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Divorcing a Narcissist: Keep Your Expectations Low!

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As long as you are in any type of relationship with a narcissist, you can bet the only person who will benefit from that relationship is the narcissist.

 

I’ve been accused, in the past, of being “disloyal” to my ex-husband when I write about my experiences with him either during the marriage or since the divorce. What some fail to realize is that when you experience divorcing a narcissist, feelings of support and allegiance toward that person are hard to come by, if not impossible.

Any loyalty I owed my ex flew out the window the day he walked away from his family. I have no sense of loyalty toward a person who left me in a truly untenable position with two children to care for and no concern for how his conduct impacted his children or me, their mother. Plus, why would anyone who takes a scorched-earth attitude toward those who loved him think he has the right to claim the protection of confidentiality?

I have to admit, though that it took time for me to realize that I owed my ex-husband NOTHING and that I had more power in our situation than he did.

I spent a couple of years capitulating, attempting to negotiate and fix the problems between us, believing that if I gave respect, I would eventually receive respect. I did what a lot of women who are dealing with the aftermath of divorcing a narcissist. I rolled over and over and over, playing nice doggy, hoping that one day he would rub my belly, begin to co-parent civilly, and we could put all the conflict behind us. You know, for the sake of our children.

What Does Rolling Over Get You?

You get nothing from all the effort you put into being civil with the narcissist. As long as you are in any type of relationship with a narcissist, you can bet the only person who will benefit from that relationship is the narcissist.

A narcissist has an inflated sense of his own importance. In his mind, you are supposed to roll over and often. You rolling over or giving in only cements his belief that he is all important and his needs must be catered to. And his belief that you are to cater to him only gets you more of the same emotional abuse you suffered in the marriage.

You roll over expecting a positive return on your emotional investment in your post-divorce relationship with the narcissist. A sensible expectation to have! He has his own expectations…you do as he feels you should do. Take it from me; his expectations will be met before yours if you continue to roll over.

Things You Should Not Expect When Divorcing a Narcissist:

1. Civil discourse.

He doesn’t have it in him, let go of expecting him to converse with you as if you are an equal. To feel good about himself, he has to treat you as if you are beneath him. Don’t buy into it!

Behind his mask of superiority lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism. He knows it, you know it but humbling himself and admitting it would be tantamount to emotional destruction for him. Take it from me; he will attempt to destroy you emotionally to keep from having to face his own emotional frailties.

He can’t feel good about himself unless he actively tries to make you feel bad about yourself. Every email you receive, every conversation you have will be him focusing on putting you down. Your best defense against his degradation is a “whatever” attitude. If he is nasty in an email, don’t respond. If he is disrespectful face to face, shrug your shoulders and walk away.

2. Healthy Co-Parenting.

This isn’t going to happen. The narcissist can’t separate his relationship with his children from his relationship with you. In his mind, you and the children are one package. And he has no qualms about using his children to further destroy you emotionally and financially.

The narcissist views his children as objects to be used to further his own agenda. This makes it impossible for him to engage in healthy co-parenting. He is a fine father if those objects (his children) fit into his agenda or reflect positively upon him. When those objects no longer fit into his agenda…when he moves onto another relationship, remarries, and needs to focus on his step-children or suffers the wrath of his own children after mistreatment, WATCH OUT. This is when your children will begin to feel the full force of his narcissistic abuse.

This is also when you have to put your guard up. It will be your place to guard your children’s hearts against the damage a narcissistic father can do. You are the healthy parent, the parent who will teach them what unconditional love is. The parent who will teach them their value by role modeling how to respond to those who do them emotional harm. The parent who will keep them from becoming adults with fragile self-esteem and emotional vulnerabilities. You are your children’s only defense against the narcissist. On Guard!

3. Concern for Your Well-Being.

Once you stop feeding the narcissist’s ego, your needs and the needs of his children become inconsequential to him. I’ve been divorced from my ex-husband for 14 years. Our sons were 7 and 14 when we divorced. Their father has not once shown concern for whether or not they have what they need since we divorced. No phone calls or emails asking, “Can I do anything for you, son,” or, “I’m here for you if you need me, son.”

I had custody of our children, due to this, in his mind, they were an extension of me, the woman he wanted to be destroyed. They became collateral damage in the war he waged against me.

Our youngest is now 21 and experiencing health problems. The other day I called my ex and left him a message…”Alan needs you, can you call?” I got no response. I expected no response, but the opportunity came up for him to do something for his child and the choice of whether to take that opportunity was his to make. He did as I expected, but by reaching out, I took away any ability he had to blame his children or me for the distance between him and his children.

My ex-husband’s refusal to respond when his child was in need is an example of the total lack of empathy that is characteristic in narcissistic personality disorder. I’m sure that if you asked, my ex-husband would tell you he has, over the years, attempted to have a relationship with his children.

My children would tell you that the total of ten years of no contact from him does not feel like an attempt by him to have a relationship with them. The narcissist doesn’t care about how someone else perceives a situation. Their perception of the situation is the only perception that is valid. They don’t care about the thoughts and feelings of others and are unable to listen to, validate, understand or support others.

My ex-husband and all narcissists are not capable of stepping outside themselves and seeing a situation from the other person’s perspective. The world revolves around them and their feelings, and due to that, others aren’t allowed to feel, unless of course, they are expressing concern for the narcissist’s feelings.

The narcissist, my ex-husband, for example, can’t view ten years of no contact with a child as abandonment or abuse because those ten years are not about his children, they are about him. And I’m certain that a narcissist would find it highly offensive that a child would not express concern for the narcissist rather than expect a show of concern from the narcissist.

Outfoxing the Narcissist:

You will never be as cunning as the narcissist. You can’t outfox him. You may be crafty, clever, and shrewd, but you also have the ability to empathize with others, and it is that pesky aspect of your personality that will keep you from ever being able to outsmart the narcissist if you engage in conflict with him.

The only way to get one over on the narcissist during divorce is to disengage, distance yourself, and don’t feed the tiger. As I said before, have no expectations of the narcissist. But the big one, the one I struggled with myself, was the need to do something, to find a solution, to fix the problems between him and me for the sake of our children.

Few things are as emotionally painful or produce as much fear and anxiety as being in a high-conflict relationship with a narcissist. It is the emotional pain, fear, and anxiety that spurs you into action, attempting to fix the situation. After all, how are you ever going to have peace of mind and heart again if the situation isn’t fixed?

No matter how much you try to fix him, outsmart him, or stay one step ahead of him, the narcissist will always trump, one-up, escalate and create more damage in response. To stop the continued emotional damage to yourself and your children, you have to exit the stage, step out of the ring and take back your power by letting go of your need to fix the problem.

When you do that, you show the narcissist who is in control of YOUR life. You show the narcissist that no one has power over how you live your life, and the narcissist is completely out of his league when faced with true power…especially YOUR power over his ability to cause you pain, fear, and anxiety.

FAQs About Divorcing A Narcissist:

Should I give in to a narcissist to save my marriage?

You will only end up reinforcing his beliefs that he is superior to you and his needs come first if you give in to a narcissist in an attempt to save your marriage. A narcissist will never stop emotionally abusing you no matter how submissive you become.

Can I have a decent conversation with a narcissist?

You can never have a decent conversation with a narcissist because he doesn’t treat you as an equal partner. He will keep on debasing you and make you feel insufficient so he can manipulate you to satisfy his narcissistic needs.

Do narcissists believe they are superior to those around them?

The very existence of a narcissist rests upon his need to feel superior to others. He cannot take slightest of criticism because it hurts his fragile self-esteem—masked under his false sense of superiority. He will gaslight you, manipulate you emotionally just to keep himself from facing his own emotional frailties.

How to deal with a narcissist when he is disrespectful?

Walk away without falling for an argument when a narcissist shows disrespect. Narcissists show disrespect deliberately to draw you in an argument you can’t win. They feed on your frustration and will not leave any stone unturned to make you feel miserable. Don’t respond to his nasty remarks either in writing or face to face.

Do narcissistic men use their children against their spouses? 

Narcissists are known to use children as pawns against their spouses. They consider you and your children as one package and will not spare any opportunity to draw them in a conflict to harm you emotionally or financially. 

Are narcissists healthy co-parents? 

Narcissists can never become healthy co-parents because of their need to feel superior and manipulate everyone around them. A narcissist is a father as long as he can use children to his own advantage—either to feel good or make you feel bad.

Should I take steps to protect my children from their narcissistic father?

You have to protect your children from their narcissistic father, who will eventually damage their emotional health. You need to understand the challenge and teach your children the virtues of unconditional love, besides protecting them against developing a fragile self-esteem and emotional vulnerabilities.

When does a narcissist stop taking care of his family?

As soon as you stop feeding his narcissistic ego, a narcissist will stop caring for his family. A family is more like a business relationship for a narcissist, which ends when you put an end to manipulation. 

Do narcissists ever see a situation from others perspective?

Narcissists are not brought up to see the situation from others perspective. A narcissist will cease to exist if he cares for others because his only purpose in life is to manipulate those around him.

How do I outsmart a narcissist?

Don’t try to outsmart a narcissist because you did not grow up perfecting the art of manipulation. You are brought up as a normal human being and carry emotions like empathy and love. These aspects of your personality will put you at a disadvantage if you try to outsmart a narcissist.

How to deal with a narcissistic husband during divorce?

Keep your emotional health in check and remain consistent in maintaining a policy of disengagement and distance with your narcissistic husband during divorce. 

The post Divorcing a Narcissist: Keep Your Expectations Low! appeared first on Divorced Moms.

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How to Look Behind a Narcissist’s Facade

People with Narcissistic Personality Disorder tend to have distorted worldviews and dwell behind shiny but flimsy facades.

Believing others are their enemies, narcissists are suspicious and live endlessly on defense. To cope, they manipulate, test others, posture, preen and construct elaborate facades for self-protection and self-aggrandizement.

Needing to appear better than anyone else, narcissists seek praise and admiration from others. When it is not forthcoming, narcissists simply praise themselves.

Desperate to win, they view themselves as superior and hold others as less-than. At the same time, they hide, attack or distract from anything or anyone that would put them in a bad light.

As blogger Karla Grimes wrote, “A narcissist paints a picture of themselves as being the victim or innocent in all aspects. They will be offended by the truth. But what is done in the dark will come to light. Time has a way of showing people’s true colors.”

It can take some work, but to effectively cope with narcissists, it is important to see through their deceptions and pretenses.

Here is a table listing some of the key views narcissists hold of themselves versus others on several traits, followed by some truths about narcissists:

How narcissists view themselves

How narcissists view others

In truth, narcissists tend to be

Blameless At fault Troublemakers
Winners Losers Cheaters
Superior Inferior Dysfunctional
In the know Clueless Confused
Gifted Flawed Deeply wounded
Right Wrong Liars
Content Troublesome Irritable
Adored Undeserving Desperate for attention
Smart Stupid Myopic
Strong Weak Needy
Desirable Undesirable Disliked
Clever Ignorant Phony
Special Unimportant Pretentious
Magnanimous Lacking Petty
Worthy Unworthy Obnoxious
In control Inept Manipulative

Author and advocate Tina Swithin wrote, “I am convinced there is a Narc-ish dictionary or manual hidden deep in a dark, musty hole somewhere in a faraway land with step-by-step instructions on how to inflict fear, confusion and despair. . . . Their secret language can only be decoded by those who aren’t fooled by the narcissist’s stealth ability to inflict confusion and chaos with it.”

To decode narcissistic behavior, think of a narcissist you know. Observe or remember a situation involving that narcissistic person. Then refer to this chart. Ask yourself:

  1. Do the narcissist’s words and actions seem designed to portray one or more of the positive qualities in the left-hand column?
  2. Do the narcissist’s attitudes about or treatment of others seem to mirror one or more of the negative views in the middle column?
  3. As you step back and reflect on the situation or interaction, looking beyond the narcissist’s posturing, does the underlying truth match one or more of the qualities in the right-hand column?

If you are unsure about the third question, simply scan down the entire left-hand column, then scan the entire right-hand column. Ask yourself: Which column of descriptors better describes who the narcissist really is?

As Gloria Steinem said, “The truth will set you free — but first it will piss you off.”

Truth/lie photo by Bakhtiar Zein
Happy free person by Austin Schmid / Unsplash

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If You Wonder Whether You’re A Narcissist . . .

. . . you’re probably not.

In my experience, the vast majority of people who question whether they are narcissists have little to worry about.

That’s because true narcissists generally:

  1. Don’t know what narcissism is,
  2. Don’t care whether or not they are a narcissist,
  3. Avoid introspection for fear of what they’d discover, or
  4. Wouldn’t find anything wrong with being a narcissist

People who worry most about having narcissistic personality disorder often tend to know one or more narcissists and decidedly do not want to be narcissistic.

But decide for yourself. Ask yourself which of the following 20 statements are true for you most or all of the time:

    • I have little empathy for others
    • I become angry or depressed if I am not the center of attention
    • I have to win and hate to lose
    • I rarely apologize
    • I am almost never wrong
    • I am better than everybody else
    • I seek to manipulate others for my own ends
    • I have only superficial relationships
    • I am obsessed with status, wealth, power, and appearance
    • I find fault with nearly everyone around me
    • I treat others in condescending ways
    • I deserve special treatment
    • I violate others’ rights and privacy whenever it suits me
    • I delight in spoiling others’ good moods
    • I hold grudges over even minor incidents
    • I listen impatiently when others talk about themselves because I want the topic to be about me
    • I bully others to get what I want
    • I get away with things that others consider wrong because I am more clever than everyone else
    • I am infuriated when I feel slighted or disrespected
    • Other people envy me and want what I have

If you answered yes to six or fewer questions, you are unlikely to have strong narcissistic tendencies or narcissistic personality disorder.

On the other hand, if you answered yes to more than seven of these statements, you may have unhealthy narcissism. If so, and this concerns you, you may wish to seek a qualified therapist for consultation. You also can take an online test here or here to help determine if you may have unhealthy narcissism.

Of course, many of us have occasional self-centered tendencies or act narcissistically from time to time. Many of us sometimes like attention and approval, dislike losing, or treat another person poorly on occasion. But it’s a matter of degree. Unhealthy narcissism is a pervasive, enduring pattern of doing many or most of the above behaviors across a wide range of situations.

If you know someone who you suspect may be narcissistic, simply answer these questions for them based on what you have observed, and draw conclusions accordingly.

Man and mirror photo by DreamBig

My Way Sign by Sam72

 

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12 Classic Propaganda Techniques Narcissists Use to Manipulate You

Propaganda is powerful. It can start wars and end governments.

Strikingly, in their personal lives narcissists routinely use classic propaganda techniques — similar to the techniques used by repressive regimes throughout history — to control, confuse and manipulate you and others.

Propagandists use words and ideas in a misleading or biased fashion to persuade others to think, feel or act in certain ways.

As long as there has been propaganda, there have been efforts to see through it. Some 2,500 years ago Socrates developed critical thinking skills to debunk fallacious arguments. Critical thinking skills are widely taught in schools today.

Following are 12 widely-researched propaganda techniques. As you read these you may wish to note any which parallel how the narcissists in your life try to influence or exploit you and others.

One way to do this is to recall a conversation with a narcissist or refer to a letter, email or voicemail from a narcissist, and identify instances of propaganda-like tactics from the list below. Each technique listed has an example of phrases used. If you hear such phrases from a narcissist, these are red flags signaling possible coercion, deception or manipulation.

1) Ad Hominem:  From the Latin meaning “towards the man,” an attempt to shift the conversation by getting personal.

If you bring up a topic that threatens a narcissist’s ego, he may resort to name-calling, questioning your intelligence or attacking your character. This technique is designed to distract from the topic at hand and make you feel you have to defend yourself.

Example:  When you voice an opinion opposite of what a narcissist believes, the narcissist may say, “You’re delusional. You’re clueless, as usual.

2) Glittering Generalities:  Using glowing words and statements to describe ones self, ideas, or behaviors without providing evidence.

Narcissists are in love with their words just as they are in love with everything about themselves. They think superlatives make them look good.

Example:  A narcissistic husband tells his spouse:  “I’m the most amazing husband ever. I’m super-thoughtful, smart and always available. I provide a world-class lifestyle for you.”

3) The Big Lie:  Spinning a lie so outrageous that others are at a loss where to even begin to refute it.

Narcissists are convinced that whatever they say in the moment is 100 percent true just because they are saying it. Lying often comes naturally. They know that the bigger the lie, the more it may overwhelm others’ critical faculties.

Example:  A narcissist when confronted with a credit-card bill evidence of an extra-marital affair:  “I’ve never been to that hotel in my life. That hotel is notorious for making up fake check-in records and then blackmailing innocent people like me. There was a big article online about that a while back. You probably saw it. I might even have an email from the hotel trying to blackmail me in my inbox right now. I will fight this slander all the way to the Supreme Court. They will be sorry they ever made up this lie about me.”

4) Intentional Vagueness:  Saying something so vague as to be meaningless or open to multiple interpretations.

This can leave others stymied, trying to figure out what was meant. In so doing, the vagueness distracts attention from legitimate concerns or questions.

Example:  A narcissist when asked why he did something:  “I did what had to be done. I always do what needs to be done. It’s obvious.”

5) Exaggerating:  Stretching the truth to extremes to get credit, eliminate doubt, or coerce someone.

Narcissists have grandiose personas. Exaggerating is second nature to them.

Example:  Reaction from a narcissist when a friend suggests theirs is a one-sided relationship:  “I’m the best and most generous friend you’ve ever had. I’ve done more for you than anybody in history has done for another.”

6) Minimizing:  The opposite of exaggeration, minimizing denies or downplays anything that doesn’t fit with a propagandist’s goals.

Narcissists are desperately image conscious so they frequently minimize the negative consequences of their actions. They also discount others’ feelings and needs, which narcissists tend to see as nuisances.

Example:  A narcissistic parent’s response to adult child who wants to discuss the parent’s past neglect or abuse:  “What are you talking about, you had a great childhood. Yes I was strict but all parents were in those days. You have nothing to complain about.”

7) False Equivalence:  Attempting to equate vastly different situations to one’s advantage.

Narcissists use false equivalencies to justify their unreasonable views and grandiose needs as well as to avoid responsibility for their destructive behaviors.

Example:  Reaction from a narcissistic parent after raiding an adult child’s bank account:  “Yes, I emptied your account. But don’t forget, you once stole a dollar from your younger brother when you were six.”

8) Gish Gallop:  A rapid-fire series of assertions, questions and accusations launched at another without giving a chance to respond.

Named after the 20th century creationist Duane Gish, this technique attempts to convince or overwhelm others by listing many shorthand arguments, any one of which could be easily refuted, but the collective weight of which seem convincing and would take time and effort to refute.

Narcissists love the feeling of power and dominance that comes from spitting out multiple statements that make others appear foolish or ignorant.

Example:  A narcissistic partner when criticized:  “How dare you question me? I’ve given you everything you have. Do you think you could have survived without my help? I’ve accomplished more in the last week than you have in a year. Who would you be without me? You think your friends would lift a finger if you really needed it? You’re often so wrong you don’t even realize it. I’m surprised you’ve managed to survive this long.”

9) Lesser of Two Evils:  Giving someone only two undesirable options of which one is far more catastrophic.

Narcissists use this to justify or excuse control, abuse, or other excesses.

Example:  A narcissistic parent to an adult child:  “Yes, you were hit you as a child when you misbehaved. Would you rather have been sexually abused? Count your blessings.”

10) Repetition / Ad Nauseam:  Repeating a word or phrase endlessly to sidetrack discussion.

The goal is that if something is said often enough, others may start to believe it. It also is a way of dismissing what another is saying my simply talking over them, repeating a stock phrase or being unresponsive to further discussion.

Example:  A narcissistic boss to employee:  “I’ve made up my mind. That’s all there is to it. My mind is made up. When I make up my mind, my mind is made up. Period.”

11) Scapegoating:  Falsely blaming one individual for a group’s problems.

Scapegoating is one of narcissists’ favorite tactics because it can accomplish many things at once: making others feel inferior; getting other people to go along with the narcissist in ostracizing someone; gaining a feeling of power at orchestrating a group action; hiding or distracting from anything that would make the narcissist look bad; and evading the narcissist’s responsibility for creating part of the problem.

Example:  A meddling narcissistic relative:  “You’re the reason this entire family is a mess.”

12) Tu Quoque:  From the Latin for “You too,” answering a criticism by asserting the other person is guilty as well.

The implication is that a questioner or accuser is hypocritical. The goal is to have a stalemate and put others on the defensive while sidestepping the original complaint.

Example:  Response from a narcissist when told he is being selfish:  “How dare you accuse me of being selfish. You’re just trying to make yourself look good by making me look bad. It doesn’t get any more selfish than that.”

Bottom line:  Propaganda relies on distortions. Narcissistic Personality Disorder, like all personality disorders, is characterized by distortions of normal, healthy thinking and behavior. By spotting how narcissists distort facts, language, feelings and ideas to coerce, diminish and take advantage of others, you can gain a healthy distance that makes it easier to set healthy boundaries against destructive narcissists.

Read additional propaganda tactics used be narcissists here:  14 Thought-Control Tactics Narcissists Use to Confuse and Dominate You

Sources and Resources

yourlogicalfallacyis.com
Bernays, E.L. (1928). Propaganda. New York: Horace Liveright, Inc.
Lasswell, H.D. (1938). Propaganda technique in the world war. New York: Peter Smith.
Lippmann, W. (1922). Public opinion. New York: The Free Press.

Photo credits:
Propaganda/Truth signs by M-Sur
Pinocchio man by Poosan
False equivalence by Stacey Lynn Payne
Woman with megaphone by Pathdoc

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12 Ways Narcissists Behave Like Children

Narcissists’ behaviors can be mystifying and maddening if you expect them to consistently act like adults.

Though narcissists can behave like adults much of the time, when they feel embarrassed, ignored or inferior they may revert to a childlike state, acting like children during the “terrible twos.”

In a way, this regression makes sense. Narcissistic personality disorder or a narcissistic style often develops due to early trauma or family influences that can leave aspects of a person stuck at an emotionally young age.

For example, picture a young child caught with his hand in the cookie jar when told to wait until after dinner. Children respond to such situations with one or more of a dozen instinctual responses. By the same token, adult narcissists use sophisticated versions of these same childlike responses.

As you read through the following examples, you may want to think of a narcissist in your life and note any similarities with how the narcissist you know responds when feeling stressed, slighted or thwarted.

What a child caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar might do

1) Deny they did it

“I didn’t eat one. I was just looking for later.”

2)  Blame someone else

“But sis said it was all right.”

3)  Pretend they don’t know what you are talking about

“What cookies?”

4)  Throw a tantrum

5)  Say they had no choice

“I was so hungry I couldn’t help it.”

6)  Recite good things they have done

“But yesterday I put all my toys away. Aren’t you proud of me?”

7)  Cry or act like a victim

“You’re so mean to me. It’s not fair.”

8)  Hide or run away

9)  Try to charm you

“But I love you so much, Mommy.”

10)  Change the subject

“Can I go outside and play?”

11)  Ignore you or stonewall

12)  Get mad at you for catching them

“Stop spying on me!”

 

Such childlike responses bear an uncanny resemblance to the key tactics narcissists use to avoid responsibility and manipulate others:

  • Denying
  • Blaming
  • Pretending
  • Acting out
  • Making excuses
  • Seeking credit
  • Playing the victim
  • Running away
  • Charming
  • Distracting
  • Stonewalling
  • Attacking

Recognizing the childlike nature of narcissists’ responses can empower you when dealing with narcissists. The next time you find yourself confused or on the defensive by a narcissist’s behavior, envision him or her as a two-year old in an adult body. Doing so can give you perspective and allow you to respond rather than react.

If an adult narcissist acts like a child, perhaps you need to treat them as you would a child. As an adult or parent, you can see through children’s attempts to avoid blame and shame. You don’t take it personally but you also set healthy limits, as that is in their best interests as well as yours.

The difference with adult narcissists is they have more power than children. Their tactics can affect you and pose danger. You have to choose your responses wisely. Here are some strategies that can help:

Give them choices

If you take your child to a crowded restaurant when you’re in a hurry, you give the child choices. Instead of asking what they want to eat, you say “Do you want pizza or a PBJ?” Similarly, suggesting options or choices to an acting-out narcissist may let them think they are in control and can move the situation along.

Have realistic expectations

You don’t expect a small child to act in a mature adult fashion. Similarly, you are generally not likely to go wrong by underestimating a narcissist’s level of maturity. You don’t have to tolerate abusive behavior. But expecting emotional maturity from a two-year-old — of any age — will just leave you frustrated.

Don’t take it personally

You don’t take a two-year-old’s pouting personally. They are in the throes of emotions they haven’t yet learned to contain or soothe. Similarly, narcissists generally cannot contain their feelings when they are embarrassed or disappointed. Recognize that they are awash in emotions that to them are so huge they cannot cope in a mature fashion.

Photo credits
Upset princess by MN Studio
Tantrum kid by Lorelyn Medina
Covering ears child by Sharomka
Steaming mad boy by Pathdoc

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What’s Behind the Narcissist’s Mask?

A new study reinforces what many of us who deal with narcissists already know:

1) Narcissists tend to be less trustworthy, less loyal, less accountable and less remorseful than others

2) Narcissists tend to be more deceptive, more manipulative, more antagonistic and more vindictive than others

In some cases the gap is huge.

Drawn from a study of 14,000 people, an analysis of 403 participants with distinct traits of Narcissistic Personality Disorder found that narcissists are six times more likely to be deceptive, four times more likely to lie, and three times more likely to be antagonistic and vindictive than non-narcissistic people.

The study is a portrait of the many ways narcissists tend to posture and shape themselves — while at the same time using others — to shore up a fragile sense of self.

For example, the study found the percentages of narcissists who engage in the following behaviors, compared to non-narcissists:

Narcissists Non-narcissists
Point out others’ mistakes, no matter how minor 73% 7%
Strongly believe they are superior to most people 84% 3%
Prefer to associate with people who are successful or popular 84% 7%
Cast aside anyone who doesn’t live up to what they want 69% 5%
Change their appearance, personality, and opinions to be accepted 62% 18%
Seek to be the center of attention 80% 10%
Endlessly seek reassurance they are liked 60% 16%
Become defensive when given negative feedback 61% 32%
Refuse to acknowledge or admit when they are wrong 67% 16%

“Being a narcissist is likely to be a tiring and draining endeavor, emotionally and psychologically. It’s like wearing a mask all the time,” said the study’s author, Ilona Jerabek.

Here are three ways to cope with the manipulation and pretenses used by narcissists:

1)  Don’t expect them to change. They may change behavior from time to time, but those with narcissistic personality disorder are unlikely to change their personality. What you see is what you get.

2) Don’t take their blaming and lack of accountability personally. Their actions are designed to gratify themselves and keep others from seeing their flaws. It’s all about them, not you, so how can it be personal?

3) Do ask yourself: “At what cost?” There is nearly always some cost when dealing with narcissists. Only you can decide whether the cost in any given situation is worth it.

 

Photo by Mike Focus

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Narcissistic Families – Hidden In Plain Sight

Narcissistic Families – Hidden In Plain Sight

Narcissistic families do a very good job of looking “normal” to the outside world.  But inside they are full of self-loathing, hurt, anger, anxiety and pain.

The impact of having a narcissistic family of origin can last a lifetime and reveal itself in relationships, behaviours, thoughts and feelings. 

This guide will reveal the truth behind the curtain of narcissistic families with the aim of helping:

  • Individuals who have experienced a narcissistic family of origin
  • Those who have escaped a narcissistic family (either through birth or marriage) but are struggling with comprehending their reality
  • Those who are attempting to co-parenting with a narcissist and have concerns about their child repeating these same damaging patterns
  • Anyone who is going to court against a narcissist and is looking for more understanding and the correct terminology to use when explaining the situation to professionals
  • Anyone with an interest in understanding narcissistic families 

Types of Narcissist

There are many different terms used to describe narcissists (cerebral, somatic, overt and covert, malignant) but I think these labels sum up the behaviours much clearer.

  1. The toxic narcissist

A toxic narcissist “continually causes drama in others’ lives at the very least and causes pain and destruction at the very worst,” says clinical psychologist John Mayer, PhD. If someone in your life has caused more extreme issues, like gotten you fired from your job, physically abused you, or led to the end of a relationship, they may be a toxic narcissist as well.

  1. The psychopathic narcissist

A psychopath is an unstable, aggressive person, and these traits also show up in the psychopathic narcissist. A psychopathic narcissist, which is a type of toxic narcissist, will often be violent and show no remorse for their behavior. 

  1. The closet narcissist

This one can be trickier to spot than other types of narcissists because the person isn’t always obvious about their disorder. However they demonstrate the main characteristics of narcissism including feeling entitled, constantly needing other people to admire them, being preoccupied with success, being jealous of other people, and lacking empathy for others.

“They’re a bit more codependent,” says psychotherapist Alisa Ruby Bash, PsyD, LMFT. “They often try to pretend that they’re really selfless, but like to associate themselves with someone that they admire and ride their coattails.”

  1. The exhibitionist narcissist

The exhibitionist narcissist is on the opposite end of the narcissism spectrum from the closet narcissist. This person takes advantage of other people and is often haughty and arrogant. They’re also blatant about their self-centered behavior.  They love to be centre of attention and become angry if they are not.

  1. The bullying narcissist

This person combines two terrible traits: bullying and self-absorption. Bullying narcissists build themselves up by bringing others down. They’re often fixated on winning and will mock or threaten others to get their way. They ultimately get joy from making other people feel bad, small, or unworthy. 

  1. The seducer narcissist

They will often seem to admire or fawn over you, only to write you off once they no longer have a use for you. 

In my opinion, most narcissists can display elements of each of these but one will be their default character.

Characteristics of Narcissists

The likelihood is that very few people will know someone who has clinically diagnosed Narcissistic Personality Disorder because narcissists will rarely seek help for their behaviours.  They are often diagnosed with other disorders which mask the true condition.  However, I do feel it is important that you know what the official diagnostic criteria is so that we can look at how it presents in families:

(1) has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements) 

(2) is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love 

(3) believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions) 

(4) requires excessive admiration 

(5) has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations 

(6) is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends 

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others 

(8) is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of him or her 

(9) shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

NPD in the family context:

  1. Will expect everyone to bow down to them in the family.  Has high behavioural expectations of the children. Wants everyone to think they are the perfect parent so will push the child into presenting as perfect which can cause a child great anxiety and make them very fearful of mistakes
  2. Can totally distort reality for the whole family by becoming fixated on what they “should” be doing or being. Children will often overhear their children lie to other people and this can be very confusing when the narcissist (and school/nursery and society in general) have a zero tolerance on lying.  The child will struggle to organise their morality as it is one rule for the narcissist and another for everyone else.
  3. The narcissist may over exaggerate the child’s skill or experience in order for the narcissist to achieve their own aim of feeling special.  This can set the child up for disappointment, failure and rejection which the narcissist will then punish them for “making them look bad”
  4. Narcissists will ruin special occasions, including their own children’s birthdays to make themselves centre of attention.  Parties can be extravagant to show off and have everyone tell them what amazing parents they are for going to so much trouble. They will often exert themselves into situations which are none of their business because they feel they have the power to influence (grandiose sense of self) and then take all the credit (even if they did very little or even made it worse)
  5. Narcissists expect everyone to do as they say.  The rule by fear and neglect.  If family members disobey them they are punished either with rage or silence and others learn to do as they are told.  
  6. Everyone is a commodity to the narcissist including their own children.  They will parade them to gain attention from others but ignore them when they do not serve them.  This is very confusing to children who need stability and consistency from their parents.  Children will also witness lots of changes in people who are around the narcissist.  They make and break relationships really easily so children learn not to become too attached to anyone.
  7. To the narcissist, the only feelings that matter are their own.  Their mood becomes the mood of the whole family.  Everyone learns to respond and sooth the narcissist.  In a healthy parent-child relationship, the parent soothes the child but when a parent lacks empathy it is the child who soothes the parent, teaching the child their feelings are not important and making it difficult for them to recognise their own feelings as they are so enmeshed with the narcissists.
  8. The narcissist doesn’t trust anyone and so have a very persecutory view of life.  Coupled with their grandiose sense of self and their belief they are entitled, when they see others with things they want or deem of value they become very jealous and can make accusations as to how someone made that achievement.  They will even accuse their own children of lying, cheating or stealing from them. 
  9. A narcissistic parent looks down on everyone and is quick to criticise.  They will compare their children to themselves and others to belittle their achievements.  

There are some additional behaviours which are common for narcissists to exhibit:

Projection – the narcissist will tell the child they are feeling something which they are not which can cause long term identity issues as they are unsure what their own feelings feel like

Conditioning through punishment and reward – children of narcissists tend to seek out vulnerable relationships because they have been conditioned to seek out punishment and reward for their behaviours in order to get the attention they need

Triangulation – we will be covering this more shortly but essentially narcissists will use their children to get around someone’s boundaries

Idealise and devalue – children of narcissists cycle through being idealised and devalued on a daily basis as they try to meet the expectations of the narcissist.  We will explore this more later

Fear – PTSD and developmental trauma is common in children of narcissists.  Their bodies become addicted to the stress hormones and this can cause long term damage to their brain.

Create anxiety – children of narcissists never know where they stand with a narcissistic parent because the narcissist has a disorganised attachment style (more on this later) which creates extreme anxiety as they are unsure how to behave to get their own needs met

Gaslighting – one of the narcissists favourite tools is to distort reality so that they can then control it and they do that by constantly changing the goals posts, denying what was said and making the child question what they saw, heard and felt.  It contributes to PTSD, anxiety and long term mental health problems

Emotionally unstable – the narcissist does not have the skills to regulate their own emotions and so they rely upon others (either a spouse or their children) to soothe them. Children quickly learn to spot the signs of dysregulation and how to appease their parent.  Walking on eggshells contributes to PTSD, anxiety and long term mental health problems

Alienation and isolation – narcissistic families have secrets which they must keep at all costs. This means relationships are superficial and children’s friendships have to be approved by the narcissist.  If anyone disobeys the narcissist or doesn’t meet their expectations they are cut off completely.  Children learn by observing the price of disobedience.  Read more about Attachment Based Parental Alienation here.

Common Themes

Narcissistic families follow a pattern of behaviour and are almost identical in every narcissistic family.  Understanding these themes can help you to move out of the dynamic and into a healthier relationship.

Triangles

We all know narcissists love to triangulate.   Well they will do it with their own children as well as everyone else.   

Triangles service three main purposes for the narcissist:

  1. They get to abuse boundaries
  2. They keep everyone in set roles designated by the narcissist
  3. They can be used to ostracise anyone who doesn’t play by their rules

Families will often not communicate directly with one another but through other family members.  No one knows who they can trust and this is all purposefully directed by the narcissist to ensure that they remain in control. This also covertly sends the message to everyone that “you are not good enough” because they do not feel valued by anyone. 

Another use of the triangle for the narcissist is that they create a very clear hierachy with them firmly established at the top of the tree.  Even the spouse is below them and can often be replaced by a child.  The narcissist will involve children in parental arguments and encourage them to align with them. This achieves three things:

  • Gives the child power they are not emotionally or cognitively capable of understanding and dealing with
  • Pushing the other parent out of the adult position, taking away their authority and putting them into a position of being controlled
  • Making it easier for emotional cutoff to occur

The narcissist is always ready for the relationship to end and so creating this hierachy and involving the children, means they are ready for the emotional cutoff which comes at the end of a relationship.  They will then initiate something known as a role reversal.

This reverse is achieved through a range of behaviours by the narcissistic parent. Firstly, the child becomes the regulatory object for the parent which means that they respond to the emotions of the parent (as the ex spouse used to).  The child learns to read the parent’s emotions and responds accordingly to prevent them from completely dysregulating through anger, rage or withdrawal.  

The child has been conditioned to know that this is the only way to keep the attachment in tact, which they are desperately clinging on to for survival.  The narcissistic parent will punish the child when they don’t meet their needs and reward them when they do. Regular repetition of these behaviours ensures the role-reversal relationship is permanent.   

The final part of ensuring the hierarchy is reversed, is for the child to completely align themselves with the narcissistic parent which is achieved by creating an “understanding of shared grievances” against the other parent.  For example, the child picks up a picture of the other parent and the narcissistic parent gets really mad.  The child puts the picture in a drawer and the narcissistic parent buys them a new toy.  They then push that to evoking criticism of the targeted parent using the same conditioning techniques.  The child may say they had a good time with the other parent and the narcissist lashes out and tells them they are so ungrateful for all that they do for them.  So the child mentions they had a disagreement and the narcissistic parent gives them a hug and tells them that they understand how angry and controlling the targeted parent can be.  The child quickly learns that to regulate the narcissistic parent’s emotions and get their own needs met, they simply need to criticise the other parent.  This is pushed and pushed until the child rejects the parent, believing it is their own choice.  This reduces the anxiety for the parent which in turn reduces the anxiety for the child. At this point the ex spouse is alienated from their own children and the child has lost a loving and healthy parent.

Another triangle at play is the drama, or Karpman, triangle.  This is not only playing out in this scenario but is often the basis of the trauma reenactment.

The narcissist will pull the children into the triangle to play whichever role is remaining.  If the narcissist has decided they are the victim today, the spouse must be the abuser so the narcissist will encourage the child to take their side and “gang up” on the other parent.  If the narcissist chooses to be the rescuer, they can accuse either their spouse or the child as the other roles.  The narcissist will accuse the child of being abusive towards the spouse or another child so that they can “rescue them” and manipulate the relationship to win their affection and look like a hero. The narcissist will only ever play the part of the hero or the victim.

Unfortunately the impact on the child is that they take on all three roles in this triangle and learn that relationships are about drama and manipulation.  Leading them to seek out abusive partners themselves in adulthood.

Co-narcissism

All members of a narcissistic family can become co-narcissistic because the personality, opinions and feelings of the narcissist are dominant amongst family members.  Everyone is conditioned to think the same and there is very little individualisation within narcissistic families.  It is very cult-like. As adults, members struggle with their own identity and often seek validation from others and can be people-pleasures. 

Fabricated Illness 

Many narcissists use either their own “illness” or the children’s “illness” to control public perception of them, ensure they can act the martyr, create a co-dependency amongst family members and use guilt to control everyone. Being mislabelled as having an illness is extremely confusing for a child who feels fine but is constantly being told they are X, Y and Z.  It also teaches them that deception and manipulation can get you sympathy and attention which is a foundation for narcissistic behaviour in adulthood. 

Parentification

Narcissists have no understanding of child development and so will expect their children to do things which they simply are not capable of due to their age.  Narcissistic parents will criticise their children for not doing what they want them to, even though they do not have the capacity to do it, which leaves the children feeling they are a failure and letting the parent down in some way.  

They will also expect the child to take care of them.  This may be physically but is usually emotionally.  Everyone in the family has responsibility for managing the narcissists emotions but for very young children this impacts brain development, especially around emotional processing, because they children learn about emotions from their parents helping them to understand and process them but with narcissists, it is the child who has to help the parent. 

Generational Trauma

Trauma gets passed down from generation to generation until someone decides to do the work and heal the wounds.  We learn how to interact, have relationships, view ourselves and the world from our early experiences.  Life with a narcissistic parent means the overriding theme is trauma.  Trauma creates long term damage to the brain and this impacts how we interact with the world.  If you grow up seeing power, control and manipulation, you tend to attract the same types of relationships as adults.  Helping yourself or your child to heal that trauma can break the cycle.

Discard

Everyone is a commodity to a narcissist including their own children.  The moment they are of no use to them, they will discard them.  This can be hard for a child to understand and they will often internalise guilt and shame, thinking they must have done something wrong and they weren’t good enough.

Family Roles

Golden Child

Scapegoat

Conforms to avoid rejection, criticism and shame

Presents as being a high achiever, follows the rules, seeks approval from others, very responsible

Inside they feel guilt, hurt and inadequate

Are the emotional punch bag for the family

Presents as being hostile, defiant, rule breaker, in trouble

Inside they feel rejected, hurt, guilty, jealous and angry

 

Mascot

Victim

Often the family clown whose role is to make others happy

They present as immature, fragile, cute, hyperactive and distracted

Inside they are fearful, anxious and insecure

They are dependent upon the family

They present as hostile, manipulative, aggressive or self pitying, blameful, charming and having rigid values

Inside they feel shame, guilt, fear, pain and hurt

 

Read more about the family roles in our blog Pedastal Or Pit

Overcoming parental narcissism

Establish firm boundaries

Be clear on what you will and won’t tolerate.  Practice grey rock techniques and saying no.  You have been conditioned to do as you are told and to obey.  You know that not doing so will result in rage, silence or smear campaigns.  You have to make peace with the consequences.

Structure in all settings can provide children with a safe, predictable, and secure buffer from insidious psychological damage. The emotional roller coaster a narcissistic parent perpetrates can be even more detrimental to a child’s healthy ego-development than overt abuse.

Nurture your inner child

You didn’t get the parents you deserved. You can’t change that.  But you can give yourself what your younger self needed. Be kind to yourself.  Love yourself unconditionally.  

Unleash your superhero

What happened to you isn’t fair but staying in the victim mentality gives the narcissist all the power so it’s time to realise you are more powerful than you think.  You are in control of your own life.  You decide what you do on a day to day basis, you get to create your own future. Set yourself some clear goals of how you want your life to look.  

Help your child to feel strong by giving them choices at home.  Help them decide what they want out of the relationship with their parent and support them whatever they decide. 

Reduce your contact

It is OK to put yourself first and only speak to your family on your terms.  Your well-being is your responsibility and priority. Limit the length of phone calls, decide what topics you will or won’t talk about.  Have an exit plan if you go to visit.

The narcissist will use contact with their child to control you.  It is triangulation. Ensure that call times (including length of call) and methods (who calls who, what app is used) are included in your parenting plan.  You do not have to be present.  If your child isn’t old enough to make the call, you can start the call and leave them to it.

Learn, teach and model social/emotional intelligence 

If your parent was a narcissist, you may struggle with your emotions.  Take the time to really FEEL your emotions. Don’t be afraid of them.  Notice where they are in your body and understand that all emotions have a purpose.  

Give lots of praise and examples of the behaviours you want to see in your child.  I recommend family meetings and rules to help them develop problem solving skills.  Encourage them to label their own emotions through what they feel and sense in their own body. Narcissists project which can make emotions confusing for children.  Also make sure you let them know how you are feeling so that they can see what a healthy expression of emotions looks like. 

Nurture your child’s unique qualities and independence

Narcissists are self centred and they see their children as extensions of themselves.  This can present as both egotistical admiration and self hatred depending on their mood. Help your child to see themselves as an individual by encouraging them to know their own likes, dislikes, wants and needs. Narcissistic families are often enmeshed so nurturing their independence is so important in helping them to differentiate themselves from their parent.  It will protect them from being used and abused in the future.

Helping other to understand

If your friends and family (or even professionals) are struggling to understand the dynamics of your family, here are some examples of narcissistic parents from films:

  • Mother from Tangled
  • Stepmother from Ever After A Cinderella Story
  • Mommy dearest
  • Holy hell – family dynamics 
  • Shameless  – father
  • Rachel Getting Married
  • Marvellous Mrs Maisel
  • Ordinary people 

 

If you recognise your own childhood in this post and are struggling to make sense of it or are unsure how to recover, our adult narcissist specialist therapist Rachel can help you unpick your emotions and create a healthier narrative for your life moving forward.  Book a free consultation to see how she can support you moving forward.

The post Narcissistic Families – Hidden In Plain Sight appeared first on The Nurturing Coach.

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parental alienation

Attachment Based Approach To Parental Alienation

A distraught divorced mother reports that when her formerly loving daughter returns from contact with her father, the child treats her with disrespect and hostility. 
 
A divorced father of a 12-year-old boy (who lives primarily with his mother) says that his son insists that he does not want any contact with his father: “If I have to see him even in a therapy session I will hurt myself!” 
 
Parental alienation may seem obvious in these cases. Yet many experts will confirm that recognising potential alienation, correctly diagnosing it, and providing treatment for this phenomenon can prove challenging to the point that many if not most professionals get it wrong.
 
Recognised earlier but first given a name in the 1980s by child psychiatrist Dr. Richard A. Gardner, parental alienation occurs when an alienating parent turns a child against a targeted (alienated) parent via deprecating innuendos (often based on projection), name-calling (“he’s a nitwit”), exaggeratedly negative reports of minor mishaps, and false accusations.
 
Alienated children parrot the alienating parent’s excessively negative views of the targeted parent, expressing these as their own much as cult followers parrot the beliefs of a cult leader. 
 
Gardner detailed 8 characteristics of an alienated child, plus criteria for distinguishing between mild, moderate, and severe presentations. The result is a child’s unwarranted hostility (mild alienation), resistance to parenting time (moderate alienation), and/or severance of contact (severe alienation) with the targeted parent.   Amy Baker explains these three levels further as follows:
 
Mild Parental Alienation: Refers to cases in which the child objects to and criticizes the targeted parent, but yet enjoys the presence of the targeted parent once time passes or when the location is no longer in close proximity to the alienating parent.
 
Moderate Parental Alienation: Refers to cases in which all eight primary manifestations of PA are likely to be present and each is more advanced than in mild cases, but less pervasive than in severe cases. Children will usually go with the targeted parent after expressing and demonstrating significant reluctance. Also, moderately alienated children will express consistent negative feelings toward the targeted parent whether or not the alienating parent is present. Although these children may enjoy the time they spend with the targeted parent, they will not admit this in the presence of the alienating parent.
 
Severe Parental Alienation: Severe cases of alienation are differentiated from mild and moderate cases by the extent of the child’s rejection and degree of negativity in the attitudes and behavior toward the targeted parent. Severely alienated children have little if anything positive to say about the targeted parent and often rewrite the history of their relationship with the targeted parent. They seem content to avoid all contact with the targeted parent, may reject an entire branch of their extended family, and often threaten to defy court-ordered parenting plans that schedule them to be under the care of the targeted parent
 
Attachment Based Approach
 
Whilst I appreciate the work of Dr Baker and use her guidelines myself, in terms of the mechanisms of what is referred to as Parental Alienation, I prefer the work of Dr Craig Childress, an American Psychiatrist.
 
He uses an attachment based model to diagnose and treat the symptoms, which he has also redefined.
 
His approach fitted perfectly with my own experience and the second I started reading “Foundations” it explained everything we had experienced.  I have since used his model to train my own team as well as other mental health professionals as it uses recognisable theories and established models.

parental alienation

Parental Alienation Schematic (Childress 2013)
 
The alienating parent’s disorganised preoccupied attachment coalesced during childhood into narcissistic and borderline personality disorder traits that are reactivated during the divorce.  The alienating parent’s activated personality disorder dynamics then produce distorted relationship and communication processes with the child that induce the suppression of the child’s attachment bonding motivations toward the targeted parent.
 
The child’s symptomatic rejection-abandonment of the targeted parent serves to protectively displace the alienating parent’s own fears of inadequacy and abandonment onto the targeted parent.
 
The child’s symptomatic rejection-abandonment of the targeted parent automatically define the targeted parent as the fundamentally inadequate and entirely abandoned parent, as opposed to the definition of the alienating personality disordered parent created by the child’s symptomatic expressions of hyper-bonding as representing the ideal, perfect and never to be abandoned parent.
 
(Childress 2013)
 
The Nurturing Coach works with parents affected by alienation fitting this description.  We understand the schematic and we also understand that parents with NPD (narcissistic personality disorder) and BPD (borderline personality disorder) are highly manipulative and convincing.  They present with:
 
  • delusional false beliefs
  • absence of empathy
  • grandiose presentation
  • disregard of court orders
  • antisocial features including a pattern of violating the rights of others
  • borderline features of splitting into all-good and all-bad
  • borderline features of emotional instability and behavioural impulsivity
 
We also understand that children will present with:
 
  • severely disrupted attachment bonding or inauthentic attachment presentation involving the selective rejection-abandonment of the “normal-range” parent while remainder of attachment presentation is normal range
  • evidence of the splitting dynamic expressed through the child’s differential relationship with parents involving an excessive idealisation of the pathogenic parent and excessive rejection-abandonment of “normal-range” parent
  • evidence of shared delusional processes involving the child’s expression of false persecutory belief’s about the “normal-range” parent
  • evidence in the child’s symptom display of the transmission of personality disorder features from the pathogenic parent possibly including:narcissistic/antisocial absence of empathy
  • narcissistic sense of entitlement
  • narcissistic grandiosity expressed as the child’s expectation and assertion of an elevated status in the family authority hierarchy above the “normal-range” parent
  • borderline episodic emotional instability and volatility involving intense and inappropriate anger
  • antisocial conduct disorder features possibly involving runaway behaviour and defiance of court orders
 
 
The importance of having someone who understands
 
Parental alienation and personality disorders are a complex field and one in which many people, who mean well, can end up making things worse.  Amy Baker says:
 
The field is counter-intuitive because the human brain is hard-wired to commit certain types of systematic cognitive errors that are particularly common in parental alienation cases
 
The first error professionals make is taking first impressions as being personality traits rather than situational responses to trauma (both of this situation and the abusive relationship).  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is common amongst targeted parents and the symptoms can present as very chaotic, aggressive, unstable and highly anxious or even paranoid.  So many times I speak to parents who are in a state of heightened anxiety and I have to be honest with them about how they are coming across.  Our programme Get Court Ready will help you to prepare yourself to overcome this initial hurdle and make a true and accurate first impression which will reduce the likelihood of bias at this stage.
 
The second mistake is that an enmeshed parent-child relationship can look, to someone who doesn’t understand the dynamics, like a very healthy parent-child bond.  I have read many reports from Cafcass commenting on the “close bond” between parent and child when in fact it was indicative of a very harmful psychological condition where the personal boundaries of the child have been completely overridden by the parent to the point where they become co-narcissistic.  This can be extremely hard for the targeted parent to explain to professionals without sounding like they are paranoid.  Our Get Court Ready programme can help you to use the correct terminology and present it in the language the court is used to in order for it to be understood and acknowledged.  As an ex child protection social worker I can help you navigate this.
 
The third main error is the explanation given by the alienating parent, that you were abusive and so the child is afraid of you, sounds so plausible that they believe it.  And having witnessed alienating children’s behaviour first hand, I can testify that it looks very real too.  That can be really hard for professionals, who have child protection as their sole responsibility, to overlook.  However, the facts are that abused children do the opposite of what would be “expected”.  They align with their abuser due to a biological need to attach themselves to their caregiver.  To not form that attachment would be suicide to them.  This is a biological mechanism which has existed since the dawn of humans.  Small humans needed to attach to another human in order to survive.  Despite all of our evolutionary breakthrough’s in other areas, this safety feature survived and so any situation where a child is rejecting a parent indicates a suppression of that attachment system and needs expert intervention to address. It is why I always recommend a psychological evaluation is carried out as soon as this symptom is identified in the child’s behaviour.  If you are still in contact with your child I recommend our parenting book “Help! My child is being used as a weapon”.
 
I want you to see from reading this page that you are not alone, we do understand and we are here to help.  If you would like to discuss anything you have read or book in for a free consultation, click the button below.

Support Services

Parental Alienation

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Emotional Support

Parental Alienation is soul destroying, confusing and emotionally overwhelming.  In order to stay strong for yourself and the children, you need to take care of your mental well-being.  This is where our therapists can help:

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Strategy Guidance

Legal advice can only get you so far with alienation cases, you need someone who understands the tactics alienators use so that you can avoid falling into their traps and curate your evidence to reveal the true abuser.  Strategy calls will help you:

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The Stalking Narcissist – Will They Ever Leave You Alone?

The Stalking Narcissist – Will They Ever Leave You Alone?

 

Being stalked is horrible.

If you are going through this right now, it is likely that you feel high levels of anxiety, and it’s really difficult for you to settle into getting on with your life.

What is this person doing when they are stalking you?

Are they gathering information on social media to use against you?

Are they following you to try to perform a ‘hoover’ on you?

Do they want to threaten … or even hurt you?

Whatever it is, ABSOLUTELY one the most disconcerting and frightening things about narcissistic abuse is STALKING.

So … what is our way out?

I promise you there is a Quantum answer that is so big and powerful it does bring absolute freedom, and I can’t wait to share it with you in this new episode!

 

 

Video Transcript

Being stalked is one of the most terrifying things we can experience from a narcissist. I totally get how shattered, violated and scared you feel if you are going through the horror of this right now.

Being stalked, or even the threat of stalking incites feeling agoraphobic about going anywhere or doing anything in case the narcissist is following you.

You don’t know where he or she could turn up and what drama could ensue.

Maybe, you feel totally fearful about having any social media accounts. Maybe you know that the narcissist has used methods and people to hack into your information or find out details about you to use against you or terrorise and dismantle your life.

Of course, the prospect of anything like that is terrifying.

All of this is especially terrible when we know that we are dealing with jealous, controlling narcissists. These are the ones who are the most likely to be vindictive, poisonous and even dangerous.

And I also get how after being stalked and not knowing whether or not we are being – that we may be in constant paranoia wondering if we still are being stalked. We don’t know whether it is safe to come back out and if we do what will be fed to others, used against us in court or flung in our face. Or if joint-parenting, how the stalking of our information may be used against us with our children or incite further abusive interrogation of our children.

Additionally, you may suspect the people who come and see you or talk to you are actually minions of the narcissist. You don’t know who or what to trust. Gang stalking can be a very real phenomenon with narcissists, whereby their stories about you have incited other people to cyber stalk and bully you or attack you in your everyday life operations.

And all of this can hang around for years making your life feel terrorised, diminished and drastically unsafe. I promise you unless I had found the solution to this, I too would be completely minimalised. In fact, I know I would never have survived.

Okay, what I really want to do in this Thriver’s TV episode is to empower you to know HOW to be your authentic and powerful self, no matter what the narcissist is or isn’t doing regarding stalking you. This is vital, because the way to break through this all comes back to Quantum Law – so within, so without. In fact, one of the times that we need to break through into our true authentic selves the MOST is when we are under the threat of stalking.

Some people may tell you to threaten a narcissist back to stop them stalking you or attempt to expose them and bring them into accountability. I have to say, in all the time I have been a part of this incredible community, I am yet to see enough evidence that this is effective to even consider recommending it. In stark contrast, I have seen people trying to get even and ‘one-up’ the narcissist come off incredibly badly because no level of doing that will ever be effective when we are coming from the inner emotional container of trauma. I talk about this in my video How To Outsmart A Narcissist The Right Way.

Traditionally narcissists feed off your energy as a shark does blood and get energised to attack you. There is a much better way to overcome the narcissist’s stalking.

This is it: Not give a crap.

Meaning, heal to the empowered level where you have the healthy beliefs ‘all of life supports me’ and ‘my radiant, authentic self is impervious to abuse – just as a result of being myself.’

People ask me often as to whether or not I am perturbed about the ex-narcissists stalking me online. Both of these men were very vindictive men – but the truth is I don’t care if they look my stuff up constantly or not at all. I’m not worried about them having a crack at me, or any narcissist having a go at me for that matter.

Because there is just a simple philosophy – ignore the nasty behaviour and if a boundary is crossed – simply enforce it. This means to block a person who is being abusive or take out an intervention order if necessary.

If smearing or minions happen (and there was plenty of that!), I now know what is important is, I believe in me and what I am doing, and what any particular person does or doesn’t think, is none of my business.

If we are immobilised with fear, the narcissist has won. It means we shrink, hide, defend and become paralysed in expressing our true self and true life. It means the narcissist still owns our soul and therefore life-force.

I love that when we become ‘anti-fear’, truly we get to live the Quantum Law, the freedom of so within, so without.

We get to see how powerless narcissists are against people who no longer have fear, no longer grant them narcissistic supply and quite frankly couldn’t care less about them.

Narcissists have to take their energy elsewhere because there is not the payoff of narcissistic supply anymore – which is: ‘I affect this person hugely. Therefore, I must be significant.’

In a practical sense when a narcissist is stalking you – when you are firmly in No Contact, and you have proof and report it all calmly and clearly, you will do really well in a legal sense. You will be able to get an intervention order in place.

When you are terrorised, have scanty facts, and come across as deranged and/or paranoid, you will not do well at all. You will simply come away from a courthouse or the police feeling even more vulnerable, unsafe, alone and unsupported.

Over the years, so many people have said to me, ‘I know he/she is watching me and trying to find out things about me. I can’t be on social media or do anything at all publicly anymore.’  This is my answer to that: Your greatest goal is to love your life and not care less. Be you, live loud and proud and big and truthfully and authentically. Clear yourself of your trauma and fear and because of narcissistic abuse, emerge as your truest and highest self, and you will see narcissistic people run for the shadows to escape your light just as a vampire can not stand daylight.

And I truly believe this is the case regardless of your circumstances. Even if you are going through custody and property settlements and even if you are parallel parenting. Of course, block the narcissists from your life on social media etc. This is about boundaries, but don’t dim down, repress yourself or shut down.

That is exactly the energy where the narcissist has you and can torment the hell out of you – energetically and literally.  Don’t feed him or her emotional energy in the way of fear, defenses and resentment. Instead get to total detachment and indifference. That is where your true power lies.

Back in my times of being in absolute terror and the emotional fear and horror of being stalked I finally, finally realised that I had to live on my feet and clear all the trauma I could about this.

So purposefully and determinedly I imagined what it would feel like to have him follow me, approach me, be anywhere I was, and I shifted and shifted out the trauma with NARP until I felt absolutely nothing about it whatsoever.

That is when it stopped! That is when the total terror campaign ended. It’s Quantum Law – it couldn’t have gone any other way – so within, so without.

I also worked solidly on all the faulty and painful beliefs that in truth I had carried all my life (which were, of course, Quantumly replaying!) such as:

I am not safe in life.

People can destroy me

If I don’t hide, I will be annihilated.

I am now so grateful I was stalked by a narcissist and suffered insane levels of fear, in order to find and face and heal these traumas with NARP. In reality, they had been haunting me my entire life, not allowing me to shine in my life as myself.

This is the gift you truly have to look forward to when you do the same.

Is this ringing bells for you? Is it resonating deeply and clearly inside you? I hope so because the truth has a way of doing that!

Please know you do have the power inside you to create your inner Universe in the way that your outer universe will respond.

When the people who used to hurt you can no longer energetically connect to you, they are removed, because Quantum Law – so within, so without, is as absolute as gravity.

It’s the only place our true power is.

Does this help?

So, if you know its time to get off your knees, heal all of this and live on your feet as your true self with no more fear – I’m going to show you exactly how to achieve this.

To get started you can sign up to my free 16-day recovery course, which includes an invitation to a healing workshop with me (where you will feel an immediate shift and relief), a set of eBooks and lots more. To access these, just click the link on the top right of this video.

And if you want to see more videos make sure you like and subscribe, so you get notified as soon as each new video is released.

So, until next time… keep smiling, keep healing and keep thriving because there’s nothing else to do

 

Read More –>

Parent-child relationship problems: Treatment tools for rectification counseling

Resources: Parent Alienation

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