HSPs and empaths, take heed! You cannot heal a narcissist!

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In my readings and observations of people in the narc-abuse community, I’ve become aware that Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), empaths in particular, are highly attracted to narcissists. The reverse is also true–narcissists see an empath and smell blood.  As an HSP myself (though not an empath), I have always been drawn to narcissists as friends and romantic partners.   This has gotten me into a world of trouble and almost destroyed me until I finally learned to resist their “charms” and go No Contact whenever possible.

Why Empaths are so attracted to Narcissists.

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It’s a psychological truism that we tend to be attracted to people similar to the people who raised us.  For those of us who were the most sensitive child in the family and as a result, became the family scapegoat, developed codependent personalities, or even developed a form of Stockholm Syndrome toward our abusers, we continue to carry our legacy or “people pleasing” into adult life and find ourselves drawn toward other narcissistic people, who are very good at promising us the world and vowing to solve all our problems.   But getting involved with a narcissist is the ultimate bait and switch–they make a lot of empty promises to love you unconditionally and never betray or hurt you, but they don’t deliver.  Not even close.  All they care about is feeding off of your love and generosity in order to keep their false self inflated like a balloon toy.

Not only are we fooled into believing the narcissist will be the answer to all our woes and fill our own inner emptiness, HSPs and empaths are also drawn to the “hurt inner child” inside every narcissist.  Most people can’t see the emotional void and deep unhappiness at the core of an NPD; they just see the narcissist as either a likeable charmer or a huge A-hole (depending on their role to the narcissist or stage of the relationship), but empaths see beyond the “false self” to what really lies beneath the carefully constructed facade.    This is why empaths and HSPs were so often scapegoated as children–because they were children who could see the ugly truth and sometimes even blew the whistle on the narcissistic parent–and nothing terrifies a narcissist more than being exposed as living a complete lie.

I’ve talked to quite a few empaths who actually seek out narcissists to love, in spite of having been educated about narcissistic abuse and the very real dangers they pose both spiritually and emotionally.  Empaths who choose to love a narcissist and think “this one is different” really ought to know better.   They look at a narcissist and don’t see a predatory, toxic individual who only seeks to use and abuse for their own gain; instead they see only the “hurt inner child” living in darkness beneath the bright, cheerful facade.

Their observations and feelings are actually not wrong.   Because empaths can see the truth about people, the damaged person they take so much empathy on is real.  Narcissists are indeed hurt, damaged, deeply unhappy people, although some abuse victims prefer to think of them as inhuman devils without souls at all.   Narcissists are definitely human, but they are dangerous, and especially deadly to an empath, because of how much such a person tends to give of themselves and how codependent they can become.

Like moths drawn into the flame.

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Narcissists are drawn to empaths because (even though an empath can see beyond the false self, which scares narcissists), they give them everything they want.   Deep inside, what every narcissist really wants is someone to love them unconditionally, and empaths are more than capable of doing that.  They are also deeply envious of the empath’s ability to feel with no shame, even if they deny and hide their own feelings.   Empaths are compassionate, patient, self-denying, always willing to listen without judging, and generous with their time, money, possessions, emotions, and everything else they have to give, both tangible and intangible.  An empath’s love for a narcissist will cause them to stick by them no matter how much abuse gets dumped on them in return.   Empaths are perfect candidates for Stockholm Syndrome.   They will keep giving and giving, while the narcissist gives nothing in return except heartache and pain.

Some empaths may seem masochistic because everyone else can see that the narcissist is sucking the empath’s lifeblood away, turning them into a dried up husk of the whole person they once were, but the empath, like a moth driven to a flame, continues to give and give and give until they have nothing left to give.   It’s not masochism that drives an empath to stay with the narcissist and allow this abuse, though–it’s the deep belief empaths have that their unconditional love alone can heal the narcissist and make them whole again.

It’s a beautiful idea, that unconditional love can heal a narcissist and transform them into loving, authentic human beings.  It would be nice if things really worked that way, but only in fairy tales and movies do such things happen.   The Beast is won over by Beauty’s love and is transformed into a loving prince;  the miserly Scrooge is transformed into a generous and compassionate philanthropist;  The Grinch grows a huge heart out of the hard little stone in his chest when he hears the Whos singing down in Whoville in spite of having all their Christmas presents stolen;  Jerry McGuire changes overnight from a selfish, materialistic jerk into a nice guy.  Usually it’s the love of someone else–often a woman or child–who is the catalyst in getting the narcissist to change their evil ways.  These movies and stories touch our hearts and bring tears to our eyes because we wish life were really that way.

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It’s tempting, if you’re an empathic type of person, to want to reach that hurt inner child inside your narcissist and through your unconditional love alone, give them the courage to jettison their false self and let that inner child out, and finally learn how to love.   But what’s far more likely to happen is that in spite of your best efforts, the narcissist will not change and will resist or even attack your efforts to transform them.   They will just keep taking from you, for they have no idea how to give of themselves or how to love.  You become drawn deeper into their web of misery and darkness, and eventually have nothing left to give and finally, your soul is destroyed beyond repair.

The only way to help a narcissist.

You cannot help a narcissist by giving them your love.  The best way to help a narcissist is to stop giving them narcissistic supply–in other words, going No Contact.   Only then is there a small chance that without that fuel, they will be forced to confront their own emptiness and pain, which could lead to them seeking professional help.   But don’t count on it.  Most likely, they will just move on to a new source of supply or try to hoover you back in.

I’ve stated many times that I don’t think most narcissists are beyond hope.  I’m one of the few narc-abuse bloggers that holds to that view, and sees narcissists as a different, more dangerous type of abuse victim.   It’s not a very popular view, but it’s mine and I’m not likely to change it.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about Apostle Paul, a malignant narcissist if there ever was one, who was changed by the Holy Spirit into a righteous (if still slightly arrogant) devoted follower of Christ.    I know of NPDs who are in therapy or treatment, or were in therapy and have actually been deemed NPD-free or are at least working hard to change their ways and become more authentic, loving people.  NPDs  are sad people who know their lives are empty and shallow and essentially meaningless, even if they never admit it.  Some even become consciously aware of how exhausting and essentially unfulfilling their dependence on others to feel good about themselves (and what they feel good about isn’t even who they really are) really is.

I’ve always believed that with both self-awareness (knowing one is a narcissist) and willingness to change (disliking what one has become), that healing becomes possible.  But change isn’t something that can magically happen through an empath’s unconditional love.   If it’s going to happen at all, it takes years and years of difficult and grueling therapy by a trained professional who knows exactly what works for this disorder (and what doesn’t)–and because they are trained in this, are not going to get pulled down into oblivion by allowing the narcissist to feed on their heart like a predatory animal.   Healing can also come through an act of God, as it did with Paul.    We can love a narcissist (but from a safe distance!), and we can ask God to help him or her–and maybe that will turn out to be God’s will too.  You never know.  God may have a special mission for them and decide to remove the scales from their eyes.   But please, empaths and HSPs, never try to cure a narcissist yourself through your unconditional love.   It won’t work.  You don’t know how to do it.  Leave it to the professionals and God.

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Why narcissists and borderlines are drawn to each other.

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I’t’s uncanny how often people with NPD and BPD seem to find each other. Every one of my boyfriends (except for one, who was severely bipolar) and my ex-husband were narcissists. I know a lot of other borderlines who say they have the same problem–they simply are not attracted to a man or woman who is not a narcissist. There are reasons why this happens.

Both BPD and NPD are included in the category of Cluster B personality disorders in the DSM-V (along with Histrionic and Antisocial personality disorders). Cluster B disorders are all characterized at their root by problems establishing an identity early in childhood and integrity of the Self which causes people with these disorders to act out toward themselves or others in destructive ways and to have problems either accessing or developing prosocial emotions like empathy. All are prone to lie excessively and manipulate others.

All Cluster B’s are easily offended and quick to anger, which can be expressed either covertly or overtly. Here’s a quick description of these personality disorders.

Antisocial personality disorder (ASPD or psychopathy) is the most likely to break the law and violate the rights of others (many are in prison), act impulsively, and have no empathy at all. People with ASPD who aren’t lawbreakers will be ruthless in business or their chosen profession, and feel no compunctions about hurting others to succeed and may even take pleasure from it.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is less likely to break the law (but this is not a given–some narcissists will break the law if they think they can get away with it) due to wanting to present a good image to others, but have little, if any, empathy, and act out toward others and manipulate them to protect the False Self they use in place of their true one which cannot be accessed. They act arrogant, entitled, paranoid and touchy. Think of the most spoiled or brattiest child you know. If you saw that same behavior in an adult, that’s what NPD looks like to others.

Histrionic personality disorder (usually found in women) is a somatic form of narcissism where there is obsession with physical appearance and emotions are expressed dramatically but the emotions themselves are shallow. Histrionics of both sexes are often sexually promiscuous.

Borderline Personality disorder is the most baffling of the four, because it’s a disorder of contradictions. BPD is characterized by black and white thinking, overpowering emotions, impulsivity, self-destructive behavior, and idealization/devaluation of others. People with this disorder oscillate rapidly between opposites–feeling love and hate for others, pushing others away and smothering them, and accepting or rejecting them. They do this because of their fear of abandonment. Unfortunately, borderlines in their desperate attempts to not be abandoned, cause others to abandon them, or are self sabotaging–they may reject others in order to avoid being rejected first. Borderlines, unlike the other Cluster B disorders, are able to feel empathy, but because they can get so overwhelmed by their fear of rejection and their overpowering emotions and drama, they can “forget” others exist. They can feel remorse and guilt when they realize they’ve behaved badly but it sometimes must be pointed out to them.

Borderlines are chameleons who don’t have a False Self per se, but instead adopt whatever “identity” will suit the moment and whatever person they are interacting with–to make the other person accept them. In some borderlines, this rapid switching from one persona to another can appear to others similar to DID (Dissociative Identity Disorder). Not only their behavior, but also their emotions (which they have trouble regulating or controlling), opinions, or even their appearance can change from one moment to the next. This differs from bipolar disorder, where dramatic mood changes oscillate much more slowly.

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Of all the Cluster B disorders, people with BPD have a Self that is the most fragmented and least likely to have integrated into something called an identity (even a narc has a False Self so that’s a kind of identity). As a result BPD’s are the most prone to experience dissociative or even psychotic episodes, where the person loses touch with reality. Ironically, although Borderlines are “sicker” than narcissists, they are more likely to seek therapy (because their disorder is ego-dystonic and most are not happy with the way they behave and feel) and they are also more likely to be cured.

Because borderlines are chameleons,* they make perfect supply for a narcissist. They lack an identity of their own, so they “become” whatever others expect them to be. It’s not really a mask in the same sense as a narcissist, but they can wear a sort of temporary mask that can change from one moment to the next or disappear completely, leaving the borderline in a depressed or near-psychotic emotional state. A borderline can be whatever the narcissist wants them to be, and as a result are easily manipulated and can become very codependent.

Borderlines can be very manipulative themselves, but because their personality is less integrated and and the narcissist appears to have an integrated self (even though it’s a false one), they are no match for a narcissist. Unless the narcissist is very low on the spectrum (or is a covert and vulnerable one), they cannot be overpowered by a borderline and will always get their way over the borderline’s needs.

Borderlines (like narcissists) never felt loved or valued, but the borderline hasn’t shut out their need to be loved and craves it more than anything else. A narcissist (in the beginning of a relationship) can appear to be highly passionate and attentive, promising the borderline all the love he or she needs–and be convincing enough they capture the heart of a borderline, who thinks they’ve met the perfect mate.

Relationships between narcissists and borderlines may be stormy and “unhealthy,” but when they work, they work well, with the narcissist giving the borderline a kind of identity as a codependent to the narcissist, and the borderline giving the narcissist the supply they need.

I think there’s often a familial aspect too. Cluster B disorders tend to occur in families, in varying configurations. If one or more parents is a narcissist (or a borderline), they are far more likely to raise narcissistic or borderline children, because both disorders are due to abuse and Cluster B parents tend to put their own needs ahead of their children’s, even if (in the borderline) their selfishness isn’t intentional. Therefore, borderlines and narcissists who were raised in abusive families tend to be attracted to people who unconsciously remind them of other members of their families, especially the parents. This type of connection is called a trauma bond because the connection is due to shared trauma and a conscious or unconscious willingness to to be abused or to abuse a partner. A relationship between a borderline and a narcissist is not what anyone would call functional, and yet in a way it can work for both of them, if they don’t wind up killing each other first. Some of these trauma bonds are examples of Stockholm Syndrome, where the abused identifies with their abuser.

Going No Contact with a narcissist is the best gift an abused borderline can give herself (or himself), but separating may be especially hard for them and they are likely to be drawn to another narcissist, so they need to stay on guard and be especially vigilant of red flags.

* I think their ability to be emotional chameleons is the reason why the entertainment, film and television industries seem to have a plethora of actors who have BPD.

Can an adult turn into a narcissist?

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I believe the answer to this is yes. While most cases of NPD are formed during childhood as a reaction to abuse or neglect, there are situations where a person who is not a narcissist can later become one, even as an adult. It can happen because of narcissism being, essentially, a choice. Even a small child makes a choice to become a narcissist, even if they’re not really conscious of that “decision.” In an adult, it may be more conscious, but once made, the personality can change dramatically.

An adult who becomes a narcissist is probably more easily healed, because the disorder is less deeply ingrained in the personality, but I think there are certain situations where if someone makes a choice to walk in darkness, something evil grabs hold of the soul and there is no turning back to a normal way of relating to others. Here are four scenarios in which I think a person can acquire NPD.

1. Abandonment or abuse starting during adolescence.

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Teenagers are narcissistic by nature and vulnerable to peer pressure, so they often act out in risky ways and experiment with the illicit and unhealthy. This is normal to some degree. But for a few, if familial abuse or abandonment begins during the teen years, the narcissistic behaviors of adolescence may become a lifestyle and coping tactic that the person will not let go of as they enter adulthood. I believe my ex is an example of a psychopathic malignant narcissist who did not become one until the age of 13, when he found his father dead in the bathroom in the middle of the night and his mother refused to do anything and left it to him to take care of his father’s body. Although his mother had always been a malignant narcissist, my ex was a good kid until that point; after that he changed.

In most cases though, I think narcissism starting during adolescence is likely to be fairly mild. I have been in communication with a young man who believes he is a narcissist. He explained to me that he was raised by loving parents but his mother became severely depressed when he was in his early teens, and began to ignore him due to her depression. He didn’t understand it was her depression causing her sudden coldness; he thought she she didn’t love him anymore. He explained that’s when his narcissistic behavior patterns began. In such cases, I think the narcissism that develops is actually a condition called DNP (destructive narcissistic pattern disorder) which lies below NPD on the narcissistic continuum, and is a more easily treatable form of narcissism where the person does retain some ability to feel empathy, love, and remorse.

2. Choosing evil.

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M. Scott Peck talks about a man who almost became evil in his book “People of the Lie.” A family man who loved his wife and children suffered from severe panic attacks, especially when driving over a certain bridge. Although he didn’t believe in the devil, he made a “deal” with Satan that if he could pass over the bridge without suffering a panic attack, that Satan could do what he wanted to with his favorite son. He didn’t think it really counted since he didn’t believe in the Devil (and nothing happened to his son), but he realized later that if he hadn’t repented, his own soul would have been seared. I think when a person knowingly chooses evil over good, the soul can be damaged or destroyed. It’s even possible that making such a choice allows an entryway for an evil entity that works to destroy all goodness in that person. The change can be dramatic and happen almost overnight.

3. Severe reaction to trauma.

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Related to the above, I think sometimes a person can engage in evil through no choice of their own. Victims of Stockholm Syndrome, who identify with their abusers and cannot escape, will sometimes be forced to commit evil acts or help their abuser carry them out, such as Patty Hearst back in the early 1970s. It sometimes happens in war, too. A normal person forced to kill innocent civilians will often develop PTSD, but for some soldiers, in order to protect themselves from their unbearable guilt, they learn to shut off all their emotions and any feelings of empathy or remorse, and come to regard other people as less than human. Unfortunately, a few veterans have their hearts hardened during war, and become cold-blooded narcissists.

4. Overnight success.

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Celebrities and other people who achieve overnight success or fame have to be careful not to let their success go to their heads. Many celebrities are narcissistic, which begs the question: were they narcissistic in the first place and that led to them becoming rich and famous, or did becoming rich and famous turned them into narcissists? I think both come into play, depending on the individual. Certainly narcissistic personality types are the most drawn to fame and fortune, but I’ve heard of cases where a highly successful person was kind to others until fame and success went to their heads. I think though, since evil wasn’t chosen by the person under these circumstances, that a celebrity who didn’t already have NPD can discard their acquired narcissism if their arrogance and sense of entitlement is pointed out to them, or they realize they have hurt someone. So a celebrity’s narcissism may not be true NPD, but a condition called “situational acquired narcissism” which may be temporary.

MENTAL HEALTH – Shared Psychosis

This is a really great article about the way psychopaths can manipulate others by inducing a “shared psychosis” with their victim(s) — otherwise known as trauma bonding or Stockholm Syndrome. Psychopaths are way too far gone to ever be cured. Don’t try to help one; you can’t. This well written article really drives home the evil and creepiness of psychopathy–and most are not even criminals. They achieve their desire to completely destroy another person or group of people (such as the followers of a cult leader) using perfectly legal means. No Contact is the only way to handle a psychopath (NC here could be expanded to to include malignant narcissists who are just under psychopaths on the narcissism spectrum, most garden variety narcissists, and yes, even a few very sick borderlines too).

The point of no return.

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Last night Fivehundredpoundpeep disagreed with a post I wrote, saying that people who chose narcissism reach a point of no return when become thoroughly evil. She has religious reasons for this view (“reprobate” is a religious term that means the person even while still alive is destined for hell because God has turned his back on them due to their bad choices). While I don’t share her literal biblical beliefs in certain damnation for some (I believe this is from Calvinist thought), I agree with her that most narcissists do get worse with age and many reach a point of no return, where they become so hardened they have no hope of changing-and I do agree this change is due to a total selling out of whatever conscience they may have had, if they ever had any. I have seen this up close and personal with my ex, who is a frightening example of someone who completely sold his soul, for lack of a better phrase, to the devil. All Cluster B personality disorders have a spiritual as well as a mental component, but narcissism is a slippery slope into inescapable darkness and misery.

When I married my ex in 1986, he was definitely a narcissist but lower on the spectrum than he is today. While still being abusive and extremely manipulative, he did have moments where he showed what I believed was genuine goodness. He was actually a good father to our two children–at first. In fact, he was more patient with them as babies than I was. It was later that he began to scapegoat our son (who like me, is highly sensitive and able to see through his father) and started to use our daughter as a sounding board for his own problems when she was still just a child as well as a junior flying monkey against me and her brother.

I’m not entirely sure when he crossed the “point of no return” but it seemed to be between 1997 and 2001, during the time his mother lived with us before entering a nursing home. This is when I believe he became thoroughly evil and it was because of the way he treated his ailing mother.

His mother was a thoroughly malignant narcissist who was very abusive to my ex while he was growing up. She too became worse with age, but in the late 1990s, she developed Alzheimers and could no longer live alone, so we brought her to our home where an eye could be kept on her. As malignant as she was, she was losing her faculties and her mind and it would have been inhumane not to try to help her.

Most of her care fell on my shoulders, a difficult thing because my kids were still very young and I was trying to raise them too. I was also suffering from severe depressions during this time due to my ex’s increasing abusive behavior as well as his heavy drinking and drug taking, for which I had to be hospitalized twice. So you can imagine I wasn’t the most patient caregiver, especially because his mom could still be so unlikeable. It was hard for me to not become angry with her. I tried to control this, but found it so hard, especially when she began losing control of her bowel and bladder. Every day I was confronted with messy bedding because she kept pulling off her diaper and would fight me or start crying whenever I went to change her. I was never cut out to be a nurse, but this was too much and there were those times I’d yell at her in frustration.

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Unknown artist.

My ex hated his mother, but did not want to put her in a nursing home due to the expense. Of course anything I had to say about the matter fell on deaf ears. He had actually made her sell her house when she moved in with us and obtained a power of attorney so the money from the sale was in his name (the money was gone within one year). I never felt this was right but admit I enjoyed having more money, so I never said anything to him about it being wrong. While what he did wasn’t illegal, it was extremely unethical and selfish. While his mother’s immediate needs were taken care of, he had complete control of the money and most of it did not go for her care and went for luxuries for us instead. I always felt badly about this and for years felt like my sin of overlooking this would never be forgiven. (Recently I repented and know I have been forgiven but it still bothers me sometimes).

But enough about that. My ex was increasingly abusive to her while she lived with us, and reached a point where he became physically abusive and would spank her like a bad child–IN FRONT OF MY CHILDREN! As awful a mother as she was to him, she did not deserve this. Whenever I brought up how wrong his behavior was, he said he had a right to treat her that way because she was such a horrible mother. He said it was karma. Not once did he ever admit he was wrong. After a while, my bad case of narc “fleas” became so bad I began to join in the abuse–not hitting her, but I stopped trying to defend her and began to think maybe his spanking her wasn’t really wrong. After all, she did act like a naughty three year old. I didn’t know it, but I was suffering a form of Stockholm Syndrome, where a victim begins to identify with their abuser and make excuses for their bad behavior. Still, I begged him to put her in a nursing home but he still refused.

It was during this time he began to grow pot in our outbuilding, and his immoral behavior ramped up a few notches. He recruited our 8 year old daughter to water the plants and watch out for cops! I couldn’t believe he would do this, but I said nothing because nothing I said ever was taken seriously or I’d be belittled for bringing it up. He also started to hit my son, and berate and belittle him constantly. All this was new for him. Before his mother had moved in he had never been physically abusive to our children and stayed away from alcohol and drugs. Now he was drunk or high most nights and began to change into a person I was becoming extremely afraid of. His look became harder and colder, and he was rarely affectionate anymore. His eyes became very cold, almost demonic at times. Both of us had affairs (I’m not proud of this either because I was actually worse than him). I was mentally ill myself due to the abuse but this doesn’t excuse the part I played in this whole mess of a marriage.

In 2000 his mother developed cancer and after her hospitalization, finally entered a nursing home. We hardly visited her at all but whenever we did, he would tell the kids how stupid and horrible his mother was and encourage them to insult and demean her. He told them she deserved the way he treated her because of the way she had treated him.

She died in January of 2002 and to this day, my ex never went to pick up her ashes.

It was during these five years from 1997-2001 that I saw my ex change from a person who could sometimes be nice and was often a lot of fun into a monster who appeared to have no emotions at all or any empathy for anyone else. Looking back, I think it was because he crossed a line from “mere” malignant narcissism into full blown psychopathy brought on by continual abuse of his helpless mother. Yes, his mother was a highly malignant narcissist herself and his hatred of her was understandable, but no one with a conscience would have treated her the way he did when she became ill. It scares me to think how close I came to becoming evil myself, because of my collusion with him in this horrible abuse. For the past few days I have been struggling with the evil I see in myself, and as a borderline, I’m so close to being a narcissist anyway. There were so many times while I was with him that I flirted with turning my back on everything good and right. I’m having a rough time accepting this and forgiving myself. But that’s for another post.

From 2002-2004 our marriage continued to worsen and the psychological abuse grew worse (not the physical, because he stopped drinking and he was only physical when he was drunk). We obtained a divorce but in 2006 I made the mistake of allowing him to move in with me. By this time he was parasitic and refused to work. I’ve written about this elsewhere.

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Today I see no goodness in him at all. I’ve never seen a person so filled with hate and rage. His conversation is always sarcastic, biting, and negative. He never has anything positive to say and spends most of his time trolling political websites and getting high. He’s not out there committing violent crimes, but he’s a person who seems to have no soul. The rare times I do see him (I avoid this as much as possible), I can’t even look him in the eyes because they’re so dead and empty. I’m afraid just looking into them can infect me with his evil. Our daughter unfortunately is still in thrall to him, and I pray all the time she will be okay. I’m afraid further close contact with him can destroy her soul the way it almost destroyed mine, and she’s halfway there already, showing a number of narcissistic traits. Like me, she has a really bad case of “fleas.” I can’t keep her from seeing her father though. She is an adult and I have to accept that I can’t make her choices for her.

While it’s very sad to see a person so thoroughly gutted spiritually, I have no sympathy for my ex. I do have sympathy for the little boy he used to be, but he died a long time ago.

My son, who was scapegoated by his father, seems to be the most mentally healthy person in the immediate family. He does have some anger and self esteem issues (don’t we all?) but he is strong and determined to escape the fallout of the family illness. I am so proud of the man he’s becoming.

Psychopathic malignant narcissists are real-life body snatchers.

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In the late 1990s, poet, musician and activist Henry Rollins recorded his alternative rock hit “Liar,” which probably describes the evil of the psychopath/malignant narcissist more eloquently than any other song I’ve heard about narcissism. I posted about it here.

The lyrics describe what these human bags of dogsh*t do so well I’m going to pick the song apart by sections and talk about the way malignant narcissists and psychopaths attempt to destroy your soul and turn you into one of them.

You think you’re gonna to live your life alone
In darkness
And seclusion
Yeah I know
You’ve been out there
Tried to mix with those animals
And it just left you full of humiliated confusion
So you stagger back home
And wait for nothing
But the solitary refinement of your room spits you back out onto the street
And now you’re desperate
And in need of human contact

A potential victim is at their most vulnerable to narcissistic abuse when they have been abandoned, hurt or are down on their luck. A malignant narcissist, using “cold empathy,” knows exactly what you’re thinking, and knows how lonely you are and how much you’ve been hurt by past abuse. They smell vulnerability like a wolf smells blood and will make a beeline toward you.

And then
You meet me
And you whole world changes
Because everything I say is everything you’ve ever wanted to hear
So you drop all your defenses and you drop all your fears
And you trust me completely
I’m perfect
In every way
Cause I make you feel so strong and so powerful inside
You feel so lucky

When you meet the psychopathic narcissist, he or she will pretend to understand you and be sympathetic. If the narc is a good actor, you may be duped into thinking this is the most empathetic, understanding person you have ever met. You cannot resist their charms and attention and you trust them enough to tell them your darkest and most intimate secrets. Make no mistake–they will use this against you. This love bombing phase is really just the narc’s way of finding out where your buttons are and knowing where to hit you later on where it’s going to hurt the most.

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But your ego obscures reality
And you never bother to wonder why
Things are going so well

Bingo. The malignant POS is lying to you and thinks you’re a blithering idiot for believing their lies. “Things going well” is just temporary. They are fattening you up for the kill like a Thanksgiving turkey. Gobble, gobble!

You wanna know why?
Cause I’m a liar
Yeah I’m a liar
I’ll tear your mind out
I’ll burn your soul
I’ll turn you into me
I’ll turn you into me
Cause I’m a liar, a liar
A liar, a liar

They tear your mind out by cruelly playing with your head using the whole bag of narcissist tricks: gaslighting, projecting, lying, projecting their faults onto you, triangulating, hoovering, blame-shifting, invading your mental, emotional and physical boundaries and generally making you doubt your own reality. Constant gaslighting in particular can drive a person to think they’re insane, and it’s possible that actual insanity could be the end result.

In your weakened emotional and mental state, you may suffer Stockholm Syndrome and begin to identify with your abuser. You may begin to do things that go against your morals and ethics in order to please them. They may force you to engage in illegal or immoral acts, and because you dare not disobey them and you doubt your own reality, you will go along with what they want.

Many victims of abuse have been arrested for heinous acts they were coerced into by their abuser. Going against one’s own morals eventually will turn a person evil. See my post Stephen’s Story (“The Choice”) for a description of how a victimized person can turn evil when attempting to pacify evil people. M. Scott Peck also described this phenomenon in his book, “People of the Lie.”

henry_rollins2

I’ll hide behind a smile
And understanding eyes
And I’ll tell you things that you already know
So you can say
I really identify with you, so much
And all the time that you’re needing me
Is just the time that I’m bleeding you

Malignant narcissists don’t really have any of their own thoughts or feelings. They learn to feign emotion. What you think of as empathy and understanding is really just the narcissist reflecting back to you what you want to hear. They are very good at knowing exactly what you are thinking and what you want. They can parrot things you have already told them in a different way so you think what they said is insightful and original. It isn’t. It’s just a paraphrasing of what you have already told them or what they have figured out about you.

Don’t you get it yet?

They hold you in contempt for your stupidity for believing them. Of course you are not stupid, and are understandably confused, but they are contemptuous of the trust you have handed over to them. They will work on destroying it and at the same time, destroy your trust in others, by using them as flying monkeys against you. Eventually you will trust no one and when this happens, you may do anything to earn back their “love,” even things you are morally against. There are so many victims of abuse who have done things for their psychopathic lovers like lie on tax returns, steal for them, buy drugs for them, and even kill for them. In most “killer couple” partnerships, one of the couple (usually the woman but not always) is a long-term victim of a psychopath and has become evil by association.

In 1978, there was science fiction/horror movie called “Invasion of the Body Snatchers.” It became a huge hit. Malignant narcissists and psychopaths are real life body snatchers. Your continued association with one of these creatures is dangerous because they can infect you with their evil and your soul can be lost, just like the harpie-like body snatchers that retained only their human physique in the movie.

body_snatcher

I’ll come to you like an affliction
And I’ll leave you like an addiction
You’ll never forget me
You wanna know why?

A relationship with a psychopathic malignant narcissist is an affliction, even if at first it feels like the greatest thing ever. Even after they have nearly destroyed you with their abuse, you may still believe you need your narcissist and feel lost without them. That’s the way they want you–helpless and adrift. That’s because having you that way makes it easier for them to hoover you back in later on with love bombing and fake apologies, or if they are very sadistic and have no intention of returning, it makes them happy to see you alone and miserable without them.

Cause I’m a liar
Yeah I’m a liar
I’ll rip your mind out
I’ll burn your soul
I’ll turn you into me
I’ll turn you into me
Cause I’m a liar, a liar
Liar, liar, liar, liar

I don’t know why I feel the need to lie
And cause you so much pain
Maybe it’s something inside
Maybe it’s something I can’t explain
Cause all I do
Is mess you up and lie to you
I’m a liar
Oh, I am a liar

They may know there’s something very wrong with their minds and souls, but they don’t care. They know they’re messing with your mind but again, they don’t care.

If you’ll give me one more chance
I swear that I will never lie to you again
Because now I see the destructive power of a lie
They’re stronger than truth
I can’t believe I ever hurt you
I swear
I will never to you lie again, please
Just give me one more chance
I will never lie to you again
I swear
That I will never tell a lie
I will never tell a lie
No, no

henry_rollins4

The psychopathic malignant narc is using fake apologies, lies and love bombing in their attempt to hoover you, their mark, back in for more abuse.

Ha ha ha ha ha hah haa haa haa haaa
Sucker
Sucker!
Oh, sucker
I am a liar
Yeah, I am a liar
Yeah I like it
I feel good
Ohh I am a liar
Yeah
I lie
I lie
I lie
Oh, I lie
Oh I lie
I lie
Yeah
Ohhh I’m a liar
I lie
Yeah
I like it
I feel good
I’ll lie again
And again
I’ll lie again and again
And I’ll keep lying

henry_rollins3

They love doing what they do because it makes them feel powerful and in control. Their “fix” of abusing you makes them feel good. There is no intention on their part to change because it’s you who suffers, not them.

I promise.

Probably the only promise they’ll ever keep.

The stages of becoming malignant; moments of clarity

I just received this comment under the currently spiking article (linked in the previous post).

jamcomment
Click to enlarge.

I’ve embellished my reply into an article because this was such a fascinating issue to me.

Becoming Malignant
Malignant narcissists who became that way later in life by making an evil choice (such as making a genuine deal with the devil, becoming involved in the dark arts, or committing a heinous crime against their will, such as in war, may not be entirely seared and the real self can occasionally shine through. But they can’t leave the darkness without an almost supernatural force of will. They may know they’re this way and may even hate it and suffer, but THEY CANNOT LEAVE THE DARKNESS once they’ve made that choice. It’s like they already died and went to hell (I’m not sure I believe in a literal place called Hell, but I think you know what point I’m making here).

The Infection.
Malignant narcissists are incredibly dangerous because they can infect you with their sickness. They can literally rip out your soul and replace it with emptiness and blackness. A formerly good person can also become MN themselves if they associate too long with an MN abuser. There are several stages to this process. It doesn’t happen immediately. It’s very insidious.

Here is the machinery of evil:

1. The Honeymoon: The MN love bombs the intended victim with charm, fake love, gifts, and kindness so they learn to trust them.
2. The MN will pretend to agree with everything the victim says and seem empathic. What’s really happening is the opposite. The victim already trusts the MN and has been partly brainwashed already, so whatever the MN says, the victim agrees with and think it was themselves who thought it
3. The MN changes and his games become cruel and anything but loving. The honeymoon is over. The blatant mindfuck begins.
4. Over time, the spirit of the abused breaks down. They begin to feel like they’re worthless and the insane and abnormal begins to seem normal.
5. The MN abuse becomes worse. They make it impossible for the victim to escape, using various means and separating them from friends and other loved ones, often through turning everyone they both know against the victim through the MN’s lies, gaslighting, and triangulation. The victim becomes isolated and thinks they might be going crazy and start to doubt their own reality. If the victim has figured out the MN has turned everyone into their flying monkeys and started a campaign against them and try to call out the MN, they will be told they are crazy or imagining things. The classic psychological horror movie “Gaslight” shows this process so well that the term “gaslighting” was named after it. At the same time the victim realizes they have become entirely dependent on the MN.
6. This is the make or break moment. The abuse escalates into abject, intolerable cruelty. The victim may begin to fight back (this is the point at which a person can still leave the relationship before their soul is destroyed). If they don’t fight back they will succumb even further and are doomed, because…
7. As a defense mechanism, the victim begins to identify with the MN. This is known as Stockholm Syndrome. It’s the only way they can cope with what their life has become and the pain they are undergoing at the hands of the MN. They begin to collude with the MN.
8. Once they collude with the MN (even if it’s to insure their survival or the survival of others like their children), the transformation is complete. The victim, newly turned MN, can never go back. As they age they will keep getting worse.
9. The MN who infected the victim at this point will probably leave and move on to his or her next victim. There is nothing more he can with the first victim.

I got to Stage 6. Thank God I didn’t get any further along than that. Once I began to identify with my abuser(s), it might have been too late…

I’m getting mega chills writing this. This is scary stuff. But it’s real.

Moments of Clarity
On the other side of the equation, the opposite could happen (the MN turning good), but it’s far less likely than the first scenario, which is all too common. If it does ever happen to an adult, it’s extremely rare.

Even the most malignant narcs have these bizarre moments of clarity. They don’t happen often. It’s kind of spooky because it’s like all of a sudden they have another personality, but it’s fleeting. It’s as if they wake up for a second and even their look changes to a different, more human one. It’s very, very weird. I’ve seen it myself. It’s a moment that could change them if they really wanted help. Usually it passes too quickly unless God steps in. A really good therapist might be able to get through if the narc presented themselves for therapy, which they sometimes do (when they’ve lost all their supply and have sunk into depression).
Still, we can’t delude ourselves into thinking they will get better. The vast majority will not. In fact they grow worse with age.

I’m reminded of a scene in “The Shining” (the book, not the movie), where Jack Torrance (the possessed father) comes out of his trance for a second or two and tells his son Danny, “RUN! Get away from me, I love you!” Then he goes back into his murderous rage. It was incredibly creepy.

Are narcissists ever abuse victims?

blackwedgeoflove
Black Wedge of Love / rawcandor.com

Here I’m not going to talk about the popular theory that most narcissists were probably neglected or abused as children. In this article, I’m focusing on the question of whether someone who is already a narcissist can become a victim of narcissistic abuse.

Yes, they can–and more often than you might think.

Of course, not all narcissists are abuse victims, and the more malignant they are, the more likely they are to cause suffering rather than suffer themselves. Psychopaths and malignant narcissists wield Svengali-like power over their subjects and are often found in the highest echelons of business, politics, religious organizations, and other positions of great power and influence. They do not allow themselves to be in a position of subservience to someone else, and take great pride in the fact most people fear them. In fact, they would much rather be feared than liked. The smartest ones are cunning enough to be invulnerable to a total loss of narcissistic supply, which would send them crashing into a deep depression (and opens a window to healing, as I’ve discussed in previous posts). They know how to get others to trust them, which is part of their charm and one of the ways they climb to the top and stay there.

But other narcissists (not “benign” narcissists, because they do have a conscience and even some empathy)–those who still have NPD but are not as high on the spectrum as a malignant psychopath, can and do become victims to “stronger” narcissists.

An unholy alliance.
These relationships actually work in their twisted, sick kind of way, with the weaker narcissist falling under the thrall of the stronger, malignant narcissist. Because they are both still narcissists and the weaker one basically identifies with their abuser (known as Stockholm Syndrome, which is also a defense mechanism seen in victimized people with PTSD), they form a symbiotic relationship, with the weaker person willingly taking on a masochistic role and the stronger one the sadistic role. Their sexual relationship may indeed include elements of S&M, but the sadomasochistic relationship isn’t limited to just sex.

The stronger narcissist will treat the weaker one badly and abusively, but because the weaker partner identifies with their abuser, they actually “enjoy” the abuse they get. It validates them and gives them the narcissistic supply they need (and way deep inside, maybe they feel like they deserve punishment).

Unlike normal people, a narcissist prefers negative attention over no attention, and their abuser is seen as their savior–the one person in the world who can give them the attention they so crave. M. Scott Peck, in his book “People of the Lie,” described such a relationship. Harley was a weak man in thrall to his evil, mean wife Sarah, who constantly berated and belittled him and ordered him around, while Harley just whined pitifully about how badly Sarah treated him but seemed to do nothing about it or have any real desire to stop her abuse. He had no intention of leaving her. He told Dr. Peck he “needed” Sarah. Of course he did–Sarah was his sole source of narcissistic supply (because she had made sure he was cut off from anyone else). Dr. Peck speculated that Harley, although complaining incessantly about his wife’s abuse, actually seemed to want it, and he wondered if he might have been a little “evil” himself, which was what might have attracted him to someone like Sarah in the first place.

I see this same situation in my father, who has always been codependent on MN women, and allows these women to make all his decisions for him. He has always been weaker and more codependent than the domineering, controlling women he married.

Needy narcissists.
A friend of mine, a survivor of narcissistic abuse who also has a blog, tells the story of an aunt of hers, living in abject poverty, who was scapegoated and belittled by every other family member, most of them highly malignant narcissists. She was tolerated at family events but outside of that, no one would have anything to do with her. You feel sorry for this impoverished, lonely, maltreated aunt–until you keep reading and find out that she is a malignant narcissist herself–of the “needy” variety.

Businessman begging with cardboard sign

Most people think of narcissists as cagey, cunning, selfish sociopaths who get everything they want by ruthlessly stomping all over others to reach the pinnacles of financial and professional success, even if that involves a life of crime. But there are many narcissists who are not successful, and in fact are dirt poor. These are what I call “needy narcissists”–people who mooch off of others, using others’ goodwill and generosity without ever giving anything back in return. They whine to anyone who will listen about how their sorry circumstances are everyone’s fault but their own. They demand pity and constant attention. They act entitled. They cry and try to elicit your guilt. They might steal from you. They’ll start a smear campaign against you if you don’t give in to their demands. Sometimes they find ways to get government assistance–such as disability–by faking or exaggerating a disorder so they don’t have to take responsibility for themselves.

They are financial and emotional vampires, feeding off others’ altruism until their providers are sucked dry emotionally, spiritually, mentally and sometimes financially. My ex-husband falls into this category. These narcissists are only less dangerous because they lack power and money, but make no mistake: they are just as dangerous on a personal level as materially “successful” narcissists, and they play all the same evil mindgames to get their way. They take pride in how pathetic they are rather than in what a perfect specimen of beauty, intelligence, success, or charm they are. They still think they’re entitled to be treated as if they’re gods.

“Covert” and “inverted” narcissism isn’t narcissism at all.
There is also something I’ve read about called “covert narcissism” or “inverted narcissism,” which actually has been used to describe people with low self esteem, avoidant traits, hypervigilance, and high sensitivity. Which means that according to that definition, I am a narcissist.

I don’t buy it though, because people with these traits are usually very empathic and if anything, their conscience is too well developed for their own good. They not only worry they won’t be liked, they worry that they may have hurt someone or have done something wrong. They struggle with guilt and shame. They may self-sabotage, but they never set out to hurt other people, and when they do they feel terrible. Real narcissists may be hypersensitive (about themselves) and paranoid, but they never worry about hurting others; at best they just don’t care.

Of course an “inverted” or “covert” narcissist is likely to be abused, because they fit all the traits of someone likely to be bullied and victimized. They are us!

The weak narcissist in thrall to an MN is not an “inverted” narcissist–they are true blue narcissists who just lack the cunning, intelligence, charm or Svengali-like traits their abuser possesses. Or they’re just not as evil as the MN. Within the relationship, they are just abuse victims, but outside of it, they treat others as badly as any other narcissist. Just because they’re abuse victims doesn’t mean they’re nice people. (It doesn’t mean they don’t deserve help either). Obviously, the best thing for a narcissist in an abusive relationship to do would be to go No Contact, but due to their craving of (negative) narcissistic supply, they are not likely to ever leave the relationship.

narcissist

Can a malignant narcissist become an abuse victim?
Other than in childhood (before they became narcissists), I would say no. Because two high-spectrum, completely malignant narcissists are likely to hate each other. One MN won’t give up their power to the other and sees another MN as a huge threat.

Think of two predatory animals like wildcats, encountering each other in a forest. Both are alpha males of their own group so neither is a weak animal. Would these two cats become allies? No. They will fix their gaze at each other, never taking their eyes away, and slowly start to circle around each other, sizing up the other animal. At some point, one of the cats will launch a surprise attack, or one will flee before that happens.

knifefight

In a similar manner, two predatory humans in the same room will be very cautious around each other, sizing each other up, but will almost always intensely dislike each other. They may fight, or they may never speak to each other, but they will not become friends. They are of no use to each other whatsoever. A malignant narcissist will always choose a weaker victim he can use and manipulate, and sometimes that victim will be another narcissist who identifies with their abuser but is no match for them.