Tuesday, March 22, 2016

perfection in abusive relationships: parents and partners who expect perfectionism, and punish if they are not receiving it

name of cartoon: perfection in abusive relationships 
(an off-shoot of "Erroneous Blaming")
image is © Lise Winne
(for questions regarding use of images or contract an image for your next article
contact: LilacGroveGraphics (att) yahoo.com) 

(Note: a similar post to this one is erroneous blaming and erroneous punishments, with a cartoon that is almost identical. This post repeats a lot of the same subject matter as that post, so if you have read that post, there will be some repeated information -- "perfectionism" is just one of the facets of erroneous blaming)

Usually these kinds of abusers are very demanding. They want what they want, when they want it, and they expect you to perform perfectly for them (and all with accompanying "perfect attitudes").

They make a determination that if you are not performing to their specifications, you will have to pay the consequences: either silent treatments, withdrawing love, withdrawing consideration and kindness, withdrawing money or food, being isolated from your family, or being put through some sort of torture: physical, emotional, sexual, environmental, threats, neglect, it could be anything.

Often the point of their abuse and torture is to instill in you that you are not worthwhile (or only as good as they say you are), that they can live without you, and if they are to be kind to you at all, you will have to perform for them: to prove that you can do what they expect of you, "perfectly" and without complaint. You are to regard them as "perfect" as well: often hard to do because most abusers are liars, shams, cheaters, backstabbers, blackmailers, ruthlessly punishing (abusive), and many abusers put you through "love triangles" too. But you are expected to "pretend" to view them as infallible nonetheless, to turn a blind eye, and especially for their audience of superficial friends and "followers" (yes, they believe they have followers who adore them and hang on to every word). If you don't say "perfect" things about them, there is often a severe punishment (i.e. abuse), where they torture you. How they torture you depends on the abuser. They might give you the silent treatment for days, weeks, months or years, they might isolate you and/or try to ruin your reputation, they might withdraw money suddenly, they might poison you, or sexually abuse you, or batter you, or, if you are a child, neglect you (throw you in a basement without food, expect you to live in outside conditions in freezing weather, expect you to be locked in a room for weeks without basic necessities, ration your food, demand endless apologies that they deem to not be "good enough"; again it could be anything!). Most abusers are flattery addicts, unempathetic, lack integrity, which is to say that they are, by and large, hypocrites. 

And almost all of them think that their victims will be learning how to treat them better through these cruel kinds of acts.

In all abusive relationships, an expectation to perform "perfectly" and to speak "perfectly" is always present. "Perfectionism" can, and often means "perfect tone of voice", "perfect words with no complaining or criticism in them", "perfect execution of their demands", "perfect phrasing of words and emotions -- usually they want you to be emotionally flat and always polite" (even though they rarely are), "perfect altruistic motives towards them", and so on.

Abusers are known to punish if they interpret your attitudes, actions and looks as less than perfect. Even if you are doing everything to please them, they are known to say you aren't "perfect enough" as their way to justify more punishments, as abusing is how they feel important and in control. They also see it as their way to get what they need. Abusers even take command of telling you what you are feeling, thinking, and doing and why it is, or is not, good enough (or "a punishable offense"). It is their way of saying that they are in charge of everything: your feelings, your thoughts, your actions, and their interpretations of all of your feelings, thoughts and actions.

This is a part of erroneous blaming, which always goes hand in hand with perfectionism in abusive relationships. Other kinds of abuses including mocking, vilifying, smear campaigns, verbal abuse and gaslighting usually are also part of the arsenal of weapons perpetrators use when expecting perfectionism from their victims.

One of the first signs of an abusive family is that the authority figures tell you what you are thinking and feeling. If you are having an argument with them, they make it known that they don't care what you feel, that your job is to only care what they feel. That is why they usually say "No, you hurt me!" when you tell them that they egregiously hurt you. Abusive people don't care about how they hurt you; if anything they will try to endlessly excuse and justify it.

Abusive parents expect you to perform duties to perfection, even when you are no longer a child, and sometimes even when you are 60. Child abuse is a campaign that is leveraged upon their child for a lifetime unless the family gets help along the way (counseling).

If your parents punish you when you are an adult it is always abuse. The only person who has a right to punish another adult is a court appointed judge or jury in a legal system, or authorities if you are incarcerated, or an officer in a military situation. Sometimes bosses punish workers by firing them, but that can be abusive too if they don't follow legal procedures.

One way to tell if a child may be part of an abusive family is how parents react to their child. For instance, if the child got bullied in school (and yes, victims of child abuse are often the primary targets of school bullying) do they say to their child, "What did you do to get yourself in that mess?" or "What did you do to deserve it?". Note this is a "sign", not a definitive conclusion that they are abusive parents. The point is that non-abusive parents generally say, "I'm concerned," or "Are you okay?" or "How are you doing and how are you feeling about what happened?" or "What can I do to help my child?" They aren't trying to referee the bullying or trying to decide who is at fault right away, or what kind of "less than perfect thoughts, feelings and actions" brought on the bullying. Some abusive parents even argue with their child about how the child is thinking and feeling right in front of school authorities.  

In a post entitled The Perfectionist Tyrant, Sallie Culbreth, M.S. states that many survivors of abuse suffer from self esteem issues from pressures over perfection. Here is an excerpt: 

Perfectionism takes on many forms – from being an over-achiever to being an under-achiever. Perfectionism is a common malady among survivors of abuse, exploitation, and sexual trauma. At its core, it is the relentless drive to avoid powerlessness, but that drive is a tyrant. The tyrant sends you into a panic every time you feel the threat of being exposed as “less than.”

It is vital for you to remember that the experience of abuse educated you about your value. The problem is that those lessons are built around lies and manipulation. Nonetheless, they feel true and, over time, they become enmeshed with how you define your worth.

What do you believe about your worth based on the lessons of abuse? That you have no value. That you’re not good enough. That you’re disposable. That there’s something wrong with you. That you’re only good for one thing. These are the lies that feel very true, but please note: THEY ARE STILL LIES.

Now here’s where it gets dicey: perfectionism is your response to these lies, but it is so extreme that it can impair how you approach life and your ability to function in a healthy way. As I stated at the beginning, perfectionism can manifest in two seemingly opposite behaviors: over-achievement and under-achievement.

Over-achiever perfectionism screams at you that if you don’t work day and night to accomplish everything you do without any mistakes, then you’ll sink into those wretched definitions of the lies and feel completely exposed as a disposable, valueless idiot ...

... Under-achiever perfectionism screams at you that you’ll never be able to attain the goals you’ve set – that you’ll never be good enough – so why bother? You believe that everyone already knows your worth, so why risk failure and face that horrific moment when you’re reminded one more time that you’re “less than” and always will be. You find it easier to never take risks than to risk being less than perfect.

Both of these expressions are based on distorted ideas about self that come from the experience of being abused. It is one of the most insidious and stubborn beliefs that survivors must confront ...

If your parents punish you because of a complaint or a look, it is abuse. It is also about "perfectionism" at its core. Perfectionism is usually abusive because there is an implied threat of a "punishment" behind it: for instance, "If you give me that look I don't like, I'll hurt you!" or "If you complain about me one bit, I'll reject you!" Look to see if they are putting labels on your motives (and remember that these are ALWAYS their ways of perceiving you).

Abusers often interpret your look or speech the way they want to see you, not as who you are. They might see a look and interpret it as something they don't like or as impertinence. All abusers hate even the possibility of impertinence, so they are known to do pre-emptive strikes. Other things they don't like include what they perceive as a look of autonomy from their victims, a look of ingratitude, a look of rebellion, a look of disbelief, a look of appearing superior to them when they expect you to perceive yourself as inferior to them, a critical look, a quizzical look, a look that portrays to them that you might abandon them, a look of rolling your eyes, a look of smirking (which they might interpret as you laughing at them and thinking of them as inferior), and a look of disgust at what they are saying. Victims who have these kinds of thoughts about them are terrifying to them, so they punish over the possibilities first and escalate wildly if they actually become realities (most abusers are personality-disordered). It is because they, themselves want to know their victims look at them at all times as "perfect" and as "superiors" and the only way they know how to keep their victims from growing out of idealizing them is to punish.

Malignant narcissists and sociopaths (who make up the most dangerous abusers) especially have absolutely zero tolerance for anyone who might be slightly or fleetingly feeling in ways they find threatening. They want so badly your childlike gullibility or they feel absolutely threatened by you to the point where they can become either scary or dangerous.

Why scary? Because they make threats. Their threats are NOT to be taken lightly. Even if they take their threats back, and promise not to use them after all, they have a propensity to be unstable, and cannot be counted on to do what they say. Also, if they have a history of severely abusing they are certainly not to be trusted. Severe abuses include silent treatments that last months, erroneous blaming sessions that never seem to end, only letting up on abuse after they see you begging and crying, physical abuse.

They are also dangerous because abuse usually escalates regardless, and abuse can also be deadly even if your abuser meant only to hurt you just so far without killing you. They also tend to get ever more sensitive to what your looks and feelings might be portraying as the relationship deepens: if they deem you to be resisting being perfect in the way they want, they can, and do, take abuse to another level. They can graduate from emotional abuse to physical abuse very, very quickly. Some signs to look out for include touch which is at all hostile, pushing, intimidating physical stances where they expect you to walk around them, breaking or smashing property, being rough with material things, destroying gifts you have given them (especially if it is your parents or partner who are destroying your gifts), yelling at you in your personal space (within 6 feet of you), leaning into you to command, lecture or stare you down, clenching their fists while talking to you. These are all the beginning danger signs in terms of physical violence.

Don't make the assumption that you will always be able to follow their demands (i.e. keep safe in that way). Many abusers expect you to eventually fulfill demands that are unethical, dangerous, self-sabotaging, self-sacrificing and self-harming. Almost all victims eventually come to the conclusion that they have to abandon abusive people because of these practices.

Be aware that their interpretation of your "imperfect looks" are really, underneath it all, them feeling threatened by you and afraid of you. What they are really saying is: "don't judge me, don't question me, don't disagree with me, don't investigate who I am or what my motives are, don't feel worthwhile, happy, successful and autonomous without my consent. Only look at me as perfect, please!" Alternatively they can be thinking "Only look at me as perfect, or else you will pay and pay and pay!" They are such utterly paranoid people that if you grimace, they are known to take it very personally, and put vilifying, dark interpretations on it with all kinds of erroneous guilt trips attached, just to scare you from even considering thoughts and feelings that they might not like. They don't ever want to be hurt by your thoughts or feelings and that is the purpose of all of their crazy-making guilt trips, which can often escalate to withdrawals and other punishments, just to make it known to you to keep your thoughts and feelings contained, in the dark recesses of your mind, to yourself, and even deny such feelings if you have them. To them it doesn't really matter whether you never meant to hurt them at all; what matters to them is that you never think to even entertain the possibility of having a thought or feeling that blames them for anything, that makes them culpable for anything, that is at all at odds with how they want to be perceived.

How you look at them, then, can become one huge problem that they feel they cannot ignore. This is the ultimate crux of their retaliations against you (and remember: retaliation in close personal relationships = always abuse).

See my post on erroneous blaming for more information.

Most abusers have personality disorders: Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. If they aren't making devious plans to physically disable you or to get rid of you, they may have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. If they want to cause you physical pain, or get rid of you, they are likely to have Antisocial Personality Disorder. In other words, narcissists usually emotionally abuse those closest to them (getting rid of you through silent treatments, disabling you socially) and antisocials usually physically abuse those closest to them (getting rid of you by planning your demise, disabling you physically and mentally). Unchecked and unchallenged narcissists can often join the ranks of the Antisocial Personality-disordered (sociopaths). Be aware that alcoholism in some people can mimic Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the difference being that when they give up the bottle entirely (rehab), they stop acting narcissistically.

What you can count on from narcissists and sociopaths is that there will be a lot of projection: they will see you as they are. They might see you as impertinent because they are impertinent; they might see you as someone who looks at their statements in disgust because they typically look at other people's statements in disgust; they might see you as disloyal and unfaithful because they are disloyal and unfaithful; they might see you as hyper-critical or condescending because they are hyper-critical and condescending; they might see you as evil because they are evil.

Unfortunately for victims, abuse for many narcissists and sociopaths is like a heroin fix: they get off on watching you suffer and "get punished" by them, and they get addicted to abuse because they get off on other people suffering. In order to get more satisfaction from abusing you, they escalate abuse. Most emotional and verbal abusers end up physically abusing. Abusers have also been known to make things up about you just to get their fix of abuse. It is just part of the escalation process no matter what you do or say.

When abusers graduate to more and more escalations of abuse, victims often realize there is a pattern and leave their abusers. Abusers then typically make promises to their victims not to abuse again. Unless they are doing an awful lot of therapy, and are treating you with the utmost respect, unless they are willing to respect every single last boundary that you put up, it is a ruse. It is just about them wanting to get their fix again.

Further reading:

In this post entitled Understanding the Trauma of Child Abuse by Richard Gold, he discusses how blame, victimization and the appearance of "perfectionism" often leads to severe trauma for the abused scapegoats of such families:
Excerpts (but the whole article is worth reading):
A child is blamed. It’s important to understand that abuse is not a “simple” hit or sex act. Abuse is coercive. The victim is blamed for the victimization. In the proc­ess, the abuser exerts control in ways that are torturous and terrifying.
A child feels ashamed. It’s important to understand that the failure of kindness and protection in the family is a profound wound to the child. The victim is deeply ashamed at this loss and carries the burden of feeling unlovable.
Beyond the circumstances of fragmentation and a sense of personal defective­ness, that reinforce one another and are further reinforced by blame and shame, there are powerful factors within abusive family systems that reinforce trauma.
Here are some of the factors in abusive family systems that reinforce trauma. Within a family, the abuser may not only be dominant, but idealized. And everyone in the family may measure themselves by the abuser’s moods ...
... Often there is an enforced isolation for the family, where the abuser passes judgment and controls outside contacts. This isolation limits the child victim’s opportunities for understanding and healing. Often in an abusive family there is a parent who is a passive enabler of the abuser, and this role is significant. The enabler makes it possible for the family to be a self-contained system. The en­abler may support or justify the abuser. The enabler may allow or even encour­age the child to serve as a target for abuse ...
... In the end, the abused child may carry the huge burden of preserving the family as an ideal – and therefore may carry a huge burden of guilt for failing in that impossible task ...
... In addition to messages from the parent that the child deserves blame for family problems, there are also significant messages that the parent doesn’t want the child to be happy or to succeed as a person beyond the abusive parent’s limited capabilities. So the child feels guilt and failure for its successes, as well for its victimizations ...

... One powerful theme throughout circumstances of abuse is the theme of secrecy. There are secrets that the child victim keeps from itself. There are secrets that the child victim keeps from the abuser, from the enabler, etc. – and vice versa. There are secrets that the abusive family keeps from society. The abusive family sus­tains itself with falsehoods ...

Narcissists Say “Mistakes Must Not Be Made” -- by Lenora Thompson
Sexual Abuse Takes Toll on Victims by Trish Kinney. Discusses that sexual abuse carries with it not only physical maladies (like cancer and IBS) that can show up years later, but many victims also develop "perfectionist personalities."

The Impact of Child Sexual Abuse on Adolescents by Sanford Health, includes withdrawing from the pain of abuse by trying to be perfectionist, people-pleasers, and overachievers.

Perfectionism plays a role in child abuse and spousal abuse from The Violence and Addiction Equation, Theoretical Conclusions in Sustance Abuse and Relationship Violence book by Christine Wekerle, Anne-Marie Wall   

Healing from Childhood Abuse: Understanding the Effects, Taking Control to Recover by John J. Lemoncelli -- it has a chapter on perfectionism and people-pleasing as being qualities of victims of abuse

Feeling you must be perfect, and perform perfectly can also be a form of self-abuse. This is just one post of many posts.

People obsessed with grammar aren't as nice as everybody else, study suggests by MJ Franklin

A forum topic is raised about "perfectionism" from a mental health provider, who still hasn't had time to heal from her own traumatic childhood ... many other people respond by telling of their experiences as well.

A cool quote by Rebecca Eanes
copyright to respectful owner:

I thought this video by Scott Bassett was worthwhile (narcissists can't love
and don't really know what to do with it):

Here is another video by Scott Bassett explaining why narcissists need you to feel
that they can live without you, that they are not dependent on anyone
(basically it is fear-based because admitting to themselves
that they need relationships makes them feel weak, inferior and out of command):

Thursday, March 17, 2016

erroneous blaming and erroneous punishing is abuse!

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

First things first: if you are an adult, and another adult is threatening to punish you or hurt you, it is always abuse.

The only time that it is not abuse is if it is a court judge giving you a sentence, or if you are in the army and a higher ranking military official makes a decision based on your conduct, or a superior fires you from your job, or if you are incarcerated you might be punished for an infraction. These kinds of figures are the only officials who have rights to punish another adult, never a family member, never a friend, never a spouse, never an acquaintance.

Punishing an adult in a close personal relationship such as in a family, between spouses, and between close friends is inappropriate, always abuse, and often illegal. Punishments in these kinds of relationships can also have long lasting effects on its victims and cause permanent damage to relationships and nullify trust.

Narcissism (one of the personality disorders associated with a likelihood to abuse) probably would cease to exist if erroneous blaming wasn't such a big part of the arsenal of weapons at the abuser's disposal.

An overwhelming number of forums and videos on narcissism and abuse cover erroneous blaming and punishment. It is the second most popular subject on abuse after favoritism (the favored golden child via the scapegoat -- see my post on favoritism to know what I am talking about).

Even though financial abuse happens in 98 percent of all abusive relationships, erroneous blaming and punishments as a subject for forums, videos and writings out-trumps it.

So why is it such a huge subject for victims of abuse?

Because it is a form of gross injustice that victims tend to fixate on when talking about their experiences, and it is used constantly by abusers. Abuse (often referred to as punishments by the abusers and narcissists themselves) almost always happens for mystifying reasons. Narcissists are known for punishing over nothing, or over something so insignificant to most everyone else, that it can leave their victims in shock.

You can be blamed for provoking the erroneous punishments and there is no way to defend yourself; the narcissist has the audacity to tell you what you are thinking, what you are feeling, why it is an egregious offense that deserves cruelty (which can be outright rejection or some other form of abuse). Many of these abusers talk over you, and discount anything you have to say. Often shortly afterward, they'll insult you endlessly over it too. It is common for them to call you animal names like rat, snake, bitch, ass, pig. Alternatively they can call you poison or evil. In other words, it is totally made up.

Narcissists can even end relationships over how you look at them (and I'm not kidding).

It can make any victim go into a panic. All victims know they are dealing with nefarious "crazy-making talk" when this is going on, and most victims learn very quickly that there isn't a thing they can say or do that will change the decision of the abuser (or narcissist, the personality type most often associated with being abusive). The real reason for the panic in victims is the unpredictability. Narcissists tend to pick the worst times of your life, or when you are off-guard by some life event to make their attack. Their rages are so intense and annihilating that they can seem, and even be, predatory and dangerous. And what is more, they have been known to enjoy acting this way.

If you work with someone like this, an important project may end for no reason at all. If you are hired by someone like this, they suddenly fire you, or refuse to pay you even though you did what the job required. If you are a child of someone like this, you can sometimes be ostracized for weeks, months, years or a lifetime over something like this, or if you are a young child, you can be hit, and battered and bruised, and thrown into your room without an explanation as to why you deserved it (or the explanation might be "You're just evil and that's the end of it").

But that is usually not the end of it.  

They'll often send in their flying monkeys (often a spouse or their favored golden child) to abuse you further: humiliate you, berate you, eviscerate you, and call you names, and try to convince you further that you are as evil and deserve as much punishment as what the narcissist says. The reason why there are others who are so willing to tell you that you are evil without witnesses, without research, and for no rhyme or reason is because narcissists tend to hang out with other narcissists (bullies). These other narcissists don't really care what the facts are, or who you are: they just want the chance to take a pot shot at you. They torture a victim, and any victim will do.

Most flying monkeys are people who generally don't seek you out: they are not calling you up to meet with you over lunch, or calling you up to get an opinion about something, or calling you up because they really like your company: their sole purpose in your life is to either ignore you (their relationship with the narc is usually so all-consuming that they don't have time for you anyway) or when they are roused by their fellow narc to go on a bullying spree.

Many narc parents prefer another narc for a spouse, just for this very reason! They love ganging up on one child victim just to take the child down together! So much togetherness and common goals! Ew!

Young children who have a narcissist for a parent really can't understand all of the irrational rage of their parent. Many survivors report that their first memory of their parent is some sort of punishment -- and one where they couldn't understand why it was deserved. Yes, their first memory. That is so sad!

So, why does it have such a big impact as to be a first memory that lasts a lifetime?

The stories sound similar: "I was playing peacefully, and my Mom (or Dad) came up behind me and whacked me hard, shoved me around, and put me in my room for a long time. I couldn't understand what I did wrong! And as the years went on and the punishments increased, I understood it less and less, even though I was made to feel I deserved it by others in the family too. It had a tremendous impact on my self esteem, as though I was deficient, as though I was wearing a sign I couldn't see, that only they could see, that said 'punch me!'."

When they asked what they did wrong, the parent tried to convince them that they, the child, was crazy and evil. And, yes, the "crazy and evil" labels are the standard common labels that abusive parents use -- all to control their victims.

It is a devastating form of gaslighting for a small child who can't even read and write yet. The narc parent desperately wants the child to think of himself as evil so that the parent can have an endless excuse to abuse for no reason at all, or for a very minor infraction. The parent desperately wants the child to think of himself as crazy so that the parent can convince the child that he is too crazy to understand why he is evil and deserves the endless punishments! To top it all off, if you grew up during the fifties, sixties and seventies, children constantly heard from their television sets and their school teachers, "Mom (or Dad) can be counted on to know what is best!" The horror! In those days, these kinds of sayings could exacerbate abuse.

Disgusting! But also incredibly tragic! No child should ever be put through this! So, if you know of a child who is talking as though they don't know why they are being punished, and the only explanation they are getting from their parents is that they are crazy or evil, please call Child Protective Services! It could save a child's life!

If your parent is telling you what you think and feel, and if he argues with you when you try to tell him what you really think and feel, I would bet your parent is a narcissist with all of the traits that go with being a narcissist.

Alcoholics have been known to use erroneous blaming too in similar ways as narcissists -- so beware. It is part of their disease. They consistently misread and misinterpret the feelings of others because their brains have been anesthetized.

One way the abuser tries to hurt targets is to provoke them just to watch their targets get angry, preferring to do it in front of others so that there is an audience. I thought the Knowing a Narcissist facebook page said it best:

A game that many narcissists enjoy playing is one where they poke at their target and provoke them, either obviously or subtly, until they get the target to react angrily. They like to have other people present when this happens, but they'll happily do it in private as well and just tell everyone about it later.

They do this because A) It's fun to them, since they are sadists who enjoy toying with people, and B) It makes their target look unstable and over-emotional to others. This will help them discredit their target if they ever tell people about the narcissist's abuse.

So what does erroneous blaming and punishing look like? Here are a few examples:

Putting all of the blame for things that go wrong on one person in a family (scapegoating). This is common with a narcissist at the helm.

"You need to be punished for that look on your face." A common one too. This one is about interpreting your feelings and using those interpretations as an excuse to abuse.

"You need to be punished for being so ungrateful!" (again, interpretive)

"You brought this on yourself!" (blaming a victim for the perpetrator's abuse)

"You meant to hurt your mother! No matter what you say, I know it, and you should feel ashamed of yourself! And so, for that, you don't deserve a mother! You will have to live a life without a mother for the rest of your days." (again, interpretive -- and so highly abusive; ostracized children are usually a sign of highly abusive parents or parent figures)

"If you can't thank me the way I want, then you will not have a place in this family again." (being erroneously blamed for how a victim expresses thankfulness, with an implied punishment/abuse of ostracism for the victim not being "perfect" in the execution of words or the portrayal of feelings that the abuser desires -- see my post on perfectionism)

"You're a snake, and that is why you are treated so badly." (a verbal abuse with an undefined, erroneous label, plus a reason for instigating an erroneous reason for abuse, plus an arbitrary reason for why the abuse is being leveraged -- if you hear a parent talking to their child this way, please call Child Protective Services)

"You're a spawn of the devil! And devils need to be locked up to be taught a lesson they will never forget!" (same as above, but more abusive and dangerous -- please call Child Protective Services if this is a child, or the police if you hear this being leveraged by one adult against another adult)

"You didn't vacuum the room I told you to vacuum! What is the matter with you!? Are you THAT STUPID!? That's the problem with you: you always get this wrong! Just for that, I'm not eating the dinner you cooked. I'm just going to drink instead. I can't stand you right now! And that's the end of this discussion!" (using a mistake by the victim as an excuse to punish and verbally abuse -- i.e. branding a victim as "stupid" -- and using an always/never statement to unfairly brand a victim further as incompetent, plus ending a conversation in order to cut the victim off from hearing his perspective, including why he might have vacuumed a different room than he was "told to" vacuum -- see my post on constant insults and criticism which explains always/never statements in abusive relationships ... and by the way, a child who appears to get "orders wrong" on a consistent basis may have PTSD from abuse)
"You told me that you would go on a date with me to the aquarium! And now your boss has you on a string for the day?! Screw that! And screw you too! I'm going to invite Susan on a date, just for that!" and then leans in, tauntingly, "How do like them apples!?" (punishing someone because they got called in for work, retaliating by inviting someone else out for a date to take your place, thereby threatening the longevity of the relationship you have invested in, and taunting ... and by the way, taunting is bullying, and bullying is abuse)

"You're crazy and stupid! And crazy, stupid people get exactly what is coming to them!" (verbal abuse, labeling, and the implication that the victim deserves bad luck or abuse)

The victim is sick. The perpetrator uses the sickness as an excuse to abuse: "I just don't feel like I owe you anything! There is no law on the book that says that I have to take care of you! Maybe you deserve to die of this! You might not ever be grateful for how I treated you, anyway! In fact, I'll leave you right now and never come back unless you get out of bed and do the job you agreed to!" (using a tragedy or illness as an excuse to abuse is often done by people with antisocial personality disorder or malignant narcissists: they make it very clear that they don't care what you are going through or how you are feeling; their "orders" and arm-twisting are all that matter to them)

A step-parent telling an underage child: "You always were and always will be bad! You never deserved a mother, and now I'm going to make sure that you never deserve one again! You're going to live with your father and I hope I never see your sniveling ugly little face around here again!" (interfering in the mother/child relationship, making decisions which adversely effect both mother and child, shaming the child with labeling which is a form of both verbal and emotional abuses, treating a child as though they are a freak and that they don't deserve what other children deserve in the way of a place in the family, terrorizing a child as children are naturally bonded to their parent for survival -- contact Child Protective Services).

These are just "for instances". There are, unfortunately, many, many more that abusers use. Most erroneous blaming is about the abuser labeling their targets feelings first, then labeling their target in relation to those feelings (devil, snake, bitch, cunt, rat, poison, evil, stupid) for these made up feelings, then using these as excuses to punish/abuse -- and please note that punishments and abuse almost always get worse unless there are consequences for the perpetrator, or the victim leaves the relationship and sets up boundaries that greatly limit or inhibit contact).

In another post, I will talk about the "You brought this upon yourself" phrasing that abusers use in order to justify abuse (a similar topic to this one, but which is at the heart of all abuse, including abuses like erroneous blaming and punishments).

People who use any of these phrases (above) can be dangerous, and can get dangerous very quickly. Sometimes it doesn't take much for the abuse to escalate where your safety or life is in danger. Being silent at what they are leveraging against you can send them into as much of a blind annihilating rage as trying to defend yourself to tell them what you are really thinking and feeling (which, of course they don't want to hear, because they are so sure of themselves). To them, opposition (including a minor difference of opinion) can be seen as war, as so deeply offensive, that they tell themselves that "those different perspectives" need to be wiped off the planet, along with the person who stated them (this is common thinking for terrorists too). These are highly toxic people who should be encouraged to get their minds, their agendas and focus off of you (in other words they should be abandoned if they are not your family, and if they are your family, their potential for being dangerous is still high -- you can abandon them too, or alternately what many survivors do is to keep the contact very minimal, to very large family events, to go gray rock, i.e. to talk about the weather, or tell their family members they will not be discussing personal subjects). As a therapist once told me, narcissists and sociopaths can either be irreparably hurt or go into a killing rage because you didn't butter their toast the way they wanted -- and he wasn't kidding when he said it, any more than I am kidding about a look or a glance you gave them being a punishable offense deserving of an overwhelming amount of abuse for days, weeks, months, years or a lifetime.

This is one reason why narcissists and sociopaths are abandoned (if they don't abandon first): the punishments are so over the top and so creepy and so irrationally erroneous and so full of hatred and vitriol (over so many minor issues), that being around them does not make sense in terms of relationship-investment, in terms of spending time with them and listening to them, in terms of having them in your life and home and around your children where they can cause more trouble, in terms of working with them at a job where they can create such an unstable pernicious environment that nothing gets done and the business flounders. You can't count on them to be "reasonable and normal". They are hotheads in a burning inferno of their own making.

Most bullies are narrow minded and fixed. If you ask for understanding, empathy and looking at issues from another angle, they refuse do so (most of them). They can't even entertain the possibility of another perspective for a second, they are so arrogant. They will just give you a patronizing lecture which solidifies, for them, their world perspective over and over again, the same perspective that they had last year, and ten years ago, and fifty years ago. Understanding you is not "on the table" because only their own perspectives matter to them, even if it is the farthest thing from who you actually are. They do not even care if their perspective is out of the ballpark and does not convince.

A child victim is not going to think of himself as someone with evil ulterior motives who deserves abuse. Occasionally it happens because of a mob mentality (his whole family scapegoating him), but even then, there is almost always serious doubt in the mind of the victim.

Many narcs feel that part of their superiority is that they can read minds, but it is so far from the truth! In my own experience, only highly observant, sensitive, unusually empathetic people have the ability to read expressions and understand what those expressions really mean; certainly not narcs! They are as far from being accurate at understanding their fellow humans as anyone I have met.

One exception: their knowledge about their fellow human beings is about as deep as how lions know gazelles. The difference between the lion species and ours is that they don't hunt and try to destroy their own offspring (cubs). Pretty messed up brain wiring!

So many accusations that narcs lob at victims in terms of analyzing their victim's feelings, thoughts and experiences are so far from the truth that it is dizzying. When you can sit and analyze why they accused you of something, it usually always sounds like projection: it is the way they think, feel and act. If they call you evil (one of their favorite indictments), it is about them: they are all about mirrors, after all! This is one reason why it is impossible to talk to narcs: they can't grasp what is really happening outside their own angry, paranoid jealous internal world. Part of being a shallow person without empathy and "a relationship quitter" when uncomfortable personal subjects are raised, is that they cannot even begin to know people because of their aversion to any solution but the silent treatment when times are tough in a relationship. How can you ever know a person when you just put a wall of self righteous silence between you? You really can't have a glimmer of what other people are like, or going through, or have any other perspectives other than your own. It is like a child who has books, but refuses to read them. Narcs refuse to understand other people and are content at being highly ignorant and reactive about other people instead. They are that lazy and mindless. The only thoughts, feelings, needs and perspectives they truly understand are their own, period.

This is the basis for why narcs oftentimes hit a child when the child is happily playing with some toys. The narc parent gets some sort of overwhelming feeling in their own body, projects it onto a child, and then WHAM! The child is hit! The child is punished for how the parent felt!

Narc parents hit, brutalize and isolate their child more times than not over false issues: when the child is ruminating about how to ace the next test, or what to do about a sick pet, or what to give a grandparent for their birthday, or over concentrating on making a complicated model airplane: it could be anything, and yes, abusers are that far off the mark when they accuse and punish!

Often the thoughts and perspectives of the victim are so incongruous to what the abuser is seeing and insisting on, that victims cannot but help to roll their eyes (which becomes another punishable offense because you are showing the abuser your impertinence at not agreeing with his views of you, and you are showing too much autonomy -- abusers hate, and I mean HATE, autonomy!)

This is why I do not agree with the premise that narcs are intelligent. They can't be! They are not engaged with others to a degree of comprehending and understanding them. They cannot begin to fathom differences in other people, or begin to appreciate ranges of perspectives; the only thing they understand is their own desires: to mirror others, to manipulate others, and to strategize ways to go about it. And even then, they are mostly caught at these unethical practices. So how does that make them intelligent, again?

When a victim rolls his eyes, as a sign of disagreement with his abuser's perspective, the abuser really only gets that facile amount of information, the "disagreement" part of the information. He does not get the "reason" behind the rolling eyes. In other words, he is not trying to figure out why someone is rolling their eyes: what he knows is that he doesn't like it because it isn't flattering. He believes his views are the only worthwhile views, even if they are not the truth, and the truth is not something he investigates anyway. Narcs are highly reactive to stimuli like grimaces, and yawning, and yes, rolling eyes. Narcs spend more time reacting than investigating. All of this is why when narcs punish their children, they tend to be over-the-top abusive AND unjust as well. I would go far as to say almost all punishments by narc parents are unwarranted.

Even when it comes to understanding themselves, I don't think narcissists grasp much. They know they feel, and think, but that is about it. I agree with Sam Vankin's premise that narcissists are essentially hollow beings who try to take on the personalities, concerns and interests of others (mimicry) in order to feel they are part of the human race. However, a mirror is not an authentic self, it is a one-way, small, flat view of someone or something. When a parrot picks up the vocal tones and some phrases, he doesn't really understand what the phrases mean the way we, as humans, understand. That is, I believe, how the narcissist functions.

Narcs care too much about what other people think of them, to the point where, if they don't like what another person is saying, they abandon the relationship. Again, only being open to praise (typical of narcs) means that a whole array of other experiences and perspectives get wiped out.

This is why they cannot even begin to be enlightened about how other people think and feel. So adult child abuse victims, based on this, should not worry about whether the narc in their lives loves them or not, or approves of them or not (because a narc is so dysfunctional in their perceptions that they are not capable of having an adult, sane, uncharged, comprehending, two-way kind of conversation where they understand their child). If you tell them that they hurt you, they will just mirror back: "No, you hurt me!" They are not interested in your feelings because they cannot begin to travel away from how they feel and think. In relationships, they will just continue to justify the unjustifiable, make up your motivations, blame you for things that don't exist and when being around you is upsetting to them, will mirror you or tell you that you are crazy (gaslighting). To them you are crazy because mirrors is all that they understand and enjoy. If they can't make a patronizing competitive remark, or they can't manipulate you, or they can't make you feel ashamed and indebted, or they can't make a mirror out of something you said, they don't know what to do with you. Your autonomy, strength, talent, intelligence, differences and resoluteness is the last thing they want; it is like a giant scary monster with big sharp teeth to them, so they either run away (abandon) or lock you up (isolate), denounce you as insane or throw you away. And you are crazy, but only to them, not to most of us with normal amounts of empathy. This, I am convinced, is at the heart of their abuse towards you. To them, people they cannot comprehend and control are monsters that need to be destroyed, and if they see any of this monster in you at all, they amp up the cruelty and sadism.

The only thing they can get their heads around is either a sycophant or a mirror that doesn't challenge them. This is why they adopt and try to mold a favored golden child among their children into a "mini-me" (golden children learn early to flatter, and to be rewarded for mimic-ing their parent's personality). The only time they let up on giving their scapegoats endless silent treatments (or other dis-favoring activities) is when the scapegoats make notable achievements. Then they try to charge back into the scapegoats lives again, try to take credit, and once they feel ensconced, try to micro-manage their scapegoats' careers.

This is why I have come to the conclusion that you cannot be invested in a relationship with a narc. This is why gray rock discussions like laundry, dishes and gardening are the only kinds of conversations that make sense to have with parents who are narcissists. They might like personal heart--to-hearts, and they might sweet talk you into having one, or goad and make you a laughing stock if you refuse, or they might try to pry like crazy for information, but if you listen to them, they rarely have an insightful response to anything you might have to say. And because they are so untrustworthy, it will work against you. They twist it around in their overwhelmingly angry, jealous, bitter minds and ponder over what to do with the information. The one thing you can count on about their responses is that they are almost assured to be off the wall! They are not capable, in the least, of being able to handle profound subjects, personal subjects, or professional subjects; they have very little understanding of them (when it comes to you). These people aren't much older than six -- indeed, it is like trying to talk to a six year old about big grown up subjects -- it can't be done!

Only empathetic people should have access to your feelings, thoughts, motivations and your perspectives about your experiences. With empathetic people you can have deep conversations, where their perspectives and perceptions are in the same ballpark as yours, and where their responses make sense. You can bring up challenging subjects too, without being blamed for something erroneous.

People who tell you what you think and feel are most often personality disordered: Borderline Personality Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. It is also the first sign of a personality-disordered person -- so be on the lookout! What they say is so often a projection of their own thoughts and personality on to you because they take absolutely no time to hear and research your perspective.

Also, so many parent abusers give their children the silent treatment for so much of their children's lives, or isolate them in some way, that they can't possibly know their child, let alone understand a thing about them. That is why when they are screaming at you that you are evil and need to be punished, you need to take it all with a grain of salt and view them the way Mozart viewed his stepmother in the movie, Amadeus (used her screeching blaming, shaming session as an inspiration for his opera piece -- and a not too flattering one).

So if you know that an adult child has been ostracized from his family, it is usually because he has ignorant parents who don't know what else to do with him other than to punish (abuse) him.

People with normal amounts of empathy won't treat you this way: they will ask you what you think and feel and what your experiences are. Moreover, they will be interested in what you have to say and will try to see it from your angle. They will spend some time evaluating it, especially if they are in a close personal relationship with you, with a lot at stake, and furthermore, they won't try to control you with their perspective, and reject you if it isn't their perspective (remember, their lives are all about them, them, them and what they think, feel and thought, felt and what they always do about what they think, feel, and thought, felt!). Normal folks are also agreeable to therapy if the communication lines break down (another sign of a personality-disordered person is an absolute refusal to go to therapy, to deal with personal problems and issues in a healthy self examining way: they are willing to lose the relationship with their child instead).

So how do you get the respect you deserve? By not trying to force your perspectives on close-minded people like narcissists, and by keeping to subjects that they can handle like laundry, dishes, cooking, nature, weather and the latest art exhibit -- i.e. no personal subjects. Most of them will find you too boring, and perhaps threatening, if you insist on those subjects in your relationship, and therefor leave you alone -- and that should be fine. It is not your job to entertain them in ways where they cannot handle personal subjects in a responsible way. If they have used personal explanations and information from you to twist it around in their unhinged minds, and use it to make sick insulting allegations, then they'll do it again. It is about taking personal subjects away from them, as you would take car keys away from a six year old.

You take your personal discussions to reasonable, healthy, normal people instead, the kind of true adults that have the capacity to understand what you are about, and can see you through your challenges, who can love you wholly, unconditionally, gently. You take personal discussions to people who do NOT have a history of silent treatments, erroneous blaming sessions and childish vapid responses.

In another post, I will talk more about what works best when dealing with an erroneous allegation. For the sake of brevity here, I will say that most therapists suggest you walk away and not respond at all. In other words, don't even bother defending yourself. If they insist you respond, you just hold firm on not responding.

I have tried two ways:
1. walking away without responding
2. trying to get them to understand my perspective through writing reams of letters where the narc could sit down, re-read, and hopefully get a glimmer of understanding where I was coming from.

In the latter case, I found what so many survivors find: that narcs use their targets pleadings to understand them for abuse escalation purposes: more crazy blaming, more cruelty, and arguing. Narcs love to argue, and they get really dirty and filthy about it, with taunting, goading and insults. Once I saw the "mean girls" junior high behavior, and was sickened by it, it cured me of ever wanting to talk to them about another personal issue again, or of having any hopes whatsoever of being understood by them. Their taunting was the switch that turned off my desire. So, I would say that in order to skip this step, walking away from these discussions from the very beginning is what is best. I have found that, for the most part, defending yourself only gets more bullying and escalating, and more arguing, and more responses that go nowhere except to show they are heartless people.

In another post I will also talk about an antidote to abuse: being in relationships with deep thinkers (philosophers and writers of the human condition) and highly empathetic people (therapists, spiritual workshop leaders, peace movement people) and team-player musicians. It is what I did for a decade of a silent treatment by someone in my life: and it was a profound life-altering experience that made all of the difference!

I know so many of you survivors out there get fixated on what these narc parents did to you, because I hear and read your stories all of the time (I am often reading and listening late at night -- and I also know that some of you read this blog). And it is deeply traumatizing, that it can be disabling -- I totally get that.

But if you can eventually throw a tiny bit of caution to the wind, there are people who are authentically compassionate, who will not try to break you when you are going through tragic events in your life. I think when you are a child of abusive parents, trust is an emotion you can't feel easy about, and don't want to feel. So you put it in a cage and don't let it out for fear that it will hurt you again. Many victims of abuse isolate themselves. You might have trust in your mailman to deliver your mail every day, but that is about it.

The point I am trying to make is that taking a tiny leap of faith to try trusting in others who are exhibiting compassion towards you (without automatically doubting it as another ruse) is the thing that can heal you from abuse. Abusive people want you to feel isolated, alone and suffering. And then victims also help to create more isolation, loneliness and suffering in their lives from fixating on the bad people and not trusting potentially good people (I did it at one time, so I know). If victims can allow themselves to trust someone in little teeny tiny baby steps, taking a lot of time to research and understand the motives of a person, then that relationship can become the catalyst that creates healing in you.

There are ways to tell if you are just getting sucked into another abuser's world. Abusers can (and often do) parrot the tone of voice and movements of authentic empaths pretty darn well. If you just go with that, you can get burned again. Indeed, it can be hard to tell the true empaths from the fake empaths if you just go on how they are sounding. The difference between the real ones and the fake ones is that the fake ones have a history of rejecting people in close personal relationships, they use tactics common to abusers (gaslighting, imperious lectures, taunting, constant chiding, mirroring, constant pressures to disclose, an insistence of being in charge, silent treatments and sometimes physical violence). There is evidence in their pasts of callous or cruel behavior and arm-twistings (blackmail). So, you have to look into their pasts beyond the empathetic face they are showing you at the moment. I have outlined some of the signs to look for that most abusers display in the types of abuse blog post.

One of the potential signs of an abuser is what this blog talks about: someone who tells you what you feel and/or think, and being insistent about it. Another one is one adult telling another adult they need to be punished.

So what I am proposing here is to be open to the real empaths by going molasses-thick-slow if you think you have found a real empath, and research their history (with their friends, family and exes). If you find any warning signs, back out. If you do not come across any of the warning signs, go forward, but still be cautious. Hint: it took me over 10 years to trust some friends, who, by all appearances, had a super-functional family where everyone respected each other, and were compassionate towards each other, all in an idyllic setting (happy dogs included). I would cry every time I pulled out of her driveway. It became apparent that she and her husband were the real deal; everyone around them remarked that they were tremendously good people. Being around them, and at their family gatherings, made all of the difference in my healing. There are others in my life too that are real, but my point is that my thoughts go towards people like this now, instead of the abusers who tried to take me down like so much prey at the most tragic point of my life (my father's death, our closest family friend's death, and six surgeries between my partner and I ... They couldn't have been more cruel). And yes, tragic times are when bullies get activated.

Most of the writings for this blog were done between 2013 and June of 2015. I have 187 blogs waiting in the wings to be published. In other words, all I really do now for the blog is cartooning and approximately one hour of editing to publish the posts.

I still read about upcoming new laws (like the Cinderella law in Great Britain that make emotional abuse a crime). I still listen to survivors' stories and propose ways to join together to bring awareness and start a movement (much like the civil rights movement, or the women's rights movement). While I am happy that schools are doing more to address bullying, I think they also need to do more to tell children what constitutes child abuse. There are still too many child victims that fall through the cracks -- locking a child up in a bedroom for seven months, or making them live in a backyard doghouse in freezing temperatures should not be going on in this day and age. Neither should barbarous practices like punishing a child for a look on his face.

While school nurses are trained to look for bruises and scratches that can detect child abuse, they are not trained, by and large, to look for sexual abuse, emotional abuse, sibling abuse and bullying, poisoning, over-medicating to control a child, children being taught to normalize abuse, children being taught to normalize witnessing sex between adults, children being made to take the blame for alcoholic rages and abuse, constant criticism, chiding and vilifying, erroneous blaming and the "punishments" that result from it, scapegoating one child while favoritizing another child in the same family, and ostracism of children is all part of child abuse. This all needs to change, and change now.

So my reason for even thinking about narcs is to help my fellow survivors.

For me, the first part of my recovery was a deep desire to be my most authentic self. That, I decided, was the most important thing I could do in terms of living a happy, fulfilling life. You can't be totally and completely authentic around people who are manipulative and overbearingly controlling and want to put crazy-making sadistic labels on you. It is just never going to happen! When I got to a point where I didn't want to plead with abusive people to be kinder, or to ask them to listen and understand where I was coming from, when I truly surrendered all of the pipe dreams of making up with these kinds of people, that is when my life changed. During the process, more and more deep, profound, enlightened people showed up in my life, and it was totally compelling. I just want to tell you step-by-step how I got there (hoping it may inspire you).

One person who was around me from the very beginning in 2013, said all kinds of things to divert my attention away from my abusers, and the suicide I was contemplating. One of the first was about "deflecting arrows" that I wrote about in my first blog post. But the following one pertains to the blog topic I am writing about here: "When you make your life about healing yourself, you can heal others, and then peace becomes more possible for the whole world." That makes sense. There have been great people all along the way, to the people I live with, who were constantly checking up on me in the early days to make sure I would stick around, to all of the other saintly survivors who make it their life's work to help others out of the darkness. I am glad to be part of that community and to be contributing. More later ...

Many narcissists try to mold people to suit them
and this is the crux of why they "punish", patronize, degrade, goad and bully.
For those of you who want an authentic life and to be the powerful
personalities and voices you were meant to be,
I found this song (and singer, Jordan Smith) to be inspirational.
The refrain is "Stand in the light to be seen as you are":

Further reading:

false allegations -- an article from Wikipedia
Narcissistic Rage: Rage by a narcissist is directed towards the person that they feel has slighted them. This rage impairs their cognition, therefore impairing their judgment. During the rage, they are prone to shouting, fact distortion and making groundless accusations.[23]

psychological projection -- an article from Wikipedia
Projection tends to come to the fore in normal people at times of crisis, personal or political[16] but is more commonly found in the neurotic or psychotic[17] in personalities functioning at a primitive level as in narcissistic personality disorder or borderline personality disorder.[18]

victim blaming -- an article from Wikipedia

idealization and devaluation -- from an article from Wikipedia, including a discussion on narcissism 

defamation -- an article from Wikipedia

Why Abusers Who Punish Use the Ungrateful Phrase -- my own post on why the "ungrateful" phrase is often used in erroneous blaming situations

Here is something I found that is appropriate to this topic.
It is from facebook: www.facebook.com/NonviolentParenting 

Here is a relevant graphic that I found on Knowing a Narcissist's facebook page:

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Do people who have been brought up to abuse and be terrorists have a choice in their behavior?

cartoon, © 2016
all rights reserved
(for questions regarding use of images or contract an image for your next article
contact: LilacGroveGraphics (att) yahoo.com)

I made this cartoon, but on this topic, despite what I have portrayed here, I have no idea!

But, I do have some thoughts on the matter.

If a child is brought up in a home where bullying of his scapegoat sibling is condoned by his sociopath or narcissistic parent, are his emotions and brain more or less permanently wired and conditioned to see that sibling as inferior and a convenient target to abuse? This topic might be good for a researcher to explore.

Some research has been done about parents who raise abusive narcissistic children. According to this article in the Washington Post, researchers Brad Bushman of Ohio State University, and Eddie Brummelman, a post-doctoral researcher at Holland's University of Amsterdam and Utrecht University, discovered that narcissism develops from being treated as superior to other children by parents. Here is an excerpt:

"I've been studying aggression for about 30 years ... and I've seen that the most harmful belief that a person can have is that they're superior to others. 'Men are better than women, my race is better than your race, my religion is superior to your religion.' When people believe they're better than other people, they act accordingly."

He and Brummelman wrote in this paper: "Narcissistic individuals feel superior to others, fantasize about personal successes, and believe they deserve special treatment. When they feel humiliated, they often lash out aggressively or even violently."

Let us take a look at the Kornegay family again as an instance of an over-valued child and an undervalued child living in the same household (I have talked about them before in many other blog posts). The golden child 16 year old son was allowed to discipline and abuse his 15 year old sister (who was kept in an empty room with a locked door with only a blanket and a bucket to pee in). This is how she was punished by the parents, and the 16 year old was just following their orders, and believing in them about his stature (as being entitled and better than his sibling). The 16 year old was allowed to discipline and punish her in any way that he desired, especially when his parents were off on trips (which included verbal, emotional, physical and sexual abuse, including depriving her access to a bathroom, a kitchen, or any emotional or mental stimulation).

Could it be argued that the 16 year old was conditioned to believe he was doing the right thing, so that he always felt he was in the right no matter how much abuse he instigated? The impetus for his abuse was to control the scapegoat, to discipline her, to keep her contained and imprisoned so that she would accept her low stature, so that she would stop complaining and stop fighting for her freedom. Even as an adult, even with exposure to a doctrine in the greater society that bullying and abuse is wrong, would he have really believed that it was wrong, especially if his parents told him he was not wrong, ever?

The problem with reactions to abuse in the present day is that many family members (cousins, aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, children and siblings) often have the attitude that familial abuse is a private matter that should be decided within the family, and that it does not concern them, and that they should stay out of it. They often also condone and take part in abusing scapegoat(s) too, especially if the authority figures of a family can convince other relatives that the scapegoating and isolating of their family member is necessary, if they can convince others that the scapegoat(s) are crazy and/or bad and/or deserve abuse. So the bullying becomes a nightmare for the victim. It is a wonder that suicide rates aren't higher (most prisoners live on self-generated fumes of hope for awhile, including victims of abuse, so that may be the reason for why suicide rates aren't higher).

Abusive families can even have liberal agendas. Some of these families espouse being against domestic violence, but not when it comes to their own homes and how they punish their children. They will say that terrorism is evil, that the people in those organizations are bigoted and ignorant, but when it comes to their own child, they are bigoted and treat them like a slave or an outsider, i.e. as "not good enough", or only good enough to bully. I have heard abusive people even say "these terrorists should" automatically and magically "wake up to the fact that violence is not the answer for our species or the planet," and yet at home they partake in violent aggression and scapegoating of a child or other family member.

The truth is, they may not deserve a peaceful world or a peaceful life if they can't make it happen in their own homes with their own families. Perhaps they can't stop the tide of violence and abuse in their homes any better than the terrorists can stop acts of terrorism, acts of war, and taunting towards nations, races or ethnically diverse groups.

I generally refer to the kinds of hypocrites that talk of peace, but condone family scapegoating, as the "they should people". These are folks who go around and say, "They should be stemming violence at these rallies", "They should do something about our neighbor selling drugs", "They should be patrolling our streets more often", "They should let women have the choice about what to do with their own bodies", "They shouldn't be giving food stamps to just anyone; there needs to be an application process which is heavily vetted" (and guess what: in order to get food stamps there is a lengthy application process and it is heavily monitored and vetted, but some of these people don't care that they made factual errors .... the more important part of their message is the they part, the theys being those amorphous authority figures that are in charge of decisions and laws making the world and civilization a certain way). And, of course, I always love: "They should be doing more to put an end to domestic violence" (and yes, abusers say it with a straight face, and even go into detail about how they need to pass better legislation for victims, and it is shocking to hear it!).

One of the reasons why most abusers cannot tolerate therapy (only one quarter of one percent enroll in domestic violence therapy voluntarily -- most domestic abuse offenders who go to therapy are court-ordered), is that they are deathly afraid of shame and their own hypocrisy. Instead of dealing with shame and hypocrisy, they take the tack of blaming their victims instead: the he made me do it desperate and not-believable explanations and defense mechanisms. The reason why they run so fast away from their victims, giving them the silent treatment and spending an inordinate amount of time smearing their victims' reputations, is to make sure that they will not feel any shame at all for what they have done, or their part in it. It is simply easier for them to get rid of their victims (and yes, this does and can include their own children), and to pretend that they are the victims instead, and lie, manipulate and make up stories, all in order to keep the big bad shame monster away from them. Everything is sacrificed so that they do not have to own up to how they treated, and still treat others.

Eventually their narcissism grows so sick and so deep and so entrenched that they actually get happy and smug that they have hurt so many people and, most of all, gotten away with it so many times. They can be extremely bitter old people whose narcissism and abusiveness has gotten much worse -- the overwhelming trend.

Many abusers insist that ending a relationship with their victim, and subsequently living with the constant paranoia at being found out about their true natures is much more preferable than working things out with their victims. If you know of parents who ostracized their child over something trivial (like breaking a vase by accident, or of not being available for babysitting for a week because they had rehearsals for a school play, or of breaking a curfew once, or of unintentionally hurting their parent over a sentence), then this is what is going on, partly. The other part of the picture is that they feel ostracized children will be learning "Don't you ever cross me, or else" kinds of lessons that abusers are famous for. They also believe their ostracized victims should be making amends to them, giving into them, trying to ameliorate the ostracism by behaving ("behaving" often meaning willing to tolerate more and worse abuse just to be a member of the family).

If they take their ostracized children back without their children doing the beg, the plead, the "please forgive me" dance, most often it IS NOT because they feel badly about abusing their child, it is purely to save face. Most of their friends and family know that ostracizing a child who is normal, out in the workplace without addictions or a criminal record, or pursuing an education, is usually about toxic parents that abuse. Sometimes the narcissists are caught at a lie, or making up a story, or their children are speaking out, or their children or a spouse runs into one of the narcissist's friends and tells the horrible story of what the parent did (and it can't be covered up with a lie because so many people are telling the same story), that is the point where the narcissists try to do damage control, because their reputations are at stake. Even if they feel they can cover their tracks, they know people will be looking at them suspiciously. A child talking about favoritism and sibling abuse is a nightmare enough (and many scapegoats of narcissistic parents get ostracized for even making mention of the subject), but a child talking about child abuse is their worse nightmare!

This happens even on a larger scale.

Etsy, a large publicly traded company who hosts mostly sole entrepreneur sellers of handmade, fine art, supplies and vintage, seemingly couldn't stand all of the bad press in major publications that resulted in many, many sellers speaking out against the company. The company muted so many of its sellers in its public forums from even hinting about Etsy's arbitrary rules about what constituted handmade (and the company's hypocrisies in this regard). In fact, it was argued by many of the sellers, that the venue gave certain sellers who were, in effect, "forum flying monkeys and cupcakes" who went along with every Etsy policy and change, no matter how bad, preferential treatment (favoritism) in the way of features, front page exposure and top press exposure. So, thousands of sellers were muted in the forums and banned from the site for talking about these issues. So, many of these sellers tried another avenue: they banded together to speak out against Etsy in major publications instead, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Regretsy, and many others. This, in turn, caused Etsy to lose credibility with both sellers and buyers, and their business started floundering. Shortly afterwards, Etsy set up "seller teams" which were open to even the muted sellers, but were "private" from buyers and potential sellers, in order to contain the dissension and complaining within its own company (this was the cynical view by many of its sellers, anyway). The sellers' favorite phrase, in fact, within these teams was that "Etsy would prefer us to piss and moan inside the tent, so long as it stays in these private teams, than outside the tent where all of the world can see it and the big publications can run with it."

I think families do this with their ostracized abused members eventually too, and for the same reasons.

So, the ostracized member is most often NOT taken back into the family for the right reasons (love); they are taken back because the shunned member is embarrassing to them and creating embarrassment about them as well. It is rare for narcissists to take back ostracized children unless their child is getting uncomfortably successful for them (they have had the attitude that their scapegoats aren't supposed to be successful, after all; they are supposed to be poor, hungry, hurting, groveling and grieving) or unless their scapegoat is giving the family a bad rap (this can especially be of concern if there are other ostracized members and in-laws who see the evil, hear the evil, and speak about the evil they saw and heard, i.e. backing up the scapegoats with the same stories about abuse).

So, if you are being taken back into the family fold, look at the circumstances of your return first. I would bet it has to do with exposure. I would also bet the furthest thing from these abusers' minds is loving. No, if anything, it is how to be ever more clever so that they can get away with more underhanded not-as-easily-detected abuses, abuses that are nauseatingly transparent, as retaliation over their abused members exposing them. It is probably about hiding the abuse better too. Remember: most abusers don't go to therapy voluntarily, and they never admit to hurting others (unless it is for show).

Licensed therapist, Josephine Ferraro, wrote an excellent piece about why clients who feel shame end therapy sessions abruptly (and mostly she talks about victims of abuse carrying around shame, so you can imagine why perpetrators cannot stand living with shame in therapy for even a milli-second). 
So anyway, many liberal families who abuse their children act just like Etsy in this regard. They believe in liberal causes like Civil Rights, Women's Liberation, health insurance for all, peace, safeguarding democracy, Domestic Violence awareness (possibly to hide who they really are), but live a duplicitous life by abusing their children mercilessly behind closed doors.

Which brings me to my next question:  

If a child is brought up in a terrorist organization and taught to kill infidels with a lot of military and weapons training, does the child have any real choice when he becomes an adult? Can he really think that terrorism is wrong and have the forethought to know that terrorism brings devastation to those who are targets of terrorism and those who practice terrorism? If all he knows is that infidels are inferior to him and must be killed, can his mind really entertain other, more contrary thoughts? Is he really capable of moderate, reasonable thinking and reactions? What if he is assured everlasting life and twenty virgins in the after-life for his terrorist activities? Does he feel he has anything to lose by being a soldier of his organization's righteousness?

If there really is no choice for children who have been raised to be golden child bullies and abusers and/or golden child soldiers of terrorist organizations, it means that the brain is more of a computer than an explorer and researcher, more intransigent than investigative.

Even Christ realized that the people who were executing and torturing him did not know what they were really doing ("forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" -- Luke 23:34). His persecutors were taught to hate and torture. He realized the executioners job was just a job, that there was no real enlightenment or understanding behind it. Indeed, none of the people who put Christ to death really knew Christ or made a rational, understanding, unbiased decision. Even though Christ's doctrine has been out there for 2,000 years and counting, most people, I am convinced, still do not understand him and his word. Too many people have twisted his words and intentions, such as "thou shalt not kill", as justification to kill. They think that Christ would make exceptions, that he might order killing in a just war, or order abuse in a troubled household. They think that Christ would condone violent actions in some situations rather than oppose them.

Are you kidding me? Nothing, absolutely nothing, he said condoned war, abuse or terrorism. How arrogant to think that he would rubber stamp all of the wars, or the present war, in his name! One thing about arrogance is that it can turn people into narcissists and sociopaths who think they are better than their victims.

It is my contention that Christ, even with followers, was a scapegoat for irrational rage and hatred. And did we human beings pay for it! And we are still paying for it as one war after another, after another, after another, with no rest for the earth and its living creatures, is instigated for the sake of religion.

I believe that most scapegoats come to the conclusion that Christ did: that people do not know what they are doing when they hate. And believe me, scapegoats go through feelings of anger and hatred just as much as the perpetrators do, but they don't let it take over their heart and their thinking (usually). They can be especially angry over all of the injustice they are put through, but their reactions in dealing with their anger are night-and-day different from their abusers (usually). Unlike the haters who torture others as a pastime or job they think they are entitled to perform, and where obtaining new narcissistic supply for their hatred is just part of their game plan, the scapegoat leaves the field of battle because he does not want to feel hatred. It is my contention that he does not leave the battlefield because he is hated; it is because he does not want to feel hatred, and to be living in battlefields. He already knows that the hatred that is being lobbed at him over endless inconsequential controlling tactics from his perpetrator(s) is irrational. The real issue is that scapegoats do not want to resemble their perpetrators at all: they just don't want to go around in life filled up with hatred, scheming retaliations, letting hatred define all of their movements throughout life the way perpetrators do. Most scapegoats, I have found, are most interested in doing work that helps others. They might pursue legal avenues, restraining orders and the like, to keep perpetrators from seeking any more ways to hurt them, or from hurting others. In other words, it is not a measure for revenge, but a setting up of boundaries. Unlike perpetrators, other people are not an obsession: scapegoats don't tend to think about "people manipulations". Survivors don't want to spend their lives being punitive, petty and "stupid" carrying around hatred in their bodies, minds and souls. They know first-hand what the perpetrators of hatred do to victims who are hated, so getting hatred out of the body and soul can be the primary focus and motivation of setting up boundaries and going "no contact" to safeguard against any more abuse. These are good reasons for going no contact, unlike narcissists who use the silent treatment. Narcissists silent treatments are about manipulating people and punishing those people who refuse to be manipulated. Going no contact, however, is a response to abuse, a protection from abuse, and a protection from one's children learning from abusers, and being around manipulation and abuse.

So scapegoats and refugees of violent dictatorships seek ways to avoid the abusers and terrorists: they leave their families; they leave their countries. They move to places where they can live in peace and not be tortured. Most scapegoats come to the realization and conclusion that hatred, lack of empathy and lack of deep rational thinking (stupidity) are one and the same.

Hatred is blind. Once hatred takes hold (overwhelming the emotions to the point where it takes over its host with irrational decision-making), perhaps that is when the brain becomes incapable of new ideas. A moderate ordered peaceful mind and the "thinking" that is required to make situations peaceful, is deeply compromised to make room for all of that rage. In fact, I'll go so far as to say that I believe that narcissists generally and often experience so much rage that it is the only thing left in their minds, hearts and bodies: it has completely and utterly taken over them to the point where nothing else can be felt, and no other thought can get in. These aren't generally people who solve problems, so it must be. Instead, they make many more problems for themselves, as well as for others. And they never have a creative solution to an interpersonal problem they are encountering with another person. The silent treatment is the only thing most of them understand and use, unless they have gone further into the physical abuse stage as well. Which is to say, their method of solving interpersonal conflicts and issues is quitting (they are, by and large, quitters in areas of their lives that are not working out exactly as they want, not just in relationships). So, it would stand to reason that their systems are mostly full of rage and hatred.

Hatred pretends to love the few, by sacrificing the many. It is myopic, hard hearted, unpopular and throw-back. It is emotional, and not thinking. It is irrational, and not expansive or enlightened. It's bed-fellow is often fear, envy, selfishness, greed and anger.  There is a reason why Jesus, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, William Wallace, Sitting Bull, Chief Joseph, Crazy Horse, Spartacus, Mandela and Moses are looked upon with reverence.  

When we are taught as children to hate (whether it be a sibling, a race, or group of people), and taught to view them as outsiders who need to be punished, abused, ruled and isolated, are we risking the longevity of our own species? I would say yes, but this is a blind guess, not backed up with research.

These are important questions. The answers lie not only in education, but whether we have an ability to fight terrorism, bigotry, enslavement, family abuse, unnecessary wars, school bullying in an ever-crowded world with ever-more need and ever-more diversity. It is not a matter of who comes out on top and survives, it eventually becomes a matter of survival altogether, for all of us.

Further reading:

Erroneous Blaming and Erroneous Punishing is Abuse! -- my own post about how many abusers take their own perceptions of someone else's thoughts and feelings, and use it to punish. I believe this is at the heart of terrorism too, where people's skin or a religious persuasion is used as an excuse to start a war (punish)

Toxic family values stem from Great-Grandparents life experiences -- from the Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Flying Monkeys -- Oh My! blog

Further reading on the present political climate in terms of narcissism, scapegoating (bigoted policies) and abuse:

America's Agitator: Donald Trump Is the World's Most Dangerous Man -- from Spiegel Online International, a German publication
Some Excerpts:
* On his narcissism:
 Those who have experienced this man's temperament know just how thin-skinned and aggressive Trump can be when criticized or provoked, and how mercilessly and excessively he pursues revenge. 
* On his scapegoating:
 Racism has since become a core element of his campaign, but it has only intensified in recent months. At first, Trump was only talking about the need to stop illegal immigrants. Only when he realized that this was what got him the most applause did he become more radical. In June, he said that Mexico is "bringing drugs, crime and rapists" to the United States, and that he would "build a great, great wall on our southern border," and "I will have Mexico pay for that wall!" He also announced that he would deport all 11 million illegal immigrants within two years.
* On his belief that he is superior (a "golden child", god-like) ... note: narcissism runs in families and is passed down through the generations:
 But what worried him the most, says D'Antonio, is Trump's belief that he is genetically superior to most people in the world. In all of their conversations, he notes, Trump kept returning to the notion that by virtue of his birth, he is simply better than other people ... 
... His son, Donald Trump Jr., shares his father's conviction. He said he was a firm believer in the concept of breeding, in "race-horse theory." Then he pointed at the ceiling with his finger, in the direction of his father's office. "He's an incredibly accomplished guy, my mother's incredibly accomplished, she's an Olympian, so I'd like to believe genetically I'm predisposed to (be) better than average."
* Lack of self reflection, the worst quality of narcissism:
 His biographer talks about the dark sides of Trump's self-absorption. "Trump lacks any self-irony, any form of critical self-perception." The entire family is like that, he explains. When he tried to joke with Trump's children about their father's penchant for gold and glitter in his buildings, none of them understood what he was getting at. "They don't notice when something is ridiculous," says D'Antonio. "This is the most telling characteristic of the entire Trump clan: the persistent denial of reflection."
* Enlisting bullies to take care of people who disagree with Trump's views:
 Almost every evening, Trump goads his supporters to shout down protestors or throw them out of his rallies. He often ridicules these individuals from the lectern. If one of them happens to be on the heavy side, he pokes fun at "that fat guy," which fans interpret as a signal -- that Trump won't mind if they get a little physical with the protester ...
... A study by pollster Matthew MacWilliams shows that what Trump's supporters have in common, more than anything else, is the desire for authority. MacWilliams asked people whether they preferred a respectful, obedient and well-behaved child or an independent and curious one. Those who tend to favor the former are seen as being authoritarian. Trump was the only candidate strongly favored by the respondents with authoritarian ideas.
* Trying to win over voters by making wild promises that are not spelled out, the main strategy being making arrogant statements and insulting his fellow Republicans, Jerry-Springer-show-style: 
Never before has the grand, time-honored Republican Party been as helpless and hapless as it is right now. The party's leadership had sought an establishment candidate like Jeb Bush or the younger Marco Rubio. But Trump?
"We are in total chaos," says Peter Wehner, a former speechwriter for George W. Bush. He says the Republicans are already divided and that a Trump candidacy could spell the end of the Grand Old Party. When Wehner talks about Trump, it sounds as if he's referring to the head of some dictatorship. "Trump is erratic. He is emotionally unstable, has authoritarian tendencies and a certain cruelty. He is a toxic figure, a demagogue. Trump would cause a lot of damage to the Republican Party. If he won the nomination it would be a hostile takeover. We must prevent it."

* Name-calling and verbal abuse (comparing refugees and migrants to animal species like snakes, pigs, rats, spiders, etc), another narcissistic trait not too endearing:
Bush, to his credit, never compared migrants to poisonous snakes -- something Trump did recently at a rally in Pensacola, Florida. Later that night, Trump addressed what has been one of his favorite topics lately: Europe's refugee crisis. "Just talk to the folks over in Germany," he said. "Europe is being destroyed."
When he puts on his reading glasses, the audience goes quiet. "Just listen to this," he says, pulling a piece of paper from his pocket. He printed out the lyrics to "The Snake," an old soul hit from Al Wilson. The song is about a snake, half frozen from the cold, that asks a woman to be let inside. The woman takes pity on the animal and holds it to her bosom, upon which the snake bites and poisons her.
Trump reads the lyrics aloud passionately, as if he were auditioning for a role. "Oh, shut up silly woman," he says, imitating the snake: "You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in." The crowd cheers. They're over the moon. Trump just stares back at them. "We're gonna get bit."

A Washington Post Article on a scientific study about child rearing that predicts voters for Trump -- voters for Trump overwhelmingly want children who are "obedient" and do what they are told by authoritarian figures, as opposed to parents who want children to develop into thinking autonomous personalities with their own interests, insights, perspectives and trajectory.
Note: most victims of abuse prefer the latter, and raise their children that way too, because we have been scorched and burned too many times by the former. The problem with authoritarianism is that "authorities" who are abusive and inflammatory are a nightmare to those who live or think differently from the authoritarian figure. Dictators are so rigid in their prejudices against those who are "different" that it creates an immediate dichotomy: the "for" group and the "against" group, what revolutions are made of. In a country like the United States, known for its diversity, having a dictator who is inflammatory, bigoted and intolerant of other viewpoints will be a disaster for so many people.
I would bet that Trump, in the long run, will be remembered as the most hated president we have had in U.S. history. I will also predict that he goes down in history as being a ruthless dictator who tried to overturn democratic procedures. Trump believes he will be great for the nation and proclaims this over and over (and people latch onto his rhetoric and promises instead of his policies); however, just because Trump believes it, doesn't make it so.

Another article on Trump as narcissist by Bobby Azarian

Another perspective on why people who believe in authoritarianism are, by-and-large, voters for Trump by George Lakoff

In contrast, here is an article from CNN and Reverb Press that quoted Bernie Sanders, talking about his religion (and it is decidedly non-narcissistic, against bigotry, against looking at scapegoated refugees who are trying to run away from war and ruthless dictator as a problem):
Again, quote by Bernie Sanders:
Every great religion in the world -- Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism -- essentially comes down to: "Do unto others as you would have them undo to you" ...
... The truth is at some level when you hurt, when your children hurt, I hurt. I hurt. And when my kids hurt, you hurt. And it's very easy to turn our backs on kids who are hungry, or veterans who are sleeping out on the street, and we can develop a psyche, a psychology which is "I don't have to worry about them; all I'm gonna worry about is myself; I need to make another 5 billion dollars." ...

... So I believe that when we do the right thing, when we try to treat people with respect and dignity, when we say that that child who is hungry is my child ... I think we are more human when we do that, than when we say, "Hey, this whole world, I need more and more, I don't care about anyone else." That's my religion, that's what I believe in." 

I am not sure who this cartoon was made by (I found it on facebook).
If you know, please contact me and I will give credit here for this
insightful cartoon: