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

Originally posted on January 9, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.The site preaches hate and revenge.

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

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

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

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

3. They are never in therapy or getting treatment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.  You just feel uncomfortable or ill at ease.   

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

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

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

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

22 Signs of Online Destructive Narcissists in Forums and Blogging Communities

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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.

“You people” and “I will pray for you.”

youpeople

This came up in the comments under another post, but I think these two phrases are important red flags to identify toxic people,  so I’m going to copy what I said in the comments here.

Language is a powerful tool.   It can be used to control, abuse or even destroy others, even whole nations.  The children’s rhyme “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” couldn’t be more wrong.   Sometimes the language abusers use isn’t straight up name-calling or unjustified and cruel criticism.  Sometimes the language used to hurt or demean others can actually seem “nice.”     This gives the speaker an easy excuse later on to say, “I never said anything wrong.  I was only trying to help!”

“You people.”

“You people” is used both on- and offline by people, usually narcissists or other toxic types of people, who consider you part of a group they can’t identify with or may outright despise.   It’s often used by racists to separate “us” from “them.”    It’s a form of splitting, and is an insidious way of dehumanizing a group of “others” who the speaker regards as inferior or different from them (in a bad way).   By dehumanizing people by making them the “other,” that justifies hatred or even abuse of “those people.”

“You people” seems innocuous enough, but it’s damaging because it implies that “you” are not like “me,” meaning “I” am better. The judgment and condescension are implied but are very clear.

ill-pray-for-you

“I will pray for you.”

A similar thing can be seen with certain religious types who say in a simpering, patronizing voice, “I will pray for you.” On the surface, the message SEEMS charitable enough, but when said in that condescending way, it implies that they believe you have some moral or other failing that led to your situation, and the implication is that they are “better” and therefore you are inferior to them.

I don’t want any prayers from people like that.

Both “You people…” and “I will pray for you” (said in a sickly sweet, condescending way, sometimes with an insincere “dear” or “honey” tacked on) are favorite phrases among narcissists intended to belittle you. You can bet the minute you’re out of earshot, they will be stabbing you in the back and definitely NOT praying for you.

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

hiding_mask

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

1.The site preaches hate and revenge.

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

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

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

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

3. They are never in therapy or getting treatment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

9.  You just feel uncomfortable or ill at ease.   

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

intuition

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

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

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

The real reason why my attitude toward narcissism changed.

A new day.

sunrise2

It’s the first day of Summer (or is it the second?), and things look much brighter today than they did last night. In the midst of a severe BPD/C-PTSD “episode,” (I’ll explain more in a minute), I published a post, “Why I’m a Wreck,” which I just set to private and will probably delete eventually. I thank all of you for your prayers and good wishes. I feel like I have a family here. ❤

I’m very symptomatic right now and overreacting to everything. I’m paranoid and hypervigilant. I see evil everywhere and demons in every corner (but the demons are only in my own mind).  I’m having trouble being mindful and trying to stay in the present.  I’m thinking in a more black and white way (splitting) than I have in a long time. I’m catastrophizing and imagining the worst possible outcomes about everything.  I’m “going off” on people and getting angry at them for no reason.    Example: I don’t agree with my roommate’s religious views, and I became very judgmental and actually yelled at her, telling her what she believed was “stupid.”  I immediately felt terrible about it and apologized; being so judgmental is not like me (but it is like me when my BPD is in full bore).   When a lot of things happen at the same time, it can really overwhelm anyone’s system (even if you’re free of BPD or C-PTSD) and it’s hard to keep your grip and stay mindful.

An example of my “catastrophizing” was believing my son has NPD. I talked to him again today, and he certainly does not. He may have a few of the traits of narcissism, but he does have empathy and he isn’t manipulative and he doesn’t play evil mindgames. He was in a bad mood last night and it was late. We talked today and he was much more sympathetic.

Two things have brought on this sh*tstorm of triggers and symptoms.

1. I’m getting deeper into therapy, into the really “difficult stuff.” It isn’t fun anymore. It’s hard, painful work now. I found this hard to believe when I started, that I’d get to a point where I’d be in so much pain as buried traumatic memories begin to emerge to consciousness. I have to keep reminding myself that this is all good; the pain and “regression” back into earlier ways of dealing with stress means I’m healing.

2. My father’s death. I’m grieving in my own way, but more than sadness is a lot of anger, and a lot of old, painful memories are being triggered by this too. I’m actually remembering events I thought I’d long forgotten.

God works in mysterious ways. It was my father’s time to die, but it also happened at a time where I felt “stuck” in therapy–not moving any faster and not able to access buried emotions brought on by trauma. My father’s death has made it possible for me to do this work, and it is work.

As for my daughter, her moving back in with me, as one of my commenters (Susan?) said in the post I just deleted, may be the best thing for both of us. I just need to set some firm boundaries but I think she will respect them. I never thought her living with her dad was a very good idea.

And, I’m not sure yet, but there may be a out of state move in our not very distant future–one that would bring the three of us (me, and both my kids) together as a family again and have a fresh start.  I don’t want to get my hopes too high about this though.  But it could happen.

My DD calls me a narcissist, but is it her or me, of both of us?

momanddaughter_argue

From a text conversation I had with DD this morning:

Me: Do you want to go to the pool today?

DD: I will lyk (let you know) in a few, I’m trying to find a way to cough up $50+ for Weston’s (best friend’s 2 year old son) birthday present ugggh

Me:  Cool, but you do remember you forgot to even get me a card or anything on Mothers Day

DD:  Wow, it’s always all about you isn’t it.  You can be such a selfish c__t.

Me: Really? You are the one being a you know what.  And you know how I feel about that word.  Your father always liked to call me that.  I am sorry you are depressed or whatever but I would like an apology.  I am tired of you treating me like crap.

DD: WTF are you talking about?  I’m trying to sleep for a few and I care about that child,  hence why I am getting him something nice for his birthday but since your selfish ways won’t permit me to get him anything nice I’ll spend the rest of my money on YOU so stop worrying.

Me: Just read my last message.  I hate how you talk to me. 

DD: Honestly, you are too self absorbed to realize that I care about that child and want to spend money on him but since your selfish ways exactly what I just said are getting in the way of me doing that, don’t you worry I’m not going to buy him a damn thing, instead I’ll buy you everything!  That was pretty much what I just said 3 minutes ago so I know how I sound, I am always nice to you and you just have to call me up telling me not to spend money on a two year old because how dare I not get something for you, God forbid. Don’t talk to me the rest of the day, I am not in the mood for you. 

Me: Don’t be ridiculous.  You didn’t spend one penny on a gift for me but went all out for your dad on his birthday, getting him 20 things, and guess what. I have feelings and that hurts…it’s called having feelings and not being selfish.  It’s like I mean nothing to you.  Sorry you’re in one of your bitch-moods.   I still want to go to the pool with you today. 

DD: Money is a really important issue in your life, isn’t it.  Actually that’s a dumb question because I know it’s pretty much your whole life.  So I am so so so so so so sorry about not spending thousands of dollars on you, God forbid that you never pay me back that $5000 [for the record, she never loaned me $5,000]  but I’ not going to bring that up am I?

Me: You just did, and you and I both know you never loaned me that sum of money. 

DD: Whatever. I haven’t slept, I’ve been stressed, I have no money ever, I have a job I hate, I hate my life and you want to call me at 7 in the morning and say we’re going to be late to the pool and they don’t open til 10.   I probably will not be joining you today we can go another day nut I do not want to see you today to be honest.  Doesn’t mean I don’t love you, just means I don’t like you right now. I stayed up all night now I need to get some sleep

Me: (replying to an earlier message–I had not got her last text yet):   Why are you being so mean? Go back to sleep.

DD: I’m going to sleep.  I forgot it was Fathers Day too. Now both my self absorbed parents are mad at me now because I haven’t bought them a gift. So excuse me for not spending money on you, too bad, bye.

Me: Even if you had only made a Mothers Day card-it’s not about the money, like I keep telling you, it’s the thought.   Anyway, I think when you get up later you should apologize because you were really mean to me and hurt my feelings. 

DD: I think you should apologize for waking me up, keeping me on the phone to argue, and self diagnosing me when you’re not a licensed therapist [where did I diagnose her in this convo?] so please keep your opinions to yourself.  You’re not getting an apology, I always apologize, this is your turn.  So this is the last time I’m going to tell you.  I am not going to answer any more from you so please do not text me again. 

Me: I am texting again because I still want  to take you to the pool. I will be there at 12:30. I also want to say this for you to think about.  If I consistently always forgot your birthday  but always remembered everyone else’s, don’t tell me you wouldn’t be hurt, I know you would.  You need to grow some empathy.  And I was not diagnosing you, where do you see a diagnosis?   But I did see that you called me “self absorbed” which is kind of a diagnosis, isn’t it?   I just wanted you to know that I feel like I’m unimportant to you, so it isn’t about the money at all.  You know I’m not the materialistic type.

There were no more replies after this.

Reading this back over, I think both of us were acting like narcissists.

DD was using the old tactic of “all or nothing” (a form of splitting), eg, “you complain that I didn’t get you a gift–even a cheap $1 gift–so that means you’re materialistic and only care about money.”     Also she was the one who started the name calling by calling me a c__t (knowing how I feel about that word).   She also lied (telling me she loaned me $5000 when it was only $1000 and I paid most of that back). It’s true–she did completely forget about Mother’s Day (claiming she was broke), but still went out and spent $100 for her father on his birthday which was the same week.   It’s not the money that was spent, it was that I felt like he was important to her and I was not (and maybe that’s partly true).     She was also projecting her own self centeredness onto me (although I think we were both being pretty self centered).  Of course, she has heard a lot from her father (my MN ex) too, about my alleged narcissism.  Then she lied a second time, accusing me of diagnosing her when in fact I was not.

In her favor, I know she’s been depressed lately and she’s quick to anger when depressed, but sometimes when she’s like this I feel like I’m walking on eggshells.  It was early and I probably got her up when she was half asleep.

On my side, I did use guilt-tripping on her and kept belaboring the same issue even after she said she wanted to go back to sleep.

In conclusion, I don’t think either of us approached this argument in a healthy or mature way.   For the record, she has also been diagnosed with BPD and PTSD, and she is symptomatic a lot.  Put two Borderlines together (even when one is recovering) and there’s always going to be drama because all kinds of stuff gets triggered.   But I’m never prepared for it when it happens.   I feel kind of horrible now, but should I apologize to her anyway even though she was at least half wrong?

Anyway, this is the beauty of text messaging.  You can go back over a conversation later and analyze it in a way you can never do with a spoken conversation.

“If Looks Could Kill: Anatomy of a Borderline”

littlegirlwithacurl

People with BPD, like all the Cluster B disorders, can at times seem demonic, especially when raging. I used to have these episodes of uncontrolled rage, in which I’d dissociate pretty severely. It was as if an actual demon inside me was unleashed and I couldn’t control my actions or my words, even though I knew I’d wind up regretting it and apologizing profusely hours later, hanging my head in shame. I think these rage episodes scared me as much as they scared everyone else, but there didn’t seem to be anything I could do about them. They were far too big for me to handle. Although no one ever told me I looked “evil,” I probably did during these episodes.

DBT and mindfulness tricks helped me get things under control, but I do seem to have mellowed in general with age. That seems to happen with some BPD women (some even become spontaneously “cured” after their childbearing years end), which makes me wonder if BPD is really a personality disorder at all, or something more biochemical. Since abuse or neglect in childhood is almost always present in Borderlines, maybe abuse causes brain chemistry to change for people who develop it, and this affects the female hormones in some way.

The emotional numbness is still there, but that’s nothing new–and it could be my PTSD rather than BPD. “Zombie” used to be my default setting in between rages so severe I seemed possessed. With increasing self awareness I’m becoming more able to access real emotions without losing control. The emotional numbness is lessening but the rages of my younger years have not returned. I’m not sure which emotions are still under wraps but I think it’s closer to sadness over some undefinable loss than rage.

This article accurately describes the Borderline’s ever-shifting emotional extremes and just how black their dark moods really can be.

If Looks Could Kill: Anatomy of a Borderline

By Shari Schreiber, M.A.
GettinBetter.com

There was once a little girl who had a little curl, right in the middle of her forehead. When she was good, she was very, very good–but when she was bad, she was horrid.

My other articles on Borderline Personality Disorder speak to elements in the Borderline that seduce you and keep you enraptured, despite their push-pull emotional gymnastics, disruptive come here/go away cycles, and confusing, crazy-making behaviors. This piece exposes the volatile, frightening dark side of this individual who has gotten you under their spell and won’t let you go, but also uncovers the root cause of these issues. There’s a comprehensive list of features/traits at the bottom, which can help you determine if you’re involved with someone who has BPD–or it may serve as a self-diagnostic tool.

While many BPD people have killer looks, not all Borderlines are beautiful or handsome–but that doesn’t make them any less seductive or diabolical. It’s much easier for a great looking man or woman to find continuous streams of narcissistic supply via adulation and romantic pursuit from others, and until this ego fuel isn’t obtainable, they won’t consider therapy. Why should they? Humans don’t change, until what they’ve been doing doesn’t work for them anymore–or they’re in enough pain, to re-direct their energies and efforts toward seeking the help they need to get truly well.

Read the rest of this article here.

Is NPD really a dissociative disorder?

dissociative_identity_disorder

I think there’s good reason to think NPD (and to some extent, BPD) is really a dissociative disorder. Think about it. There is a true self and a false self that are split from each other, much the way a person with dissociative identity disorder (DID) has a “waking self” or the “host personality” (the DID’s equivalent of the true self) that has split into different “personalities”, some of which aren’t even aware that others exist. Still, the narrative of the true self runs beneath everything, like an underground river feeds the land above it. In other words, the false self’s behaviors are driven by the need to keep the true self hidden and/or protected.

NPDs (and BPDs) also have episodes of dissociation and feelings of unreality, depersonalization, derealization, or even annihilation when under stress or when injured, and these dissociative episodes can become so bad during a narcissistic crisis that a psychotic break can occur. Narcissists are not unknown to become psychotic during old age due to massive loss of supply.

There are other things too that are dissociative–the magical thinking, the splitting, and the manifestation of the FS itself, which is, in essence, a separate “personality” from the TS.
I’ve read elsewhere that NPD could be a dissociative disorder, and I think it’s a valid argument. Thoughts?

“Splitting” and idealization/devaluation.

splitting1

Splitting–more commonly known as black and white or all or nothing thinking–is a primitive defense mechanism used by both narcissists and borderlines when they observe a threat–that someone doesn’t agree with them or is challenging them in some way, or when they fear abandonment (borderlines) or exposure/loss of supply (narcissists). In narcissism, splitting is usually referred to as idealization/devaluation, but other than the unconscious motive (fear of abandonment for borderlines, fear of losing a source of supply for narcissists), the phenomenon is really the same thing.

Splitting is normal in a very young child. When Mommy is present and hugging the child, Mommy is perceived as “good.” When she denies the child another cookie or she goes to work, the child throws a tantrum, and Mommy is now “bad.” Because the child still doesn’t see himself as a completely separate person from Mommy, when Mommy does something that makes the child unhappy or fearful, the child rejects her and thinks of HER as all-bad. The child is not yet capable of the concept that Mommy is an individual who can be both good and bad at different times and to different degrees depending on the situation.

The fairy tales we read to young children engage them at a level they can understand: fairy tale characters are all-good or all-bad, heroes or villains, with no in between. Only an older child can fully understand that people come in varying shades of grey, and pure black or pure white in one person is exceedingly rare. Realizing that most people are both evil and good at the same time is a sign of maturity and indicates the child has come to see himself as a completely separate person with his or her own identity who can afford to see others as individuals too, rather than one-dimensional cardboard cartoon characters.

Narcissists and borderlines never make that transition. Due to early attachment issues arising from neglect, abuse, or sometimes maternal smothering, they continue to see others as extensions of themselves, not separate people with their own identities, interest and opinions. If someone is an extension of yourself, of course the other person must be seen as “all good.” If the other person fails to provide adequate supply (for the narcissist) or disagrees with them or has differing opinions, they are perceived as a threat and must be rejected, devalued, and demonized as “other.” The only way a narcissist or borderline can see another person as a separate entity is when they have become “other” and are demonized and seen as “all bad.”

splitting

Splitting is common in today’s political landscape. Candidate A believes in health care reform, the legalization of marijuana, the cessation of the outsourcing of jobs, raising taxes on the wealthy–and that a woman has the right to choose whether or not to terminate a pregnancy. Candidate B believes in health care reform, the legalization of marijuana, the cessation of outsourcing of jobs, raising taxes on the wealthy–and that abortion should be outlawed. Candidates A and B, rather than focusing on what they have in common and using that to help improve people’s lives, instead go on smear campaigns against each other focusing on the only thing they don’t agree on: abortion. Candidate A accuses Candidate B of being a throwback to the “unenlightened” 1950s, while Candidate B accuses Candidate A of wanting to legalize murder. Neither acknowledges the many things they agree on–all either can see is that the other is a “murderer” or a “throwback troglodyte.” (Notice too how the accusing labels have become exaggerated and more abusive). That many politicians are narcissistic by nature makes splitting come second nature to most of them. Unfortunately, splitting has become standard in political campaigning and is intended to garner more votes (narcissistic supply) for the accuser while taking them away from the opposing party.

Robin and Tim are madly in love with each other. Robin idealizes Tim–she thinks he is the most perfect man she ever met, and she can’t imagine a life without him. He is the most handsome, smart, funny, sexy, and interesting man in the world, and she can’t believe her luck in having met him. Recently they have started talking about getting engaged. Tim thinks Robin’s wild mood swings are rather charming–but he hasn’t been the target of them yet.

On Tim’s birthday, Robin cooks him a lavish dinner and has a bottle of champagne ready to pop open and enjoy. He is supposed to be home by seven. Eight o’clock comes, and he isn’t home yet. At eight-fifteen, Tim calls and says he got held up. He is in the door by nine, apologizing profusely about his lateness–he was called into an emergency meeting by his boss and couldn’t get out of it. Rather than accepting his apology at face value and proceed to have a nice dinner together, Robin goes on a rampage. She accuses Tim of having a lover and never having loved her. The champagne bottle gets smashed against the wall and the dinner thrown in the trash. After fighting for hours, Robin tells Tim to leave and that she never wants to see him again and that he’d make a terrible husband to any woman who would have him anyway.

In the course of two hours, Robin has turned Tim, a normal man who really did love her but couldn’t get out of a meeting, from “the most perfect man in the world” into an unfeeling monster who is cheating on her and would “make any woman miserable.” Because he disappointed her and she couldn’t handle it or see him as a separate person with his own life and his own needs, she must demonize him and make wild accusations against him, accusing him of doing things he never did and saying things he never said. She has turned the good into the evil, and rejected Tim because he is “all bad” now. Both the “angelic” Tim and the “evil” Tim are creations of Robin’s all-or-nothing, black or white, thinking. Both are fiction.

Splitting is really a kind of blindness–the failure to be able to see any shades of grey in an individual, situation, religion, ideology, belief system, or really, anything at all. It destroys relationships, creates hate and discord, kills community spirit, leads to war and killing, and ruins lives.