I came across this post today on PsychForums. It’s by a woman who’s the moderator of a site for victims of abuse (she does not specify which site). She talks about how she is triggered and angered by forum members who she perceive as “better” in some way–smarter, prettier, richer, what have you–and then proceeds to play head games with them, make it difficult for them to log in or even bans them, without ever giving a reason. This poster admits getting pleasure from making the forum members suffer and thinks it’s a fun game. She admits her own life is a shambles and she is deeply miserable. The fact she posted this on a psychological forum indicates she is are aware this is a problem and knows it’s wrong, but she says on the forum she feels like “God” and doesn’t seem to want to stop playing so cruelly with the forum members.
I’ve read a number of blog posts and articles that discuss this problem, which is much more prevalent than you might think. It’s disturbing and scary. It’s hard enough for victims of narcissistic abuse to trust other people, and they come to blogs and forums to find a haven of like minded people who have been through the same shit they have and find support. But not everyone they meet in these online havens are who they say they are. Some may be psychopaths out looking for prey, and what better prey is there than the members of a website for victims of abuse?
Psychopaths and malignant narcissists are attracted to blogs and forums focusing on narcissism and abuse, because these are places where the “prey” is abundant. They can have a field day playing with the minds of vulnerable, hurt victims, especially if they are the admin or owner and have created a website for the abused. I’m not talking about someone like Sam Vaknin here–at least he’s upfront and honest about his narcissism, and he’s actually helped many victims of abuse (I still can’t quite figure out what his true motives are–they must be primarily self-serving, but his writings have helped many). Rather, I’m referring to website and blog owners who focus on narcissism and psychopathy but are malignant narcissists themselves, yet they pose as victims or sympathetic “gurus” who only want to help but do anything but.
Bloggers and forum admins, by nature, are probably at least a little narcissistic, but as long as it’s not used to hurt or manipulate or be used against members of the community, then it’s not a problem. But there do exist those who run sites for the abused who pretend to be caring survivors but are anything but. In fact, they hate and envy those who post on their sites.
How can you tell if a forum or blog owner is really a malignant narcissist–a wolf in sheep’s clothing? How do you know that when they talk about “their psychopath” or “their MN” that THEY are really the MN or psychopath and the “abuser” is the real victim?
Unfortunately, there’s no sure way to tell. Narcissists have very tender feelings. They are easily hurt and love to whine about how they’ve been “victimized” by other people who have had the guts to call them out, retaliate, or complain about their evil behavior. They fail to take into account that they had it coming and deserved the “abuse.” When you can hide behind the anonymity of the Internet, it’s all too easy for a narcissist to leave out pertinent facts–such as what THEY might have done to deserve the “abuse” they had coming to them. Their lies and half-truths about their victimization may seem very believable. They can make their victim sound like a raging psychopath should they choose to do so. It’s a form of online gaslighting and they are very good at it.
While there’s no foolproof way to tell, especially online, who’s a malignant narcissist posing as a victim and who’s a real victim, there are some red flags to look for.
1. Does the forum or site owner ban people easily, delete posts, or not approve posts? (I’m not talking about trolls or abusive posts here)
2. Is there a lot of infighting and antagonism between the members? If so, suspect an admin or a person with power on that site playing a “divide and conquer” game with the members to turn them against each other.
3. Is there a member who constantly complains about their victimization but never seems to do anything about it, does nothing but trash their abuser’s character, or never seems to get any better? You could be dealing with a narc posing as a victim.
4. Is there anyone who seems envious or resentful of another person’s recovery or improvement, or even just fails to acknowledge that person’s good fortune, or changes the subject?
5. Is there a self centered person who only talks about their own case, but never offers support or encouragement to other members? That person could be a narc.
6. If there is someone who is openly critical or judgmental of another person’s case or behavior, that person is almost certainly a narc.
7. Is the site owner uninvolved with the members and never seem to interact with them? If so, you may be dealing with someone who is looking to achieve Internet “fame” and really isn’t interested in the subject or its members.
Narcissism and psychopathy are hot topics these days, and blogs and websites about these disorders are almost guaranteed to get a lot of hits and views. Someone who wants to achieve Internet “fame” may start a blog or site about narcissism or psychopathy just because it’s popular and trendy, even though they don’t have much interest in the topic. These blog owners probably own other blogs and sites, and those sites will focus on other “hot topics.” But if the owner is really that detached or disinterested, the site will eventually lose members and fizzle out. It’s hard for members to stay involved, when the owner isn’t even interested.
Further reading (with my personal experience):