Sanctuary for the Abused
Friday, May 06, 2022
I do not love; I do not love anybody except myself. That is a rather shocking thing to admit. I have none of the selfless love of my mother. I have none of the plodding, practical love. . . I am, to be blunt and concise, in love only with myself, my puny being with its small inadequate breasts and meager, thin talents. I am capable of affection for those who reflect my own world. – Sylvia Plath
There is a special place in hell for narcissistic mothers. Ms. Plath herself indulged in the ultimate narcissistic act when she committed suicide by sticking her head in the oven while her two young children were asleep in the same apartment. How thoughtful of her to have sealed off their rooms with towels so that the fumes wouldn’t consume them too. She needed someone to live on to remember her and care that she was gone.
Narcissistic mothers do not have children for the same reasons the rest of us do. They do not look forward to the birth of their child because they can’t wait to see what they look like or what type of personality they will have or who they will become. No, they have children for one reason only: More mirrors. They have children so that the children will love them unconditionally, not the other way around. They have children to do things for them. They have children to reflect their false images. They have children to use, abuse and control them.
They don’t see their role as a mother as life’s biggest gift. It’s a burden they didn’t expect. They thought they were creating little “mini-me’s.” They didn’t take into account the fact that somewhere around age 2, these spiteful, ungrateful (in their minds) little creatures start to develop their own individual personalities and wills of their own. For the rest of us, that’s the best part of being a mom — watching our children grow into increasingly independent, confident, free-thinking individuals. For the narcissistic mother, each step away from her is an absolute act of betrayal.
Children have emotions that they express quite freely. This annoying practice is squashed as early as possible since narcissists cannot handle emotions. “What is wrong with you?” and “You’re so oversensitive” and “You’re overreacting” are common phrases uttered to children of narcissists.
These mothers end up resenting all the work that goes into raising a child, having no use for them unless they are achieving, doing something or otherwise reflecting their false image onto them. Children are a nuisance to them, taking precious time away from their own agendas. They don’t like to have to shop for clothes for their children, prepare meals for them, do their laundry, pay for daycare, enroll them in activities, drive them to friends’ houses, throw birthday parties, pay for their college educations or protect them from abuse.
They will smother and overprotect their children under the guise that they are taking care of them. They will fail to provide age-appropriate information on such things as menstruation, personal grooming (make-up, hairstyles, shaving, etc.), budgeting money and dating. This all serves to keep her children under her control as long as possible. If they are ill-informed and overprotected, they will not feel confident to grow or move further away from her.
They will use their children as slaves. They will delegate all household chores to the children as early as possible. They will insist that they pay for their own personal items and clothing as early as possible. Older children will become responsible for younger children. No matter how many of her responsibilities her children take on, it will never be enough or be done well enough. They expect perfection and constantly remind their children that they fail to meet this expectation.
Of course, they train their children to believe that they are the ideal mother. Any evidence to the contrary is to be kept secret at all costs. They will behave much differently toward their children in public than they do at home. They will vehemently deny any wrongdoing on their part and most likely blame their children, completely rewriting history.
Narcissistic mothers don’t stop being narcissists when their children become adults. They will play siblings against each other. They will compare siblings. They will talk to siblings about each other. When they have a problem with one, they will talk to another about it.
They are jealous of their children’s successes, even though they brag to others about them (‘see how great MY kids turned out’). They will make snide comments if they think one of their adult children has a better marriage, house, job, etc. than they do. They are thrilled when they perceive that one of their adult children has failed in some way (although they never tell others about these “failures”; it reflects poorly on them). They are more than happy to assist when necessary because that makes them look good, plus, there is an added bonus of having favors to collect on. Asking a narcissistic mother for a favor feels like selling your soul to the devil. It’s emotional extortion.
These mothers steal their kids’ childhoods, identities and future healthy relationships. They will keep on taking and sucking the life out of their children for as long as they live, if their children allow it. It is incredibly difficult and painful to acknowledge that your mother never loved you without blaming yourself — she raised you to blame yourself for everything. But it is necessary to put the blame where it rightfully belongs in order to insure that this insidious disorder isn’t perpetuated generation after generation.
FACEBOOK GROUP FOR DAUGHTERS OF NARCISSISTIC MOTHERS (MUST BE TOTAL NO CONTACT)
Tuesday, April 26, 2022
Abuser As Slanderer
by Kathy Krajco
On their way through life, narcissists leave a trail of trashed good names in their wake. This is a serious problem in the workplace, for narcissists often destroy the careers of their betters. Narcissistic managers and administrators often are serial bullies, who destroy the career and credibility of anyone who doesn't participate in a lynching and therefore is a threat to blow the whistle.
The narcissist is a slanderer partly to get attention. But he is a slanderer mainly because he must be one to create his phony image. He makes himself look good by making others look bad.
Yet narcissists are not the only people who create a false image of themselves. If you want to call it close, virtually everybody does, even that paragon of honesty, Prince Hamlet. In a world that surrounds us with the prying eyes of fault-finders, we would be traitors to ourselves if we were not at least modest about the things we should be ashamed of. Especially insofar as they are none of anybody else's business. In fact, it's a virtue to keep what's private private. It is the moral equivalent of wearing clothes.
Yet narcissists are different: they are hypocrites = for looks only. They think a thing ain't wrong if they get away with it. In other words, they confuse appearances with reality. Consequently, they have no conscience — just an unconscience. That is, they repress their conscience. Hence, what they do in the dark is shockingly different than what they do in the light of day. These are the people who put make-up on their image a little too thick in spots.
Projection is the Oldest Trick in the Book.
Magicians call it "misdirection." The Serpent pulled it on Eve when he accused God of being the liar. ("God told you THAT?") Stupid Eve should have looked at the other end of that pointed finger for the liar. As St. Paul does when he says that if somebody condemns others of being [fill in the blank], you can bet your bippy that he is one himself. Sometimes in a different way, but always at least the moral equivalent of one.* Paul was in line with the ancient Hebrew scriptures. Their name for the spirit in which people do this is satan, which means the "finger-pointer," the "name-slayer" (slanderer), the "prosecutor/persecutor," or the "accuser." In some places (e.g., the Book of Job) they also call him "the policer of the world." Which makes me wonder why religious leaders think that condemning these and those for this and that all the time is a good deed. This trick still works great today: I know of one narcissist who was a pedophile and for many years kept people from noticing the glaring warning signs in his own behavior by spreading rumors about one single teacher after another at his school. (He, of course, was married.)
* An example of what I mean by moral equivalence: Mr. Self-Righteous union-busts to keep the workers in his shoe factory so poor they go barefoot — and shows moral indignation in loudly condemning his neighbor for "muzzling an ox trampling the grain."
The rules about projection are in the Book of Leviticus, prescribed in the ritual for the Day of Atonement. Christianity has inherited them. The scapegoat must be the cleanest, most perfect potential victim available, the one with the most potential to do well in the world. (Sloppy thinking has twisted the meaning a full 180 degrees: these ugly demonstrations of the human race in action, symbolically performed by abominable cruelty to an animal, were intended to shame us. Not to prescribe this travesty of justice as the way to purify ourselves and win salvation from justice.)
I'm sure that people who do this think they're clever, but it's childsplay. Send a muddy child into an unsupervised school yard and wait to see what happens. He will rub himself off on every cleaner, smaller child he can find, till they are all crying and he looks good by comparison.
Looks good by comparison. Those are the all-important words. The hypocrite makes himself look good by comparison with others. He does that the easy way — by making others look bad. This is the root of envy. Which is not a rare motive for what people say about others. It's a common motive.
In a moment of self awareness, the hypocrite says, "Well, I may not be perfect, but I'm not as bad as others are." Then he instantly looks for somebody to make himself look better than = somebody to rub himself off on. And he's certainly smart enough to pick somebody pretty good to look better than!
So, narcissists are by no means alone in doing this. It's just that they invest so much energy in doing it. They are fixated on their image to the point that it is uppermost in their mind 100% of the time. In contrast, normal people project only when on the defensive. And then they're likely to shake themselves off on whoever happens to be near at the moment. So, their aim is poor, and sometimes they project a flaw off onto somebody who actually has it. But a narcissist's aim is impeccable.
For example, whom does he call a liar? The most honest person around.
Who does he say is dangerous? The savior of the group.Every single time. His talent for farce is so great that you could mistake him for astute.
Also, normal people have normal, human and loving relationships. So they don't smear themselves off on just anybody. They wouldn't dream of harming those near and dear. And they stick to slander (which has at least some degree of truth in it), rarely engaging in calumny (lies). When they do calumniate somebody, he or she is an enemy. Even then they don't go hog-wild and calumniate somebody so badly and so widely as to destroy them and ruin their lives. Not so with the narcissist. He is a child with no sense of measure or moderation. He loves only himself. He has no normal human relationships. He relates to people as objects. So he will smear himself off on his own children as thoughtlessly as we smear ourselves off on a towel. In fact, he is most likely to smear off on somebody he owes gratitude, because needing help damages his image. So he repays help as though it were an insult. He must devalue it by devaluing the giver of it, as if such a contemptible person is incapable of really helping somebody as grand as he.
Since he is a little child, the only reign on a narcissist's behavior is what he feels he can get away with. So, the more he gets away with, the more repressed guilt he has to purge himself of. The bad thing about repressed guilt is that it is an unconscious puppet master. Scripture calls it "the demon lurking at the door." The door being the way out, the escape, through repentance.
This could be why narcissists get worse with age. The load of repressed guilt they keep trying to purge themselves of (in a way that only dirties them more) gets so heavy that the wild accusations they make get viciouser and viciouser. It's as though they get drunk on blood.
They become living, breathing Projection Machines. Projection becomes such a knee-jerk reflex that a narcissist accuses his victim of doing to him the very thing (or essentially the same thing) as he is in the very act of doing to the victim. This creates bizarre scenes that make you wonder whether the narcissist is hallucinating or tripping out on psychedelic drugs. You feel like Alice in Wonderland. You have to pinch yourself and wonder whether "it's me or him that is crazy."
Another big difference between narcissists and normal people when they're projecting on you is that narcissists expect you to share their delusion. Yes! You cannot help but perceive this as gaslighting. Narcissists try to make you be what they say you are because, like a psychopath, they view you as an object, not as a human person with perceptions and a mind of your own.* They view you as an extension of themselves (like a tool) to control. It is the moral equivalent of the control a rapist thinks he has over the body of another, whom he views as but an object, an extension of himself, an executioner of HIS will. Psychologists call this bizarre behavior projective identification, a defense mechanism. The narcissist wants you to identify with the image he projects on you. You are a mirror to reflect his fantasy, so he pressures you to behave as though it is real.
* A narcissist's need to conform you to his or her specifications can go to bizarre extremes. For example, I know of one female narcissist who, during an assault on her sister, habitually forced her up against a wall and then spent a long time moving and twisting her sister's arms about to position them grotesquely — thus forcing her sister into different "shapes."
Behave is the key word. Narcissists do not connect with reality: appearances are all that matter in their world. So, you can lay out your grievances to a narcissist in a letter to let him know what you think, but if tomorrow you encounter him and act as though none of it happened, he is perfectly satisfied.
So, though the narcissist's projective identification seems like gaslighting and affects the victim like gaslighting, it is not gaslighting in the strictest sense of the word. For the narcissist only cares how you behave; he does not care what you think. He doesn't think at all about what you think. In fact, you can crash his brain by asking, "What do you think I think about you?" The question does not even compute.
Bottom Line: Anyone who outshines a narcissist diminishes the glow of his glory. So, that person had better be somebody with power that he fears or had better lay low and get away.
ORIGINAL FROM THIS GREAT SITE
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
Stockholm Syndrome & Cognitive Dissonance
By Joseph M. Carver, PhD -- Mental Health Professional, Clinical Psychologist
People are often amazed at their own psychological conditions and reactions. Those with depression are stunned when they remember they've thought of killing themselves. Patients recovering from severe psychiatric disturbances are often shocked as they remember their symptoms and behavior during the episode. A patient with Bipolar Disorder recently told me "I can't believe I thought I could change the weather through mental telepathy!" A common reaction is "I can't believe I did that!"
In clinical practice, some of the most surprised and shocked individuals are those who have been involved in controlling and abusive relationships. When the relationship ends, they offer comments such as:
- "I know what he's done to me, but I still love him",
- "I don't know why, but I want him back", or
- "I know it sounds crazy, but I miss her".
Recently I've heard "This doesn't make sense. He's got a new girlfriend and he's abusing her too… but I'm jealous!" Friends and relatives are even more amazed and shocked when they hear these comments or witness their loved one returning to an abusive relationship. While the situation doesn't make sense from a social standpoint, does it make sense from a psychological viewpoint? The answer is - Yes!
On August 23rd, 1973 two machine-gun carrying criminals entered a bank in Stockholm, Sweden. Blasting their guns, one prison escapee named Jan-Erik Olsson announced to the terrified bank employees "The party has just begun!" The two bank robbers held four hostages, three women and one man, for the next 131 hours. The hostages were strapped with dynamite and held in a bank vault until finally rescued on August 28th.
After their rescue, the hostages exhibited a shocking attitude considering they were threatened, abused, and feared for their lives for over five days. In their media interviews, it was clear that they supported their captors and actually feared law enforcement personnel who came to their rescue. The hostages had begun to feel the captors were actually protecting them from the police. One woman later became engaged to one of the criminals and another developed a legal defense fund to aid in their criminal defense fees. Clearly, the hostages had "bonded" emotionally with their captors.
While the psychological condition in hostage situations became known as "Stockholm Syndrome" due to the publicity – the emotional "bonding" with captors was a familiar story in psychology. It had been recognized many years before and was found in studies of other hostage, prisoner, or abusive situations such as:
* Abused Children/ Adults
* Battered/Abused Women
* Prisoners of War
* Cult Members
* Incest Victims
* Criminal Hostage Situations
* Controlling/Intimidating Relationships
* Betrayal Victims
* Abusive, Controlling Boss
In the final analysis, emotionally bonding with an abuser is actually a strategy for survival for victims of abuse and intimidation. The "Stockholm Syndrome" reaction in hostage and/or abuse situations is so well recognized at this time that police hostage negotiators no longer view it as unusual. In fact, it is often encouraged in crime situations as it improves the chances for survival of the hostages. On the down side, it also assures that the hostages experiencing "Stockholm Syndrome" will not be very cooperative during rescue or criminal prosecution. Local law enforcement personnel have long recognized this syndrome with battered women who fail to press charges, bail their battering husband/boyfriend out of jail, and even physically attack police officers when they arrive to rescue them from a violent assault.
It's important to understand the components of Stockholm Syndrome as they relate to abusive and controlling relationships. Once the syndrome is understood, it's easier to understand why victims support, love, and even defend their abusers and controllers.
Every syndrome has symptoms or behaviors and Stockholm Syndrome is no exception. While a clear-cut list has not been established due to varying opinions by researchers and experts, several of these features will be present:
* Positive feelings by the victim toward the abuser/controller
* Negative feelings by the victim toward family, friends, or authorities trying to rescue/support them or win their release
* Support of the abuser's reasons and behaviors
* Positive feelings by the abuser toward the victim
* Supportive behaviors by the victim, at times helping the abuser
* Inability to engage in behaviors that may assist in their release or detachment
Stockholm Syndrome doesn't occur in every hostage or abusive situation. In another bank robbery involving hostages, after terrorizing patrons and employees for many hours, a police sharpshooter shot and wounded the terrorizing bank robber. After he hit the floor, two women picked him up and physically held him up to the window for another shot. As you can see, the length of time one is exposed to abuse/control and other factors are certainly involved.
It has been found that four situations or conditions are present that serve as a foundation for the development of Stockholm Syndrome. These four situations can be found in hostage, severe abuse, and abusive relationships:
* The presence of a perceived threat to one's physical or psychological survival and the belief that the abuser would carry out the threat
* The presence of a perceived small kindness from the abuser to the victim
* Isolation from perspectives other than those of the abuser
* The perceived inability to escape the situation
By considering each situation we can understand how Stockholm Syndrome develops in romantic relationships as well as criminal/hostage situations. Looking at each situation:
Perceived threat to one's physical/psychological survival
The perception of threat can be formed by direct, indirect, or witnessed methods. Criminal or antisocial partners can directly threaten your life or the life of friends and family. Their history of violence leads us to believe that the captor/controller will carry out the threat in a direct manner if we fail to comply with their demands. The abuser assures us that only our cooperation keeps our loved ones safe.
Indirectly, the abuser/controller offers subtle threats that you will never leave them or have another partner, reminding you that people in the past have paid dearly for not following their wishes. Hints are often offered such as "I know people who can make others disappear". Indirect threats also come from the stories told by the abuser or controller – how they obtained revenge on those who have crossed them in the past. These stories of revenge are told to remind the victim that revenge is possible if they leave.
Witnessing violence or aggression is also a perceived threat. Witnessing a violent temper directed at a television set, others on the highway, or a third party clearly sends us the message that we could be the next target for violence. Witnessing the thoughts and attitudes of the abuser/controller is threatening and intimidating, knowing that we will be the target of those thoughts in the future.
The "Small Kindness" Perception
In threatening and survival situations, we look for evidence of hope – a small sign that the situation may improve. When an abuser/controller shows the victim some small kindness, even though it is to the abusers benefit as well, the victim interprets that small kindness as a positive trait of the captor. In criminal/war hostage situations, letting the victim live is often enough. Small behaviors, such as allowing a bathroom visit or providing food/water, are enough to strengthen the Stockholm Syndrome in criminal hostage events.
In relationships with abusers, a birthday card, a gift (usually provided after a period of abuse), or a special treat are interpreted as not only positive, but evidence that the abuser is not "all bad" and may at some time correct his/her behavior. Abusers and controllers are often given positive credit for not abusing their partner, when the partner would have normally been subjected to verbal or physical abuse in a certain situation. An aggressive and jealous partner may normally become intimidating or abusive in certain social situations, as when an opposite-sex coworker waves in a crowd. After seeing the wave, the victim expects to be verbally battered and when it doesn't happen, that "small kindness" is interpreted as a positive sign.
Similar to the small kindness perception is the perception of a "soft side". During the relationship, the abuser/controller may share information about their past – how they were mistreated, abused, neglected, or wronged. The victim begins to feel the abuser/controller may be capable of fixing their behavior or worse yet, that they (abuser) may also be a "victim". Sympathy may develop toward the abuser and we often hear the victim of Stockholm Syndrome defending their abuser with "I know he fractured my jaw and ribs…but he's troubled. He had a rough childhood!" Losers and abusers may admit they need psychiatric help or acknowledge they are mentally disturbed, however, it's almost always after they have already abused or intimidated the victim. The admission is a way of denying responsibility for the abuse. In truth, personality disorders and criminals have learned over the years that personal responsibility for their violent/abusive behaviors can be minimized and even denied by blaming their bad upbringing, abuse as a child, and now - video games. One murderer blamed his crime on eating too much junk food – now known as the "Twinkie Defense". While it may be true that the abuser/controller had a difficult upbringing – showing sympathy for his/her history produces no change in their behavior and in fact, prolongs the length of time you will be abused. While "sad stories" are always included in their apologies – after the abusive/controlling event - their behavior never changes! Keep in mind; once you become hardened to the "sad stories", they will simply try another approach. I know of no victim of abuse or crime who has heard their abuser say "I'm beating (robbing, mugging, etc.) you because my Mom hated me!"
Isolation from Perspectives Other than those of the Captor
In abusive and controlling relationships, the victim has the sense they are always "walking on eggshells" – fearful of saying or doing anything that might prompt a violent/intimidating outburst. For their survival, they begin to see the world through the abuser's perspective. They begin to fix things that might prompt an outburst, act in ways they know makes the abuser happy, or avoid aspects of their own life that may prompt a problem. If we only have a dollar in our pocket, then most of our decisions become financial decisions. If our partner is an abuser or controller, then the majority of our decisions are based on our perception of the abuser's potential reaction. We become preoccupied with the needs, desires, and habits of the abuser/controller.
Taking the abuser's perspective as a survival technique can become so intense that the victim actually develops anger toward those trying to help them. The abuser is already angry and resentful toward anyone who would provide the victim support, typically using multiple methods and manipulations to isolate the victim from others. Any contact the victim has with supportive people in the community is met with accusations, threats, and/or violent outbursts. Victims then turn on their family – fearing family contact will cause additional violence and abuse in the home. At this point, victims curse their parents and friends, tell them not to call and stop interfering, and break off communication with others. Agreeing with the abuser/controller, supportive others are now viewed as "causing trouble" and must be avoided. Many victims threaten their family and friends with restraining orders if they continue to "interfere" or try to help the victim in their situation. On the surface it would appear that they have sided with the abuser/controller. In truth, they are trying to minimize contact situation that might make them a target of additional verbal abuse or intimidation. If a casual phone call from Mom prompts a two-hour temper outburst with threats and accusations – the victim quickly realizes it's safer if Mom stops calling. If simply telling Mom to stop calling doesn't work, for his or her own safety the victim may accuse Mom of attempting to ruin the relationship and demand that she stop calling.
In severe cases of Stockholm Syndrome in relationships, the victim may have difficulty leaving the abuser and may actually feel the abusive situation is their fault. In law enforcement situations, the victim may actually feel the arrest of their partner for physical abuse or battering is their fault. Some women will allow their children to be removed by child protective agencies rather than give up the relationship with their abuser. As they take the perspective of the abuser, the children are at fault – they complained about the situation, they brought the attention of authorities to the home, and they put the adult relationship at risk. Sadly, the children have now become a danger to the victim's safety. For those with Stockholm Syndrome, allowing the children to be removed from the home decreases their victim stress while providing an emotionally and physically safer environment for the children.
Perceived Inability to Escape
As a hostage in a bank robbery, threatened by criminals with guns, it's easy to understand the perceived inability to escape. In romantic relationships, the belief that one can't escape is also very common. Many abusive/controlling relationships feel like till-death-do-us-part relationships – locked together by mutual financial issues/assets, mutual intimate knowledge, or legal situations. Here are some common situations:
* The legal ending of a relationship, especially a martial relationship, often creates significant problems. A Controller who has an income that is "under the table" or maintained through legally questionable situations runs the risk of those sources of income being investigated or made public by the divorce/separation. The Controller then becomes more agitated about the possible public exposure of their business arrangements than the loss of the relationship.
* The Controller often uses extreme threats including threatening to take the children out of state, threatening to quit their job/business rather than pay alimony/support, threatening public exposure of the victim's personal issues, or assuring the victim they will never have a peaceful life due to nonstop harassment. In severe cases, the Controller may threaten an action that will undercut the victim's support such as "I'll see that you lose your job" or "I'll have your automobile burned".
* Controllers often keep the victim locked into the relationship with severe guilt – threatening suicide if the victim leaves. The victim hears "I'll kill myself in front of the children", "I'll set myself on fire in the front yard", or "Our children won't have a father/mother if you leave me!"
* In relationships with an abuser or controller, the victim has also experienced a loss of self-esteem, self-confidence, and psychological energy. The victim may feel "burned out" and too depressed to leave. Additionally, abusers and controllers often create a type of dependency by controlling the finances, placing automobiles/homes in their name, and eliminating any assets or resources the victim may use to leave. In clinical practice I've heard "I'd leave but I can't even get money out of the savings account! I don't know the PIN number."
* In teens and young adults, victims may be attracted to a controlling individual when they feel inexperienced, insecure, and overwhelmed by a change in their life situation. When parents are going through a divorce, a teen may attach to a controlling individual, feeling the controller may stabilize their life. Freshmen in college may be attracted to controlling individuals who promise to help them survive living away from home on a college campus.
In unhealthy relationships and definitely in Stockholm Syndrome there is a daily preoccupation with "trouble". Trouble is any individual, group, situation, comment, casual glance, or cold meal that may produce a temper tantrum or verbal abuse from the controller or abuser. To survive, "trouble" is to be avoided at all costs. The victim must control situations that produce trouble. That may include avoiding family, friends, co-workers, and anyone who may create "trouble" in the abusive relationship. The victim does not hate family and friends; they are only avoiding "trouble"! The victim also cleans the house, calms the children, scans the mail, avoids certain topics, and anticipates every issue of the controller or abuse in an effort to avoid "trouble". In this situation, children who are noisy become "trouble". Loved ones and friends are sources of "trouble" for the victim who is attempting to avoid verbal or physical aggression.
Stockholm Syndrome in relationships is not uncommon. Law enforcement professionals are painfully aware of the situation – making a domestic dispute one of the high-risk calls during the work hours. Called by neighbors during a spousal abuse incident, the abuser is passive upon arrival of the police, only to find the abused spouse upset and threatening the officers if their abusive partner is arrested for domestic violence. In truth, the victim knows the abuser/controller will retaliate against him/her if
1) they encourage an arrest,
2) they offer statements about the abuse/fight that are deemed disloyal by the abuser,
3) they don't bail them out of jail as quickly as possible, and
4) they don't personally apologize for the situation – as though it was their fault.
Stockholm Syndrome produces an unhealthy bond with the controller and abuser. It is the reason many victims continue to support an abuser after the relationship is over. It's also the reason they continue to see "the good side" of an abusive individual and appear sympathetic to someone who has mentally and sometimes physically abused them.
Is There Something Else Involved?
In a short response – Yes! Throughout history, people have found themselves supporting and participating in life situations that range from abusive to bizarre. In talking to these active and willing participants in bad and bizarre situations, it is clear they have developed feelings and attitudes that support their participation. One way these feelings and thoughts are developed is known as "cognitive dissonance". As you can tell, psychologists have large words and phrases for just about everything.
"Cognitive Dissonance" explains how and why people change their ideas and opinions to support situations that do not appear to be healthy, positive, or normal. In the theory, an individual seeks to reduce information or opinions that make him or her uncomfortable. When we have two sets of cognitions (knowledge, opinion, feelings, input from others, etc.) that are the opposite, the situation becomes emotionally uncomfortable. Even though we might find ourselves in a foolish or difficult situation – few want to admit that fact. Instead, we attempt to reduce the dissonance - the fact that our cognitions don't match, agree, or make sense when combined. "Cognitive Dissonance" can be reduced by adding new cognitions – adding new thoughts and attitudes. Some examples:
* Heavy smokers know smoking causes lung cancer and multiple health risks. To continue smoking, the smoker changes his cognitions (thoughts/feelings) such as
1) "I'm smoking less than ten years ago",
2) "I'm smoking low-tar cigarettes",
3) "Those statistics are made up by the cancer industry conspiracy", or
4) "Something's got to get you anyway!"
These new cognitions/attitudes allow them to keep smoking and actually begin blaming restaurants for being unfair.
* You purchase a $40,000.00 Sport Utility Vehicle that gets 8 miles a gallon. You justify the expense and related issues with 1) "It's great on trips (you take one trip per year)", 2) "I can use it to haul stuff (one coffee table in 12 months), and 3) "You can carry a lot of people in it (95% of your trips are driver-only)."
* Your husband/boyfriend becomes abusive and assaultive. You can't leave due to the finances, children, or other factors. Through cognitive dissonance, you begin telling yourself "He only hits me open-handed" and "He's had a lot of stress at work."
Leon Festinger first coined "Cognitive Dissonance". He had observed a cult (1956) in which members gave up their homes, incomes, and jobs to work for the cult. This cult believed in messages from outer space that predicted the day the world would end by a flood. As cult members and firm believers, they believed they would be saved by flying saucers at the appointed time. As they gathered and waited to be taken by flying saucers at the specified time, the end-of-the-world came and went. No flood and no flying saucer! Rather than believing they were foolish after all that personal and emotional investment – they decided their beliefs had actually saved the world from the flood and they became firmer in their beliefs after the failure of the prophecy. The moral – the more you invest (income, job, home, time, effort, etc.) the stronger your need to justify your position. If we invest $5.00 in a raffle ticket, we justify losing with "I'll get them next time". If you invest everything you have, it requires an almost unreasoning belief and unusual attitude to support and justify that investment.
Studies tell us we are more loyal and committed to something that is difficult, uncomfortable, and even humiliating. The initiation rituals of college fraternities, Marine boot camp, and graduate school all produce loyal and committed individuals. Almost any ordeal creates a bonding experience. Every couple, no matter how mismatched, falls in love in the movies after going through a terrorist takeover, being stalked by a killer, being stranded on an island, or being involved in an alien abduction. Investment and an ordeal are ingredients for a strong bonding – even if the bonding is unhealthy. No one bonds or falls in love by being a member of the Automobile Club or a music CD club. Struggling to survive on a deserted island – you bet!
Abusive relationships produce a great amount on unhealthy investment in both parties. In many cases we tend to remain and support the abusive relationship due to our investment in the relationship. Try telling a new Marine that since he or she has survived boot camp, they should now enroll in the National Guard! Several types of investments keep us in the bad relationship:
* Emotional Investment – We've invested so many emotions, cried so much, and worried so much that we feel we must see the relationship through to the finish.
* Social Investment – We've got our pride! To avoid social embarrassment and uncomfortable social situations, we remain in the relationship.
* Family Investments – If children are present in the relationship, decisions regarding the relationship are clouded by the status and needs of the children.
* Financial Investment – In many cases, the controlling and abusive partner has created a complex financial situation. Many victims remain in a bad relationship, waiting for a better financial situation to develop that would make their departure and detachment easier.
* Lifestyle Investment – Many controlling/abusive partners use money or a lifestyle as an investment. Victims in this situation may not want to lose their current lifestyle.
* Intimacy Investment – We often invest emotional and sexual intimacy. Some victims have experienced a destruction of their emotional and/or sexual self-esteem in the unhealthy relationship. The abusing partner may threaten to spread rumors or tell intimate details or secrets. A type of blackmail using intimacy is often found in these situations.
In many cases, it's not simply our feelings for an individual that keeps us in an unhealthy relationship - it's often the amount of investment. Relationships are complex and we often only see the tip of the iceberg in public. For this reason, the most common phrase offered by the victim in defense of their unhealthy relationship is "You just don't understand!"
Combining Two Unhealthy Conditions
The combination of "Stockholm Syndrome" and "cognitive dissonance" produces a victim who firmly believes the relationship is not only acceptable, but also desperately needed for their survival. The victim feels they would mentally collapse if the relationship ended. In long-term relationships, the victims have invested everything and placed "all their eggs in one basket". The relationship now decides their level of self-esteem, self-worth, and emotional health.
For reasons described above, the victim feels family and friends are a threat to the relationship and eventually to their personal health and existence. The more family/friends protest the controlling and abusive nature of the relationship, the more the victim develops cognitive dissonance and becomes defensive. At this point, family and friends become victims of the abusive and controlling individual.
Importantly, both Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance develop on an involuntary basis. The victim does not purposely invent this attitude. Both develop as an attempt to exist and survive in a threatening and controlling environment and relationship. Despite what we might think, our loved one is not in the unhealthy relationship to irritate, embarrass, or drive us to drink. What might have began as a normal relationship has turned into a controlling and abusive situation. They are trying to survive. Their personality is developing the feelings and thoughts needed to survive the situation and lower their emotional and physical risks. All of us have developed attitudes and feelings that help us accept and survive situations. We have these attitudes/feelings about our jobs, our community, and other aspects of our life. As we have found throughout history, the more dysfunctional the situation, the more dysfunctional our adaptation and thoughts to survive. The victim is engaged in an attempt to survive and make a relationship work. Once they decide it doesn't work and can't be fixed, they will need our support as we patiently await their decision to return to a healthy and positive lifestyle.
Family and Friends of the Victim
When a family is confronted with a loved one involved with a Loser or controlling/abusive individual, the situation becomes emotionally painful and socially difficult for the family. While each situation is different, some general guidelines to consider are:
* Your loved one, the "victim" of the Loser/Abuser, has probably been given a choice - the relationship or the family. This choice is made more difficult by the control and intimidation often present in abusive/controlling relationships. Knowing that choosing the family will result in severe personal and social consequences, the family always comes in second. Keep in mind that the victim knows in their heart the family will always love them and accept their return – whenever the return happens.
* Remember, the more you pressure the "victim" of the Loser/Abuser, the more you prove the their point. Your loved one is being told the family is trying to ruin their wonderful relationship. Pressure in the form of contacts, comments, and communications will be used as evidence against you. An invitation to a Tupperware party is met with "You see! They just want to get you by yourself so they can tell you bad things about me!" Increasing your contacts is viewed as "putting pressure" on their relationship – not being lovingly concerned.
* Your contacts with your loved one, no matter how routine and loving, may be met with anger and resentment. This is because each contact may prompt the Loser/Abuser to attack them verbally or emotionally. Imagine getting a four-hour lecture every time your Aunt Gladys calls. In a short time, you become angry each time she calls, knowing what the contact will produce in your home. The longer Aunt Gladys talks – the longer your lecture becomes! Thus, when Aunt Gladys calls, you want to get her off the phone as quickly as possible.
* The 1980's song, "Hold on Loosely", maybe the key to a good family and friend approach. Holding on too tight produces more pressure. When the victim is out of the home, it's often best to establish predictable, scheduled contacts. Calling every Wednesday evening, just for a status report or to go over current events, is less threatening than random calls during the week. Random calls are always viewed as "checking up on us" calls. While you may encounter an answering machine, leave a polite and loving message. Importantly, don't discuss the relationship (the controller may be listening!) unless the victim brings it up. The goal of these scheduled calls is to maintain contact, remind your loved one that you are always there to help, and to quietly remind the controller that family and loved ones are nearby and haven't disappeared.
* Try to maintain traditional and special contacts with your loved one - holidays, special occasions, etc. Keep your contacts short and brief, with no comments that can be used as evidence. Contacts made at "traditional" times – holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. – are not as threatening to a controller/abuser. Contacts that provide information, but not questions, are also not as threatening. An example might be a simple card reading "Just a note to let you know that your brother landed a new job this week. You might see him on a Wal-Mart commercial any day now. Love, Mom and Dad". This approach allows the victim to recognize that the family is there - waiting in the wings if needed. It also lessens the lectures/tantrums provided by the Loser as the contacts are on a traditional and expected basis. It's also hard to be angry about brother's new job without looking ridiculous. Also, don't invent holidays or send a reminder that it's Sigmund Freud's birthday. That's suspicious…even in my family.
* Remember that there are many channels of communication. It's important that we keep a channel open if at all possible. Communication channels might include phone calls, letters, cards, and e-mail. Scheduled monthly shopping trips or outings are helpful if possible. The goal is to maintain contact while your loved one is involved in the controlling/abusive relationship. Remember, the goal is contact, not pressure.
* Don't feel the victim's behavior is against the family or friends. It may be a form of survival or a way of lowering stress. Victims may be very resistive, angry, and even hostile due to the complexity of their relationship with the controller/abuser. They may even curse, threaten, and accuse loved ones and friends. This hostile defensiveness is actually self-protection in the relationship – an attempt to avoid "trouble".
* The victim needs to know and feel they are not rejected because of their behavior. Keep in mind, they are painfully aware of their situation. They know they are being treated badly and/or controlled by their partner. Frequent reminders of this will only make them want less contact. We naturally avoid people who remind us of things or situations that are emotionally painful.
* Victims may slightly open the door and provide information about their relationship or hint they may be considering leaving. When the door opens, don't jump through with the Marines behind you! Listen and simply offer support such as "You know your family is/ we are/ I am behind any decision you need to make and at any time you make it." They may be exploring what support is available but may not be ready to call in the troops just yet. Many victims use an "exit plan" that may take months or even years to complete. They may be gathering information at this point, not yet ready for an exit.
* We can get messages to people in two ways - the pipeline and the grapevine. The pipeline is face-to-face, telling the person directly. This seldom happens in Loser situations as controllers and abusers monitor and control contacts with others. However, the grapevine is still open. When we use the grapevine, we send a message to our loved one through another person. Victims of controlling and abusive individuals are often allowed to maintain a relationship with a few people, perhaps a sibling or best friend. We can send our loved one a message through that contact person, a message that voices our understanding and support. We don't send insults ("Bill is such a jerk!) or put-downs ("If he doesn't get out of this relationship he'll end up crazy!) - we send messages of love and support. We send "I hope she/he (victim) knows the family is concerned and that we love and support them." Comments sent on the grapevine are phrased with the understanding that our loved one will hear them in that manner. Don't talk with a grapevine contact to express anger and threaten to hire a hit man, and then try to send a message of loving support. Be careful what and how the message is provided. The grapevine contact can often get messages to the victim when we can't. It's another way of letting them know we're supporting them, just waiting to help if and when needed.
* Each situation is different. The family may need to seek counseling support in the community. A family consultation with a mental health professional or attorney may be helpful if the situation becomes legally complex or there is a significant danger of harm.
* As relatives or friends of a victim involved with a controller or abuser, our normal reaction is to consider dramatic action. We become angry, resentful, and aggressive at times. Our mind fills with a variety of plans that often range from rescue and kidnapping to ambushing the controller/abuser with a ball bat. A rule of thumb is that any aggression toward the controller/abuser will result in additional difficulties for your loved one. Try to remain calm and await an opportunity to show your love and support when your loved one needs it.
* In some cases, as in teenagers and young adults, the family may still provide some financial, insurance, or other support. When we receive angry responses to our phone calls, our anger and resentment tells us to cut off their support. I've heard "If she's going to date that jerk, it's not going to be in a car I'm paying for!" and "If he's choosing that woman over his family, he can drop out of college and flip hamburgers!" Withdrawing financial support only makes your loved one more dependent upon the controller/abuser. Remember, if we're aggressive by threatening, withdrawing support, or pressuring – we become the threatening force, not the controller/abuser. It actually moves the victim into the support of the controller. Sadly, the more of an "ordeal" they experience, the more bonding takes place as noted in Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance.
* As you might imagine, the combination of Stockholm Syndrome and cognitive dissonance may also be active when our loved one is involved in cults, unusual religions, and other groups. In some situations, the abuser and controller is actually a group or organization. Victims are punished if they are viewed as disloyal to the group. While this article deals with individual relationships, the family guidelines may be helpful in controlling-group situations.
You may be the victim of a controlling and abusive partner, seeking an understanding of your feelings and attitudes. You may have a son, daughter, or friend currently involved with a controlling and abusive partner, looking for ways to understand and help.
If a loved one is involved with a Loser, a controlling and abusing partner, the long-term outcome is difficult to determine due to the many factors involved. If their relationship is in the "dating" phase, they may end the relationship on their own. If the relationship has continued for over a year, they may require support and an exit plan before ending the relationship. Marriage and children further complicates their ability to leave the situation. When the victim decides to end the unhappy relationship, it's important that they view loved ones as supportive, loving, and understanding – not a source of pressure, guilt, or aggression.
This article is an attempt to understand the complex feelings and attitudes that are as puzzling to the victim as they are to family and friends. I've outlined recommendations for detaching from a Loser or controlling/abusive individual but clearly, there are more victims in this situation. It is hoped this article is helpful to family and friends who worry, cry, and have difficulty understanding the situation of their loved one. It has been said that knowledge is power. Hopefully this knowledge will prove helpful and powerful to victims and their loved ones.
Please consider this article as a general guideline. Some recommendations may be appropriate and helpful while some may not apply to a specific situation. In many cases, we may need additional professional help of a mental health or legal nature.
Saturday, April 02, 2022
Emotional Manipulator -- Skilled Controller
Friday, March 25, 2022
THE GRAY ROCK METHOD OF DEALING WITH NARCISSISTS, SOCIOPATHS and PSYCHOPATHS
(the term 'psychopath' is used here but can be interchangeable with narcissist or sociopath)
When dealing with malignant narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, borderlines, drama queens, stalkers and other emotional vampires, it’s commonly advised that no response is the best response to unwanted attention. This is often true and No Contact (the avoidance of all communication) should be used whenever possible.
There are some situations however, when No Contact is not feasible, as in when you share child custody with a psychopath. As another example, if you are being stalked by an ex, a restraining order can infuriate the unwanted suitor, and refusing to respond to him or her is seen as an insult. They might become convinced that they can MAKE you respond and in that way satiate their need for power over you.
Furthermore, many of us have tried to end a relationship with a psychopath several times, only to take them back, each time. They turned on the pity ploy and the charm, and because we didn’t understand that this is what a psychopath does, we fell for their promises to change. They know all of our emotional hooks. For them, it’s easy and fun to lure us back by appealing to our emotions. But a psychopath can’t change. In fact, when you leave a psychopath, he becomes determined to punish you even more severely for thinking you could be autonomous.
Even if we don’t take them back, the most dangerous time for a person is when they first break up with a psychopath. The psychopath feels rage at being discarded. Losing control or power over a person is not just a narcissistic injury for them; they feel profoundly empty when their partner leaves them — even if they had intended to kill their partner. The reason is because they have lost control. Psychopaths need to feel in control at all times.
For all these situations, we have Gray Rock.
What it is:
So, how do we escape this parasitical leech without triggering his vindictive rage? Gray Rock is primarily a way of encouraging a psychopath, a stalker or other emotionally unbalanced person, to lose interest in you. It differs from No Contact in that you don’t overtly try to avoid contact with these emotional vampires. Instead, you allow contact but only give boring, monotonous responses so that the parasite must go elsewhere for his supply of drama. When contact with you is consistently unsatisfying for the psychopath, his mind is re-trained to expect boredom rather than drama.
Psychopaths are addicted to drama and they can’t stand to be bored. With time, he will find a new person to provide drama and he will find himself drawn to you less and less often. Eventually, they just slither away to greener pastures. Gray Rock is a way of training the psychopath to view you as an unsatisfying pursuit — you bore him and he can’t stand boredom.
What it’s for:
Making a psychopath go away of his own volition is one application of Gray Rock. One might say that Gray Rock is a way of breaking up with a psychopath by using the old, “It’s not you, it’s me.” excuse, except that you act it out instead of saying it and the psychopath comes to that conclusion on his own.
Another reason to use Gray Rock is to avoid becoming a target in the first place. If you find yourself in the company of one or more narcissistic personalities — perhaps you work with them or they are members of your family — it’s important to avoid triggering their ENVY. By using Gray Rock, you fade into the background. It’s possible they won’t even remember having met you. If you have already inadvertently attracted their attention and they have already begun to focus in on you, you can still use Gray Rock. Tell them you are boring. Describe a boring life. Talk about the most mundane household chores you accomplished that day — in detail. Some people are naturally lacking in dramatic flair. Find those people and try to hang around them when the psychopath is nearby.
If you must continue a relationship with a psychopath, Gray Rock can serve you as well. Parents sharing joint custody with a psychopathic ex-spouse can use Gray Rock when the ex-spouse tries to trigger their emotions. I acknowledge that any threat to the well-being of our children is overwhelmingly anxiety provoking. Here is where Gray Rock can be applied selectively to draw attention away from what really matters to you. In general, show no emotion to the offending behaviors or words. The psychopath will try different tactics to see which ones get a reaction. With Selective Gray Rock, you choose to respond to the tactic which matters least to you. This will focus the psychopath’s attention on that issue. Remember, the psychopath has no values, so he doesn’t understand what is valuable to us — unless we show him. Selective Gray Rock shows him a decoy.
When protecting our children, we can take a lesson from nature: Bird parents who have fledglings are known to feign a broken wing when a predator is in the vicinity. They fake a vulnerability to detract the cat’s attention from their real vulnerability, their babies. In this example, Selective Gray Rock fades all emotions into the background except the ones you want the predator to see.
A psychopath is easily bored. He or she needs constant stimulation to ward off boredom. It isn’t the type of boredom that normal people experience; it’s more like the French word, ennui, which refers to an oppressive boredom or listlessness. Drama is a psychopath’s remedy for boredom. For drama, they need an audience and some players. Once the drama begins, they feel complete and alive again. They are empowered when pulling the strings that elicit our emotions. Any kind of emotions will do, as long as it is a response to their actions.
A psychopath is an addict. He is addicted to power. His power is acquired by gaining access to our emotions. He is keenly aware of this and needs to constantly test to make sure we are still under his control. He needs to know that we are still eager to do his bidding, make him happy and avoid his wrath. He needs to create drama so he can experience the power of manipulating our emotions. As with any addiction, it is exhilarating to the psychopath when he gets his supply of emotional responses. The more times he experiences a reward for his dramatic behavior, the more addicted he becomes. Conversely, when the reward stops coming, he becomes agitated. He experiences oppressive boredom and he will counter it by creating more drama. If we stay the course and show no emotions, the psychopath will eventually decide that his toy is broken. It doesn’t squirt emotions when he squeezes it anymore! Most likely, he will slither away to find a new toy.
The Gray Rock technique does come with a caveat: psychopaths are dangerous people, if you are in a relationship with one that has already decided to kill you, it will be difficult to change his mind. He may already be poisoning you or sabotaging your vehicle. Take all necessary precautions. In this case, Gray Rock can only hope to buy time until you can make your escape.
How it works:
Psychopaths are attracted to shiny, pretty things that move fast and to bright lights. These things, signal excitement and relieve the psychopath’s ever-present ennui. Your emotional responses are his food of choice, but they aren’t the only things he wants.
He envies everything pretty, shiny and sparkly that you have and he wants whatever you value. You must hide anything that he will notice and envy. If you happen to be very good looking, you need to change that during this time. Use makeup to add bags under your eyes. If you aren’t married to the psychopath, any money or assets he covets should disappear “in a bad investment decision” (consult with your attorney on this). Your shiny sports car has to go, get a beater. If you have a sparkling reputation, anticipate that he will or has already begun to slander you; therefore, don’t allow yourself to be put into any compromising position or pushed into erratic behavior. The reason he wants to take these things from you, is not necessarily because he wants them for himself, it’s because he wants to see the emotions on your face when you lose them. He wants the power trip associated with being the one who took them from you. By preemptively removing these things from his vision and not reacting with emotion at the losses, you continue to train him with the idea that you are the most boring person on earth, someone he would never want to be.
Origin of Gray Rock:
In 2009, I left my psychopathic partner after 25 years, but I didn’t understand what was wrong with him. I sat in a sushi bar, lost in confusion, when a tall, athletic man introduced himself. To my own surprise, I instinctively poured out my story to him. This complete stranger listened to my story and then he explained to me that I was dealing with a malignant narcissist. He advised me, “Be boring.” He told me that his girlfriend would come home each night, begin drinking and become abusive.
They were both professionals who traveled in the same professional circles. He knew that she would stalk him if he broke up with her and he didn’t want to risk the slander and drama which could leak out and damage his professional reputation.
His solution was to be so boring that she would simply leave him. He declined to go out on evenings and weekends. He showed no emotional reaction about anything, no interest in anything and responded with no drama. When she asked if he wanted to go out for dinner, his reply was, “I don’t know.” After a few months of no drama, she simply moved out.
Why is it called Gray Rock?
I chose the words Gray Rock because I needed an object for us to channel when we are in an emotionally charged situation. You don’t just practice Gray Rock, you BECOME a Gray Rock. There are gray rocks and pebbles everywhere you go, but you never notice them. None of them attract your attention. You don’t remember any specific rock you saw today because they blend with the scenery.
That is the type of boring that you want to channel when you are dealing with a psychopath. Your boring persona will camouflage you and the psychopath won’t even notice you were there. The stranger in the sushi bar showed great insight when he advised me to “be boring.” He struck at the heart of the psychopath’s motivation: to avoid boredom.
In nature, there are many plants and creatures that show us how to survive in a world of predators. Among others, birds feign injury to protect their babies and mice play dead until the cat loses interest.
Both of these tactics can be useful and they can be channeled when applicable. Yet, it’s difficult to calculate each and every move that a psychopath will make and to determine the best course of action each time. Instead of trying to out-think him, channel the gray rock. This simple, humble object in nature has all the wisdom it needs to avoid being noticed, it’s boring.
Copyright © 2012 Skylar