What is New?


November 26: How to Gray Rock Narcissistic Family Members at Thanksgiving: post here and updated with a video by Dr. Ramani Durvasula (more about dealing with holidays here)
November 20: the first petition I have seen of its kind: Protection for Victims of Narcissistic Sociopath Abuse (such as the laws the UK has, and is being proposed for the USA): story here and here or sign the actual petition here
November 10: Psychologists are discussing whether Narcissism is an autism spectrum disorder. Link to one article here about it, with my comments afterwards
September 22: After seeing my images on social media unattributed, I find it necessary to post some rules about sharing my images
September 1: my newest movie review on Mommie Dearest, the quintessential child abuse movie

Thursday, August 25, 2016

How to spot a Narcissist before you get hurt, the narcissists' trade secrets are all about manipulation

name of cartoon: "A Narcissist's Soul Mate" 
image is © 2016 by Lise Winne
(for questions regarding use of images contact LilacGroveGraphics (att) yahoo.com)

Please note that when I talk about narcissism in this blog, I am talking about the disorder Narcissistic Personality Disorder (not self admiration). Narcissism belongs to the Cluster B personality disorders which include Borderline Personality Disorder and Antisocial Personality Disorder. Overwhelmingly, most abusers have a Cluster B personality disorder. Also note: active addicts and active alcoholics can mimic Narcissistic Personality Disorder (go here for more explanation).

What are the narcissist's trade secrets? Charm, flattery, idealization, "we have everything in common!", love bombing, swift falling in love.

But ... if it's too good to be true, then you very well might have met a narcissist.

Look into the closet of their past. Are there a lot of affairs?

Does he (or she) explain away any misdeeds? Does he (or she) make everything that has gone wrong in his (or her) life someone else's fault? Does he (or she) show any signs of personal reflection and look at all of the complexities of human interactions?

According to this Psychology Today post written by Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. on how to spot a narcissist:

No matter how charming, persuasive, or coercive they seem to be, if there is a consistent pattern of incongruity between what he says versus what he actually does, you could be dealing with a narcissist. Typically, narcissists are also quite clever in explaining away their broken promises, unsubstantiated claims, rule breaking, sudden neglect, phony merits, or boundary violations ... Keep an eye on whether this person has a consistent record of following through and keeping agreements, both to you and to others. Evaluate the narcissist based on facts and substance, not showmanship and persuasion. In personal situations, be sure the relationship is genuinely two-way and reciprocal, not one-sided and exploitative. Be careful not to be used ...

I found this graphic on Jason Elders blog to be informative:

1. One tell-tale sign of a narcissist is triangulation and a pattern of comparing himself to others, and of comparing you to others. Usually narcissists sound haughty and imperious (i.e. like know-it-alls) too when it comes to how they talk about others.

Narcissists are called narcissists because so many of them boast. The only problem is that non-narcissists boast too. The big difference is that when narcissists boast, they almost always do it in a way that puts someone else down. They have a pattern of denouncing the accomplishments and personality traits of others.

They are competitive, and they are addicted to flattery (they reward for flattery and punish for criticisms). The need for constant flattery and idolization makes them vulnerable to more extreme malignant narcissists, and especially to sociopaths. So they tend to be surrounded by other narcissists, or sociopaths, who take advantage of them through their constant need for flattery, especially later in life. But they are also chosen by narcissists and sociopaths because both personality types usually enjoy bullying and hurting others, and they like hurting others through team work (go to my movie review on The Tudors which discusses King Henry VIII to understand how this dynamic works in its ultimate form).

There is a brand of narcissist (a more social butterfly kind of narcissist who tends to be a leader) who is not so addicted to flattery, but uses triangulation in nearly every situation. They use flattery only as as a tool, whether that flattery is given or received. They flatter and receive flattery to gain respectability, social standing, to exceed and to manipulate/triangulate others. All narcissists use triangulation, but usually not to this extreme. These kinds of narcissists demand enmeshment at all times. In other words, they tend to be, what is termed as engulfing narcissists, but they seem to be a sub-species in that their tell-tale difference is the need to be surrounded by compassionate enablers and co-dependents than sociopaths and more devious narcissists. I talk about this brand of narcissist in this post.

So, is your date comparing himself constantly to others so that, in his stories, he looks better than another person? Does he shift his preference for one person in his family while ignoring another person? Does he try to control people in his family, and most of all, does he try to control what kind of relationship one family member has with another family member? Does he try to control the information in his family? Is he a busy-body who feels entitled to know what kinds of relationships each family member is having?

One sign of whether he is triangulating in his relationships is if he tries to tell family members who they should or should not associate with ("divide and conquer") or puts glib derisive labels on his family members.

If he is an authority figure in his family, does he have estranged or ostracized children? That is a dead give away of a narcissist. Unless the child is a criminal with a record, or battling a long addiction, most of the time estranged and ostracized children point to the parent being abusive (most abusers have personality disorders: narcissists, borderlines, sociopaths and psychopaths are predominantly people who abuse -- see my post about who perpetrates abuse).

Occasionally children are abusive to their parents, but it is extremely rare.

2. Narcissists get off on hurting others. While this may not be immediately apparent when you meet a narcissist, they can say things like "Let's make so-and-so jealous." Wanting other people to feel jealousy is a dead give-away of a narcissist.

3.  Another tell-tale sign of a narcissist is that when they are confronted, or when they receive a criticism, a critique or an honest look into their intentions and motives they have a pattern of being overly defensive and retaliatory.

If you want to know if a person is a narcissist, ask people around the narcissist questions. Do they blow up over the tiniest issue? Do they retaliate and reject others over issues where they might feel shame over something that they did?

In other words, in his past relationships, did he talk out issues or walk away from them? Did he do any self reflection, or did he blame? Did he give the silent treatment and discard? A history of dealing with conflict by blaming, giving the silent treatment and discarding others is almost always guaranteed to be a narcissist.

Emotionally healthy people do not act in these ways: in close personal relationships healthy people are open to self reflection, compromise and conflict resolution. They want to understand others who disagree with them.

4. Another sign of a narcissist is that they act intimate too soon: they show an interest in getting inside your head, your emotions, your life. They have an incredible desire to know EVERYTHING about you. They want to extract loyalty from you too soon. This can feel flattering, but it is a pitfall because most narcissists do not reveal much about themselves except in terms of accomplishments, and image related talk. And ... while they expect loyalty from you, they rarely give it in return. These relationships are not two-way or reciprocal. If you see these signs, keep a wide distance.

Some of the earliest tell-tale signs are mirroring your likes and dislikes, love bombing, imperiousness, grandiosity, arrogance, lecturing, giving unsolicited advice and telling you what you feel and think (i.e. not asking you what you feel and think).

5. Narcissists often contradict themselves. They'll say something, and then if you point out their contradictions, they deflect: "I didn't really mean it in that way", or "It was just a joke. You obviously can't take a joke."

6. Narcissists are notorious for erroneous blaming and they use it often in their close personal relationships. They try to find something (anything at all) to put blame on others. In fact, some narcissists are so into blaming (with triangulation), that nearly everything they talk about is a complaint (with blaming): they blame the politician they don't like, they blame the weather for why they failed to do something, they blame the boss for why they were fired, they blame family members for just about anything and everything, and the list goes on. For more on erroneous blaming see this post.

7. A lot of narcissists play the victim, especially when they are caught at covering up their misdeeds. If the person you just met spends his time telling you that he was always the victim in his past relationships, then that can be a sign ... Realize this: the real victims are usually in years and years of therapy. They go to groups with other victims of abuse and talk openly about their problems. They have been diagnosed with PTSD by a professional in the mental health field. Most likely, any victim of abuse will probably still be in therapy when dating others. That is because victims don't trust themselves when meeting potential lovers: they are skittish, reserved, go slow and get advice from their therapist as they go through the process.

From my own experience, I have never, ever met a narcissist in a self-help group, not one. Narcissists don't go because it is easier to blame others when things go wrong in their relationships. They figure, "Why go when I can just scapegoat someone who will be gullible enough to believe that everything is their fault?"

Adult children of narcissists are especially vulnerable to other narcissists coming into their lives in the way of friends, lovers and spouses. They are vulnerable because they have grown accustomed to parents who trash them, ignore dire needs and crises, abandon them when they are going through life tragedies, crash their boundaries and emotionally abuse them if they are not completely compliant. This sets up a pattern of the adult child getting sucked in by one abuser after another. Often the adult child of a narcissist feels that he has a target on his back when the reality is that he has never been taught by emotionally healthy parents how to avoid abuse, how to protect himself from abuse, how to set up good boundaries and spot abusive people. Since abusive parents also put enormous pressures on their children to reveal, to become enmeshed, adult children of narcissists tend to be way too open, and their openness is like honey to other narcissists and sociopaths.

Narcissistic parents primarily use emotional and verbal abuse (insults, put-downs, name-calling and labeling in derogatory ways, the silent treatment, favoritism, scapegoating, ranking children, gaslighting, expecting impossible perfectionism in looks and deeds, smearing, intimidating and isolating a child from the family for long periods of time when they don't like something their child did). All of this can escalate to physical abuse too, but it usually always starts with verbal and emotional abuse first. To find out what the tell-tale signs of child abuse are, go to this link.

Narcissistic parents can be protective of their children if the abuse comes from outside the family. Most narcissists are drastic in their reactions: they either make their child out to be totally faultless or they try to convince their child that he or she (the child) brought it on themselves. "You brought it upon yourself" or "they brought it on themselves" are typical narcissistic and sociopathic phrases when someone reports being abused.

Narcissists and sociopaths have also made exceptions about how they respond to abuse: they can say it is not okay for their child to be abused outside the family, but deserves abuse inside the family (narcissists tend to be very hypocritical). When their child is being abused by someone outside the family, some narcissists can seem to change their attitudes about abuse: they will give advice, listen for long hours, be solicitous of all details, offer financial support, hugs, and sympathy. Yet, from my experience, this doesn't mean they will have learned anything at all about abuse, or on how to be non-abusive. As a therapist once told me, it is hard to see it as a set-up at first: the parent is protective of the child because the abuse of their child reflects badly upon the parent, the parent having the attitude that "No one else has the right to abuse my child except for me." This is what can be heartbreaking for victims of parental abuse. Abusive parents, whether they help their children or not, almost always practice idealize, devalue and discard with their children, no matter what, just as they do in romantic relationships.

Narcissists aren't evolved enough to know how to react to children, or lovers, in any other way than the idealize, devalue and discard way when inevitable conflicts and differences in perspectives arise in their relationships. Narcissists are like six year olds in this regard. They keep alternating between idealizing, being bored and punishing, until they are distracted by someone else. They think that everything will go their way if they just punish enough. They use endless excuses and word salad arguments for why they punish and destroy others. They also desperately try to deflect to keep from being suspected and falling out of grace. They disable others emotionally or psychologically and then when their targets get therapy (usually for PTSD), the narcissists absolve themselves of any wrongdoing, by saying to others, "You see? I told you he was crazy! He's seeing a therapist!"    

To be the child of a narcissist, is to be on the receiving end of idealizations and discards, over and over again. Very few narcissistic parents change, nor do they want to change, and they are also seemingly incapable of change. Most children of narcissists are abused. The golden child, who is given special status by the parent, is sometimes spared the abuse, especially if the family can keep a family scapegoat from leaving the family, and especially if he can convince the scapegoat that he deserves to be blamed for everything. The protection and safety net for a child of a narcissist has a lot of holes in it. Love is taken away over and over again, swiftly and heartlessly, often over minutae, and without regard to circumstances. The betrayal, trickery, manipulations and loss can be overwhelming until the child learns how to separate himself from his parent. Usually a relationship with a narcissistic parent means going from total enmeshment and symbiosis, to one of being bullied, and being ostracized (discarded), over something most people would perceive as insignificant.

The extreme forms of damage done to children in these kinds of relationships should be warning enough to any and all potential lovers and close friends of a narcissist. Most adult children of narcissists are either in a stage of idealization, which can produce another narcissist, or they are in a stage of shunning. The shunned children usually had to endure a relationship with their parent that was destroyed over an issue where the parent went for domination, power and control over working it out through compromise, respect for differences, and a common goal of understanding the perspectives of one another.

If the narcissist is a boss, or a potential boss, be on the lookout. Narcissistic bosses fire for trivial reasons, do not listen to their workers, always appear to have to be right and do not care for their employees thoughts, issues, safety and well being. They are probably not worth working for. A prospective boss who has fired a lot of people, who is not concerned about how his actions effected others, who has had a string of relationship failures, who uses verbal abuse and shaming techniques to get what he wants, has used the silent treatment in the past and who appears angry when challenged, is probably not worth investing in.

Understand that narcissists rarely change unless they are hit with some very tragic events and wake-up calls. Even then, they are so addicted to blaming others, and interested in obtaining others' fear and flattery, that they may never wake up. They unrealistically expect that if they punish, blame and discard, that their victims will still want them, and will still feel obligated towards them. Narcissists and sociopaths think that they can always use guilt and fear to easily manipulate others.

This might work once on a victim, but as it becomes a noticeable pattern, or if the extreme over-reaction is over something too small to make sense of, then the victim's general trend is to separate from the narcissist. This is one reason why narcissists have very short term relationships.

As Preston Ni, M.S.B.A. states, from the same Psychology Today article:     

Since narcissists can be very charming and persuasive, it’s easy to fall under their influence and do what they want, for it might feel good to do so, at least initially. Very soon, however, you may discover that what you do with the narcissist is almost always on his or her terms, or the narcissist may begin to place upon you an ever increasing list of unreasonable expectations and demands. He or she may start to show a clear pattern of inconsistency, being there for you one moment and disappearing the next ...

In another Psychology Today article by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. tells how more Machiavellian narcissists operate:

People high in both narcissism and Machiavellianism ... are the ones who really get under your skin. Their antagonism makes them particularly hard to live with, and they’ll almost always get in the way of your accomplishing your goals. Machiavellian narcissists have mastered the art of one-uppance as they try to show their superiority while steamrolling over everyone else’s feelings and opinions.

Greg Zaffuto of the popular facebook site After Narcissistic Abuse tells in great detail what being in a relationship with a narcissist is like. Here is just a paragraph of his writing:

They lie, they are purely vindictive, they look down on everybody, they refuse to accept any responsibility, they are two-faced backstabbers, they live by no rules or laws, they prefer laughing at people rather than with them, they are pathological bullies, they are very childlike, they believe that no matter what happens they will prevail because they see themselves as invincible, they believe that whatever bad things they do they deserve forgiveness, they NEVER do anything wrong in their eyes, they are fearless to the point of being insanely unrealistic with their delusional attacks, their lies, and smear campaign, they are obsessed with their fantasies about power, success and wealth, they are incapable of compromise and need to win, they thrive on evoking reactions and emotions - both negative or positive because it gives them a Narcissistic high, chaos rules their life, they are out-of-control with their needs to secure supply from all people, they cheat on all of their partners, they break down their target/victim’s will through constant dehumanization and brainwashing to make them feel like they are the negative entity in the relationship and worthless. They are NOT capable of “real” love as normal people know it. --- Greg Zaffuto from After Narcissistic Abuse


Narc-Sadistic Brainwashing: The 8 Ingredients Of Mind Control by Bree Bonchay, LCSW

20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths Use to Silence You -- highly recommended. This is a long read (7 pages), but all of the "tactics" toxic people use are in this list. The article is written by Shahida Arabi, a popular author and You-Tuber (Self Care Haven) on narcissistic, sociopathic and psychopathic abuse.

13 Ways to Tell if It's Love or Manipulation -- a Psychology Today article

Shedding Light on Psychology’s Dark Triad: a dirty dozen test to detect narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy -- by Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. for Psychology Today

20 traits of Malignant Narcissism -- recommended. Not as good an article as 20 Diversion Tactics Highly Manipulative Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths Use to Silence You in my opinion, but it covers the same territory. Malignant narcissists have most of the traits listed in the article which include pathological lying, scapegoating others, breaking promises and vows, never accepting responsibility (blame-shifting, i.e. putting the blame on the victims), pitting people against each other, pretending to be a victim, trying to destroy others when confronted about their behavior, rejecting others in a pre-emptive strike if they feel that their lies are being discovered and uncovered, gets off on being cruel to others (gleeful), brainwashes others, has poor impulse control, has lack of empathy, is opportunistic, pretends to be your soulmate, no respect for the rights of others, degrades others, takes wild chances with their relationships, can be violent.

The Secret Language of Narcissists: How Abusers Manipulate their Victims -- Elephant Journal Article by Via Shahida Arabi. Discusses the idealization, devaluation and discard phases in more depth.

Are You Dating an Emotional Predator? – Signs of Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths by Shahida Arabi

Great post on the blog, Psychopath Free -- "30 Red Flags of Manipulative People" -- these people often end up with abusive and rejecting behavior. Watch out for "You're my soulmate", mirroring your personality, values and interests especially if it comes in the first few months after you met

How Sociopaths Hook Empathetic People – With False Innocence and Appreciation -- by Jackson Mackenzie

5 Early Warning Signs You're With a Narcissist: learn how to spot the red flags for narcissism you might have missed -- by Craig Malkin, Ph.D. for Psychology Today

Sign of a narcissist: Narcissistic Chaos: Creating Turmoil on Purpose -- from Zari Ballard's blog.
Here are some excerpts from the post:
The narcissistic lover with a narcissistic personality will create chaos and turmoil on a regular basis (and on purpose) to keep you in a heightened state of anxiety. He/she will do this even when things are good – and especially when things are good – so that you least expect the kick to the curb. This is why the silent treatment always catches us off-guard, sending us into a tail-spin trying to figure out what happened. Creating chaos is one of the oldest narcissistic tactics in the book (next to the silent treatment, of course) and it is absolutely intentional ...
... This subtle creation of narcissistic chaos is a passive-aggressive, manipulative type of behavior and it gradually becomes an everyday occurrence when we’re involved with a narcissistic partner ... Narcissistic chaos could include starting a fight for no reason at all, Kissing you good-by and then not calling for days, or accusing you of the very thing that you’re fairly certain he’s doing. Creating passive-aggressive chaos is a powerful and effective way for narcissists and sociopaths to manage down our expectations of the relationship until we are perfectly willing to accept nothing more than crumbs ...
... Victims of this type of emotional abuse always feel in a state of heightened anxiety. We eventually have trouble focusing on jobs, children, friends, etc.

Profile of a Narcissistic Sociopath – Charming, Manipulative, Grandiose, Lying, Authoritarian, Secretive, Divisive from the Truth In Life, In Relationships, In Spirituality blog
Sign of a narcissist: loves to argue and debate. The sign is that they have to "win" arguments, rather than understand others' perspectives. So: Stop Wasting Time Arguing with Narcissistic People -- from the Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Flying Monkeys -- Oh My! blog.
Here are some excerpts from the post:
Narcissistic people are famous for using irrational argument tactics to time-suck and abuse unsuspecting victims. On the constant hunt for a “narcissistic supply source” that will pay attention to them, the more heated and volatile an exchange, the more likely a narcy person is to derive pleasure from the argument.
Narcy people thrive on hurting, confusing, bewildering, befuddling, and abusing others verbally. To destroy other people emotionally and socially, they oftentimes resort to using pathological lying, deliberate misinterpretation, word salad arguments, and a host of other dirty conversation tricks to entice an unknowing person into spending time listening to, talking to, pleading with, and trying their hardest to communicate effectively with them ...
... Again, resist the urge to debate with them. Resist the urge to share any personal information with them ... Understand that when they get verbally combative — or start manipulating covertly using NLP techniques used by kidnappers to manipulate and control the minds of their captive victims — that they are acting from a place deep within their subconscious nature.

The post also tells you how not to enable the abuser (i.e. keeping peace with them, letting their unethical tactics go, minimizing their abusive tactics as a "bad childhood", etc). It can turn you into one of their Flying Monkeys (helping them to excuse and downplay abuse).

Narcissists can turn into Sociopaths (Antisocial Personality Disorder). The Cluster B personality disorders run on a continuum, and as narcissists age, they tend to get worse (i.e. more sociopathic). Here are signs of sociopaths (from the True Love Scam blog -- endorsed by psychologist, Dr. Deborah Ettel, Phd.):
20 Characteristics of a Sociopath
1. Fun, charming and entertaining. Super polite when meeting people.
2. Impressively talented, knowledgeable or skilled, or lead us to believe they are.
3. Have profound perception; later it’s scary, like telepathy, even from a distance.
4. Are easily offended and vain. They fluster and bluster when offended and lash out.
5. Lie always. About all things – .01% of what they say might be true – such as their shoe size.
6. They believe they are better than everyone – and hold others in contempt.
7. Crave a good reputation. Defend their reputation with outrageous lies; see #5.
8. Crave status and power through possessions & money.
9. Have delusions of fame and importance.
10. Mimic our human emotions of affection, love, concern.
11. Have no capacity for care, concern or love. They are faking it. They imitate us.
12. Think of themselves as victims. They can cry fake tears at the drop of a hat.
13. Are sexually promiscuous and often simultaneously avoid sex with a primary partner.
14. Do anything they want to anyone.
15. Think their prey should be grateful.
16. Take pride in their scams. Run several scams simultaneously. Many women; many men.
17. Believe everyone deserves what they do to them.
18. Smear their victims when things end loudly, publicly, online and in court.
19. Have outbursts of rage. Can be violent.
20. Know they are monsters; they enjoy it.

I personally disagree with #3 because they are too caught up in "people manipulating" and power trips to have any deep understanding of what it is like to think, feel and to be a real empath. The fact that they have to fake empathy, and get tangled in lies they can't keep straight, and that they appear to have very few interests beyond mirroring and imitating others, tells me that they haven't the slightest clue as to who people really are. These are NOT sensitive and telepathic people (they are so out of touch that they have to gaslight in order to see anything that seems vaguely familiar to them -- think about that) -- my opinion.

5 Things Sociopaths Say to Make You Feel Crazy by Jackie MaKenzie

(sorry no picture, so click on link) 

Here is a video by Family Tree Counseling, by therapist Mark Smith on character mis-perceptions 
as it relates to predatory narcissists:

Dr. Phil is interviewed by Oprah Winfrey about the signs of toxic people:

Dr. Phil is interviewed on CNN about "Baiters":

Here is a video by Sam Vaknin, author of Malignant Self Love
on how to spot an abuser on a first or second date.
Sam Vaknin is a self-proclaimed narcissist, and he is a controversial figure
in the survivor community. Because he has the disorder, it is always wise
to take what he says with a grain of salt.
Many therapists, however, find his insights into the mind of narcissists invaluable
(it takes one to know one, and who better to tell you how they think and function than
someone living with the personality disorder).
I found this video to be consistent with writings about first meetings with narcissists
and how to watch for signs:

I found this great quote from my relative on this post from the Queen Beeing website: