Thursday, June 22, 2017

abusers, narcissists, alcoholics, sociopaths and word salad arguments

© photo by Lise Winne

Word salad has different meanings, depending on the psychiatric illness or disorder of the person using word salad.

Most people associate "word salad" with dementia or schizophrenia. In people with these disorders it appears as words, phrases and sentences which can appear to be random, confused or unintelligible. In other words, in this case, the listener cannot extract meaning from them. Some alcoholics can also fall under this category, though when they are sober they become intelligible again.

When it comes to narcissists, sociopaths and the more functional alcoholics, word salad is a bit different and indicates a conversation of dodging, distracting, deflecting, blaming and shifting focus away from any culpability. In some instances it is also re-framing stories and experiences to reflect well upon themselves while dirty-ing someone else's reputation.

For alcoholics, their main focus can be to shift conversations away from their drinking, away from the behavior they exhibit while drunk, and away from culpability for what they do while they are under the influence of alcohol. For instance: say that the alcoholic drinks more than he usually does and gets in a fight at a local bar, and he beats someone up. The police are called and the alcoholic is taken to a jail cell for the night. When he wakes up, he wonders why he is in jail. He doesn't remember the bar fight and he thinks he has been "set up" by someone with an agenda to hurt him or make him culpable of a crime. So dodging culpability might sound like excuses and word salad.

For narcissists, their main focus is on narcissistic supply (on-going attention and flattery, and a need for absolute power and control over people), and like an addict, they will do anything to get it. They also don't have empathy, so they use people in their lives, and get bored, and dump people, even their own children. They even expect their own spouses and children to idealize and aggrandize them. Many narcissists are self indulgent and don't care about the feelings of others around them, and they can be retaliatory if they are not getting what they demand, so they hurt just about everyone in their lives in their quest for endless amounts of narcissistic supply. Extramarital affairs, lying, stealing, hurting others, a haughty lecturing arrogant demeanor, acting, self indulgence and stealing can become their lifestyle to the detriment of all of the people closest to them. They can feel a lot more comfortable with strangers than with people who know them well because strangers are innocent to what they are about, and don't know what their agenda is (i.e. it is to get supply through love bombing or mirroring).

When it comes to word salad, they deflect and try to dodge any culpability. If you persist in making them culpable, many of them will "punish you", or somehow make a project of you with smear campaigns and outright lies, including trying to make you appear to be insane (this can, again, include their own children and spouse). They insist that everything that goes wrong around them or makes them feel bad about themselves is everyone else's fault -- they like to pretend they are victims, while the real victims, the people closest to them, who have been coldly cast aside or emotionally eviscerated and trampled on, are called the abusers. It is the extremely rare narcissist who will apologize for anything. If they do apologize, they are often "up against a wall" of societal shame, so the apology is not genuine or voluntary; it is to save face, period.

Sociopaths also use word salad, except they do it differently than narcissists. Narcissists dodge and weave to keep their social standing high, or intact (which means they try to keep a lot of the abusive, back-stabbing, under-handed stuff they do a secret, and terrorize victims who are not willing to let their immoral unethical behaviors go or who are a threat to the false image they are trying to present in their social circles). Sociopaths, who are usually socially awkward, if charming, use the guilt-trip as their deflection tool.

For instance, say that you caught them at an immoral act. They will immediately switch the conversation to how much you owe them. If you are their child, the guilt trip will be for that ice-cream they gave you when you were seven, and that twenty dollar fee they gave you to buy a costume for the school play, or that 150 dollar contribution to your college education. Sociopaths are cheap, but they don't forget about a single cent, and all gifts to them are IOUs. So they will hammer away at you about how evil you are, about how ungrateful you are, about how stupid you are, about how you don't measure up to anyone else they know, and how you owe them the world because of those small gifts. If you are their spouse, they will talk about how they purchased a nice house (even if tiny or falling down), how they took you on vacations (even if rarely), how they found you a doctor when you were sick (even if they waited until you were in dire shape). Gratitude is everything to sociopaths, and if you are deemed to be ungrateful, the punishments arise.

They threaten and they are sadistic in order to get that IOU, which really boils down to them thinking you owe them slavery, whether it is sexual slavery, child servant-type slavery, being a total sycophant in a marriage, etc. In other words, they feel a lot more entitled than narcissists.

I have mentioned before in this post that just about all child molesters and child sex abusers are sociopaths and malignant narcissists, but not all sociopaths and malignant narcissists are child molesters and child sex abusers. The IOUs in these cases can simply be the sociopath's feelings of entitlement to have sex with a minor. If they can avoid gift-giving, sex is obtained through threats leveraged at the child. Or if it is a family member, the child might be given some extra privileges or little gifts like candy, and the IOU would be a sexual demand. If the child is a scapegoat, the sexual abuse often is inappropriately dealt with by the parent as it was in this case because the child is in a permanent state of punishment and not cared for.

Having to supply sex to an adult when you are seven or eight, or even twelve, is deeply traumatic to a child (and I can't emphasize that enough). It does cause serious PTSD. It is especially traumatic because the child is under threat to keep it a secret. So any convenient IOU is used for even the most minor, brief kindnesses or relief from abuse.

Sociopaths almost never apologize or change. They often sit on death row telling everyone that their victims are to blame.      

For the rest of the post, I am focusing on giving examples of narcissists and their particular brand of of word salad:

A 15 year old teenage girl finds out her mother is having an affair on her father: 

First of all, I'd like to say that a lot of narcissists indulge in extra-marital affairs. In a way they are sex addicts (they do it for narcissistic supply). The narcissists who use sex are generally referred to as somatic narcissists.

The overt narcissists have extra-marital affairs openly, and sometimes even to punish their spouse, or to make their spouse feel uneasy and insecure in the relationship. The message is: "I'm so awesome! Look at how many beautiful people want to screw me! You are in competition with THEM, so you can be NOTHING to me in no time flat, unless you do absolutely EVERYTHING I want, or else!"

The covert narcissists have extra-marital affairs "covertly", in secrecy, and they lie and dodge to keep their spouse from knowing about it. So the covert feels some shame about what they are doing, and how many people they are screwing, but all narcissists put their needs and wants first before all family members. They feel they need the narcissistic supply the sexual partners give them, but they prefer to get it covertly, so that they can look like an upstanding citizen (i.e. not like a whore). So they get their sex on the side by pretending to go out to a meeting, or a parent-teacher conference, or swimming at the gym, anything that is deemed suburban-acceptable. Anything non-threatening and common is used as an excuse to get out of the house and into the arms of their lovers.

The following story is more about a covert narcissist:

Angela, the teenager, is walking on a very quiet side street in her downtown and sees her mother in the doorway of a deserted store with their neighbor, Mr. Rick Reinaldo (made up name). Her mother is kissing him passionately; there are long embraces and when they part ways, she squeezes his hand and it appears that she says, "I'll miss you." Then Mr. Reinaldo pulls her back for another long embrace and kiss, and her mother gets on her tippy toes and presses her groin into his, until they finally part ways again.

Angela, of course is stunned, and she hates that Mr. Reinaldo lives in her neighborhood is now going to be a constant threat to the security and sanctity of her family.

When Angela gets home she looks at her mother and feels disgust. She cannot bear to even look at her, so takes off to her room where she cries until supper. She obviously feels that her world is falling apart, that her mother isn't what she thought she was, that her mother probably doesn't care about her father if she would put the family and marriage at risk.

So Angela is, understandably, going through some trauma about the situation, as most kids do in these situations.

At the dinner table she can barely look at her mother. She also doesn't feel like eating (not eating is also a sign of trauma). Her father looks intently at Angela and notices that her eyes are all red and swollen. He reaches out to touch her, and asks her what is wrong. But he doesn't get an answer. The more he comforts her, the more inconsolable she seems to be.

So he looks at his wife, Helen, and asks her what is wrong.

"How should I know? You know how she is! Sensitive about everything! She'd be sensitive about a pea under ten mattresses!" -- this is typical of narcs, to see one of their children as "too sensitive."

"Hell I am! I caught you, Mom!"

"What the Hell are you talking about?! I made you your dinner you ungrateful little twerp! If you caught me making dinner, then yes, I do that!" Helen says. Narcs try to get the conversation moving in a different direction, even though they know what "getting caught" means.

"Mom, I caught you kissing Mr. Reinaldo."

Helen looks at her husband who looks shocked, walks up and whispers, "She's fifteen. She doesn't know anything yet. There is nothing going on. I'll talk to her about what neighbors are about."

So Helen takes Angela to her room and they sit on a bed together.

Helen begins to lecture Angela:

"Now Angela, sometimes neighbors greet each other and they are a little more friendly than other people out in the world. Now, you know Cathy and Bianca Reinaldo, nice kids, wouldn't you say?"

"Mom, I saw you kissing him! One the street!"

"Kissing a neighbor in a greeting is a lot of what neighbors do. You have to understand that this is a very close neighborhood where we have barbecues over at each other's houses. It is friendly here. You remember when you and Cathy Reinaldo found that little kitten? Wasn't that kitten cute? And we adopted him. But I'm sorry he ran off, Angela --"

"But, Mom, that wasn't a little peck of a kiss like neighbors give. I'm not stupid! You were deep kissing!"

Helen laughs. "Well, I don't blame you for having a vivid imagination!" (note this is gaslighting, which usually takes place in word salad arguments too). "You know, when you were young, you had all kinds of imaginative friends. You remember your teddy bears all had names and distinct personalities? That was such a wonderful time of your life! You should always remember those times! And now your imagination is making you into a formidable talent. I'd love to hear you write more songs and --" (note the diversions and dodging and buttering up -- this is all part of word salad).

"Mom, I don't have a vivid imagination! You were kissing him in that doorway of that store on Regent Street!"

"But you do have a vivid imagination! I see you as a brilliant songwriter, singing on stages, singing about songs that are all about love! It's no wonder you see love in everything! It's what you want! But you are too young to have a husband now. But some day you will --"

"Stop it, Mom! I'm not talking about my career or a husband when I grow up! Just stop it!"

Helen looks shocked. Her eyes dart around madly as if she is thinking about what to say. Then she comes up with it: "Well, I was just trying to get you into a better frame of mind! You need that, don't you? A little more happiness in your life? You don't need to worry about me!"

"Mom, I wasn't worried about you!"

"Yes, you were! You were worried, and you are soooo young, and you don't understand adults yet. Perhaps you were reading into it that you thought I loved Mr. Reinaldo, so you saw deep kissing when it wasn't ANYTHING; it's like worrying about a thunderstorm when you are in bed and cozy. That thunderstorm can't do anything to you, but you worry and fret about it when it is happening. And then you get all of us up in the middle of the night because you can't sleep because you think the gods are all thrashing about in the sky because your mind is that imaginative and good. Worrying will make you read way too much into situations. It happens, so I forgive you ..."

"Mom, stop with the vivid imagination already! I'm not so naive that I don't know what you did!"

"But that's the thing. You ARE that naive. If you go on like this, just like you do when there is a thunderstorm, you'll get your father all upset, worried and concerned. Don't you think he has enough on his plate with the mortgage and all? With all of his work responsibilities and keeping us all fed and happy? You get him out of bed in the middle of the night all of the time over the slightest rumble. I think you are playing this up to that extent too, and it's all right because you are such a great imaginative songwriter. You might want to try your hand at writing a love song, and I could critique it if you would like. You seem to be focused on love, and I could teach you what it really is about. I'm good at grammar too, and I --"

"Mom, why would you kiss him like that?"

Helen starts slitting her eyes and looking mean. "Mr. Reinaldo? Why were you downtown? Answer me that! You were supposed to be home doing homework! You aren't supposed to be anywhere until you do your homework! And I doubt you finished it if you were in town that early to --"

"Mom, today was 'free-for-all day', not regular classes. I took drama, a swimming lesson and played basketball, and in homeroom we had a big long party and a movie. Don't you remember the note the school sent home?"

"No, I don't. Hmmm, a drama class. That's good, because you ARE dramatic. In fact you are being a drama queen right now. It's always about drama and upsetting people, isn't it? Drama, drama, drama!" (note: this is a favorite phrase among narcissists -- they often accuse people around them of creating drama). "Anyway, I think you are lying. I'm sure you had homework to do. In fact, how about getting all of the facts and figures together for your composition? What happened to that?"

"I didn't have home work. That's the thing about 'free-for-all day'. No homework."

"Well, you still have that composition to prepare for."

"That's not due for a month."

"In fact, I think you still need to be punished. You accused me, and you were downtown snooping around. How dare you! Now I see that your imagination has taken hold of your senses to the point where you look so badly upon your own mother that you think she is a slut! I really can't believe this! After all I have done for you! I made your meal tonight which you were too uppity and ungrateful to eat or thank me for! So, you deserve to be punished!" -- another favorite diverting tactic is the "ungrateful phrase".

"I wasn't snooping. I was --"

"Yes, you were snooping! Now I have had enough of this talk! How dare you think that I was having an affair with Mr. Reinaldo! How dare you think that I was THAT kind of woman! If you are going to invent that kind of mother, there will be consequences! After all I have done for you, for your father and for this family! I really don't want to hear another word out of your mouth about Mr. Reinaldo! Now if you say another word about this to anyone, or get anyone upset about what you think you saw, then we'll add on another week, and another week, and another week of your punishment! Is that what you want?"

"So what is my punishment?"

"You are to come home from school and you are going to go immediately to your room! We'll do this for one week to start ... You are NOT allowed downtown until you can behave yourself!" -- narcs are famous for isolating their "naughty" intelligent children to a room. Isolation as a disciplinary tool does not work very well in normal circumstances, and especially as a way to "hide the evidence" by strong-arming the child.

In this situation, everything is on the child's shoulders to pretend that this a perfect family, with a perfect mother who would NEVER, not EVER, in a million years, have an affair! The punishment of the child who knows the truth or embodies the truth is typically marginalized in narcissistic and sociopathic "punishing families". Word salad and super-imposing an altered experience is part of the lexicon of abuse: gaslightingbullying and erroneous blaming.

One of the problems is that it can build estrangement and distrust between mother and daughter. When the teenager grows into an adult, she will still remember being punished for knowing the truth about her mother (a truth that can't be denied by word salad). Once the child becomes an adult, Helen would feel that she that she had to make more word salad out of it (narcissists usually pile lies upon lies to excuse themselves): "Well, I didn't want you to be concerned over adult matters. I didn't want to upset you. I didn't think it was appropriate to talk to you about it at that time. I did it for your own good." -- narcs are famous for saying their injustices against you are for "your own good" or "the common good".

The response to "I did it for your own good" word salad arguments with children run the gamut. The children know that they had to "serve time" for what their parent did, that they were blamed for seeing it rather than the parent doing it. So children can have a lot of differing reactions including disgust, lack of respect for the parent who is supposed to have higher moral standards and ethics than the child (a parent with low ethics cannot discipline a child very well). The child may keep quiet and pretend to go along so as not to be targeted for another attack. The child may never trust the parent again, seeing the parent as duplicitous and a cheater. The child may see the parent as immoral and injust (for punishing her own child for "being keeper of the truth", which again effects the parent's ability to teach or discipline the child). The child may have disgust over the gaslighting. The child might display signs of cognitive dissonance. The child may be shocked and grieving over the loss of what she thought her mother was. There may be on-going anger over the injustice. Children who grow up with this kind of parent either keep very quiet (too quiet, even about their motivations and feelings about their parent) or they talk back. No matter what the reaction is, this word salad argument has long lasting effects, far-reaching consequences and can traumatize others far into the future. The additional problem is, word salad arguments tend to be used over, and over, and over again: sometimes narcs literally live on their word salad arguments to the point where they appear to be an empty shell or totally insane.

Most people cannot live with someone who repeatedly uses word salad to explain away their actions, which is why narcs abandon, or are abandoned, at a dizzying rate. Part of feeling narc-entitled to have affairs and lie consistently, is that you break people's hearts, minds and trust in you. You also break their belief in you. You are labeled as unethical.

Word salad is used primarily as a way to keep shame off of the narcissist, and in the process the narcissist puts the shame on to the child's shoulders instead, where it does not belong - this is called blame-shifting and it is absolutely horrific and abusive when used in this context.

But, narcs don't care about damaging their children. Children can be, and are, disposed of (usually through a silent treatment) if they object.

Now, sometimes instead of punishing a child who becomes privy to some kind of unethical truth, a narc parent can also try to turn the daughter into a "best friend", confiding in intimate details of the marriage with her father, confiding in how the new relationship with the lover is fulfilling needs, and asking the daughter for guidance, who to choose and other suggestions (completely inappropriate). But narc mothers do this because they feel it keeps the daughter from being an enemy -- and it does work on teenage girls. So narc parents either become completely enmeshed with a child, or they are rejecting of the child, and more often they go between total enmeshment to total estrangement: "idealize, devalue, discard".

For the sake of keeping this story simple, I am featuring a rejected punished daughter.

The next example features how damaging word salad can be to the whole family:

The father finds out his wife is having an affair, and it has been going on for two years:

Helen covers up the incident with Mr. Reinaldo by telling her husband, Bob, that their daughter, Angela, doesn't know the difference between a friendly neighbor kiss and a passionate kiss, that she is too young.

She goes on to explain to her husband: "Don't worry about it. You know I'd never be with a man like Rick Reinaldo anyway. All of those kids! And that big smelly dog of his! And that swimming pool full of leaves and grime! It's preposterous, but our little girl has quite the imagination -- which she needs to put into songwriting instead of this line of thinking! Ha!" Helen laughs heartily as though it is all a big joke. (Note: narcissists are fairly good at acting, which is why she get away with the lies).

Sometimes, if you know they are narcs, you can know they are lying if they keep talking endlessly about the situation. The problem is that covert narcs are not so easily detected, so the conclusion that they are a narc usually comes way after you have been pretty substantially hurt by them. But just in case, narcs will go on and on and on with cover-ups: "If something ever happened to you, Bob, God forbid, Rick Reinaldo would be the last person I would even consider in my bed. I'd be up to my eyeballs in kids fussy fights, and having two kids of our own is enough for me! You know I don't like kids that much even if I've grown to love ours. No, there is no one but you for me, babe. You and I against the world!" With hugs and kisses ... So, Rick Reinaldo would keep coming up in this way, over and over again. He might even be the butt of the jokes between Bob and Helen. The exception to this rule? A really introverted narc tries to avoid talking about it altogether, or just mumbles things like "How dare you accuse me!"

But this story isn't over yet ...

One day, Bob is in the house alone and he gets a call from Rick Reinaldo's wife, Sharon. Sharon tells Bob that Helen and Rick are having an affair, that she's had enough and is moving out with the kids. Bob is shocked at the news, and asked how she found out and Sharon replies: "They have been having an affair for two years. I caught them in bed together at our house two years ago. Caroline was in a school play, so I took all the kids and we went. Rick stayed home because he had a stomach ache. While we were at the play, Bianca got sick, just throwing up buckets of vomit. We had to leave. So, anyway, we get home, and Helen and Rick are in the shower together, naked, laughing away, and he was telling her how good she was. It made me sick. I chased Helen out, but it just kept going on and on and on, at the office, in their cars, during so-called meetings. He made all of the usual excuses and I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt, but no more. I'm just not living a lie any more. And I'm moving out. This is not good for the kids and they are my main concern. I know that Bianca took it out pretty hard on Angela one day for breaking up our family. I told Bianca not to blame it on Angela, that Angela has nothing to do with what Helen did, but you might want to talk to Angela so that she really understands this."

"So, Angela knows this?" he asks incredulously.

Sharon continues: "I thought maybe Angela would have told you by now, but Angela tells me that Helen is punishing her for being aware of the affair. One reason I'm telling you all of this is concern for Angela."

"I see. I'm in such total shock! I mean Helen has sworn up and down that she finds Rick unattractive, that she would never have an affair with him, that I was the only man for her. I feel like I've been knifed in the back, so I'll have to catch my breath about all of this."

"Bob, I'm so sorry I dropped this bombshell on you, but I figured you would find out sooner or later, and as you know, I'm concerned for the welfare of children, and I really think that Angela's falling grades, her estrangement from a lot of her friends, and what has happened between her and Bianca is too much for her to bear, along with keeping the awful secret of Helen's and Rick's affair to herself. It's not right for that child to live that way."

"No, I agree, it isn't."

When Helen comes home, she and Bob have it out. "What proof do you have? You know how Sharon is! She's jealous of us! She'd love to ruin our marriage! She'd like to have what we have! She's got a husband who is fat, and I've got one who is slender! We have a nice clean swimming pool, and she's got one full of leaves! I mean, how long does it take to rake out a few leaves? And they certainly have the money to hire someone to rake the leaves out for them. But, no! She takes it out on me! I have offered her my rake, and all of my expertise, and that is why I sometimes go over there, trying to get her some help. Let her have her messy yard, her falling down house, her grimy swimming pool. And the other problem is they have too many trees around their swimming pool!" -- you can see how the conversation derailed into typical word salad about a swimming pool instead of about the very dire situation they are in.

When Bob keeps trying to bring the conversation back to Helen's affair with Rick, it keeps getting derailed over and over again until Helen becomes incensed. She tells Bob that she has had enough of the accusations, and distrust, and finding fault. How dare he think she'd be having an affair with someone like Rick Reinaldo. In fact, she threatens that if he continues with this line of talk, she will take the kids away from him and make his life as miserable as he is making her life miserable with all of the accusations.

So, there are several ways these kinds of situations play out:

1. Bob gives in: gives his wife the benefit of the doubt -- the less likely outcome, especially since Sharon has raised his suspicions.

2. Bob doesn't want his kids taken away from him, especially if the mother is duplicitous: it would put the kids at risk. So he needs to have his wits about him and think things through.

3. Bob doesn't believe a word of what his wife says and files for divorce.

If he's a "regular guy", with an ability to keep a cool head, he is going to choose option #2. He is going to call a lawyer and get some idea of the possibilities of what the law can do for him. He might also hire a private detective.

So, he hires a private detective, and the detective finds Helen and Rick in all kinds of compromising situations: taking out a motel room together under an alias, having sex in a car, spending PTA night in another town dancing.

Then he tells her that he is filing for divorce because of infidelity.

At first Helen tries to deny it, saying that it wasn't what it seems (gaslighting). But this time the diverting and dodging isn't working. Bob keeps talking about divorce while she goes on and on and on about how she was forced to have sex with Rick, that there was coercion, control and blackmail involved.

Then Bob finally blows up at her. "I have had enough of the excuses and the lies, Helen! Look at you! You're disgusting!"

"Well, just for that, I'm going to take the kids away from you! And guess what? I'll get them! Because they always give custody to the mother!"

"Damn you, Helen, all you can think of is threatening me after being caught in lies that have been running out of your mouth for two years!? Two years, Helen!"

"You know why I had an affair? Because of how you are reacting right now! Because you have no control over yourself, your temper! You are the one who is disgusting! Look at you! As if screaming at the top of your lungs, and accusing me is attractive!" Note: narcs like to switch it so that your reactions to their immoral behavior are causing them to be liars, cheaters, abusers, bait-and-switchers -- this is also classic blame-shifting that narcs are famous for.

But Bob is onto this tactic and ignores her. He knows that he rarely has a temper, and he feels his temper is justified in this situation, so Helen's words go in one ear and out the other, as the saying goes.

When that isn't working, Helen's word salad switches to talking about how "Everyone has affairs. It's not a big deal. It's just sex. Affairs are as old as the human race."

But Bob doesn't listen to that either.

So she cries, and acts desperate, to appeal to his sympathy. He is taken in by that somewhat because he's an empath. They start counseling. But after several sessions where she seems, on the surface to be contrite, it is clear that Helen is using the sessions to talk about how inadequate Bob is as a sex partner, as a husband, as a father, and if he had just done certain things, she would have remained faithful.

So Bob works really hard for Helen. In fact, if she has a complaint, he resolves her complaint. The problem is, the more work he does for her, the more she complains about him, even to her own children -- typical. So, he wears himself out for her, while at the same time not trusting her entirely. Eventually, she starts going to an awful lot of meetings in the evening again, so he hires the private detective again.

One note here before continuing the story: couples therapy does not work in these situations. If anything, this is closer to a domestic abuse issue (betrayal trauma).

So to continue:

She gets caught again having sex with Rick Reinaldo.

This time the divorce is on.

She escalates by criticizing him even more than when they were in therapy, and starts to lob insults at him as well: ugly, slob, lazy. She tells him she never loved him anyway, that he was half the man Rick was, that he was like a sniveling little puppy dog with a tiny penis, that he could never satisfy her in a million years, that he was a "downright dweeb". Now the relationship has turned outright abusive. In fact, as the divorce is underway, she flaunts Rick in Bob's face, and even tries to bring Rick into the marital home to upset Bob. But Bob responds by calling the police and the police tell Rick that he is not to go into the house, or he will be arrested.

By this time, the whole neighborhood knows, and Helen explains in more word salad to the neighbors that Bob was having an affair for two years, and that she had had enough, and that Rick had helped her to see the light and protect her from Bob (who she explained to neighbors was torturing her in "that house"):

"In fact, he tortured me so much, that I tried to get Rick in the house to protect me from Bob's rages and beatings, but the police wouldn't let him be there. I understand why the police did that, but really! They need to have laws to protect the women and children in these situations!  We are so relieved about the divorce, and I can't wait another day until the papers are signed so that Bob leaves, gets out of the neighborhood and we can leave him behind! Rick will be such a great stepfather to the kids! Just look at how great he is with his own kids! Ever since that awful Sharon moved out, the swimming pool is finally clean; there aren't toys all over the yard; he's finally just able to focus on the kids and not on all of her problems and excuses about why she can't keep the place clean! My God, she was in that house for all of these years, and she has no job, and she had the messiest lawn of all of us! I hope we stay in the neighborhood to bring stability to our kid's lives. The kids need some nice grounding after what Bob did to them!" In the meantime Rick nods in agreement to all of these altered stories.

Yes, narcs are attracted to other cheaters, who can be other narcs or other cluster B personality disordered people.

All of the smear campaigns to make themselves look like victims and to socially isolate the real victim, Bob, is typical elementary 101 narc behavior. The word salad in this instance is used to make Bob appear as a perpetrator and make Helen and Rick appear as victims. This word salad can go on for years, and does. Sometimes narcs are so focused on punishing their exes, that they will keep trying to figure out a way to punish by proxy, and the endless smear campaign and isolating the ex from common friends becomes the easiest way to do it. From looking at forums, it is obvious that a lot of narcs even try to slander their exes with the exes parents! In fact, no one is off limits!

They have even been noted to target their own children for persuasion -- that their other parent is bad (in this case, Bob). This is called parental alienation syndrome, which, because of the damage it does, is illegal in a lot of states now ... if only there was a law for parents who try to punish and slander children who choose the non-narc parent in custody arrangements, perhaps name it child alienation syndrome. Anything that would disarm narcissists from doing vicious smear campaigns against their own children would greatly help to stem the tide of domestic abuse and domestic violence.

Having said that, most children end up wanting to live with the non-narc parent (in this case, Bob). That is because a normal parent offers stability, on-going love, and is someone a child can look up to. Ethics means more to children than "being a golden favored child" in the narc-world of "do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do."

You can almost count on narcs reacting vindictively to not being the center of attention in a family, especially an unmasked one (i.e. shown to be unethical and immoral). Word salad is their defense to keeping the false society-security mask in place. Without that mask, they cannot get narcissistic supply very easily.

If laws never change, and no one stands up to the narcs, they will continue to do more and more damage, and it becomes collateral: effecting inlaws who marry into the family, step children and grandchildren -- even if they appear to go off happy into the sunset with their Mr. Reinaldos at the outset. This is one reason why many therapists strongly urge their clients to go "no contact" because it does end up traumatizing and infecting your own children.

You can see that in just one to three word salad arguments, how damaging it can be to everyone in a family. The problem is word salad begins to be a run-away train with ever-more deflections, lies and re-framed stories. And it is not the only weapon used against members of their family. Gaslighting, erroneous blaming, smear campaigns, blame-shifting, discards and ostracism of children and other family members, injustice, constant threats and severe "punishments", scapegoating,  insults, financial abuse, being put into extremely unhealthy roles by the toxic parent, gang-bullying, triangulation, being accused of actions and types of mental processes that are actually projection, continual broken promises and favoritism are also part of the arsenal used in tandem with word salad. Some of this can turn into such "acceptable levels" within a family, that sibling abuse can arise too. How awful, right? Most members of narcissistic families are either dealing with more trauma than most people can ever imagine, or they are bullies themselves. It's easy to see why young children really are not capable of dealing with or defending themselves against all of these weapons that the narcissist uses on their own family members (which is why children from abusive homes end up with chronic PTSD).

The members who live on the outside of these types of families (whether they got there from being scapegoated, smeared, ostracized or volunteered to leave) are often the family members who endured the most abuse from this "weaponry", or who saw the most unethical behavior (i.e. the truth that the narcissist wants to hide). These members are usually the ones who have the most disabling PTSD symptoms too.

The problem with accepting or ignoring word salad arguments and the unethical behavior that often goes with these arguments is: what does it teach children? Does it teach children that if they, the children, constantly fib and use word salad it will be ignored too? This is how abuse passes from one generation to the next: no one is watching the foxes in the henhouse! -- the foxes being blatant abuse. I would put my money on it that 98 percent of abuse and bullying in the world starts in the childhood home, not in schools, not in work places, but with what children see and hear from their own parents, parents who are supposed to be setting limits, teaching morality, teaching justice, and most of all, teaching by example. Some research is being done now that supports my theory. When these kinds of parents blatantly fail at good parenting, they pass the abusive "tricks" and "weapons", like the word salad argument, on to the next generation. I am, in fact, seeing it with my own eyes.

Here is a video by popular life coach, Richard Grannon on "Covert Salad" 
(this has a lot of humor in it, unlike my post ...
any survivor will be able to identify and perhaps laugh at how ridiculous narc word salad can get):


10 Warning Signs of Word Salad --
from the Psychopath Free blog

How to End Circular Conversations  -- A Huffington Post article by Dianna Booher

10 Warning Signs of Word Salad -- from Sanctuary of the Abused website

The Narcissist is a Chameleon and an Empty Void -- a recommended post by Melanie Tonia Evans (not only discusses the narcissist's word salad arguments, but goes into why they practically shape-shift what they say to fit in with the company they keep)

found on facebook:



Sunday, June 18, 2017

emotional bullying


According to Natasha Tracy from her article Emotional Bullying and How to Deal with an Emotional Bully:

Emotional bullying is when a person tries to get what they want by making others feel angry or afraid.

What is Emotional Bullying?

Emotional bullying isn't just seen on the playground; emotional bullying, although likely subtler, is seen in adult relationships and workplaces too. An emotional bully might:
* Name-call, tease or mock
* Use sarcasm
* Threaten
* Put-down or belittle
* Ignore or exclude from a group
* Lie
* Torment
* Gang up on others
* Humiliate others

These behaviors can be seen in adult relationships, (see Psychologically Abusive Relationships: Are You in One?)


In a post called 8 Phrases That Signify Zero Respect in a Relationship is a good yardstick of whether or not you are vulnerable to receiving emotional bullying. In order for an abuser to emotionally bully you, he has to be disengaged with caring about your feelings, thoughts and experiences. These phrases, according to the post include:
1. "I don't care." -- I would also elaborate: "I don't care what you think" also falls under this category, and the silent treatment, purposely ignoring special days like a birthday, definitely portrays an "I don't care" attitude.
2. "Why does that matter to you?" -- especially if it is in the context of your own feelings, thoughts and experiences
3. "That shouldn't bother you." -- according to the postA respectful communicator would say something such as, “I understand that you are bothered by that. I didn’t have the same experience, yet I know that you did.” This is a confirmation of the validity of the other individual’s thoughts, feelings and / or experience. 
4. "You're over-reacting" -- especially if someone habitually uses this phrase
5. "Conclusion" -- I would also elaborate and say that any person who is trying to rush through your expressions of feelings, thoughts and experiences to get to the conclusion and get to their comeback, isn't showing respect and is not caring. "And the point is?--" would be the same sort of phrasing.
6. "That's ridiculous." -- this is a dismissive phrase, and an arrogant one, no matter how one looks at it. If it is habitual, it is indicative of someone who refuses to hear you or care about you.
7. "That's silly" -- same thing as "That's ridiculous" -- but perhaps even more arrogant as "silly" connotes you are childish 
8.  "You're making a big deal out of nothing." -- when used habitually, this is telling you that the other person does not think your feelings have any validity. I would also elaborate and say that this is typical phrasing of narcissists and sociopaths, especially when they are talking to empaths (who tend to be sensitive). It's a definite red flag. "You make mountains out of molehills" is another phrase along the same lines.
9. "That's not my problem" -- according to the postThis disrespectful ‘emotional vocabulary’ phrase is completely contradictory to being in a relationship. An individual in a relationship by nature must care about what is happening in their partner’s world.

Note: disrespect isn't emotional or verbal abuse (yet ... except for the silent treatment -- the silent treatment is definitely abuse), but this is certainly a road to emotional and verbal abuse. For more on types of abuse go here.

Other signs of disrespect include:
1. Consistently interrupts 
2. Lectures you as though you are a little child who needs to learn lessons, and at the same time, is dismissive of your experiences, feelings and thoughts (i.e. when you express yourself, spends more time lecturing you than hearing you). Warning! This is also the sign of someone who is abusive -- almost all abusers express themselves in a haughty, imperious, know-it-all way. When someone who lectures graduates into telling you what to do or is insinuating that you are crazy, too sensitive or unstable (gaslighting), then this person is most likely an abuser.
3. leans into you and points his finger (in a shaming kind of way) while lecturing at you.
4. consistently uses phrases like "We aren't going to talk about this right now", "We are not going to discuss this", "I have had enough of discussing things with you. All I want is silence and peace."
5. Consistently uses phrases like: "You really are trying to provoke me" (when you are crying), "You really are trying to irritate me" (when you are crying). This person is flat-out trying to tell you that they don't care about how situations effect you.
6. Consistently uses phrases like "If you're going to keep crying, we're done", "If you're going to be sensitive, you don't deserve what I have to say", "If you're going to be sad and unhappy all of the time, we're done", "If you can't get a handle on your emotions, you won't be going to the party." -- these are the beginning stages of control and abuse.
7. Is consistently in a rush to get through the experience of hearing your perspectives, feelings and thoughts
8. re-frames your feelings. For instance: Say that you say: "I was feeling sad that I didn't see you for my birthday." Re-framing it would be: "No you were angry that I wasn't here for your birthday because birthdays are everything to you, and you are everything too, in your mind." It is an attack and puts you on the defensive, and also negates the birthday as an important event where sadness about it not being celebrated is not allowed.
9. re-frames your thoughts. For instance: Say that you say: "I thought I'd rake the leaves today. It was a nice day and I thought 'Why not?'" Re-framing it would be: "No, you raked the leaves to make me feel guilty because I hadn't gotten around to it in the last few weeks." Again this is an attack and puts the you on the defensive.
10. re-frames your experiences. For instance: Say you say: "He pushed me against the window in the car and I got out of the car because I was being pushed up against the window." Re-framing it would be: "No, I doubt he'd do that. You got out of the car because you wanted to make all of us miserable." This negates your experiences and is a form of gaslighting (i.e. about trying to alter your experience in a way that reinforces who they want you to be, rather than who you are -- scapegoats from toxic families are often treated this way).
NOTE on 8, 9 and 10:  Abusers, narcissists and sociopaths usually try to re-frame the thoughts, feelings and experiences of others. They are notoriously poor listeners, demanding, commanding and they see dark motives in other people (even when there aren't any). They are, by nature, retaliatory people when they feel they are losing power or don't have power, or when they feel people are not agreeing with them, or when they feel they cannot manipulate others. A consistent use of re-framing your experiences (especially if used in tandem with gaslighting) is the sign of an abuser (who generally have Cluster B personality disorders: see this post on what abuse is and who it is perpetrated by. There are reasons why abusers re-frame things: some of the reasons are:
1. They tend to be liars (gaslighters) themselves, so they feel that others do it too (most abusers use projection as their way of sizing up the feelings, thoughts and experiences of others)
2. They put people into roles and judge people as all good or all bad, so they re-frame as a way to make sure that the person embodies the role they want for them
3. They are control freaks and anything they feel they cannot control, or pin down into a concrete unchangeable judgement, including their own perceptions of a person or experience, they re-frame as a way to get to control their perceptions (often extending it to smear campaigns: trying to control the perceptions of others too)
   
Any adult who has tried to punish another adult in any way (except through using the usual authorities like police if they have broken the law) is a HUGE RED FLAG that you are dealing with someone who is an abuser (bully). If you don't know whether they have a "punishment mindset", ask people from their past.

So what are some signs of emotional bullying?

First here are the signs of verbal abuse which usually precede emotional bullying:

name-calling, insults, defaming, belittling, defining in a negative prejudicial way, trivializing what another person says through an entire altercation, false unproven accusations on a consistent basis, disparaging your character and disguising it as a joke, constant chiding, interrogations meant to humiliate, taunting, goading, yelling and raging, continual use of "always" and "never" statements, baiting, condescending (between adults), patronizing (between adults), talking over you and not letting you speak, responding to your thoughts, views, desires, feelings, expressions (and even happiness) as an irritant or an attack (active link from Wikipedia). The point of verbal abuse for a perpetrator is to disable a victim's self esteem, to get him to think of himself as inferior to others, to get him to think that he does not have the same rights and privileges of kindness as others, to get him to think that he deserves verbal abuse because he is inferior. It may also mean that the perpetrator wants a victim to grovel for relief from verbal abuse. Verbal abuse almost always escalates to emotional abuse. Verbal abuse can escalate to physical abuse if there are threats of any kind. For a more in-depth discussion on verbal abuse go to this post.
For an excellent article on the effects of verbal abuse on its victims go here.

Here are the signs of emotional (and psychological) bullying:

threatening physical or emotional harm, the silent treatment, imposed isolation (keeping you from your friends and family), slander and smear campaigns, destruction of pets or property, brainwashing, gaslighting, shaming, sabotage, scapegoating, favoritism, perspecticide, consistently negatively comparing you with another, punishing (adult to adult), intimidation, manipulation, trying to control your actions through rewards and punishments, bullying (punishing, threatening or verbally abusing you from a position of power), domestic theft, emotionally blackmailing (threats and punishments used to control your behavior or to capitulate to demands), false accusations (unwarranted or exaggerated criticism or blame), frivolous litigation, grooming (maneuvering you into a dependent position that will make you dependent on your abuser, or grooming you to look at abuse as acceptable), harassment (unwarranted and chronic unwelcome communications or actions), infantilization, stalking, unwanted interrogations, targeted mocking and sarcasm, deceiving, invalidation (of emotions, experiences, so that the victim's perspectives are discounted), mirroring, neglect (ignoring a dependent's needs), normalizing (getting a person accustomed to abuse, or coercion, or breaking the law), objectification, parentification, splitting (the practice of regarding others as completely good, or completely bad), triangulating, rationalizing manipulative behavior, vilifying a victim of abuse or bullying, brandishing anger (putting on an act of anger to shock you), expecting you to "walk on eggshells" around their explosive rages and "punishments", feigned victimization, "guilt trips" over erroneous allegations, sexual objectification, impeding or interrupting sleep, expecting perfectionism from you at all times, projection, pathological lying and Munchausen's and Munchausen by Proxy. The point of emotional abuse for a perpetrator is to disable a victim emotionally so that the victim is grieving, sad, upset, depressed, in shock, feeling isolated and unloved, and in general, suffering emotionally from cruelty or unkindness. It may also mean that the perpetrator wants a victim to grovel for relief from emotional pain, thereby making the victim more compliant to the abuser's demands. The point of psychological abuse for a perpetrator is to get a victim to think that he is disabled mentally, to play with the victim's perceptions (perhaps the victim discovers lies, subterfuge and smear campaigns against him), to instill in him that he does not have the same rights and privileges of others because he is "crazy". It may also mean that the perpetrator wants a victim to think of himself as disabled psychologically so that he will accept fault in altercations with the abuser because he is mentally deficient, or lean on the abuser for a sense of reality.

Note: the two examples above come from my previous post on what abuse and bullying are and who it is perpetrated by.  

Here is a great video with psychologist, Judy Rosenberg, and Walt Lusk on this subject:

further reading:

Abuse Is Abuse — Even If He Doesn’t Hit You -- by Melissa Jeltsen for Huffington Post

excerpt:
Emotional bullies are not happy folk. No bully is. Bullies are much more likely to come from less-than-ideal circumstances — a broken home, a single parent, alcohol addiction in the family.
Fear often therefore motivates the bully’s behavior. Insecurities plague the darker parts of their hidden hearts, so they try to control external conditions to keep their anxious insides from spinning out of control.
Inside, they are barely hanging on so they overcompensate by tightening their grip on everything (and often everyone) outside.
Or they push others around in a vain attempt at feeling better about themselves by comparison.

30 Signs Of Emotional Abuse -- by Barrie Davenport


10 Signs Your Girlfriend or Wife is an Emotional Bully -- by Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD



Girl Bullies: Understanding Different Types of Bullying -- by Lisa Lister,  a writer focusing on the empowerment of women and female body issues

Five years in jail for men who 'emotionally bully' wives: New law will target bullies who control partners with 'coercive and controlling behaviour' -- from the UK site, DailyMail.com (discusses the new law in the U.K. that makes emotional abuse a crime)


Teasing Isn't Funny: Emotional Bullying -- a book geared towards kids grades K - 3

bully prevention posters for schools -- includes a poster about emotional bullying

from the sideplayer.com website
(also includes a good post on how to recognize and stop emotional bullying):

Friday, June 9, 2017

sociopaths and children



Note: the correct term for sociopath is Antisocial Personality Disorder. A lot of people use the term sociopath, however, because of its easiness of use.

While this blog is primarily focused on narcissists, bullies and alcoholics with anger management issues, I thought this topic was important to cover if only because one finds that narcissists are often paired with another Cluster B personality disordered person in some way, at some time, either a borderline or sociopath.

You may want to read my posts on what abuse is and narcissists and children to get some background before proceeding with this post.

Generally narcissists tend to find themselves with borderlines because borderlines are more common than sociopaths.

Unenlightened borderlines sometimes find themselves as accomplices to narcissists, especially in the way of enabling or helping the narcissist, but they are also inconsistent, chaotic, emotional and can be tearfully regretful and guilt-ridden after they have done something wrong even if willing to go along with the narcissist's agenda initially. In other words, narcissists often find that Borderlines are too unreliable in terms of carrying out bullying agendas, and other wishes of the narcissist. Narcissistic bullying tends to be more ineffective with the borderline than with the sociopath, because borderlines self reflect. However, narcissists like drama, and they like to blame anyone and everyone other than themselves, and they like to be dominant, and the borderline usually provides that.

Sociopaths, on the other hand, have no regrets about bullying. The drawback to the sociopath for the narcissist is that the sociopath tends to go overboard, unconcerned with social acceptability, isolating the narcissist from formerly "counted on" narcissistic supply, social standing and social acceptability. Sociopaths will do just about anything to get the narcissist to believe no one is good enough or grateful enough, and while the narcissist is rejecting people for these reasons, the sociopath is dividing and conquering and has all of the power and control in the relationship. In fact, most narcissists eventually realize the sociopath has stripped them dry, and has isolated them in the end. Since narcissists do not put the welfare of their children first, the harsh "punishments" that sociopaths are known for are likely to go unchallenged by the narcissist. The only time that the narcissist might challenge is when their social standing is suffering. Regardless, the sociopath usually gets his way in terms of how victims are treated and are to be perceived. Most narcissists learn to live with the sociopath's agenda, despite how empty and devoid of narcissistic supply their world becomes, because they know how retaliatory the sociopath can be if they withdraw from them. One of the reasons the sociopath tends to go overboard is to show the narcissist not to mess with him.

I talk more at the end of the post about why the sociopath-narcissist "bully team" should be abandoned.

Not all sociopaths are violent or break the law, but they are more likely to do so than anyone else. Whether they break the law largely depends on whether they were brought up in a stable home, and had financial and emotional security in that home. Sociopaths who break the law account for roughly 45 percent of all sociopaths (this can include reckless endangerment of a child, child neglect, and other child abuse crimes).

Sociopaths who come from stable homes and excel in school are often described as "high functioning sociopaths", the ones less likely to commit crimes.

According to Tanya J. Peterson (from this article):

High-functioning sociopaths are extremely skilled at faking emotion. Depending on the party and attendees, he manipulates by expressing a range of human emotion: happiness, joy, excitement, incredulity, shock, disappointment, sadness, and grief. If he wants to, a sociopath can cry. These false feelings are purely superficial. Non-sociopaths feel things on an emotional level as well as on a physical level. No butterflies flutter in a sociopath's stomach. He never feels his heart race in anticipation or pound in fear.

The shallow and insincere expressions of feeling are mere tools used by a sociopath to entrap people.


... A sociopath is incapable of feelings such as empathy, regret, and remorse. She doesn't experience emotional pain herself; thus, she can't understand the expression of those feelings in others ...

... Brain scans and imaging such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans and electroencephalogram (EEG) tests show that the sociopathic brain doesn't register emotional words and pictures the way a "normal" brain does ...

... Beyond primitive emotions like anger and rage, sociopaths don't have feelings. Remarkably, their social skills are so honed, so highly developed, that no one can tell ...

As for the last sentence, domestic violence counselors who have a lot of experience dealing with perpetrators can often tell if someone is a sociopath, as the types of self expression have similarities between one sociopath and another. The acting skills of the sociopath can even be more easily detected. Most counselors also understand that with sociopaths, it is always more important to look at what they do and don't do, than what they say to explain away their actions. 

The high-functioning sociopaths are slightly harder to detect, especially if the sociopath is at all trained in social graces, psychology jargon and matters of the law (but there are ways a skilled professional can still get to the bottom of what is going on). According to the same author, from a different article, the high functioning sociopath is:

... adept at morphing themselves into what people want to see ... They very quickly learn what makes people tick, and they know just how to engineer and oil the clock. This type of sociopath
* has superior intelligence, as demonstrated by observed behavior and IQ tests;
* possesses impeccable social skills and exudes charm;
* often comes from a strong family background;
* is driven—she knows what she wants, and she knows how to get it ...


In other words, the higher functioning sociopaths tend to be educated. Here are some other signs (according to Steve Bressert, Ph.D. of Psych Central):

Individuals with Antisocial Personality Disorder frequently lack empathy and tend to be callous, cynical, and contemptuous of the feelings, rights, and sufferings of others. They may have an inflated and arrogant self-appraisal (e.g., feel that ordinary work is beneath them or lack a realistic concern about their current problems or their future) and may be excessively opinionated, self-assured, or cocky. They may display a glib, superficial charm and can be quite voluble and verbally facile (e.g., using technical terms or jargon that might impress someone who is unfamiliar with the topic) ...

Most articles on sociopaths describe a lack of remorse when hurting others as being the biggest sign of their disorder (in other words they try to explain it away). If they are not the perpetrator in an incident, a lack of appropriate response and empathy for people going through a tragedy, or in pain, is also a tell-tale sign. In speech they sound haughty, like know-it-alls. "They deserve what they had coming to them" is also a typical pronouncement of the sociopath, even when it comes to small children, pets and woodland animals. They are usually extremely opinionated as well, insisting that people adopt their opinions, often insulting people with opposing views from their own.

Anyone can see why a parent with this disorder will be woefully out of touch with his child's feelings and be a horrific parent. Since sociopaths do not have a range of emotion, they cannot understand the feelings of others, or how to respond to feelings. With so little emotional depth, and an inability to feel love and affection, sociopathic homes, at the very best, tend to be cold, extremely mannered, rigid with many members looking over their shoulder to see who will stab them in the back. There can be conversation in their homes, but they often insist on no emotional "coloring". Unfortunately, most sociopaths don't stop at the cold family environment: they tend to be predatory and abusive to all children. Like narcissists, they devalue and discard their children, but they tend to do it longer than narcissists do (years or a lifetime as compared to months). A small offense can mean permanent shunning. Their reasons for discards are usually different from narcissists too. Narcissists discard over issues having to do with lack of narcissistic supply (flattery) whereas sociopaths do it because they get bored or the child is "in the way" of something they want. Both narcissists and sociopaths can be sadistic about discards, but sociopaths more so because they are completely devoid of regret; whereas narcissists can feel regret, at least as far as their images are concerned (social standing, prestige and not wanting to raise suspicions).

High functioning sociopaths are usually emotionally abusive to children at the very least, and care very little for their plight. They can also show very little feeling for the disabled, sick, innocents, animals and pets. If an empathetic child has a pet, for instance, the child can experience more trauma than usual by how the parent treats the pet. Many empathetic children try to protect their pet by insisting that the abuse meant for the pet be directed towards them (the child) instead.

What the child wants, what he is interested in, what he feels or thinks, is not anything the sociopathic parent cares about, or can care about, given their brain chemistry. Gifts given to children are never with good intentions; they are used for leverage, blackmail, IOUs and guilt trips only. Children learn to refuse gifts from these kinds of parents for those reasons. In forums, children of sociopaths find that if they are made to accept gifts from their sociopathic parent, no matter how small the gift is, feel so uneasy and guilt-ridden about owning these gifts, that they give them up by re-gifting. Charity becomes the safest avenue because they are organizations instead of "people" -- it is harder for a sociopath to target bureaucrats with an IOU than it is an individual person.

Christopher McCandless was an alleged victim of child abuse, for instance, and gave away the money his parents gifted him to Oxfam.

Since children are ineffective at rebelling against how they are treated by their sociopathic parent, they can become unusually quiet, appear distant, disturbed and uneasy (distrustful of others, the signs of the lost child in family systems theory). Unless there are mitigating circumstances, like an empath mother winning custody, children from sociopathic homes tend to have severe PTSD. While some children mimic their parent, becoming another sociopath, others try to create distance, plan on what to say to their parent to keep safe and not be a target, and try to make themselves invisible.

Sociopathic parents and step parents tend to have such a heavy disciplinary hand that it can and does cause tremendous trauma to their victims, and for life, especially children, as children have a more sensitive constitution than adults.

"Time-outs" are usually sadistic, lengthy and definitely not "child learning experiences" (i.e. they are for torture only, for the sociopath's pleasure).

Sociopaths also love to rewrite history and insist that their children believe in and recite altered truths and versions. They lie much more than other cluster B disordered people.

If a child is being bullied at school or in the home by another family member, the sociopathic parent will rarely, if ever, come to the child's rescue or deal with the issues in an appropriate way. "What did you do to deserve it?" and similar phrases are used. Children who are bullied often find that they are not believed. The reason why is because sociopaths use projection: they always pretend to be victims themselves and assume their children are pretending too. As a result, children can be defenseless, and even stalked, tortured, sexually abused, raped and abducted from the lack of parental intervention and supervision. The sicker sociopathic parents prefer that their children be bullied to get the child to believe in themselves as intrinsically less worthwhile than others, too stupid and crazy to function without the parent telling them what to do, and why they can never measure up other than to be a family slave or family punching bag. Survivors who become adults often wonder why they were not protected by their parents like other children were. What I have explained here should help with those answers.

Low functioning sociopaths tend to be more violent, rash and somewhat less haughty and charming than the high functioning variety. They are less known for devious planning than impulsive outbursts of temper or violence. They are less aware of how they effect children, what laws are, what proper social interaction looks like, that they usually blatantly break the law at some point. They are also more exploitative as they tend to come from families which are broken, with little financial security. This means that they often steal from their own children.

Because sociopaths in all of their varieties have very little respect for the boundaries of grown children, and show so little capacity in understanding anything emotional, they cannot be counted on to have any kind of normal response to the pain of others. Almost all therapists and psychologists advise their clients to abandon sociopaths. When the sociopath is a parent, the advice is still abandoning the parent, especially if the child has been abused. If the adult child cannot bear the thought of abandoning his parent, the therapist or psychologist often teaches the client how to put in place strong boundaries which will be respected. Those boundaries have to include no communications about emotional, personal or professional subjects, ever, as sociopaths use information about these subjects to hurt the child. Law enforcement is sometimes needed and used to help set boundaries since sociopaths generally do not respect the boundaries of adult children, and are known to keep pushing at boundaries. It is also suggested that the contact be in the context of family gatherings and never one-on-one meetings.

Most children who have been abused by a sociopathic parent find that they cannot maintain low contact because the sociopath's manipulative wheels are still always turning. Forums for children of sociopaths often describe the "sociopathic stare". It is a stare that lets the child know that the parent has cruel retaliatory intentions. Sociopaths make it much clearer to children than narcissists do that children serve no intrinsic value outside of what they will do for the sociopath. The only value a child has to a sociopath is if they are useful in some way to the parent.

Name-calling (verbal abuse) towards children tends to take the form of the following phrases:
* "You're useless."
* "You're a waste."
* "You're no good."
* "I don't need you or want you."
* "I don't care about you."
* "You're poison."
* "You're evil."
* If sociopaths use animal "insult" names where their children are concerned, it tends to be animals that have a reputation of being evil: snake, serpent, rat, viper, black widow spider ... or of being stupid and lazy: dodo, sloth.
* Since sociopaths do not value children very much, this comes across in such phrases as "You're nothing" and referring to a child as "it" instead of by their name.
* They also regularly make it clear that children are not important to them. Parental rejection is so widespread and common among sociopathic parents that it is a given (in contrast, narcissistic parents use "silent treatments", which amount to the same thing as rejection except they expect a cycle of make-ups and breakups -- see wheel of abuse).
* Sociopaths are not hurt if a child rejects them back (though they may feign tears to make an impression), whereas narcissists think they are so desirable and incredible that they experience narcissistic injury and they will test their victims to see if they can "get back in" with hoovering (i.e. to count on continuous narcissistic supply)
* Sociopaths tend to break some kind of law eventually where it comes to children. Child neglect and cruel and unusual punishment are the most common. But many also break other laws where it comes to children and adult children: coercion, harassment, false imprisonment and threats. Note: false imprisonment and threats can easily turn to physical abuse because they are already trying to physically restrain. If you are a child or stepchild of a sociopath, it is important to become knowledgeable about what the law can and can't do to help you create good and lasting boundaries with the sociopath. Sociopaths use a heavy hand, so it is the only thing they understand when it comes to your boundaries. Getting police and lawyers involved is often the best way to deal with sociopaths who are harassing you, stalking you or who have used false imprisonment in some way.

Since sociopaths like "easy prey" they tend to move away from people who show an intent to use the law.

Sociopaths primarily use erroneous blaming for their sadistic punishments of children such as:
* "You need to be punished for that look on your face."
* "You need to be punished for that attitude."
* "I will make sure that you never see your mother again."
* "You will never see a dime from me again for your lack of gratitude."
* "Every time I see that smirk on your face, you're going to whipped. So if you don't like being whipped, I suggest you change your attitude."
* "If you're going to cry, I'll keep hitting you until you stop!"
* "If you insist on talking like that, you'll get it."
* "You need to be whipped, then you're going to walk on glass, then you are going to kneel on popcorn kernels for at least an hour, all without crying or saying a word, or we will start the process all over again until you learn to be quiet when I tell you to be quiet."
(note: the above are all about the adult interpreting the feelings and thoughts of the child in a negative way, and punishing the child for those interpretations ... Children in these situations learn to feel ashamed of feelings, facial expressions and thoughts, even if they are perfectly innocent ... more on why this is so damaging to children in another post).
Here are a few other kinds of phrasing:
* "No one likes you or loves you, so you will go straight to your room for several months after you come home from school until I can tell you that you can come out." -- isolation is a very ineffective disciplinary tool, and can do a lot of damage, but sociopathic parents are known to love and use the isolation tactic to its extreme
* "You deserve to drown if you play near the water."
* "I brought you into the world, and I can take you out." -- very common
* "If it wasn't for me, you would have nothing at all, so be grateful for the little you have or you'll get smacked."
* If your kitten misses the cat box again, I'm going to wrangle its little neck! And you're going to watch me while I do it ... or you're going to figure out how you will train that damned kitten to do what it is told!"
* "If you are going to disagree with me, then we're done."

Some other signs of sociopaths:
* when others talk about love or compassion, sociopaths tend to shift around and look uncomfortable (with a nose in the air is another sign)
* they are generally not comfortable hugging anyone (unless the person in question is a conquest of some sort)
* they become animated and alive when insulting people, acting superior, goading, threatening, insulting, and punishing, but otherwise they appear emotionally flat and bored
* if you talk to a sociopath about a person needing empathy, leniency or "a break", the sociopath is likely to argue points about why they do not deserve empathy; they will tend to say things like "he deserved it" or "in fact, it wasn't harsh enough." If you suspect someone is a sociopath, talk about empathy A LOT, and take notes on the answers you receive from them.

What sociopaths have in common with narcissists:
lying and gaslighting: it is even more severe in sociopaths than narcissists. In fact, there is so much altering of events and attempts to make it seem that everyone but them is stupid or crazy. They strong-arm people closest to them to recite altered versions of events and people. They will attack people who have proof of the opposite of what they claim. When you are a child of a sociopath, you learn to pretend to go along, walk on eggshells and lie back to the sociopath to keep safe, that the sociopath literally lives in a world of lies and made-up experiences (fantasies).
erroneous punishments
triangulation -- another word for divide and conquer
verbal abuse -- they are masters of insults and name-calling, often using humor if it is in front of others
taunting and goading
arrogance 
enlisting bullies to gang up on someone
using trauma bonding 
word salad arguments
blame-shifting (and pretending to be a victim)
hypocritical

One big difference between narcissists and sociopaths, is that narcissists can be generous towards their children (usually for show, to compete with the Jones's, to display their wealth, to have a reputation of being a great parent or a generous parent -- all to fit in with "normal parents"), whereas sociopaths feel no need for societal approval or the approval of other parents beyond the most rudimentary "get by" kinds of actions; they abandon children and the care of children (including child support payments) at a dizzying rate, have no trouble telling people they think their children are bad, even though it raises suspicion ... after all, they reason if they are caught at being unethical, they will just fib their way through it. They are anti-social for a reason. Financial abuse is a "given" when it comes to sociopaths. Sociopaths also expect their children to give them much more than they give to their children (in other words, if the child receives a gift from a sociopathic parent, the re-payment of that gift has to be of greater value -- not less value, not of equal value, yes, "greater value", which is why many children eventually reject gifts from this kind of parent: there are too many strings attached).

Narcissists (as opposed to sociopaths) can be social butterflies, especially the extroverted variety. It is one reason why sociopaths are attracted to narcissists, because the narcissist can lead the way in social graces and the sociopath can hide his unfeeling self behind the narcissist. Even the introverted narcissists want societal approval regardless of how they get it. Sociopaths do not have that agenda unless they see direct and immediate benefit to them, but through the narcissist, they begin to see opportunities for their own agendas through being fake and polite. Even the charming sociopaths tend to show some semblance of social awkwardness and it is hard not to miss their total lack of ability to feel love, affection and admiration for others (they come across as cold, arrogant and stilted no matter how much time and energy they put into "acting skills"). Exuding warmth in a believable way is just not possible. Their speech tends to be "intellectualized", dry, stilted and unemotional. People who are sensitive to the moods and feelings of others pick up right away on the insincerity of the sociopath (it is like a "mafia kiss").

However, empaths can still tend to "give the benefit of the doubt" and project their own character onto a sociopath (seeing goodness in everyone until they get hurt, very hurt, that is). This kind of projecting can over-ride their initial intuitions about people (unfortunately), so sociopaths can seem to slip through the empath's and society's radar. When empaths are told "he is a sociopath" they don't generally go into shock or do a double-take however; instead they quickly validate their impressions: "I always sensed there was something not quite right about him, but my politeness took over ..."

Children of narcissists tend to be more vulnerable to hoovering than children of sociopaths. Children of sociopaths do not wring their hands about what they could have done or said to make their relationship with the sociopath better, or get the sociopath to love them again. Their feelings overwhelmingly run along the line of: "I wish I had a different parent. I wish I had a loving parent like --" They are much more aware they got a raw deal in the parent department than children of narcissists. Because narcissists have been known to hoover children back with big apologies, love bombing, believable tears, and big gifts, it is a little harder to resist it, at least the first time around. Child abuse survivors of narcissists can be much more plagued with fear, guilt or shame than children of sociopathic parents. Sociopaths often find that second chances never work with their children; their disorder is too hard to mask, and for the child to overcome.  

Narcissists who have some sociopathic traits are referred to as malignant narcissists.

Sam Vaknin is a self-proclaimed malignant narcissist, and he is worth watching, if only to hear how he phrases things (matter-of-fact, without much emotion, smiling with the mouth but not the eyes -- all traits). His take on the malignant narcissist's mind may also be worth hearing as he goes into depth about how malignant narcissists think, their inability to feel the range of emotions that most people feel, the "missing empathy" part of their brains, the realizations that they aren't like others, and why they are predatory and arrogant. He is the only malignant narcissist I know about who stopped projecting onto others, and instead wanted to self reflect (possibly from getting tired of being sent to jail). He realized he was different from others. He became passionate about helping people avoid the narcissist's idealize-discard traps. In other words, he allowed himself to be exposed (something narcissists hate doing, and will usually avoid at all costs). Survivors of abuse often rail against him, but he states that his main purpose in life is to try to get survivors to understand the disorder from someone who "suffers" with the disorder:



He seemingly tries to understand the perspectives of survivors even when it is difficult for him (tends to be an intellectualized understanding than an emotional one). He is accompanied by his wife, an empath, who he says helps to regulate his "narcissistic supply needs" so that he can get his message across and not hurt any more people. Note: his exposure, self reflection, shame, self loathing and willingness to learn what others go through is extremely rare to witness; the overwhelming number of malignant narcissists will do anything and everything to avoid it and cover it up with arrogance, lies, displays of grandeur and pretending to be a victim. However (warning, warning!), do not expect any of the narcissists or sociopaths you know to realize anything, not even a smidgen of what Sam Vaknin realized. Sociopaths and narcissists are the most rigid unchangeable people on the planet. They have not even a tiny sense of what it is like to be enlightened. The need for narcissistic supply is so overwhelming for the narcissist, that his life is totally engulfed by it, like a heroin addict going after fix upon fix. The "punishments" that the narcissist and sociopath inflict, keep both of them stuck in a six year old mentality.

However, realize this: sociopaths tend to be attracted to the garden variety of narcissists, not the malignant narcissists. The garden variety's main concern and objective in life is to obtain as much narcissistic supply as can be mustered to keep up with the Jones's. Sociopaths do not tend to be attracted to other sociopaths or malignant narcissists because they intuitively know that the fight for dominance will either put one of them in the hospital (or both), or that it will be an on-going battle (because they both know neither one can stand to lose). This is just one reason sociopaths tend to choose people they deem to be weaker than themselves. While the garden variety of narcissist is not as easy prey as the empath, the narcissist makes it known they need a bullying partner which the sociopath will gladly fill to get his own sadism needs met. The sociopath has an overwhelming desire to punish and control people; whereas the narcissist wants to be worshiped and envied by others first and foremost, and then only punish and control when they deem themselves to not be receiving it. The sociopath fulfills his dream by becoming the punisher of people not handing control, power and flattery over to the narcissist, all the while building conspiracy theories about those other people in the narcissist's head. The narcissist is sucked in by the sociopath's acting job of devotion, worship and "stability". On the other hand, sociopaths also see the narcissist's need for narcissistic supply as a "weakness to exploit".

Therapy does not work with sociopaths because they lie, dodge, and make up so many stories and altered versions that a therapist would practically have to be a ghost buster to break through all of the figments of their imagination (note: this theory comes from Sam Vaknin).

Sociopaths and malignant narcissists do get into positions of power. They do to nations what they do to their families: divide people, start wars, scapegoat someone (whether other political parties or races or groups of people), isolate and favoritize, insult and torture people who do not go along with their world view, go back on their word, believe in authoritarianism (i.e. that they should rule without interference or objection), insult and marginalize people who have proof, object, have a different opinion, etc, tell people to "shut up", are incapable of "fair negotiations", will only negotiate if it does something for them (i.e. give them ever more power and money), think Machiavellian thoughts or have temper tantrums when they aren't getting their way, cut people out who aren't doing exactly what they want (i.e. who aren't total sycophants), aggrandize themselves, use wars and conflicts to elevate themselves, love to focus on how certain people or groups that they deem to be worthless or enemies are stupid or crazy (gaslighting), do not believe in karma, believe in law and order for other people (but not when it comes to themselves), and usually invest in weapons (an arms race) at the detriment of everything else. They usually lose wars and fall from grace in the end.

Child molesters, sexual abusers, pimps and rapists tend to be malignant narcissists and sociopaths. Note: not all malignant narcissists and sociopaths are sexual predators, but all sexual predators are malignant narcissists and sociopaths.  Since malignant narcissists and sociopaths are completely unable to form healthy bonds, the bonds they form tend to be exploitative, and this is just another form of exploitation.

Why the narcissist-sociopath "bully team" should be abandoned:

If you have read about what sociopaths do, and how they treat others, it should be obvious.

Narcissists need flying monkeys to help them with any kind of "devastating bullying", and the flying monkeys that work best are others who like to bully.

Since empaths are out to help people and to be kind, co-bullies can't be found among that population (these people account for 20 - 30 percent of the population).

People who want normalcy and routine in their lives, who are empathetic to their children and with their spouse, and put their nose to the grindstone when away from the home to feed and provide for the family aren't going to be good recruits for narcissists either (these people account for roughly half of the population). They are shocked and horrified by child abuse, since they are all about family and doing their absolute best for their family members. These people are the ones that narcissists want to appear "normal to" and to fit in with, to be in social circles with, but that is about it. Most narcissists already know not to ask these people for bullying assistance (i.e. to help them denigrate, gaslight, punish, isolate, guilt-trip, slander and devalue their own children).

In fact, narcissists are so aware that they will be frowned upon by these kinds of people, they are not going to say truths like, "We weren't getting worshiped or flattered enough by our children, so we decided to insult them and get rid of them." They are going to be making excuses like: "Our children want their own lives, and they do what most children do: they have their jobs and their families. I just wish they'd call more." This is the great cover-up for abuse, and it is one reason why abusers are so hard to detect in the population.

However, with the sociopath, narcissists don't need to make excuses or explain anything away. The sociopath will not only approve of the former "reason", but will help implement situations that support the thinking. And they could care less if the narcissist lies, covers things up, gaslights, re-explains with word salad, dodges and gives half-answers.

These excuses, by the way, do not fly if the narc is partnered with an empath or a normal: if anything they would be exposed and reprimanded by the partner, for lying and making lame excuses, and being short-sighted about the value of their own children.

So the people left who are going to consider helping with the bullying are the ones with personality disorders, the ones who are already in the practice of bullying and devaluing people in the first place: other narcissists and sociopaths. Sometimes borderlines are chosen too, but there are short-comings for enlisting borderlines (I will talk about the narcissist-borderline "bully team" in another post, but basically it comes down to the fact that borderlines have a conscience, can be overwhelmed with regret, and tend to be inconsistent and highly emotional).

Anyway, the sociopath-narcissist combo is going to be about their "King and Queen fantasy" where the sociopath demands that children bow and fawn at the alter of abusive authority. The sociopath pretends to be an enabler of the narcissist's flattery addiction, and punishes children who don't deliver in the most obsequious way. The sociopath is the judge of how "perfect" the submission is (which it never is: it is an on-going "trial", with many sadistic punishments). Since sociopaths are anti-social (don't like people, children or animals), they most often denigrate and devalue everyone in their social circle at some time anyway, even if just in private. They also secretly enjoy the narcissist's paranoia, because they can swoop in with a "protector role", a role which they love because it puts them in charge of who can and cannot be in the narcissist's life. The smarter, more educated sociopaths denigrate with an impressive vocabulary, often with humor and a knowledge of obscure "facts"; they are intellectual bullies. But bullying is bullying no matter how it is delivered. A vocabulary with clever put-downs and strategies doesn't excuse them.

If you are a child of this combo, you are probably already living on the outside of it with little to no contact with your parents. One narcissist, even if surrounded by no one but empaths and normals can already do a lot of damage (triangulation). When they have made a bully-pact with a sociopath, the damage to the entire family is collateral. Your voice on any subject is NOT going to be heard, let alone considered. They are going to be spending their time with you trying to superimpose what they want you to believe about your own experiences (gaslighting -- except with a sociopath in the mix, this is extreme full time gaslighting x 2). It is more effective to talk to a brick wall because a brick wall is more real than anything they have to say; you also can't get PTSD from a wall.

Domestic Violence counselors generally counsel children to go no contact and sometimes even move away when this Dark Triad power couple is in their lives. But if a child insists he or she wants a relationship with one of the parents, or is worried about the parent being isolated with a sociopath, the only way to do it is to get the police involved in breaking up the co-bullying. The police can contact the parent the child does not want to speak to or have a relationship with (and an arrest can be made based on harassment if the warned parent continues to contact, threaten or bully).

Most often the parent the child wanted to retain a relationship with will insist that the child accept the other bully, and to endure more bullying, or be banished (typical). I'm sure that most of you who have these kinds of parents ran into the accept-us-both-or-be-gone-with-you dynamic. One reason this happens is because the narcissist usually is so convinced that they are being "protected" by the sociopath from an unflattering fall-out.

The important thing to keep in mind when they tell you that you have to accept them as a pair (as most likely they will): your parents are telling you that bullying you is the only acceptable relationship they will have with you.

That should help you move away from them, in mind, body and spirit. You will be living your own life, on your own terms, with your own strengths and weaknesses, and without worrying if you did the right thing or acted the right way (because you know there is no winning this -- it is scapegoating on steroids).

Since relationships with children, innocents, the sickly, the poor, pets and animals don't mean anything to sociopaths, they won't care. They may cry crocodile tears to impress the narcissist, or with the flock of people the narcissist is trying to impress, but if they really cared, they wouldn't be into punishing: they would be into ironing things out, value the perspectives of others, and pushing for a make-up. They would insist that the narcissist care about his or her children. They would also insist that cruelty and retaliation against children is not going to work or be socially acceptable. But if anything, sociopaths want to escalate these things, even beyond the narcissist's endurance. It is one way you tell that they are sociopaths. All sociopaths LOVE to punish.

One of the reasons sociopaths break laws is because they love it so much, including work-arounds and attacks-by-proxy, is that they are completely incapable of seeing beyond the punishment as a strategy to resolve conflicts (this should let you know that sociopaths who are book smart are not smart about interpersonal relationships in the slightest: again, they are called anti-socials for a reason).

For narcissists, the relationship with their children is meaningful in terms of how they are perceived and their social standing -- in other words, the relationship with the child only has extrinsic value, not intrinsic value to them, but unlike the sociopath, children still have some value even if it isn't the right kind. When children get the very distinct message that they don't matter (which they will not with a Dark Triad power couple), they can move on without regrets or "wondering what they could have done to make it better." This is because the bullying is so rampant, so illogical and irrational, so over-the-top in terms of cruelty, so escalation-driven, and so obvious. The sociopath-narcissist bully team's actions are NOT peppered with a single about-face or regret.

There is a lot of parent-child estrangement (that tends to extend to grandchildren, in-laws and into other generations) with Dark Triad parents.


The Six Hallmarks of a Sociopath -- by Jonice Webb PhD for Psych Central

How to Spot a Sociopath -- from Wiki (recommended reading)



Children with 'negative' parents twice as likely to misbehave -- by Graeme Paton

A good example of what a low functioning sociopath is like as a parent-figure: 
My mother is a sociopath (MD Junction forum -- the replies may be worth reading too)

Personality Disorders And Parental Alienation -- from the parent-alienate website

Partners in Evil: The Psychopath and Malignant Narcissist Combo -- from Claudia Moscovici

Growing up the child of a Dark Tetrad or Dark Triad Power Couple --
from the Narcissists, Sociopaths, Flying Monkeys -- Oh My! blog

Search: are narcissists attracted to sociopaths? -- from The Path Whisperer, An Exploration Into Sociopathy

When Two Psychopaths Meet -- from the Signs of a Psychopath website

Sexual abuse of children and adults common for Dark Triad or Narcopath personality types -- from the Narcissists, Sociopaths, Flying Monkeys -- Oh My! blog 

Pathological Lying: A Psychopathic Manipulation Tool -- from the Psychopath Free website

In Love With a Sociopath? -- Silva Hayes for Hubpages

Here Are 5 Undeniable Signs That You Are Arguing With A Sociopath -- from Health, Spirit, Body website

Narcissists and Sociopaths groom victims to enable abuse -- from Health Blog

Confessions of a Sociopath -- by M.E. Thomas, a Psychology Today post by a lawyer, and high functioning sociopath

The Mind of a Child Molester -- by Amy Hammel-Zabin for Psychology Today

Sociopathocracy: What Information Theory Teaches Us About Tyrants -- by Jeremy E. Sherman, Ph.D.