These 7 Traits Make You Vulnerable to Narcissistic Manipulation

This article is a must read for empaths and HSPs, and anyone vulnerable to narcissistic abuse:

These 7 Traits Make You Vulnerable to Narcissistic Manipulation

By Kim Saeed

Comments here have been turned off.  Please leave comments under the original post.

She also has a great site!  Be sure to visit.

https://kimsaeed.com/

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The Narcissism of Capital

Here is an incredibly insightful post I wish I’d written. The author explains how unregulated, uncontrolled capitalism and the societal abuse and cruelty inherent in such a political system (America is such a society) is actually an abusive, predatory relationship taken to the macro level, with the callous, corrupt, and often cruel leaders standing in for narcissistic parents and other abusers. I’ve made this same connection myself in some of my own articles about Trump, authoritarianism, and malignant narcissism/sociopathy, but this article seems to explain it even better than I could.

Before you read the article though, let me point out that I use a less broad brush to paint the politicians the author names as narcissists or sociopaths. For example, while Hillary Clinton and Obama certainly have narcissistic traits (which are probably necessary to be successful in politics or be taken seriously in such a high profile endeavor), I do not believe either of them is a sociopath or a malignant narcissist. If they are narcissists (and they may well be), they are of the more benign type. Obama in particular has shown he possesses at least normal levels of empathy, which I don’t think is faked. In my memory, the only president I can recall who was definitely not a narcissist was Jimmy Carter. Because of that, he wasn’t a very effective president, even though he was an unusually good person.

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silhouette of statue near trump building at daytime Photo by Carlos Herrero on Pexels.com

Introduction

In my analysis of the 1944 film adaptation of Gaslight, I discussed something I called ‘political gaslighting‘: in abusive interpersonal relationships, the abuser fabricates, denies, and distorts the truth to disorient the victim; I argued how the super-rich, as well as the politicians and the media who work for them, also do this lying and disorienting, but to the public. I’d like to expand on those ideas here.

We all know about how emotional abuse can happen in families, school, the workplace, and online; that’s psychological abuse on the ‘micro’ level. Now, let’s discuss it on the ‘macro’ level, how it exists on the geopolitical level, for this is, no doubt, a far greater problem.

Many parallels can be seen in the comparison of narcissistic abuse and class conflict. The fact that Donald Trump is as obvious a narcissist as…

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Trump’s strange behavior at G20 summit is a window into his current state of mind.

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An example of narcissistic projection.  Blame others for what you are guilty of, even when there’s no proof.

 

Some of you may remember Trump’s overconfident, even arrogant and obnoxious alpha- male behavior at last year’s G20 summit in Germany and other events where he had to mingle with world leaders:  arrogantly pushing aside Montenegro’s president so he could get to the front of the group, the childish refusal to shake Angela Merkel’s hand, his standoffishness, and other gestures and comments indicating his contempt and disregard for the the leaders of western democracies.   I could go on with examples but that would take too long and it’s not my point in this post anyway.

Trump is under enormous stress right now, due to recent events that don’t bode well for his future in politics or even his freedom:  Mueller and his team are beginning to move closer to Trump’s inner circle, his longtime “fixer” Michael Cohen has turned against him and admitted he lied under oath (and telling Mueller everything he knows).   Perhaps most ominously, in just over a month, the new Democratic Congress, headed by the very competent and confident Nancy Pelosi, takes over, bringing much needed checks and balances back into government.  These Democrats can and will hold Trump accountable for his crimes and unethical and cruel policies, and Trump knows it.   The party’s almost over.

For perhaps the first time in his 72 years, this overgrown spoiled brat who has always gotten his own way and never been held accountable for anything in his life, will finally be made to answer for his illegal and immoral mob boss ways, and Trump isn’t pleased.    In fact, right now he’s feeling pretty shaky and insecure.   He’s not even able, at the moment, to mask his insecurity with his usual false arrogance and bluster.  He’s emotionally deflated and terrified of what his future holds,  and his mental state shows in his odd behavior at this year’s G20 summit.    He seems more like a frightened little boy about to be sent to his room and denied his favorite TV show than the fearsome dictator he aspires to be (or thinks he already is).

I had noticed on several occasions that Trump only looked truly happy when he was hobnobbing with vicious dictators like Putin, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, or North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.   I’ve never seen him smile like he is in the picture below (either Putin or MBS was approaching, though I can’t recall which one) with any leaders of western democracies.  (In fact, he always seems downright uncomfortable with them and is very critical of them).   This is one of the only genuine looking smiles I’ve ever seen from Trump.

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Here’s another of him in the private (closed off to the press) meeting that took place in the Oval Office last year with Russian oligarchs.  He looks genuinely happy.

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So, it doesn’t help Trump’s fragile ego that his despotic buddies (and objects of his childlike hero worship) Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) appear to be shunning Trump like a couple of catty middle school girls at the G20 summit this year.

Watch this incredible video of Putin and MBS sharing a moment of laughter and high fiving each other as Trump comes lumbering into the room from behind.    Trump must be painfully aware that these two despots have never smiled or laughed with Trump the way they do here with each other.  Deep down,  Trump must know that he is not as well regarded or well liked by these two as they like and regard each other.    But  as they are very likely pure psychopaths rather than mere malignant narcissists like Trump, they would naturally have more in common with each other, both of them being free of that pesky emotional fragility and hypersensitivity to criticism that people with NPD are always saddled with.   As pure psychopaths, they don’t care what other people think of them: they just do what they want.   Although Trump shares their lack of conscience and empathy, he also cares very much what people  think of him, especially those who (like Putin and MBS) are useful to him.

Trump definitely sees them, and his jealousy of their bond is as obvious as his orange tinted spray tan.  Here’s a closeup screenshot someone took of Trump’s face during the exchange.  If looks could kill!

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Although I’m not a mental health professional and can’t make a diagnosis, most mental health professionals agree that Trump almost certainly has all 9 DSM criteria for  Narcissistic Personality Disorder (and fits most of the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder).   When a person has both NPD and ASPD (sociopathy), they are considered to be malignant narcissists.  Malignant narcissism, a term first coined by psychologist Erich Fromm back in the 1960s, isn’t a clinically accepted medical term, but it’s well known in the narcissistic abuse community (and now, due to Trump, is becoming known outside of that community and is practically a household word, much like the term gaslighting has recently become a term most “lay” people know the meaning of, because Trump and his followers do it so constantly).

NPD causes a profound lack of empathy that often manifests as social awkwardness. This causes even some professionals to initially mistake people with NPD as being on the autism spectrum.  Some narcissists can fake empathy, but Trump isn’t one of them. While his inability to fake empathy may actually be a saving grace for the country and the world (Trump’s poor acting ability makes his disorder more obvious and therefore he is less dangerous than someone who can hide behind a mask of fake compassion and kindness).

As a result, Trump often shuns social events that require him to show empathy, or camaraderie with others.   Like all narcissists, he is terrified of appearing awkward or socially incompetent in public, and because he doesn’t possess the acting ability to fake social competence or empathy, when he is forced to attend such events, he usually is off by himself, physically not present, or behaving in ways that deviate from what the others are doing and appear strange, inappropriate, and awkward. Notice how out of touch he seems in both these photos. Due to his lack of empathy, he cannot read social cues that others can read with ease.

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This is why Trump has refused to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, in which one of the traditions is to “roast” the current president and other high profile politicians.    Trump has never forgiven Obama for roasting him about insisting he produce his birth certificate at the WHCD in 2012.  Obama’s joke at Trump’s expense got uproarious laughter from the audience.  Narcissists cannot stand to be laughed at, even as a good natured part of a tradition.  They can’t roll with the punches because they take themselves very, very seriously.    A joke at their expense becomes a severe narcissistic injury.   (The White House Correspondents’ Dinner discontinued its comedic roasts this year, possibly due to not wanting to risk any more “hurt feelings.”)

Here’s a photo of Trump at last year’s G20 summit in Germany, and you can see how isolated he is. Keep in mind that at that summit, he was among highly intelligent people who are leaders of world democracies and cognizant of world affairs. Trump, having little in common with them (and painfully aware his intelligence and knowledge of world affairs could never match theirs) sits, nearly pouting, by himself.

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It’s even worse this year for him, and Trump, not possessing acting abilities, doesn’t even seem to be able to fake a smile (or arrogantly push aside the president of another country, as he did with Montenegro’s president Milo Đukanović).   He  appears unusually isolated, morose, angry, and unhappy.   He is suffering severe narcissistic injury due to what he knows is coming (even though he continues to deny any wrongdoing).  The apparent rejection of his heroes Putin and MBS at the summit are like salt in an already festering wound.

At his rallies back at home, he’s surrounded by people less educated and more ignorant than even he is (and is fawned over, adulated, and even worshipped as if he is God, and this infuses him with the narcissistic fuel he needs to function), so it’s easy for him to snap back into his alpha male show of bravado and false confidence, but at a foreign summit full of intellectually superior world leaders, he cannot and his emotional vulnerability is on display for the world to see.

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Trump is a man who knows the walls of justice are closing in on him, and even his foreign despotic allies seem to be losing respect for him. He may even be a liability to them at this point. I almost want to feel sorry for Trump, but because of his two year reign of terror and the immeasurable trauma he has caused to Americans and the entire world, I have no pity for him. He deserves whatever is coming.

In the next few weeks, until the Democratic House convenes on January 3,  Trump is going to double down and his aggressive behavior and lies here at home (where he’s back in his element) will become much worse.  We need to hang on and be courageous as his narcissistic rage will be nearly out of control.  But take heart:  it’s almost over, and he knows it.  That’s why he’s lashing out at anyone who isn’t on his side:  journalists, Democrats, women, liberals, and anyone who criticizes him.  But it’s temporary.  Like the Wicked Witch of the West, he has been doused with water, and he’s melting.   He will scream and flail and put up a mighty fight, but he will not be able to destroy democracy.  We are stronger and more powerful than any flailing, screaming, decompensating narcissist because there are more of us and we have truth on our side.

Don’t be surprised if he resigns.   While resignation is an act of defeat that seems out of character for someone as narcissistic as Trump, if he can no longer hold up the facade of invincibility, in order to save face resignation may be his only option.

 

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Narcissistic mothers never really change.

I started this blog over four years ago partly because of my discovery that I had been spending more than five decades of my life trying to please and win the unconditional love of a mother who simply wasn’t capable of giving me that kind of healthy love a normal parent has for a child.    Emotionally, I was still a child trying desperately to please a parent who could never be pleased, and in fact, resented me because of who I was.

I went No Contact with her at the same time I went No Contact with my malignant narcissist ex husband.  During the first two years of starting this blog, I wrote extensively about both of them, and learned so much about myself and also how to heal from the narcissistic abuse both of them had inflicted on me.

Distance made me think over a few things.    I also came to understand exactly what a malignant narcissist is, and after some time, I realized my mother is not one.    Malignant narcissism is a mixture of NPD and Antisocial Personality Disorder with paranoid or sadistic traits.   My mother, while highly narcissistic, is not at all antisocial or sadistic, but she does check off most of the criteria for NPD (narcissistic personality disorder).  She also fits much of the criteria for Histrionic Personality Disorder.

Unlike a malignant narcissist, my mother does have a conscience and knows the difference between right and wrong.  She doesn’t “think like a criminal” and would never do anything illegal.  She has a sense of ethics.   She’s not sadistic and doesn’t enjoy seeing people suffer.  She likes animals and children.  She doesn’t have much empathy, even for her loved ones, but she isn’t the sort of person who enjoys watching others suffer or tries to cause them suffering;  she is mainly just cold and indifferent to the troubles of others, and fails to take responsibility when she has emotionally hurt someone.

Even so, as a parent, she was still very damaging.   Along with my borderline/narcissistic dad, who also was an active alcoholic during most of my childhood and adolescence (addictive disorders and alcoholism tend to exacerbate Cluster B personality types), there was lots and lots of drama, instability, fighting, screaming, accusations, gaslighting, hiding the truth from others, and abuse both physical and emotional while I was growing up, and it was mostly directed at me.  Needless to say, my growing up years were painful and traumatic.  As the only child in their marriage, I was constantly scapegoated and gaslighted and held to impossible standards, the implication being that I was never good enough and could never measure up.

Things could have been worse, but the damage was done.   I never felt like a full adult, and my self esteem took a beating.  I came to believe I wasn’t capable of very much in life.  My high sensitivity was used against me, treated like a defect or a weakness, instead of something that would ultimately become one of my greatest strengths.  I never really found my niche career wise, and I married an abusive, sociopathic husband who in many ways mirrored the emotional abuse I had suffered at the hands of both my parents as a child.

I felt especially uncomfortable, impotent, and childlike whenever I was with my mother, and this lasted into my fifties.  I’m not sure why this was so.  Perhaps because of my parents, she was the more narcissistic one, the one who seemed to always disapprove of me no matter what I said or did.   She would constantly gaslight me, give me “left handed” compliments that were really criticisms, find ways to embarrass or shame me in front of others (and then say I was being too sensitive or “imagining things” when I objected to this treatment), or blame me for things that weren’t actually my fault.   She never seemed to empathize whenever I was victimized at work or bullied at school and would instead tell me why I was bringing those things upon myself.

Going No Contact with her was necessary and freeing, and as I wrote about our relationship, I discovered many things about myself I never knew.   I discovered that I was not the failure and loser she’d always led me to believe I was, but my emotional growth had been stunted.   Anger followed but that passed.  Once it passed, I started to realize she was who she was because of the abuse she had suffered as a child.    I didn’t want to resume contact, but the more I read about narcissism, the more I realized she was simply a garden variety narcissist (which in a parent, is still very bad!) and did not meet the criteria for Malignant Narcissism.

For four years I avoided her phone calls (after awhile she stopped calling) and only sent cards on her birthday and Christmas.   But one day a few months ago, I took a phone call from her.   I figured it must be important since she rarely tried to call me anymore.  After all, she’s in her late 80s and it could be an emergency I needed to know about.   So I took the call (it turned out to be something pretty unimportant, though I can’t remember the specific reason she called).  She might have just been love bombing me, though there’s no way to know for sure.

Rather than tell her I had to get off the phone (as I would have earlier in my recovery), I decided to find a neutral subject that wouldn’t lead to an argument and we might be able to find some common ground on (a kind of grey rocking).  Since I was so caught up in (and disturbed by) the Trump presidency, I sent this up as a trial balloon and asked her what she thought about the latest debacle (which at the time was the cruel child separation policy at the border).   Politically,  we’re on the same side, and like me, she is horrified by Trump and what’s happening to this country (this is another way I can tell she’s not a sociopathic or malignant narcissist).   So for about half an hour, we actually had a pleasant (well, if you can call a conversation about the current political situation pleasant) conversation without any arguments or putdowns or gaslighting.    For once, I didn’t feel like a defective five year old.  For perhaps the first time, I felt like she was treating me like a fellow adult capable of thinking for myself.  It felt good!   We spoke for almost an hour, and right before we hung up, she said something she had never said to me before.

She said, “I have really missed you.  I love you so much.  You are such a good person.”

“You are such a good person.”   Whoa!  That’s simply not something a narcissistic mother would say to her child.   Nothing about my external appearance or my financial status, social class, worldly “success” or lack thereof.    Not only that, she sounded sincere, almost on the verge of tears.  I began to think that perhaps, I had misjudged her, and she wasn’t actually a narcissist at all.  Maybe she was just a borderline or maybe she had changed with age and was no longer a narcissist.

I didn’t speak to her again for another few months, but I began to toy with the idea of cautiously breaking my No Contact rule and going Low Contact.    It took me a long time to call her again, but the night before last week’s election, I finally shored up the courage to give her a call.

I decided to use the impending election as a way to start the conversation, since politics had worked the last time.    And it’s true we agreed about who we wished to see win the midterms and how much we both hated Trump and the GOP.   But this time the conversation wasn’t the same.   It felt forced and tense.   She kept interrupting me to say I was being too negative and dwelling on negative things too much, just like the old days before I went No Contact.   She seemed to want to change the subject, and kept asking me personal questions about myself.  I talked to her a little about the kids (her grandchildren) but when she asked me about myself, I clammed up.  I felt like she was prying and I didn’t want to tell her about myself (not that there’s much to tell).    Then she started saying she wanted to come visit me in the spring.  I don’t want her to come visit in the spring, or at all.   Just like in the old days, I felt diminished, put down, like a defective five year old again.   I realized nothing had really changed at all.

But that begs the question, what had made her say, with tears evident in her voice no less, that  I was a ‘good person’?  That’s just not something you hear someone with NPD say.   She seemed to mean it; I don’t think it was love bombing (though it could have been).    Perhaps for a fairly low level narcissist who isn’t malignant (but is still dangerous to others due to their disorder), the clouds occasionally part and they can actually see things clearly, the way they really are, without lying to themselves or others about what they see.     Perhaps she envies the fact I care about others, and am politically involved, and while normally such qualities might make her resent me,  at that particular moment, her guard was down and she realized she actually admired those qualities in me.

I’m pretty sure that on some level, my mother does love me.  At least I know she means me no harm.  And I love her too; she is my mother, so how can I not?    But the truth is, she is still a narcissist, and I simply can’t have any kind of serious relationship with anyone on the narcissism spectrum, especially someone I have so much unresolved childhood baggage with.   So it looks like it’s going to be just us exchanging cards on birthdays and Christmas, and we’ll see what happens as far as any future conversations go.  I just know for my own mental health, staying Very Low Contact is best.

 

Confusing patterns.

This is an older post about a very confusing time for me during my recovery journey. It’s very common for people with Complex PTSD who survived narcissistic abuse to believe they are narcissists themselves, but if you think you are one, most likely you are not. I definitely have narcissistic traits, some that I picked up from my abusers, others that may be inherent, but I don’t have NPD.

Two years ago, I became so certain I did that I actually started a second blog about it. That blog has been taken down, though some people did tell me they found it helpful and that makes me happy. It’s very common for people with C-PTSD to believe they have NPD. but I just couldn’t leave the blog up because it started to feel like a lie.

Lucky Otters Haven

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In the almost year and a half since I’ve been blogging, an interesting picture has emerged. I started to blog after I went no contact with my ex (actually very low contact since we have children) as a way to process having been a victim of narcissistic abuse, first by my family of origin, then by my ex. My focus for the first six months or so was primarily on my abusers, and my rage at narcissists in general. Most of my articles were about narcissists and narcissism, and I read everything I could about it too. I became close with other ACON (adult children of narcissists) bloggers. I wasn’t ready yet to take a good long look at myself and what I could do to help myself, other than staying far away from abusive people. But it was a very good start to a journey that proved to be…

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Oh, for the love of Christ. Fooled by another f*cking covert narcissist?

Crocodile Tears

This time it’s a damned covert narc.  At least I think that’s what I’m dealing with.  Do I sound mad and upset?  You bet I am.   I hope I’m wrong but I know the red flags when I seee them.  I’ve had enough experience with them.

Hell, about two years ago (as some of you probably remember) I spent many weeks and maybe even months reading and studying everything I could find about all the symptoms and signs of covert NPD because I was so certain I must be one myself.   I probably qualify for an advanced degree in this disorder.  (Happily, I finally realized I am not one, but CPTSD, an earlier diagnosis of BPD, and my narcissistic “fleas” had me fooled.)

You may be aware I live with my daughter, who is 25.   She’s a good girl, hardworking, sweet, empathetic, intelligent, and beautiful (and I don’t just say that because I’m her mom).   Sure, she has her bad, even bitchy, moments, but don’t we all.   She’s overcome a lot due to her father’s abuse, my complicity and enabling, and sexual abuse she suffered at school.  There was a time back during her teens both her therapists and I were afraid she was developing a personality disorder, probably ASPD (antisocial personality disorder) because she had a diagnosis of ODD (oppositional defiant disorder) as a teen.  She could not function in a regular school setting because she was in trouble constantly and suspended several times for things like stealing and fighting.

Finally, she went into residential treatment and was helped immensely (she was very cooperative with the very strict program) and today is a much different young woman. She has a ton of empathy I never knew was there.    I am beyond grateful for that, and today I can say we are the best of friends.   She is also clean and doesn’t do drugs anymore so I am incredibly grateful for that too.

But there’s a downside too.  Over the past several years, she’s been engaging in a dead end lifestyle I can only call serial monogamy.   She gets serious about one guy, they seem serious about her (for a time), and they even start talking about marriage, but things never progress any further.   There’s always something wrong with the guy: he’s too controlling, becomes abusive, or starts to see other people on the side, or she gets tired of them herself.   At least one who seemed too good to be true turned out to be a dangerous psychopath.

All of these relationships end, and then she quickly moves onto the next man (she’s attractive and personable so it’s easy for her to find new lovers).   I’ve talked to her about furthering her education, deciding on a career (she works in a series of dead end service jobs none of which last very long),  and focusing on just herself, but she’s just like I was at that age: she seems to lack the motivation gene or any idea what she wants to do in life (besides find a man she can marry and will support her).  She seems incapable of tolerating being single.   That’s how I was at her age and I will always regret never developing myself to my full potential and not being more serious about finishing a higher education and finding something I’m passionate enough to turn into a career.  She is certainly intelligent enough, but she’s emotionally damaged.  Getting her to go to therapy is futile.  She simply won’t do it.  But that’s a whole other issue I won’t get into here.

It’s painful watching her take the same non-path I took –a road to an adulthood of constant near poverty, frustration, lack of intellectual and creative fulfillment, relentless financial insecurity, and now, for me — a terrible dread of old age without any real safety net.  I may be living on the streets if Medicare and Social Security are abolished, and that is terrifying.  I don’t have a life partner to provide emotional support, since I never knew how to pick one who didn’t turn out to be an abuser.  I  feel like I’m way too old (and still too afraid) to enter the dating scene again (I hate dating with a passion).  I’d rather just stay single and see how things play out.

Getting back to my daughter, her latest paramour is a man 14 years her senior (he is almost 40).  He gives the impression of a very sweet, kind, and sensitive person.  In fact, he appears to be a very emotional person who shed tears easily and is constantly apologizing.   That should have been a red flag.

At first I thought, “oh, how sweet, a sensitive man not afraid of his emotions,” but I actually think he uses tears and emotion to manipulate others to get his way or to get attention.   Using pity is a red flag of a covert narcissist, especially one of the “fragile” or “vulnerable” type.   They’re common (especially in women but can be found among men too).  They’re dangerous because they’re so hard to spot.  We expect narcs to be mean, arrogant, verbally abusive, and never apologize for anything.  But not all of them are like that, even though on th inside, they are all pretty much the same and just as self obsessed and entitled.   No matter whether their style is grandiose or self pitying, there’s always a yawning black hole where their heart ought to be.

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The reason I came to the conclusion he’s probably a covert narcissist and not just a big softie with a huge heart is the way he appears to string both of us along, causing immense anger and frustration.

He has been promising to get her an engagement ring and propose.  He was supposed to do it on our vacation last week.  We had agreed ahead of time that he would give me  half the money for the hotel, plus half of all expenses (meals, etc.).    The tab came to over $400.   Originally he was supposed to have the cash for me when we got to the hotel and I would pay the whole tab on my credit card.   Well, it turned out his employer made a mistake on his check and he didn’t get paid.  How convenient.

His employer promised they would rectify this on Friday, the day we returned from our trip.    I believed him, sort of.  At least I wanted to believe him.   But there had been one or two other red flags previous to this, that I didn’t think much of at the time, but I suddenly remembered them and began to wonder if he was trying to find a way to get out of paying me, or if he was getting cold feet about the engagement, since without the money, he couldn’t put the final payment down on my daughter’s ring.

I wanted to have a good time, and forget about all this unpleasant business, and so we did.   It seemed worth it, since we all had a great time and he was nothing less than wonderful to both my daughter and me.  Not another sign of narcissism or abusiveness, covert or otherwise.

But after we got home, he called his employer and found out they “forgot” again.  He was promised they would write up a check from petty cash the next day, which was Saturday.  Something felt wrong.

On Saturday he had a sudden “episode” of fainting and an ambulance had to be called.   My daughter went with him to the hospital, which said he would be okay.  It had something to do with heat stroke from too much sun, plus another chronic medical issue he’s been struggling with.   It wasn’t that I wasn’t empathetic or thought he was faking, but the timing of this “emergency” was just really weird.  Of course he could not go get his check, so now it would have to wait until Sunday.    Even my daughter mentioned to me that she was afraid he might be faking so he could put off getting the money.   I have to admit I thought this was a possibility.

I was growing very angry over his failure to pay me back the $400 he had promised me almost a week earlier.    We had never agreed that the vacation would be a gift.  I also considered that this might be his way of getting “cold feet” since his inability to get the money meant he could not finish paying off her ring and therefore there would be no proposal right now, if ever.  What a cowardly way to call off or delay an engagement, if that was what he was actually doing.

Of course, when he got back from the hospital, he was all apologies and tears.   He was hugging both of us and saying “sorry” over and over again.  I felt a little nauseated by this over the top display of emotion because I felt it wasn’t really sincere and was just a way to keep stringing us both along and buying more time.

So last night, he was all happy and excited and told both of us his company had finally issued a check (it was handwritten).  He waved it proudly at both of us.   He wanted me to take today off from work to film him proposing to her (this was supposed to have happened at the beach, but oh well).  I agreed to do this because it seemed important and I didn’t want to miss it.  I had also promised them I’d film the moment.    He said he would cash it first thing in the morning and then he would go get her ring and then we’d all go out somewhere special where he would propose.

Well, guess what.    This morning when I woke up he was gone.  My daughter was in her room mad as hell (not crying, just furious).   I asked her what happened, and she said the check was postdated for next week!   I asked her if he had failed to look at the date and she said, no, he definitely had seen it but chose not to mention it because he was afraid she’d be mad at him and he “couldn’t bear to hurt her again.”    She said she was sick of his lying and game playing so she made him leave until he could get everything fixed and get the money for both her ring and the $400 he owed me.   She said if he failed to do that, she was done with him.   That’s a good decision on her part.   Meanwhile I’ll still be out $400 which he bilked from me to get a free beach vacation, but I guess things could be worse.   He promised her he had a way to get the money today.  We shall see.   I’m skeptical.

Anyway, I’m glad my daughter is beginning to catch on to when she’s being manipulated and abused, because this is abuse, even though this man hasn’t uttered one nasty word, called her any names, or physically abused her.

Abuse comes in many forms.  Covert narcissists (and many borderlines) often use tears, guilt tripping, begging, financial abuse, “stringing you along,” and other underhanded, insidious techniques to get what they want.  Because they are less obviously abusive and can seem so “nice” and even emotionally fragile and needy, they can instill guilt and pity to get their way.  Their marks are empaths who fall for that sort of shit.    If they never deliver on their promises, you can be pretty sure you’re dealing with a person who is never going to be honest with you and will make your life an endless carousel  of frustration and anger that’s difficult to target on that person because they “never mean it.”

So, at this moment, I’m (maybe foolishly?) waiting for him to come back with the money he owes and make good on the promises he’s so far broken.    But I’m not getting my hopes up, that’s for sure.

Grandiose and “vulnerable” narcissists: how do they differ?

This got buried for awhile, but I think it’s one of my best posts about narcissism, so here it is again.

Lucky Otters Haven

beggar_king
Both the beggar and the king could be narcissists with a different M.O.

An interesting article in Psychology Today explains the difference between grandiose (invulnerable) narcissists, and “vulnerable” narcissists. Either can be somatic or cerebral, and either can also be malignant or non-malignant.

The two kinds of narcissists can seem very different on the surface:

Grandiose narcissists can seem emotionally cold, convinced of their achievements or success, and rarely if ever talk about their fears or their problems. They can be very quick to judge others though. On the surface they seem strong and tough. You won’t see them show emotions other than rage or pride, and if they are ever sad or fearful, you will never see that side of them. Like all narcissists, they are never happy,but they can “act” happy if they need to. And like all narcissists, they are incapable of love but may be able…

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Donald Trump, Psychopath

dtangryface

Here’s an interesting, informative article from Patheos.com in which the author, Andrew Spitznas, makes an excellent case for Donald Trump being afflicted with Malignant Narcissism — Antisocial Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, and traits of both Paranoia and Sadism.  Donald Trump displays all four elements, and the author gives examples of each.

Donald Trump, Psychopath

My only criticism is the author states that malignant narcissism is the same as psychopathy.  I disagree.  Psychopathy (as opposed to sociopathy, which it’s often confused with) is a congenital condition in which the brain is missing the structures responsible for the development of a conscience and empathy.   Thus, a person can be a psychopath even though there was no unusual trauma during childhood.  Psychopathy is not a personality disorder, but really a developmental disorder of the brain.  Psychopaths are often “bad seeds,” but not all psychopaths are criminals and some can even be trained to be prosocial (even though prosocial behavior will never come naturally to them).

Malignant narcissism is NPD plus ASPD (antisocial personality disorder), with traits of paranoia and sadism, and it is not a congenital condition.  Both NPD and ASPD are Cluster B personality disorders that develop due to early childhood trauma or neglect.  Children are not born with personality disorders; they are acquired.  While malignant narcissists are quite sociopathic and usually lack a conscience  (garden variety, non-malignant NPDs are not sociopathic, they usually have a conscience, and even sometimes have limited amounts of empathy), they are not psychopathic.    The sociopath’s — or malignant narcissist’s — emotional development was arrested so they never developed empathy or a conscience.   There is no evidence that anyone has ever been cured of malignant narcissism, though in rare circumstances, they may become self-aware.   Donald Trump is most certainly not self-aware, nor is he likely to ever become so.

While it’s entirely possible Donald Trump may be both a malignant narcissist and a psychopath, they are not the same thing.  It’s possible to be one without being the other.  I think the confusion arises because the behavior of a psychopath and a malignant narcissist (or a person with antisocial personality disorder/sociopathy) can be so similar.

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.

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