Sanctuary for the Abused
Monday, March 21, 2016
How a Narcissist Trains his Victims
by Kathy Krajco
Nearly everyone has seen something like the following little scene...
A three-or-four-year-old is with his mother in the grocery store. He points at a candy bar, looking at his mother with the brightest, cutest, most engaging little face you ever saw. Mother is busy and hardly glancing at him as she reads her grocery list and says, "No, you don't---"
She was going to say, "No, you don't need that," but she didn't get half the words out before he erupted into "WAAAAH!!!!"
Everyone in the store jumps, wondering who's killing that kid. In one split-second his face has undergone a startling transfiguration into something grotesque.
But he hasn't got the first "WAAAH!!!" half out yet before his mother, with a quick look around at all the people looking at her, grabs that candy bar and thrusts it into his hand.
WAAAAH--off, mid-WAAAH, and there is that darling little beaming angel-face again, unwrapping his his candy bar.
That's what you call a spoiled brat -- a kid who has learned to use temper tantrums to control his parents. The dead giveaway is how instantaneously he switches from one emotional extreme to the other. Real people don't do that in one split second, do they?
He can do that because those emotions are bogus. Faked. He isn't upset when he's screaming, and he isn't happy when he's not. He's just a little actor. He has two masks. One is for positive reinforcement, and the other is for negative reinforcement. He switches from one to the other in the blink of an eye.
Yes! This four-year-old has learned the art of Behavior Modification! It's childsplay, ain't it? His happy face is a carrot to reward you for good behavior, and his mad face is a stick to punish you for bad behavior.
Now notice how similar this is to an adult narcissist's rages. They are exactly the same thing.
Whenever you aren't behaving the way they want, they throw a fit. Like that brat in the grocery store, they don't think they should even have to ask for what they they want. They think you should be so attentive to their desires that you just offer it to them. It would be beneath them to ask for anything. So they throw a "Don't-go-there!" tantrum whenever you aren't playing the part they've assigned to you in the stageplay of their life.
That could be because you are behaving like you deserve respect. Or maybe you are busy and do not have lunch on the table yet. Whatever, the cowboy just herds people by yelling and waving things whenever the cattle in his home get out of line.
His wild act is so obnoxious and menacing that people soon learn how to turn it off. They would rather conform to his specifications than put up with that obnoxious wild act all the time.
Thus he trains them to behave the way he wants them to.