Friday, February 15, 2013

Ten Ways to Freedom from Narcissists

November 3, 2009

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

Know Your Limits

December 5, 2011

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 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

Afterlife Without Narcissists

January 8, 2010

Someone, a long while ago asked what my life was like now, in the aftermath of the aftermath.

Actually there isn't much to say, because in my day to day life, I don't think about it.

If asked to think about it, there is no doubt that I recall that my brain was fried to a crisp by my encounter with a psychopath; I suspect that some of the damage is permanent. I haven't forgotten, in a distant way, the trauma that I experienced and this is a good thing. But more importantly, I haven't forgotten that I educated myself to identify the personality disordered, the abuse, the trauma symptoms and that has held me in good stead. I am more likely to identify an emotional vampire and remove myself from them than before.

Sometimes it is your boss, and that has happened to me, in the aftermath. When you need a job, you have to find ways to direct their attention from you. But the beauty is that you are not devastated nor feel annihilated- this time. Because you know it's not about you but about them. Sometimes it's a landlady, who holds your life in your hands because you can't afford to go elsewhere; and when you get the cut of her jib and begin changing the rigid social structure that she demands, you see her true colours come out and then you bail at the first opportunity, knowing she's a psycho, and it's not you.

Along with dealing with a psychopath, I was going through heavy life changes like divorce and conversion to another religion, and leaving all I know and madly love and moving to another country. On the psychological stress scale, it was off the charts. And yet here I stand, unbowed. I learned. And learned. And learned a lot.

What helped me most is knowing that it was not my fault. In separating my general psychological issues that everyone possesses, from the abuse and mindfuck that is the narcissist's/psychopath's trademark. In knowing that they cannily target the brightest and best out of primitive, barbaric need; a wimp would not do. In knowing I was dealing with something that was not normal, and in retrospect, subhuman, in my opinion a genetic mutant. You don't need to stick an evil label on them to realise that sucking the life out of you is their mode of operation and the thing you need to avoid with all your might.

For different reasons, 6 years later I entered deep psychotherapy. I can see where some personal issues intersected with psychoguy's ability to target my vulnerabilities. But that is all. Those without empathy have the knack of targetting a person's soft spots; it's not really that special. What makes it special is the kind of people they target, for their qualities, strengths and virtues.

Arguments of evil v sickness will go on, but that doesn't matter to us who were victimised by the personality disordered. All I know now is if I recognise the pattern I need to get myself out, pronto! And I do it. Without doubt, uncertainty, vacillation. I've learned to be harsh and to draw the line about what I will and will not tolerate.

Apart from all of that, I live and I love. It is an amazing life because now, I accept that there are people in this world who represent the dark and evil, and it is not my place to fix them, make them better or even to tolerate them; it's a huge load off me. My eye is objective and neutral. If you try to con me, I will cut you dead. And I largely know when you are trying to con me. I no longer have empathy for everyone in the world. I have learned to be discriminating. Nor, in the present, do I want to perpetuate the drama of having been victimised by this sort. For me, it's truly over.

Life is good without narcissists/psychopaths. I know myself better. I am myself. I love and enjoy and find the world wondrous. I have good and great relationships. I know that I have suffered from PTSD. But oddly, unlike my childhood, I don't relive the psycho moments when they are raised. I think it is because I faced the truth and worked it through. I was not a deer frozen in the headlights. I was an adult with many resources and I used them. I accepted that abnormal people had entered into my life. I accepted that they left damage in their wake and my wake, and that I needed to get them out of my life. Unless you do that, unless you stop blaming yourself, you will never really get out. You will be upholding an image of yourself, but not facing the facts and the truth.

And most importantly, I had somewhere to turn. To the doing of and attending to meaningful things. To kindness and attention to what really mattered in the world, to making a difference. If you pursue superficial and shallow things, soothing baths and candlelight and mantras and affirmations are not going to change the deep structures of your psyche. Nor are step by step solutions, nor "taking responsibility" when it means blaming yourself.

It is better to remember than to forget. And that is why I manage to remain narcissist and psychopath free. Because I took responsibility for my worldview, and looked that befuddling evil straight in the eye, and having known it and understood it, I turned away. To Life. Once I educated myself, I had a choice. And then it became a no brainer.

~ © InvictaMA 2010-2012

Loving Narcissists and the Myth of No Contact

November 18, 2009

I think that the exhortation of "no contact" with the narcissist, although rightful in its claim, loses something in the execution. If you begin with "no contact" as a strategy or goal, you are likely to fail. Your feelings and belief system will conquer you. "No contact" is not a must per se; it is something that you find yourself desiring because now you have the narcissist's number. No self-respecting person, and that means, all of us, wants to continue playing with a powerful and sadistic 3 year old. So, your nature will take its course.

If you don't first begin to study and recognise the narcissist within that fancy dancing package, then by focusing on establishing "no contact" at the cost of the complexity of what's happening to your psyche, you will continue to fight your feelings (see, Ten Ways to Freedom from Narcissists) and not the narcissist and their pull. The more you get to know what they're doing, what they are really like, see it for yourself with a clear eye, the more you observe and catalogue, the greater becomes the desire to not inhabit the narcissist's planet any longer.

If they are physically abusive, then, yes, of course, leave if you can. If they have made you so sick that you're ready for intensive care, and you can manage it, then leave. Seek help and support and a safe place. Self preservation supersedes anything else. But it seems that a lot of relationships with narcissists are somewhere in between, often ambiguous and ambivalent, based on exceptionally intense feelings from the victim, and feelings of loyalty and commitment, among others- the "shoulds".

Yes, if you can manage "no contact" because you feel in your gut it is healthier for you than the narcissist, then act upon it. But more powerful and longlasting is the organic desire for no contact, the repulsion and indignity felt and known at the thought of someone trying to suck you in, whether this narcissist or any other, because finally you are beginning to see "a soul with no footprints", the predictable groteseque within. If you remain resolved, the temptation to listen to and believe the narcissist lessens over time and in its place grows a steadfastness that will no longer allow this misshapen freak to dictate the terms of our inner and outer lives. And the reason you now can use that word, "allow", is because now you have a real choice in a way you never had when your mind and emotions were held in thrall while being expertly and methodically raped.

In my experience, people keep going back to the narcissist because their feelings and belief system are continuously manipulated and transfigured into the narcissist's desire or fantasy. Narcissists can be a convincing lot and our own beliefs and feelings find reinforcement, not only from them, but from ourselves. "No contact" is the brute force attempt, in my estimation, to separate from the beautiful illusion so hankered for that they sell us, thinking it reality. When in fact, what we need to do, is gradually separate from the actual and absolute truth, what they really are and do. And to see the unholy damage they leave in their wake.

I believe that healing from trauma is a process of transformation, and cannot be forced, willed or manipulated. "No contact" has grown into a huge, mythological chimera that claims to cure most ills. It doesn't. It's only a part of the equation.

~ © InvictaMA 2009-2014

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Free: Cleckley's "Mask of Sanity"(Pdf format)

Survivors Speak

"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
Kathy Krajco

Mission: Help Yourself (Archive)

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.

Sites To Avoid

[This rather rambling article is quite dated now, but the historical facts/truths of the early days remain the same. ~InvictaMA, 2013]

The Buddha said, 
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.
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.

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, [2] rather than the other. What to do?

When I joined support groups I was overwhelmed with new and old theories about how it was my fault, and actually very little that had to do with online psychopaths, even while a lot of the psychodynamics were relevant as in NPD, though more severely so.

I endured a Narcissistic Personality Disorder support group where I should have known better but was so desperate for a place to feel less alone. I made the mistake of trusting someone disordered who I thought was earnest in helping survivors to recover, not realising this person is probably a psychopath. The capricious deletions should have been a hint. Moreover, I found that site in particular to be a breeding ground for all sorts of disturbed and mendacious people, for opportunists who now have gone on to breed more disturbance and misinformation on their own sites.

The following are my considered opinions and a warning about some sites and essays and "research" I have encountered; I consider them significant for spreading misinformation and deserving of a caveat. I have a solid background in psychology and I am also the survivor of an encounter with an emotionally sadistic psychopath. I was also trained for rigorous thought and research (both undergrad and grad school ), so it's not likely that there is room for advocating silly and dangerous theories, a great disservice to the suffering.

I admit this bias: Most support groups and theories blame the victim/survivor, however unconsciously which, IMO, is anathema to survivors of encounters with psychopathic types. IMO and in my experience, there is nothing in the life of the survivor that caused the encounter with, or the behaviour of, someone disordered.
I have seen sites that create hypervigilance about psychopaths and NPD or any other disorder, even the mentally ill. Sites that load up on supposed symptoms that might trumpet a psychopath or "malignant narcissism", taken to the Nth degree of absurdity. Assertions that any less than a harmonious relationship may be founded upon verbal abuse and emotional abuse as the "victim" perceives it to be; and there are many to happily support that view. As if the DSM, the legal definitions and the clinical definitions weren't confusing enough, someone comes along on the net and decides there are way more psychopaths and "N"s than we ever imagined! And far more ways to identify their peculiarities, symptoms, traits, behaviour, than the governing psychiatric bodies ever imagined.
I think not.

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.

Disordered narcissists are not taking over the planet. Selfish, self-centred, egotistical people exist, and we have dealt with this from the beginning of creation, it is not new. "Narcissists" are not lurking around every corner (ok, perhaps in LA ) to do us in. Nor are there psychopaths slinking behind every bush and in every office (though there are a preponderance of them on the internet and they are known to be statistically overrepresented in mental health areas and law and politics ). Even the abusive are not necessarily without hope for redemption. The net has pathologised us all. And, hungry for information, we bit.

I think that misinformation is taking over the internet particularly in the newly "glamorous" area of narcissism. Listed here are sites and essays which I think promulgate victimisation- that is, indiscriminately pathologise us, the survivors; some, also, in effect, attempt to quantify our experience and bind our thoughts and feelings to the author's biases. And, on the Internet, there are other sites that incite hypervigilance and create a world bereft of kindness, where "N"s lurk in the shadows, in nooks and crannies, and we have to remain in "defence" mode....ever the potential or defective victim.....

~Invicta 06/22/03

Not Recommended
Echo No Longer; The Recovery Process of the Partner of the Person Suffering from a Narcissistically Impaired Personality. Mary Ann Borg Cunen, M.A.
Unprofessional and unethical use of subjects who were not consulted regarding permission to use said quotes for research. Lack of ethics includes the people who supplied/agreed to using the quotes for submission to a conference and later to dissemination of paper on the Internet. Unscientific; "echo" is conceptualised as a predisposition to pathological dependency, exemplified by the term, "Echo Dependent Personality"; finds the victim of narcissistic abuse as defective and blameworthy.
This is a site that purports to make narcissism/Narcissistic Personality Disorder easy to understand. Lack of cohesion, cobbled together from largely speculative and unreliable and untraceable sources it seems. Narcissism is not easy to understand, and this confuses and misleads further. The more pages are added, the more it becomes clear that this "Traci Spencer, MMFT, CACII" has never written an academic paper in her life, nor is willing to fully make an accounting of both, seemingly spurious sources, and some possibly legitimate resources- this, amidst material recycled once again from a single predominant "authority" who already saturates the Internet.
I have read a lot of this site. Who is this Robert Burney? No credentials, only a lot of psychobabble on "co-dependency". IMO, there is not a single line of writing that I would take seriously. The purported "book" is self-published. What's worse, though, is that it is promoted on some support sites without question.
(Update 2009: MSN groups has closed, but the NPD and Psychopath groups, respectively, live on on Yahoo and other bulletin boards, run by femfree and saturated with S. Vaknin spam/misinformation..)
Exemplify the quote above by 'Anonymous'. Though there are some good links, and some supportive people, it's the gateway to misinformation. The links are rife with trivialities, so that one has to wade through a morass of irrelevancy. Anyone can use a search engine and the managers surely have, uncritically. There is also significant crossover and cross-posting to both sites [and now, to another site that has been co-opted] and blurring of distinctions between narcissism, NPD, sociopathy, psychopathy. Also, these sites promote the work of a self-described NPD everywhere and especially on their sites as well as the work of authors cited above. The groups and, many of their links, tend to implicitly pathologize the victims/survivors of narcissistic abuse.  

To reiterate, they exemplify the quote above, and trivialise all aspects of mental health and mental disorder- that is, both the pathological narcissist/psychopath and survivors of their abuse, alike. These groups are managed by 'femfree', who deletes any challenges to the party line. (Addendum: still quoted is: The Psychopathic Style" A Documentary by Marion Trent and John McCormick ~Funnily, this "documentary" has never seen the light of day).
Once run by the steady hand of a knowledgeable person, has recently been co-opted by femfree and the other managers of the aforementioned MSN groups. Now merely a mirror site of the above, the original theses and information on which the site was based having been removed, and replaced with advertising for the usual support sites, and promoting SV's works [more Spam]. It definitely has been emptied of all "soul".
Currently, a portal to the main site, and little more. It's deader than Kenny.


More of the same, by the same above. "N-Partners", another MSN group is slowly morphing into more of the same above."

Group discussion about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. One of multitudinous sites on the Internet belonging to Sam Vaknin. He is a self-proclaimed "malignant narcissist". Though his writings purport to be the inner life of one disordered individual, unfortunately they distort too much about NPD to be credible. This is a recent quote: "NPD is the epidemic of our time - stealthy, pernicious, ubiquitous, unrecognized." [Unrecognized? How convenient for such an assertion with nothing to back it up except one self-described NPDer's opinion].

(Update 2009: Groups have closed on Suite 101 but Vaknin's spam continues.) 

Moreover, Mr. Vaknin's Ph.D. is not in psychology; and, in fact, it is from a diploma mill. His certification in counseling is from an online "school". [3].There is nothing in Mr Vaknin's CV that suggests a BA or MA in anything, never mind psychology. Mr Vaknin's emphasis in his CV seems to be/have been on economics. This is what he has to say about his "credentials":

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:
Results Without A Name or Description

Take care there. Sam
[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.]

Also the pathological narcissist's worldview is aligned with his disorder. IMO, SV pathologises the target/victim/survivor as may his followers by proxy ("followers by proxy" are defined as those who maintain BBs and Support Groups whose posted quotes by SV dominate their sites and other sites where they post). IMO, zero credibility, even if they know the difference between bipolar and major depression.
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.

When announced that he was becoming editor, this is what his ardent follower, femfree, wrote:

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 [4]

Pathologising the Therapist

 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.

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.
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. 

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, by SV

This essay is a example of dangerous distortion, not a point of view one may see in a thoughtful, responsible essay on therapy and therapists- this essay in effect says to trust no one, and pathologises therapists, portraying many as potentially abusive. The writer has no idea of what is best for the abused, no idea of the dynamics of a therapeutic relationship. And the advice given in the final paragraph, is so harmful, and so out-to-lunch, that it can seriously damage a survivor's desire/efforts to find help by instilling doubt,lack of confidence or belief and trust in the helping professions.   
....[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."