Wednesday, August 16, 2017

love bombing by narcissists and sociopaths

Note: when I talk about narcissists and sociopaths (Antisocial Personality Disorder), I am talking about the clinical condition in the DSM. See my post on what abuse is and who perpetrates it HERE.

Here is an excellent article about how narcissists groom people to believe they are soul mates.

In this post, author Alex Miles describes the love bombing manipulative tactic as:

... initially carried out through excessive phone calls, text messages, emails, the constant desire to be in close contact whether virtual or physical and the desire to be connected almost every moment of every day ...

... Love bombers are masters at flattery; they will constantly be telling their target how much they adore them, how beautiful they are, how funny, talented, special, precious and any other sweet nothing they can think of. Love bombers will make their partner feel as though they are the only person in the world for them, telling them how grateful they are to finally be understood, what terrible previous relationships they had, how they have found the love of their lives and that they are for-sure certified soul mates ...

Love bombing by narcissists and sociopaths is fraudulent because it is designed to draw a person into a loving, trusting relationship without the intentions of making the relationship loving or trustworthy. Love bombing for narcissists is about obtaining narcissistic supply (attention, flattery and power and control over people) and for sociopaths it is about obtaining IOUs (guilt trips, control, exploitation, extortions, blackmail, and either brutal shaming kinds of discards or vengeful retaliations over the sociopath's need for absolute dominance and sadism in the relationship).

The fact that it is a fraudulent set-up can deeply wound and shock its victims.

You will know that the love-bombing-idealizing-"can't-live-without-you" person is a narcissist or sociopath if they suddenly switch off the love, i.e. stop the behavior without warning and become hyper critical, rejecting and prickly instead. In addition, the reasons for stopping the flow of love with silent treatments and criticisms won't make sense, as most people with normal constitutions know that genuine love cannot be so easily turned off like a faucet. In fact, the person who professed to love you so madly becomes cruel, edgy, dismissive and sometimes even seething.

Narcissists and sociopaths do this to see if you will try to please and placate them (i.e. the victim giving the perpetrator what they want).

In fact, the cruelty gets worse and worse over time (sometimes in a short amount of time, sometimes over years) to see how many and what kinds of excuses, lies, gaslighting, degradation, bullying and dodging the victim will endure before backing away and breaking free from narcissistic or sociopathic bonds. In that way, victims are treated like lab rats where the scientists amp the voltage on the electricity on the rats to see how much pain they will withstand while still accepting bonding with their electrocutors.

In fact, real life (without the rats) reveals that victims of child abuse will typically endure the pain the longest and at the higher levels with their partners because they were taught by their abusive parents to normalize abuse. That is a classic textbook fact that has been studied extensively. It puts them in considerably more danger than people who come from normal supportive families.

If the victim came from a very protective normal family with a lot of inter-generational support, the victim will exit the relationship early on, much earlier than the victims of child abuse, thereby surviving the incidents much better.

Narcissists and sociopaths do not necessarily know these facts, so their experiments with amp-ing up the pain and cruelty on their victims, and figuring out when to enact their discards are purely for self serving, trauma bonding purposes.

The cruelty of love bombing followed by a discard feels very much like date rape. The trauma from the experience is extremely similar in duration and in terms of how it feels for victims. In other words, they accept the relationship (or date), and are brutally treated and abused (or raped) by their perpetrator.

However in terms of society's attitudes, date rape is taken much more seriously where an arrest can made, and where the staff at a hospital can help intervene to get the victim the help she (or he) needs.

With brutal love-bombing-idealization, devalue, discard treatment from a narcissist or sociopath, the victim has no real support from any kind of authority unless he or she goes searching for it. Traumatized victims tend to self-isolate, so it is often very hard to get the help needed. This puts victims at an extreme disadvantage in terms of feeling safe from their perpetrators compared to date rape victims.

If the love-bombing-idealization, devalue, discard treatment came from a parent, the trauma is even more pronounced than it is between partners because it is in a children's DNA to trust a parent to care about them, at least when they are still a child. Love bombing and idealizations from previously abusive parents should never be trusted. Parents love bomb their children out of their own insecurities: this is very common when the child is not sticking to the role the narc parent prescribed (highly successful scapegoats and failure criminal addicted goldens are highly challenging for a narc parent and love bombing gets them back into their children's lives to get the roles straightened out, or so they hope). Children who are in the public eye may make previously abusive rejecting parents highly uncomfortable where love bombing seems like the perfect antidote to avoid the fall-out of being exposed. Children who are highly successful in law or law enforcement may also make abusive parents uncomfortable enough to love bomb. These are all highly manipulative and untrustworthy, but many children fall for love bombing (at least once), if only to have a relationship that they have never had with their parent, a loving relationship. Most will eventually find out that the love was not real at all.

Why narcissists use love bombing:

The love bombing maneuver is the first move in a narcissist's bag of awful tricks and one he (or she) is most comfortable with and provides the most satisfaction in terms of obtaining narcissistic supply. It is gratifying to the narcissist that it often works, and that victims are so easily susceptible to it.

It most resembles seduction, but it is more insidious if only because there is a brutal ending to the seduction.

The targets chosen for love bombing tend to have low self esteem, are uneasy about their own decision-making capabilities, are susceptible to being talked into things, are highly empathetic, seem gullible, and were most likely groomed in childhood to believe they deserved abuse and/or abandonment (and are therefore love starved). They might have also been taught as children that they didn't deserve boundaries of privacy either (therefore were/are open to inappropriate interrogations and enmeshment). They may not, as children, had any true ownership and decision-making power over their own toys, projects or clothes.

The narcissist can find that indecisive, insecure empaths bend to his will a lot more easily than other types of people, so that is why they are chosen. Adult children of child abuse are hand-picked by narcissists and sociopaths as soul mates because they seem like the easiest targets to persuade -- in all kinds of ways. One reason why narcissists and sociopaths feel that victims of child abuse are their soul mates is that they think that the victim of child abuse will put the narcissist at the center of their world and attention, just like the target put their abusive parent at the center of their world when they were growing up. The narcissist slowly inserts the power and control into the relationship, like a poison, including making decisions for the victim. They try out making their "soul mates" walk on eggshells first, then perhaps a little love starving or silent treatment here and there, taking away friends and family slowly and deliberately too (isolation), testing gaslighting strategies and trauma bonding strategies after that, and eventually when they have their victims into a state of bondage and confusion, they explain away the abuse with blaming, blame shifting, confusing flipped tales, deflections, nit picking, projection, lectures and dodging (in other words, word salad arguments). This strips the victim of autonomy, thinking for himself and control over his own life, the same way the parents took these things away from the victim when he (or she) was a child.

In fact, the abusive partner tries to groom his lover into a child-like marionette for himself.

Effective cult leaders love bomb in order to obtain new recruits and getting people to worship them.

Why sociopaths use love bombing:

Sociopaths use love bombing in order to get what they want from the other person. They don't demand flattery and adulation so much as exploitation. They want to get as much as they can for as little as they can. They use what ever power they have at their disposal to get more out of a situation than they give.

Sociopaths are notorious for price bargaining and expect IOUs over any kindness or mercy at all. In the movie "Shelter", about the homeless in new York City, a man lets a homeless woman sleep on a hard concrete boiler room floor in a building so long as she provides him with sex (the sex is demeaning and sometimes brutal as well). There is a power imbalance, and the man uses his power over the desperate homeless woman who is caught outside in a raging snow storm with nowhere to sleep for the night, and exploits the situation for his own gratitude: it is typical sociopathic exploitative behavior with a degrading IOU attached to it.

Obviously this scene has nothing to do with love bombing, but a sociopath may think love bombing is necessary if he wants something from someone with more wealth or social prestige. Love bombing is also used on people who can get him out of jail or prison. He might feel love bombing is necessary to get co-operation for a revenge of some sort. Love bombing might be necessary to take advantage of a situation which the sociopath thinks will provide him with a life of little work, more relaxation, more leisure, more wealth. Power is sought for its own sake, not for the sake of an empathetic vision, though the sociopath might pretend he is an empath to get into a position of power (and later try to stage things, trump up conspiracies, create confusion and chaos to solidify his power).

While sociopaths can try to work up the same kinds of gaslighting and trauma-bonding strategies over their victims that narcissists use, sometimes they take control right away, making a person hostage.

Sociopaths take the path of least resistance to get what they want and love bombing is used only when the sociopath feels it must be used to obtain one of his desires (usually at the expense of the other person).

Love bombing is used for conquest only.

Sociopaths tend to work alone as much as they can. They rarely trust others. They also tend to think that everyone is too stupid to pull off the effective manipulative maneuvers that they deem they are superior at.

How to tell if the love is real or not real

It is sometimes really hard to tell if the love and soul-mate pronouncements are real or not real. The best way to tell is to study the traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder (another link) to see if the person love bombing you has any of the traits of these personality disorders, though it is hard to tell in the beginning.

In the meantime, you may want to figure out if all of the love-of-my-life pronouncements are for-real or a scam (before you get hurt). Here is one way to tell:

On narcissists:

Narcissists can't stand any kind or amount of criticism:

The love bombing will stop for narcissists if they feel at all criticized by you, or if you want to take the relationship really slow. Love bombing is also likely to stop when you are comfortable with them, and under their control. If you really want to find out whether you are having a whirl-wind romance with a narcissist, criticize them over something minor (perhaps about creativity, boundaries, respect, empathy, anything that narcissists tend to lack) and see if they blow up at you, or get distant, insulting and rejecting. They cannot stand to be seen as a regular person with flaws. While normal people will bristle over being criticized, and can feel hurt, narcissists will either go on the attack, or feel so wounded and hurt that they will withdraw from you and try to make you feel insecure about their love. You will quickly get the feeling that they cannot handle criticism at all, in any kind of  normal way.

Narcissists tend to lack creativity. They tend to be very formulaic. So, if you are going to criticize them, how they could improve one of their projects with creativity, would be the area to try out the experiment. Watch their expressions.

Narcissists can't stand boundaries and the fact that you think about other people or things other than them:

The other thing that narcissists hate is boundaries. One of the reason they love bomb you and appear to have the greatest sympathy for you is to break through your boundaries and get to know what makes you tick.

Narcissists have a track record of idealize, devalue, discard cycles in their relationships and they pretend they are victims in their past relationships:

Right off: real victims go to therapy, and they are usually in therapy for a long time, and often with other survivors, and they usually get diagnosed with PTSD. They usually read a lot about abuse and have an understanding of the subject. Note: do not confuse therapy with couples counseling which narcissists are sometimes willing to do. We're talking domestic abuse counseling, narcissistic abuse counseling or trauma-related counseling.

Narcissists almost never go to therapy unless their reputations are on the line from public exposure, or they don't want to lose narcissistic supply from a lover or spouse, or they are court-ordered. Narcissists blame others and try to suck in others (empaths) for sympathy for their pretend-victim status.

Narcissists also tend to take up other relationships (especially with their victims' rivals or best friends -- anything that hurts the target) very quickly after a relationship has broken off. They also tend to take extravagant vacations and cruises, or go on expensive shopping sprees, or buy luxury items after the dissolution of their relationships, whereas normal people tend to isolate themselves and get depressed. Real victims also tend to get very skittish about getting into new relationships after they have been victimized and tend to want to go very, very slow: in other words, they are generally NOT the love bombing types of people.

So, if your date (or new friend) has a lot of victim stories, find out if they have gotten treated in therapy for it and how long (get proof). Find out if they just left a relationship (big red flag as real victims don't go hunting for a new relationship or love bomb a new person right after a breakup). Dig into their past to find out if they leave victims behind or if they were victimized because they were groomed to take abuse as a child (child abuse). Are they a scapegoat of their family, or are they a golden child? If they are a scapegoat, they are more likely to be real victims. If they are a golden child be aware that over half of golden children grow up to be bullies with entitlement issues (making them primed to be a narcissist).

If there are also signs of idealize, devalue, discard in their past relationships, you are probably dealing with a love-bombing narcissist who manipulates people.

Narcissists are glib and arrogant:

Most narcissists pretend they are experts and superior at everything and that you need to listen to their expertise, advice and lectures. They also tend to be charming. They give a little too much advice. They pretend to be interested in all of the same things you are interested in (mirroring), but they act as though they have superior knowledge of those interests.

They ask way too many questions of you while not revealing even a tiny fraction of those same subjects about themselves. Do not mistake this manipulation tactic as their being interested or enthralled with you.

On sociopaths:

They are also a Cluster B like a narcissist, so there are some similarities, but the difference is that they don't necessarily go into a rage when you criticize them, they don't have the kind of abuse cycles that narcissists do (they tend to discard you for good and move on to other prey), they don't like societal attention or detection, they tend to fib quite a lot more than narcissists, and they tend to be even more exploitative than narcissists.

Sociopaths look very uncomfortable when a conversation topic turns to empathy.

Watch their facial expressions or boredom when this topic comes up. Rarely will they look engaged or look people in the eye when this topic takes a dominant place. Mostly they look away. If they do engage, they will not be in agreement with an empathetic view-point. Sociopaths are into punishments, retaliation and they make "they deserve what they had coming to them" kinds of statements.

Sociopaths hate it when you want to slow things down

That is because they want what they want, and they want it NOW! The more you slow things down, or show them that they aren't any more important than others in your life, the less they can overtake you with their own agenda. Sociopaths are not good at wait ... and wait .... and wait.

Sociopaths aren't attracted to you when they feel that knowing you is of no benefit to them:

If you think that the person you just got to know is a sociopath, and you want him to disengage, appear really boring, to have nothing that will be of interest to him (finances, connections, compassion for his plight, sex, anything you can think of). Giving back any gifts is also a pretty good idea. Dressing down is another good idea. With sociopaths, you have to appear confident in yourself and your boundaries. They like easy prey, and if you make it clear that your boundaries are firm, that you are surrounded by protection, and that you have nothing to offer them, they usually go away unless they are totally obsessed with you.

If you are an empath, pretend NOT to be an empath. They target empaths by the boatloads for abuse.

If they are obsessed with you, or keep trying to contact you when you have said "no", or they want to make an example of you, call the police (with evidence). Sometimes criticizing them and/or exposing them will usually make them back off too. They may want to retaliate because of the actions you take, but they usually won't if you make it very clear that there is absolutely nothing about you that is of any use to them, including any ego boosts or reciprocity of feelings, and that you are surrounded by other people who love you and protect you.

Also making it known that you don't keep secrets, especially theirs, can work too.

Sociopaths generally insult others a lot (it is their favorite pastime), and especially behind their backs in long cynical, if sometimes humorous condemnations, so if you insult them a little in return, especially if you are the opposite sex, that is a language they understand. Make sure not to get taken in by their escalations of bigger and bigger insults: you just want to send them the one-time message to back off and leave you alone.

Generally, it is not a good idea to insult anyone (it is a form of verbal abuse), but if done right, and once, it can also be one of the few ways sociopaths understand that there is nothing in the relationship for them. Contempt, disgust and disapproval are emotional-type boundaries that tend to work so much better on sociopaths than, say, telling them how hurt you are by their actions and their complete lack of empathy, why you need to be left alone, why you can't seem to tolerate their particular personality or ways of doing things. The former usually gets them going off in another direction, whereas the latter keeps them coming back at you.

Making it very clear that you won't be taken in by ANY love bombing at all, no matter how much they try, and showing disgust about it and them may be a good idea when it comes to the sociopath.

Sociopaths leave a trail of victims who no longer want to associate with them.

That is because the wounding, threats and betrayal that sociopaths do is great.

If you talk to the sociopath's victims, they usually complain of the sociopath's need for pathological control. Sociopaths don't give up on a "punishment" or other sanction/maltreatment unless they have what they want from you. Sociopaths are also noted for using medications, mind control, cult-like persuasion, brainwashing, forced addiction to alcohol or drugs on their victims, threats, staged incidents, re-telling of the events or feelings of others, scare tactics, or some other penance to control their victims.

"You should never have done that" or "said that" is a typical phrase of the sociopath if and when you look into their past, tell of a past incident you don't like that they were part of, or even contact someone from their past.

If the sociopath has children, most of them try to get out of child support payments at some point during their lives whether they are rich or poor, so that is another sign. In general, sociopaths like to break agreements, promises and boundaries.

All sociopaths tend to be sadistic in some way. They get off  on hurting or punishing others who do not go along with their agendas. They particularly enjoy the punishment of animals and small children. So look into their past for these signs.

Sociopaths have very few, if any, close friends.

Love bombing of a child after the child has been discarded (estranged, shunned, punished by ostracism by a narcissistic or sociopathic parent for a few years):

When narcissistic and sociopathic parents love bomb their estranged children to try to get them back in the family or back into a role again, it is called hoovering. I have yet to do a post on hoovering, but basically it comes down to love bombing with the idealize, devalue, discard cycle of abuse (the idealization stage being the love bombing stage).

Children are often not especially valuable sources of narcissistic supply. Most children do not idealize a parent beyond ten years old. The reason why is that they were meant, by biology, to grow up and move away to start their own families. They are also not good supply because they know too much about their parent, and are usually onto them even when they don't say so. Information within a family is so porous and leaky that the narcissist is more likely to be dealing with shame and depression in the long run, especially in old age, if they try to turn their children into narcissistic supply.

But narcissists are bold and brazen, and most try to make their children into supply anyway, just for the hell of it. They overwhelmingly use triangulation, gaslighting, trauma-bonding, parentifying, infantilizingperfectionism and word salad arguments as their main on-going weapons against their own children.

Estranged, ostracized, shunned, rejected children are very, very common for narcissistic and sociopathic parents. It is usually the family scapegoats that are left out of the family. In contrast, it is so extremely rare for the rest of the population to treat children the way that abusive parents do. If narcissists or sociopaths are ever exposed about their abuse, they can meet with dismissal and derision from society (and this is when the tear-soaked "I have sinned" public displays come out, along with the love bombing of the children they dumped).

So, as you can see, making children into narcissistic supply for the narcissist has many drawbacks.

Some of the reasons why parents hoover (love bomb) has been talked about earlier, but if you are trying to look for signs to keep from getting into a relationship with a narcissist or sociopath, the following are better tell-tale signs of hoovering children:
* one sign of narcissists and sociopaths is that they are estranged from at least one of their children. This is usually the scapegoat child. They absolutely need a scapegoat to keep the bad deeds they do to others from being exposed and attributed to them, so they adopt one of their children to take all of the blame for their deeds instead. This is the big reason perpetrators pretend to be the victims of their scapegoat estranged children. However, children who are estranged don't make very good garbage cans for blame. Cluster B disordered parents cannot blame someone who is so far outside of the family that no one knows where he lives or what he is doing, has no contact with anyone in the family, so hoovering here and there becomes the way of continuing to effectively scapegoat, especially if there are any eyes on the situation.
* when the golden child is not satisfying them enough, isn't giving them the narcissistic supply they demand -- and they demand A WHOLE LOT, so it is not uncommon for friction to arise with the golden at some point and for an ostracized scapegoat child to be hoovered back in to challenge the golden
* when the golden child dies and all that is left is the scapegoat, so even if the scapegoat has been discarded for years, the narcissist will usually try to hoover the scapegoat back in to take the golden child's place
* the narcissists or sociopath are publicly exposed or they feel they are in danger of being exposed and rush to love bomb their estranged child to keep the child "from talking" (hoping the child will display loyalty to his parent in return for parental love bombing)

Love bombing sentences to estranged children:
* "I always loved you. You are my child, but you didn't see it, so we spent all of those years apart."
* "I really wanted to know you better, but you seemed more comfortable not having a parent in your life."
* "I wanted you back in my life, but you never came back to apologize like I expected you to."
* "I'm not a perfect parent. I make mistakes. So, I asked you to leave and not contact me. Big deal! Get over it! Now I love you! So accept it!"
* "I made a mistake. I really wanted to know you, but (golden child) was so much more persuasive and loving towards me."
* "You and I weren't getting along then, but I loved you the entire time you were gone, so we should just forgive and forget the past."
* "We didn't have the same perspectives. But sometimes perspectives change. And now I see value in you where I didn't before."
* "I thought our relationship was too damaged to fix. So I didn't try. But now I see that it wasn't damaged because my love for you carried on through the years when you were absent."

This is all manipulative B.S. and word salad by the way, and indicative of the honeymoon stage in the cycle of abuse. Narcissists and sociopaths so rarely change their behavior or views that they cannot be counted on to be trustworthy. These kinds of statements show absolutely no awareness, empathy or love of any kind. The only sign of them wanting to really change into a loving human being instead of an abusing or rejecting one is their desire for total rehabilitation (i.e. a commitment to learn about their condition from professionals, reflection into their past and the childhood abuse they endured and genuinely wanting to stop it from continuing down through the generations, on-going therapy with a domestic violence counselor, anger management classes, a commitment to child abuse causes and the healing of its victims, etc). Even if they do all of this, which is extremely doubtful, they can never entirely be counted on in terms of telling the truth about loving their children in any on-going, promise-laden, empathetic way (or their grandchildren either). "A leopard never changes its spots" should always be heeded, I believe, and if they totally surprise you that they have changed (it takes years and years), then they have done themselves a service whether the people around them can put stock in it or not.

With sociopathic parents therapy doesn't make sense because they will take what they learned for more abusive "tricks and tactics". I'm not a believer in sociopaths transforming into anything other than double-trouble sociopaths, with even more sadistic games up their sleeves.

Children of abuse or abandonment should always have their guard up at all times -- my philosophy. If you have PTSD, trying to have a relationship with your abusive parent again or even seeing them, may make your PTSD soar and get so much worse. It's a case-by-case basis. I personally would never share intimate personal details about your life with them under any circumstances.

For more on how narcissists and sociopaths treat their children, you can go to the following posts:

Narcissists and Children -- my own post
Sociopaths and Children -- my own post
Psychopaths are unable to love their own children — here’s why -- by Lindsay Dodgson (this is a good article, however the research on the role of the Golden child is from only one source, and woefully inadequate and inaccurate -- from all of my own studies and research the conclusion is that half of golden children become ultra-empaths and half become bullies/Cluster Bs: see favoritism in the family ... in another post I will address why there are two drastically differing Goldens).
The Dysfunctional Ways a Family Protects a Narcissist -- by Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC, for Psych Central (note: this article has to do with narcissists who stay in one marriage. Cheating narcissists, huge enmeshed families, and broken families with step parents change the dynamic Ms. Hammond talks about quite a bit -- there is actually more hope for breaking the tradition of domestic abuse being passed down the generations when step parents and inlaws enter into a family like this).

Following love bombing by a narcissist or sociopath, there is usually a discard phase, as I have mentioned:

The reasons for discards are spelled out by Dale Archer, M.D. in this Psychology Today article:

1. The devalued partner no longer supplies what attracted the love bomber in the first place. Seeing his partner as exhausted, broke, depressed, or less attractive, the bomber discards her for someone shiny and new.

2. The devalued partner gets fed up and starts pushing back, demanding reciprocity for sacrifices or defending boundaries, making it clear she refuses to be manipulated anymore. Feeling exposed, the love bomber discards his non-compliant partner for one who doesn’t yet see behind his mask of phony perfection.

3. The love bomber uses the discard as part of the manipulation, fully planning to reconnect in the future. Think of it like devaluation on steroids. He disappears, sometimes without warning, leaving the victim feeling devastated and confused. Then days, and sometimes months later, he reappears, out of the blue, professing undying love and promising to change. Curiously absent in many cases is an apology. Instead, the return is a test of his power and control, a challenge to see if his discarded partner can be conned into another round of abuse. If so, the cycle repeats.

Whether the discard is followed up with a honeymoon phase, largely depends on whether the partner can be honeymooned back into the relationship. If there have been a lot of rounds of the abuse cycle, most partners realize it is a bad habit and start to separate, at least emotionally first. Love does not mean a cycle of idealizations and discards, and most everyone knows that.

For children, the situation can be quite different. While disordered parents expect a round of idealizations and discards with children too, their plans for a cycle of abuse go awry in a way that they don't for partners.

For young children who are discarded, it means going off to live with the other parent or guardian who will have quite a lot more influence than the narcissist (the narcissist can find that love bombing does not work at all on children they want back, that children feel high levels of anxiety and distress with a parent who discards, leading to life long estrangement).

For adult children, a parental discard means spending a lot more time with their own families or peers, which is the natural order of life anyway. The difference is that in normal families, parents have some input, and their input is welcomed and appreciated. Adult children of rejecting narcissistic parents do not want the input of their parent because the adult children does not want their own children to be exposed to experiencing idealizations and discards. This is the main reason for permanent estrangements (note: this does not come from a professional study; it comes from my own observations in forums for survivors of child abuse. Protecting their kids from grandparent discards or watching the grandparent discard is by far the predominant and overwhelming reason for permanent child-parent estrangements).

Children also experience the love bombing/discard experience differently than partners. Most adult children state (from forums again) that they felt that the experience resembled being brought up a mountain (love bombing stage) and then being shoved off of a high cliff once at the top (discard phase). In other words, it was just too painful to repeat again. Many children of narcissistic parents experience discards during the worst points of their lives too (major surgeries, major illnesses, being diagnosed with a life threatening disease, the death of their other parent, losing a child, etc). Parents like this do their discards during traumatic times for a reason: it has to do with the parent trying to get their child to trauma bond with them, which I will cover in another post.

For more on how narcissists apologize in order to love bomb discards, you can read the following post by psychologist Alexander Burgemeester: The Narcissist and Apology.

Always remember that love bombing is abuse!

Author Dale Archer, M.D. spells out the reasons why love bombing is abuse in the same Psychology Today article:

The important thing to remember about love bombing is that it is psychological partner abuse, period. When one person intentionally manipulates and exploits another’s weakness or insecurity, there’s no other word for it. Love is not about controlling who you see or what you do.

Healthy relationships build slowly, and are based on a series of actions, not a flood of words. Love bombers are experts at talking, but when held accountable for their words, they tend to lash out. It’s normal to feel confused, or betrayed, and the urge to make excuses for the love bomber is strong, because they’ve worked hard to tie your self-esteem to their good opinion. And that’s what makes this cycle of idealization, devaluation, and discard so devastating. Love bombers exploit the natural human need for self worth, and turn it into shame, regret, and self-loathing.

Further reading:

Love bombing -- from Wikipedia

** recommended: What It Means When a Narcissist Says “I Love You” -- from the narcissist's point of view (posted by Athena Staik, Ph.D.)

Love Bombing: A Seductive & Manipulative Technique. -- by Alex Miles

** recommended: 5 Ways to Disarm a Love Bombing Sociopath -- from the True Love Scam Recovery website

The Secret Language of Narcissists: How Abusers Manipulate their Victims. -- by popular author, Shahiba Arabi

** recommended: How to Tell the Difference Between Narcissistic Love Bombing and Healthy Romantic Interest -- by Angela Atkinson from the Queen-Being website

What it is like to date a narcissist -- by Kerri Sackville

How and Why Narcissists Are Highly Skilled Abusers -- by Julia Hall

10 Signs You’re Putting Other People on Pedestals -- by Lenora Thompson for Psych Central

Avoiding Toxic People: Gas-Lighting & Love-Bombing -- by T├ímara Hill, MS, LPC for Psych Central

11 Things NOT To Do With Narcissists -- by Dan Neuharth, PhD MFT

5 Scientific Secrets to Handling a Narcissist -- by Eric Barker (note: the first bit of advice is NOT about how to handle them). The real crux of how to deal with them comes later: it means walking away, starving them of narcissistic supply, not hiring them for jobs, not listening to their "expertise", not getting involved in romantic relationships with them, not trying to parent with them, not getting involved in projects with them, not believing what they have to say, not trying to be close to them, not interact with them, etc -- in conclusion: just walk away).

One trait or behavior does not make a sociopath – look for a pattern of traits and behaviors -- by Donna Anderson

How Cults Work -- by CultWatch (discusses Love Bombing -- a very similar technique to narcissists and sociopaths in terms of how they try to isolate you from family and/or friends)
Sex and Aural Energy ("I always say, never sleep with someone you wouldn't want to be" -- part of the article)

How To Tell If Your Partner Truly Loves You -- by Katie and Jay Hendricks

Friday, July 28, 2017

interview with a narcissist from an alcoholic family

The Gaslighting Narcissist
© 2017 Lise Winne

I received a correspondence from someone who claimed to be a narcissist. He said he had been officially diagnosed by a qualified psychiatrist with NPD.

He wrote to me with a pseudonym. In other words, I do not know his name, age or location. He said he contacted me because he was reading my blog, and he said that it made him uncomfortable that I was listing all of the tricks of the abusers' trade (on the side right panel of this blog) and even going into narcissist's thought processes.

He said: "I know that there are a lot of survivors who are talking now and exposing how we think and do things, but listing them all in a row is a first. Part of me hopes your blog doesn't succeed in reaching many visitors, but I know someone else will just come along and do it if you don't."

The fact that he is a narcissist with gold child status and that he is from an abusive and neglectful alcoholic family, I wondered if he would be interviewed. He said it was his idea before it was mine. Since this blog covers abuse in alcoholic families and narcissistic families, it seemed like a good opportunity to find out why he turned out the way he did. I did not know what to expect, knowing that most narcissists lie, generally feel they have to be in control during the interview process and paint themselves out to be exemplary. So I had no idea what to expect. As it turned out, I believe that the answers I got from him were aligned with the literature I have read over the years about NPD.

He didn't want me to use his pseudonym, fearing he might have used it again in some other correspondence, so I asked him if I could use a single letter (V). He agreed to that.

My fist question was:
"Why would you want to be interviewed if you don't want me to expose who you are? Don't narcissists like exposure?"

V: Not necessarily. Why do narcissists do anything? It is always about obtaining narcissistic supply. Narcissistic supply is in kind of a crisis right now because so many survivors are talking about abuse and ringing the alarm bells. We can't charm and interrogate new supply for hours on end like we used to, for instance, without being suspected of being narcissistic and abusive. It is very hard to be a narcissist right now.

L: But you still haven't explained. How are you going to get narcissistic supply when you don't tell who you are? Isn't part of narcissistic supply about drawing attention to yourself, being in the limelight? Getting interviewed in a public way?

V: Actually this is a test to see whether any kind of public exposure at all is good narcissistic supply for me. I'll see how you and others respond to what I have to say and I'll decide what to do with it afterwards. I'm finding it hard to be myself, the heartbreaker narcissist I have always been. Not that I have a conscience about it, or at least I don't think I do to the extent that most people do. I have regrets, but mostly at being caught and told I'm a narcissist. A lot of people have walked away from me. I live alone. Narcissistic supply is low. If I'm reading between the lines you've left about your own story, you've gone no contact with your narcissist too?

L: This is not about an interview about me, but I realize that this is what narcissists do. They information-gather to see where you are in the abuse cycle and how much you're being effected by abuse, or if you've left in disgust and so on. Am I right?

V: Yes, but I could be lying. Narcissists lie.

L: Even about making themselves look bad? It seems to me that narcissists lie to make themselves look better, way better than they actually are, not worse.

V: Mostly you are right. There are times we want our partners to know that we could care less about the fact that we broke their hearts, that we are laughing at them when the tears are rolling down their faces. We make a point of letting them know that we want them to suffer as much as possible on our behalf. So there are times we get off on being Machiavellian. Only in private though. But if Donald Trump can get away with it more and more in public, I'm sure we will all take note of that.

L: So what you are telling me is that you enjoy hurting others, is that right?

V: Yes, that's right. I don't just choose anyone though. I'm careful about who I choose for emotional destruction.

L: That's awful. I don't know why I'm giving you attention, frankly. What made you like this, do you think? Was it your childhood?

V: I had alcoholic parents. Both of them. My father got a huge inheritance and used his inheritance on leisure, sailing, womanizing and booze. Lots of booze. My mother had lovers too, but not as many, and she only had them to take away the pain of being cheated on by my father. So I learned that taking advantage of women was normal. It was in my blood to do so. It was what I knew at a very young age. I never knew anything else. I also had an older brother who was 11 years older than me was who was assigned as my babysitter and he spoiled me. He became an alcoholic when I was only 5. My father eventually threw him out of the house when they no longer needed a babysitter for me. He didn't do well. He became a drug addict and no one knew where he lived after he turned 44. I became their favorite child who could do no wrong. You know about that because you have written a lot about the golden child. I think I was assigned that role because I made excellent grades in school and enabled them to do what alcoholics do. I didn't challenge them. I have a very high IQ. But in my core basic self, I am just like my father.

L: So you said you were careful about who you hurt? What do you mean by that? What is the makeup of the people you hurt?

V: The ideal woman for me is blonde with curls or ringlets like a child has. Very, very beautiful. She is also innocent and innocent looking like a child. She doesn't have a heavy support system. In other words, she is from a dysfunctional family who doesn't really show her love or care. She is ignored when she talks in family gatherings. I like women from alcoholic families particularly. A woman who tries to get the parent to stop drinking for health reasons is the best bet because she's going to be empathetic. She is trusting, has horrible self esteem even though she is absolutely gorgeous. So she is love starved for me. I come in and take care of her, and then I watch to see how much she falls for me. Usually I'm pretty good at this and it doesn't take much time before she sees me as the love of her life, her soul mate. As you have written, I mirror her likes and dislikes too, and make believe that she is the only woman for me. Eventually I start testing her to see how much she will allow me to control her. Usually quite a lot. Way more than most people would suspect.

L: So if she's the perfect person, why would you want to risk getting rid of her by hurting her?

V: I don't consciously think about her leaving me over being controlling. At least not until recently when so many social media posts are about signs of narcissists. Before then, it was just a matter of threatening her more if she started being recalcitrant. These kinds of women are not good at putting up a fight. They can be talked into being women that are too selfish, ungrateful and emotional to be attractive. It's very, very easy. They also don't have anyone to run to. It's not like their family is going to take them in or care. The general public isn't going to care because I think, in general, most people really resent pretty women even if they are glorified in the media. They have the attitude of "What's that pretty woman crying about? She's got the looks, the clothes and a man with money. What's she got to worry about?" My experience is that most mothers try to convince their daughters to stay with me too, to put up with me. It is because I got an inheritance. They try to convince their daughters I have always been the dream man before they developed PMS or postpartum depression or something of that nature. The family likes to blame it on the usual emotional ups and downs that women experience, I have found. Some parents refer to their daughters as crazy, so it makes further blaming and gaslighting work like a dream for me.

L: So what is it about women from alcoholic families in particular that you like?

V: I found that alcoholic parents always tried to keep their daughters with me so they did not have to contribute financially or emotionally. You know how it is. Their main concern is drinking, so whomever can take their kids on is what they want.
I think many of them liked me training their daughter to be more compliant too. They wanted that for themselves, of course. They also liked the fact that I came from money and an upper class family with some fairly well known entrepreneurs in it. The parents mostly had the attitude that their daughter was my problem to deal with. That's why I like my women to come from alcoholic families. It puts me in immediate control of them.
Also, if my girlfriend has an alcoholic family, her family is going to be comfortable with my alcoholic family. A lot of hard core alcoholic families are rarely concerned with womanizing tendencies, so no one protests when I have partners on the side. This allows me to be the most hedonistic narcissist I can be. Everything to alcoholics is too much work, too attention-sapping, too hard to deal with, even the welfare of their daughters. Their favorite phrase is "I just want peace." They just want to drink and not care about anything, particularly a grown child.

L: Have you found that the parents of any of these women have narcissistic tendencies?

V: In my case it has been alcoholic families mostly. I'd much rather the parents be alcoholics than anything else because I know how to handle alcoholics. Narcissists are about game-playing, competing, trying to get me to bend to their will, or humiliating me. The mothers who seemed high on the narcissism scale have also tried to seduce me sexually away from their daughter. They were all disgusting, otherwise I might have been tempted to work in tandem with them to hurt their daughters, since I seem to be driven to hurt the women I love.

L: Seem to be driven? It sounds like you don't have impulse control. Surely that isn't the case.

V: Let me explain it this way. To me it is like alcoholism. It is like an addiction in that I like the thrill of it, but it gives me a roaring headache in the end, particularly if she can no longer be seduced into thinking it is all her fault for the way I treated her.

L: Because abuse and narcissism awareness are so big right now?

V: Exactly. And it has opened my eyes to what I'm doing too. Before it was just that I was an ACOA to be pitied and to feel sorry for. In a pinch, I would say I needed to control everyone and everything because people expect ACOAs to be controlling. I grew up in a household of irrational and unreliable alcoholics and I had to find a way to self-control and control what I could of my own environment. That meant controlling others too. I made excuses for myself constantly. I would harangue my victims about how hurt I was by my parents just to get them to feel sorry for me. Beautiful women like to fawn all over guys who have been victimized. Regardless, I believed wholeheartedly that I was the victim of alcoholic parents and I could explain every bad deed I did with ACOA excuses. Everything that went wrong that I couldn't blame someone else over was because I was an ACOA. Narcissists lie to themselves as much as they do to others. They excuse themselves because they see themselves as eternal victims.

L: I noticed. But ACOA isn't about enjoying hurting others.

V: Exactly. When I figured out I was a narcissist, and that I had all of the traits, the game was over. It was especially over when my victims said I was a narcissist, and when my parents went broke, died and the flow of money dried up. I still try to play the game because I'm addicted to it.

L: Addicted to hurting people? That's not a thought that most people can comprehend.

V: You can comprehend it if you think about serial killers. There isn't much difference. We kill people emotionally because it is easier when it comes to the law. And a lot more easy to get away with than what a murderer does. You give the silent treatment and the woman who was on the receiving end of it is about as gone as any murder victim. And you can smile in the most upscale social circles afterwards. You can toast to yourself for a job well done in a fine restaurant and not be worried about being hunted down by a police investigator. Cops don't care about the silent treatment. You can hang out with people with money, seduce another innocent woman and do the same thing to her as you did to the others, run believable smear campaigns on all of your victims, go dancing, go yachting. The world is still your oyster even when you've made someone suicidal, made them beg on their hands and knees for mercy. You traumatized them beyond their wildest imagination, because they never really suspected you were so cruel, and you get away with it all because society does not care. You can't do this when you murder people physically. Emotional murder almost does the same thing as physical murder, except your victims might speak. But you keep them silent by threatening them. And believe me, no one speaks. Until recently. But even then, people who know about narcissism are taught by their money-soaking therapists that narcissistic rage isn't something you want to provoke in us.

L: So you hurt people because you think you can get away with it?

V: I'll admit that I love seeing a really beautiful angelic beauty with tears flowing out of her eyes. Her heart is breaking for me. Little ol' me. That's a thrill. A woman who is crying because you are leaving her for another woman, even if that woman doesn't match in the good looks department, is powerfully ego enhancing. It gives me so much power! I feel giddy and arrogant, carefree and flippant. I'm high five-ing myself. I'm on top of the world because I won!
Of course, you want her back or in a threesome competing with another blonde, so the silent treatment is never for too long. It doesn't always happen that she takes me back, so I tell her that I can't live without her just to re-engage her back into my harem. You do what ever takes the least amount of work and commitment to get her back and under your control.
Before gorgeous women, I was never important to anyone. I really wasn't important to my parents even though I was a golden child. I had to be the biggest phony for my parents in order to be given the honors of being their golden child, so to me it was never a real victory. It was just a way to survive. In your post about favoritism, you talked about how some golden children have to make up stories about their siblings so that they stay clear of the drunken rages. That was me. Drunks are easy to please as long as you enable their drinking and never challenge them.
When I realized I could take those skills and be a phony to beautiful women, I thought "Now we're talking! The life I always wanted!" In the beginning I f**ked a lot of women and didn't care about their feelings. I was indiscriminate. I realize that most people think it is a sick thrill.
But is it much different than using a prostitute who is desperate for money? If she wants your money bad enough, and she's on her last dime, she'll let you poke her any where, right? It's the same thing with these women. They want me to love them and take care of their sweet innocent selves, but there is a price to pay. I'm only required to love them and care for them if I want to. And that can change. There are no laws saying that I have to treat a woman right, or be kind, so I refuse to if I don't feel like it. I try to get away with what I can. Alcoholic families are not going to care that much about what goes on in their children's relationships.

L: So are you sensitive to criticism like other narcissists? Is a woman who stands up for herself perceived as criticizing you?

V: A woman who gives me flack about any of part of my behavior is intolerable. It's not that I can't stand criticism, though I can see why many insecure narcissists might cry the blues over it. It seems they can control the amount of criticism they get if they blow up at people over it. I pity them for being so thin skinned because that's a weakness. I still believe, however, that the thin skin is an act so that no one will challenge them, so they can exert control and tell their victims what to say about them.

L: What do you do if you are losing control? Isn't losing control inevitable?

V: If I have another woman in the wings, I'll just convince the other woman that my present girlfriend is crazy and victimizing me. The fact that I'm challenging my girlfriend with another woman I might leave her for, is another incentive for her to stop being recalcitrant. She's well aware that she's not the only one in the picture and if she sticks up for herself too much, I'll leave her for a new woman. Sometimes I'm just bored with my girl and leave with the other woman anyway. I don't enjoy being in a relationship with one woman more than two or three years. When women don't feel they are anything special or deserve anything, you can get away with so much. It's what I wanted. An easy life, plenty of women, just like my father, only without the drunkenness.

L: So your whole philosophy is to only deal with women who don't challenge you? Doesn't that create a one-dimensional existence? To me that would be like living on planet earth living next to a volcano and never knowing what the rest of the earth was like. You're just dealing day in and day out with a volcano that could blow at any time.

V: Narcissists don't like the spice of life. They create it. They are the spice of life. They like people and things to be predictable. That's why we always put you in roles. Women who are a challenge aren't my preference, though I understand some narcissists like it. I especially feel that way if I am supporting a woman. I feel fine kicking them to the curb without a backward glance. That is, until recently.

L: Because of social media putting the spotlight on abuse?

V: I'm getting older too. And yes, I've been accused of being a narcissist. I left a lot of women in pain who don't want me back at all and have made my life miserable talking to each other. I'm going to keep saying my causing them pain was unconscious in a way. My excuses worked for a long time, even to myself, especially the ACOA angle. I never thought I'd be rejected or called a narcissist. You get arrogant and feel you are infallible, or that you will pop back into form, like you will always be accepted back no matter what you do.

L: So have you changed? Are narcissists capable of change?

V: No, I don't think they are capable of real change in terms of transformation. You still have that addiction whether it is active or dormant. I attribute my very minor change to a very high IQ and wanting to learn about narcissism. I went about learning about the subject to argue my way out of what was being said to me by my exes, but I found the descriptions fit me, no matter how many excuses I gave and counter blaming I tried. None of it worked. They knew and I knew. I doubt many narcissists come to that conclusion. They think they are still always getting away with lies even when the lies stopped working for them years ago.
I also became aware that abuse and tricking people was an anomaly and projection on my part. I really did think that everyone was like me or would want to be like me given the option. Still, I don't believe I can truly understand what an empath feels or what motivates them. Without an exceptional IQ, there is no way a narcissist will change, even a little. They will just keep trying to find more innocent gullible supply, even hitting up very young children if they have to. A young child isn't going to know about narcissism. Or even that their pain is due to abuse. But, children are hard to extract supply from in the long run, especially your own.

L: Does that mean you have children?

V: Yes, from a number of different women. I brought them up the way my parents did, trying to get them all competing with each other for my love and admiration. I find that children see through your game more than women. I'm estranged from all of my children now.

L: No golden child hanging around for hand-outs?

V: The golden child became a consolation prize. When a golden child is the only one left, you feel deflated. What you want is the competition between your children. You go through tremendous withdrawal about the lack of competition. Again, this is about an addiction, not about a relationship with your child. What you do with your child is never a relationship if you are a true narcissist. You set them up to compete, and if they don't compete because they've been reading up about narcissism, or their mothers are giving them books about narcissism, you can't have the game you desperately want. Narcissists are capable of deep depression like non-narcissists. So the golden child just seems like this desperate actor who only hangs on because everyone else has left, who will say any phony thing you want to hear. Maybe I'm projecting. You are right that we are probably pretty guilty of projecting throughout our lives.

L: So does the projection get to the level that when you hurt other people, do you think they are planning on hurting you, so you retaliate? In other words, is it a pre-emptive strike against a phantom hurt?

V: I was attracted to the most innocent empaths, so most of the time no. But if I was in a relationship with a woman who had some narcissistic traits, then maybe. I think my exes all developed some traits of narcissism after being with me, so I wouldn't trust them now.

L: So do you think you are awesome? Are you self-aggrandizing?

V: Yes. It's part of my brain chemistry even when I know it is not a logical. But I have to really, really force myself to think logically about why I might not be as awesome as I think I am. Self reflection is hard. It terrifies me to think of myself as like everyone else, plain, unexceptional. I frankly don't know how anyone else lives with those thoughts either. You want to feel really superior so you can get what you want. Anyway, I feel good, even when I cause a woman to cry. To empaths that doesn't make sense because they would have guilt, shame, regret, be apologizing and so forth. I think narcissists are as happy causing deep emotional wounds to their spouse or lover as they are when they are drinking and being the life of the party. There isn't much difference, or differentiation from the two emotional states like there would be in an empath.

L: So where does the self aggrandizement come from if you can will yourself to think logically, or the opposite about it? Where do you think you are better than others?

V: In the sense that I get away with so much. And that I could acquire many beautiful women who I could practically do anything to just because I had money. They'd stick around even through painful betrayals. Often they worked harder for me when I betrayed them. That's heady. I suppose it is like owning a horse. You try to break their spirit so they will do what you want them to do. You're the master.

L: I can't believe that would be fulfilling. And from all I have read, women leave men like you. So you are abandoned. How does that make you feel on top of the world?

V: It's the addiction to being emotionally abusive. It's like saying "I got drunk at a bar. I drink a whole liter of vodka every day and no one notices that much. I'm pretty awesome that I can fool so many people!" It's not like winning a prize at something inventive. It's not about loving someone and being proud of who they are and the children you have made together. It's about being satisfied that you lied, took advantage of someone's belief in you, abused them, and didn't get caught.

L: So is it like having a sex addiction with multiple affairs? Did you try to keep the women apart so that you didn't lose a single sex partner?

V: Yes, it is very much like that. It's not just sex though. It's getting to control someone's perceptions of you. And not getting caught that you are a liar.

L: But you did get caught, didn't you?

V: I got caught, but I still haven't paid for it.

L: Isn't losing relationships a way you have paid for it?

V: In some ways. But don't forget, I'm still a free man. I can still go out there and do it again to someone else and there are no kids or exes around to tell them who I am.

L: Do you use an alias, like you are with me, to get more supply?

V: I have thought about it, but no. I'm still in shock that I'm a narcissist. If I wasn't so bright, I'd just keep on doing this, and to some extent, I still think this way when I'm on automatic pilot. I learned how to be this way from my parents. It is ingrained in me. It is a family tradition to cheat, lie, womanize, blame everything on someone else, to be thought of as admirable because you are a phony. Tricking people into being narcissistic supply for you isn't hard at all. Even an empath could do it if they put their mind to it. All you have to do is find an empath from an alcoholic neglectful family, interrogate, find the weak spots, exploit, fault-find, gaslight, terrorize, discard, love bomb, repeat. Not difficult.

L: So why do you think most empaths are not inclined to do it?

V: Stupidity? Not caring if they are crucified on a cross? Telling the truth when lying would bring them a much better outcome? You tell me.

L: No, I don't think I will expound on that subject. I'm interviewing you.

V: Stupidity then.

L: No, stupidity is rigidity, an incapacity to change or learn. If abuse is an addiction then you are too stuck in the cycle of the addiction to learn anything, which is the epitome of stupidity. If you live a life of lies for personal gain and convenience, then the truth has to be separate from you, only something others are privy to. That describes stupidity too. When you are so closed off from the truth entering into your consciousness, then you will have to drive yourself insane trying to keep all of your lies straight. You'll never evolve into anything, or reach any kind of enlightenment about anything, or know anything other than your own lies. That is another definition of stupidity. It sounds like living in a haunted house with a lot of anxiety, frankly.

V: You see? That was a trick! You said you weren't going to tell me why, and you did. Narcissists are good at this! But let me tell you, I'm not stupid, and my fellow narcissists are not stupid either. Our intelligence lies in game playing and war strategy. I would put money on it that if you had a chess convention, and pitted a narcissist against an empath at every table, the high majority of narcissists would win over the empaths. To the narcissist, life is a game with winners and losers. The winners get to advance, while the losers stay behind and kill themselves.

L: Kill themselves?

V: Depression, losing, being unpopular, and injustice kills people.

L: So what you are saying about injustice is the game includes cheating.

V: Of course. Especially if you can get away with it.

L: I think empaths like working with others for a more just and peaceful world.

V: We know that. That's why we choose you. Because you want this cotton filled soft gushing love romance with compassion and equality, a life that resembles a heaven with rainbows, and we can take advantage of those deep desires in you, confuse you into thinking it is possible with us. You actually like forgiving us and making excuses for us because you feel sorry for us and the bad childhood we endured. That's your mistake! We're actually disgusted by how you act about it all, but we're drawn to you anyway because you're turning the other cheek, excusing us and looking the other way when we're abusive. It validates our fraudulent selves and criminal abilities like no one else can. It excuses the cheating, acting and lying we do. On top of it all, we'll compete with you about who is more empathetic and kind, even if we have to make total lies and BS out of it, even if we embarrass ourselves for not being believable. The battle and who wins is what is important to us, not how we get there and what tactics we use.

L: But what if the empath walks away from the game?

V: We don't care what you do as long as you think about us. If you don't think about us, we go through terrible withdrawal and wonder who you are talking to. That makes us paranoid, so we tell as many people as we can that you are abusive and crazy. We also make you seem stupid too, if we can. It's the only way to win if someone doesn't want to play our game.

L: You mean the smear campaign is the only way you feel you have won?

V: Correct.

L: So suppose you tell as many people as you can that your victim is abusive and crazy, and that victim accepts that they have been smeared, and goes away entirely forsaking their past, and pursues relationships with people the narcissist does not know? How does that work out for you? Let's face it, that's how many survivors end up.

V: As long as you aren't effecting our potential supply we don't care who you are with. We will defend our supply, our potential supply and our territory to the bitter end against you. To us, we own the people we share in common. Those people belong to us, not to you. We won those people, not you. Our supply are mostly pawns, things we maneuver in a chess game. We need those pawns. We need the kings and queens to validate us too, but a lot of pawns are what we collect and are invaluable to us. As long as you aren't talking to those pawns, we are fine with your relationships, with people we don't know. Except (and here's the crunch) we want all of your people too.

L: Why? It's not enough that you have conned all of the people we both know?

V: No. Anyone you are talking to we regard as potential supply too. They are a threat to our superiority, even if they are unlikely supply or people we would ever come across in our day to day world. We really believe we should have all of your people on our side too, not on your side, so that your self esteem remains in the gutter, so that you are forced to capitulate to us. We also feel threatened if we think there is a connection between your supply and our supply. We don't want there to be any chance that your camp is talking to our camp. We want to keep all of you separated.

L: So how do people react to your divide and conquer strategies? Is this how you feel superior, by maneuvering to take people away from us?

V: Yes, because people are so stupid that they believe us, that they don't investigate anything. It's amazing that people fall for what we tell them so easily. The only time they aren't so easy is when they have been burned by a narcissist before. So it does contribute to why we think we have superior intelligence.

L: So what if there are a lot of people in our world, and we seem to be doing well? Say we have a very active social life and know hundreds of people. Also let's surmise you have given us the silent treatment -- and we've moved on and don't want you back?

V:  The more people there are in your world, the more threatened we feel. So if you are, say, in the public eye, we have an immediate compulsive need to dismantle that or effect it in some way. We might need to do a fast hoover, a total love bombing effort, even pretend to others that we love you to death, just so that we can find a way to manipulate you and your world. We don't want you to hate us and be devastated in that case, so we pour on the love with great regret at having to stoop to your empathetic level. We expect you to be punished for not being controlled by us, permanently punished. We love the idea of the tears we left you with, but if you find a way to be admired and loved without us, we know we have lost and that we are nothing. That is extremely shocking and provoking to us. We cannot stand to lose so we have to re-engage with you to get you back into the game.

L: So an empath should never see reconciliation with a narcissist as genuine, right? It's just tricks like love bombing, manipulation and hoovering, yes?

V: Yes. Absolutely. Would you trust an alcoholic who said he never wanted a drink again? Alcoholics want a drink all of the time. They can't get their minds off of alcohol even when they have been sober for a couple of weeks. Life seems lackluster and boring without alcohol. Just ask any of them. Sobriety is very hard to maintain. Will they go out and drink again, especially if a little voice in their head says there are no repercussions from drinking, and that no one will ever notice they slipped? Probably. It's almost a definite, isn't it? On that basis, will a narcissist abuse the target again when they think they can get away with it? Probably. Again, it's almost a definite. We don't come back into your life to be nice to you, though we have to pretend to get through your door. We come back because we think your life is getting so far away from our ability to manipulate it, and the people around you.
We especially hate targets who read about narcissism. We know they are disgusted with us when they find out who we are, but disgust is the territory of true narcissists. Empaths aren't supposed to be disgusted. They are supposed to be making excuses for us and forgiving us and living in fantasies of peace and harmony. We thought we had the upper hand in the disgust department.

L: Really?

V: Disgust and disdain are for narcissistic control, not for an empath mindset. Even so, I am genuinely disgusted by empaths for being gullible and thinking the world is love and peace. Or unicorns and rainbows.

L: I tend to think that we are entering an era where the empaths being disgusted by the narcissists and the narcissists being disgusted by the empaths will eventually separate the two, like a doves and hawks dichotomy. The empaths aren't going to want to be hawk-like and the hawks aren't going to want to be dove-like. So "birds of a feather must flock together." You should be with your own kind.

V: That's my biggest fear, being stranded with a bunch of narcissists and sociopaths. I'm not attracted to any of them, but I can see how it happens. I'm sure some narcissists get stranded with these awful cast of characters like prisoners in a jail cell. It is harder for them to keep empaths when articles about narcissism constantly come up in facebook feeds. It is the new topic of the day and it is gaining a lot of momentum instead of losing it. You can't just say anything you want any more. Narcissism is getting harder to hide. Especially in the circles I travel in. It's my present crisis, a crisis I never thought I would have to face. My dream was to die with a dutiful wife and several mistresses all pining for me. I thought I'd die a kind of God. But the victims are getting the limelight. The hero worship has gone to the empaths. I really can't see flying with my own flock with that going on. I still really long to be the lone hawk diving for the weakest dove I can hook my talons into. If I can't have that, I'm at a loss. I'm not cut out to be a dove. I'd have to totally disguise myself. I think I may die alone.

L: Most narcissists do. Psychologist Judy Rosenberg said as much.

V: On that note, we are done with this interview.

L: And you make the decisive move.

V: Like any narcissist would.

After the interview ended, I still had some questions rattling around in my head that I wished I had asked. One was a subject that kept popping up over and over in the survivor forum I belong to. It's a subject that survivors have a hard time understanding at all.

So I decided to ask him if I could give him a few more questions. I actually thought he'd reject my request, as the end of our session he seemed short and dismissive. And I knew that narcissists liked to reject what ever they didn't initiate or control. But to my surprise, he was willing to continue provided it was just a few questions, and that I understood that he had a right to end any of them. I agreed. So here is what transpired:

L: After we got done talking about family dynamics, and narcissists playing chess with other people's lives, I got the vision of a narcissistic authoritarian family playing games as their primary family pastime, and a typical empathetic family playing music together as their primary pastime. Am I onto anything here?

V: Maybe. My family played a lot of games after dinner. We never played any instruments together, not once.

L: Interesting. Did your family practice the silent treatment on any of its members?

V: Yes, but not as much as I did.

L: So was there much cohesion within the family? Were there outsiders and insiders, and some who never showed up at family events? In other words, did the family seem loosely connected to you, like there was almost a total breakdown of bonding? What I'm trying to get at here is the silent treatment being part of family tradition in some way.

V: That goes without saying. But some members were joined at the hip too. My parents tried to control it all, but they couldn't do it effectively because they were drunks.

L: Okay, last question: I belong to a survivor forum for adult children of narcissists. Post after post after post comes up about how the narcissist ruined their wedding or their sibling's wedding. There must be a thousand posts on that subject alone. And the responses are commiserating responses like "My mother ruined my wedding too. It's what they do." However, no one really understands why. Because the last thing we would want to do is to ruin our child's wedding. Or not attend. It's unfathomable to people on this forum as to what narcissists get from not attending. They like narcissistic supply, so wouldn't having a lot of inlaws give them that? And if they do attend, why are they so obnoxious and loud that no one wants to be around them? Where is the narcissistic supply in that?

V: This should be self explanatory. They can't stand their child belonging to someone else. They thought the child was all theirs. So if they don't attend, they are sulking about that and trying to punish you for leaving them for another man or woman. Narcissists want all of you, and if they feel they are denied that, they discard you.
If they make a scene, it means they are outwardly showing their anger over the fact that you got married. They want to f**k up your wedding, ruin your dress, ruin your time, ruin the cake, ruin the guest list, get the band to stop playing. They may not do all of that, but they want to. It's like throwing a wrench into all of your plans for a happy and peaceful wedding so that you won't ever dare to upstage them again or make them second fiddle. That means they hate the spotlight on you.
I can't believe that thousands of you didn't get this.

further reading:

What Do You Do? Getting an Apology from a Narcissistic Ex After You’ve Gone No Contact -- by Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

**recommended: When a Narcissist Makes an Apology -- by Sharie Stines, Psy.D, for Psych Central

**recommended: The Fake Apology -- from the Freedom from Narcissistic and Emotional Abuse website

A Narcissist Cannot Apologize or Take Accountability -- by Amy Adam for

4 Behaviors That Unmask Narcissists -- by Peg Streep for Psych Central

* a forum for narcissists to answer questions ... they talk about how they are dealing with apologizing in this thread: Apologies and Narcissists 
excerpt from Cool Blonde:
... I can agree that before becoming aware of my Narcissism, I rarely apologized and I think one reason is that I don't usually realize when my behavior is harmful. Also, in the times that I do realize it, it is usually well after the fact, which then makes it especially awkward to apologize. Another thing that makes it especially difficult for me to acknowledge guilt and apologize is that I have so little self esteem that I tend to feel a deep sense of shame rather than what you might call a "healthy" sense of guilt. Then when I feel the shame, my first reaction is to fight it off and bury it before it can "destroy" me. It's kind of distracting, to say the least. This sense of shame is much stronger than guilt, in that it is a feeling of being worthless as a person and cuts right to the core of my being, whereas guilt is more like feeling bad for something I DID, without affecting who I am as a PERSON. Although it is rare, I have felt regular guilt before, and at those times, I felt that I was able to apologize. The problem is that I usually don't know how to approach it so instead I'll sometimes do something like treat the person especially nice or buy them something ...
excerpt from T.C. Brown:
I agree with other panelists that this question has two parts: before diagnosis and acceptance of NPD and what begins to happen after this occurred. 
I rarely apologized for anything I did before learning of my NPD. The reasons are very similar to what others have talked about. I had a heavy sense of negative shame which made me feel as though by admitting I was wrong that I was saying I was a bad person, unworthy of love and all the good things in life.
It was during this time that I did not understand other people were real, with feelings that are not there for my personal manipulation.

8 Common Narcissist Lies -- by Preston Ni M.S.B.A. for Psychology Today

Lies Narcissists Use To Make You Stick Around -- from The Rebel Circus website

How to spot a Narcopath or Narcissist lying -- from the Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Flying Monkeys - Oh My blog

45 Lies a Narcissist Tells to Control You -- from The Narcissist's Wife blog

The Pathological Liar: Sifting Thru a Narcissist’s Word Garbage! -- from the Narcissistic Partners & The Relationship Agenda website

a forum for narcissists to answer questions ... Lying

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

healing from abuse I: realizing the situation is hopeless and saying no to any more abuse

Healing Victory by Lise Winne
(art available for sale HERE)

Healing from abuse is extremely challenging. Most people have PTSD and/or C-PTSD if the abuse went on for a long period of time or started in childhood or was brutal or severe in some way. So, there are two things to heal from: the abuse itself and the trauma-related emotional injuries that manifest as PTSD and/or C-PTSD. Note: C-PTSD can also effect the brain, especially if you grew up with child abuse or child neglect.

Some alcoholics can be become abusive under the influence of alcohol, and I will get to that shortly. However, this post primarily focuses on abusers who have Cluster B personality disorders.

One thing about abusers with Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder (who are the Cluster Bs most likely to abuse) is that they are fairly predictable across the board. They are known to practice several types of abuse all at once. It is like they are given a formula to gaslight you, erroneously blame you, rewrite history (including determining how you think, feel and experience events without conferring with you about accuracy -- called perspecticide), expect perfectionism from you (in facial expressions, deeds and motives), punish you for not doing what they want at all times, punish you for not seeing them in an idealized way, run smear campaigns on you, attempt to isolate you from some sort of social group or relationship, financially abuse you in some way, play favorites with children, attempt to put you into a role with rewards and punishments, most usually give you the silent treatment and use word salad arguments to explain away their unethical and immoral treatment of you and others. Not only that, but they are retaliatory and vengeful, highly envious of others, arrogant and haughty,  not empathetic, pathologically manipulative and pretend they are victims. They idealize you and love bomb you, and then when they think you feel loved by them, seek to discard you and destroy you. They live in a world of lies (it is like they concoct a fantasy world for themselves and lies are the perfect way to do that).

Also, if you are hurt by them, it is extremely rare for them to apologize unless they have been "publicly found out" or are in danger of it, and even then they will try to cover up what they have done with dodging, deflecting, splitting hairs and excusing themselves.

They are so ingrained in these "habits" that it is unrealistic to expect them to change at all. Most abusers are ultra-rigid. They do not change, nor do they want to change. Blaming their victims is their easy way out of culpability and self reflection. If anything, by all survivor accounts, abusers actually get worse over time. Within relationships, they escalate abuse as well. This is because very few abusers seek therapy or express a desire to change (they believe their victims need to change and be punished instead, to their liking). A very miniscule number of them wake up to the fact that they are not like others, that their lives are in tatters, that many people seem to back off from them, so they seek therapy sometimes under those conditions. Even then, some extremely traumatic event usually has to take place first before they seek to understand anything at all about themselves or others beyond their own projections and hopes for live marionettes. The high majority of abusers (who tend to have Cluster B personality disorders) do not think about a thing except where their next hit of narcissistic supply is going to come from. Narcissistic supply basically boils down to attention, flattery, and their hopes and dreams of absolute power and control over someone, anyone, everyone.

Some alcoholics are abusive too. If they are abusive only when they drink, it is a sign that drinking is the main culprit. If they are still abusive during dry periods, or after being rehabilitated for a year or more, then it is likely they have a Cluster B personality disorder in addition to being an alcoholic.

One reason why most people can no longer accept Cluster Bs into their lives is because of the wounding they do. The wounds they inflict tend to be deep, because they spend a lot of time interrogating you and studying you to get a sense of how they can traumatize you, plus draw you in (mirroring and pretending to be your soul mate). They tend to be sadists who try to do the most damage at the worst times of your life.

Some survivors may live with Stockholm Syndrome until they can get away, but living with chronic or ever-debilitating PTSD is not tolerable for most people. The only people who are able to withstand relationships with abusers and not get hurt are other abusers  -- because they too have very few emotional feelings, have predatory minds and play one-ups-man manipulative games themselves (with the most cunning manipulative abusers winning).

So, the first order to heal from PTSD is getting away from abusers. Many domestic violence therapists push clients to go no contact to keep the client from getting further traumatized and further disabled from PTSD. PTSD has a way of getting worse, and it can get much worse, and faster, with continued contact.

Some therapists suggest that if the narcissist in your life is a parent, you can try very limited contact, at first, in big crowds. Big holiday events or a wedding with a lot of people around is considered to be "very limited contact." Whether your PTSD flares up or not is one way to tell if you need to go no contact. Most survivors of narcissistic parents find that even limiting contact to texting and e-mail can cause PTSD symptoms. It's your body and mind's way of telling you that you can only take so much abuse and stress. All human beings have a limited capacity in terms of exposure to abuse and sensitive empathetic people have more limitations in that regard than others.

One reason why narcs target empaths is because they seem to make the easiest prey. On the other hand, they lose that prey very quickly. So narcs, from everything I have seen and read, mostly (but not always) spend their old age with fellow narcs just because fellow narcs can endure. They do not care whether someone displays dishonesty, manipulating, stealing, cheating or displays of unethical behavior because they are that way themselves; they keep their focus on what ever prize they might get from associating with the narc (kind of like two thieves trying to out-wit each other). It is seen as a challenge to dominate or hoodwink another narc.

My comment in parentheses "(but not always)" will be discussed in another post. In short, there are narcs (the cult leader types) who actually prefer empaths to other narcs and will be a lot more careful and wily not to lose or scare away that source of narcissistic supply even while they dominate and play favorites, all the while shamming everyone by appearing humble and like an ultra-empath who only has equality and his disciples in mind. They prefer empaths because they deem them to be more exploitable, easier to brainwash. They also deem empaths to perceive good, honesty and exemplary intentions in everyone and every action. Empaths by nature are more about people-pleasing and taking care of others than any fellow Cluster B will be. Even so, empaths can be hurt by sublimating themselves and their needs so deeply that they can act like brainwashed robot zombies who hang on to every word, even wild fantasies that the narc is God (again, think of cults). Empaths can also put themselves at risk and danger too (especially if the narc ever gets paranoid and retaliatory, which a lot of narcs tend to do eventually).

While paranoia keeps many narcs from escalating abuse with "loved ones" who have defected or who are on the edge of defecting, the more defectors there are, the more risk in terms of social standing and the ability to attract more followers. Narcs and sociopaths have been known to be scrutinized and/or tracked because narcs (and cult leaders) are notorious for using child abuse, and allowing child abuse especially if "loved ones" or "concerned ones" have contacted law enforcement, social services or mental health professionals and have some evidence. They have especially been known to allow sexual abuse of minors to go unchallenged (and some of them even condone the practice). The narcissists on the malignant end of narcissism can even partake in the sexual abuse of minors.

When narcissists know their defectors are talking and they are being watched, their paranoia can go off the rails. Most put their remaining "loyal" members under greater surveillance and control, and therefor at greater risk, and some commit murder-suicide. Again think of cults and cult leaders: Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, Shoko Asahara, Charles Manson, Warren Jeffs and Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.

This is not to scare you, but to make you aware that most abusive families are like cults. In the eyes of abusive leaders of families, you are either totally loyal, a living marionette (worthwhile for them) or you are the enemy (someone to be shunned, or disapproved of, or abandoned, or hated, ridiculed, demonized). That is because abusers look at people in black and white terms.

In this Atlantic Monthly article by Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, survivor Teri Buford O'Shea talks about Jim Jones's cult, Jonestown, and tells how Jones's paranoia manifested (and you might see some parallels):

... he was very paranoid. He could not accept the fact that one person would leave him, ever. He had us all sign papers -- Jim called them compromises. They were blank sheets of paper, or typed sheets of paper that he'd cover up while we signed our name. He had something he could blackmail all of us with. One guy tried to leave and Jim said he'd use his paper against him so he'd never see his children again. So he came back. The thing was, too, that Jim would not let children off the compound. So if you were going to leave, you were leaving your child. There was no way of getting a child out of Jonestown.

And if people did defect, Jim said he'd send them things that had poison on them.

I think any survivor of abuse can relate to how abusive people go on the attack if they think you might leave their control, or dare to want to live your own life, or talk about or show people how you were treated, or how they held things in hostage: pets, children, personal property, love, belonging, birthdays, weddings, money, acknowledgement, respect, the ability to talk and get your perspectives across, etc. 

She also talks about how drugs were used to control members of the Jonestown cult (a not uncommon practice among child abusers as well):

... I learned after the massacre that he drugged people on the outpost there to keep them from trying to leave, to keep them from trying to dissent, to control them in different ways, all unbeknownst to the masses ... 

One of the ways Jim Jones tried to induce paranoia into his followers (the non-defectors) was to paint an altered reality to get the followers to comply with him even more (a not uncommon practice among domestic abusers either):

Then he would tell us that in the United States, African Americans were being herded into concentration camps, that there was genocide on the streets. They were coming to kill and torture us because we'd chosen what he called the socialist track. He said they were on their way.

We didn't know this at the time, but he'd set up people who would shoot into the jungle to make us feel as if we were under attack. And there were other people who were set up to run and get shot -- with rubber bullets, though we didn't know it at the time. So there you were, in the middle of the jungle. Shots were being fired, and people were surrounding you with guns.

A lot of us survivors can relate to this as well, of wanting to get out of the control of someone who does not have our interests at heart, all the while knowing that our escape will probably mean they will try to stage or sabotage something, or that they will want to hurt us for leaving. Some survivors report that their perpetrators tried to make them homeless, or slandered them so much that they were derided by the community of common family and friends (brainwashing):

I was fortunate that I had an opportunity to escape and I took it. Even then, I thought Jim Jones would find me and kill me. I had to get to the point where I didn't care if I died. I just wanted to have my own life, however short it might be. My goal, in fact, was that I wanted to live to be 30 so I could have a rich and full life. Now I have a daughter who's 29, and I'm 60. I've had double what I wished for.

I think it is important to think of the abusive family as a cult, even if it is not as bad as Jonestown, or only practices emotional abuse on its members instead of physical abuse (Jonestown is an extreme example, but I think it is important to look at these kinds of extremes to see where your situation fits within the scope of mild to severe control and abuse).

And by the way, many survivors of abuse and/or prejudice are attracted to cults. I will talk about communes and cults in another post, but suffice it to say that it is important to see the abusive family as an unhealthy cult with a leader. If you are from an abusive family, you will know it because they stage things, scare people, control people and rewrite history (or they rewrite your experiences, feelings and thoughts and believe they have the inalienable right to do so). They tend to have willing followers at first, and threatened followers later. Perhaps you have several narcs or dark triads in your family, all vying for dominance and hierarchical positions, which leaves you on the outside of "the cult of abuse" to live an authentic life.

Some other reasons why the high majority of survivors eventually realize the hopelessness of the situation and move on:

1. Narcs and sociopaths generally do not apologize.
If they do apologize, you need to look at the circumstances around their apology. Do they feel in danger of being exposed? Are they willing to get on-going domestic violence therapy? Are they in need of money? Are they afraid of losing your love, your adulation and control? Are they making excuses for abuse? How much do they want to change their behaviors? If all that they have to say is, "I realize I missed you and couldn't live without you" -- this is usually a sign of hoovering, which is a part of the cycle of abuse (the honeymoon stage).

2. Your children are being effected by abuse (and if you don't have children yet, they will be exposed to it if you are exposed to it, and either learning how to abuse, staying unnaturally quiet and neutral during abusive episodes through shutting down their feelings, or getting PTSD themselves). Even if just one person in a family is being abused, it effects the whole family. That family will have to deal with the PTSD symptoms of the member being abused and it puts tremendous strain on the family.

3. Abuse tends to escalate. It is rare for it to de-escalate.

4. During the escalation process, the abuse will not only intensify, but it is common for different types of abuse to surface. The escalation process happens when the abuser feels he does not have power over the person, so tries to compensate by attempting more and more control over the person.

5. Emotional abuse: you don't have to be hit for abuse to be deadly. Emotional abuse does and can cause suicide ideation. For instance, in child abuse victims (both adults and children) who receive any kind of lengthy silent treatment by a parent, roughly one quarter of them end up committing suicide. Part of the problem may be that society puts a God-like status on parents ("respect your elders", and other kinds of statements not helpful for victims of child abuse).

6. * For survivors of child abuse: If you are a child abuse survivor, your parents probably used shame and/or the silent treatment quite a bit. To count as abuse, the shaming has to be more than once or twice in your life time, and the silent treatment has to be more than a day and happened more than once or twice in your life time too. In other words, shame, isolation and the silent treatment were used on you as "misguided discipline" for your "naughty behavior" (i.e. when your parents thought they were losing control of you), and most likely it continued into adulthood too. Most child abuse does continue into adulthood, and that is a good way to tell if you were abused as a child. In other words, if you are continuing to receive shaming and long bouts of the silent treatment as an adult (and especially if you are not an addict with a violence problem, or a criminal), there is no question that this is abuse.
* Again, if you are being abused by your parents, the abuse will escalate unless they show an unwavering desire to change their behavior towards you. Promises of "I'll never give you the silent treatment again" in my experience, never works and cannot work because abusive behaviors need total rehabilitation. In that way it is like alcoholism in that it takes a concerted on-going effort. Abuse is an ingrained habit and pattern and it takes a lot of work for abusers to stop using it to solve life's problems. It seems that the only chance of a promise like that working is if they are committed to anger management classes and on-going domestic violence therapy, and even then, roughly only a quarter of perpetrators in on-going treatment can maintain it. This should show how hard this habit is to break. Narcissistic and sociopathic parents almost never go to therapy and instead try to focus their attention on smear campaigns instead, trying to convince themselves and others that you, and only you, are the problem. This phenomenon is called the identified patient. In family systems theory the identified patient in narcissistic and sociopathic families is often a scapegoat too.

Because of the escalation of abuse (and the dangers they present), combined with ever-worsening PTSD symptoms is why most survivors seek to escape and set up boundaries, often with the help of the mental health community and/or law enforcement.

When you know that you can't fix the situation and that you need to say "no" to any more abuse, it is the first step in healing. It is the first step in saying "I need to heal, and enduring continual abuse is only making my situation worse."

The majority of domestic violence therapists believe that in order to live without abuse, we need to live without the people who perpetrate it and who insist on continuing to use it. It is the way we survive most effectively from it and begin to work on resolving the PTSD symptoms that resulted from the experiences.

When our liberties are at stake, when our children are at stake for being exposed to toxic narcissism or sociopathy, and when we are treated so badly by our members or spouse, trying to live an authentic life is all that should matter.

And yes, I am a fellow survivor, so I speak of this through experience. I value the authentic life just about more than anything else (except empathy and integrity: they have a higher standing, though I do believe empaths need to be careful about who they show their empathy to and who they serve, as empaths are specifically targeted by the Cluster B personality disordered for control and abuse).