Friday, February 15, 2013
Once in a while, someone writes to me for advice. I do not counsel over the net. But the issues that come up are usually the same ones over and over again because disordered machinations are predictably similar.
The following are all steps that I took to free myself from psychoguy's poisonous grasp. It very important to understand that the moves narcissists and psychopaths use change our brain chemistry over time. It is brainwashing. Therefore, the only effective way to free oneself of the narcissist's influence is through deprogramming.
I only dealt with psychoguy on the internet, but he did the same kind of "love bombing" that I am sure many of those victimised by narcissists experience. In real life, a girlfriend who turned out to be a narcissist thought the world of me, came to me for advice, and would do anything for me; she was so like me, and so perfect until the cracks began to show. They cannot keep up the facade for very long. But they are masters, if you don't know better, at getting you hooked.
This feeling of "love" that we have is more intense than normal because first they flood you with expressions of love and then they withhold and then they give a little, and over time this changes our brain chemistry- it's a form of manipulation, control and brainwashing.
There is no doubt that we have loved. It's just that narcissists can't love you back. And there is no doubt that it is not a good idea to depend on the strength of your feeling for a narcissist, but to listen to your gut. What happens with these types is that we get so caught up in the feeling and don't listen to the alarms and red flags that usually guide our way.
1. Educate Yourself
The most important thing you need to do is learn everything you can about the disordered and how they operate. You must educate yourself. Repeat and repeat and repeat. Unless you educate yourself you will never be free of their toxic enmeshment. Because they don't think and feel as we do, we cannot treat them like we do "normal" people/ourselves. Nor is it any use feeling sorry for them when you are trapped with them because they will simply use all your feeling against you. You need to harden your heart in order to see very clearly what you are dealing with.
2. Observe and Trust Your Gut
Distinguish between what is feeling in yourself and your gut instinct, and switch to trusting your gut. You are in poor physical and emotional and mental health because you are struggling to
understand behaviour that on the surface contradicts the words.
Never listen to words. Observe the behaviour. It is by behaviour that we really know people. Words are just a con job. You are worn out and sick because your psyche and body are telling you there is something terribly wrong when there is an illusion of everything being right (because s/he tells you so) and this is a very hard thing to accept. If it feels wrong, it is wrong. Be a scientist. Silently observe what is really happening.
3. Stay Out of Their Head
Get back inside your own where you belong. It's a mindfulness thing. Watch how hard that is because they've trained you well. Don't try to figure out what they're up to, what's in their mind, or second guess them. Getting into their head means trying to figure out their motives, trying to make excuses for them, trying to rationalise their behaviour, trying to manipulate them, and especially getting sucked into the content.
When you catch yourself, wrench yourself away from it and think about something else. I used to use a Hebrew blessing as a mantra when my mind wandered into poisonous realms. This is a challenge because it takes a huge force of will to do this and goes against all the training they gave you to ensure that they take up all the space inside your head.
4. Ignore Content
There is no content for narcissists except the kind that will suck you in. I had to train myself to ignore the content. It's not a question of belief or disbelief. It's about tearing yourself away from everything being about them during all your waking hours and probably your dreams.
Do not listen to or give importance to the content of what narcissists say. It is their way of sucking you into their world and keeping you there, a world of total mindfuck where you always end up the bad guy. They don't make common sense and keep moving the boundaries and goalposts to keep you destabilised.
Listening to the content stresses your cognitive functioning- it is crazymaking. Know that whatever they say has something in it for them, no matter how reasonable or wonderful it seems. It is all about them and they want you to be all about them as well and they will do and say anything to you to keep you trapped in their little dream world. Instead, observe what they are doing.
5. Protect Your Assets.
If need be, squirrel away money. They will bleed you dry. Protect anything that is precious to you. If you think about being fair and noble, you might be left destitute.
6. Silence is Golden
It is natural to want to share yourself with your soulmate. But you do not have a soulmate; you have a narcissist pretending to be a soulmate. Resist the temptation to tell them everything you think and feel. You cannot move them. They will use it against you. The more open you are, the more artillery they have. They love for you to share. If you need to say anything, either dissemble or be vague or neutral or change the subject. Everyone has ways to withhold, so use your particular way to protect yourself.
7. Who Are You?
Know what you stand for and know what you are willing to live and die for. Or anyone can persuade you of anything. Without knowing yourself, you have few boundaries about what you are willing or not willing to tolerate. Strengthen that belief system and set of values that you cherish. Then you will know what to do and how to act and not waver.
8. It's a Marathon
Keep observing and reading. Once you learn what manipulative tricks they can use, you will observe them happening. This is a huge reinforcement for you, a way of deprogramming from the illusion of great, soulful love or familial love or friendly love they have set up for you. This does not happen overnight. It's a long distance goal. Be kind to yourself and patient. You are learning new ways to act in the world and redefining yourself and your beliefs, especially about people and relationships. Give yourself time to deal with all that's happening. Nothing will change overnight. It's a marathon.
9. Get Support
Anyone dealing intimately with the disordered is going to be emotionally and mentally abused. It's important to have support whether it is a good friend, a counsellor, a group for the abused, even the internet though that is a more dangerous undertaking and not one I recommend. Along with support, the most important thing is to start to get back your health and your sanity with small things that give you pleasure or joy or peace. We all have something we love to do.
I would also recommend that if you seek counselling that you find someone in your area that deals with trauma and/or abuse. Do not try this over the internet or by phone. In addition, do not buy e-books that invariably are self-published, because they don't answer to any mental health, ethical or professional standard; charlatans/narcissists abound on the net.
10. Nurture Your Soul
Once in a while, do some small kind thing for someone that will make their day. Do it anonymously and quietly. Say something complimentary to someone, even a stranger. Make one of your little dreams come true, for yourself. Get back in touch with your religion if you have a faith. Breathe in the fresh air and know that one day you will be free and life will be so much better.
I cannot stress enough that educating yourself is the only way to get your self and your life back. From there, everything else follows.
~ © InvictaMA 2009-2013
Saturday, January 31, 2009
Where to begin? After 20 years I went back to visit my mother, a year and a half after my father died. Within the last ten years, my parents couldn't find me.
Were my parents narcissists? I don't think so. But they were severely damaged people, thanks to a World War they endured as little more than children. Which means they suffered tremendous loss, displacement, and deprivation and had no adults to guide or mentor them. If there is a hell, they went through it. And they passed that unspeakable trauma onto me, secondarily.
As with most incidents of abuse, the target, the fantastical survivor, the carrier of the family's ills, is the scapegoat in the family, the black sheep. I used to kinda, sorta feel and think that way, vaguely, but without validation. And this used to puzzle me. Why do they and my sister dislike me so? I am not a killer, a thief, a liar, a manipulator, an abuser. There is no evil in me. So...why?! I'm a decent human being. So...why? They say they love me and yet they treat me like shit. They accept criminals, accept the skeezy, live with the crazy, yet I am persona non grata.
You would think that the answer would be easy and I would see it, but I was blinded by love and overriding loyalty. You would think that I would see that the disparity between what they said and what they did would raise a red flag for me. Yet, who wants to believe that professed love, especially by parents, absolutely calling up the primal compulsion of blood ties, could be called into question. Or assessed, dissected, viewed through a scientific glass darkly. After all, are they not gods to us?
In therapy I was shocked and appalled to learn that I was the subject of vital emotional neglect and verbal abuse. It was and is true. But it took me a couple of years to completely accept it. How does one wrap one's mind around a concept that, no, your life was not normal, that you did not have a normal family, that they were subtly and repeatedly undermining and abusive, and that yes, it did affect you terribly? But when I accepted it, I was finally released. I realised, for the first time, that I was not defective, that it, whatever it was, was not my fault. I understood why I was the way that I was. I realised it would take a lifetime to heal. I realised that that would be my job until I died. All because a couple of damaged people who couldn't help being damaged, with the best of intentions, inadvertently damaged me.
This is the difference between the character disordered, the narcissists, and damaged people- unlike diehard narcissists, etc., they had the best of heartfelt intentions. All around, it is tragic.
What does this mean in reality? Well, it means that when I visited my mother after 20 years, I realised that she hated me more than she loved me. I had always been alien to my parents. They were working class and I was extremely bright and self-aware, not a value they held dear. They didn't know what to do with me. I always went my own way, and they saw it as rebellion. What to me would be labelled integrity, they interpreted as selfishness and stubbornness. I never fit. I never fit into the class and I never fit into the dream. Where they succeeded at the American dream, I wanted a better life, which had nothing to do with achievements and monetary success. None of which is that bad, if you think about it. Until you factor in the abuse. My father had a Grade 6 education and my mother Grade 10. My granny who always lived with us had a Grade 1 education. I have a Masters. I was alien.
All my life I thought of my mother as beautiful. And brave. Before the feminist movement, she secured a loan from the bank and had her own business. I held onto this image of my mother all my life. She was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen, with the most gorgeous singing voice. She had always been industrious, hard working, diligent, over responsible. So it was rather a shock to discover that this 83 year old woman, who lost her husband of 60 years a year and a half ago, was an abusive, manipulative, cold hearted bitch. I learned the hard way. The signs had always been there.
By the time I left this middle of nowhere town, I was a basket case.
My mother lacked empathy. She cared more about a dead guy than about her living children. Having lost all that seemed important to her, she revealed herself full blown: her motto seemed to be, "What have you done for me lately".To fill in the gaps, people might charitably say that she was so grieving her husband that she couldn't see straight. Dream on, suckers. It was all about her. She was scared and lonely and angry that after 60 soulmatey kind of years, he was taken from her. According to her, they had each other because they couldn't trust anyone else, not even their children. After all, I, in my absence, had abandoned them when my father got cancer. Even though that didn't happen until 10 years after neither of us had made an attempt to contact each other. Oh, cry me a river. The eternal drama.
What my mother wanted was something that I had in the past said many times that she wanted. Bring the body. Her version of 'family' was bringing the body. She hadn't changed. She threw money at me, knowing all along that after my divorce I am poor. She blandished me with heretofore alien endearments. She promised me the earth and then some. She promised me freedom. And when I visited her, I never rested, relaxed. I was her servant. Even when she made my bed, hung all my clothes in the closet, fed me 3 fabulous squares a day. I was at her beck and call, waiting on her, making conversation, listening to her endless diatribes and sorrow. Ye gods.
At a critical juncture, she said she needed me. And then she verbally abused me. Unwittingly humiliated me. Tried endlessly to control me. Raged at me. Professed her love for me. Was in turns pathetic and someone I wanted to murder. By the end of my stay, I felt destroyed. I was physically ill, emotionally terrified, mentally bent. Sick. On all levels, I was sick. She saw me shrivel and shrink over time and lose all vitality. No matter to her, really.
I love my mother. As my mother, this emotional 10 year old holds tremendous power over me. I was raised to honour my parents. If ever there was cognitive dissonance, this is it. All my life I was confused...you say you love me yet you treat me like shit.
So I had to make a decision. It helped that when I got home I suffered excruciatingly painful stress related illnesses for months. I felt destroyed. A huge wake up call. I already had written my father off after therapy, a man who had originally destroyed my sense of self and confidence. After he died I felt a sense of release. But my mother???? Not my mother. Anything but my beautiful mother.
False idols need to die so you can live. We can only see through childish eyes so long. Still, it's a struggle. Loyalty meant everything to me. To be disloyal? You don't think past that. It is grave, egregious. And so I struggled within myself, knowing that my mother was someone I didn't know, a perfect stranger. That is shocking, in and of itself. And she was the walking dead, with no interest in others that did not serve her interests. I dreaded a phone call from her which would take hours. Now it was worse because she had said and done unforgivable things, things that showed me that I was a utility to her, and hated more than loved, and how could I reconcile that? I felt repulsed by her. I cried for her. It was tragic.
It was a critical turning point. To make a decision. Should I stay or should I go? It gets that naked, that bald faced. You think you can outrun it but you can't. You have to face the question. Here is this little, feeble, old, scared and hollow woman begging for your life, and here is the powerful, almighty, pitiless tyrant demanding your life. Who is the real one? To whom do you answer?
After weeks of struggle and concomitant sickness, here was my answer. I was dismayed to discover that I was more mature than my mother. The fact is, she is still a 10 year old. A false god. Being my mother gives her a power that she does not deserve. So, for the sake of myself I cut off all contact with her.
I wrote her a letter, knowing full well that she would blame me and think that I blame my life on her. There is no reasoning with the likes of her. This is important to know. I had read Toxic Parents: Overcoming Their Hurtful Legacy and Reclaiming Your Life by Susan Forward. It was tremendously helpful to me, because it shockingly validated all the behaviour I had encountered; I found myself underlining most of the book, identifying the abusive behaviours and recognising the power my family still had over me, especially the loyalty issue, although it was far less after these many years.
I wrote my mother 14 pages by hand, telling her for the very first time in my life what it was like for me growing up in that family- what they did, how I experienced it, how I felt, how it affected me, how it affected all of my life. It was good. It was not to blame nor in the hoping for a response (which never came anyway), or the worry about how she would twist it, but in the telling, in the standing up for myself. That was all that mattered. To be able to tell. Finally.
To get to the point of sending the letter...I was terrified that it would kill her. Such is the stranglehold of family. Even when it is deathly to you. Such terror. But I did send it. Afterwards, I anguished endlessly over my decision, about whether I did the right thing. I finally realised that she had her path and I had mine, and I had done all I could within my limited power without her killing me. I feel released. Still, it never gets better, when I think about it.
Within family, I find, there is an overwhelming power- emotional power. More so, there is primal power, the blood power that seems to override all other considerations. It is supported, aided and abetted by family myths and values, by an unrestrained imperative- loyalty. It is daunting to challenge.
So, there is a point to this story. And the point is, know your limits. It is very humbling to discover one day that you cannot take it anymore. That you're not an endless vessel of love and understanding. That in a crunch all that matters is your own survival. Blood ties be damned. That the universal attitude towards family may have a chink.
You learn you are not all understanding, all encompassing with love, all empathetic, etc., etc. Sometimes, you just want life and to survive. Sometimes you just don't get it. Sometimes it just doesn't work for you. And maybe it is a failing within you. Maybe there is something lacking within you. Maybe you've reached some limit within yourself, and you can't grasp more. Even though the entire world tells you differently. And it's okay. You act upon it.
And then the challenge is to accept it and to live with it. There are no happy endings.
~ © InvictaMA 2011-2013
~ © InvictaMA 2010-2012
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Free: Cleckley's "Mask of Sanity"(Pdf format)
"To my experience, a favored technique for Narcissists is to debilitate your identity [personally, I hate the term self-esteem] by levelling false accusations and/or questioning your honesty, fidelity, trustworthiness, your “true” motivations, your “real” character, your sanity and judgement.”
"He was the MASTER of saving up your most personal “confessions” and then using them to tell you why you are so disgusting and sickening.”
"It does take time for our hearts to get the entire message. I think there is a part of us that wants so badly to believe that another person will somehow see the love offered to them and be glad for it, to receive it and appreciate it”.
"I think that only God can forgive this, I don't think about forgiveness. And the hardest part for me to grasp even now, is that there was NO relationship! It never actually existed. There is nothing. Still, it's good to know. I accept it and that knowledge has helped me tremendously to move on."
Welcome Home! You are not alone.........
If you found your way here then you may have encountered someone with narcissism, narcissistic personality disorder, or someone who seems to exhibit some symptoms of a psychopath. [Did you know that pathological narcissism may be considered a less severe form of psychopathy? More here: Conscience Continuum
For some survivors it feels like an emotional holocaust. For almost everyone it is misery, a nightmare. Some say it feels like evil.
Sometimes angelic, more often, hell-on-earth, is the emotional rollercoaster due to bipolar, or personality disorders or other types of mental illness? Who wouldn't feel confused and looking for answers?! Especially when we feel the pull towards them, just when we think we might escape it
We may not always find the answers we hope for, but I believe our lives depend on asking the questions. For if we don't know what we stand for, we don't know what we're willing to live and die for. And then it becomes easy for anyone to persuade us of anything.
Know you are not alone in these singular experiences. And you are not alone in seeking answers to your questions.....~ Invicta (MA, Counseling Psychology)
More here: ThePennyDrops
R.I.P. Tony C. Brown
Welcome To Our World
This is a place for healing; a place for binding your wounds while binding the wounds of others. It all starts with questions, whether moral/spiritual/existential or practical, that relate to one's encounter with psychopaths or pathological narcissists. If you are in the midst of, or have left, a relationship with someone you suspect to be severely character disordered read carefully and thoughtfully. Objective psychological knowledge (NOT theory), and moral support, IMO, are the most important things, at first.
1) Discover if your encounter might be with a psychopath or character disordered narcissist.
2) If it sounds like there is or has been a psychopath/pathological narcissist in your life, learn as much as humanly possible about what you're dealing with; and it's a good way to emotionally detach. Links are provided and they lead to other links.
3) I have a Masters in Counseling Psychology* which helped me not at all in my encounters [and why should you believe me about the degree?]. However, I was trained rigorously to be discriminating in the psych articles I read- to read critically. Therefore, I cannot recommend certain sites while I can recommend others. This goes for books as well. I have a particular point of view which does not allow for the pathologising of survivors. Online, it is easy to trash survivors of abuse. I was targetted by a net psychopath which has given me some insight, and any views written by me, are strictly from my experiences and not from any books, unless stated otherwise.
4) I realise that informed consent is rare online, that most people just want a safe place. It can be difficult to assess the credibility of many psychological POVs unless trained to do so. Be careful out there, and don't believe everything and everyone you read.
5) Check credential claims of website owners and writers if possible when they present themselves as experts, even self-described survivors. It's easy to lie and to mislead on the web. And aren't you worth the best, not some 3rd rate guru wannabe?
My goal is to uphold the dignity of all wounded survivors wishing to recover who come to this site and/or visit others.
~ Invicta (M.A. Counseling Psychology), Manager
*Disclaimer: The mission of this site is stated clearly; it is a site for education, to provoke thought. All that is discussed on this site is derived from personal experience and insight unless indicated otherwise. The manager accepts no responsibility for any action taken by readers of this site.
Remember to exercise reasonable caution in perusing any site that analyses or pathologises the survivor of a relationship with someone pathologically disordered. Please seek legitimate counselling.Do not believe anything on the mere authority of teachers or priests. Accept as true and as the guide to your life only that which accords with your own reason and experience, after thorough investigation. Accept only that which contributes to the well-being of yourself and others.
It is natural to want to support victims, but supporting victims is not identical to arming a lynch mob with lack of knowledge and misrepresentation. ~ Anonymous
Over the time spent on the internet trying to make sense of what happened with my encounter with an online psychopath I came to realise that there was a load of misinformation out there, on sites and in essays I encountered. I had garnered information, ostensibly pertaining to those with narcissistic personality disorder, only to come to the realisation, in time, that the inner life of disordered narcissism described, was more indicative of a psychopath, a slippery term in itself,  rather than the other. What to do?
Moreover, my major disagreement with a lot of what I've read on the net is the role of the target/victim/survivor. Call it "co-dependence", call it "hysteria" or "histrionic or borderline personality type", call it "echo personality disorder", all pathologize the victim. Who blames us? Those who have not been through it. Nor is some bigtime pathological narcissist or psychopath going to be the one to tell me about the dynamics and my psyche OR even begin to describe to me what the aftermath is like for survivors; for one thing, consider the source.
NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER - PRIVATE FORUM
I am not a mental health professional, as I state very prominently on my Web site. The content of this Web site [SV's] is based on correspondence since 1996 with hundreds of people suffering from the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (narcissists) and with thousands of their family members, friends, therapists, and colleagues.[That does not make this scientific research- it merely consists of anecdotal evidence, which has no authority in the scientific community. See: Narcissism and Grandiosity]
I passed a "Counselling Techniques" exam, provided online by Brainbench.
Here are the results:[Counselling techniques without practice? Huh? I spent many many many hours with clients and with supervisors to assess my techniques and skills and abilities. And doesn't Brainbench use "open book" exams? This is so basic, to ask such questions.]
Results Without A Name or Description
Take care there. Sam
S Vaknin has recently moved on to become editor of emotional/verbal abuse topics on Suite 101. I find this to be the ultimate irony. That the abuser gets to tell us, the survivors of abuse what we are about. And what we go through. The man is self-described disordered. Can anyone doubt his lack of empathy and inability to understand the point of view of the victim? And he is writing about the trauma that we suffer from narcissistic abuse? He is now writing a book using posts by abuse survivors on the Internet, that is, from anecdotal evidence, where anyone can make up anything, and without prior consent.
This is wonderful news!! Congratulations. Your unparalleled resources, assistance and knowledge to survivors is exemplary. This is an exciting and innovative resource that will be most highly recommended everywhere!![It's called 'Spam' ~Invicta]
NO. His advice to survivors and anyone else, IMO, is far less than exemplary. And so is his continuing manipulation of the Internet and the discussion group 
From: Pathologizing the Victim by SV (2004):
Thus, an abuse victim who declines to have any further contact with her batterer - is bound to be chastised by her therapist for obstinately refusing to constructively communicate with her violent spouse.
Not only is there a narcissist or psychopath under every bush and beside every 'couch', but there are also inferior robotic 'Pavlovian' types in the helping professions, and the world is hostile and unkind- a breeding bed of paranoia and persecution. The author has no understanding whatsoever of the dynamics of abuse. Just a glib surface rendering.
Better to play ball and adopt the sleek mannerisms of your abuser. Sadly, sometimes the only way to convince your therapist that it is not all in your head and that you are a victim - is by being insincere and by staging a well-calibrated performance, replete with the correct vocabulary. Therapists have Pavlovian reactions to certain phrases and theories and to certain "presenting signs and symptoms" (behaviors during the first few sessions). Learn these - and use them to your advantage. It is your only chance.
Such advice is unconscionable, to suggest manipulating the therapist just like a psychopath might- to hold therapists in contempt, just like a psychopath would- to assert that therapists are prone to a conditioned response, reducing their responses to the likes of rats and pigeons and all other animals. Yet this too is supported by the groups mentioned above. And on the internet, neither he nor they will be held to account. All he has to do is say "he is not a mental health professional" [but I play one on the Internet]. Caveat emptor! Consider the source. This is all opinion, and a misuse of psychology as we know it.
....[The cyber narcissist], "' ever the intimidating bully" - is not accustomed to such resistance'" [by others on the net, in groups, I presume].This rather sounds like you can show no opposition , must play "nice", or be labelled a narcissist.
The Cyber Narcissist As Online Therapeutic Catalyst
The author absurdly suggests that therapeutic dynamics are at play in groups where cyberpaths play, which in my view is destructive, as well as adistortion of the concept and actuality of therapy. With the really disordered in the mix, the online group environment becomes toxic, illusory and tremendously damaging, not bracing.
Compare the above with Wendy Koeningsmann's brilliant analysis of Psychopathic Types At Play on the Internet (reflects my experience to an uncanny degree); and The FBI Profile Of the Mental Rapist
Both these assessments do not profile a cyber narcissist as essentially an argumentative, belligerent, obnoxious bully. No, these types are far subtler than that and that is why people can be manipulated and fooled. And to make psychopathic play in groups akin to therapy is to distort the meaning of true therapy. Again, it seems that the author has little conception of what really happens in groups where cyber narcissists play. Or perhaps he is trying to deflect from the true psychopathic types/narcissists that do populate the internet - the ones that on the surface display true narcissism in action, as Dr. Bruce Gregory so nicely articulates:
When the narcissistic defense is operating in an interpersonal or group setting, the grandiose part does not show its face in public. In public it presents a front of patience, congeniality, and confident reasonableness.For stories, hear one side- the story of a survivor, me, who not only had an encounter with my own personal sociopath, but a guru wannabe, Sam Vaknin, and his followers. An excerpt from his book sets that stage:
"The book was never intended to help anyone. Above all, it was meant to attract attention and adulation (narcissistic supply) to its author, myself. Being in a guru-like status is the ultimate narcissistic experience."