Narcissistic abuse: who is the real victim?

I’ve noticed the way the Trump administration is constantly “blaming the victim,” and the way they never take responsibility for their own terrible and abusive actions that hurt real people.  Not just that, but they usually paint themselves as innocent victims and use rhetoric that makes it sound as if the real victim is the perpetrator.  They project their own evil onto the victim and often use flying monkeys (in a government, a flying monkey can include state run news, TV pundits, and other propaganda generators) to smear or destroy the victim’s reputation or credibility.   This is a form of emotional and mental abuse common in families run by sociopaths and narcissists and, as we are seeing, it also happens in sociopathic regimes like the one we’re currently living under.

There is an acronym called DARVO in the narcissistic abuse community (DARVO = Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender). Narcissistic abuse survivors are all too familiar with this method of mental abuse and emotional manipulation.  It surprises me that more of them don’t see it happening in the Trump administration, when it’s staring them right in the face, but there are abuse victims who actually unconsciously identify with their abusers and this could be an example of that.

There are many examples of DARVO in this administration (it would take a whole other article to name all of them), the most recent one being the GOP ganging up on and blaming a rape victim of trying to “ruin the life of” and making a victim of a “model citizen” (Brett Kavanaugh).   In general, women are held in very low regard in this regime (especially if they are not white), and are usually blamed by the patriarchy for anything that happens to them, including rape. These hateful, entitled men seem to think a man who sexually abuses a woman or even a child (Roy Moore) is just “doing what men do” and it’s the female’s job to somehow stop him, or that she somehow “led him on.”

In this authoritarian regime which emboldens and encourages toxic masculinity and misogyny, men are painted as poor innocents who simply cannot control their sexual urges.   Never mind that forcible sex, rape and molestation have nothing to do with sexual desire and is all about power and control.   If it cannot be denied the rape or sexual abuse was wrong, the woman is blamed for not reporting it in a timely enough manner.  But there are many reasons a woman or girl may not report sexual abuse or may wait many years to do so: shame and fear of retribution being the most common reasons.   According to the patriarchy, the man is never to blame.  It is always the woman’s fault.

Franklin Graham, the dominionist son of Billy Graham (what the heck happened to Graham’s kids anyway? Billy was not a lunatic) even went so far as to say Kavanaugh “respected” his victim by “not finishing.”   Wow.  A real man of God.   He probably thinks it’s okay to rape young girls because that’s what men did in Old Testament times.    Now the corrupt GOP are trying to silence Dr. Blasey Ford and ram Kavanaugh through for the SCOTUS seat in spite of abundant evidence he is not a man of good character.  They are trying to excuse what he did to Dr. Blasey Ford as normal behavior for a teenage boy, even though it is not at all normal.     When I was in high school, no boy with any moral compass would ever hold a girl down while forcing sex on her and cover her mouth to keep her from screaming (and have a friend turn the music up to drown her out), and if he did, it would become a police matter (if she ever reported it).

In light of these developments and the real peril women are in under the Trump regime (we may lose all our rights and freedoms should this nomination go through and if the GOP wins the midterms), I’m reblogging this article I wrote about distinguishing victims from their abusers (it can be hard to tell, if the abuser has convinced you they’re the victim)

Lucky Otters Haven

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Narcissistic abusers are great at charming people they want to impress, or those people they want to get on their side. When they have targeted an individual for abuse, they will stop at nothing to turn their friends, colleagues, even their families against them–and it’s not at all uncommon for them to claim that THEY are the ones being abused.   The process of using malicious gossip and lies to turn people against the victim is called triangulation and is well known in the narcissistic abuse community. Most of us who have been targeted by narcissistic abusers know all too well about triangulation and its close cousin, gaslighting. Both will be used in conjunction with each other to turn the victim’s potential allies against them, effectively isolating them and ripping away any support systems they could use later.

Those who have been turned against the victim by the narcissist are called

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Projection and Trump’s snake story.

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

 

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

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

On her way to work one morning

Down the path alongside the lake

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

His pretty colored skin had been all frosted with the dew

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

“Take me in oh tender woman

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

She wrapped him up all cozy in a curvature of silk

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

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

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

“Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

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

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

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

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

“Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,” sighed the snake

“I saved you,” cried that woman

“And you’ve bit me even, why?

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

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

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

”Take me in, oh tender woman 

Take me in, for heaven’s sake

Take me in oh tender woman,“ sighed the snake 

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

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

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

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

 

The most effective defense against gaslighting.

bytheirfruits

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

Examples of gaslighting in relationships:

“I was joking. Stop being so sensitive.”

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

“You are imagining things.”

“It never happened.”

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

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

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

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

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

5 reasons why you should never tell a narcissist they’re a narcissist.

Originally posted on July 1, 2015

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In my dealings with narcissists, it’s sometimes been tempting to tell them to their face that they’re narcissists, thinking maybe it could be the wake up call they need. It’s a nice fantasy to think they might take a look at their obnoxious, abusive, insufferable selves and try to make some changes, but unfortunately that’s just a fantasy. It won’t work, because narcissists cannot feel remorse for their actions or empathy for hurting you. In fact, they may take pleasure from it.

The following reactions are far more likely if you “out” a narcissist to their face:

1. They might rage. Or give you the silent treatment. Or laugh at you. Or deny it. Or abuse you. Or call you names. Or tell you you’re crazy or deluded. Narcissists hate the truth, and if they know you have their number, they feel threatened and will attack like a cornered rattlesnake. It’s in their nature.

2. It might give them twisted narcissistic supply. Some narcissists may actually take a perverse pride in being called narcissistic. Rather than making them feel shame and remorse, telling a narcissist they’re a narcissist may flatter them and inflate their ego even more, which could lead to them becoming even more narcissistic and abusive than they already are.

3. They might project it back onto you. This is surprisingly common. Projection (attributing their own bad behaviors to their victims) is one of the more common red flags of a narcissist, so if you call a narc a narc, don’t be too surprised if they start telling everyone YOU are the narcissist. They might even turn the tables and play the victim (see DARVO).

4. They might learn more to hone their weapon. Taking #2 a step further, some bright narcissists may actually decide to learn more about their disorder–but not to learn how to control it or improve the way they treat people, but rather to educate themselves about abusive narcissistic mindgames they haven’t already tried in order to use them against you. I actually know someone this happened to when she called her ex a narcissist. He started reading every book he could get his hands on about NPD and narcissistic abuse, and systematically started using the information to “prove” his girlfriend had NPD and that he was the real victim (see #3).

5. They might not be a narcissist. There is always a possibility (even if small) that the person you think is a narcissist really isn’t. If you’re not a mental health professional qualified to make a diagnosis based on standardized testing and interviews, your own bias, lack of knowledge, or just plain dislike of a person could be influencing your judgment of them. Perhaps they are having a bad day (or a bad life), or suffer from some other disorder that can mimic narcissism. Even non-disordered people can act like narcissists at times. All of us can. So if you’re certain someone is a narcissist, you may be right, but it’s still best to keep that information to yourself–or only tell your close friends.

Narcissistic abuse in Trumpistan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gaslighting.

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

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

Divide and Conquer.

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

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

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

Projection.

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

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

Flying Monkeys.

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

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

DARVO

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

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

Scapegoating.

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

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

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

Blame-Shifting.

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

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

Splitting.

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

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

Devalue and Discard (D&D)

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

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

Love-Bombing.

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

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

Narcissistic Injury/Narcissistic Rage.

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

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

False Self.

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

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

Fear-Mongering.

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

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

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

Obfuscation/deflection.

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

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

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

“The War on Unhappiness” (Harper’s Magazine/PDF)

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Meme with a victim-blaming (gaslighting) sentiment typical of the “war on unhappiness” movement.

Following is a PDF file of an excellent (and long) article from the September 2010 issue of Harper’s Magazine tracing the rise of the positive thinking movement, and how it’s been taken to ridiculous and heartbreaking extremes, leading to the victim-blaming mentality and society-wide narcissism so pervasive today.   This attitude that we can all be our own gods and have everything we want if we’re just “happy enough” even infiltrates its way into churches, where “Christian” preachers like Joel Osteen are basically telling their flocks that if they only plaster on a winning smile and just be happy all the time, all their problems will evaporate.

Just like magic!  Magical thinking saves the day!

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Besides being a blatant lie (your problems are NOT just going to go away, but you might be able to delude yourself they don’t exist), the nasty flip side of this is that if you are a victim of any misfortune — illness, financial problems, loss of a job, a divorce, mental illness, any other losses of any kind — that it’s your own fault because you weren’t positive or “happy” enough.

Even worse, such victim-blaming tactics turn even darker: they allow a person to not have to take any responsibility for the way you feel.  If they say or did something that hurt you, they don’t have to say they’re sorry, because after all, saying you’re sorry is admitting guilt, and guilt is a Very Bad Thing.  No, so instead, they GASLIGHT you by telling you it’s YOUR problem that what they said or did upset you.  “I’m not responsible for the way you feel,” they say. “That’s YOUR problem.”  Case closed.   Door slammed in your face.

My parents, especially my mother, was notorious for projecting blame back onto me,  but both of them did it long before it became a thing. And of course, no emotions except happiness were allowed. The sad irony is that no one in our family was happy — we were all fucking miserable. But showing misery was verboten because in a narcissistic family, well, you just don’t show your feelings because no one wants to deal with them!

Now don’t get me wrong.  There’s nothing wrong with positive thinking, of course.  It’s a great skill to develop and will make your life a whole lot better than wallowing in a cesspool of self pity and marinating in a stew of misery all the time.   But taken to extremes, anything good can become bad.    This is a perfect example of another of those excesses Americans are so famous (and infamous) for.

The War On Unhappiness: Goodbye Freud, Hello Positive Thinking
By Gary Greenberg

http://www.garygreenbergonline.com/media/harpers.pdf

*****

Further reading:
How Positive Thinking “Nazis” Jettison Responsibility
Where I Stand on Positive Thinking

This…shifting.

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Since my trip to the Gulf Coast, I’ve been noticing this…shifting inside.  Other people have mentioned that they’ve noticed something in me has changed.  I think something has.

I don’t know exactly what it is, but I feel like more and more, I can see things as they actually are–and they almost always aren’t nearly so bad as I had feared.

I’m also starting to realize just how much I project ill will onto others where it doesn’t exist.  That doesn’t mean I didn’t have an emotionally toxic mother and a thoroughly evil husband, but it means that a lot of my paranoia, hypervigilance, suspicion and fear of others is often unfounded.   it’s nothing but a defensive mechanism, part of my disorder.

In a post from a few days ago, I talked about my mother in law. I thought she hated me for a long time, but during my trip I learned from my son that she doesn’t, not at all.   In fact she actually does care about me.  I projected ill will onto her because she isn’t a woman who is emotionally expressive and she’s very pragmatic in her dealings with others.    Being so hypervigilant and sensitive, I read that as “hate.”   I can think of several other examples of this too, where I realized it was me projecting things onto others in a negative way.

It’s like my vantage point has shifted.

At the same time these blinders to myself are being removed, I feel myself beginning to embrace the moment I’m in. Not just as a mindfulness practice, but as a real way of being and feeling. Maybe it’s due to trusting others–and the world–and God– more.  Maybe I’m slowly learning to trust again, the way I did when I was a child–and there’s awe and wonder there now mixed in with the tired old fear and shame. But it’s a new, more mindful kind of trust than the mindless gullibility I had as a young girl– a trust tempered with caution born of great pain.

Sometimes when I’m fully in the moment and allowing my heart to open to it, I feel this sort of melting…or shifting inside. It’s almost a physical feeling but not quite. It’s like the emotional equivalent of that warm, contented feeling that permeates through you like warm syrup  after a having a glass of wine.   It’s an expansive, almost loving feeling, toward life itself, and it’s delicious.

It’s not something I’m used to, and its fleetingness makes it almost hurt sometimes. I want this feeling. I want so much more of it. I miss it when it goes away again, and it always does.  It doesn’t last.   Right now, it’s such an elusive  thing and so fragile.   The fragility hurts, but it’s the kind of hurt that feels almost good, like the way a loose tooth hurt when you were a kid and you just had to keep pressing it with your tongue.  That doesn’t really accurately describe it, but it’s the closest analogy I can think of.

This feeling is better than any drug.   I need to feel it again…and again.   I need to internalize and make it a full-time part of me.

I know these are the real feelings of my inner child, who is no longer in such a deep slumber.

She’s beginning to wake up because someone–me–is learning to love and accept her for who she is and is no longer keeping her hidden away like some sort of shameful embarrassment.

One of my readers who is also a friend, described this exact same feeling to me in an email today. In some ways I think we’re at the same stage of our healing, although other details differ.

We talked a lot about that and about me as a child. I got this warmth in my chest, and acceptance of the child. Of me. I felt this softness inside, like something broke and became fluid. I felt warmth, maybe even love, to that child that was me. It was so nice to feel like that. Soft inside. Forgiving. No anger.
Now it has turned a bit cold again. But I wan’t to feel it again.

This nails the feeling exactly, and so beautifully expressed.

Pot…kettle…karma!

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In 1996 and again in 1997 I was hospitalized for episodes of clinical depression and near-psychotic, self destructive behavior.   For several years I’d had severe mood swings, shifting from near-mania to near-catatonic depression.  During these depressions I’d sleep all day, not even bothering to eat some days.   I was sure I had Bipolar Disorder, but it turned out I didn’t have that.    The first hospital stay was where I first got my BPD diagnosis.  I was also diagnosed with Major Depression, alcohol abuse (not alcoholism), and PTSD.

My sociopathic MN ex loved to use these diagnoses against me, especially the BPD one.  I guess he already knew BPD had a terrible reputation.   He used this diagnosis to demean me and discount anything I said, and also used it to turn our friends against me.   He’d always say things like:

“No one will take you seriously because you’re certifiably crazy, even the doctors say you are crazy!”

“You have BPD and we all know all Borderlines lie and can’t tell the truth more than they can tell their mouth from their a-hole”

“You’re a Borderline which means everything you say is a delusion and a lie.”

“No one believes you because you’re batshit crazy and even have the BPD diagnosis to prove it.”

Years later, after being arrested for domestic violence and public drunkenness (he had a pillhead girlfriend at this time), he was diagnosed with both NPD and ASPD, which makes him a certified Malignant Narcissist.   I find the irony of that pretty funny.  I wouldn’t trade my BPD diagnosis for his in a million years.

Eight fun games narcissists like to play (and one they can’t play).

I thought I’d bump my most popular post and get it even more views than it already has. Please note I didn’t actually write this post, just added the intro and pictures. #NPD #narcissism

Lucky Otters Haven

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Here are eight games that are lots of fun for one of the players: the narcissist who initiates them. And like the overgrown babies they are, if you refuse to play or appear to be winning their game, they will pout, whine or throw a tantrum until you concede or let them win. This is a humorous yet serious look at the many games narcissists like to play, from the website The Narcissistic Life. Don’t play these games. Let them sulk and whine all by their widdle selves. Take the ball and go home.

Games Narcissists Play
Written by Alexander Burgemeester

Narcissists are masters at playing mind games. They play to win and take no prisoners. They are poor losers and if they don’t win they will often react in a fit of rage and stomp away like a little child. The only way for the other person to win…

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Your Daily Dose of Crazy, Compliments of the Narcissist!

The level of crazy you see in narcissists just makes my head spin. Following is a fine example of their special brand of insanity. The one quoted in this post seems to be a Covert Narcissist.
Please leave your comments under the original post.

Divorcing a Narcissist Blog

Oh Boy. If you ever wanted an up close and personal view of what that special kind of crazy that only a Narcissist can deliver looks like… it is your lucky day.

I got these amazing text messages from the Narcissist tonight….  sounds like someone is upset. (and don’t worry, I didn’t reply to any of it)

THE NARCISSIST: I really think it’s in your best interest to stop writing untrue and negative things about me. I have read a few but I don’t have time to waste on your anger. You should really put that effort into journaling about your future and healing your anger. Not talking bad about someone you let go of and is no longer a part of your life.
THE NARCISSIST: I didn’t take all the screen shots of all the hateful things you said to me or those I care about (on various social…

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