Monday, November 30, 2015

abusive families who triangulate (love triangles) -- narcissists, children, lovers, et al

name of cartoon: "The Bully Won the Love Triangle!"
image is © Lise Winne
cartoon, 2015
(for questions regarding use of images or to contract an image for your next article
contact: LilacGroveGraphics (att) yahoo.com)

Abusive families are full of triangulation and love triangles. Usually an authority figure of the family leads the way in triangulating everyone in the family (if they can!).

For those new to domestic abuse issues, domestic abuse is primarily perpetrated by those with Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Additionally, active alcoholism can mimic Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If you need to know more please see my post about what domestic abuse is, and who perpetrates abuse HERE.

As a mandated reporter for the State of New York, triangulation can count as abuse if the triangulation is being used to purposely hurt another person. For instance:

1. person A doesn't want to be responsible for hurting person B, so she sends person C to do the bullying or to be a conduit between A and B
2. person A has a relationship with person B where a lot of interpersonal issues need discussing. Instead of A sticking with a discussion, she has an affair with person C, and rubs person B's nose in it, perhaps also threatening divorce
3. child A is having an issue with the mother. Instead of dealing with the issues and trying to work them out with child A, she instead runs to child B, telling child A that she loves child B so much more than she loves child A. Also in these cases, child A tends to be abandoned; while the mother spends most of her time with child B. This is called "child neglect". Alternatively, children can be triangulated with lies and false stories about each other, so that it keeps the children fighting for the parent's love.

There are more instances, but hopefully you get the idea. If you see any signs of this kind of triangulation where there are children involved, please call Child Protective Services.

Triangulation is big in households with narcissists and sociopaths at the helm.

According to this article in Your Tango by Brenda Della Casa, narcissists use triangulation as much as they possibly can:

They're big on threesomes.

No, not those kinds. Narcissists love to set up "triangles" where their partners feel "at odds" with someone else, and jealousy and fighting for love and attention can ensue (ah, the supply!).

This could be with an ex, a mother, or a friend, but the point is to make sure they're at the center of attention and desire. This is known as triangulation and it's meant to make you feel insecure, undesirable, and keep you anxious and "on your toes."


If you grew up in a household with a narcissistic parent, it is impossible to miss. They love pitting their own children against one another. If the narcissist is not "traditional" in his or her belief systems, they pit their spouse against a lover too. As the family grows and children become adults, the narcissist will continue to try to make love triangles with inlaws: son-in-law against his wife, grandaughter against her own mother, cousin against cousin, and so on ... Everyone in the family is sacrificed for triangulation, which helps the narcissist get his or her "narcissistic supply", i.e. being the center of attention, being the head of command headquarters, making sure everyone knows there will be winners and losers. Lies, slander, money, rewards and punishments can all be added to the triangulation: they see it as the best way to keep people apart and complying, serving narcissistic needs and desires.

While the narcissist's children grew up with triangulation rules and roles and unconsciously think of it as normal, when they grow up they often find that people they marry (inlaws) won't have any part of it. In fact, most families do not practice triangulation.

It has been established that narcissists use triangulation in most of their relationships. In fact, all members of an abusive family use it to some degree or other, even victims. For instance, I'll demonstrate a few situations of triangulation:

* Mom is abusing her child. She tells her husband why the child is bad to get the husband's support. Child cannot talk to the mother about the abuse without getting more abuse (which is typical for narcissistic personality disordered abusers: they want their children to accept the abuse without questions, comments, complaining, evaluating etc, or to feel anything about being abused -- unless the mother wants the child to feel certain feelings, in which case she will try to manipulate these feelings out of the child by not letting up on the abuse until she has seen the feeling she desires). Anyway, the child goes to the father to get the father to intervene. Now the father is being asked by his wife for support, to present a united front against the child. Then the father is also being asked by his child for support and intervention against the abuse of his wife. Triangulation at its most nightmarish!


What often ends up happening:

name of cartoon: "Triangulation Nightmare"
image is © Lise Winne
cartoon, 2015

So let us just say that this mother divorced her husband, and got married to someone else. Here is where triangulation becomes a huge family affair:

* Mom is abusing her daughter. In this situation, she is divorced from her daughter's natural father, an empath. The daughter's new stepfather is a malignant narcissist.
   The mother delegates most of the abuse, punishments and discipline of her daughter to the new husband, the stepfather. The stepfather, however, is a nightmarish abuser: he is rarely not abusive. He insults, chides, isolates, threatens, gives constant ultimatums, rejects, makes her a laughing stock in family situations by trying to humiliate her, he degrades her views and beliefs, he lies about her intentions (blackens them), calls her unflattering names, makes her out to be a devil, displays not a single sign of empathy or remorse for how he treats her, feels the daughter is continuously deserving of on-going, severe punishments. He is also nefarious in his motives: he doesn't want the stepdaughter in his life anyway. By making life so miserable for his stepdaughter, it will ensure that the daughter will leave (hopefully for good! ... at least for him). By getting his stepdaughter out the picture in this way, he can get more control over his wife and have her all to himself. This is the goal of all bullies and narcissists, after all: to control everyone like pieces on a chessboard. While many maternal narcissistic abusers are fine with delegating the bullying and abuse of her children to a stepfather out of lazy dis-concern, she also knows that he has has no significant bonding or caretaking experience with her child. So she back-seat drives the abuse and reprimands him when he isn't doing exactly as she wants.
   In this situation, the stepfather argues that his abuse is not too harsh, that it is totally deserved.
   So, the daughter goes to live with the natural father to get away from the abuse. The stepfather assures his wife that the daughter will come back to the mother some day. When will the daughter come back? "After she has learned her lesson," the stepfather curtly replies.
   The mother is angry and jealous that her daughter chose to live with the natural father and is initially rejecting towards the daughter. But the daughter is thriving in the situation with the natural father. The daughter shows no signs of returning.
   The mother tries a number of ways to lure her daughter back, without success. The daughter tells her mother that it is because of the abuse of the stepfather that she will never return. So the mother, who thought that having a bully who would defend her in every situation, sees that it can be a liability. She tells her husband to be a little nicer to her child. The child isn't all bad (just a little crazy -- being crazy is not something the child can help after all, and that is primarily why the child is "bad"). So she tries to get the stepfather to feel a little more empathetic, that insanity deserves discipline, but not harsh discipline. What she wants is for her husband to still support her unquestioningly, to feel sorry for her, to do her battles for her.
   But the problem is, the stepfather cannot genuinely show concern for the child, so even though the stepfather makes an effort, it is minimal, not sincere, and the child doesn't believe it anyway.
  In the meantime, he tells his wife that the child is not insane, but is truly a bad child. He reminds his wife that she has conveyed the message that her child is "all bad"and "a bad child does not need to be around us, causing us trouble."
  The mother notices that her new husband is also starting to verbally abuse her remaining child and that this child, too, is exhibiting signs of retreat from her.
  What is the end result of all of this triangulation?
   Often more triangulation!
   For instance:
   The mother confides in the daughter (secretly) that her new husband is sometimes too harsh in his discipline. If push comes to shove, the mother might voice her disapproval of her husband. She might excuse him: he is just learning to be a good father, for instance. She might focus on the fact that he can sometimes have terrible manners, that he is more opinionated than she would like on certain subjects, but is a good man underneath it all. The mother puts tremendous pressure on her daughter to accept her new husband and to forgive and forget the abuse. She hopes to achieve this by telling her daughter how her husband grew up, how he was taught lessons, how hard he had it, how difficult his life has been, how much he truly and lovingly cares about his stepchildren, blah, blah, blah. I call it "the empathy swindle." The basic message is: "Understand and excuse the abuse unquestioningly, and show some concern because he's suffered so much."
   The daughter is in a triangle too, because she gets out of dealing with her abusive stepfather by going to her natural father and talking to her natural father about the abuse. It is a natural response to run away from abuse and to talk to others if you are not allowed to talk about it with the people who are instigating the abuse, but the end result is another triangle.
   The mother and stepfather get out of having to deal with the abuse because the daughter finds refuge with her natural father.
   The excuse given to other family members (aunts, uncles, cousins) for why the daughter is living with the natural father: "She was causing a lot of trouble, causing drama and being bad, and not following house rules and procedures, so we thought it best that she live with her father instead. She will have to deal with the consequences of a father who does not love her as much as we do." -- a lie of course, but a lot of narcissists use gaslighting in conjunction with triangulating.
   The mother's other child (a boy), hears that his sibling is crazy. He hears that his sibling had to go live with the father for the same reason as the other relatives do. So the son becomes prejudiced against his sibling by the parents. He might get the feeling that he is "the sane one" while his sibling is "the crazy one". He gets an "attitude" about it in the sense of "I'm better because I'm sane" and "I get to make the decisions because she is crazy." If his sibling doesn't follow his orders, he goes to his parent to solve all of the problems of sibling rivalry and discord. This is a narcissist's dream-come-true because then the narcissist can manipulate both children into hating each other enough so that they never join forces against the parent. More triangulation!
   Some day this boy grows up to be a man, and uses his wife to triangulate with all of his children, his parents and his siblings. More triangulation and abuse!
   In fact, everyone in an abusive household somehow ends up in one of these super sick toxic love triangles, often punishing or retreating from each other and switching sides when things don't go their way (although sometimes ultra-rejected scapegoats escape the whole messy dynamic altogether).
   If some issue is festering in the family, since no one can talk directly to one another, and since complaints are not allowed (except in confidence to the head narcissist), all members learn that the only way for an issue to be noticed at all is to run away to better love; i.e. to run away to another person or relationship.
   The mother narcissist usually starts the whole house of cards by having a love triangle going between two of her children, between a husband and lover, between her husband and child, and sometimes between her two parents. Narcissists have been known to collect as many love triangles as they can, to have many love affairs and to use men to compete for her, to alternate wildly between abandonment and enmeshment. She is known for favoritism and scapegoating of her children. She is also known to triangulate between her two parents (starting in childhood, often to get protection from abuse). All of it is used to side-step dire relationship issues.
   All of the triangulation gets unwieldy, however, as more members marry in, and as children are born. It is hard for a narcissist to control and gaslight so many people. There are also a lot of family members who have been scapegoated and rejected, making it even harder to control people through the usual channels of lying and triangulation.  

A victim triangulates to find refuge (retreat) from abuse. If Mom is abusing, Dad can become the conduit between mother and daughter, and can also go between being a perpetrator to support the mother, and a victim to support the daughter.

To make the dynamic more confusing, the mother can chastise the father for being too harsh in his punishment, so then Mom becomes the new rescuer and Dad is both reprimanded by his wife for being too much of a perpetrator while at the same time groomed to be a perpetrator. Again for a better understanding of the complexities of triangulation, go to my first post about triangulation.

A perpetrator triangulates to control others. It is a form of aggression. While victims use triangulation for protection and retreat, abusers try to manipulate the situation by triangulating with the person offering the protection. If abusers cannot manipulate, they will usually crash through the boundaries of both the victim and victim's protector.

Some victims can carry some of the traits of perpetrators, particularly unsolicited advice and lectures, the hallmarks of abusive families. Some of the other hallmarks include:
* triangulating to be noticed, to be heard, to obtain help and justice
* talking over others
* a lot of debating
* can be guilty of not listening to other viewpoints as much as the perpetrators
* can have a rigid view and stance on familial matters -- can be similar to perpetrators black and white thinking if they are not self-aware
* criticizing their tormentors just as much as their tormentors criticize them
* comparing others

These are the areas where victims can act like the rest of their family, though many of them seem to grow out of it once they are in therapy with a domestic abuse counselor and away from their families.

Sometimes members of a family can become both victims and perpetrators, though usually they are in one role or another (for life). While some victims of abuse go ballistic (like the perpetrators of school shootings), overwhelmingly the violence is pointed inward (suicide, self mutilation, self sabotage). Victims can break out of the victim role through interventions, setting up good boundaries and leaving their toxic families.

THREE KINDS OF NARCISSISTS WHO TRIANGULATE

There seem to be two distinct kinds of narcissists who triangulate (with the third kind of narcissist, the malignant narcissist, having qualities of the two others). One narcissist I'll term as a scapegoating narcissist, and another I'll term as a fake-benevolent narcissist. There are differences in how the abuse and destruction are carried out, differences in preferences in terms of getting others to do their dirty work, and the types of resistance victims have to the manipulations of their predators. Basically, scapegoating narcissists are the cold rejecting kinds of narcissists who use other bullies to help them carry out their dirty deeds, whereas the fake-benevolent narcissists are the popular pillars who use empaths to carry out their dirty deeds.

THE SCAPEGOATING NARCISSIST

These narcissists often practice passive-aggressive forms of threats with other family members (using rewards and punishments to get them to comply with triangulation). They become offensive and demeaning to those members who are not going along with the agenda of control, triangulation, gaslighting and abuse. They are always comparing others: "So and so member is willing to do --- and you aren't." "If you acted more like --- then you would be more appreciated." "Do you see how that daughter treats her mother? I wish I had a daughter like that!" "We prefer the company of your brother because he's funny and you aren't. He can entertain and you can't. You're always a downer." "If you can't act more like your sister, you know where the door is!" "I love him more than I love you right now. He doesn't complain the way you do. You have no right to complain! After all we have done for you! So ungrateful!!"

These narcissists abandon one relationship for another in search of the ultimate love sycophant. Their abandonments usually come with large doses of cruelty and betrayal too (and often when a victim is going through a success, a tragedy or a special time or event, so it is extremely shocking -- see my post on the timing of abuse). Because of the cruelty that perpetrators use when abandoning, the abandon-er can also become abandoned.

A lot of perpetrators started out as child victims first. They learned to triangulate to protect themselves from abuse. The difference is that they eventually decided to mimic their abusers. This can be a way to protect yourself from abuse too: by raising your hand in the classroom of life and signing up for the job of being the abuser's right hand bully-man, to be willing to help them slay the complainers, the rebels, the scapegoats, the freaks of nature and empaths in the family. We all make choices, and they decided to be a perpetrator of abuse.

Deciding on being a perpetrator makes them weak-willed, so they decide to compensate for it by acting haughty and important (after all they are the parent's little helper). They learn from the parent to deride empathy and to humiliate empaths.

Many of these perpetrators keep triangulating until their dying days. But they definitely begin to falter in terms of it being an effective tool for them the older they get. Here is how it sometimes happens:

I have briefly mentioned in other posts that most tyrannical leaders lose wars because they cannot understand normal human responses. Narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths have been known not to think of long term consequences, only of short-term gain. They are certainly capable of scheming elaborate ways to hurt others, how they are going to get away with it, or to escape prison and other consequences of their behavior, but they often don't think beyond that.  

Narcissists believe that if they set up a love triangle (a competition) it will mean that the competitors will continue to battle it out with one another indefinitely all to obtain privileged status in the narcissist's world. However, they don't realize how most people actually behave in love triangles.

If one of the "competitors" is showing signs that he is not going to play "the triangle game", the scapegoating narcissist tends to react by abusing the person who is unwilling to play. Like: "You know what the privileges are and you know what the consequences are. If you will not fight for me, then I'll humiliate you, hurt you and destroy you to make you comply with my game."

Any normal person reading this post is going to know how they would react to that ultimatum! But, believe it or not, many narcissists really don't have a clue of normal human reaction at all. So, most narcissists keep trying this game over and over again with different players believing that the results will be different next time around. Why? Because their egos keep telling them that they are better than others and therefore, people will fight over them no matter how abusive they are. Don't forget: narcissists live in fantasy land. 

Their fantasies equate to thinking of themselves along the lines of slave owners, with "their subjects" being the slaves. The objective? Reward the slave minimally so he will not run away, and beat him if he ever revolts, complains, or tries to run away ... and always threaten and torture him just a little so that he knows the consequences. The problem with this thinking is that a huge majority of us (in this country, at least), are hard wired for justice, diplomacy, team thinking and democracy.

We went to school learning that we could be anything we wanted to be, that we could rise out of our situation with determination and hard work. Additionally, if you were getting bullied in school, the drill was to call school authorities. If there was injustice, seek justice. If you were in pain, seek relief. If you weren't happy with your job, seek another one. Salute the system of democracy: salute the fact that we all have equal weight in terms of deciding, salute the fact that we all have a voice, salute the fact that we have liberty and justice for all. Additionally, our teachers, who we spent more time with than our families, drilled into us that every pupil is equal, that all children have strengths and weaknesses, that each of us are contributors to the classroom and learning experience, and potential contributors to society. School teachers are generally empaths, so we learn that empathy and fairness is a good thing, something to aspire to (and children generally feel some shame when they are being too selfish and it is pointed out by their teacher). Opinions are welcomed and talked about it in the classroom (analytical and critical thinking is worked into each course of study in the public school these days). Slavery is looked at with derision, as throw-back, primitive.

So, almost no one thinks like a slave any more, but many narcissist's fantasy thoughts really can't seem to let go of this fact. In fact, they can't seem to handle the possibility that most people aren't willing to be enslaved at all. So they keep trying to pressure, and threaten, and abuse, and reward, and punish, to push the slave mentality onto as many people as they can. There are unspoken messages such as these: "I'll reward you if you are a 100 percent sycophant", "If you show that you disagree with me even slightly, that you show autonomy or independence, that you show disloyalty in any way, you WILL be punished, and you will be punished severely! Do you understand me?", "You WILL be loyal to me, no matter what I do or how I act, and if you EVER show signs contrary, or complain about it one bit, you WILL be tortured, do you understand what I am saying?"

So, overwhelmingly what ends up happening in love triangles is that the empaths refuse to play, or quickly give up, and the bullies win.

So, rather than the narcissist really understand what happened in their love triangle game, they usually decide they will continue to torture the "losers" of the game and reward the "winners". Narcissists are known to parade around with the winners too, as though the winner of their game deserves a metal or trophy.

But they are no smarter than the rest of us when it comes to being sweet-talked, romanced (mirrored), and empathy-played by another co-bully narcissist, otherwise they'd see that this game is flawed -- for them.

But, no: their head is somewhere else (like on getting high off the "loser's" grief and shock). Flaunting their new love all the while believing that the loser is pining for them and jealous of them is another narcissistic fantasy. Narcissists are very jealousy-oriented in their behaviors, both ruled by intense jealousy (or so I have read and been told by a number of therapists), all the while trying to get rid of this intense jealousy that they feel burdened by with trying to provoke others to feel as much jealousy as they do.

Again: they don't understand normal human reaction. Most of us think more "autonomously" than competitively. If we want to be in competitions (sports, board games, intellectual games like Jeopardy, war strategies, etc), we mostly compete against our own abilities first, and against each other secondarily.

For instance, the way normal minds and behaviors work is that they are usually inspired by competitor's work.

So the way that normal competition works is that person B looks at what person A has made or accomplished. So person B takes some of the ideas of person A and tries to make it better, to expound on the ideas and creativity or refine it.

If person A is of normal mindset (i.e. not the narcissistically jealous type), he will see that person B's ideas and accomplishments are commendable, that it is a more polished version, a better solution.

As person A looks at what person B has accomplished, he is also aware of how the design could be better yet. So person A uses elements of his own design, and also looks at what person B has accomplished, and then comes up with something altogether new. It is a culmination of person A's past try and new try, plus some elements of B's ideas.

This new version is a better solution than the past solutions. It is evolving, and the competition pushes the evolution.

This is still autonomous thinking.

No one is being rewarded or punished, or trained like a dog against their own autonomous desires, directions, decisions or creative solutions. The motivation is still inner-driven rather than outer-driven. Each party uses his own ideas, sometimes inspired by someone else's ideas. The point is that autonomy is retained throughout the process, and throughout the competition.

Very few narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths operate on inspiration when it comes to competition; they operate on jealousy. If someone is perceived to be doing something better, or feeling better, or living better, the personality disordered person will often try to attack the person in some way instead of attacking the problem. The attack may be verbal, intellectual, emotional or physical. It may be covert, behind someone's back, or overt, right at the target.

A physical attack might be like the Tania Harding and Nancy Kerrigan altercation at the 1994 Olympic Figure Skating Trials, for instance (whereby Tanya's then-husband hired someone to break Nancy Kerrigan's leg to keep Kerrigan from competing in the Olympic Games; Tanya was then stripped of her medals, fined and barred from the US team). This sounds like narcissistic triangulation to me, whether Tanya instigated the attack, or whether the husband did.

The point is that narcissists often attack when they aren't getting what they want: they either attack their competitor, or the person who refuses to play their "love triangle" games.

"Normal people" innately understand that "winning" the narcissist's manufactured love triangles means winning a booby prize. The prize entails enslavement to the narcissist's agenda: they will never compromise on a single matter, no sharing the power, no discussing or solving relationship issues and problems, no empathy, walking on eggshells (unable to complain), superficiality, and expecting complete loyalty from you while never giving loyalty in return. Winning the prize is also tenuous and short-lived because in order to get more narcissistic supply, you will be used in more love triangles.

Also, don't forget: these kinds of narcissists usually play the love triangle game as if it were a life and death duel, i.e. as an all or nothing contest where winner takes "all" and loser takes "nothing". In fact, "the loser" often continues to be attacked by the narcissist even after walking away from the game! Why? Because the narcissist demands the game be played (or else); they feel entitled to it! But this demand and expectation only drives "the normal" person away further.

"Normal" people will usually feel disgusted by obvious narcissistic love triangles.

The reason why bullies win love triangle games set up by scapegoating narcissists is that they don't care whether the narcissist has integrity. They do not care if the narcissist is dishonest, hypocritical or will use force for compliance. They do not care if the narcissist is a cheater, a liar, or uses them again in another love triangle. The reason why they don't care is because they operate under the same premise and feel that they can "one up them". They are as likely to be secretive, phony, manipulative, mirroring and love bombing as their fellow narcissist. Most of these kinds of relationships become mutually destructive co-dependencies, with bullies working their own agendas even while pretending to do another narcissist's bidding (narcissistic bidding is when one bully bullies another bully's victim).

They will all eventually try to "out-threaten", "out-abandon", and "out-triangulate" each other (more on the co-bully relationship in another post).

At any rate, love triangles among family mean that the narcissist will not have relationships with the two people he started out with; he will only end up with one.

Narcissistic mothers (especially malignant narcissists) have been known to go through one child after another in this way, hoping against hope that each child will stay in the triangle boxing it out, that there will somehow be a different outcome than estrangement. They can have two children or seven, and often they end up with only one child.

THE FAKE-BENEVOLENT NARCISSIST 

The clever, smarter, more devious narcissists however, triangulate so that no child gets to be the bully; they are all programmed to be bullies to each other, AND also to be empaths to each other (taught to excuse abuse by being empathetic). They are like equal weight fighters in a boxing ring, fighting each other endlessly for scraps of parental approval and parental reward (thus providing endless narcissistic supply).

To add to it, the parent throws all the children off guard by handing out awards that are arbitrary: sometimes there is justice and sometimes there isn't, for instance. Why will a narcissist do this? Because confusing the children often keeps the power in the narcissist's hands; it keeps the children from joining forces against the parent. Everyone gets confused about who said what, why they were treated a certain way, why Child B was set to go to the ice cream parlor with Mom when it seemed like Child A was chosen in the first place, but then Mom chose Child C at the last moment, creating more confusion. This takes all of the focus off of the maneuvers, manipulations and controlling tactics of the narcissist. If the narcissist is confronted by the children for any reason, which is doubtful (since the children have been manipulated to hate each other), the narcissist will feign even more confusion by playing dumb, putting on the indignant tears and rage that her children are ganging up on her, thus keeping all children separate and off guard.

The way this works is that Child A will be told how bad Child B is. Child A will also be told that B said "all of these horrible things about you which I can't believe are slightly true or justified!" (most of it manufactured by the narcissist, of course). "You deserve much, much better treatment than this! I'll talk to him and see if he'll change his mind and treat you better" (and then, of course, never talk to Child B, but lie about transactions anyway, even moods and bad behavior, darkening Child B's reputation with Child A). The narcissist continues to manipulate the situation between siblings with false gossip, pretending to be on Child A's side, with fake sympathy for Child A's plight, at how badly Child B is treating Child A, mirroring all of Child A's fears and concerns.

But then, behind Child A's back, the parent will treat Child B exactly in the same way: manufacture what Child A said about Child B, and so on.

In these kinds of narcissistic families, the children hate each other so much that they can barely speak to one another while the parent goes between them, thereby controlling all of the information, all of the feelings, all of the correspondence, all of the fights, indeed every action between them, and beyond. Adult children will sometimes let their parent continue to control their life because they have been brought up to believe "Parent knows best. Parent is always rooting for me. Parent is composed" without suspecting they are triangulated, and that the parent set it up. But not always, as you will see ...

In this system of narcissistic parenting, each child is underhandedly taught that he is better than his sibling, more reasonable, more lovable, and that the parent is helpless to do anything about the sibling rivalry and animosity, because they are family, even if incredibly unreasonable. If child A starts to weary of playing the love triangle game, then parent rushes in to give them a gift under the table. In fact, they can tell any child just about anything and it will be believed. All of the fake sympathy, commiserating, the fake tries at reconciling the siblings go a long way towards children believing in the parent's lies, and keeping the child under the parent's thumb at all times. This is in contrast to the more impulsive simplistically-minded scapegoating narcissists who assign children to be a family punching bag, where the abuse is so obvious, over-the-top, inexcusable and evil that most scapegoats leave in disgust. When every child is a golden child and a scapegoat all-in-one, it is rarer for children to leave (even though they do when their lives and relationships are becoming so completely sabotaged and unraveled, they feel they have no other choice).

The hatred between siblings can be life-long because children get this training when they are very young. The parent is often painted by the children (and spouse) as this wonderful upstanding seemingly fair-minded benevolent truth-teller, and because the parent seems so above everyone else (i.e. not stooping to the highly charged emotional atmosphere in the family, and the same kinds of animosities her children are displaying), the parent sounds reasonable comparatively, and is allowed to be the authority and sound like the authority in the family. Unlike other kinds of narcissists who primarily triangulate with a scapegoat and a golden child (and where the three people in the triangle know what is going on and what is expected), sometimes it is very hard to catch on to what is happening in this type of triangle. The siblings are too busy throwing barbs at each other! The reputation of the parent can often be kept intact because it is much harder to see the evil behind the mask when all of the children are being rewarded, purposely confused and all of their relationships purposely sabotaged through triangulation.

In this system, the narcissist will use indignant crying spells with rage, more than a flippant discard, for compliance (which actually is more of a Borderline trait -- many narcissists have some traits of other cluster B personality disorders, thus the reason for the Borderline reaction in this case).

"I'll talk to him" is used more than rejection. And, in fact, silent treatments are sometimes saved for when the narcissist has been caught in a lie. And used in this way: "I couldn't talk to you because I was so upset and hurt that you would think this way about me! I've always supported you in every way! I have always put you first above everyone else! You have hurt me so much with this that I don't know if I could ever forgive you! You're so ungrateful!" (this act would not be convincing to an unfavored thrown-away scapegoat, for instance, so it takes deviousness to a whole other level).

The pressure for compliance is done by the other siblings: "Look what you've done to *parent* now! You are so bad to hurt *parent* that way!" The children scapegoat the sibling while the parent watches on the sidelines, keeping his or her hands clean of it by appearing to always be above it all, perfect, composed and caring. The pressure to conform because the parent is so "nice", sweeps all of the parent's lying under the rug ... and it excuses and enables the parent to get away with more lies and triangulation.

These kinds of parents are more like the cult leaders who go around with compassionate voices at all times, who achieve loyalty from their followers by appearing sacrificing, sweet and commiserating (non-selfish, non-punishing), all the while sleeping with as many married women and children in their ministry as they possibly can, with those married women often defending the leader from every attack, even their own husbands' resistance, because the leader acts so "god-like". These leaders don't need to feed their followers koolaide laced with cyanide, because so many defenders are around them at all times, explaining away and justifying everything the great leader does. If someone can't stand the cult, the follower is allowed to leave the love triangle of his own accord (i.e. no one tries to force him to stay in the triangle, at least that is how it is "played", and they are even sweet to him when he leaves, blessing him on his way out). This kind of narcissist knows enough to implement self-control at all times: how to contain narcissistic rage so that the rest of his followers will admire him for taking the higher road, and so that the person abandoning the cult will seem hot-headed and foolish by comparison. In fact, the leader always tries to make sure that the follower looks more immature: that all of the anger, wrangling, jealousy and rebellion are primitive and unattractive. The god-like composure, rationality, unselfishness and sympathizing of the leader is retained by keeping the mask on at all times, through all trials, whereas their other narcissist brethren (the scapegoaters) become so flustered and bothered that they lose their masks and temper, and amp up the terrorizing when they have been found out. By keeping his hands free of scapegoating, and letting others do it, it ensures that the fake-benevolent narcissist leader can always use this old supply again if the supply should decide to come back (to fight for his wife, for instance, thus entering the triangle yet again).

In these kinds of families, all family members are part of trying to get the member who wants to leave back into the fold.

MALIGNANT NARCISSISTS

These narcissists have qualities of both kinds of narcissists, as well as characteristics of Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Antisocial Personality Disorder is also referred to as a Sociopath.

SIMILARITIES AND DIFFERENCES BETWEEN SCAPEGOATING NARCISSISTS AND FAKE-BENEVOLENT NARCISSISTS

Neither kind of narcissist can take criticism. The scapegoating narcissist is overtly rageful whereas the fake-benevolent narcissist is covertly rageful (i.e. more political and secretive). The former prides himself on making an instant devastating impact, whereas the latter prides himself at keeping his cool and appearing loving, perfect and composed at all times, even though he is constantly striking with an underhanded agenda.

The use of triangulation for scapegoating narcissists is limited; it is part of an arsenal of other abuses and weapons. For fake-benevolent narcissists it is the primary weapon of choice, followed by gaslighting.

Sibling abuse can still run rampant with both kinds of narcissists. The scapegoating narcissist grooms one child to be a bully, to overpower and terrorize an empathetic scapegoat sibling who is being disabled in some manner by the narcissist whether materially, socially or through gaslighting, whereas the fake-benevolent parent takes a more hands-off approach except to manipulate each child to keep the match going, ensuring that everyone will put the narcissistic parent first, and continue to fight over them (endless narcissistic supply).

Advice, lectures and lessons which are infantisizing (i.e. not "normal": as if they are talking to a young unruly child) are used by both kinds of narcissists. When scapegoating narcissists teach lessons, even to adult children, there is always reward, threats and punishment tied to the lessons. When fake-benevolent narcissists teach lessons, rewards are arbitrary and confusing, so that each child will be devoted to continue fighting it out with their siblings for parental approval.

Both families are enmeshed. In scapegoating families, however, there are usually quite a few members living outside of the core enmeshment. For scapegoating families, the core of the family is usually occupied by bullies, while at the core of the fake-benevolent narcissist's family are brainwashed do-gooders who worship the narcissist and will do just about anything for them. In scapegoating families, if you refuse to be enmeshed, you are thrown out, rejected and punished for it (which is an odd way to respond because it is the direct opposite of enmeshment). Children in these families are seen as expendable whereas in the fake-benevolent narcissist's family no children are expendable; they are all needed for narcissistic supply, so they tend to be super-enmeshed, loyal large families who always welcome births and expect everyone to leave their doors open. The fake-benevolent narcissist knows everyone else's business at all times, and is in everyone else's business, and if denied information, will try to attain it in some way. They are ultra-meddling (perhaps resembling a bigger Everybody Loves Raymond kind of family more than the scapegoating families who have a lot of irrationally hated, disposed Jane Eyres living on the sidelines).

Scapegoating narcissistic mothers see children as troublesome, and dragging their goals down, as if they can't attain their selfish desires with kids in the picture (unless those children can offer status), whereas fake-benevolent narcissists view children as essential to getting their selfish desires fulfilled as the all-powerful head of the family.

Both kinds of narcissists aspire to be constantly flattered, highly admired, highly sought after, the go-to person for advice and sympathy, but the difference is that the scapegoating narcissist punishes by being rejecting and cold towards a child who does not act in this way. The fake-benevolent narcissist has such a large brainwashed entourage who worships what ever that narcissist does that the narcissist doesn't have to do anything: the minions take care of the "failure to worship problem" as a "disgrace to the entire family".  

The point of triangulation for fake-benevolent narcissists is to build an ever larger entourage to exploit for more and more narcissistic supply, power and control. The point of triangulation for scapegoating narcissists is to put their victims through mobbing (gang bullying), and then discard them.

The fake-benevolent narcissists will always try to put on an act of empathy, even when they are failing to convince, even after they've been caught at being un-empathetic too many times for it to be believable. The scapegoating narcissists, however, will revel in their victim's shock and pain when their acting job (of temporary empathy), is revealed: it is funny and fun for them to see the lowly empath feel so hurt by the betrayal, to get so pummeled emotionally!

Both kinds of narcissists enjoy watching how their destruction impacts their childrens' lives. They both enjoy watching how what they do empowers them, and disempowers their children. The big difference is that scapegoating narcissists openly revel in it after they have been caught, and throw more barbs and abuses while they are at it, whereas the fake-benevolents nearly always remain composed and covert: feign innocence, and gather an audience to show present "reconciliations" and martyrdom.

Both narcissist types love to ruin the big life events of their victims. But again, here they also differ. For instance, say the victim is a daughter having a wedding and the narcissist is a mother. The scapegoating narcissist mother will throw a fit, or do a disappearing act, making sure her daughter is upset and minimized on an important day, whereas the fake-benevolent narcissist will show up in a fancy, frilly white gown, seemingly trying to compete, or propose too many embarrassing toasts, or pepper the in-laws with far too many questions; she enjoys big family gatherings as a way to ingratiate, manipulate more sources for narcissistic supply and put focus on herself. Perhaps it is just a difference of introverted narcissist versus extroverted narcissist.

Fake-benevolent narcissists rarely enlist other narcissists or sociopaths into their entourage (unlike the scapegoating narcissists, they probably are more aware of the pitfalls), whereas scapegoating narcissists thrive on taking down a victim with a bunch of other bullies. Fake-benevolent narcissists usually prefer unsuspecting innocent empaths they can manipulate and exploit by appealing to their empathetic natures (used for pressuring truces). Just about all narcissists see empathy as a weakness, but the fake-benevolent narcissist is always scheming at how to use it to his advantage, primarily for evermore triangulations, whereas scapegoating narcissists look to terrorize, scapegoat, and build a bigoted force against an empath.

Both kinds of narcissists are abusive, however fake-benevolents have a definite preference for psychological abuse, whereas scapegoaters prefer verbal and emotional abuse, sometimes escalating to physical abuse. Some instances of psychological abuse include lying, deflecting and excusing with more lies, gaslighting, dodging, false pretense, undermining, sabotage, trickery, splitting, character assassination, slander, brainwashing, projecting, strategizing to "win", conning, scamming, gossiping, acting to elicit certain responses that are of detriment to another person, stealing to confuse, triangulating for power and control, to purposely and constantly confuse so that victims won't suspect being manipulated. The whole idea behind psychological abuse is to play with people's minds and perceptions, to disable them mentally so that their victims will always question themselves, and perhaps feel insane from all of the confusion. If the fake-benevolent escalates to physical abuse, they are more likely to put a tranquilizer or some rotten stuff in the food (or some other method which is underhanded). They rarely hit or beat a person. Some instances of emotional abuse, the prefferred abuse for scapegoating narcissists, include the silent treatment (ostracizing), neglect, objectification, scapegoating, neglecting, bullying, mobbing, brandishing anger, expecting "perfection" at all times, discarding you over complaining about an event or situation, discarding you over a perceived criticism, isolating you from friends or family, intimidation, unwarranted blame, targeted mocking, making you a laughing stock, constant chiding, insults used as a weapon against your self esteem, favoritism, negatively comparing you with another, selling you into sexually slavery, allowing someone to sexually or physically abuse you. The whole idea of emotional abuse is to disable you emotionally so that you are upset, sad, grieving, depressed, in pain, in shock, and in general, suffering emotionally.

Attempting to bypass boundaries is a type of aggression used by perpetrators in triangulation. Scapegoating narcissists sometimes give up on trying to work around boundaries of their abused adult children because they may feel "satisfied enough" with a constant punishing agenda (their adult child shunned for life, for example). However, most of them get restless; they aren't quite satisfied, so like the huge majority of abusers, they tend to escalate. So most of them are known to perpetrate, at the very least, smear campaigns against their victims. The fake-benevolents never entirely give up in trying to get around boundaries. While they may not overtly punish victims who are living on the outside, they try to work on the rest of the victim's social network. Those who support the parent hear mostly smear campaigns, with doses of "Look what I did for this child of mine recently, and I'm still being rejected! She (or he) must be a spawn of the devil!" and those who support the adult child get presents, accolades, drive-bys, sweet talk and statements to garner sympathy for the parent (with just a dash of a smear campaign thrown in). The point of getting chummy with the adult child's support network is to wear the support down and bust it apart: "Your parent isn't so bad! Look what he (or she) did for me! So sweet! You're paranoid about your parent! You need to get a grip!" -- and yes, this happens all the time!     

The scapegoating narcissist will outright refuse to go to therapy (and maybe that is a blessing). The fake-benevolents will go, but try to triangulate the therapist, but when the therapist tries to corner them on their behavior, they are such deflecting, dodging, excusing, sympathetic characters that rail with crocodile tears at how they have been treated that the therapy is sometimes totally useless, with the therapist rolling his eyes or second-guessing himself. The fake-benevolents use their willingness to go to therapy as a sign to the entire family that they care about their relationship(s), and therefore deserve to be in their children's lives. Often these narcissists continue to go to therapy long after their child wearies of it and drops out; they use sessions as a challenge to see if they can get the therapist's sympathy, and slip in some triangulation somewhere (any will do ... as they feel that a crack in the door is an eventual invitation for an open door!). The point of their going, after all, is to see if they can take the therapist away from their child, claiming that relationship as their own too. They work on brainwashing the therapist, just as they have with members of the family (and let's face it, a therapist is just another empath, even if an educated one, just what this kind of narcissist wants to keep collecting). Sometimes the narcissist brings in other brainwashed family members to vouch for them. So the children who have been burned over and over by these kinds of parents can find themselves traumatized by a therapist they looked to for help! Only a therapist who is unusually enlightened and has extensive experience working with these kinds of patients can see through the deviousness. Many of the adult child victims advise never to go through a therapy process with a narcissist just for this reason, to only go on your own for your own healing and to gain mental and emotional strength in order to be autonomous from the narcissist.

In many forums I witness many daughters complaining of how their fake-benevolent narcissistic mothers are trying to triangulate their own children. Many of these adult child victims of these mothers must go no-contact just to preserve their relationships with their own children and husband, and to protect the sibling relationships between their children as well. The narcissistic mothers seem to have no shame, no boundaries, no respect. They keep trying to insert themselves, to manipulate, even if they have to do it more subtly, bypassing boundaries through other methods of triangulation. For instance: a father will call his daughter and say that the situation is breaking his heart, to "please forgive your mother, and give her another chance, just forgive and forget. Please!" (see my post on Forgiving Abusers, the You're Better than That Family Culture that Expects Victims of Familial Abuse to Make Up with Their Abusers).

Nothing phases these mothers. The further the daughter retreats, the more these mothers amp it up, pressuring the rest of the family to take up the mother cause in bringing the daughter back into the fold. The mother might keep appearing out of nowhere, as if it is a coincidence (jack-in-the-box Mom ... or aunt ... or sister). Everyone is used. They count on all of the other empaths to appeal to the daughter's "forgiveness genes".

These mothers can sometimes resemble stalkers. They cannot hear "no" for an answer. They keep trying, and trying, and trying, and trying to get into their daughter's life in some way, through some open slit in the doorway. They might send unsolicited gifts to the grandchildren; nearly anything is used for potential entry. Even when the mother backs off somewhat, and tells the daughter that they respect her boundary, that they understand the maternal instinct to protect children, the daughters often look at these pronouncements as either half-truths or totally insincere. The guilt can become unbearable for the daughter who is looked down upon by the whole family (and sometimes the community too) for "rejecting a mother who is trying so very hard, has no agenda, is just trying to love you and be part of your life."

I have heard so many recordings of these kinds of mothers and they all sound the same, even with the same tone of voice! How does that happen? Not only that, but they overwhelmingly have some "ie" or "y" on their daughter's name: Stephie, Carrie, Nancy, Judy, Joanie, Honey, Sweetie, Baby ... And the messages all seem the same too: "Family always needs to forgive each other. That's what families are for and that's what families are supposed to do" , "You know, it would break your father's heart if he couldn't see those grandchildren" , "You know, I love you. I'm sorry if you cannot accept that, but really, this has gone too far!" , "I'd like to take you out for your birthday. Once you see me, maybe you'll appreciate that you have a mother. Think about whether your little daughter who you gave birth to, who you nursed and held in your arms, did this to you. Everyone loves you and your little babies." They are shamelessly unaffected by the rejections, they don't seem to care that they are being rejected; they feel absolutely entitled to be in their daughters' lives no matter what, even though they are unwilling to make changes to stop triangulating. The best these mothers can seem to do is to make excuses and deflect the guilt away from them, dish out guilt trips, sweeten everything up with constant praises, act innocent to allegations, blame by reciting family etiquette, always putting on the constant pressure.

The pressure these mothers put on their daughters can reach unbearable proportions, so many daughters move clear across the country with their children and spouse, without a word to anyone, and set up a PO box in a separate town.

The scapegoating narcissists, on the other hand, take the opposite tack. They reject, disable, leave their adult daughter and the rest of her family out in the cold. No more family holidays and vacations, no more birthdays, no more presents, no more phone calls or concern about where their daughter is or what she is going through; they are absent from all big events, surgeries, graduations, weddings, everything. They make it clear that the daughter is dead to them. Their correspondences, if there are any, are curt, bullying, uncaring, devoid of feeling and human kindness. They don't pretend to have empathy. These mothers think that punishing with silence will bring about the desired effect.

In the forums the ostracized scapegoated daughters sometimes say they feel jealous of all of the attention that the fake-benevolent narcissists' daughters are getting. And the contrast is pretty stark: icy desert versus hot claustrophobic jungle. It is seen that the stalked daughters at least have mothers who care enough to contact them.

But all the stalked daughters who have spoken up about this (and there are many, many of them), actually feel it is so much worse, that they'd trade places any day. They believe that the scapegoated daughters have it better because they are being left alone to live their lives, rather than being hounded and pressured constantly and followed around by some member of the family with yet another heart string or guilt trip. These daughters also say that their mothers don't care about them any more than a cold, heartless rejecting mother: "What would you rather hear? The truth that your mother hates you and could care less about you? Or the constant lying of a mother telling you she loves you when she actually hates you so much that she wants to turn everything that's good in your life into toxic poison? She hates you so much that she wants to turn your children and husband against you, and get into every relationship you have. At least when you are ostracized you get to have a loving relationship with your husband and children without constant interference! You get to have a work life and friendships that aren't constantly being sabotaged. At least your mothers prove they are craven and selfish. Our mothers are craven and selfish too, but they parade around like selfless martyrs and pillars of society, with these brainwashed zombies who believe everything they say!"

So I have come to see the point. At least when you are ostracized, you still have your own life and aren't thinking about the toxic members of your family every day. You aren't sent into shock and foreboding at hearing their voice pop up on your answering machine, or watching them suddenly appear out of nowhere on a daily, or semi daily basis. You aren't paranoid about their minions showing up at your doorstep or events uninvited. Your self esteem can suffer, but there isn't stalking, coercion, guilt, sabotaging agendas being thrown at you like an endless volley of constant bombs. The dead silence fills up with your own decisions, your own life and interests, with people who you choose to have in your life rather than people who are constantly thrusting themselves into your life; indeed it is a trial-by-fire at being and feeling completely autonomous from them: from their followers, comments, advice, lectures, controlling tactics, insults, thought processes, and interests.  What they do doesn't effect you, and what you do doesn't effect them. A lot of family relationships can still be preserved, because scapegoating parents are most comfortable in the company of other bullies in the family, and most every other family member knows it (bullies are known for pushing people around and out, not pulling people in).

As for the victims of triangulation who are living separate from their families, scapegoats most often feel revulsion, whereas children of the fake-benevolents are often plagued with guilt and fear. Their guilt is much more pronounced than scapegoats because they have to sacrifice nearly everyone in their family, because the atmosphere of the family is so cult-like, that even other members who are aware of what is happening cannot seem to let go. The fear is much more pronounced than scapegoats too, for the very reason that they know that some family member will always be lurking, or trying to hunt them down. They are also used to being so sabotaged that they are hypervigilant of it happening again, as if it might happen through osmosis. Rejected scapegoats, however, get to retain some relationships with family members, particularly other members who have been stung by the bullying and rejecting.

It takes a great deal more forethought and planning to manipulate children in the devious ways that the fake-benevolent narcissists do, so most narcissists fall into the rejecting scapegoating variety: simple-minded, ruled by fantasy, transparent in their destruction and coldness. Their maneuvers to control and triangulate are more simplistic too, where one disfavored abused scapegoat (empath) is always at one end of the triangle. If one scapegoat leaves, another scapegoat replaces the former one in the triangle. This means, of course, that the narcissist has to look for and recruit another scapegoat (new supply), something that is not always easy, and probably something the fake-benevolents forsee as restriction of supply.

Narcissists who scapegoat tend to have a collection of shunned scapegoats they have lost control of, so the narcissist's reputation falters faster, something that the more convincing, conniving fake-benevolent narcissists sometimes never have to face. One is the cold non-parenting parent, who neglects their relationships, often seeking status and affirmation through self indulgences (cruises, spas, house in the Caribbean, servants, etc), while the other is an over-parenting parent, never letting their children have their own lives, admired for being community-oriented, for putting on the altruistic act, while underhandedly dividing, conquering and spreading confusion, lies and destruction.

However, it is also apparent that once the latter narcissist's complex web of lies and divisions are fully exposed, they can find themselves just as alone as the scapegoating narcissists ... however, because they don't outwardly reject, there may always be one or two particularly naive, childlike, innocent brainwashed members who just can never let go of the great benevolent leader fantasy.

Evil is evil, whether it comes with cookies and cream to make it seem more palatable, or whether it is revealed as poison right from the beginning.

Research:

The Drama Triangle, the Three Roles of Victimhood by Lynne Namka, Ed.D -- recommended

Ten Things Never to Do in a Marriage by Michael Tobin, PhD -- which includes triangulation

Getting Involved in a Love Triangle to Avoid Dealing with Problems in your Relationship by Josephine Ferraro, LCSW

Torture by Triangulation -- from the Psychopath Free blog (a very good post, by the way, though it has more to do with romantic relationships than family relationships, yet when I read through the post, most of it applies to family relationships as well)

The Four Most Common Narc-Sadistic Triangulation Tactics by Bree Bonchay, LCSW
Excerpts from the article include these four triangulation tactics (briefly):
1. Killing Two Birds with One Stone
   third-party person is brought in to the relationship to kill two birds with one stone! First, it activates feelings of jealousy and insecurity in their partner and subtlety cues the partner that they can be substituted at any time ... it creates an illusion of popularity and desirability and sets the stage for rivalry, both of which, fill the narcissist with supply ...
2. Recruiting Reinforcements
   One of the ways narcissists use triangulation to manipulate their partners into siding with their point of view or acquiesce to their wants and needs is by recruiting a third-party to validate their opinion which is a form of “ganging up” otherwise known as bullying ...
3. Splitting
   This method of triangulation involves pitting two people against each other, but the narcissist will usually engage in character assassination of one or both individuals behind their backs ... This triangulation tactic also gives the narcissist a lot of power as they control the flow of information and the interpretation of that information ...
4. The Pre-discard and Dump
   ... they will confide in people who hardly even know their partner, if at all. The narcissist will start to tell their partner they have been confiding in other people, and those people agree with him/her that the relationship isn’t good for them. Most likely, one of their “confidents”, will end up being the replacement partner. After the break-up, they will openly boast about how happy they are with their new partner ...

An article on narcissistic "love" triangles and emotional unavailability by Faye Armitage from The Examiner.
Excerpts from The Examiner article:
   One of the key features of a narcissist is their desire to feel like they are in high demand. They like to feel like they have many options and you should be happy they chose you. The narcissist feels an intense euphoria and a sense of power when they can turn people against each other, especially when it’s over a competition for them. Narcissists will manufacture situations to make you jealous and question their fidelity. In a normal relationship, people go out of their way to prove that they are trustworthy—but the narcissist does exactly the opposite. They are constantly suggesting that they might be pursuing other options, or spending time with other people, so that you can never settle down into a feeling of peace. And they will always deny this, calling you crazy for bringing it up ...
   ... What all forms of triangulation have in common is that it makes narcissists emotionally unavailable to their actual life partner which is precisely the intent of the triangulation. Their supposed life partner ends up feeling emotionally betrayed ...
   ... They will do anything in their power to make their "significant other" feel insignificant, to maintain their emotional distance and control while continuing the relationship ...
   ...  There is no apparent intent on working anything out, and if you insist on resolving any issues you might have, you'll most likely be punished with a silent treatment aka disappearing act.
   When they finally re-appear a few days later, they will act like nothing happened. The silent treatment is only one frequently used tool in a whole array of abusive manipulative tools intended to keep you at an emotional distance from them.
   The triangulation only intensifies. They feel justified in treating you poorly.
   Narcissists hate boundaries. They don't want limits of any kind. They want full access to whatever they want, whenever they want it. Rules don't apply to them, and they love to manufacture the illusion of popularity at the expense of their partner. Instead of the affection of their partner, they prefer the adoration of an entourage.





(a very good site to get validation if you have a narcissistic mother):
It is the only graphic I could find on triangulation from the site
(and it is fuzzy), so I am quoting it below:
NARCISSISTIC MOTHERS
DIVIDE AND CONQUER
They use this to divide and conquer, even,
or perhaps especially, among their own
children. The narcissist will  lie to Daughter
about Son, then to Son about Daughter. If
Daughter and Son are not wise to the
tactics of Narcissist Mother, they will each
be angry with or dislike the other based
on the lie. This causes fighting or even
severed relationships between Daughter
and Son - as Narciissist Mother pretends
to be innocent, referee or the pitiful
mother worn out by such bickering kids.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder Mother Facebook Resource Page

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mirroring and narcissistic, psychopathic love and war. Soul mate? Not so fast!

name of cartoon: "Psychopathic Mirroring"
image is © Lise Winne
2015
(for questions regarding use of images or to contract an image for your next article
contact: LilacGroveGraphics (att) yahoo.com)

Narcissists and Sociopaths use mirroring in order to draw people into relationships. They also use mirroring during arguments.

For the sake of convenience, I sometimes use the word "psychopath" to cover many Cluster B disorders, including the worst kinds of narcissists, sociopaths, malignant narcissists and individuals who plan elaborate cruel deeds directed at others.

In order to draw someone else into a relationship, the psychopath is looking for someone to endow him with narcissistic supply (i.e. to identify him as someone worthy of paying attention to). I thought the definition of narcissistic supply by Sam Vaknin (a writer from Isreal diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder who wrote the book Malignant Self Love among others) best explained it:

To the narcissist his "achievements" can be imaginary, fictitious, or only apparent, as long as others believe in them. Appearances count more than substance, what matters is not the truth but its perception.

The opening to his book reveals why psychopaths might need to mirror others:

What is a personality disorder? When the personality is rigid to the point of being unable to change in reaction to changing circumstances - we say that it is disordered. Such a person takes behavioral, emotional, and cognitive cues exclusively from others. His inner world is, so to speak, vacated. His True Self is dilapidated and dysfunctional. Instead he has a tyrannical and delusional False Self. Such a person is incapable of loving and of living. He cannot love others because he cannot love himself. He loves his reflection, his surrogate self ...

... He feeds off other people, who hurl back at him an image that he projects to them. This is their sole function in his world: to reflect, to admire, to applaud, to detest - in a word, to assure him that he exists. Otherwise, the narcissist feels, they have no right to tax his time, energy, or emotions ...

... NPD is a pernicious, vile and tortuous disease, which affects not only the Narcissist. It infects and forever changes people who are in daily contact with the Narcissist. In other words: it is contagious. It is my contention that Narcissism is the mental epidemic of the twentieth century, a plague to be fought by all means ...


Mirroring becomes the path to intimacy for the psychopath. I'll demonstrate using "PS" for "potential supply" and "Psycho" for "Psychopath".

PS: I love making pottery on the potter's wheel. If I can get through my job, that is what I find to be most enjoyable when I come home from work!

Psycho (with intense, smitten look): I love making pottery too! Pinch pots! Yes, I learned that at summer camp! But I'd love to learn the potter's wheel just to be close to you!

PS: Wow! That would be great! You're really interested in learning how to do this?

Psycho: Of course! When do we get started? Tomorrow?

PS: What about your interests. Tell me what interests you.

Psycho (looking uncomfortable): Why don't you tell me what interests you! I'd much rather see if we are compatible.

PS: Well, I like restaurants off the beaten path. Like Indian restaurants, Mexican food, Greek food. I'm not one for all-American fare. I like light meals, you know?

Psycho (reaching for her hand to hold): I'm exactly the same way.

As first meeting turns into weeks, the psychopath seems to want to spend all of his free time with you. It is like a whirlwind romance where he only has eyes for you. He'll probably call constantly, boasting to his friends about his "new love", telling you that all his other "loves" were nightmares and how sweet you are in comparison, how much different you are, how much better you are than all those others. He'll seem to have all the same interests and views that you do (politically, spiritually, emotionally, interests ...). He may cuddle up to you and say things like "a penny for your thoughts..." to gain more intimacy and knowledge about you. He'll want to know everything he can about you (he is a lot more interested in all of your deepest thoughts, feelings and desires -- and he seems intensely focused on you in a way that he doesn't exhibit towards others -- and in fact, he seems rarely distracted from you). He'll be concerned about every one of your little aches and pains, baby-ing you when you get sick, maybe have dinner ready for you when you get home. He may always want to sit close to you, perhaps a little too close, touching you and bringing you in for hugs and hand-holding, perhaps eat off the same plate, feed you, service you sexually. Indeed, psychopaths aren't reserved about touching (they want you to know that you have such a powerful effect on them). They may have their arms around you as much as possible (to melt your heart towards them).

In fact, many victims report that psychopaths seem so perfect at first, an amazing dream that has come true, someone they have been waiting for their entire lives, a soul mate. In fact, many psychopaths make the pronouncement that you are their soulmate within a very short period of time (whether within weeks of dating, or just after a few months).

And mirroring the other person is how they get you hooked in.    

According to this post, thinking you have found your soul mate is the first sign of a psychopath.

Some of the other signs are posted on this blog post (but for the sake of brevity, some signs include any kind of boasting where they paint themselves as better than others, where everything that has gone wrong in their other relationships is the other person's fault, where they want something from you that will make another person jealous ... there are many others, but that is a start).   

Many psychopaths have experience mirroring with charm and intense gazes, and they see that it works wonders for them, so they use it again and again on different victims. It is the way to make the biggest impact on other people's lives: everyone they draw in will probably believe in their soulmate pronouncements.

It is a lot of work for them initially, but the point is to draw you in enough so that they can begin to get what they are after through their association with you.

But they also want to make an impact in other ways too. Most psychopaths draw you into being their soulmate to exploit you for something. Perhaps they want your money, or status, or for you to be their slave and helper ... there is always some ulterior motive other than being in the relationship with you because they enjoy your company and value your views, thoughts, emotions, experiences, personality, interests, opinions, autonomy, decisions, relatives, friends, social circle, cultural background and work ethic.

In fact, most psychopaths will very slowly and carefully begin to show you that they don't value any of these parts of you, and they will try to strip you of it all, little by little, and piece by piece, over time. They do it first through giving advice, perhaps lecturing you a little, putting on some pressure here and there, pointing out where you might be indebted to them. They might infer every now and then that you don't know what you are doing, hoping that you will lean on them for advice. This may eventually turn into an ultimatum or two, if they think they can get away with it, if they think you are hooked into them enough. They are constantly testing the waters to see what they can strip you of, how much they can intimidate you, how much they can use you.

What ends up happening in the end is that you have no voice in matters which concern you. In all abusive relationships, victims have very little voice, or no voice. They begin to be reprimanded for having a voice (i.e. "that's stupid", "that doesn't make sense", "we aren't doing it that way; we're only doing it this way", "I don't care what you think", "I'm not going to listen to this" -- and so on). They start to talk to you as though you are a child who needs to learn lessons or has to be scolded. They might lean into you to give you a lecture, interrupt you, shout over you or point a finger at you as though you should be ashamed of yourself. They make it known they will intimidate and humiliate if they don't get their way. Victims quickly understand that the relationship doesn't exist to serve both people's needs; it only exists to serve one person's needs.

When victims discover they are being groomed to accept blame, abuse, threats and being controlled, the abuser can actually feel betrayed by the victim's discovery. They know that the person will not make good narcissistic supply, because they cannot be fooled any more and they aren't acting like a marionette. So either the perpetrator discards the victim right away, or they try for guilt trips, attacks, guilt-shifting, diversion and confusing the issues before resorting to a discard.

How do abusers do this? they mirror here too. Almost all abusers, when confronted, will blame instead of talk reasonably about issues. Abusers are especially known for blame-shifting, a kind of mirroring, at least in terms of duplicating the confrontation aspect. Everything the abuser is accused of, rather than thinking about it and trying to come up with a resolution, he counters it in some way, trying to thrust "fault" onto the victim. Abusers often accuse victims of what they are guilty of.

Eventually the relationship will turn into a kind of arrangement where the psychopath will expect his other half  to have the same thoughts, agendas, motivations, feelings, etc, that he has. Indeed, the more the partner can mirror the psychopath, the more happy the psychopath will be. However, even here the mirror can't be a perfect replica, and any deviation is seen as a flaw (and flaws by nature, will mean that to the psychopath that he is the superior being, and that therefor you must bend to his will, a thought process that also is too common among suicide bombers and other kinds of terrorists).

According to this post in The New York Times by Tara Parker-Pope:

If you’re in a relationship with a narcissist, you eventually discover you are there to revolve around them and to serve them. You can only imagine the shock that happens for people when they get seduced into something they think is the best thing that ever happened to them and it turns into this kind of relationship ...

... If you divorce a narcissist, it’s not going to be a normal divorce because if you leave the narcissist, they never get over it. They seek revenge, and the court system is an incredibly great platform for a narcissist. That’s where they can just continue the battle with the partner and continue to seek revenge, and that’s what happens.

The PBS mini series The Widower follows real-life sociopath/psychopath and murderer Malcolm Webster, which I found to be particularly accurate in terms of how narcissists and psychopaths act in terms of charm, presenting a false face with false intentions, control, abusing people who don't go along with them, how they manipulate people and how they try to destroy people who either fight against being dominated and abused, or otherwise challenge them or show autonomy.

The series portrays Malcolm Webster as a charming but ultra controlling manipulator who uses, and then punishes women who are doing, saying or thinking anything he deems to be independent of his control. He meets most of these women in the medical field, a field which is brimming with empathy-style personalitiesones who psychopaths and narcissists love to target.

In all cases, he tries to convince the women that he found his ideal soul mate in them. He particularly moves in on women who have money. As his real-life wife, Felicity Drumm, stated in this Wikipedia article, he was "very extroverted, likable, funny, amusing person to be around, he was good company." She tells her story, including how plausible he sounded in his explanations, including his need to be on her bank account book, and why she was sleeping too much (he was drugging her) in this UK Daily Mail article here. His third major woman, Simone Banajaree, stated that Malcolm Webster ..."was so caring, so attentive, he would open the car door for me, make sure that perhaps dinner was ready when I came home from work. You couldn't have wished for a better person ... 'A real charmer' would sum him up very well. But he seemed an honest kind of guy as well."

Like a lot of victims who have a hard time trusting and moving beyond the experience of being betrayed, Simone Banarjee, also did too (read here).

Read an interview with all of the major people who were taken in by him, here.

When these women didn't agree to all of Malcolm Webster's agendas and accept him as the authority figure of their lives, they were often drugged, and their murders planned.

The difference between a sociopath and a narcissist is that a sociopath can break the law and kill, but not always, and a narcissist will do everything he can to hurt and destroy a person without breaking the law, but not always. Sociopaths are capable of not inflicting physical damage or killing especially if they are getting closed in by law enforcement, and narcissists are capable of killing especially in domestic violence situations-gone-wrong.

As has been stated, psychopaths operate under the premise that their "victims" confer and agree with them at all times. They charm and sweet-talk victims. They demand complete loyalty, help and submissiveness, often without giving it in return. They bend the truth to garner attention, sympathy, accolades or lovers. They experiment manipulations and they continually test their victims for loyalty. But they are hypocrites when it comes to them being loyal: they always seem to have another supply/victim ready in case things don't work out with their present victim. They are mostly incapable of sharing the power and decisions with others. They idealize, devalue and discard victims, though narcissists will generally do it through rejection, silent treatments, shunning or mobbing, and sociopaths will generally do it through physical injury, destroying property, drugging, staged accidents and/or murder. They pursue victims by putting their victims on pedestals ("I love you more than anyone I have ever met ... you're better than ---") or convincing them that they are a soul mate (they mirror the other person's likes, dislikes, interests, style, concerns and act like the perfect lady or perfect gentleman to gain access). They are intensely ardent and pile on the flattery. The mirroring is their way of establishing an intense connection (while working on getting the victim reliant, dependent, hopelessly in love and loyal to them, while also continually working at getting victims to accept guilt and punishment if the victim should ever dare to act or think autonomously).

As has been stated before, psychopaths can seem like ideal lovers, parents or siblings, and they can be charming, outgoing and more affectionate than other people. They love bomb everyone who they want to influence. They can also sound more plausible than their victims because they are expert liars. They also know how to put on the tears and play the victim or casualty of a tragedy to garner sympathy.

For instance, narcissistic mothers are notorious for trying to garner sympathy for having an insane child (a child that behind closed doors she is actually abusing, a child that "acts crazy" only because the child has PTSD from the abuse). Narcissistic lovers might try to garner sympathy for having a clumsy ill spouse (but behind closed doors that spouse is actually being beaten and is ill from the stress of walking on eggshells). So there is this dark side to psychopaths who charm others: they are ultimately takers, they seek to get something out of a relationship with their victims whether that be money, possessions, service, sympathy or notoriety. Getting something out of someone else always means a lot more to them than the relationship itself.

Once they are exposed as takers, liars and shams, they feel a need to devalue their victims in order to preserve themselves so that they can move on to the next supply/victim they have idealized in their minds. While they can sometimes move on with ease and plausibility, eventually their deceptions and using others can catch up to them. While they think they are careful in planning evil deeds, they often count on a premise: that their victims won't want to live without them (for narcissists) or that their victims will be too afraid to challenge them (for sociopaths). Either way, they are not as good at covering their tracks as they think they are. Again, reference the mini series The Widower to see how police eventually brought Webster to justice.

Lying becomes so second nature to narcissists and sociopaths that they use it in too many situations, too often. Malcolm Webster pretended he had leukemia, something he could easily get caught at, and which made little sense in terms of getting the girl. These personality disordered types eventually get caught by the many, instead of by the few, leaving behind too many victims, with too many cover-ups and over-explanations for them not to fall under notice.

When challenged by a victim as to why they acted so cruelly, they will mirror there too (projection). If they rejected you, they will often say, "No, you rejected me!" and list all of the times the victim got called into work, or decided to play golf with a friend, or anything that can be construed as rejection. If they stole something from you, they will say something like, "We know you are the real thief in this relationship." If they beat you up, they have been known to inflict bruises upon themselves and call the cops to confuse law enforcement as to who the real victim is. If you ask them not to bring up certain subjects, they will want the same. Mirroring in this way is meant to confuse authorities, but also to confuse victims (ultimately it is a form of gaslighting). It is their way of trying to get away with abuse, to get the authorities off their tail, and to get their victims compliant, apologizing to them. They also hope and even demand that their victims owe them something for being so disloyal, for not going along with the agenda of being abused and tortured.

Mirroring/projection is typical of school bullies too. As a teacher and mandated reporter, I am required to report all situations where someone is being hurt, even if it is difficult to tell who the real victim is. All abusers have immature mentalities when it comes to feeling entitled to hurt someone else. "He hit me first!" "No he hit me first!" "I told him to leave me alone and he won't leave me alone!" "I tell him to leave me alone all the time! He always comes around! He wants to join my group, but I tell him we don't like him!" And so on. Mirroring/projection doesn't end just because a person is 60 or 80; the psychopath probably learned as a child and they continue to use it -- unless they have become one of the enlightened few (unlikely).

Why do narcissists mirror?

There are many theories.

One has to do with "the lost self." Narcissism passes down through the generations, so narcissist parent terrorized the child, then that child became narcissist 2 who terrorizes their children, and so on, and so forth ...

As a child, in order to survive abuse, the budding narcissist had to sublimate his real self in order to please his narcissistic parent. This is why narcissists are so inept at self reflection, because they don't know who they are. They only know who they are by a role they were taught to play by their disordered parent. They were often expected to be perfect, and to perfectly execute demands put upon them. If the children weren't acting as the parent required all of the time, they would either be humiliated or punished. Many of these kinds of children wore themselves out trying please a parent who was impossible to please. They wanted to receive the kind of love and caring they saw in normal families, only to be spurned, chastened, degraded, given the silent treatment for long periods and unjustly disciplined.

They were constantly shamed if they didn't do what their parents wanted, which included taking on an identity their parents wanted them to have. Shame became an intolerable emotion for them, because it usually came in tandem with severe reprimanding and penalty, perhaps snubbing, disdain and extreme forms of isolation unless the child behaved the way the parent deemed acceptable. So narcissists do anything they can to avoid feeling shame. This is why they can't take criticism and why they go on the attack if they feel they might be criticized: attacking is a way to slough off any shame. It is like a game to them: when feeling attacked or shamed, attack back and try put the shame on the other person instead, a disgusting, neanderthal reaction, but one that was learned in childhood.

The sibling relationships were probably dysfunctional as well. When the parent was terrorizing sibling 1, sibling 1 pointed the finger at sibling 2 to avoid being abused. All siblings were expected to serve their parent and compete for their parent's love instead of having a mutual caring respectful relationship with each other. Children were probably not allowed autonomous thoughts, interests and perspectives without constant interference and demand from the parent. So, in order to have an identity, they either adopted their parent's identity (mirroring: becoming another narcissist, usually a golden child role), or they became repulsed by what was being expected of them, having little respect for how their parent behaved, being willing to become rejected by the parent to pursue their own dreams and loving relationships, living separately or independently from the parent (black sheep, scapegoat), or they became sullenly quiet (lost child), or they tried to entertain their parent (comedian). These are also roles typical of alcoholic families.

If there is only one child in a narcissistic family, the child vacillates between being a scapegoat and a golden child, depending on the parent's whim. If there are two children, one becomes the golden child and the other a scapegoat.

When children mirror the narcissistic parent, the child, of course, becomes another narcissist. They take the identity of that narcissistic parent into all of their other relationships, and parent their own children in the same manner. The theory goes that the child became narcissistic to survive abuse by showing the parent that they (the child) was just like them. Narcissists like to be flattered, so what better way to do that than to adopt all of the parent's likes, dislikes, interests, thoughts on issues, perspectives, personality and agendas. The child does anything to avoid being looked at as a separate individual with separate perspectives, dreams and thoughts to avoid being punished and ostracized. The child is sometimes used to help the parent bully the other children into compliance. The child does anything to avoid feeling ashamed and humiliated, as they feel they would never recover from the trauma. The child does anything to avoid responsibility in his relationships, so fibs and points the finger at others, starting in the early home with his siblings.

The budding narcissist is actually the weakest of the children because he is not willing to take a stand against the parent's power and control agendas, to do what is right and moral, to search for his own perspectives and identity instead of the inferior subservient one his parent thrust on him, to treat others with integrity, justice and respect instead of adopting the parent's craven abusive plans and behaviors.

So, if you notice you are being mirrored by a potential sweetheart or someone who was mean to you in the past: watch out!! There is usually a narcissist or sociopath behind that mask! Take a lot of time (and I mean a lot!) to see if that person's interests are really theirs or if they've just adopted yours to get into your life to use you and abuse you. Look at their past relationships, see how their parents behave, see how they resolve conflicts before committing yourself.

In many folk songs, lovers who mirror and pretend to love are called "mockingbirds".
Here is one such song called "The Mockingbird's Voice" by Claire Lynch (from You Tube):

More on Abusers Blame Victims for What They are Guilty Of -- coming in a future post.

Further reading:

Mirroring -- from Wikipedia

How the Narcissist Projects His or Her Behavior Onto You 

How Bullying Works: Projection and Scapegoating 

Psychopathic and Bullying Projection

Adult Bullies -- in the workplace

How Narcissists Use Mirroring to Lure in Victims -- as sales technique

a general article about narcissism, why they are arrogant, abusive and mirror others

How to Spot a Psychopath -- from the Psychopaths and Love blog