Beware of narcissists posing as victims in the narcissistic abuse community.

Originally posted on November 24, 2014

wolvesinsheeps

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, malignant narcissists and other predatory people 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.

flyingmonkey

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.

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Further reading (with my personal experience):

9 Ways to Tell if the Victim Blog You Read is Run by a Narcissist 

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Why doesn’t Trump ever talk about his mother?

Mary_Anne_Trump
Mary Anne MacLeod Trump

This is a very interesting article from Politico about Donald Trump’s relationship with his mother and what role she might have played in his personality development.   It’s interesting that he always praises his father but almost never talks about his mother, Mary.

The Mystery of Mary Trump

Most people who recognize Trump’s narcissism and sociopathy tend to think it was primarily his father who was to blame.   Fred Trump was very much like Donald, an emotionally distant and unsupportive taskmaster who instilled his own values of greed and materialism in his sons, and served as a role model for unscrupulous and dishonest behavior.   Donald Trump, the second youngest of five children and the middle son of three, felt unnoticed in his large family.  Desperate to gain the approval of his demanding father, who ruled his home with an iron fist, Donald essentially became a carbon copy of him.

Donald Trump Family
From left to right: Donald Trump, Fred C. Trump, Jr, Robert Trump, Elizabeth Trump, Maryanne Trump Barry.
 

While Fred Trump may have contributed to Trump’s character disorders,  it was his mother Mary who might have been unwittingly responsible for the development of his NPD (I know he has no official psychiatric diagnosis, but since he fits all 9 traits of NPD, I think it’s pretty safe to assume he has it, in addition to Antisocial Personality Disorder or sociopathy).

When Trump was two years old, Mary gave birth to his younger brother Robert.  While the birth of a younger sibling usually doesn’t pose a huge problem for toddlers other than the normal sibling rivalry,  the birth almost killed his mother and she was basically unable to care for Donald for two years due to her medical issues.

For a two year old, this is devastating.  Two year olds are too young to realize this may not be their mother’s fault and has nothing to do with a sudden withdrawal of love.  The child’s sense of self is still forming and the sudden emotional or physical absence of a parent (especially the mother) creates a void in the developing personality.    Attachment trauma before the age of 6 or so very often leads to personality disorders.  The toddler years, when the child is just learning they are a separate individual from the mother, are especially critical.

For Trump, “middle child syndrome,” combined with a father who was both unempathetic and a questionable role model, and a mother who was suddenly absent when Trump was a toddler, was a perfect storm of events that eventually led to Trump’s dangerous personality.   I also think the event that cemented his burgeoning personality disorder into place was his parents sending him away to military academy at the age of 13 — another critical age in psychological and moral development.  Being sent away to military academy both confirmed in Trump’s mind that he was too unloveable to be allowed to stay home, and further instilled hyper-masculine values that, combined with his narcissism and sociopathy, would lead to toxic masculinity and the worship of “strongmen” and dictators later on.   Almost sixty years later, he’s still trying to please his father and has taken America hostage in doing so.

dtrump_parents
Donald Trump and his parents in the 1980s.

I find it both ironic and tragic that Trump is allowing Border Patrol and ICE agents to deliberately separate immigrant Hispanic children from their mothers and families.   Such egregious cruelty can only be carried out by someone who is lacking both a conscience and empathy.   Even if these children are eventually reunited with their parents (which is unlikely), they will almost certainly suffer serious psychological trauma, leading to attachment disorders such as RAD (reactive attachment disorder).  RAD very often leads to antisocial, borderline, and narcissistic personalities when these children reach adulthood if there is no psychological intervention.  At the very least they will struggle with lifelong C-PTSD and other trauma based disorders, especially if they are being farmed out to human traffickers.

It’s almost as if Trump is taking unconscious revenge on his mother for suddenly “abandoning” him by forcibly causing toddlers at the border to be separated from their mothers.

9 ways to tell if the victim blog you read is run by a narcissist.

Originally posted on January 9, 2017

hiding_mask

The Internet is a great thing for a lot of reasons, but for victims of narcissistic abuse, it’s probably the first time in our lives we ever had a voice, and would be listened to and believed.   There are hundreds and probably even thousands of blogs and websites for people who have been victims of narcissistic abuse, either by their families, or at the hands of an abusive spouse, boss, lover, or friend.

The Internet has given us a voice, so now we can not only read and comment on the stories of others who have suffered similar experiences, we can also start our own blogs where we can talk about our own abuse.   Before the Internet, who would listen to us, much less believe us?  More than likely, we’d be told, “oh, of course your mother/father loves you,” or “Oh, I’m sure she means well and doesn’t know how to express it,” or worse, “it’s all in your head,” or “you are too sensitive” or “you are too paranoid.  Or even, “you are crazy to think that.”

Before the Internet, if you actually went No Contact with an abusive person, especially if it was your own family,  most people would tell you you’d “regret it” because “your family is all you have.”   Religious people might have said to you that disconnecting from a parent or other close family member was a grave sin and broke the commandment that says, “honor thy mother and father.”  Well, my answer to that is this:  you are not honoring an abusive, narcissistic parent by enabling them or allowing them to continue to abuse and use you.  The kindest thing you can do for them is to stop enabling them, by going No Contact.  By doing so, you are removing yourself from the equation and making it impossible for them to target you anymore.   More than likely they will find a new person to target, or continue to talk trash about you behind your back, but you are making things harder for them. Think of it as “tough love.”  You can still love a narcissistic parent but refuse to allow them to victimize you anymore.

There are many great narcissistic abuse and ACON blogs, forums,  and discussion groups that have helped many people and for the most part they are a Godsend.   Without them, we’d all still be in the dark, thinking WE were the problem, and that if only we could please our abusers, everything would be fine.  We’d feel misunderstood and all alone. We would never have met each other or been able to tell our stories.

This blog started as an ACON blog, but because I’ve expanded into other topics and really didn’t have a lot more to say about my own abuse (because I got tired of dwelling in the past and prefer to look toward the future), I can’t really say this is specifically an ACON blog anymore, although I still include articles about narcissistic abuse from time to time and my old posts on it remain popular.

Unfortunately, there are more than a few blogs, forums, websites and Facebook groups meant for survivors of narcissistic abuse that are actually run by narcissists who are not aware they are narcissists and identify only as victims.   Un-self-aware narcissists are far more dangerous than those who have become self aware, because they refuse to–or can’t–see their own narcissism.   Instead they project it onto others, even where it doesn’t exist.

Please keep in mind, that there is a higher percentage (as much as 70%, according to some sources)  of people with Cluster B disorders like NPD or BPD among those who were raised by narcissistic parents.   Because there’s not a clear line between people who have been abused and those who are abusers (and in fact both may be present in the same person) it shouldn’t be very surprising that some victims are suffering from disorders a lot worse than just C-PTSD.

This is a problem because a person who is in an abusive relationship and considering going No Contact (or is newly No Contact) may think they’ve found a safe haven with empathetic fellow-sufferers who can be of  help to them, but they may well find themselves re-traumatized later on by the group, should they disagree with them in any way or say or do the “wrong” thing — and there isn’t much, if any, forgiveness from groups like these.  Once they devalue you, you are dead to them.     I was the target of such a group myself, and was so traumatized I almost took my blog down.

I’ve been in the narcissistic abuse community long enough now that I think I’ve got a pretty good handle on how to tell the safe ACON/narc-abuse blogs from the ones that are not so safe and actually could be dangerous.   So here is a list I devised of the ways you can tell if a narcissistic abuse blog is dangerous and should be avoided.   If any of the blogs or websites you read show these “red flags,” proceed at your own caution.   If you must read them, avoid commenting.

1.The site preaches hate and revenge.

If the site, blog or group you are involved in constantly bashes people with Cluster B disorders, calling them demons, monsters, incurable, having no souls, all going to Hell, or encourages its readers to “get back at” them or “out-narc” them, proceed very carefully.  While righteous anger is perfectly normal when you have been abused and can give you the motivation and courage to go No Contact, and even anger at narcissists in general is to be expected, if that is ALL the site seems to focus on, that’s a red flag.   Websites and blogs like these CAN be helpful when a person is going No Contact or you’re trying to leave an abuser, but once you are safely away from your abuser(s) and all that righteous rage is out of your system (for most people, it WILL burn itself out eventually), you should move onto sites that focus less on how horrible narcissists (or borderlines, or whatever) are, and more on how to heal yourself from C-PTSD and narcissistic abuse.   Also, it’s ALWAYS a bad idea to try to “get back at” or “out-narc” a narc.  It won’t solve anything, and you may find yourself more of a target than ever.   You’re not going to be any match for any malignant narcissist who’s on their game, and they usually are.

2. The owner(s) and followers of the site, group or blog seem stuck in a victim mentality.

Things just never seem to get any better for them.   There is no emotional growth to be seen when people are stuck in a victim mentality.  If you try to suggest they move on and work on themselves to feel happier or less like victims, they are very likely to attack YOU as being a narcissist who thinks you’re better than them.   This is an example of projection.  Sure, I totally get that all the positive thinking nazi’s out there can be irritating (and I HATE those toothpaste-smile cheerleaders who discourage you from being able to express your real feelings and tell you to smile when you don’t feel like smiling), but that doesn’t mean there’s something inherently wrong with being more positive or forward-thinking, or doing something to change your outlook on life to a happier one.  As victims, we were trained to expect the worst from people and probably have very little trust in others.

But our narcissists aren’t going to just magically appear on bended knee and tell us they’re sorry and un-do all the damage they did to us.  So you really only have two choices.   You can continue to wallow in misery and victimization until the day you die, or you can try to change things about yourself without expecting your abusers to make things up to you, because they won’t.  Changing yourself doesn’t mean you were at fault, but fair or not, it’s the only way to escape from the trap of being a lifelong victim.

3. They are never in therapy or getting treatment.

I’ve noticed how some people in these groups are never in therapy or practicing mindfulness skills, or doing anything that can make their lives easier or better.   I think that’s because they are really narcissists or borderlines who think of themselves as perfect and use their victim status as a kind of false self to get sympathy or attention, and woe be to those who ever suggest they need to change anything about themselves, or that perhaps a therapist could help them.   Are they afraid if they go to a therapist, they might find out something they don’t want to know?  Few malignant narcissists ever think they are the ones with a problem; it’s always everyone else.

4. The group bans, blocks, or insults people who are self aware borderlines or narcissists — and those who challenge the status quo. 

It doesn’t matter if they are in treatment or say they want to change.  They are automatically just lying or trying to get attention, just because they say they have an NPD or BPD diagnosis (or even just a self-diagnosis).  Because of course, people with these disorders donothing but lie and misrepresent themselves.   They CAN’T be self-aware or want to heal!   But I know otherwise.   I spent time on a forum with self aware NPDs and borderlines who were in therapy and actively trying to make changes and practice mindfulness and treat others better.  Why on earth would they want to do that, if it weren’t true?  What would motivate them to lie about it?

Some groups also ban, block or insult other victims who show any empathy for people who have these disorders or who question the bashing mentality.    One of the things I’ve learned on my own healing journey is that narcissistic abuse and narcissism is not a black and white issue.   Most people with cluster B disorders were also victims of abuse–and most abuse victims have narcissistic traits or “fleas” to one degree or another.

I’ve been called a narc-sympathizer, but I no longer take that as an insult.   Some of the victim sites don’t seem to recognize that narcissism is on a spectrum, and some narcissists are a lot worse than others.   C-PTSD is usually comorbid with these disorders too.   While yes, it’s true that there are malignant narcissists who “like” their disorder and would rather undergo root canal than ever darken a therapist’s office door, there are others, lower on the spectrum, who dislike the way they behave and want to learn how to be more authentic and develop empathy and real connections with others.    Of course, the narc abuse sites probably aren’t the best places for a Cluster B person to land, but I’m appalled at the way some of them get treated.

The same goes for those who show empathy for people with these disorders.   If you don’t drink the “all narcs are incurable and evil” Koolaid and dare to question the narc-hating status quo, prepare to be mobbed, banned, smeared, or called a narcissist or worse yourself.   The irony here is that your show of empathy probably means you are lower on the narcissism spectrum than they are.    Also, just because you hate narcissists doesn’t mean you can’t be one.

5. The site or group has a tight clique of hangers on and there is never any disagreement or healthy debate among them.

All they do is pat each other on the back and agree about how terrible it all was and how evil the narcs all were.   They never challenge each other to THINK  or to be open to out of the box viewpoints.   There also never seem to be any helpful suggestions intended to help each other heal.  Years later, they are still bemoaning how badly they got treated even years after going No Contact, but are doing absolutely nothing to improve things for themselves.  They are not very welcoming of newcomers, or of anyone who challenges them that they may be the cause of their own problems now that all the narcissists have been booted out of their lives.

6. They seem to see narcissism where it doesn’t exist.

Someone offers a helpful suggestion or minor criticism, and they call that person a troll or a narc.    They talk about isolating themselves from everyone, because “everyone is a narc” or “the world is full of narcs.”  I understand the lack of trust, but you can’t heal when you isolate yourself from the world and continue to insist it’s an evil, dangerous place full of people who will only abuse you.   You have to learn self empathy and from there, you can slowly learn to trust others and realize there really are good people in the world.   It’s sad they will probably never reach that point.

7. They are combative and aggressive toward those who disagree with them.

They may even go on a full-on smear campaign: gaslighting, telling vicious lies about you,  projecting things onto you, triangulating against you (complete with flying monkeys), sending nasty “anonymous” emails,and even threatening lawsuits (narcissists are notorious for being litigious), all while continuing to insist that they are just harmless “empaths” who actually show little to no empathy, even among themselves.  This happened to me, and it’s happened to others, so this is no exaggeration.

8. If the owner of the group is religious, they are dogmatic and intolerant of other religious points of view or those who disagree with their religious beliefs.

Understandably, many victims of narcissistic abuse turn to God or Christianity since the people in their lives have proven so untrustworthy and unloving.  This is not only understandable, it’s also desirable.   Having faith can keep us healthy and sane, and give us hope when all hope seems lost.   But beware of site owners who use their religion in abusive or narcissistic ways — to shame, belittle, or make themselves feel superior to others.  Use great caution around anyone who tells you your religion (or lack of religion) is wrong or evil, or that you are going to Hell for your beliefs.  This is religious abuse, and narcissists are notorious for it.

9.  You just feel uncomfortable or ill at ease.   

Listen to your intuition.  Even if you haven’t been attacked or targeted, if you just feel ill at ease of uncomfortable on that blog, forum or group, or hesitate to share your honest feelings and opinions there, chances are there’s a good reason you feel that way.  Don’t ignore your feelings — you spent too much time already dismissing your feelings as “crazy” or “wrong” due to the abuse you suffered, but your feelings are probably trying to tell you something important and you should listen.

intuition

The thing that makes me so sad is that failing to move on from the righteous anger we all feel at first, can turn a person into a narcissist, even if they weren’t one to begin with.    With nowhere left for all that rage to go, a person can become bitter and paranoid.  They begin to see narcissism in normal human behavior.   This is why moving on from the anger stage is so important (and for most people, it does burn itself out once the danger has passed).

Moving on doesn’t mean you have to tolerate narcissistic abuse or resume contact with toxic  people you have gone No Contact with. It doesn’t even necessarily mean you have to forgive your narcissists for what they did to you (and you surely don’t want to forget!)   But it does mean that at some point, you should be able to let go of the hatred and even begin to see abusive types as broken people who got that way because they were themselves abused (I don’t believe anyone consciously chooses to be a narcissist, in spite of what some people say).   Once you can recognize them as broken people instead of demons from the bowels of hell,  you can then begin to look inside yourself and see what you can do to change and make yourself less attractive to narcissists.   (Thinking this way also makes them seem a lot less dangerous, which in turn will make you feel like less of a victim).   Maybe you are codependent and unconsciously do things to attract that sort of person into your life.  That’s not victim-blaming — it’s just being willing to take responsibility for yourself and having enough insight to see the role you might have played.  None of us are perfect.   It wasn’t until I was able to stop thinking in an “us versus them” way and stop seeing myself as a “poor helpless victim” that I was able to see how my own narcissism and codependency negatively affected my life and my relationships.   Without this knowledge, I would never be able to heal.

All that being said, I truly don’t think these group and forum owners and bloggers are aware that their behavior is very Cluster B, that they may be on the N spectrum themselves, or even–God forbid!–have NPD.   I also don’t think they are being dishonest about the abuse they suffered.  They honestly believe they are only victims with PTSD or C-PTSD.  But their thinking about the issue of narcissism and narcissistic abuse is too black and white for them to be able to see their own narcissism, for to do so in their current state, would mean they would have to admit they were one of “those bad people” and the cognitive dissonance arising from that would be far too great for them to handle.   So they must continue to split: projecting onto and smearing those who refuse to drink their poison Kool-aid.
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Further reading:

22 Signs of Online Destructive Narcissists in Forums and Blogging Communities

Sociopaths rule America — but there’s an easy way to identify them.

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

The above photo, taken at a beer party celebrating “Trumpcare” passing the House last May, drove home to me exactly how cruel and sadistic Trump’s people really are.   It hit me like a ton of bricks.  They are literally laughing over millions of people losing their healthcare.

Since the very beginning of his term, Trump has surrounded himself with people who seem to lack empathy, conscience, or any sense of morality or scruples.    The good people left this administration early on, or were fired.   Later, those people who weren’t so good, but who still had some semblance of a conscience or morals lost their jobs or resigned.

By a process of attrition, Trump’s cabinet is now almost 100% sociopathic.    Trump doesn’t seem to care if the people who work for him care about We the People or have any sense of right from wrong or duty to the country.  In fact, it’s better for Trump if they don’t.   All Trump cares about is their loyalty to him.      Never do you see a shred of empathy from any of these people.   Human suffering doesn’t seem to bother them.  In fact, they seem to delight in causing it.   They never apologize or admit wrongdoing.  In fact, they’re very likely to project their own wrongdoings onto others, smearing and gaslighting innocent people and groups.  Their greed, sense of entitlement, arrogance, and selfishness is bottomless.   We have grifters like Scott Pruitt, whose outrageous and illegal fleecing of the taxpayers for his own self-benefit and entertainment may rival or even surpass Trump’s own.   As if it’s not already bad enough he’s ruining the environment and destroying the EPA from within (which is entirely intentional).   And yet he keeps his job.   In fact, Pruitt may be the one who gets to fire Bob Mueller should Trump fire Jeff Sessions.

All of the people working for Trump, based on their actions and words, seem to have one of the Cluster B personality disorders, most likely NPD, Antisocial PD (sociopathy), or psychopathy.    Many of these people are likely malignant narcissists, like Trump himself.  They serve as his flying monkeys and yes-men.    There may be one or two non-disordered people left in the administration, who have severe problems with codependency and therefore have some pathological need to be pleasing to Trump, but I think even most of those people have been fired.  People with normal levels of empathy, who don’t feel entitled to cheat and steal, who care about the rule of law, and who have any integrity at all are nonexistent in this administration, and that is scary.

Their one saving grace is it’s fairly easy to identify them.

You can see it in their faces.

One thing I’ve noticed about Trump’s cabinet members, his most fervent sycophants and enablers,  his three elder children, and many Republicans who support this president is the deadness in their eyes.    Their eyes are cold, hard, and flat.   Sometimes they appear black, as if they are lacking irises.  When they smile, the smile doesn’t reach their eyes, making the smile appear mocking or threatening, or at the least insincere.

danaloesch danloesch2

NRA spokesperson Dana Loesch showing those cold, dead, black eyes.  Her expression is constantly angry and hate filled.   I strongly suspect malignant narcissism.  Coupled with those eyes that look like miniature black holes, her overall appearance is extremely intimidating — and that may be the point of using her in their ads.

Jared-Kushner-Getty

Jared Kushner has possibly the deadest looking eyes I’ve ever seen on a living person.  He literally looks like he’s dead.   He sold his soul a long, long time ago. Trump’s three oldest children also have the same dead look, though not as pronounced as Kushner.

A few of these people, rather than having those dead reptilian eyes, have eyes that sparkle with psychopathic glee, and they often wear a smirk, especially when they know their policies are hurting others (I’m looking at you, Paul Ryan).

paul-ryan-smirk-getty-640x480

When is Paul Ryan ever not smirking?   Sometimes I think it’s his only facial expression.

Trump himself has eyes that are so scary I really can’t look at them.   I can’t even look at his face anymore, because I feel evil emanating from the image itself.   I feel like something in my soul is being eaten every time I have to look at him.    Malignant narcissists like Trump get worse over time, especially if they are given access to a great deal of power and influence.  Narcissistic supply is like a drug that increases the malignant narcissist’s need for even more adulation and worship.  As they try to consolidate even more power, their malevolence increases, and this can be chillingly seen in Trump’s facial expressions over time.   He never laughs.  When he smiles, which is rare, his smile is fake and never reaches his eyes.  Most of his recent photos are like this one, showing a combination of malevolence and childish petulance.  Others show him looking as enraged as a rabid dog, especially the ones taken at his hate-rallies.

President Trump Holds Joint Press Conference With Japanese PM Shinzo Abe

Trump’s default expression (besides abject rage) is childish petulance mixed with malevolence and festering hate.

Jack Brown, MD, is a physician who is an expert in reading body language and facial expressions.     He said there is a particular expression that sociopaths and malignant narcissists use much more frequently than normal people: what he calls the Elevated Central Forehead Contraction with a Partial (Insincere) Mouth Smile.  It’s a closed mouth, fake smile with the eyebrows drawn together as if the person is frowning.  It’s similar to a smirk, but not quite.  The overall effect is  mocking condescension and cruel contempt.   Brown says this expression is used often by serial killers, mass murderers, hardened criminals, and by everyday bullies and other people who lack empathy.

Here’s a very obvious example of this expression on hedge fund manager and convicted felon Martin Shkreli (the guy who became infamous for jacking up drug prices to ridiculous rates, making them unaffordable for most people).  He used it continuously while on trial during questioning.

martin_shkreli

Martin Shkreli on trial, displaying Dr. Brown’s Elevated Central Forehead Contraction with Partial Mouth Smile, a dead giveaway of a disordered personality.
Here is the same expression, on Trump (who seems to use it quite frequently):

trumpsmirk

Brown says the ECFCWPMS is a default expression for Vladimir Putin (it’s a lot more subtle on him but is ever-present).  Putin appears to be a pure psychopath, rather than a malignant narcissist (which is why Trump looks up to him and tries to curry his favor).  Pure psychopaths are “stronger” than “mere” narcissists, who have that pesky neediness and emotional vulnerability that bring them so much shame.

putin

Stephen Miller (below) combines a cruel smirk with the reptilian dead eyes.  I think of him as the Joseph Goebbels of the Trump administration.   Trump naturally adores this guy and will probably never fire him.

stephenmillersmirk

Identifying human predators. 

If you are face to face with a sociopathic personality, you may feel as if their eyes are boring into your soul.   This is because they are human predators — they are sizing you up as potential prey and victims.   On a date or with a new person, you may feel as if the predatory stare indicates sexual or romantic interest. Failing to make the distinction between the predatory stare and sexual/romantic interest leads many a woman (and man) into dangerous and abusive relationships with people who live only to use other people because they don’t see them as fully human.

Beauty tip:  Constant lying may ruin your appearance! 

Another thing I’ve noticed is several of the women in the Trump administration, especially those whose job requires them to lie constantly to the public, attain a facial asymmetry that gets worse over time.   It also seems to age them faster than normal.  I don’t know if there’s anything scientific behind this phenomenon, but I have come to believe that constant lying will do this to your facial features.  If you want to retain your physical beauty, then, tell the truth!   Lying is, apparently, bad for both your soul and your physical appearance!

huckabeesanders

Huckabee Sanders looks like this whenever she’s lying.  Her eyes literally focus in two different directions and is very unsettling.   She’s only 35 years old but looks like she’s in her 50’s.  She has aged visibly since she took this post.

Kellyanne Conway

Can you trust a face that looks like this?   Constant lying has apparently done this to Kellyanne Conway’s face.  She used to be a fairly attractive woman until she took her job in the Trump administration.

The other day I read an article that said there is a new bill the GOP is trying to pass that will require a photo of Trump (and Pence) to be hung in every Post Office.   That’s something dictators do, not leaders of democracies.   Isn’t it bad enough we are daily inundated with sound bites and constant images of this president?  We can’t get away from him.  No other president has dominated the media, our conversations, our thoughts, and our very lives the way he has done.   What’s next — requiring that every American household hang a photo of Dear Leader in a conspicuous place, like they do in North Korea?

The old saying about “birds of a feather” are true.  Sociopaths and malignant narcissists like Trump attract other sociopaths and malignant narcissists, and they seek them out.   That’s because they know anyone with a conscience or empathy for others will refuse to work for them.    That’s where we’re at now.   We’re a country run by sociopaths.

For the sake of our own souls, our nation, and the world, learn to identify them.

Trump’s Neanderthal toolbox.

caveman_trump

Artwork by Roman Genn

This is a brilliant Twitter thread by @HoarseWisperer, who often posts threads about Trump’s probable NPD/sociopathy.   In fact, I think this short write up about Trump’s narcissism is the most spot on description I have ever read, so I’m posting the thread here in its entirety (with the author’s permission).

I also like the sense of hope it left me with.   The nightmare will not last forever because of the nature of NPD is ultimately self destructive.  Trump will burn all his bridges before he can take down an entire nation.   At least I hope this is true.

Here is the thread.

1.  As I’ve often talked about, I’ve seen Trump’s narcissism up close. It’s as familiar as an old movie, so let me put today in some context…

2.  People with severe narcissistic personality disorder like Trump are driven solely by the shallowest of primitive impulses. They are incapable of complex reasoning. They are emotional cavemen.

3.  Their entire world is an endless, futile effort to avoid facing the humiliating shame their own failings deserve. Their lives are empty, contrived caricatures of what they think others will approve of and admire. They’re broken child-actors.

4.  Trump exists solely to mimic what he imagines is worthy of esteem… and since that is so vulgar, crass and unsuccessful, he fails and fails and fails. He’s an actor addicted to the reviews but who gets panned after every performance.

5.  A functional person would be capable of insight and reflection. They’d be capable of learning. They’d take social cues. They’d adapt. They’d grow. Again, back to the caveman bit, Trump is incapable of any of that.

6.  The only primitive tools Trump has in his Neanderthal toolbox are anger, blame and lying. Whenever he feels the weight of his own failure, he pulls out a combo of those three clubs and beats on someone. Sometimes the media. Sometimes someone around him.

7.  The net result – and it is always this way with severe NPDs – is that there is endless chaos in their inner circle. It only briefly calms when they’ve turned over the entire cast – because they briefly think the new cast buys the shtick.

8.  Trump is going through the automatic destruction cycle of an ordinary narcissist. The narc I know well went through it every two years. I could set my watch to it. Entire circle burned to the ground and replaced…

9.  Trump isn’t done yet. He will fire and replace numerous others. He will purge multiple others he sees as disloyal… …but he will leave a few people who merely hide their disdain and put on a better act.

10.  Those people will carry the tribal knowledge of Trump’s failings to the newest members. They’ll poison the new cast… …and within weeks, we will be hearing rumblings of the next purge wave coming.

11.  While the replacement of a Tillerson with a Pompeo stokes the fear that an authoritarian is building a regime, in reality, Trump is a deeply, deeply dysfunctional man utterly incapable of keeping from burning down his own house. Trump is a destroyer of his own circle.

12.  There is no chance that Trump will assemble a new cast that will survive and work together functionally. Trump is a toddler gorilla utterly compelled to fling his own feces on everyone around him. Thus it is. Thus it will be.

13.  If you are worrying that Trump is building something that will worsen and endure, breathe a little easier. This is a cycle. It will repeat and repeat. Today’s appointees will be next month’s casualties. There will be nothing more than build-and-burn loops.

14.  Last year it was Bannon, Gorka, et al. Now it will be Pompeo and newbies. This cast won’t last. No one will ever last. Narcissists burn down their own houses. No one lasts.

15.  So, as best you can, breathe deep and exhale. This is the cycle of narcissism. It’s a rollercoaster. Watch with detachment. After all the hills and drops, a month from now, Trump’s dysfunction will be right where it is today. No better. No worse.

16.  As they say in the support world: Don’t get blown about by every breeze. Today has been windy but we shall not topple. Stay strong, stay centered. This too shall pass. We shall make it so.

caveman_trump2

 

 

 

 

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 “red flag” you should never ignore.

Reblogging to test the reblog button’s functionality, and also because this article deserves to be seen again.

Lucky Otters Haven

red_flag

When it comes to narcissism, there’s a lot of talk about red flags: behaviors that are associated with narcissistic abuse, such as lying, gaslighting, lack of empathy, grandiosity, and refusal to admit wrongdoing.

But there’s one red flag that’s underrated because it’s so subjective: your own intuition.

When you first meet a narcissist, they may seem like the nicest person you ever met. You might not see any of the usual “red flags” immediately. Before you know it, you’re involved with a person who only has ill will and will make you feel like you’re going insane. When you finally realize what you are dealing with, they may have already wreaked havoc in your life–stolen your time, your patience, your trust, your money, your self-esteem, your job, your spouse, your sanity, your identity, even your soul.

Pay attention to the way you feel around someone you just met. If you…

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We need a lot more awareness about narcissism and psychopathy.

darktriad

Elizabeth Mika is one of the 27 mental health professionals who contributed to the  bestselling book,  The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump.   She is a psychologist who writes about narcissism, psychopathy and authoritarianism (specifically Donald Trump’s authoritarianism) on her Medium blog.  I follow her on Twitter (she’s under @yourauntemma if you want to follow her too) because I never want to miss one of her articles.    The other day, she tweeted this in reference to the many pleas to “remember the Holocaust”:

Unless we teach about the conscience-impairing character defects, like psychopathy & narcissism, shared by genocidal leaders & their followers, these calls for remembrance will remain hollow.

She’s absolutely right.   Even though the Cluster B personality disorders, specifically those in the Dark Triad — Narcissistic Personality Disorder, psychopathy (Antisocial Personality Disorder), and malignant narcissism (a combination of both disorders with paranoid traits)  — are getting a lot more attention than they used to, they still don’t get nearly enough.   There are a few terms formerly confined to the narcissistic abuse community such as  “gaslighting” and “blame shifting” that have recently become household words since Trump took office, but if you try to talk about narcissistic or antisocial personality disorder or malignant narcissism with most people you will still usually get a blank stare, especially if you try to talk about it in regard to the dangers these disorders pose to us all when a world leader is most likely afflicted with one or more of them.

Until — and if — the general public receives education in how these personality disorders work and how to recognize them, people will still fall prey to the phony charm and false promises of a narcissist in their personal lives, staying with friends and family members who are psychologically destroying them.  But even worse than that, people will still believe the lies and promises of con-men like Donald Trump or Adolf Hitler.  They will keep trying to find the goodness that must exist under all the flash and bluster, even though in all likelihood, there is nothing hiding under the mask but a black void of hate and fear.

Hitler rose to power because he promised to “make Germany great again.”  He promised jobs, a thriving economy, and a better life for all Germans, and people believed him, at least at first.  Later, when the deportations and roundups began, and militarized police began knocking on doors late at night, people may have begun to suspect Hitler was dangerous, but they still wanted to believe he was what Germany needed, so they told themselves what he was doing wasn’t really that bad or even was necessary (but well-meaning).   This is called “normalization” and it happens both in countries and in families headed by a malignant narcissist.    When there are too many outrages, people can’t process them normally, and things that were once seen as outrageous or shocking begin to seem normal.   As the dividing line between what is “normal” and what is “not normal” continues to shift, more and more “not normal” behavior is tolerated.   This is how a psychopathic or narcissistic leader conditions average, non-sociopathic people to accept the unthinkable.   It takes time, but eventually even genocide begins to be seen as acceptable or at least doesn’t raise any eyebrows.

hitler

Leaders with malignant narcissism and/or psychopathy tend to be very charismatic and forceful.   They seem extremely confident and this makes people trust them.   They say things like, “I alone can fix it” (this is always a red flag) or “I am all you need.”  They make lofty and unrealistic promises.  They brag about past accomplishments and  exaggerate what they have accomplished (which often wasn’t much).  They take credit for things others have done.  Whenever they are found to be lacking, or when they are called out for their lies and hypocrisy, they will never accept that blame and will either deny their wrongdoing, or blame it on someone else.   They never apologize.

They may seem to care about you, but they don’t, for they have no empathy.   They see everything in black and white.   They are blind to nuance in others.   You are not a person to a narcissistic or psychopathic leader: if you are not useful to them in some way (if you are useful they will shower you with praise — in relationships this is called “love-bombing”),  then you are the enemy.    And when you become an enemy, you are fair game for vengeance.   These people believe in revenge and “getting back at” their perceived enemies.

They speak in superlatives.  What they have done is always the best, the biggest, the most, the greatest.  They had the biggest crowd at their inauguration, they have created the most jobs, and they are the most beloved or respected leader in the entire world or even in all of history.   If their lies or misdeeds are pointed out to them, they become enraged.  Sometimes this rage manifests as self pity, and their self pity is as grandiose as their self-aggrandizement.  When they think they’ve been wronged, no one else has ever been so wronged or so mistreated as they have been!  They turn self pity into another contest of superlatives:  Trump whining to a group of Boy Scouts about how he was the most misunderstood and poorly treated politician in American history!

If they have deemed you an enemy (which doesn’t take a lot — you need only disagree with them to be devalued), you are the worst person on the face of the planet and have no redeeming qualities.  You will be devalued and called hurtful names, and that’s just for starters.    Leaders with malignant narcissism are very paranoid and always suspect others — often their political rivals or people who merely disagree with them, but have no ill intentions — of plotting against them, talking badly about them, or trying to destroy them or take away their power.    They pre-emptively fight back by attempting to discredit, dehumanize, or destroy their rivals or perceived enemies.

These kinds of leaders (who are almost always male) are fixated on toxic masculinity.  They admire and emulate those who they see as “strong.”  Thus, they glorify war, forceful oppression, abuse of power,  police brutality, and total control.   They value authoritarianism much more highly than democracy, which requires cooperation and some semblance of empathy.   They look down on higher values like compassion, humility, forgiveness, or love as “weak” or “feminine.”   They also like to “punch down” — which means enacting draconian policies or shifting blame onto the most  vulnerable or the weakest.   It’s schoolyard bully behavior writ large.  They hate anything they see as soft or vulnerable or “weak” because they are so afraid of their own vulnerabilities.   Deep inside, they have little to no self esteem and hate themselves, though they will not ever admit it and may not even be aware of it.   They puff themselves up to mask their own feelings of worthlessness.

Because these kinds of leaders can initially convince people they are strong and powerful and can fix every problem themselves, and because they seem so confident in their ability to do so, people continue to be duped by them and believe the lies they tell.    They ignore the red flags (which includes making lofty promises and saying “they alone” can fix things), because they have not been educated in what to look for.

malignantnpd

If awareness and education about NPD, malignant narcissism, and psychopathy were more widespread (perhaps it should even be a required part of school curriculums), people would learn how to recognize the red flags and avoid such people in their personal lives — and avoid voting for leaders who have these traits.   As long as people remain ignorant about the red flags of these personality disorders, we will still be vulnerable to electing sociopathic, dangerous leaders and being taken in by dangerous people in our personal lives.   We will still find ourselves under the thrall of people and leaders who see us as nothing but marks.

All that being said, there has been more awareness about this problem since at least the 1990s.   I wrote about the history of narcissism/narcissistic abuse awareness over the decades in this two part post — please give it a read!

How Did Narcissism Get So “Popular”? (part 1) 

How Did Narcissism Get So “Popular”? (part 2)  

So things are better than they’ve ever been, but we still have a long way to go.   If there was enough awareness, we would not be in danger of repeating what happened during the Holocaust.

 

To everything there is a season…

I forgot about this old article I wrote in June 2015, but I’d like to put these thoughts out there again for others to think about.

Lucky Otters Haven

seasons

There seem to be three different kinds of people in the world. Those who are fake-positive, always wearing a plastered on smile and never admitting to failure or to their true emotions; those who walk around wearing their misery like a badge of honor; and everyone else.

Before I became active in the narcissistic abuse community, I really only met the first type of person and the third. I’m all too well acquainted with “positive thinking nazis” — you know, fake and shallow people who don’t want to acknowledge your pain and tell you to “get over it” or “you bring your misery on yourself with your negativity.” These people are often–but not always–narcissists (but even when they aren’t, they are all neurotypicals.) They are good at social skills and making a good impression at all times, and that means they are always smiling. They cannot and will not understand…

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Throwback Thursday: My Inner Narcissist.

Originally posted on January 8, 2015

envy pride
The beautiful paintings in this article are by Marta Dahlig at Deviantart.

Narcissism isn’t limited to narcissists.

Most people have some narcissistic traits and that’s why it’s dangerous to try to diagnose someone you don’t know pretty well or have lived with. Mislabeling happens a lot, and ACONS and victims of abuse tend to be quick to label anyone who shows any narcissistic traits as a narcissist, because we’re so hypervigilant about everything and trust no one.

I hate my narcissistic traits, but I do have a few. Now’s the time I “come out” of the closet about them.

We also can’t forget a little narcissism is actually healthy and protects us to some extent from victimization. No one can be completely unselfish. It’s just not realistic or good for survival.

My two most deadly narcissistic sins are:

1. Envy. I’ve gotten better over the years, but I used to be pathologically envious of those who had more than I did, were more attractive, came from loving homes, had a better job or made more money (practically everybody!) I don’t think this is uncommon in people who were raised and/or married narcissists, and we are not incorrect about having been cheated in life. We have a right to feel like it’s unfair. It’s still an ugly, soul-destroying emotion though, because it makes us hate ourselves even more when we think we fall short of others.

I think what sets my envy apart from true narcissistic envy is that I have never had any desire to ruin or take away someone’s else’s good fortune. I might feel bitter and brood about it, but I never felt it was my right to interfere. Sometimes the people I envied could inspire me too. I also didn’t necessarily hate the people I envied, even when I wanted to. Or maybe it just sets me apart from the MALIGNANT narcissists, because those are the dangerous ones who really want to hurt you.

I’ve been getting a lot better–but another deadly sin that is envy’s polar opposite is slowly taking its place…

2. Pride (vanity). I haven’t experienced too much of this until recently. I think some pride is normal and healthy. If you have no pride you feel like you deserve nothing. But I have noticed a tendency to brag about this blog when it’s doing well or my stats are high. Maybe that’s a normal thing for bloggers (I think we tend to be competitive) but I bet it’s also made a few people think I’m a narcissist playing the victim. I hope not, but I still worry about it. I’m always tempted to delete those stats posts after they go up, but then again, why not share good news when you have some to share? Because until recently, I hardly ever had any good news to share. So I’m like a little kid on Christmas Day or something.

I still have to watch this though, because you can drive people away with too much bragging, and pride, as pleasant an emotion as it can be, can turn you into a narcissist eventually. It’s a slippery slope to selfishness and evil. I can’t ever forget that my primary focus with this blog is to get better, and maybe help others get better too through my writing. Not to have X number of views or Y levels of visibility. It’s not about me anyway, it’s about what God wants for me and how he wants me to be of service.

Acquired narcissism due to good fortune is probably why there are so many narcissists in Hollywood and the music industry (not all celebrities are narcissists of course). Their success has probably changed them. Or it drives them crazy. I think only the most mentally sound and insightful celebrities are able to escape from the clutches of acquired narcissism (or serious mental conditions such as bipolar disorder, drug addiction, and even psychosis). It can’t be easy being famous and sought after by millions of strangers and having to be “on” for the media all the time.

Then there’s the other kind of pride–the kind that keeps people from admitting when they’ve been wrong or showing humility when it would benefit them and others to do so. Fortunately, I don’t think I’m guilty of that kind of pride very much. I can admit when I’ve been wrong and am not “too proud” to do so. I think narcissists pretty much have a monopoly on that type of pride.

My last “deadly sin” is sloth. I can be the laziest person you ever met. I’m a world class procrastinator. But I don’t think that’s a narcissist trait.

sloth

What are yours?