breathalyzer for that! So, how do you know some is?

Every now and then, each one of us may be a little incapacitated by life events. There can be temporary emotional impairment.

Where the real problems come is when a person is often emotionally impaired, or more difficult, usually emotionally impaired!

You cannot have the three hallmarks I suggest every healthy relationship with the possibility of being emotionally mature and emotionally intimate must have:

Equality. Reciprocity. Mutuality.

It’s essential to creating healthy relationships that each person examine their own behavior first. It’s wise to be aware of our own issues.

If you find yourself have the same interactions with your partner or parent, or the same complaints about him or her, today’s episode may help you identify what is going on and what might be causing the problems. Perhaps, s/he is emotionally impaired.


Answers to…

  • What is emotional impairment?
  • How do you recognize someone is emotionally impaired?
  • How would I know if I am emotionally impaired?
  • What is the impact of being with an emotionally impaired person?
  • Why is this important to recognize?


Machine Transcript – apologies in advance for some typos!


Hi, is it possible that there is a problem in your relationship that is caused by one of you being, what I call, emotionally impaired? That means something has happened. A skill has not been learned. An event has happened that’s made you maybe shy or lacking in the ability to communicate something has happened that has shut you down or cut you down. And therefore at this moment in time, you are behaving as though you are emotionally impaired or your partner is, or your parent is, or your sibling is, or your boss or something. It’s something so important to understand. So that’s today’s episode. Listen in.

Welcome to save your sanity, help for handling high jackals, those difficult, toxic, and often disturbing people in your life. I’m Dr. Roberta Shaler, their relationship help Doctor, and I’m here for you. You’ll get the insights, skills, strategies and support to stop tolerating verbal and emotional abuse. Whether it’s happening now or happened to you in the past, maybe by a parent partner, ex, relative or even a coworker. Time to take life back, to recover and to rediscover you, your values, dreams, desires, and realize them in healthy ways, in healthy relationships.

I’m so glad you’re here.

Hello. Today we’re going to talk about something that most people don’t talk about when they’re talking about adults. It’s very common to talk about emotional impairment in children, particularly young children, while they’re still formulating, while we’re looking at things rather than diagnosing them, but it really is something that we need to understand also happens in adults because it happened in childhood. It can happen that that continues into adulthood or it can be that something happened that impaired somewhat emotionally. Maybe they had a very, very terrible relationship or a trauma or they were heartbroken or betrayed. Something happened and it may have made them what I call emotionally impaired, so I want to talk about it because it’s part of this rethink that we have to look at when we’re looking at hijackal behavior, in my opinion.

I’ve said it before and I will say it again. For those who haven’t heard an episode before, I felt it was time that we had a word that described patterns, traits and cycles of people as opposed words that insinuate a diagnosis and clarify a diagnosis. So thus, I came up with Hijackals®. You’re not going to find these people diagnosed and it’s not up to you to diagnose them unless you are a psychologist or psychiatrist or someone with the credentials to do it. So I found that so many people were running off to the internet and they were saying, my partner does this, or my parent does this, or my boss does this and they forgot that the internet is an index. It’s not a mental health professional. So when it started bringing back psychological diagnoses, then people thought, ah, that’s what’s going on but don’t risk it. There’s no need to do that.

All you need to know and what you have to engage with and make decisions about are the patterns, traits and cycles of these people in their behavior with you and with other humans. So use the term high jackals and how I define that as high jackals are people who hijack relationships for their own purposes. And then relentlessly scavenged them for power, status and control. Now I’ve done other episodes on coercive control and arm people who are empathy deficient, but I wanted to do this third pillar that we need to consider when we’re looking at people with whom we have grave difficulties, ongoing difficulties, frequent difficulties, far too frequent difficulties. So when we talk about, as I said, emotional impairment avian, if you look it up online, you’re going to find so much about students and learners and things like that and we tend to observe these behaviors in children.

We try to do some interventions, but we don’t tend to diagnose them until adolescent or adulthood. And these are not necessarily diagnosable traits in adults either. But as I said, it’s high Jackal behavior. We don’t need a diagnosis. We need to know what we’re on the receiving end, what we’re engaging in, what the relationship given take is. So let’s just start by looking at the definition of those words. Emotion according to Merriam Webster is a conscious mental reaction, subjectively experienced as a strong feeling. So we see something, we perceive something, we think something and then it produces a feeling. And then impaired. It means being in an imperfect or weaken state or condition such as diminished and function or ability. So there are people that are, who are emotionally impaired and these people are many times, uh, choosing how they behave. But as I’ve said in other episodes, and you need to listen to many in order to understand this fully, because I can’t say everything in one obviously, but there are people who are high jackals who are actively choosing to behave in ways that are divisible, demeaning, degrading, isolating, intimidating, all of those things.

And we know that they’re doing them. You know, one of the episodes that you want to listen to our high Jericho’s nasty on purpose. Well, the answer is yes in the sense that they can be nasty at home and really charming in M manipulative and seductive in the workplace or at church or in the community. So they know where to choose, what they can get away with or hope they can get away with or they know how to choose appropriate behaviors. They know how to mimic appropriate behaviors. Many of them can even mimic empathy when required. So there’s a whole lot here, but I’m breaking this down just to talk about some things that may not add up to being a hijack goal, but there are signs of being emotionally impaired. So because I’ve already done an episode on high jackals being empathy deficient, clearly empathy deficient and high Jekyll’s go together, but emotionally impaired, maybe yes, maybe no.

So let’s just think about a few of these things together. Certainly if their empathy deficient, we know that they fall into the high category but you know some people are tremendously competitive as though their life actually depends on their winning. Now, yes, high need to win in all situations, but there are some other perfectly healthy people who have to be super competitive and in that way there’s an emotional impairment. There’s a weakened state that I am not okay unless I am the winner and I have to compete with you. I’m just going to give you lots of examples today just to stimulate your thinking. Now maybe a person who’s closed off who for some reason is shut down and they won’t look at what they feel. They go into denial. There’s an example of an emotional impairment. They’re not fully having a look at all that is present in their life. And yes, there are some times when we do that because just too painful to feel. But over time you let those feelings out and you examine them and you deal with them. But if you shut them off and you shut them down all the time, it will lead to emotional impairment.

Maybe somebody absolutely will not be vulnerable. They don’t feel safe in any way to be vulnerable and that causes them not to be able to enter into an emotionally intimate relationship. It prevents that emotional intimacy that you want. And in that way, they can be said to be emotionally impaired. Now, how about the folks who don’t communicate?

The honestly believe that somehow everyone is a mind reader and sometimes they even expect you to figure out whether thinking but they don’t communicate. They won’t communicate, they won’t enter into it. It’s almost as though they’re afraid to say what they need or want. They’re afraid to hear what you need or want. Now, if they’re totally not interested in you, that’s empathy deficient. But if they’re just kind of afraid to actually communicate, afraid you won’t like them, afraid, you’ll be angry more. That’s something you have to look at. If people are afraid that you’ll get angry, but within someone, if they’re afraid to say what they think or they’re afraid to ask for what they need or want, and you notice that that may be a sign of an emotional impairment, or how about the person who’s super sensitive, they have a feeling that everything that’s said is a personal attack or a person who takes everything the wrong way or someone that you barely saved something to and yet they’re so afraid. They’re so super sensitive that they’re almost in tears. And you may just be talking about the weather port. That’s a form of emotional impairment.

Now, this whole thing about the silent treatment, I’ve done an episode about it. The silent treatment is a power trip.

Now, sometimes people fall silent because they know that they don’t know what to say. They know that nothing they say will be okay. So sometimes people don’t risk communicating because their experience of the relationship is that it go well, but on the other hand, hijack goes love the silent treatment because they think it means they have power over you and that you will in fact end up begging them to talk to you or you’ll end up apologizing for things you didn’t do just in order to stop the silent treatment. But that whole silent treatment businesses very suspect, it’s something that really has to be looked at in depth. It has very little good to it now. Yes, occasionally in my on my membership site, if you need more information about this year, certainly welcome to go to transforming and click on circles. Those are my membership levels, but in the membership site, people will ask questions about this whole silent treatment business and we talk about it from both sides.

Very important. Very important to realize that this tool of falling silent. Sometimes if you’re with a high Jackal and they fall silent to try and give you some a feeling of you’re not worth talking to or I’m just going to shut you out and show you how unimportant you are. I have an end up telling members and people in my groups that take it as a holiday rejoiced. If they’re not talking to at least they’re not putting you down or wearing you down or tearing you down. Just take it as a hu, a breathing space, but we’re not just talking about high was here and for people who are emotionally impaired and are little bit afraid of communicating, they may do use the silent treatment and it may be their fear of communication. It may be their fear. Maybe from some other relationship they learned that they can’t say what they need and want or ask for what they need and want and so they fall silent and they hope you’ll figure it out.

But you have to think about it because there are various sides to the silent treatment or to the falling silent behavior. Very important because it can signal emotional impairment. Now on the other side, emotional impairment is being very, very quick to get angry. You know, if you are one of those people who takes everything very personally, you may be very passive and be very hurt or you may be very angry and you may get angry very quickly and people get angry very quickly or always showing us a sign of emotional impairment because they go to anger because their feelings take over their sides. And so rationality has very little to do with it. And that can be a form of, uh, being in, uh, an imperfect or weakened state or condition such as diminished in function or ability, which is the definition of impairment.

So maybe immaturity is at play emotionally immature people are in fact emotionally impaired because they are using their emotional state as a fallback position instead of learning how to move into a cognitive state and figure something out, or having conversations about things or being able to use logic and find it to be rational. And so they can be very immature. They can be very, um, stunted in their growth. You know, I’ve often said, and you’ll hear that on other episodes that many high jackals are really emotionally stuck somewhere between three and seven years old when things don’t go their way because they immediately go into a rage like a temper tantrum. And that definitely is a sign of emotional impairment. But people who have anger as their first go to sort of shut you down so that you won’t keep talking to them or you won’t ask them for something or you won’t explain why you’re in pain.

That’s definite definitely emotional impairment. And then of course this whole desire to control other humans that’s emotionally impaired, but that that falls more and more when it becomes consistent in a way of being in the world that falls directly into the hijack whole world. So there are a lot of pieces here that may or may not be hijacked called material in terms of being able to say, this person behaves like a hijack, but you can have one of them or two of them. And that could be simply emotional impairment in those places. And that’s important to know. You know, it’s like I’ve said, often all passive aggressive people are not high jackals, but all high jackals are passive aggressive. So it can be a component of the Hijacker makeup or it can be a feature of a person who has one of those traits, but not enough to call them a Hijacker. Now it’s important to understand these distinctions [inaudible] many times people say to me, well, what’s the difference between a difficult person and a Hijacker? And my answer is this a difficult person? You and I could be somebody whose idea of a difficult person on a bad day, on an offhanded moment for sure. I’m sure I am. And it’s rare. It doesn’t happen very frequently. You can usually pinpoint it to some major event or something or being scared or being unwell or something and then it’s gone.


a relentlessly difficult toxic person, which is my description of a hijack call is a person who behaves that we too much of the time.


And when that’s happening, that’s a whole different thing then. An occasional emotional impairment that may be caused by a temporary condition or may happen once or twice in your life or only happens occasionally when the person is super stressed or unwell. So these were important things for me to bring to you today because it is, it is a set of components. It doesn’t mean that person is a hijack call, but it means that they have some components that show up that demonstrate emotional impairment. And if the person is not a high Jekyll and they, these things come to their attention and they are self-reflective and willing to look at it, then they will know that, Oh, I like to fix that. How do I fix that? They’ll come to me and they’ll say, my partner says I do this all the time and I don’t want to be doing that all the time.

What do I do? And you know you can be my client too. I offer an initial one hour session for only $97 and you go to be a be a but they’ll ask, you know what? What do I do to begin to change and I’ll ask them, do you want sustain change? Do you really not want this in your behavior repertoire anymore? No. Say no, I don’t. Is hurting my partner. While I know for sure at that moment the person is very, well, I shouldn’t say for sure, but it would seem at that moment that the person is unlikely to be a Hijacker because they recognize the change. They want sustained change and they want it because it hurts somebody else. Which demonstrates empathy now. Yes, hi. Jackals was say that at the beginning may how many hijack calls have said, I’ll go to therapy, I’ll do anything at all.

Just don’t leave me. They go to therapy and the here’s something to change and they change it for a hot minute and the partner thinks, Oh, maybe this is good. And then of course in when that hot minute is over, so is the behavior change. But then there are many, many people who when they’re doing something and they don’t realize they’re doing it or they don’t realize that their past hurts or pains or experiences have caused them to do something that is annoying or it is detrimental to the relationship and they go, Oh no, I don’t want to be doing that. Now we can change that. It’s willingness that is required. Everyone has the ability, but it is the willingness that makes all the difference. So I hope this is helping you. You know, as I’ve said, there’s help for you and my membership site. Go to transforming and click on the circles button.

There is three different levels of membership there. If you want to talk to me about whatever’s going on for you and you want to know if we’re a good fit or if something can be resolved, use that initial one hour full session. Be our if you think you’re with a high Jackal, you know, download my free ebook, how to spot a hijack call, go to high and that’s easy to spell. You spell hijack a L so there are a lot of resources for you. But as I’m putting together this, this whole new concept of the ingredients of high jackals and what is and what’s not high Jackal, you know, and there are many episodes already that help you understand that, but I just wanted to put this piece in because it, I haven’t talked about it before and it’s important to know if your partner or a parent or a sibling or a coworker or a boss or whomever it is in your life or community or church, if they are a high Jekyll or if they simply have some level of emotional impairment that is not detrimental all the time.

And that’s really important. So I hope this has helped you have a look. And you know, I’m always, every Monday evening at 6:00 PM Pacific time, I do my live stream event. You’re welcome to join in. When you join in, you can engage in the chat, talk about the topic and ask your questions. So go to my YouTube channel for relationship help for relationship, H E L P and subscribe and hit the little button and you will get a notification when I’m live. And also when I add a video, so a ton of stuff for you. I really want to help you see these distinctions and I want to help you have a very healthy interactive life with other humans and within yourself and understanding what emotional impairment is. Maybe you’re reflecting on yourself with today’s episode. Maybe you’re saying, Oh, that’s what’s up for me. Those things happen. Well, let’s talk be a client. Talk calm. That would be very wise of you if you saw it. You know what? If you’re afraid to speak up and so other people accuse you of the silent treatment, but that’s not really what you’re doing. You’re really afraid to speak up less. Let us handle that. Let’s take care of that. Let’s find out why that is and let’s change that.

I want to help you. I’m here to help you and I’m doing everything I can to make sure you have all the information you can get. You can listen to my other podcast, transforming relationship with emotional savvy to go to transforming relationship with emotional savvy wherever you like to get podcast or go to emotional and listen to it there. I hope you treat yourself extremely well because you matter and I hope you treat yourself as though you do. I look forward to talking with you again really soon.

I’m so glad you spent this time with me today. I hope you heard something that touched your heart and empowered you to move forward. You can have the life and relationships that you most want and that begins with you within you today. I’m always here for you. Life can get better and you heard that from me. The relationship help doctor. I’m a British shader and I work with clients throughout the world through video conferencing. We can talk, so learn more here on my website, or visit me on YouTube at for relationship help. Join me for next week’s show.


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