What is New?


February 1: New groundbreaking children's book by Australian author Ava Keyes called "Scapegoat". Story here
January 21: Added a new video by Med Circle interviewing Dr. Ramani Durvasula on the How to Tell If You Have Abusive Parents post
December 22: Newest post: Black Sheep at Christmas? Making Christmas Better... , or go here for the whole list of topics having to do with the holidays
December 14: Gaslighting: How a Parent Can Drive a Kid Crazy: Therapist Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC, takes on the subject of children who are being gaslighted by parents and why she thinks it is the most egregious form of child abuse. Story here
PETITION: 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
Note: After seeing my images on social media unattributed, I find it necessary to post some rules about sharing my images

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

abusers and splitting, the drastically different public image and private image they show to others, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

When narcissists "psychologically split" their children, this is what can happen:

What it can mean for her children in terms of her plans and actions concerning them:

Which is one reason why emotional abuse should be just as illegal in the United States
as it is in Great Britain - imagine yourself as a child going through this!

True to their legacy of distorted love, which has been carried over from generation to generation, most narcissistic mothers either severely over-parent (the engulfing mother) or severely under-parent (the ignoring mother). ~ Quote from P. 37, Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers by Dr. Karyl McBride

Please note: abusers overwhelmingly tend to have Cluster B personality disorders. For more on who abuses, why they abuse, and who they target, go to this post to fully understand what abuse is and what this post is about.

However, alcoholics (and addicts) indulge in a lot of splitting and Dr. Jekyll / Mr. Hyde behavior too (what this post is about), so I have included some links to some of those kinds of articles at the end of the post in addition to splitting in Cluster B Personality Disordered people. 

The act of "psychological splitting" (the link takes you to a Wikipedia article about it) is one of the most disturbing things that abusers do. One minute they love you and you're the greatest thing, and the next minute you are worse than the devil, and should be rejected right away - their view: love bomb, reject, love bomb, reject, back and forth (the link takes you to my post on love bombing in order to understand how love bombing differs from the kind of real love that most of us feel and experience, those of us without Cluster B personality disorders, that is).

But the other thing that sets abusers apart from most of us is that they wear a public face and a private face. In other words, they show two very different and distinct personalities depending on whether they are in public or whether they are at home.

If those two things are too much for most people to deal with, that's usually not the end of it. They also can be like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If you withdraw from them, even if they have told you they don't want you in their lives again, or hate you, or even if they have battered you to the point where you are bruised up, they will be extremely angry about your withdrawal from them to the point of retaliation (that is because 1. they often believe they are too awesome to be withdrawn from, which, believe it or not is just another form of splitting in that they feel they are all good and you are all badthey aren't at fault at all and you are 100 percent at fault 2. they feel they are entitled to receive forgiveness, flattery, for you to give up your power to them and submit, or other special treatment even when they reject or batter - yes, you read that right). There is no other explanation for their retaliation.

Here is an excellent Psych Central article that explains what is happening called Narcissist’s Mixed Messages by psychologist, Sharie Stines. I highly recommend reading that article, after which point you can return to this page to get some understanding of why they adopted the strategy, and why some psychologists believe this one trait is at the top of the list in causing PTSD in their victims.

Some abusers have a different personality with everyone they meet (and use mirroring the other person and chameleon-like changes to fit in with what ever group they are trying to fit in with, and to be appreciated and approved of by these different kinds of people). In other words, they are consummate actors who don't really have a personalty.

Popular author, Sam Vaknin, who is a psychologist and self proclaimed malignant narcissist, claims people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder don't really have personalities, that their real personalities are dilapidated and were forsaken long ago in early childhood. They give up any sense of a true self, or the idea of an identity that is strong or differentiated, in order to appear non-threatening to an abusive parent, thus choosing acting skills, mirroring and chameleon-like personas over any kind of authentic self.

Since many of these "groomed-to-be-a-narcissist children" witness abuse on a daily or weekly basis (even if they are not abused themselves), they normalize abuse in their minds. They do not have the cognitive ability at that age to realize that their parent's abuse is abnormal, so they adopt a "that's just the way it is" attitude, coupled with "I guess it's normal, so I'll try it too." The attitude can, and does, make most of them abusive for life themselves.

They can see sadism as a means to keep safe (a "kill or be killed" mentality) and to feel omnipotent and grandiose, i.e. feel superior in the act of being abusive. In order to keep the feeling of omnipotency and grandiosity intact (unchanged), they have to commit acts that most of us do not commit or think about committing: partner abuse and child abuse, and sometimes workplace bullying as well. The workplace bullying is likely to be covert for vulnerable narcissists and overt for grandiose narcissists. They then have to convince, with every ounce of their being, that their spouse, children or co-worker deserved the abuse.

If they fail to convince victims that the victims brought the abuse upon themselves, their acting and false self is in danger of being exposed, of falling apart, and they have a crisis about their omnipotence and rights to entitlements (the entitlements usually boil down to expecting everyone around them to walk on eggshells, i.e. to make life peaceful for them so that they won't break out into a rage, a rage which is hair-trigger, and involves them abusing and retaliating wildly over narcissistic injury).

Abuse is a dysfunctional way to act, so it will create a dysfunctional family or workplace for everyone in it, whether by-stander, defender, perpetrator or victim. The dysfunctionality will become the main focus. This is especially of concern if it is in the workplace (losing money and time, with many workers coming and going), the family (losing members, having a split family) or country (wars, threats, hair trigger rages deciding policy or war).

This, in turn, creates dysfunctional relationships that are overly tenuous. The tenuousness is either introduced by the victim (the victim does not feel he deserves abuse, and is bone weary of dealing with someone who cannot conduct himself or herself out of the realm of abusive discourse ... or never changing their NPD or ASPD reactions to situations), or it is introduced by the abuser (because his or her victim is deemed to be no longer willing to fawn, walk on eggshells or accept abuse as normal -- in other words, the victim is no longer going along with the perpetrator's perspectives and tactics of normalizing abuse or submitting to the notion that they are 100 percent at fault for how the perpetrator feels). So, the relationship ends. This can, and often includes the abuser's spouse, and their own children.

Sociopaths have their acting skills honed more than narcissists, but both of them use acting to be able to move in what ever social circles they deem to be desirable at any given time.

If you have any experience with narcissists or sociopaths, you know there is a love bombing stage when you first meet them. Or if it is not a love relationship, an idealization stage, where they call you a little too often, or want to know what you think and what your plans are in a very pushy kind of way in order to, eventually, become enmeshed and call the shots in the relationship between you. The pushiness is hidden somewhat by "I'm so interested in you, and only you, and you are so great, and it is important to get to know every aspect of you" kind of charming fake persona. In other words, they are out to win your trust, or your heart, and to know what makes you tick so that they can either trauma bond with you, or to get information about how to hurt you when they feel it is time to do so, or get you into a co-dependent role - it can be all three concurrently.

They try to get you to tie your self esteem to their opinions of you. They toy with you, with back-and-forth rejections (silent treatments) and acceptances (love bombing and hoovering) for narcissists, and sadistic punishments-for-adults for malignant narcissists and sociopaths.

In order to be sadistic, make you walk on eggshells, make you believe in their abuse of you as justified, they have to have a public persona where they pretend to care about you and love you. They understand that their peers will not be understanding of the sadism, abuse and constant unremitting blaming, so this is how they cover it up. Covering it up equates to living a lie most of the time. However, some narcissists also try to believe their own lies (they have to sound convincing, and what better way to do it than to force themselves to believe in what they say).

I have been around enough forums for survivors of child abuse to know that abusers sometimes go to drastic ends of devaluation, and then in a split second, in front of an audience of their peers, love bomb their children.

Here is one for-instance of what it sounds like:

The narc parent is bringing her daughter to a highschool art show (where the daughter's work is being featured, or perhaps has even won a prize). On the way to the art show, the mother is screaming at her daughter: "I wish you were never born! I can't stand the sight of you! Why don't you do us a big favor and just jump off a bridge, why don't you! You have been nothing but trouble since you were born!" When they get to the event, the mother switches it all off in front of the other mothers and says, "Doesn't she look beautiful? Oh, honey, you are sooooo talented! Why, look! You won second place! Congratulations! We are so lucky to have a daughter like her! She's a keeper! And we love her more than anything!" 

In the meantime, the other mothers gather around the daughter and tell her what a sweet mother she has. "You are so lucky to have such a sweet mother who cares so much about you! Every child should be so lucky!"

The horror!

The daughter's reactions of, say, wincing, will not be well received. They won't seem normal in terms of having a mother who is perceived to be going out of her way for her daughter and being extraordinarily proud and loving, but the reaction of wincing will be exceptionally normal in terms of having an abusive mother who switches drastically from being abusive to being loving in the blink of an eye.

The problem is: most abusive mothers pass off their child's reactions as "She doesn't know how to deal with compliments", or "She's not feeling so well today", or "My daughter's a little cookoo today, but she'll get over it", and so on. The excuses run the gamut.

The other problem is, for many survivors, the mother is often believed over the daughter when the daughter finally breaks the silence and tells the truth about her mother with that audience. That is because the audience of the other mothers have only seen "the loving side" and they are invested in seeing her that way.

This is why it is of utmost importance that people know as much about abuse and narcissism as they can, because if narcissists are acting this way to those closest to them, they can certainly act this way towards anyone.

It is important to know that abusive mothers switch wildly back and forth between abusiveness and acting loving.  In survivor forums, this is referred to as "the bitch switch" for lack of a better term, though in reality "the bitch switch" turns out to be just another manifestation of psychological splitting.

It is not much different than finding out about an ugly truth about a seemingly nice neighbor. Let us say that the next door neighbor always helped you haul out the garbage on Fridays and helped you shovel your walk, and even greeted you with the utmost friendliness every morning. Should you be shocked, if say, they became the primary suspect in the killing of their mother and spouse. It happens all of the time. "But we always thought he was the nicest person! Just so sweet and thoughtful! What happened?!" Well, splitting happened.

Yes, narcissists and sociopaths parade themselves as the nicest people, with finely honed social graces, and most of the time they seem even more endearing than the most genuine empaths who they generally target for abuse.

In politics, narcissists promise wonderful things for their nation (whom they often look upon as their children to manipulate). However, their bigger agenda is to obtain as much attention to themselves and absolute power as they can. They love bomb corporations and nations that give them a lot of money. They hire and fire cabinet members at a dizzying rate and start wars so they can try to solidify their power and dominate the world as well. War, and taking things away from the people of the nation to fund their ambitions for absolute power and for war will be their main agenda. They don't care who it hurts or who they trample on as long as they get those they deem as lesser nations into sycophant roles, worshiping them, bending over for them. Then they move on to stronger nations. If people aren't sycophants to them, they are punished. How do they do it and get away with it? The answer lies in the fact that they have two drastically different personas, the one who promises great things and seems to have compassion for the average person, and one who is ruthlessly callous without a shred of empathy for their plight if the narcissist's goals for getting what they want are falling short.

In the end, they are usually referred to in history as a "tyrannical leader who left us astray." That is because wealth and power was all that they really cared about. Perhaps they paraded around as "the average man" with "a ruthless king" mentality.

The drastically different personas are too hard for most people to take (or to revere in the long run).

For a nation who was lead astray by the dictator's sweet talk, it is seen as an obvious fraud.

In the workplace, it is seen as "stirring the pot." Whether a co-worker or boss is stirring the pot, the main motivation is bullying: using shaming, insults, competition baiting, triangulation, threats and justifications for all of the bullying.

In the home, children who are being abused by these kinds of parents often turn away from the parent who is using drastically different personas, especially if the switch between love and hate is so drastic, and quick, and depends upon "an audience". Many of these relationships have a planned obsolescence. Many of the children of mothers who practiced this to any significant extent, left their mother permanently behind once they turned eighteen. The survivor in the story above (the artist) said, "I believe in 'no contact' for the rest of eternity. I don't even want to hear how she is doing."

There is a reason for that which goes beyond not liking the wild swings. It has to do with how a normal person's system will react to it, and the prevalent reaction is to get an onslaught of PTSD symptoms. PTSD is horrible to live with, even if it may be a normal reaction for the circumstances. It's the brain's way of protecting itself from trauma.

Children, especially, are often severely punished for exposing the two sides of the narcissist, to the point of being parent-less, and if they are successfully smeared by the parent, family-less. Many children, however, are willing to go without a family just to get away from the abuse. People can only take abuse and excuse abuse so many times, even children who want to please parents. None of us are built for on-going never-ending cycles of abuse and the trauma arising from it. Children are much more sensitive to abuse than adults are, so are willing to make the ultimate sacrifice (one of which is to leave their birth families behind).

Understand that this usually isn't the only abuse being used on children whose parents display such drastic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personas. Most victims of abuse deal with much more than that. At the very least, gaslighting, smear campaigns, verbal abuse, financial abuse, goading and taunting, isolation campaigns, blame shifting, and emotional bullying are used in tandem with this kind of abuse.

Children are likely to suffer through life from abuse, and especially if they are feeling alienated from lack of familial attachment, so they tend to experience depression at the very least. Most child abuse victims have PTSD or more likely, the chronic version of it: C-PTSD. Some abuse survivors, or children who saw a lot of abuse towards one of their parents or a sibling, indulge in activities which will mask their depression or knowledge (including alcohol abuse, drug abuse, divorce from their feelings, denial, playing dumb, or high stakes activities which put themselves or others at risk or danger).

Some children, however, receive the help that they need and go on to experience a life of authenticity with a family of choice.


Borderlines, Malignant Narcissists and Psychopaths manifest splitting in the most drastic ways. Covert narcissists also display some splitting as well, but it tends not to be as extreme as it is for Borderlines, Malignant Narcissists and Psychopaths. So if you experience the extreme variety with a lot of tears afterwards (and they say they are sorry, apologize, beg, plead, suddenly have empathy for your plight, and are tearful), they are more likely to be a Borderline. If they are incapable of seeing your perspective, do not acknowledge the hurt and destruction they have created in your life with their Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde behavior, if they deem you to be 100 percent at fault for what happened between you, and they are gaslighting and sadistic, they are more likely to be a Malignant Narcissist (or a  Covert Narcissist for the less sadistic watered down version).  

As I have said before, splitting usually starts budding in them in childhood (usually because of abusive parents). If they grew up with an alcoholic parent, a Borderline parent or a Malignant Narcissist, they know Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality switches pretty well. In fact, they were probably very anxious as children, wondering if Mom or Dad was going to be sweet or cruel. They never knew which side of their parent they would get.

One reason why they, themselves, start switching between nice and cruel is because they normalize it in their minds. Children are invested in parents taking care of them, and loving them, so in a way, they feel they have to think the best of their parent. 

Once they normalize it, and feel that it is okay for their parent, they reason that it must be okay for them to do too in see-monkey-do fashion (and because a parent often adores and feels flattered by children who mirror them in personality and proclivities), they are, in a sense, rewarded for psychological splitting themselves.

This is most obvious in the sibling relationship. If Mom or Dad decide that one of their children is all bad or alternately all crazy (which is what happens in households run by alcoholics and the higher end Cluster B Personality Disordered) another child will also take up the banner that their sibling is all bad or all crazy too (to mirror the parent and give them the junkie dose of flattery that their parent requires from their own children - yes, believe it or not, this is true). In the process of one of their children going against another one of their children, the parent is not only flattered and feeling supported by their sycophant child, they start rewarding the child too for mirroring the same sentiment that the parent has: that one of her children is all bad - over, and over, and over again. 

In being deemed all good either all of the time, or a great majority of the time, golden children can become really arrogant, swaggering and entitled to receive special treatment, flattery, a dominant position, even when they are abusive, threatening, dangerous, duplicitous and two-faced to everyone around them. Over half of golden children are this brand of golden, and become full blown narcissists or sociopaths, with little or no empathy, and are most often the children of Malignant Narcissists and occasionally Covert Narcissists who are incapable of changing their opinions because their black and white thinking (the splitting) is so intractable.

If you are frustrated with talking to someone who is highly unjust and doesn't see the splitting within themselves, or refuses to see it, who seems incapable of any self reflection, gets angry because you won't go along with his or her intractable unreasonable judgments, is entrenched in beliefs (over facts), you are most likely dealing with a narcissist (or rarely a psychopath because there are not as many of them) who is incapable of getting out of their own black and white thinking about people and events. It is so deeply ingrained in them, and has been since childhood.

On top of it all, they are not capable of seeing nuances, in how others perceive them (in Hyacinth Bucket fashion - a woman who believes she is convincing in what she says to others, even when it is plain she is not, who believes she is admired when she is not, who feels entitled to receive special treatment from everyone, but who is most often irritating to everyone she meets to the point where they often run away from her). The crux of narcissism is the inability to reflect deeply about anything, least of all themselves, and how they come across to others.

Narcissists are also fairly inept at detecting lies and inauthentic behavior, especially if they have deemed someone to be all good. They are also exceptionally inept at being able to tell who their real enemies are, and who their real support system is.

Their judgments are so flawed, in fact, that the only thing they can really decipher about anyone is whether the other person will go along with what they want, what their opinions are, and if they will make good narcissistic supply. That has nothing at all to do with whether a person is all good or all bad, as most of us know, but to them it has everything to do with it because they put themselves in the "all good camp", the grandiosity camp that most of us find irritating (and eye-rolling) so good, in fact, that only they can anoint proper judgement.

The problem with arrogance in this regard, and in most regards, is that arrogance is blinding. Being enamored with oneself means lack of self reflection, and lack of self reflection means lack of good judgment. None of us are "all good", least of all narcissists. But they will insist on it (because they feel arrogance intensely within their systems and to them it means they are the most highly evolved and intelligent person they know). Most people exposed to arrogant people know they make lots and lots of mistakes mainly because their arrogance gets in the way. In movies kings and queens sound haughty and above it all after all, but it doesn't work when you are not a king or queen - it is annoying).

They can have their down times, especially if someone is exposing the misdeeds they do (then they try to get rid of the evidence or the people that have the evidence (silent treatments for narcissists, murder or disabling for psychopaths) - so then it becomes a "fooling of others to get them to idealize them" rather than being motivated by arrogance.

Hyacinth Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances is on a mission to have others look at her as a high society woman with more money than she actually has; in fact she spends most of her time trying to hide who she really is. However real narcissists are quite a bit more irritating because they are not doing it for comedy and they can be livid when they are caught, unlike Hyacinth Bucket who merely becomes embarrassed and overtaken with the terror of what people's real opinions might be. Narcissists care about the flattery and their image the most, and that takes such a huge precedence over anything else, no matter who they are getting the flattery from, what the authenticity is behind the person saying it, what the circumstances are.

At any rate, the people that high end narcissists meet get put in the "all good camp" or "all bad camp" right away, but even then, they often change their minds. Since they change their minds so often (which is what the cycle of abuse is about: idealize, devalue, discard, the ultimate black and white thinking mixed in with a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde implementation), it is hard to listen to them or take them seriously, just as you wouldn't take Dr. Jekyll seriously if he said he would never hurt you again, knowing that he has a Mr. Hyde side and has never proven that he has forsaken Mr. Hyde. 

In normal families, there are no favorite children, or a dominant child. If the siblings don't get along, a normal parent will say things like, "Johnny, be sensitive to your sister, and Mona, be sensitive to Johnny. You are a bond. Please figure out a way to help one another. You will be siblings for life."

In dysfunctional alcoholic families and narcissistic families, the parent is too insecure to have that conversation, or for the siblings be close (they want the attention and closeness to go to them, not between the siblings), so they spend a lot of time trying to separate siblings through triangulation, scapegoating, favoritism, complaining to one about the other, putting them through loyalty challenges (even though most narcissists are extremely disloyal themselves), appointing a golden child, and through derision and doubt (i.e. trying to get the siblings hating one another). 

In toxic abusive families, one child is always getting punished while the other gets rewarded. If the child who is being punished continually starts to experience sibling abuse, the abused child is often pressured to apologize to the abuser - so wrong.

But narcissists will never see it as wrong because they believe with all of their heart that one child is all good and the other child is all bad, no matter what the circumstances and facts are, and will actually become extremely angry when they are challenged about it. They have been known to enlist other bullies to keep these unreasonable roles intact, and their black and white thinking unchallenged about it as well.

The problem for them is that they want to be perceived as a good parent, so the black and white thinking eventually becomes a problem, especially out in public where they see parents loving all of their children, where all children are welcome, treated equally, celebrating holidays together. They don't want people to know that they rage at their scapegoats, that they wish the scapegoat would just go away, stay away, or die (or given the silent treatment or ghosted, which basically sends the same message). So they feel they have to put a face on it, or explain away their scapegoat such as, "(Our scapegoat) is highly independent and we respect that", or "We want (our scapegoat) to be independent, not to rely on us, so we have pushed them to do their own thing and realize their own place in the world. We just wish they'd call more often." - they will do anything not to confess to rage, abuse, discards, love bombings, manipulations, arm-twistings, walking on eggshells, self-esteem crushing activities, silent treatments and terrorizing.

If they were really honest about how they behaved they would say things like "Our son wasn't giving us enough narcissistic supply, and wasn't treating us as the ultimate king and queen in his life that we think that we deserve, so we got rid of him," or "Our son is all good and or daughter is all bad and it's been this way since they were small children" or "It's so much easier to figure out who should be punished, by choosing one child for punishments. Then we never have to figure out who is right or wrong! Just pick a child, any child! Your golden child will so deeply appreciate you for it that you won't even miss your scapegoat! We have been scapegoating our daughter since she was seven! And doing everything we can to instill in her that she deserves it, so only she has to think about anything, not us. So easy, even when they are in their fifties! It works for us! Try it! You'll like it!" - They know that no fellow parent is going to give them sympathy hugs for any of it!

So the high end narcissists and sociopaths are cognizant enough to know that "telling it like it is" will not go over well with their friends, so, in a way, they know that splitting is wrong, otherwise they would say things like the statements in the previous paragraph and wouldn't have to make up stories or diversionary explanations that keep fellow parents from knowing the truth.

A lot of narcissists try to isolate people from knowing the truth too. Case in point: they tell a family member who has had few interactions with their "all bad" adult child that their adult child is mentally ill, so mentally ill that the adult child should be institutionalized. The family member goes to visit the adult child anyway, and finds that they are not crazy at all, and that the "mental illness" they have been diagnosed with is PTSD. Punishing is about isolating their child from familial belonging, and labeling them as crazy (gaslighting), so this is why it is done. Once the lie is exposed, it is very hard for the parent to keep layering on the excuses, and more lies, but they desperately try to do so anyway to keep others from knowing the truth. 

But, if they see that explaining the abuse away (duping) with diversionary explanations is convincing to others, they will use it over, and over, and over again around other parents, no matter how disingenuous it is. They will aggrandize their parenting abilities in these situations, even. If they are eventually caught, they will tell others that they are the victims instead - hard to do if they are really caught.

The problem for survivors is that they know that abusive parents can be dangerous and retaliatory if their parents' lies and cover-ups are exposed, so many children decide not to expose the parents (they know that with these parents, the parent's false self is precious to the parent, just as an alter personality is precious to someone with Dissociative Identity Disorder). Sometimes children aren't willing to take the safety risks at exposing their parents, and like cult members who are threatened if they so much as think about leaving, they go off quietly and work at being so invisible that they hope that these parents just forget about them.

And some children are more disgusted and amused by their parents desperate lies and smear campaigns than they are angry at them.

Abusive parents often have one thing in common with criminals: most criminals will insist on their own innocence, even after they have so much evidence against them, many witnesses testifying, police having caught them in the act, and are in line to be executed. That is because most criminals are either Malignant Narcissists or sociopaths/psychopaths (Antisocial Personality Disorder). They are all in the Cluster B camp: some Cluster Bs choose to be pathological liars, some choose emotional abuse, some choose physical abuse or false imprisonment, some choose a life of bullying others to get ahead in the corporate world, some are aware of what they are doing and want to get better, and some choose to kill others. They specialize.

A great deal of them (with the exception of Borderlines who tend to act on impulse and have enough empathy to feel sorry for how they effect others), think about how to abuse effectively without detection, and how to manipulate others into being the target for abuse (by working on lowering the self esteem of their target through insults and derision). In other words, they aren't thinking about how to make a medicine that will cure malaria or other worthwhile activities. They want someone in their lives to be in pain over them. They also count on being flattered even when they have caused pain to someone close to them.

Thus, abuse becomes a kind of sport or game for them, and comes way before important work. Part of winning is not being detected. Many get "dupers delight" over lying effectively. It is one reason why most abusers get much worse over time: they get used to winning this horrific game.

At some point they become reckless about abusing (they no longer feel their heart quicken with anxiety)  just as all serial types like this become careless.

Arrogance will always compromise intelligence and caution.

Arrogance is also why a lot of despotic tyrants lose wars even if they win battles initially.
One of the things that sets abusers apart from most of us too is that the high majority of them refuse to go to therapy with (or for) the people they are hurting or traumatizing. That is because they talk themselves into black and white thinking again: "I refuse to have (my crazy partner) dictate to me whether we are going to therapy", even though they spend so much of their lives dictating to others. "They are the only ones at fault, and if they can't see that, then the relationship is over." This is a clear message that what they want is to have their partners take on the role of assuming all of the responsibility for what goes wrong between the two of them - again, their partner is deemed to be 100 percent responsible for what goes wrong and 100 percent responsible for fixing things that go wrong.

Unless there is extreme co-dependency between the two individuals, a separation is inevitable.

The other reason they don't go to therapy is because their all or nothing ultimatums, their Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde behaviors, their discarding people for better sources of narcissistic supply are comfortable for them. They like themselves this way. They don't want to hear other perspectives. They don't want to empathize. They don't want peace and tranquility in their relationships. They don't want to take a good look at themselves. They don't want to assume any of the responsibility. They are happy with abusing, separations and destruction. They are happy with playing the blame game. They are happy with their child, or children, or spouse leaving, and they are happy if their spouse or children contract PTSD too.

As long as they are happy with all of it, they won't be willing to stop the splitting and cruel behaviors and get help for it. When we realize they are happy with this kind of status quo, the best thing for us is to get out of dodge.

The very first initial response to getting out of dodge is to slowly end all emotional subjects (something I have learned - and brings the best results - I'll focus on strategies in another post). If they bring emotional subjects up, you are allowed to divert: to complain of a headache, or that you have to go to the bathroom, or that you forgot to take a letter to the post office, for instance. I will go into it more in another post.

Narcissists are way too immature and disabled by their disorder for discussing emotional subjects, and a lot of the reason why is the black and white thinking. They are also extremely untrustworthy (with many of them indulging in back-stabbing activities), and not intelligent in this area (except on how to exploit emotional vulnerabilities, gullibility and innocence for themselves and their grandiosity fantasies), so the best thing to do is not to indulge them in emotional subjects to begin with. Keep conversations short, to the point, in non-controversial subjects, deflect by going into other subjects once they go down this road, and if they start attacking you verbally or emotionally walk away proudly and calmly - especially for those of you in a work situation with them.

If you keep your stature high and dignified, they will be insecure, like "What does she (or he) have up his sleeve? I just insulted him (or her), and they walk away without being effected?"

If you have just met them, keep your private life to yourself. If they start rumors about your private life (because you won't indulge them in being interrogated), which they will resent because they are nervous and insecure about people who don't reveal, they will usually take the rumors to such an extreme that when you finally let some of your other co-workers know a little of what and who is in your private life, it will make the narcissist look really foolish and won't bode well for them. I have tried this in two work environments, and it came out in my favor both times: they lost the respect of the co-workers and I gained it - no matter how many excuses and word salad the perpetrators of the gossip used. Leave it to their black and white thinking, their insecurities, and their derisive highly judgmental way of looking at others to make them sit in the dirt they create. Which is to say, use their black and white thinking, and their penchant for smear campaigning others they can't control, to your advantage.

The best way to take advantage is to assume there will be office gossip, and to assume there will also be a Cluster B Personality Disordered person somewhere in or around that office. Usually their gossip about you when you are silent is the way they become flushed out and brought to your attention. Information in an office is highly porous so someone is likely to take you aside and tell you what someone else is saying about you. Then you know who to trust and who not to trust, and how to treat them.

Also remember: if you have an issue with them, and it is clear they are not listening to you or practicing any self examination, or they are putting all of the blame on you, or have a history of smear campaigns, they are more invested in keeping their image clean than resolving anything with you, even if they have hurt you a lot. You are replaceable with other sources of narcissistic supply.

The more they refuse to self reflect, the more they will scapegoat you and look at you as all bad.

Remember that narcissists do not have any more emotional maturity than a six year old. You would never talk to a six year old about grown up emotional topics. You can't with them either.

They do love to scapegoat. They use it to feel better about themselves and it is nearly always about feeling better in comparison to you. That's why they smile and laugh when you cry or plead with them for the cruelty to stop. They also do it because they like to argue, knowing that the injustice they provoke in you will make you react, and at least want to talk them into reasonableness. The more you fight the injustice, the more they like it, and want to provoke more of it. That is the other reason you cannot talk to them about grown up subjects. They get an enormous hit of narcissistic supply at showing their Mr. Hyde side to you and winning arguments in the most dirty way they can muster.

What I mean by dirty arguments:

In normal relationships arguments that arise tend to be about resolving conflicts, and coming to an understanding about feelings, perspectives and ways that a compromise can be reached. The love is always there through the argument. In fact, you feel a level of comfort that your parent or spouse will care about you as much as they care about themselves and that they are out to understand your perspectives and treat you in such a way that you matter to them.

Narcissists, on the other hand, use arguments to hurt other people, really hurt them in the most profoundly wounding way as they can (with the information you have given them through their interrogations). They start with insults first and then tell you how much they devalue you secondly. They escalate as much as possible, getting close to breaking the law (or outright breaking of the law), and try to induce as much trauma as they can. Furthermore, they don't care about how much they traumatize you. They never loved you, and the fact that they traumatize so egregiously is proof of it. If you ask them to stop hurting you, they see it as a way to hurt you more.

They also make it clear that you are exceptionally replaceable and have no intrinsic value in their lives (and this goes for a spouse and children - yes, this is how they behave when conflicts arise).

The amount of trauma they try to induce can be very, very great, as well as the devaluation: "You are nothing to me", "I never cared what you think", "I don't care about whether you are hurt or not! In fact, if you are, good!", "Why do you think I care about what you think? I never have and never will." The passive aggressive abuser will send those messages to you through cheating on you instead, or love bombing your enemies, or giving you the silent treatment, or trying take away anything and everything that means something to you.

Also, they keep trying to re-traumatize their victims, even when their victims have stopped trying to get the narcissist to see what they are going through, have stopped asking them to be sensitive, caring and stop the pain. In fact, when these victims have accepted the devaluation and the disregard and have agreed to disappear from the narcissist's life in peace, narcissists try more ways to get the victim traumatized. And the way they keep trying to re-traumatize is through smear campaigns and retelling the story in such a way that paints themselves as victims.

Not only will they try to paint themselves as victims, they will also be re-framing the story in such a way that it is about money, or jealousy, or about how insane you are, and so on. If they choose to paint you as pathologically jealous of them, most pronouncements of jealousy are projection because the people they target who tend to be overwhelmingly empaths, have very few, if any, feelings of jealousy. All of this is incredibly dirty fighting, meant to destroy, rather than to build.

What is really insidious about narcissists is that they often espouse such platitudes as "Arguments are not meant to tear people apart. Be nice to one another and reach an understanding." They do this before their discards and attempts to destroy others so that you will let your guard down, so that you will think they fight fair, in the style they are espousing, that any potential arguments with them will be about "being nice to one another and reaching an understanding." You will be led into the false hope of a peaceful resolution, and that love and understanding will prevail, because they have used those kinds of platitudes so consistently. When you realize these platitudes are fake, it piles on more trauma and shock into your system. This is what makes them incredibly evil, their intention to really, really hurt other people, and never do what they say.   

They also like getting away with hurting others ("duper's delight") with the tactics I have mentioned.

They will fight dirty like this even if you are a spouse or a child of theirs. It's just a fact of life when you are dealing with narcissists in any form, even narcissists who are parents or a spouse (who said vows and never really meant those vows): that is because they love their Mr. Hyde much more than they love any people.

Another warning: if you know they are acting this way with other people in their lives, especially with a spouse or children, do NOT assume that they won't do it to you no matter how many promises they are making, and the love bombing they are doing. The one mistake that a lot of people make is: telling yourself, for instance, "She values me way more than she ever did my sister and father, and would never think to hurt me in the same manner as them."

If they want to hurt you, which they probably do (narcissists are not happy unless they are hurting those closest to them) they will figure out a way to do it. They may learn from what they did to your father or sister, but they won't learn the right things: like how to love, value, and treat their relationships better. What they will learn is how to be more covert about abuse the next time around, how to convince you that abuse is good for you.

Also don't make the mistake of seeing your sister or father as all bad and deserving of the abuse or devaluation, as surely the narcissist will try to convince you - another mistake potential victims make.

Also, if they are interrogating you, find ways to back off on the information you are giving them for your own safety. These are not safe people to put trust into.

In conclusion: abusers grow up in abusive families where their emotional growth was arrested at age six or so, and there is usually some splitting going on with their parent, in conjunction with them being spoiled, enabled, triangulated with siblings, isolated (so that the parent has the dominant relationship with them), which then gets translated by them into entitlement to receive special treatment (including hurting other people without accountability). It is why they almost never take a look at their splitting tendencies or feel the need to change.

Feelings of entitlement are the big roadblock to honest change, including how we treat other people. When a narcissist shows they don't care how you feel or what their punishments are doing to your life, are intractable in how they treat others, entitlement is usually at the core of why.


It is becoming clear (at least from the chatter on the internet among psychologists) that splitting in domestic abuse situations is the greatest contributor in victims getting PTSD. This is especially true if a parent, or parents were the culprits, but on-going partner splitting can create PTSD too, especially if you can't escape or have Stockholm Syndrome.

The more the traumas multiply, the harder it is to manage your PTSD symptoms.

Imagine your parent has a Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde personality. Now multiply the incidences of utter cruelty changing back to nice and sweet 12 times over one year (like once a month - a typical length for a cycle of abuse is 4 weeks to 3 months). In the beginning you do something nice for them, like giving a bone to a snarling dog. It placates the dog once. The trouble is, you don't know if the same kind of bone will work the next time or not. Often it doesn't. So then the Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde becomes anxiety-provoking, and the figure in your life is getting more and more unstable and self centered, you may sleep with one eye open.

In fact, many children who are exposed to a parent's Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde have sleep disturbances and nightmares (the symptoms of PTSD), that they can't sleep, or sleep very well. They are always hyper vigilant.

Sleep deprivation, just by itself, does all kinds of things to you physically and mentally. But when you add in on-going fear and anxiety to the sleep deprivation, it will make you pretty sick.

In fact, there is no rhyme or reason for most of the narcissist's rages; they just go off over nothing. One time the rage goes off because you are having an asthma attack, another time it goes off because you are cuddled up with your other parent on the couch (narcissists are over-the-top jealous but young children really can't sense it in a parent, so it seems to come out of nowhere), and any number of situations that are baffling - unless you have studied topics on abuse, and what narcissists are about, otherwise it is a big mystery, and it is especially a horror mystery for a child.

12 times 18 years living with a parent with a Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde personality means you will be exposed to horrifying cruelty 216 times during your childhood. Not only that, but you will see cruelty done to other members of your family, and hear derisive stories about other people you don't know, so maybe you see your parent being cruel 767 times during your childhood, 216 of which were directed at you.

If you are the spouse of someone who abuses, you know that once, or twice, or ten times is traumatic. Imagine being a child in the situation you are in.

216 cycles of abuse will effect anyone, and a child especially. They don't know that narcissists are emotionally only about six years old and that it isn't wise to talk to them about anything that a six year old can handle. They don't know that narcissists are more concerned with how they are perceived than they are in parenting effectively (abusers who are high on the narcissism scale, including covert narcissists, punish children who they think are not perceiving them as an all good parent, and if they perceive you are ambivalent about their parenting abilities they generally become vindictive over it ... because they conclude that you see them as an all bad parent - they use projection - more about that later). Kids don't know that when narcissists become narcissistically wounded, they not only attack them, but often rely on certain tactics to hide the attacks by making the attacks seem like another subject: the child isn't grateful, they're crazy, they're stupid, and they create drama - all very common phrases among narcissists about their own child or children.

Kids don't know that narcissists are overwhelmed with jealousy and will lash out and hurt the children they are jealous of. They don't know that narcissists triangulate and try to split people apart to create doubt and confusion. They don't know that their parent tries to bury evidence that they are abusive and will be cruel if they think you might expose them. Children don't know why they are viewed as all good one minute and all bad the next minute, and what the criteria is for those judgments. All they know is the unpredictability, the skewed perspectives, the cruelty and injustice, that they are frightened out of their wits by the possibility of Mr. Hyde re-appearing again, and that there are too many lies, cover-ups and evil, all with seemingly insane re-tellings.

If you were living with Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde, and felt hostage to this person, wouldn't you want to get away, no matter how good and caring a doctor he was, knowing that he could turn into the evil Mr. Hyde at any moment no matter what he promises?

And believe me, most narcissists promise that it will never happen, the devaluation, the discards, the abuse, the labeling of all bad or all at fault or all insane. The high majority of narcissists break these kinds of promises over and over again with their kids and think nothing of it at the time they are doing it. They make word salad excuses out of it: "I don't remember that I ever promised you a thing", "Why would I say that when I could care less about how you feel? Get real!", "I would NEVER make a promise like that!", "Did I give you the silent treatment and disappear from your life? Well, I thought you wanted independence. Sorry about that" - these kinds of crazy-making gaslighting excuses for breaking a promise are par for the course. Very rarely does a promise a narcissist make to their child materialize, and that is because the promises are about insincere love bombinghoovers based on their insecurity, and manipulation to control others around them at all times.

It is possible that the two sides of the narcissist (the Jekyll and Hyde sides) can't remember what the other side has done, and Sam Vaknin has occasionally suggested that the two sides of the narcissist are not always transferring to the point of remembering all that one side did. The fact that narcissists lie and try to cover up their abusive natures probably doesn't help either.

But this still doesn't explain why they cover up their Mr. Hyde side at will and convenience when they are out in public with the child or spouse they abuse at home.

Most children who have been exposed to 216 cycles of abuse, spend inordinate amounts of time trying to figure out how to deal with it (rather than doing their homework, for instance), and when they feel they can't deal with it, make elaborate plans of what they will do with their lives once they turn to a certain age. This, in and of itself, should explain why the USA needs laws about emotional abuse such as Britain has.

The first order of getting away from Dr. Jekyll Mr. Hyde is to create your own space, your own support group, and detox by getting help from a domestic violence therapist.

Sometimes survivors don't know they have been abused and end up with run-of-the-mill therapists instead of domestic violence therapists, and it can do a great deal of harm. Many potential therapists are getting better training to detect abuse, and how to respond, but the older generation therapists who did not have proper training in the field can, and do, create more trauma in their clients, not less of it.

If you do eventually find a domestic violence counselor, just about all of them are well trained in how abusers behave, and the typical ways victims respond to abuse.

Note: most domestic violence therapists use the first sessions to work on the brainwashing that was done to you. The brainwashing is what sends victims right back into their abusive relationships again, where the abuser escalates the abuse, and occasionally makes it life threatening.

In a lot of group sessions you'll hear things like: "Well my husband didn't like how I looked at this guy who walked into the restaurant, so yea, he smashed up the kitchen when we got home and a plate flew into my face. I guess it's a minor cut even though I had some stitches." Notice how she is diminishing his violent act by pretending it is just a scratch, where the plate "flew" instead of him throwing it, which is what many perpetrators do: minimize the damage and violence, and make it all her fault for looking at a man in a restaurant: that's the brainwashing part. "I know I didn't mean anything by looking at the guy. I'm a loyal person, but my husband is extremely sensitive." - even victims will initially make many, many excuses for their perpetrators.

A good domestic violence therapist will never let this kind of brainwashing go unchallenged. For instance "being sensitive" and "being violent" are actually antonyms, not synonyms.

When you see this happening to other survivors, you start looking at what kinds of excuses you have been living with too, swallowing and regurgitating. Usually way too many, and the attitudes start switching from "I'll excuse him one more time" to "You're right; the abuse is escalating" to "Why are so many of us putting up with this kind of behavior anyway? Why were we all so easily brainwashed and fooled? I was thinking something was wrong with me to bring on all of it, but when I look at and hear all of you, it is so obvious to me that we are all so empathetic and reasonable. We've been fed a line of crap, and we believed it. But why?"

Most often the answer to it is that so many victims of domestic violence and domestic abuse grew up in families where abuse was normalized, condoned or overlooked, where victims were pressured to apologize to a family perpetrator (deemed all good by some authority figure in the family, for instance), where insults and self-esteem crushing activities were part of family get-togethers, for instance, where sibling rivalry was not kept in check, where parents "let their children go" or rejected them, or encouraged one of their teenage children to run away, where the family pressured a daughter into marrying an abusive man for money and security, where parents pressured their kids to "be nice" and overlooked the abuse done to them in the family, where no one in the family was protected from abuse (like allowing a ten year old girl to be used for sexual abuse or sexual trafficking without police intervention), where parents abandon their children during traumatic times, or give them the silent treatment with impunity. Abuse and the excuses for abusing became so normalized in their family of origin that it set the victims up for more abuse from dates, spouses and co-workers when they got older. No one taught them that abuse is wrong, and how to defend against it, or offer familial support, or they had double messages about abuse. A double message is, for instance, abuse is okay in the family, but nowhere else.

So often child abuse victims look shocked, frozen and silent in the midst of another person abusing them. This is a PTSD reaction, but it actually sends the message to the perpetrator that the victim is willing to take abuse, that the victim has "normalized abuse"to the extent that they are silent about it. The victims aren't protesting, fighting for their voice; they aren't fighting for their rights to be treated with dignity; they aren't saying "I have had enough!": their PTSD symptoms are kicking in, and the reason why they are kicking in is because of trauma or abuse from the past, such as abusive parents, or parents who ignored abuse happening to their child.

It is hard to go from "frozen" to "taking action" when you have the chronic form of PTSD. Domestic violence therapists and psychologists know this, which is why they work so hard on the brainwashing first to get you empowered enough to say "no". Empowerment will give you the attitude that you are no longer going to be its victim.

Abuse is perpetrated on a small segment of the population. Predators can often sense child abuse victims, and the way they do that is through interrogations, just the way a parent interrogates a child for highly personal information, and soliciting all of the child's feelings too. If they are on the higher spectrum of the Cluster B personality disordered, they do this without revealing much of anything about themselves, and getting enough information from you to hurt you when they want to blackmail you. Predators outside the family who ask a lot of questions, who love bomb, who insist they have to know you, who mirror your likes and dislikes, who tell you that all of their exes were all bad, or all crazy, that you are the apex of their dreams come true and are all good, who aggrandize you with soul mate pronouncements in a very short amount of time will seem unconsciously familiar to a child abuse victim. If these predators sense any "frozen reactions", trauma or PTSD in you (which they usually can), these predators will feel they have won the jackpot in drawing you in.

So often, victims find they have to leave their families behind, as well as their spouse. It is immensely challenging and life changing, and something that most people don't have to deal with.

So, the PTSD starts to develop when you are dealing with a cruel parent (or spouse) who suddenly decides to be nice, but then in an instant, goes back to being cruel.

If you think that rewarding them or fawning over them is going to change their behavior, or has anything to do with their constant switching back and forth, it doesn't, even if they say it does. It is an emotional manipulation and/or survival strategy that your perpetrator picked up in childhood, period, and that they use throughout their lives to fulfill fantasies of being the center of attention. It is also used for power and control fantasies: what better way to get you to do what they want by tipping your world upside down and back again, loving you passionately and then treating you with disdain or as though you don't exist, forcing you to walk on eggshells. And they do push it to extremes usually, and escalate their rages and demands to wild degrees to see how much abuse you will take before you let go of them. The more enmeshed and dependent on them you are, the more they like it because they reason that the bond is very, very strong, much too hard to break despite the trauma induced by them, that you will take any and all forms of abuse from them. It's a grandiosity fix for them.

What happens on a physical level when they are abusing is that their immune system gets a boost, while your immune system gets a drain, so it is a bit like them taking or stealing your energy to give to themselves. In this way they are vampires.

To some extent they allow you to fawn in the beginning, and reward you for the fawning, and soothing their highly "sensitive feelings" over their rages and little nothings (see above - the woman in the restaurant). But eventually it soon becomes clear that they want you to take more than your fair share of the blame, and they become absurdly and overwhelmingly sensitive to just about anything and everything that you do or don't do, so you are micro-managed to keep you in line and pleasing them at all times. From there, they usually adopt the master mentality (which means turning you into their slave), or if they are parents, the king vs the dutiful child mentality. Eventually everything you do and say is questioned by them. Your apologies aren't good enough, your style of loving them is not good enough, your ways of expressing yourself are not good enough, your gifts and your sensitivity to their feelings aren't good enough. It can come down to facial expressions eventually, where they decide what your facial expressions mean, where they decide what is going on with your facial expressions in terms of your feelings, and many terrorize you over those facial expressions or glances too.

If they have gotten to the facial expression stage, and are terrorizing you over these expressions, congratulations, you are involved with a malignant narcissist, a sociopath or a psychopath (which any domestic violence counselor will be able to tell you). No normal person punishes someone over a facial expression (but these kinds of predators do it over, and over, and over again). The facial expression stage is the time when they become dangerous too, by the way, so it is also the time you need to think about how to exit.

Strategies for a safe exit are important, so talking to a domestic violence center or domestic violence counselor is also a critical part of this stage. It is important to take the dangers seriously because it is easy to be in denial, especially when they split: when they sense you are leaving, they can and do turn on the love bombing yet again to win you back (they can be brazen enough to do it again for the umpteenth time for instance), the passionate love making, etc. You are programmed, to some extent, to think of them as a slot machine, where you dump in coins representing sensitivity for their feelings, loving them even though they have the shortcoming of annihilating rages and expect a reward (like being loved) at the end. The problem is that, like a slot machine, eventually you drop more coins in than you are rewarded, and the more good will, excusing of their bullying, and energy they deplete from you, the more symptoms you will have: nausea and stomach aches, heart palpitations, crushing headaches, autoimmune illnesses, a trashed immune system, extreme anxiety, inability to sleep (hypervigilence) or sleeping with one eye open, nightmares, sweats, depression, weight control issues (because PTSD effects metabolism), feeling frozen in traumatic situations, isolating, anger at the injustice (which perpetrators actually like - will explain in another post) and it can get so bad that you can go to an early grave.

In all close personal relationships (adult parent/child, spouses, partners, close friends, siblings, adult family members), the power has to be shared equally, where no one dominates, otherwise the relationship will be toxic for your body and mind. Knowing the signs of the narcissist and the sociopath and splitting will help you take precautions before you get to the facial expression stage, or even the rage stage from the outset by having boundaries, only meeting in public places or big family get-togethers, never discussing emotional topics, obtaining the skills to divert the conversation, excusing yourself, keeping it very superficial.

You can't do this with a spouse, obviously, so other strategies will have to be adopted.

But taking precautions for people who psychologically split, you can make a quiet presence, that is, if you haven't gotten to an enmeshed stage in your relationship where you are being peppered with questions constantly and answering all of their questions (if they are on the covert, malignant, sociopathic Cluster B disordered scale, they will be revealing very little of themselves while they interrogate). If you decide to suddenly refuse to answer their questions they will rage at you, punish you and expect you to straighten out and get back into the role of answering all of their questions - so by then it is too late to have the guarded superficial relationship, and especially if you have PTSD. Alternatively, if you want to slowly and quietly work towards a superficial relationship, keep withdrawing in stages so they don't understand quite what has happened (most people can't do this because, unless you want to lie to them, narcissists and sociopaths do catch on that you are withdrawing and not trusting them, and will go into a rage anyway - they are always tuned into you, and most look at you intently to get as much information as they can, and they are very concerned about your loyalty to them, hair trigger so,  - even though most of them are extremely disloyal themselves).

One of the reasons we cannot tolerate splitting in people who are close to us (and especially parents) is because our biology is not set up to tolerate it - that is why we get symptoms when we are exposed to a lot of it. Close personal relationships were not meant to be about "I love you one minute and hate you the next minute", "I want to love you and nurture you one minute, and hope you die the next minute". "I am all good, and my child is all bad" or "My son is all good and my daughter is all bad" as in the cartoon above. We are also not meant to be controlled and dominated in close personal relationships, especially as adults, even if co-operation was always part of our human history. Co-operation is "team playing" and does not have a specific leader - the only time a leader is and was needed in our distant hunter-gatherer past (the past that is still part of our DNA) is when expertise in a certain field was needed and wanted. When you are trauma bonded to a parent or partner or sibling, it will make you sick, always. The longer it goes on, the sicker you become. The only way to end the onslaught of symptoms, or to get control of the symptoms from ruining your health and your life, is to end the trauma bond.

Living with and trying to tolerate splitting in all of its various manifestations, whether Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the cycle of abuse (idealize, devalue, discard ... or replace discard with "destroy" or "annihilating rage"), "I love you, I hate you" behaviors, favoritism of one child over the other, are always unhealthy for the people experiencing them.

Narcissists and sociopaths will usually not listen to or care about any of it, even as they are the source of it (or in actuality, it is probably multi-generational). They blame shift it away and try like hell to make it all your fault that they are this way, or they like it that people get traumatized by it. They almost never get help in ending these behaviors, no matter how much destruction it causes in their own lives, or in other peoples' lives, so they typically go on to "better sources of narcissistic supply" instead, people who they think will "put up up and shut up" about the splitting, and hurting others who they think they can control more effectively, who they deem to be more invested in people-pleasing than any other activity, and who do not scare them in terms of independence, intelligence, the ability to know and research the truth about splitting.


Wills and Estates: If you were left out of the Will of your parent (even if you did all of the caretaking, all of the meal-making, and moving in to help, while your sibling disappeared, and went on exotic cruises - it happens), it has everything to do with the psychological splitting of your parent. You were deemed all bad no matter what you did or said, and your sibling was deemed all good no matter what she or he said and did, and most likely became fixed that way in their mind when you were a tot, pre-verbal. It hurts because, as one forum poster said, "they dangled the carrot of love and approval in front of us. They exploited our natural, healthy need for approval" and then they used it to abuse us. Splitting is their knee-jerk reaction, a very primitive reaction that they use much more than any kind of cognitive and emotional intelligence in the process of absorbing what the words, expressions, ambitions, explorations, and what the looks of others mean. If you are a scapegoat, take a lot of precautions (don't fall prey to love bombing or hoovering, in other words - they have deemed you to be all bad and the love bombing and/or hoovering often is their way to get into your life to do their "Mr. Hyde number" on you again).

Partners: If your partner always deems you to be at fault when things are going wrong for him, he has ceased the love bombing stage with you and gone directly to the devaluation stage (he has "split" - accept it for what it is). The devaluation stage comes on quickly, and can come in the blink of an eye, and over nothing of consequence. These people can be dangerous when they are splitting (they will at least be losing their temper in a big way). What has happened is that he (or she) has deemed you to be all bad (and yes, suddenly all bad). Narcissists and sociopaths will punish you for being all bad (and actually feel that you deserve it, as in their eyes, all bad people should be in pain). Expect abuse, or ghosting, or insults about your character, or degrading demands and ultimatums, or stealing, or destroying, or for them to indulge in any self-esteem crushing activity they can think up against you, or cheating, or laughing at your pain, or even plotting your demise - it could be all of it. If you notice that you are walking on eggshells and that there are just a few too many threats, get out before it is too late.
     Please also note that if they are a full blown narcissist or sociopath, they cannot be talked into stopping the splitting - they will blame you for their splitting every time (yes, they really are that blind and simplistic in their thinking  - they will react to anything they see as all bad by being the worst of your nightmares). 
     Borderlines actually know when they are splitting, and they can stop it and have understanding about it, and even have great remorse afterwards. Narcissists and sociopaths, unless they are of exceptional intelligence about psychological and emotional subjects (incredibly rare) and are in treatment for many, many years, are incapable of any kind of cognitive enlightenment or intelligence about it (or their condition). Punishment of you seems to them their only path.
Their Addiction to Power and Control: Their splitting has everything to do with desperately wanting power and control over others. They feel secure when they dominate others. When they feel they are not dominating others (and it really doesn't have anything to do with you, other than that they do not like any of your strengths, and they are scared to death of any person close to them who seems self-directed and un-reliant on their opinions), they will also be showing you Mr. Hyde, especially if they feel they can do it without prying eyes, or without anyone caring about how you are being treated. The way they feel they need to feed their addiction for power and control is by threats and punishments of close people who they deem might be making them out to be all bad. 
     If they think that you see them as all bad, they will tend to think that you are all bad for thinking that they are all bad. Most of the time no one thinks they are all bad (except another narcissist or sociopath), but they are so used to projecting that they can't believe other people do not think in black and white terms like they do (and explains some of why they are hyper-sensitive to criticism or people telling them they are hurt by them - that is because if they criticize others, or are hurt by others, they want that person to be in excruciating pain; it is a projection "thing" again).
     Also, they are heavily, heavily invested in seeing themselves as all good. 
     But why?
     My own sense is that they feel they cannot control you if you think of them as all bad. If you listen to the chatter of narcissists, they will try to convince you that their punishments of you, their rages over feeling that you are viewing them as a bad person, their smear campaigns, and their hurting you is the best thing in the world for you. They'll try to convince you it is a higher-learning experience, a chance to prove how good you are, a chance to show them how grateful you are towards them, etc. (the reason for the etc. is that they'll use anything they can to try to talk you into "abuse being an altruistic activity").
     The truth of the matter is that pain means something is wrong (and in this context, very wrong), not a sign that something is right. It's the same as physical pain. You are not likely to think that if you have pounding headaches which disable you and get worse over time is good health. No, you see a doctor.
     But many narcissists will expend a great deal of energy on why pain is good for you - it is a typical gaslighting tactic that all abusers use. Don't buy it!
     It can also have to do with their cravings to be perceived as a golden child left over from when they were a child, all good all of the time no matter what they do or say, whether conscious or unconscious. That's why they can't admit to any abuse, or admit to any badness in themselves.
     If they were treated as a golden child, taught that they were all good all of the time even when they were abusive to others (it all starts in childhood), they will think that abusiveness is an all good thing to do to others (or at least something to overlook or excuse). They will mimic their parent when it comes to their spouse and children and others in their lives: that punishments and their blind retaliations are a learning experience for the other person. It is also the reason why they try to appear as the most saintly among us (which means hiding the abusive stuff they do to others - so on some level they know they can be quite bad; they just don't want anyone to see it but you, and, of course, others who could care less about you).
     If you think about it, how they react is pretty weird:
     1. They make up what you are feeling (they think they are know-it-alls on what others are feeling and thinking - it is one reason they are called narcissists). Let's say that they are abusing you. So you tell them that you are hurt by them. They don't try to figure out why. They decide, instead, that it means you are perceiving them as all bad
     2. When you say that those are not your perceptions, and that they should not be telling you what you feel, that they should be asking you questions about how you feel instead, they overwhelmingly respond that they don't want to hear what you have to say because they think you are lying (projection: because if they were in your shoes, they would lie about what they feel and think).
     Most of us aren't aware that this is going on, that they are projecting to this extent, so instead we get very frustrated with communicating and getting through to them, with trying to get them to understand, with trying to get them out of this horrific trajectory of destruction, with trying to get heard. And we don't understand why they don't want to hear us.
     3. And instead of listening to you, they keep reiterating their made-up versions of what you are feeling and thinking. So, you look dumbfounded because someone who has made up their mind about such things is not someone you can communicate with. They are also absolutely sure that you see them as all bad, whereas they think you should see the good they do for you. That's when they respond that you are ungrateful, one of the most common phrases narcissists use when there are issues between themselves and people they are in close personal relationships with.
     If you are not a narcissist, you will be scratching your head: "How did we get from 'You are hurting me' and the response is 'You're ungrateful'?" Isn't that a non sequitur? Isn't that diverting the conversation? Isn't that blame-shifting?
     Yes, it is. But to them, it is not. It's an answer to how they think you perceive them rather than what is actually going on: that you want them to reflect on how they are hurting you and to feel compassion for you.
     4. Not only will they be splitting, projecting and responding to their fantasies of what you think and feel, if they are a covert narcissist or a malignant narcissist, they will want to punish you for the feelings and thoughts they made up about you. And by punish, I mean really punish you, even if you are their kid or spouse: have affairs, cavort with your enemies, steal from you, get your siblings to abuse you, hurt you where they think it will do the most damage to you, try to disable your career and relationships, run smear campaigns on you, etc. Some of them may want to kill you over it. They are extremely retaliatory and vengeful.
     Think about it. Most people are hurt if someone thinks someone else perceives them as all bad. With narcissists, they feel enraged instead. That's really, really weird. Spooky weird. And sometimes deadly weird. But there is a reason they feel enraged instead of hurt - I will get to that in another post.
     Anyway, all of this is where their disorder borders on complete insanity.
     As I have said before, there is no intelligence behind their desperate grasps for power and control of others (as it tends to wreck their lives just as much as it wrecks other people's lives). But they are so addicted to it, they won't give it up. 

Further discussion: In another post, I will delve into what psychological splitting does to a family, and it is amazingly crazy-making for everyone involved.

Following are some videos, quotes, resources and further reading:

"Splitting, A Primary Defense Mechanism of Narcissists and Borderlines!"
by therapist, Shannon Petrovich, LCSW:

"What is Splitting?" by therapist Kris Godinez:

Roller Coaster Ride of Narcissistic - The Jekyll and Hyde Splitting
with Psychologist, Dr. Judy Rosenberg:

from popular You Tuber and author, Melanie Tonia Evans:
(my note: in some parts of this video, she promotes the idea that abuse
is good for us because it brings us "to ourselves" ... No, abuse is evil, and has become
much too common, and it is creating a dysfunctional society - my
own perspective on it. But her sweet nature, her ability to heal
is commendable (not all survivors can):

"Golden Child and Scapegoat Black Sheep: Narcissistic Parent's Projected Splitting"
by psychologist, author, and someone diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Sam Vaknin
(explains what is going on from the vantage point of the narcissist
and Vaknin's perspective on his own condition):

Further reading:

Splitting (psychology) - from Wikipedia

Is "No Contact" a Brainwashing of Masses of Adult Children to Hurt Their Parents? - my own post discussing why psychological splitting in the abusive parent is the primary reason why children go "no contact" with their parent (includes a list of what parents can do to prevent estranged children)

* recommended (because scapegoating is all about black and white thinking): How Narcissistic Parents Scapegoat Their Children (What it's like to be targeted by a narcissistic parent) - by Peg Streep

The Differences Between Abusers with Narcissistic Personality Disorder vs. Borderline Personality Disorder - by Shahida Arabi for Psych Central (discusses the difference between how Borderlines split vs how Narcissists split, as well as an over-all difference between the two disorders)

What is splitting when it comes to a narcissist and how do you handle it? - by Elinor Greenberg, Psychologist, Author, and Lecturer on Borderline Disorders

Splitting, Denial and Flooding : the Inter-Relationship - by David Hosier MSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)

Structural Dissociation Theory - by David Hosier MSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE)






Key Concept: Splitting - by Dr. Craig Childress, Psy.D.

Part II of that article: Self-Deception II: Splitting (Human beings are not rational, but rationalizing animals) - by Neel Burton M.D. for Psychology Today

Splitting as a Consequence of Severe Abuse in Childhood - by Burland JA, for U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health (a .gov site)

Removal from Harm – The Trigger for Integration of Splitting in Parental Alienation - by Karen Woodall (Trans-Generational Psychotherapist Treating Parental Alienation)

excerpts from article:
The addict isn't the only person who needs help to become well again. Growing up in an Alice in Wonderland-like world where one pill makes you large and another small (at least on the inside) messes with everyone's sense of reality and predictable life order. Nothing is the way it's supposed to be in an alcoholic family. Dates are canceled, lies are told and relationship connections alternate from being close and warm to cold and distant.Children vacillate between having no power at all and way too much as adults fall in and out of normal functioning ...
... Problems with Self- Regulation: Broad swings back and forth between feeling overwhelmed with intense emotion then shutting down, characterize the trauma response. We go from zero to ten, and ten to zero, with no speed bumps in between bypassing four, five and six. We become uncomfortable living in the middle range and used to living on the edges. Twelve step programs have found a colloquial expression for this cycling, referring to it as "black and white thinking."

The Complex Nature of Abused Substances and Getting Help for Addiction > Borderline Personality Disorder - from the alcoholrehab.com site

Addict Manipulation, What to Look Out For! - article from the Rock Recovery Center

The Addict’s Need for Power & Control:

Addicts have a need to be in control, feel powerful and dominate others in order to make up for the internal powerlessness and lack of control they feel. Their constant need to be in control of their relationships, environment and situation leave others feeling as though they have no voice ...

... Manipulation and Splitting:

Splitting is a way for the addict to divide others and turn them against each other.Sometimes they cause rifts between parents in order to weaken the strength of them as a unit. Other times, they cause an argument so they can be the mediator, therefore gaining the illusion of control and appearing to be “the good guy.” ... 

• Talking negatively about one person to another, then vice versa

• After getting a “no” from one parent, the addict goes to the other (or a grandparent) for a “yes”

• Telling people lies about you, so that others see you as the cause of the addict’s behaviors

• Seeking support from people they know will agree with them in order to make you look like an abuser

• “Ganging up” on you with people who don’t know all the details

When your loved one uses splitting, be honest and open about it with everyone involved. It’s best to talk it out openly with everyone present.

Dr. Jekyll awakens his Mr. Hyde - from Essentials of Recovery Website


4. Mr. Hyde drinker.

In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (or, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the book and movie versions), Dr. Jekyll is a man with two distinct personalities — one good, Dr. Jekyll, and one evil, Mr. Hyde. He loses complete control when he changes into Mr. Hyde.

When talking about the Mr. Hyde drinker, they're the less responsible, hostile, evil twin who, when under the influence of alcohol, become a mean drunk.

Being able to identify what kind of drinker someone is will help get people the right kind of treatment they need. And it will also help you stay away from the Mr. Hyde drinkers, as they can be extremely dangerous.

How do you live with high functioning alcoholic? He has a good job and he tries to be involved in the kids’ lives, but you cannot rely on him. He acts like we are the crazy ones; he is the Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll.

What Alcohol Does to Your Mind: Attentional Myopia - by Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD from Psyblog (from the U.K.)
According to a growing body of evidence collected over the last three or more decades, people’s Jekyll and Hyde behaviour while drinking can be understood by a simple idea which has some intriguing ramifications.

excerpt from the article:
"F. Scott Fitzgerald famously said that the 'test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.' Whether it's a question of intelligence, psychological maturity, or emotional capacity, there's little sign of such activity on the current political front. Instead, our parties encourage us to take refuge in one of those two opposing ideas and reject the other."

I Voted for Trump: A Few Words on the Psychology of Splitting - by Tiffany McLain for Psyched (another political post about the hypocrisy of labeling presidents and the people who vote for certain presidents as all good or all bad)

The Stare by H.G. Tudor (a self proclaimed narcissist discusses the stages of enrapture and devaluation; i.e. the splitting that they are experiencing)

From poster, Greg Mathews, on Melanie Tonia Evans video (shown above) which I feel adds a lot to this discussion (note I am not a person who uses "always" phrases, so I disagree with him on that basis, and laws are changing in many places about abuse and its toll on individuals, families, communities and societies, and someone is listening, so the "don't ever believe" phrasing about judges, police, laws is not something I'm invested in; I am invested in changing laws - but I understand the hopelessness whole heartedly, especially when there is very little progress in these arenas):

If you challenge a true narcissist it will backfire, because they will know no limits in seeking to destroy you, even if it destroys them. They feed off negativity and conflict, and you will never win. Also they hoover others into their orbit including family and even police and judges to entrap you, incriminate and destroy you unless you meet their demands, while they always manage to dupe people into seeing them as the good person and you the bad. 

Meantime their demands change as do their versions of the truth, so you end up not knowing yourself, where you are going, or what they want from you, and eventually all you know (if you know anything) is that you are trapped in an invisible cage that no one else can see or acknowledge, and anything wrong is because of you. 

Your sense of reality falls away as you sink into a constant state of silent trauma and depression and you become increasingly unable to develop as a person, isolated from others and subjugated totally to their needs. Eventually you develop mental health issues and suicidal tendencies, at which point you either commit suicide or do something crazy that will be used to incriminate you and put you even more under their control or in prison. Or perhaps you will collapse into acceptance and lead out the rest of your life as a semi-functioning depersonalised puppet programmed to meet their needs only. 

Ultimately your only option is to get away from them, if you can, as soon as possible and even you think you can't because of money, children, family ties etc. you must do so not just for your own well being but ultimately for your own survival. Find a way, because there is a life out there that is better than what you have been going through and you really don't have an option if you want to be a happy fulfilled person making the most of your life. And don't ever believe that society or the justice system will understand your needs if the narcissist is a covert non-violent operative who works on you psychologically, because the legal system is too obtuse and the judges too stupid to understand these subtleties.

My note: Sometimes you won't know they are narcissistically disordered until you challenge them (what they did, what they said, complaints about their treatment of you, asking them to treat you with more kindness and respect, asking them to stop being hypocritical, asking them why they feel entitled to receive apologies when they hurt you much more egregiously than you hurt them, etc.). If they want to destroy you, or go into a fit of verbal abuse when you challenge them in these ways, that's the sign of the narcissist and sociopath.  

Always be cautious. There are more narcissists and sociopaths around today percentage-wise than in decades and centuries past. 


  1. I found that this is the key to most everything they do. It explains why my mother was so sadistic towards me and to my Dad. Before then, it was a mystery to me. I knew she hated me, but I had learned to keep to myself, not upset her by talking to her about much of anything, and I went to live with my father. She seemed happy to see me go.
    But then I found out she had fought really hard for custody, spending thousands on it. Only months after she won custody, she told me to leave.
    Then she went on to vilify my father and me and make up stories about both of us. This didn't make sense to me at the time either.
    We were so shocked when we'd hear what she was saying about us, and my father was disturbed what she would make up about her own child. We'd both try to set the rumors straight, and we were believed. So it is not always the case that narcissists are believed about their false stories. I think there were only two people who believed in what she said, and they were her parents, otherwise no one did. She also couldn't keep her stories straight, so that didn't help her.
    The attempts to hurt us really made her look depraved and pitiful in the end.
    The thing that has nagged me all of my life is why she wanted to hurt me. What good did it do her? The writing here, and the good videos, has made it really plain why, and the term "scapegoat" makes a lot of sense too.

  2. Hi Anon,

    Thank you for your story.

    There are a lot of puzzle pieces to all of it (and to make sense of it), which is why I write the blog.

    I think every child abuse survivor should know the terms and what they mean: gaslighting, splitting, triangulation, word salad arguments and Stockholm Syndrome are the ones least talked about (physical abuse and verbal abuse being the most talked about).

    Once you know the terms and what they mean, you know what you are dealing with and can make choices based on that knowledge.

    If you go to a therapist who is at all trained in abuse topics, they will be throwing out these terms, but not everyone can afford a therapist, or the therapist has you look up the terms after a session because there is not enough time.

    Researching these terms is not easy, at least it wasn't when I started writing, but now there is so much more information.

    For instance, most people in the general population do not want to dominate, "one up" and victimize their partner, children, and anyone else close to them - at all. It's the last thing most of us think about, so we don't go looking for it as a way to understand their motivations for the silent treatment, ghosting and scapegoating, the three things that get survivors into therapy the most.

    Once the other puzzle pieces are presented, they all seem to go together - abusers are, in fact, very, very predictable, using the same tactics, and blind in mostly all the same ways.

    Splitting is a very important piece of the puzzle (as is their style of blaming, which is to present someone they are in a close personal relationship with as being 100 percent "at fault"). Then the rest of the list almost always becomes part of the picture too: gaslighting (check), triangulating (check), shaming (check), idealize/devalue/discard (check), favoritism (check), and so on.

    One survivor said in a forum "They all go to narcissism school to learn all the same things that all narcissists do", and it seems like that. But, in fact, it is a disorder which has very, very predictable patterns and traits.

    Your story is not uncommon. There is a lot of this going around ...

  3. one irony for me reading this, is I called my father, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde to his face a few times. He changed on a dime, and well, it was interesting to see how loved and pleasant he was at work, while coming home to scream and hit us kids. My mother was just as bad, answering the phone with smiles, and taking salads and desserts into her work. One thing that made things so hard for me, is everyone in our community talked about "how nice your parents are", the only ones who may have had a clue were the immediate neighbors who called the police from all the screaming and yelling. I always wonder how they talked their way out of that one, as it happened at least 4-5 times when I was teen. I knew these cops were called but I think I was hustled away from those scenes so I would not talk.

    So yeah they do the splitting, they wear those fake public masks, and that's one reason it's harder to be believed. It's one way they grow in power. The nice aunt or sister that paid for trucking school or held a large Christmas family dinner with hundreds of dollars [thousands?] in presents, could not be this cruel woman that Peep talks about.

    Mine didn't love bomb me like some get where things vacillate between kindness and cruelty: I was "hated" all the time except for the buying of gifts, but I've seen those insidious types too.

  4. Thank you again for your input and personal experience about this.

    One of the things you said is: "the only ones who may have had a clue were the immediate neighbors who called the police from all the screaming and yelling. I always wonder how they talked their way out of that one, as it happened at least 4-5 times when I was teen. I knew these cops were called but I think I was hustled away from those scenes so I would not talk."

    I have heard stories of some child abuse victims rigging up recording systems and using loud speakers to blast what is going on in the house out the window.

    Or using cell phones to record their parents.

    Or using what ever evidence they can to get them out of their family to be placed in foster care.

    In other words, even under-age children are getting weary of child abuse.


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