Family problems.

whenyoufeel

I thought I’d return from Florida well rested and ready to tackle real life again.   I did have a wonderful, relaxing time and got to spend a good bit of it with my son, unlike other trips there, when he had to work most of the time.

Since returning, my daughter and her husband seem to be coming after me for blood.   I’m too emotionally distraught right now to even go into much detail about what happened, but in a nutshell, she is gaslighting me and lying about things I did/said, making me out to be a terrible, selfish person who doesn’t give a shit about anyone but myself and prefers my son over her.

This started well before I left for my trip.   I pushed it on the back burner, but her behavior lately has been bothering me.  It reminds me very much of her father’s abusive behavior before I finally had enough and made him leave the house five years ago.     She has been calling me terrible names, saying I said things or did things I never said  or did, and calling me narcissistic and “clinically insane.”    She thinks I’m crazy because I sometimes am critical of her or tell her I don’t like the names she is calling me.   In other words, reacting like a normal person does when attacked.   She’s gaslighting me.   I told her to stop, for whatever good that does.  She insists it’s not gaslighting.  Instead she flips it around and accuses me of gaslighting her.

It seems she is projecting onto me, and became a narcissist or some facsimile of one when I was not looking.  Her husband, who seemed sweet to me at first, has become quite cold toward me.   I think she has turned him against me.

We share a crowded house, and I don’t earn enough to pay all the bills on my own (and am too old to take a second job, nor should I have to take a second job!) but she angrily attacked me this morning for “being a bitch” to her,  and said she would no longer pay any rent to me because of that.

She says she needs to save money to move out.   That would be perfectly reasonable under other circumstances.   It would be fine if I earned enough that I could afford  to give them a break so they could save money, but I don’t and she knows it.  I could be renting out her room instead and she knows that too.   I also doubt she will actually save money and move, since she has never been able to save money before and can’t seem to hold onto a job.

Her brother wants to mediate (he’s good at mediating) but there’s no way for that to happen since then she would know I told him everything, and she is predisposed to not cooperate since she’s jealous of the more positive attention she thinks he gets from me.  They have become distant from each other partly because of geographic distance, but also because she thinks he judges her harshly (he doesn’t, but is reasonably critical and she can’t seem to deal with criticism).

I’m not sure what to do.  My daughter went out in a huff after flinging a litany of insults at me, and is currently (most likely) over at her father’s house (where I’m pretty sure they are all sitting around badmouthing me and talking about what a crazy, narcissistic person I am).   And yes, I do realize how narcissistic and paranoid I sound, but I’m absolutely sure that’s what is going on.   I feel like I’m reliving the nightmare I went through before I finally worked up the courage to go no contact with her father.    He freeloaded off of me too and told everyone I was the crazy one when I objected to his crazymaking antics and exploitation of my good will.

Now she is accusing me of “playing the victim.”   It appears that gaslighting comes naturally to her.  She must have been paying attention when I talked to her all those times about narcissism and narcissistic abuse, because now she not only knows all the terms and phrases, she has weaponized them, using them against me.

When did my daughter become her father?   I never thought she would become a gaslighting abuser or a narcissist because she always seemed like a high empathy person to me.  It’s like I turned around and instead of seeing her standing there, it’s her father all over again.

Until recently, and since her father left the house (at my insistence) in 2014, my daughter and I  have gotten along great.  I’m not sure when things started to go downhill or even who changed.  Was it her or was it me?  I feel like it was her.   But I just don’t really know.   It seems like it started to happen around the time of her marriage in January.  But her husband doesn’t seem like a narcissist to me, just a quiet guy.  But since he doesn’t talk a lot, I have no idea what he is actually saying to her.    All I know is that during the past few months, our relationship has been very tense and prone to lead to arguments.  I always feel like I’m walking on eggshells with her, and I know that’s a huge red flag.

Maybe she needed to go out and just calm herself down and give herself some space.   So I will see when she returns if she’s more reasonable.  But if she still refuses to cooperate with my house rules, I may have no choice but to make plans to move out myself and leave the two of them to figure out how to pay for everything themselves.   That’s not being spiteful, but I simply can’t live with someone (even my own daughter) who takes advantage of me the way her father did years ago.   It’s a form of abuse and extremely triggering.    I know she will be furious if that’s what I ultimately decide, but what else can I do?  I feel trapped and helpless.  I feel like I have no power or control over this situation at all and very few options open to me financially.

I guess I’ll see how things go after she calms down.   She’s done this sort of thing before and then apologizes later.   She always does say her father treated me like crap and I should have left sooner.    I just don’t know what to think anymore.  It’s times like this I just feel so backed into a corner and helpless.

I just had to vent.  To get this off my chest.   This post reminds me of my early articles, when I first started this blog and was realizing I had been abused throughout my life, and set about describing the mental and emotional abuse that was inflicted on me by my ex and by my family.   It seems I still haven’t broken that pattern and it snuck in again when I least expected it.

I have no idea what to do, really.

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7 Characteristics of the Modern Psychopath.

hannibal

Below is a link to a really good and informative article from Psychology Today about sociopaths and psychopaths,* and the devastation and misery they leave in their wake, both in personal or familial relationships, and on a much larger, societal level.

This article explains how to detect them.   While only 4 percent of the population suffers from Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy and psychopathy) , a larger portion (up to 15%) are situational sociopaths or psychopaths.   This is explained in more depth in the article.

A malignant narcissist is a person with both Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder.    This combination of personality disorders is especially devastating because of the already conscienceless person’s insatiable need for adulation and approval.  When narcissistic supply is abundant, instead of satiating the person and making them act more pleasant, as you might think, they become “drunk” on the ego “fuel.”  This phenomenon is evident in Donald Trump, who, feeling victorious and vindicated after the Barr’s summary of the Mueller Report stated he did not collude with Russia to win the election,  became “drunk on power” and his cruelty, gaslighting, lies, and unreasonable demands actually got worse.

7 Characteristics of the Modern Psychopath

*A small percentage of psychopaths (not sociopaths) choose to be prosocial instead of antisocial.  Psychopathy, unlike sociopathy, is a condition a person is born with, in which the parts of the brain concerned with conscience are missing.  Psychopaths can cognitively learn the difference between right and wrong, so they can choose to do the right thing (even if the motive for making that choice is always self serving).   It’s not second nature to them but they may make that choice if they have learned it benefits them the most.   In contrast, sociopathy is an acquired condition associated with malignant narcissism or antisocial personality disorder, and such a person will never choose prosocial behavior and in fact aren’t capable of doing so.

Five types of gaslighting narcissists.

Lucky Otters Haven

Gaslight-2

I haven’t written an original narcissism article in awhile, and I was thinking about gaslighting today, so I thought I’d write a post about it.

Gaslighting is a defense mechanism commonly used by narcissists in order to diminish their victims and make them doubt and question their own reality.  The term comes from the 1942 movie “Gaslight,” in which a young wife is abused in this manner by her husband, who almost succeeds in driving her insane by telling her she is imagining the gaslights in their house going on and off, even though he has been secretly playing with the gaslights himself to make her think she’s going insane.  Gaslighting is one of the most sinister and crazymaking things a narcissist can do, and over time your self esteem and even your grip on what is real and what isn’t begins to erode.   Dealing with a gaslighting narcissist…

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Toxic positivity.

There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking.  But it’s become fashionable in recent years to shame “negative thinking.”  I put that phrase in quotes because sometimes “negative” just means being realistic.    Too often, being positive is the same thing as denying reality: The 3 pack a day smoker with a chronic cough insists they are healthy when you suggest they see a doctor (of course, this could be fear on their part too).   The abused wife tells you everything at home is fine even though she has the demeanor of a whipped dog and flinches whenever her husband speaks to her.   Your “friend” tells you you’re being paranoid when you (correctly) observe that he hasn’t called you in several weeks and is always “busy” whenever you’re around.    He is gaslighting you.

These are examples of toxic positivity.  Empathy is not a factor when it’s directed at someone else’s concerns.    Toxic positivity sounds more like criticism or gaslighting when directed at another person, or just plain lying or denial when it’s about yourself.   In both cases, it helps no one.

I don’t know who made this chart, but I like it because it shows the difference between toxic positivity and real positivity, which includes empathy.

toxicpositivity

Further reading: 

Where I Stand On Positive Thinking

Narcissist parents demonize their own children.

Originally posted on March 17, 2015

narc_mother_littlegirl

Most parents like to tell cute and funny stories about when their children were young, or brag about their school accomplishments or tell sweet stories that show their child in a flattering or loving light. They are also proud of their children when they’re kind and nice to others. That’s the way things should be.

Not for narcissistic parents though.

Narcissists who “erase” memories of their children.
Some narcissistic parents don’t like to talk about their children at all. It’s as if they erase any memories of their offspring’s childhoods and don’t want to be reminded of it. It’s weird. My malignant cerebral narcissist sperm donor used to get bored and annoyed if I talked about the children when they were young. Inexplicably, he couldn’t stand it and became annoyed when I wanted to put some of their baby and early school pictures around the house. (He didn’t like that I displayed our wedding photos either).

He shows little to no interest in his son’s accomplishments (2019 edit: this has changed now that my son has landed a professional video editing job and can be considered “successful”) but just a few years ago, when my son won a few dance competitions, my ex’s eyes just glazed over.

I was proud of my son but his father seemed not to care. I thought maybe it was because he thought dancing was “too gay” but he acts just as disinterested about almost all my son’s other accomplishments too. It’s almost as if he wants to erase him from his mind.

And when they “brag” about you, watch out.

too_sensitive

My somatic narcissist mother loves to talk about me as a child. But her “bragging” is never about the things a normal parents would brag to their friends and relatives about. It’s never about how smart I was or what a good student I was, or what a good painter or writer I was, or how kind and generous or big-hearted or animal loving I was. Instead, she tells stories that illustrate the many ways I was “too sensitive” or how much I cried as a little girl. When she talks about me, she always brings up the most embarrassing stories, like how afraid I was of thunderstorms and how I used to run into the closet in terror (I like thunderstorms now) or how “hysterical” (she loves to use that word about me as a child) I used to get when I was frustrated or scared of something (I was afraid of many things but loved a lot of things too).

Whenever she talked about me to people, she made me sound like there was something wrong with me (I was a sensitive child with attachment issues–but surely there were good things she could have chosen to talk about instead of what a pitiful, awkward, oversensitive crybaby I was). She used to tell everyone the embarrassing story of my first period and how happy I was when I shouted the big news from the bathroom, because I had always been “so hysterical” and panic stricken because I was slower to hit puberty than most other girls my age. In actuality, I was 13 and really not far behind at all–and I never got “hysterical” or “panic stricken” the way she insisted I did.

I no longer hear these stories because I no longer have much contact with her, but I’m sure she still tells her friends and extended family (who she has isolated from me and turned some of them into flying monkeys against me) and they still all have a good laugh about “poor, over-sensitive, ‘hysterical’ little Lauren.” I know they also laugh about what a “loser” I am today, because I’m not wealthy like most of the family is and don’t have a great number of impressive professional accomplishments. Of course, that’s all due to my “poor choices” and not to the fact my self esteem was all but obliterated during childhood and adolescence, not only by my family but also by the bullies I often had to deal with at school.

One narcissistic abuse blogger (who I won’t identify for personal reasons) wrote about the way her psychopathic MN mother (who was actually MUCH worse than mine and downright cruel) and the rest of the family who served as her flying monkeys, gave her a poem for her college graduation. Instead of it being a sincere congratulations or about how loved she was and how proud of her they were, it was a “humorous” ode to how afraid of crickets she had been as a little girl. Notwithstanding the fact this poem had absolutely nothing to do with her daughter’s college graduation, its real intention was to embarrass her and make her feel self conscious. It was a poem that could have easily ruined an otherwise joyous occasion.

The navy blue dress.

fat_lady
What my mother saw whenever she looked at me. (Just for the record, I think this big lady is stunning.)

My mother always loved to point out my faults–even imaginary ones she had projected onto me–in public. I’ll never forget the birthday party I had one year as a teenager. My mother had invited several of her friends to the apartment and some of my friends were there too. When it came time to open the gifts, she made sure hers was the first one I opened.

In the fancily wrapped box was a rather conservative, navy blue sleeveless dress. It was a nice dress, had I been about 40. She made me go try it on and then have me come out into the living room where everyone was sitting to model it. I obeyed because what else could I do. I was always so scared of her.

Mind you, I was not overweight. At 5’4″, 120-125 lbs was about the right weight for my frame. But my backside was what you might call well rounded (not to Kim Kardashian levels, but still round) and my mother was constantly calling attention to it. It made me very self conscious and due to this (as well as my desire to rebel against the way she’d dressed me like a doll when I was younger), I had taken to wearing baggy, almost masculine clothes that hid my curves. She was convinced I was “fat” and was always threatening to send me away to weight loss camp. As a somatic narcissist, she was obsessed with her own weight, physical appearance, and health (especially as it related to her appearance). She seemed to judge other people based on how they looked instead of their personality or inner qualities. Almost every day she called attention to how much weight I was putting on, or reminded me not to have seconds because of my “weight issues.” I become incredibly self conscious about my body as a result. It’s a miracle I didn’t develop an eating disorder.

weight-loss

Getting back to the birthday party and my “modeling session” in front of all the guests, after I modeled it, she announced that the dress’s dark color and style was flattering for someone with “Lauren’s little weight problem.”

You could have heard a pin drop in that room. I think everyone was shocked at her callous and embarrassing remarks. As for myself, I was so mortified I ran out of the room in tears, which of course was a huge mistake because that gave my mother ammunition to remind everyone once again about how sensitive I was (and she didn’t mean this in a complimentary way). She was always making jokes at my expense and then when I didn’t laugh or if I looked hurt, it was always “Lauren is just being over-sensitive again” or “Lauren has no sense of humor.” I’ve heard this is quite a common accusation narcissistic parents use against the child they have chosen as their scapegoat. They hate sensitivity in others and love to turn it into a bad thing because it takes the responsibility for their cruel behavior off of them and puts the blame onto the child.

This is the sort of “flattery” a scapegoated child can get from a parent who is a malignant narcissist. There are times I feel guilty that I don’t feel more loving toward my mother than I do, but when I think of all the years she demeaned me and put me down, always going out of her way to make me feel small and worthless, I don’t feel so guilty about my ambivalent feelings toward her. (2019 edit: as she’s grown quite old and several years have passed, I’ve developed more affection for her, and there is love there, but our relationship –if you can call it that–is still extremely distant and guarded).

I don’t hate my mother. I pity her for never having known who she really was or getting to know her true self. She’s an intelligent woman but you would never know it because she never was interested in abstract ideas or the life of the mind. Her eyes glaze over if you try to engage her in any “deep” topics. I recall her reading mass market paperback novels (“beach throwaways”) and fashion or home decorating magazines, never anything scholarly.

She has now lost most of her beauty due to age (and too many facelifts) and she is all too aware of this. The loss of physical beauty–the one thing that gave her a kind of identity–has turned her bitter in her old age.

Projection and Trump’s snake story.

thesnake

When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
— Maya Angelou

 

Several times at his rallies, Donald Trump has done something out of character — he has delved into literature to make a point, specifically poetry.  Ironically, the poem Trump has chosen to recite to refer to the immigrants he dislikes so much was written by a black 1960s soul singer and social activist, Oscar Brown Jr.

The other day, in front of the White House lawn, a huge crowd of supporters gathered,  and once again, Trump recited the words of “The Snake:”

On her way to work one morning

Down the path alongside the lake

A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake

His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew

“Oh well,” she cried, “I’ll take you in and I’ll take care of you”

“Take me in oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk

And then laid him by the fireside with some honey and some milk 

Now she hurried home from work that night as soon as she arrived 

She found that pretty snake she’d taken in had been revived

“Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

Now she clutched him to her bosom, “You’re so beautiful,” she cried

“But if I hadn’t brought you in by now you might have died”

Now she stroked his pretty skin and then she kissed and held him tight 

But instead of saying thanks, that snake gave her a vicious bite

“Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

“I saved you,” cried that woman

“And you’ve bit me even, why?

You know your bite is poisonous and now I’m going to die”

“Oh shut up, silly woman,” said the reptile with a grin 

“You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in 

”Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,“ sighed the snake 

To those of us who have a knowledge of malignant narcissism and have connected that to Donald Trump’s poisonous character, the snake he refers to here isn’t actually the immigrants he so despises — it’s himself.    The “tender-hearted woman” who took him in are his gullible supporters, who “took him in” and continue to support him, even though his policies will hurt them too.

Donald Trump is the snake, and he knows it.   In almost everything he says and does, he reveals who he is.   This is a psychological defense mechanism known as projection, which is really a form of gaslighting.   It’s also sometimes known as blame-shifting.

Pay attention not to who he demonizes and blames, for that is not the real message he is sending, but to what he is blaming them for.   His negative projections onto others are code (probably unconscious) for what he himself is doing or feeling.   In that sense, he is very transparent and doing us a huge service by warning us how dangerous he is.   There are so many examples of him doing this I won’t even list them all here.

All malignant narcissists project, and once you’re aware of it, you can’t miss it.   A narcissist always reveals himself or herself through the blame they try to shift onto others.  Whenever a narcissist starts pointing fingers, listen to the words they use and then put the narcissist in the place of the person or group they are projecting onto, and you will learn the truth about who they are.   It’s a very handy skill.

 

The most effective defense against gaslighting.

bytheirfruits

Narcissists and sociopaths not only try to make you think you are insane, they can literally drive you insane.   They do this most effectively and insidiously through gaslighting, a method of mental manipulation in which you are made to doubt or question reality or told your feelings are invalid.   This occurs on a personal level with narcissistic people and extends today all the way up to the national and political level. It is always extremely damaging.  People who are constantly gaslighted by a narcissist or sociopath often develop PTSD or Complex PTSD (C-PTSD).

Examples of gaslighting in relationships:

“I was joking. Stop being so sensitive.”

“That’s not what I said.” (when they definitely have said it).

“You are imagining things.”

“It never happened.”

Trump gaslights his political rivals, his enemies, and the entire country on a daily basis.   I can’t and won’t attempt to list all the examples, but his Twitter account is a treasure trove of gaslighting if you can stomach it.   Perhaps the most egregious example to date is his recent denial of the Access Hollywood tape where he now denies he ever said he could “grab women by the pussy.”  Another good recent example is Roy Moore (who I believe is as sociopathic as Trump) justifying his pedophilia by comparing himself to Jesus being persecuted — he is pinning the blame on the truth-tellers (projection and blame shifting) and denying reality (gaslighting) at the same time.

When our own reality is questioned or denied, or when actual events are called “fake news” and the free press “the enemy of the people,” it’s not uncommon for us to begin to question the truth itself.   You begin to think that maybe, just maybe, the gaslighter is actually the one telling the truth and you are just nuts (which the gaslighter will happily confirm).

My favorite Bible verse ever is this one, from Matthew 7:15-20 (New Living Translation) because it’s so useful in gaslighting situations.

Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves.  You can identify them by their fruit, that is, by the way they act. Can you pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?  A good tree produces good fruit, and a bad tree produces bad fruit.  A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit.  So every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. Yes, just as you can identify a tree by its fruit, so you can identify people by their actions.

When a gaslighter makes you question the truth or wonder if your honest feelings are invalid, I’ve found this verse stops any doubt I’m having and calls out the abuser for the liar they really are at the same time.   Look at what the person is producing.    If they’re creating nothing but chaos, destruction, fear, and misery, if they’re sowing discord instead of unity,  if they always break their promises,  don’t believe anything they tell you.    They are lying and will never produce any good fruit, no matter what they might want you to believe.

Narcissistic abuse in Trumpistan.

Much has been written about Trump’s toxic psychology, specifically his malignant narcissism.  In spite of The Goldwater Rule (an agreement between mental health professionals to never diagnose someone they have not evaluated), so egregious is 45’s bad behavior that thousands of mental health professionals are breaking their own rule and speculating that he does indeed suffer from both Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Psychopathy/Antisocial Personality Disorder (the non-clinical term is “malignant narcissism” when both disorders appear together).

But the problem isn’t limited to Trump.  Our “president”  (I’m sorry, but I refuse to refer to him as president without adding scare quotes for irony) has surrounded himself with a cabinet full of people as entitled-acting and seemingly lacking in human empathy and devoid of conscience as he is.   If they are not sociopathic themselves, they are enabling cowards who keep making excuses for Trump’s horrible behavior and the toxic, abusive things he says.   Some seem like programmed robots with no minds of their own, and others actually seem terrified to ever criticize or disobey him.

As for Trump’s pathologically loyal supporters, they really do seem unreachable.   No amount of logic, facts, reason, or even appealing emotionally to their “better angels” seem to move them.   Like Manson’s young followers who continued to defend Manson’s evil behavior and insane beliefs even to the point where they were willing to murder on his behalf, to his supporters, Trump really could “shoot someone on 5th Avenue” and they would not budge from his side.    When presented with facts — even outright proof that their views are wrong — I’ve noticed a tendency for Trump supporters to double down on their pro-Trump beliefs (for example, if science has found that climate change is real, they will tell you that scientists are liars or are misinformed).   Much more so than his opponents, Trump supporters seem to resort to personal attacks or angry outbursts, and, when that fails, they will cut you off from further discussion, even blocking you on social media so they don’t have to engage with you further or have their views challenged.

There’s two other situations in which you see this unholy trinity of egotistic authoritarian leader, sociopathic or sycophantic lackeys and enablers, and followers who seem to have no ability to think or act for themselves:  in religious cults and in political dictatorships.   Trumpism resembles a cult, and in fact it is one.   Trump uses the same Machiavellian mind control tactics on his followers and those who carry out his bidding that cult leaders and dictators do.

I do believe we are being tested, and Trump is the logical conclusion of where we’ve been headed since at least the 1970s.   His election signals that we have reached rock bottom and are being forced to be accountable — or self-destruct.   If we are being tested, then it follows there is a solution, but it’s imperative that we do not allow ourselves to ever normalize what is happening or become so beaten down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually that we feel like there’s nothing we can do and succumb to the abuse — and yes, it is abuse.

The first step in fighting encroaching totalitarianism (let’s not mince words here because that’s exactly what this administration wants to install in place of democracy) is knowing the nature of the beast that threatens us, but to do that, we need to name it.

This is narcissistic abuse.   It’s just as incapacitating, soul-destroying, creativity crushing, sickness-engendering, trauma-inducing, and crazy-making as the kind wrought on us by malignantly narcissistic parents, teachers, “friends,” relatives, lovers, and spouses.

But it’s a lot worse than that.   It’s worse because it’s narcissistic abuse on a massive, nationwide, possibly worldwide scale.   Unlike a toxic family or workplace or marriage, it’s a lot harder to go No Contact when the leader of your country is an abuser.   In fact, going No Contact may not even be possible, should WWIII, enslavement, or internment in modern day concentration camps come to pass.  This is not hyperbole or conspiracy theory:   if things are allowed to continue the way they have been going since January,  a high-tech feudalism, modern day replay of Nazi Germany, or even a Christian Taliban with Old Testament law replacing the Constitution will be our new reality.

Because what we are enduring is narcissistic abuse writ large, the same terminology and lingo used by narcissistic abuse survivors to refer to abusive parents, coworkers, lovers, friends, bosses and spouses certainly applies here as well.

So I’m going to present some of these narcissistic abuse terms, define them for those who aren’t familiar with what they mean, and use examples of how they are being used by this administration in their attempts to control us, beat us down, and eventually destroy us.

Gaslighting.

Gaslighting is probably the most well-known term used by narcissistic abuse survivors, and can now be seen in many articles about Trump as well.   The term “gaslight” is taken from the 1942 psychological thriller of the same name, in which an abusive, sociopathic husband attempts to make his wife believe she is going insane by telling her she is imagining noises in the attic, the gaslights in the house going on and off by themselves, etc. when he is actually the one doing it without her knowledge.    Gaslighting someone is an insidious and cruel mind control technique intended to make the other person question their own observations and beliefs, and even reality itself.

Trump gaslights us all every day through his demonization of the press (it’s all “fake news” and journalists are “enemies of the people”),  liberals and Democrats, people who refuse to give him the worship he craves, and the truth itself, which he insists is a bunch of lies made up by the “lying media.”   Hitler did the same thing, calling the media “lugenpresse,” which literally means “fake news.”    He gaslights us by telling us that his abusive words and rhetoric are just “honesty” and that “political correctness” (avoiding abusive language and unfair policies) is the real evil that must be done away with.   The intention is to wear those of us who value the truth down mentally and emotionally, while at the same time normalizing and encouraging those who pacify him and believe or deny his lies.

Divide and Conquer.

Divide and Conquer is a technique in which a cult leader or other sociopath in a powerful position deliberately sets people or groups against one another, the end result being that once a large group is fighting among themselves, they are easier to control or unleash abuse on without them really being aware of what is really happening.

Divide and Conquer can be seen in this administration, in which Trump encourages aggressive and violent behavior by the supporters who attend his rallies against reporters, people of color, and non-supporters who disagree with Trump or his policies.

Language is a powerful tool and Trump uses it to divide and conquer.   Non-whites, Mexicans, Muslims, Democrats, and other groups Trump dislikes are dehumanized through language which normalizes aggression and violence against them.   “Rough them up,” he says when speaking about reporters, and then later defends himself by saying he’s “joking” (which is a form of gaslighting).    No other president has ever used language so destructively to deliberately encourage hatred and division, but it’s common among sociopaths and malignant narcissists like Trump.   It foments hatred among his supporters against “the Other,” and they begin to normalize aggression and violence, even acting out on it or threatening civil war against Trump’s enemies, since Trump seems to think it’s okay.    When a nation is divided in this manner, they are weakened and less unified, and thus easier to control and terrorize.

Projection.

Malignant narcissists have extremely fragile egos, and therefore cannot tolerate any criticism.  Deep inside they are actually painfully aware of where they fall short, but this will never enter their consciousness. Should you ever call them out on their faults, be prepared for them to retaliate against you or target you for abuse.    To defend against the knowledge of their own faults coming to awareness (thus destroying their image of themselves as perfect), they will project their worst traits onto others rather than admitting any fault in themselves.  The fact that they have an uncanny way of blaming others for the very things they themselves do indicates that subconsciously, they know where they fall short.

Trump’s projection onto others is most obvious in his tweets, in which he regularly blames others for things he himself is doing, or accuses others of having character traits he himself possesses.   Thus,  it’s others who are weak, who are obstructionists, who lie, who are “very bad people,” who are disloyal, who are not nice, or are “bad hombres” — never him.

Flying Monkeys.

Flying monkeys is another term borrowed from the movies — in this case, “The Wizard of Oz.”   When the Wicked Witch tried to keep Dorothy from getting to Oz by targeting her for torture and death, she enlisted the help of an army of flying monkeys to do her bidding.  At the end, after Dorothy accidentally killed the Witch, we finally found out the flying monkeys were really the Witch’s slaves and were actually grateful to Dorothy for freeing them.   In real life, flying monkeys may be lesser narcissists, or just normal but weak-willed people who are codependent to the abusive leader and become the leader’s enablers and cheerleaders.  Sometimes they are not aware they are being used as flying monkeys, especially if the leader has convinced them that the targeted person or group is the real enemy and they are the ones being victimized (see DARVO, below).

Trump uses his cabinet members, his family members, and his supporters, including the people who attend his rallies, as flying monkeys to normalize and defend his hateful rhetoric and policies that will hurt the rest of us, including the flying monkeys themselves, who seem like they’re brainwashed.   This was already discussed in the second paragraph of this post, so I won’t go into more detail here.

DARVO

DARVO is an acronym that stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.    It’s common for narcissists to deny saying or doing something, but then attack YOU for accusing them, thus making themselves out to be the victim, and YOU as the one who is doing the abusing.  It’s a form of both gaslighting and projection, with the added technique of feigning victimization to garner pity and support.

Trump is always playing the victim, complaining about how it’s always others who are obstructing him or lying about him, or who want to take him down.   One of the most infamous examples to date is when he addressed a graduating class of the Coast Guard and proceeded to whine about how he was the most persecuted politician in the history of our nation.   By making himself out to be the ultimate victim (and of course making everything about him and ruining these graduates’ special day), he also diminished the experiences of other politicians, war heroes, and former presidents who had suffered far worse.

Scapegoating.

This term is self-explanatory.  It comes from the field of family dynamics.  Malignant narcissists (and sometimes substance abusers such as alcoholics, who tend to have Cluster B disorders) almost always select a scapegoat to project the lion’s share of blame onto and thus the scapegoat becomes the designated carrier of toxic shame that the narcissist refuses to own.  In a family headed by one or more narcissistic parents, one child may be selected to be the family scapegoat.  That child is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family, and is told repeatedly they are stupid, worthless, evil, ugly, crazy, or bad.  They are punished more than the other children, even when they did nothing wrong.  Their achievements are dismissed or even treated as something bad that must be punished. The scapegoat may also be bullied and abused by siblings, who act as the parent’s flying monkey(s).   A scapegoated child tends to enter adulthood with depression, low self esteem, a pervading sense of danger, and other psychological problems that tend to reinforce their role as scapegoats even as they move beyond the family.   Because scapegoats aren’t quick to defend themselves, are fearful and lack self esteem,  predatory personalities seem to be able to smell them out and proceed to dish further abuse and rejection on them.

Scapegoats are usually the most physically or emotionally vulnerable, the most sensitive, or most thoughtful individuals in a toxic family or other group, and/or they are the whistle-blowers or the truth-tellers who refuse to become flying monkeys or enablers of the narcissist.   Ironically, in a toxic family, they may be the most emotionally healthy individuals.   Malignant narcissist parents or other leaders wish to silence anyone who tells the truth or blows the whistle — or who is a constant reminder to them of how dangerous and toxic they really are.    Narcissists hate the “weak” and vulnerable, and they also hate those who tell the truth and expose them for what they are.     They may also scapegoat those who disagree with them or criticize them.

Every week, it seems that Trump has a new scapegoat.   While mainstream or liberal reporters and journalists (the truth tellers and whistle blowers) and groups of people who are not white, male and Christian seem to receive the lion’s share of his abuse and vilification, from week to week, Trump also targets a new individual — almost always someone who he perceives as being critical of him or obstructing his harebrained and wrongheaded policies.   Obama is a constant target, since his very existence threatens his fragile ego  (it’s obvious to me Trump hates Obama for having the temerity to be both more popular than he is and black), but he has also targeted Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and John McCain, as well as former and current insiders like Sean Spicer, Mitch McConnell, James Comey, and Jeff Sessions for abuse, which he usually metes out on Twitter.

Blame-Shifting.

Similar to projection and DARVO, blame-shifting is when a narcissist or sociopathic person refuses to accept or own blame and instead shifts responsibility onto someone else.    Malignant narcissists will never ever admit wrongdoing or say they’re sorry, because to do so is admission that they are less than perfect and that is intolerable to them.    The abusive husband who makes excuses for beating his wife (“she asked for it because of her nonstop nagging”) is shifting blame onto his wife instead of owning the fact that beating her was wrong.

Trump is constantly shifting blame to others.   Not once during his entire 8 months in office has he ever apologized or said he’s sorry for anything.   He’s made a lot of mistakes, some pretty terrible — but it’s always someone else’s fault.     When his unpopular and unconstitutional policies fail to pass, it’s never his fault — it’s always the “Obstructionist Dems,” Mitch McConnell, the “FAKE NEWS” lying to the people, or whoever the villain of the day happens to be.   He even makes excuses for the deplorable behavior of some of his white supremacist supporters, as he did when he said there was violence on both sides in Charlottesville — which there wasn’t.   In so doing, he also sent a clear signal to his white supremacist and neo-Nazi supporters that Trump was okay with their particular form of terrorism (running a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a young woman).

Splitting.

People with Cluster B disorders tend to think in terms of black-and-white, us-versus-them. There are NO shades of grey, NO mitigating circumstances, NO ambiguities.  If a malignant narcissist has decided you are “bad,” there is NOTHING good about you.  You might as well be Satan himself.   If you have been labeled crazy, you are a word salad blabbering lunatic fit to be put in a straitjacket and locked up in the loony bin until the day you die.    If you have been deemed an enemy, you can NEVER become a friend, nor do you have ANY redeeming qualities.   Since you will inevitably disappoint the malignant narcissist, eventually he will turn harshly against you.

This is called splitting, and Trump does it all the time.   Trump is incapable of seeing how complex people are, because he has zero insight into himself or any curiosity about human nature.   If someone insults him, they couldn’t just be having a bad day, because Trump lacks the empathy to be able to put himself in someone else’s shoes.   He would never consider that they might be right, either, because doing so would be intolerable to him.    Insult Trump and you become the Enemy — fair game for dehumanization, vilification, and retaliatory abuse.   There is no in between.  If you are not loyal to him, you are Other — and Other is always very bad.

Devalue and Discard (D&D)

After a period of love-bombing (see below), in which you are the most perfect, wonderful, loyal friend or ally ever (because to the narcissist, you are either ALL good or ALL bad),   you will inevitably (because you aren’t perfect) do or say something that hurts the narcissist’s feelings or causes him narcissistic injury.  Once that has happened, they will turn on you like a pit viper and will proceed to make your life hell.   In relationships, this may be the point at which the person who yesterday showered you with roses, candlelit dinners, and love letters now refuses to take your calls and blocks you on Facebook.

Trump has done this with many of his staff members, who were once confidantes and allies, and who he now attacks and vilifies because they failed to be “loyal” to him or were critical of him in some way. To Trump, other people are objects to be used or to provide narcissistic supply (worship and adulation), not imperfect human beings with both good and bad points.

Love-Bombing.

This is the initial phase of a relationship with a narcissist, in which you are the most perfect person in the world, but really you are just a mirror reflecting back to them what they want to see in themselves.  Once that image is tarnished (because you found fault with the narcissist), the abuse and/or devaluation begins.

Trump employed love-bombing during his campaign, when he made all kinds of promises that “only he” could fix.  He promised “healthcare for everybody” when his real agenda was to give a huge tax break to the wealthy while taking healthcare away from the most vulnerable, which included many of his own supporters.   He promised lots of new manufacturing jobs, a border wall that “the Mexicans would pay for,” and all sorts of other things that he had no intention — or capability — of turning into reality.  The only thing he’s kept his promise on is his neverending war on political correctness, but that’s turned into a war on anyone who dares criticize or question him.

Narcissistic Injury/Narcissistic Rage.

When you point out a narcissist’s faults or failures, he will enter a state of narcissistic injury — which means he is suffering a massive blow to his ego.  Most people, when hurt, have a healthy enough sense of self that they will deal with the emotional blow honestly — by talking about it, admitting their feelings were hurt, making a joke about it, or just telling themselves it really doesn’t matter and trying to move on from it.   But a malignant narcissist is incapable of making a joke or moving on or God forbid, admitting their own vulnerability.  Because their sense of self is so fragile (and is really just an overlay for the emptiness within), the only way they can feel good about themselves again is to attack you and deflect blame.   This is called narcissistic rage.   Narcissistic rage can take many forms:  gaslighting, outright verbal or physical abuse, threats, triangulation (secretly ganging up with others against the perpetrator), splitting, bullying, blame-shifting, deflecting, denial, the “silent treatment,” and D&D.

Trump displays many or even most of these behaviors whenever he perceives someone or some group has insulted him.   You can see it in his face and body language when he’s enraged.  His lips purse, his whole body goes stiff, and his eyes narrow and turn almost black with hatred and spite.   He’s frightening to look at when he’s in the midst of narcissistic rage, which is often.  I won’t list examples here because there are simply too many.   Trump is paranoid and constantly battling real or imagined enemies.   Eventually, everyone becomes an enemy to Trump.

False Self.

Narcissists have  a very fragile sense of self and feel empty inside.   To compensate, at an early age, they develop a “false self” — a kind of mask that shows others what they want you to believe they are.   If this mask is threatened or attacked in any way, they risk their “real self”  (the vulnerable and insecure child the mask hides) being exposed.   This is why you cannot criticize a narcissist. Rather than listen to you and agree you may have a point, they will  fight you to the death to maintain their image of perfection.    Being seen as vulnerable or defenseless is simply too frightening to them.   That’s one of the reasons they hate the vulnerable so much — people they perceive as “weak” fill them with shame of that which they need to hide.

A false self can take many forms, but for a classic or overt narcissist like Trump, it’s usually invulnerable and appears tough and self assured.   If the mask isn’t challenged, this type of narcissist can appear to be very competent and confident.   Some male narcissists, especially if they’re highly malignant like Trump, maintain a mask of toxic masculinity.   Trump admires dictators and “strongmen” types like Vladimir Putin.  He admires authoritarianism and political tactics that intimidate, terrorize, and oppress vulnerable populations.   I don’t know the details of Trump’s early childhood, but I’ve heard his father was emotionally abusive and empathy and kindness were not qualities he valued in a male child.  Only financial and material success were valued and rewarded.    I wouldn’t doubt it if Trump’s desire to please such a difficult and unloving father is at the root of his narcissism and the “strongman” style of his false self.

Fear-Mongering.

Narcissists and sociopaths, in order to gain control over others, often resort to instilling fear and even terror in their subjects.   Cult leaders, some religious leaders (especially fundamentalist leaders, whether Christian or Muslim), and dictators (as well as abusive husbands and mean bosses) are all known for this.   They threaten and bully.   They demand obedience and “loyalty” — or else.   They believe their bullying behavior makes them seem strong and invincible, but anyone who needs to resort to threats and schoolyard bully tactics to get cooperation and support is pathetically weak in character and devoid of any real strength.

Trump bullies others and makes veiled threats against his opponents all the time on Twitter.   He demands loyalty and calls people names.   Many of his staff members seem intimidated by him and almost afraid to be honest or do the right thing.    I sometimes wonder what he has threatened them with if they fail to cooperate.

Worst of all, Trump also tacitly encourages bullying behavior by his supporters against his opponents by failing to criticize their violent actions adequately or at all (Charlottesville), and by “jokingly” encouraging terrorist-type behavior and violence against his detractors at his rallies.   But Trump is not joking.  He is quite serious.  Malignant narcissists are incapable of any real humor.

Obfuscation/deflection.

Another tactic malignant narcissists use to deflect blame or avoid responsibility is obfuscating — confusing the issue or creating chaos.   Trump does this in a variety of ways, but all are intended to instigate chaos or create a new crisis that serves to obfuscate (hide) something he wants to deflect attention away from (such as the Russia investigation).   Every day, some new drama comes out of this White House.   Every day, he’s fighting with someone else, threatening someone, or someone else has quit or been fired.  It’s like a reality show from hell.

All the constant drama is intended to create chaos and confusion, and keep both his opponents and supporters off balance.   Leaders like this can be extremely dangerous because they are likely to incite something serious (like nuclear war with North Korea) in order to deflect negative attention away from themselves and their dishonest, unethical, or illegal activities. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care for the idea of being nuked because a petty and childish old man’s ego was wounded.

Another way narcissists obfuscate is through a special kind of “word salad” in which nothing they say makes any sense, although on the surface it may seem to.   They leave you feeling confused and scratching your head, wondering what the hell they really meant by what they just said.   Of course, if you question them or force them to make their message more clear, they will blame YOU — for being stupid or not understanding.

Our Nation Suffers From C-PTSD

I found two articles that I think many of you will find helpful and informative.  I know I did!    I completely agree with the author that our nation’s most vulnerable — immigrants, the poor, women, the old, the disabled, people of color, gay and transgender people, etc. — are being gaslighted and smeared by this administration so that WE are the monsters, while the real monsters paint themselves as the victims.   This is a common manipulation tactic used by sociopaths called DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender).

We have never had a president like Donald Trump before.   This is NOT politics as usual, nor is it normal.  You have every right to feel the way you do.  You are not crazy.

What other administration acted the way these people do?   What other president was hell-bent on destroying the truth? What other president waged a Twitter war against his predecessor and others who disagree with him?   What other president was so obsessed with the number of people who voted for him or who showed up at his inauguration?   What other president was so destructive,  hell-bent on tearing down any and all agencies and programs that benefit and protect the everyday people, our environment, and democracy itself?  What other president admired dictators and authoritarian regimes, and thumbed his nose at other western democracies as being “weak”? What other president used scare tactics and hatred to divide and conquer, the way Trump does at his rallies and on Twitter?  Most politicians have more than average levels of narcissism, or they wouldn’t survive long in their jobs (or even be attracted to politics as a profession).    But I think, in most cases, they had healthy narcissism, not the sort of malignant narcissism Donald Trump clearly suffers from.  Nor do they surround themselves with equally sociopathic, destructive personalities.

It hit me how truly monstrous these sociopaths were when I saw this picture of them laughing after their “healthcare bill” that would toss 23 million people off healthcare passed the House back in May.

<> on January 7, 2016 in Washington, DC.

Until, then, like anyone who’s being abused, I wanted to believe they somehow had our best interests at heart.

They don’t.   They have no conscience and no empathy.   They are entitled and think they are above the law.    They use toxic religion to manipulate and scare the religious into submission and to shame the vulnerable.  Their intention is to destroy us and all that we hold dear.   That is no exaggeration or crazy conspiracy theory (as they want us to think), and he is riling up his flying monkeys at his rallies.   Most Trump supporters have authoritarian personalities, and authoritarianism is highly correlated with narcissism and antisocial behavior.

Even Republicans are abandoning their own party because of what it’s become.  They aren’t a political party anymore.  They are a cult.  They show all the signs of being a cult, and Trump’s followers act like cult members.

Many people are being traumatized by Trump and his policies.  Even his own staff are being abused and manipulated.   Most of those who still have a conscience have already fled the White House or been fired (it’s my opinion that Sean Spicer was being traumatized and spiritually destroyed by his job).

I think those of us who endured narcissistic abuse have a special advantage because we recognize exactly what we are now faced with.  We can and should call them out on their BS.    I think we have a responsibility to fight against this darkness and our own abuse prepared us for this.  And I believe that in the end, justice and truth will win.   It always does.

It would be nice if we could go No Contact with our country, but for most of us, that isn’t a possibility.   It’s not all hopeless though.   We can fight back and resist, but we also need to take care of ourselves. The author of the C-PTSD article also wrote a post about how to survive what’s been dubbed Trump Trauma.  Even therapists regard it as a real malady and are seeing a spike in their patient rolls since January.

Our Nation Suffers From C-PTSD

A Practical Guide to Surviving Trump

How DARVO could prove which of us is telling the truth (reblog)

darvo

This is a good article I reblogged from Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole.  I think this information about determining accountability is not only useful on a personal level for those of us who have had to deal with narcissists, but as a useful way to decipher who are the real liars and truth-tellers in the current political mess we’re in.   Narcissists and sociopaths use all kinds of tactics such as gaslighting, smear campaigns, and playing the victim while making the real victim the “enemy.”    Of course, in our current political situation, both sides accuse the other of the exact same things, so it can be hard to determine who are the real victims and perpetrators.    Personally I think a quick determination of who are the real liars and truth-tellers can be made by observing who protesteth too much and which side acts more aggressive.    This can also be applied to dealing with people on a personal level and is very effective if you’re paying attention.

I have left Nyssa’s links in place.  Her ongoing tale about narcissistic abuse by two former close friends who sunk to new lows by stalking her blog is riveting and educational.

How DARVO Could Prove Which of Us is Telling the Truth

By Nyssa McCanmore, Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole

DARVO refers to a reaction perpetrators of wrong doing, particularly sexual offenders, may display in response to being held accountable for their behavior.

DARVO stands for “Deny,, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.” The perpetrator or offender may Deny the behavior, Attack the individual doing the confronting, and Reverse the roles of Victim and Offender such that the perpetrator assumes the victim role and turns the true victim into an alleged offender.

This occurs, for instance, when an actually guilty perpetrator assumes the role of “falsely accused” and attacks the accuser’s credibility or even blames the accuser of being the perpetrator of a false accusation.  –Jennifer J. Freyd, What is DARVO?

While re-reading this article on Shrink4Men, I came upon a section which hit me as proof to my readers (who can read Tracy and Richard‘s bizarre, intimidating and remorseless e-mail to me in the “Now I’m Being Stalked” post, and how they’ve been trying to stalk and intimidate me online and off for the past few weeks) of which of us is telling the truth:

Of course, not everyone who denies wrong doing is engaging in DARVO. Many partners and exes of abusive women are accused of things they didn’t do or of things that never happened.

Naturally, when this happens, you deny the accusation and perhaps feel a little (or a lot) bewildered. How do you know if an individual’s denial is the truth or an instance of DARVO? Freyd (1997, pp. 23-24) proposes:

“It is important to distinguish types of denial, for an innocent person will probably deny a false accusation. Thus denial is not evidence of guilt. However, I propose that a certain kind of indignant self-righteousness, and overly stated denial, may in fact relate to guilt.

I hypothesize that if an accusation is true, and the accused person is abusive, the denial is more indignant, self-righteous and manipulative, as compared with denial in other cases.

Similarly, I have observed that actual abusers threaten, bully and make a nightmare for anyone who holds them accountable or asks them to change their abusive behavior.

This attack, intended to chill and terrify, typically includes threats of lawsuits, overt and covert attacks, on the whistle-blower’s credibility and so on.

The attack will often take the form of focusing on ridiculing the person who attempts to hold the offender accountable. The attack will also likely focus on ad hominem instead of intellectual/evidential issues.

Finally, I propose that the offender rapidly creates the impression that the abuser is the wronged one, while the victim or concerned observer is the offender. Figure and ground are completely reversed. The more the offender is held accountable, the more wronged the offender claims to be.”

Please click on this link to read the full article.