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Sam Vaknin

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· Israel in 2025

· 10 Predictions for the Coming Decade

· Narcissistic Cops: Police Brutality Explained?

· Spite and Envy: Passive-Aggressive Narcissists

· Nationalism vs. Patriotism: Narcissism vs. Self-love

· Pears Cyclopaedia 2014-5 Edition: Human Knowledge Encapsulated

· The Narcissist Loves His Narcissistic Personality Disorder

· The Ubiquitous Britannica 2015

· Putting the Broken Humpty-Dumpty Narcissist Back Together


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· Her Birthday

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· The Miracle of the Kisses

· Selfdream

· In Moist Propinquity

· A Hundred Children

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Articles about abuse - how to identify it and how to cope with it.

AUTHOR BIO:


Sam Vaknin is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb, a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent, and the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory, Bellaonline, and Suite101.

Until recently, he served as the Economic Advisor to the Government of Macedonia.

Visit Sam's Web site at http://samvak.tripod.com


 

How to Spot an Abuser on Your First Date

By: Sam Vaknin

First published on Verbal and Emotional Abuse on Suite101

Is there anything you can do to avoid abusers and narcissists to start with? Are there any warning signs, any identifying marks, rules of thumbs to shield you from the harrowing and traumatic experience of an abusive relationship?

Imagine a first or second date. You can already tell if he is a would-be abuser. Here's how:

Perhaps the first telltale sign is the abuser's alloplastic defenses - his tendency to blame every mistake of his, every failure, or mishap on others, or on the world at large. Be tuned: does he assume personal responsibility? Does he admit his faults and miscalculations? Or does he keep blaming you, the cab driver, the waiter, the weather, the government, or fortune for his predicament?

Is he hypersensitive, picks up fights, feels constantly slighted, injured, and insulted? Does he rant incessantly? Does he treat animals and children impatiently or cruelly and does he express negative and aggressive emotions towards the weak, the poor, the needy, the sentimental, and the disabled? Does he confess to having a history of battering or violent offenses or behavior? Is his language vile and infused with expletives, threats, and hostility?

Next thing: is he too eager? Does he push you to marry him having dated you only twice? Is he planning on having children on your first date? Does he immediately cast you in the role of the love of his life? Is he pressing you for exclusivity, instant intimacy, almost rapes you and acts jealous when you as much as cast a glance at another male? Does he inform you that, once you get hitched, you should abandon your studies or resign your job (forgo your personal autonomy)?

Does he respect your boundaries and privacy? Does he ignore your wishes (for instance, by choosing from the menu or selecting a movie without as much as consulting you)? Does he disrespect your boundaries and treats you as an object or an instrument of gratification (materializes on your doorstep unexpectedly or calls you often prior to your date)? Does he go through your personal belongings while waiting for you to get ready?

Does he control the situation and you compulsively? Does he insist to ride in his car, holds on to the car keys, the money, the theater tickets, and even your bag? Does he disapprove if you are away for too long (for instance when you go to the powder room)? Does he interrogate you when you return ("have you seen anyone interesting") - or make lewd "jokes" and remarks? Does he hint that, in future, you would need his permission to do things - even as innocuous as meeting a friend or visiting with your family?

Does he act in a patronizing and condescending manner and criticizes you often? Does he emphasize your minutest faults (devalues you) even as he exaggerates your talents, traits, and skills (idealizes you)? Is he wildly unrealistic in his expectations from you, from himself, from the budding relationship, and from life in general?

Does he tell you constantly that you "make him feel" good? Don't be impressed. Next thing, he may tell you that you "make" him feel bad, or that you make him feel violent, or that you "provoke" him. "Look what you made me do!" is an abuser's ubiquitous catchphrase.

Does he find sadistic sex exciting? Does he have fantasies of rape or pedophilia? Is he too forceful with you in and out of the sexual intercourse? Does he like hurting you physically or finds it amusing? Does he abuse you verbally - does he curse you, demeans you, calls you ugly or inappropriately diminutive names, or persistently criticizes you? Does he then switch to being saccharine and "loving", apologizes profusely and buys you gifts?

If you have answered "yes" to any of the above - stay away! He is an abuser.

Then there is the abuser's body language. It comprises an unequivocal series of subtle - but discernible - warning signs. Pay attention to the way your date comports himself - and save yourself a lot of trouble!

Many of my correspondents complain of the incredible deceptive powers of the narcissist. They find themselves involved with narcissists (emotionally, in business, or otherwise) before they have a chance to discover their true character. Shocked by the later revelation, they mourn their inability to separate from the narcissist and their gullibility.

Narcissists are an elusive breed, hard to spot, harder to pinpoint, impossible to capture. Even an experienced mental health diagnostician with unmitigated access to the record and to the person examined would find it fiendishly difficult to determine with any degree of certainty whether someone suffers from an impairment, i.e., a mental health disorder – or merely possesses narcissistic traits, a narcissistic personality structure ("character"), or a narcissistic "overlay" superimposed on another mental health problem.

Moreover, it is important to distinguish between the traits and behaviour patterns that are independent of the patient's cultural-social context (i.e., which are inherent, or idiosyncratic) – and reactive patterns, or conformity to cultural and social morals and norms. Reactions to severe life crises are often characterised by transient pathological narcissism, for instance (Ronningstam and Gunderson, 1996). But such reactions do not a narcissist make.

When a person lives in a society and culture that has often been described as narcissistic by scholars (e.g., Theodore Millon) and social thinkers (e.g., Christopher Lasch) – how much of his behaviour can be attributed to his milieu – and which of his traits are really his?

Additionally, there is a qualitative difference between having a narcissistic style, or a narcissistic personality – and being diagnosed with the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. The latter is rigorously defined in the DSM IV-TR and adheres to strict criteria and differential diagnoses (for more, see here: http://samvak.tripod.com/npdglance.html).

Narcissism is regarded by many scholars to be an adaptative strategy ("healthy narcissism"). It is considered pathological in the clinical sense only when it becomes a rigid personality structure replete with a series of primitive defence mechanisms (such as splitting, projection, projective identification, or intellectualization) – and when it leads to dysfunctions in one or more areas of life.

Pathological narcissism is the art of deception. The narcissist projects a False Self and manages all his social interactions through this concocted fictional construct. People often find themselves involved with a narcissist (emotionally, in business, or otherwise) before they have a chance to discover his true nature.

When the narcissist reveals his true colours, it is usually far too late. His victims are unable to separate from him. They are frustrated by this acquired helplessness and angry that they failed to see through the narcissist earlier on.

But the narcissist does emit subtle, almost subliminal, signals ("presenting symptoms") even in a first or casual encounter. These are:

"Haughty" body language – The narcissist adopts a physical posture which implies and exudes an air of superiority, seniority, hidden powers, mysteriousness, amused indifference, etc. Though the narcissist usually maintains sustained and piercing eye contact, he often refrains from physical proximity (he is "territorial").

The narcissist takes part in social interactions – even mere banter – condescendingly, from a position of supremacy and faux "magnanimity and largesse". But he rarely mingles socially and prefers to remain the "observer", or the "lone wolf".

Entitlement markers – The narcissist immediately asks for "special treatment" of some kind. Not to wait his turn, to have a longer or a shorter therapeutic session, to talk directly to authority figures (and not to their assistants or secretaries), to be granted special payment terms, to enjoy custom tailored arrangements.

The narcissist is the one who – vocally and demonstratively – demands the undivided attention of the head waiter in a restaurant, or monopolizes the hostess, or latches on to celebrities in a party. The narcissist reacts with rage and indignantly when denied his wishes and if treated equally with others whom he deems inferior.

Idealisation or devaluation – The narcissist instantly idealises or devalues his interlocutor. This depends on how the narcissist appraises the potential one has as a Narcissistic Supply Source. The narcissist flatters, adores, admires and applauds the "target" in an embarrassingly exaggerated and profuse manner – or sulks, abuses, and humiliates her.

Narcissists are polite only in the presence of a potential Supply Source. But they are unable to sustain even perfunctory civility and fast deteriorate to barbs and thinly-veiled hostility, to verbal or other violent displays of abuse, rage attacks, or cold detachment.

The "membership" posture – The narcissist always tries to "belong". Yet, at the very same time, he maintains his stance as an outsider. The narcissist seeks to be admired for his ability to integrate and ingratiate himself without investing the efforts commensurate with such an undertaking.

For instance: if the narcissist talks to a psychologist, the narcissist first states emphatically that he never studied psychology. He then proceeds to make seemingly effortless use of obscure professional terms, thus demonstrating that he mastered the discipline all the same – which proves that he is exceptionally intelligent or introspective.

In general, the narcissist always prefers show-off to substance. One of the most effective methods of exposing a narcissist is by trying to delve deeper. The narcissist is shallow, a pond pretending to be an ocean. He likes to think of himself as a Renaissance man, a Jack of all trades. A narcissist never admits to ignorance in any field – yet, typically, he is ignorant of them all. It is surprisingly easy to penetrate the gloss and the veneer of the narcissist's self-proclaimed omniscience.

Bragging and false autobiography – The narcissist brags incessantly. His speech is peppered with "I", "my", "myself", and "mine". He describes himself as intelligent, or rich, or modest, or intuitive, or creative – but always excessively, implausibly, and extraordinarily so.

The narcissist's biography sounds unusually rich and complex. His achievements – incommensurate with his age, education, or renown. Yet, his actual condition is evidently and demonstrably incompatible with his claims. Very often, the narcissist lies or fantasies are easily discernible. He always name-drops and appropriates other people's experiences and accomplishments.

Emotion-free language – The narcissist likes to talk about himself and only about himself. He is not interested in others or what they have to say, unless it is a potential Source of Supply and in order to obtain said supply. He acts bored, disdainful, even angry, if he feels an intrusion on and abuse of his precious time.

In general, the narcissist is very impatient, easily bored, with strong attention deficits – unless and until he is the topic of discussion. One can dissect all aspects of the intimate life of a narcissist, providing the discourse is not "emotionally tinted". If asked to relate directly to his emotions, the narcissist intellectualises, rationalises, speaks about himself in the third person and in a detached "scientific" tone or composes a narrative with a fictitious character in it, suspiciously autobiographical.

Seriousness and sense of intrusion and coercion – The narcissist is dead serious about himself. He may possess a fabulous sense of humour, scathing and cynical, but rarely is he self-deprecating. The narcissist regards himself as being on a constant mission, whose importance is cosmic and whose consequences are global. If a scientist – he is always in the throes of revolutionising science. If a journalist – he is in the middle of the greatest story ever.

This self-misperception is not amenable to light-headedness or self-effacement. The narcissist is easily hurt and insulted (narcissistic injury). Even the most innocuous remarks or acts are interpreted by him as belittling, intruding, or coercive. His time is more valuable than others' – therefore, it cannot be wasted on unimportant matters such as social intercourse.

Any suggested help, advice, or concerned inquiry are immediately cast by the narcissist as intentional humiliation, implying that the narcissist is in need of help and counsel and, thus, imperfect. Any attempt to set an agenda is, to the narcissist, an intimidating act of enslavement. In this sense, the narcissist is both schizoid and paranoid and often entertains ideas of reference.

These – the lack of empathy, the aloofness, the disdain, the sense of entitlement, the restricted application of humour, the unequal treatment and the paranoia – render the narcissist a social misfit. The narcissist is able to provoke in his milieu, in his casual acquaintances, even in his psychotherapist, the strongest, most avid and furious hatred and revulsion. To his shock, indignation and consternation, he invariably induces in others unbridled aggression.

He is perceived to be asocial at best and, often, antisocial. This, perhaps, is the strongest presenting symptom. One feels ill at ease in the presence of a narcissist for no apparent reason. No matter how charming, intelligent, thought provoking, outgoing, easy going and social the narcissist is – he fails to secure the sympathy of his fellow humans, a sympathy he is never ready, willing, or able to grant them in the first place.




Abuse By Proxy


By: Sam Vaknin

 

 

If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, the media, teachers – in short, third parties – to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

One form of control by proxy is to engineer situations in which abuse is inflicted upon another person. Such carefully crafted scenarios of embarrassment and humiliation provoke social sanctions (condemnation, opprobrium, or even physical punishment) against the victim. Society, or a social group become the instruments of the abuser.

Abusers often use other people to do their dirty work for them. These - sometimes unwitting - accomplices belong to three groups:

I. The abuser's social milieu

Some offenders - mainly in patriarchal and misogynist societies – co-opt other family members, friends, and colleagues into aiding and abetting their abusive conduct. In extreme cases, the victim is held "hostage" - isolated and with little or no access to funds or transportation. Often, the couple's children are used as bargaining chips or leverage. Ambient abuse by the abuser's clan, kin, kith, and village or neighborhood is rampant.

II. The victim's social milieu

Even the victim's relatives, friends, and colleagues are amenable to the considerable charm, persuasiveness, and manipulativeness of the abuser and to his impressive thespian skills. The abuser offers a plausible rendition of the events and interprets them to his favor. Others rarely have a chance to witness an abusive exchange first hand and at close quarters. In contrast, the victims are often on the verge of a nervous breakdown: harassed, unkempt, irritable, impatient, abrasive, and hysterical.

Confronted with this contrast between a polished, self-controlled, and suave abuser and his harried casualties – it is easy to reach the conclusion that the real victim is the abuser, or that both parties abuse each other equally. The prey's acts of self-defense, assertiveness, or insistence on her rights are interpreted as aggression, lability, or a mental health problem.

III. The System

The abuser perverts the system - therapists, marriage counselors, mediators, court-appointed guardians, police officers, and judges. He uses them to pathologize the victim and to separate her from her sources of emotional sustenance - notably, from her children.

Forms of Abuse by Proxy

Socially isolating and excluding the victim by discrediting her through a campaign of malicious rumors.

Harassing the victim by using others to stalk her or by charging her with offenses she did not commit.

Provoking the victim into aggressive or even antisocial conduct by having others threaten her or her loved ones.

Colluding with others to render the victim dependent on the abuser.

But, by far, her children are the abuser's greatest source of leverage over his abused spouse or mate.



Ambient Abuse

By: Sam Vaknin

 

 

Ambient abuse is the stealth, subtle, underground currents of maltreatment that sometimes go unnoticed even by the victims themselves, until it is too late. Ambient abuse penetrates and permeates everything – but is difficult to pinpoint and identify. It is ambiguous, atmospheric, diffuse. Hence its insidious and pernicious effects. It is by far the most dangerous kind of abuse there is.

It is the outcome of fear – fear of violence, fear of the unknown, fear of the unpredictable, the capricious, and the arbitrary. It is perpetrated by dropping subtle hints, by disorienting, by constant – and unnecessary – lying, by persistent doubting and demeaning, and by inspiring an air of unmitigated gloom and doom ("gaslighting").

Ambient abuse, therefore, is the fostering, propagation, and enhancement of an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability and irritation. There are no acts of traceable explicit abuse, nor any manipulative settings of control. Yet, the irksome feeling remains, a disagreeable foreboding, a premonition, a bad omen.

In the long term, such an environment erodes the victim's sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Self-confidence is shaken badly. Often, the victim adopts a paranoid or schizoid stance and thus renders himself or herself exposed even more to criticism and judgment. The roles are thus reversed: the victim is considered mentally deranged and the abuser – the suffering soul.

There are five categories of ambient abuse and they are often combined in the conduct of a single abuser:

I. Inducing Disorientation

The abuser causes the victim to lose faith in her ability to manage and to cope with the world and its demands. She no longer trusts her senses, her skills, her strengths, her friends, her family, and the predictability and benevolence of her environment.

The abuser subverts the target's focus by disagreeing with her way of perceiving the world, her judgment, the facts of her existence, by criticizing her incessantly – and by offering plausible but specious alternatives. By constantly lying, he blurs the line between reality and nightmare.

By recurrently disapproving of her choices and actions – the abuser shreds the victim's self-confidence and shatters her self-esteem. By reacting disproportionately to the slightest "mistake" – he intimidates her to the point of paralysis.

II. Incapacitating

The abuser gradually and surreptitiously takes over functions and chores previously adequately and skilfully performed by the victim. The prey finds itself isolated from the outer world, a hostage to the goodwill – or, more often, ill-will – of her captor. She is crippled by his encroachment and by the inexorable dissolution of her boundaries and ends up totally dependent on her tormentor's whims and desires, plans and stratagems.

Moreover, the abuser engineers impossible, dangerous, unpredictable, unprecedented, or highly specific situations in which he is sorely needed. The abuser makes sure that his knowledge, his skills, his connections, or his traits are the only ones applicable and the most useful in the situations that he, himself, wrought. The abuser generates his own indispensability.

III. Shared Psychosis (Follies-a-Deux)

The abuser creates a fantasy world, inhabited by the victim and himself, and besieged by imaginary enemies. He allocates to the abused the role of defending this invented and unreal Universe. She must swear to secrecy, stand by her abuser no matter what, lie, fight, pretend, obfuscate and do whatever else it takes to preserve this oasis of inanity.

Her membership in the abuser's "kingdom" is cast as a privilege and a prize. But it is not to be taken for granted. She has to work hard to earn her continued affiliation. She is constantly being tested and evaluated. Inevitably, this interminable stress reduces the victim's resistance and her ability to "see straight".

IV. Abuse of Information

From the first moments of an encounter with another person, the abuser is on the prowl. He collects information. The more he knows about his potential victim – the better able he is to coerce, manipulate, charm, extort or convert it "to the cause". The abuser does not hesitate to misuse the information he gleans, regardless of its intimate nature or the circumstances in which he obtained it. This is a powerful tool in his armory.

V. Control by Proxy

If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, the media, teachers – in short, third parties – to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

Another form of control by proxy is to engineer situations in which abuse is inflicted upon another person. Such carefully crafted scenarios of embarrassment and humiliation provoke social sanctions (condemnation, opprobrium, or even physical punishment) against the victim. Society, or a social group become the instruments of the abuser.


 

How to Cope with Your Abuser

First published on Verbal and Emotional Abuse on Suite101



How to cope with your abuser?

Sometimes it looks hopeless. Abusers are ruthless, immoral, sadistic, calculated, cunning, persuasive, deceitful - in short, they appear to be invincible. They easily sway the system in their favor.

Here is a list of escalating countermeasures. They represent the distilled experience of thousands of victims of abuse. They may help you cope with abuse and overcome it.

Not included are legal or medical steps. Consult an attorney, an accountant, a therapist, or a psychiatrist, where appropriate.

First, you must decide:

Do you want to stay with him - or terminate the relationship?

If you want to leave him and your children are above the age of 18 - Click HERE

If you have Children with Him (under the age of 18) - Click HERE

1. I want to Stay with Him

FIVE DON'T DO'S - How to Avoid the Wrath of the Narcissist 


  • Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him;


  • Never offer him any intimacy;


  • Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on);


  • Never remind him of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity;


  • Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgment, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence.

The TEN DO'S - How to Make your Narcissist Dependent on You If you INSIST on Staying with Him 


  • Listen attentively to everything the narcissist says and agree with it all. Don't believe a word of it but let it slide as if everything is just fine, business as usual.


  • Personally offer something absolutely unique to the narcissist which they cannot obtain anywhere else. Also be prepared to line up future sources of primary Narcissistic Supply for your narcissist because you will not be IT for very long, if at all. If you take over the procuring function for the narcissist, they become that much more dependent on you.


  • Be endlessly patient and go way out of your way to be accommodating, thus keeping the narcissistic supply flowing liberally, and keeping the peace.


  • Be endlessly giving. This one may not be attractive to you, but it is a take it or leave it proposition.


  • Be absolutely emotionally and financially independent of the narcissist. Take what you need: the excitement and engulfment and refuse to get upset or hurt when the narcissist does or says something dumb, rude, or insensitive. Yelling back works really well but should be reserved for special occasions when you fear your narcissist may be on the verge of leaving you; the silent treatment is better as an ordinary response, but it must be carried out without any emotional content, more with the air of boredom and "I'll talk to you later, when I am good and ready, and when you are behaving in a more reasonable fashion". Treat your narcissist as you would a child.


  • If your narcissist is cerebral and not interested in having much sex - then give yourself ample permission to have "hidden" sex with other people. Your cerebral narcissist will not be indifferent to infidelity so discretion and secrecy is of paramount importance.


  • If your narcissist is somatic and you don't mind, join in on group sex encounters but make sure that you choose properly for your narcissist. If you do mind - leave him. Somatic narcissists are sex addicts and incurably unfaithful.


  • If you are a "fixer", then focus on fixing situations, preferably before they become "situations". Don't for one moment delude yourself that you can fix the narcissist - it simply will not happen.


  • If there is any fixing that can be done, it is to help your narcissist become aware of their condition, with no negative implications or accusations in the process at all. It is like living with a physically handicapped person and being able to discuss, calmly, unemotionally, what the limitations and benefits of the handicap are and how the two of you can work with these factors, rather than trying to change them.


  • Finally, and most important of all: Know Yourself.
    What are you getting from the relationship? Are you actually a masochist? A codependent? Why is this relationship attractive and interesting?
    Define for yourself what good and beneficial things you believe you are receiving in this relationship.
    Define the things that you find harmful to you. Develop strategies to minimize the harm to yourself.  Don't expect that you will cognitively be able to reason with the narcissist to change who they are. You may have some limited success in getting your narcissist to tone down on the really harmful behaviors that affect you - but this can only be accomplished in a very trusting, frank and open relationship.

(1a) Insist on Your Boundaries - Resist Abuse

Refuse to accept abusive behavior. Demand reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions. Insist on respect for your boundaries, predilections, preferences, and priorities.

Demand a just and proportional treatment. Reject or ignore unjust and capricious behavior.

If you are up to the inevitable confrontation, react in kind. Let him taste some of his own medicine.

Never show your abuser that you are afraid of him. Do not negotiate with bullies. They are insatiable. Do not succumb to blackmail.

If things get rough- disengage, involve law enforcement officers, friends and colleagues, or threaten him (legally).

Do not keep your abuse a secret. Secrecy is the abuser's weapon.

Never give him a second chance. React with your full arsenal to the first transgression.

Be guarded. Don't be too forthcoming in a first or casual meeting. Gather intelligence.

Be yourself. Don't misrepresent your wishes, boundaries, preferences, priorities, and red lines.

Do not behave inconsistently. Do not go back on your word. Be firm and resolute.

Stay away from such quagmires. Scrutinize every offer and suggestion, no matter how innocuous.

Prepare backup plans. Keep others informed of your whereabouts and appraised of your situation.

Be vigilant and doubting. Do not be gullible and suggestible. Better safe than sorry.

Often the abuser's proxies are unaware of their role. Expose him. Inform them. Demonstrate to them how they are being abused, misused, and plain used by the abuser.

Trap your abuser. Treat him as he treats you. Involve others. Bring it into the open. Nothing like sunshine to disinfest abuse.

(1b) Mirror His Behavior

Mirror the narcissist’s actions and repeat his words.

If, for instance, he is having a rage attack – rage back. If he threatens – threaten back and credibly try to use the same language and content. If he leaves the house – leave it as well, disappear on him. If he is suspicious – act suspicious. Be critical, denigrating, humiliating, go down to his level.

(1c) Frighten Him

Identify the vulnerabilities and susceptibilities of the narcissist and strike repeated, escalating blows at them.

If a narcissist has a secret or something he wishes to conceal – use your knowledge of it to threaten him. Drop cryptic hints that there are mysterious witnesses to the events and recently revealed evidence. Do it cleverly, noncommittally, gradually, in an escalating manner.

Let his imagination do the rest. You don't have to do much except utter a vague reference, make an ominous allusion, delineate a possible turn of events.

Needless to add that all these activities have to be pursued legally, preferably through the good services of law offices and in broad daylight. If done in the wrong way – they might constitute extortion or blackmail, harassment and a host of other criminal offences.

(1d) Lure Him

Offer him continued Narcissistic Supply. You can make a narcissist do anything by offering, withholding, or threatening to withhold Narcissistic Supply (adulation, admiration, attention, sex, awe, subservience, etc.).

(1e) Play on his Fear of Abandonment

If nothing else works, explicitly threaten to abandon him.

You can condition the threat ("If you don't do something or if you do it – I will desert you").

The narcissists perceives the following as threats of abandonment, even if they are not meant as such:


  • Confrontation, fundamental disagreement, and protracted criticism
  • When completely ignored
  • When you insist on respect for your boundaries, needs, emotions, choices, preferences
  • When you retaliate (for instance, shout back at him).

II. I can't Take It Any Longer - I Have Decided to Leave Him

(IIa) Fight Him in Court

Here are a few of the things the narcissist finds devastating, especially in a court of law, for instance during a deposition:

Any statement or fact, which seems to contradict his inflated perception of his grandiose self. Any criticism, disagreement, exposure of fake achievements, belittling of "talents and skills" which the narcissist fantasizes that he possesses, any hint that he is subordinated, subjugated, controlled, owned or dependent upon a third party. Any description of the narcissist as average and common, indistinguishable from many others. Any hint that the narcissist is weak, needy, dependent, deficient, slow, not intelligent, naive, gullible, susceptible, not in the know, manipulated, a victim.

The narcissist is likely to react with rage to all these and, in an effort to re-establish his fantastic grandiosity, he is likely to expose facts and stratagems he had no conscious intention of exposing.

The narcissist reacts with narcissistic rage, hatred, aggression, or violence to an infringement of what he perceives to be his entitlement. Any insinuation, hint, intimation, or direct declaration that the narcissist is not special at all, that he is average, common, not even sufficiently idiosyncratic to warrant a fleeting interest will inflame the narcissist.

Tell the narcissist that he does not deserve the best treatment, that his needs are not everyone's priority, that he is boring, that his needs can be catered to by an average practitioner (medical doctor, accountant, lawyer, psychiatrist), that he and his motives are transparent and can be easily gauged, that he will do what he is told, that his temper tantrums will not be tolerated, that no special concessions will be made to accommodate his inflated sense of self, that he is subject to court procedures, etc. - and the narcissist will lose control.

Contradict, expose, humiliate, and berate the narcissist ("You are not as intelligent as you think you are", "Who is really behind all this? It takes sophistication which you don't seem to have", "So, you have no formal education", "you are (mistake his age, make him much older) ... sorry, you are ... old", "What did you do in your life? Did you study? Do you have a degree? Did you ever establish or run a business? Would you define yourself as a success?", "Would your children share your view that you are a good father?", "You were last seen with a Ms. ... who is (suppressed grin) a cleaning lady (in demeaning disbelief)".

Be equipped with absolutely unequivocal, first rate, thoroughly authenticated and vouched for information.

(IIb) If You Have Common Children

I described in "The Guilt of the Abused - Pathologizing the Victim" how the system is biased and titled against the victim.
Regrettably, mental health professionals and practitioners - marital and couple therapists, counselors - are conditioned, by years of indoctrinating and dogmatic education, to respond favorably to specific verbal cues.

 

The paradigm is that abuse is rarely one sided - in other words, that it is invariably "triggered" either by the victim or by the mental health problems of the abuser. Another common lie is that all mental health problems can be successfully treated one way (talk therapy) or another (medication).

 

This shifts the responsibility from the offender to his prey. The abused must have done something to bring about their own maltreatment  - or simply were emotionally "unavailable" to help the abuser with his problems. Healing is guaranteed if only the victim were willing to participate in a treatment plan and communicate with the abuser. So goes the orthodoxy.

 

Refusal to do so - in other words, refusal to risk further abuse - is harshly judged by the therapist. The victim is labeled uncooperative, resistant, or even abusive!

 

The key is, therefore, feigned acquiescence and collaboration with the therapist's scheme, acceptance of his/her interpretation of the events, and the use of key phrases such as: "I wish to communicate/work with (the abuser)", "trauma", "relationship", "healing process", "inner child", "the good of the children", "the importance of fathering", "significant other" and other psycho-babble. Learn the jargon, use it intelligently and you are bound to win the therapist's sympathy.

 

Above all - do not be assertive, or aggressive and do not overtly criticize the therapist or disagree with him/her.

 

I make the therapist sound like yet another potential abuser - because in many cases, he/she becomes one as they inadvertently collude with the abuser, invalidate the abuse experiences, and pathologize the victim.

(IIc) Refuse All Contact

Be sure to maintain as much contact with your abuser as the courts, counsellors, mediators, guardians, or law enforcement officials mandate.

Do NOT contravene the decisions of the system. Work from the inside to change judgments, evaluations, or rulings - but NEVER rebel against them or ignore them. You will only turn the system against you and your interests.


But with the exception of the minimum mandated by the courts - decline any and all gratuitous contact with the narcissist.

Do not respond to his pleading, romantic, nostalgic, flattering, or threatening e-mail messages.

Return all gifts he sends you.

Refuse him entry to your premises. Do not even respond to the intercom.

Do not talk to him on the phone. Hang up the minute you hear his voice while making clear to him, in a single, polite but firm, sentence, that you are determined not to talk to him.

Do not answer his letters.

Do not visit him on special occasions, or in emergencies.

Do not respond to questions, requests, or pleas forwarded to you through third parties.

Disconnect from third parties whom you know are spying on you at his behest.

Do not discuss him with your children.

Do not gossip about him.

Do not ask him for anything, even if you are in dire need.

When you are forced to meet him, do not discuss your personal affairs - or his.

Relegate any inevitable contact with him - when and where possible - to professionals: your lawyer, or your accountant.

HOW TO COPE WITH ABUSE

By: Sam Vaknin

 

 

Violence in the family often follows other forms of more subtle and long-term abuse: verbal, emotional, psychological sexual, or financial.



It is closely correlated with alcoholism, drug consumption, intimate-partner homicide, teen pregnancy, infant and child mortality, spontaneous abortion, reckless behaviors, suicide, and the onset of mental health disorders.



Most abusers and batterers are males - but a significant minority are women. This being a "Women's Issue", the problem was swept under the carpet for generations and only recently has it come to public awareness. Yet, even today, society - for instance, through the court and the mental health systems - largely ignores domestic violence and abuse in the family. This induces feelings of shame and guilt in the victims and "legitimizes" the role of the abuser.



Violence in the family is mostly spousal - one spouse beating, raping, or otherwise physically harming and torturing the other. But children are also and often victims - either directly, or indirectly. Other vulnerable familial groups include the elderly and the disabled.



Abuse and violence cross geographical and cultural boundaries and social and economic strata. It is common among the rich and the poor, the well-educated and the less so, the young and the middle-aged, city dwellers and rural folk. It is a universal phenomenon.

Abusers exploit, lie, insult, demean, ignore (the "silent treatment"), manipulate, and control.

There are many ways to abuse. To love too much is to abuse. It is tantamount to treating someone as an extension, an object, or an instrument of gratification. To be over-protective, not to respect privacy, to be brutally honest, with a sadistic sense of humour, or consistently tactless - is to abuse.

To expect too much, to denigrate, to ignore - are all modes of abuse. There is physical abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse. The list is long. Most abusers abuse surreptitiously. They are "stealth abusers". You have to actually live with one in order to witness the abuse.

There are three important categories of abuse:

Overt Abuse

The open and explicit abuse of another person. Threatening, coercing, beating, lying, berating, demeaning, chastising, insulting, humiliating, exploiting, ignoring ("silent treatment"), devaluing, unceremoniously discarding, verbal abuse, physical abuse and sexual abuse are all forms of overt abuse.

Covert or Controlling Abuse

Abuse is almost entirely about control. It is often a primitive and immature reaction to life circumstances in which the abuser (usually in his childhood) was rendered helpless. It is about re-exerting one's identity, re-establishing predictability, mastering the environment - human and physical.

The bulk of abusive behaviours can be traced to this panicky reaction to the remote potential for loss of control. Many abusers are hypochondriacs (and difficult patients) because they are afraid to lose control over their body, its looks and its proper functioning. They are obsessive-compulsive in an effort to subdue their physical habitat and render it foreseeable. They stalk people and harass them as a means of "being in touch" - another form of control.

To the abuser, nothing exists outside himself. Meaningful others are extensions, internal, assimilated, objects - not external ones. Thus, losing control over a significant other - is equivalent to losing control of a limb, or of one's brain. It is terrifying.

Independent or disobedient people evoke in the abuser the realization that something is wrong with his worldview, that he is not the centre of the world or its cause and that he cannot control what, to him, are internal representations.

To the abuser, losing control means going insane. Because other people are mere elements in the abuser's mind - being unable to manipulate them literally means losing it (his mind). Imagine, if you suddenly were to find out that you cannot manipulate your memories or control your thoughts ... Nightmarish!

In his frantic efforts to maintain control or re-assert it, the abuser resorts to a myriad of fiendishly inventive stratagems and mechanisms. Here is a partial list:

Unpredictability and Uncertainty

The abuser acts unpredictably, capriciously, inconsistently and irrationally. This serves to render others dependent upon the next twist and turn of the abuser, his next inexplicable whim, upon his next outburst, denial, or smile.

The abuser makes sure that HE is the only reliable element in the lives of his nearest and dearest - by shattering the rest of their world through his seemingly insane behaviour. He perpetuates his stable presence in their lives - by destabilizing their own.

TIP

Refuse to accept such behaviour. Demand reasonably predictable and rational actions and reactions. Insist on respect for your boundaries, predilections, preferences, and priorities.

Disproportional Reactions

One of the favourite tools of manipulation in the abuser's arsenal is the disproportionality of his reactions. He reacts with supreme rage to the slightest slight. Or he would punish severely for what he perceives to be an offence against him, no matter how minor. Or, he would throw a temper tantrum over any discord or disagreement, however gently and considerately expressed. Or, he would act inordinately attentive, charming and tempting (even over-sexed, if need be).

This ever-shifting code of conduct and the unusually harsh and arbitrarily applied penalties are premeditated. The victims are kept in the dark. Neediness and dependence on the source of "justice" meted and judgment passed - on the abuser - are thus guaranteed.

TIP

Demand a just and proportional treatment. Reject or ignore unjust and capricious behaviour.

If you are up to the inevitable confrontation, react in kind. Let him taste some of his own medicine.

Dehumanization and Objectification (Abuse)

People have a need to believe in the empathic skills and basic good-heartedness of others. By dehumanizing and objectifying people - the abuser attacks the very foundations human interaction. This is the "alien" aspect of abusers - they may be excellent imitations of fully formed adults but they are emotionally absent and immature.

Abuse is so horrid, so repulsive, so phantasmagoric - that people recoil in terror. It is then, with their defences absolutely down, that they are the most susceptible and vulnerable to the abuser's control. Physical, psychological, verbal and sexual abuse are all forms of dehumanization and objectification.

TIP

Never show your abuser that you are afraid of him. Do not negotiate with bullies. They are insatiable. Do not succumb to blackmail.

If things get rough- disengage, involve law enforcement officers, friends and colleagues, or threaten him (legally).

Do not keep your abuse a secret. Secrecy is the abuser's weapon.

Never give him a second chance. React with your full arsenal to the first transgression.

Abuse of Information

From the first moments of an encounter with another person, the abuser is on the prowl. He collects information. The more he knows about his potential victim - the better able he is to coerce, manipulate, charm, extort or convert it "to the cause". The abuser does not hesitate to misuse the information he gleaned, regardless of its intimate nature or the circumstances in which he obtained it. This is a powerful tool in his armory.

TIP

Be guarded. Don't be too forthcoming in a first or casual meeting. Gather intelligence.

Be yourself. Don't misrepresent your wishes, boundaries, preferences, priorities, and red lines.

Do not behave inconsistently. Do not go back on your word. Be firm and resolute.

Impossible Situations

The abuser engineers impossible, dangerous, unpredictable, unprecedented, or highly specific situations in which he is sorely needed. The abuser makes sure that his knowledge, his skills, his connections, or his traits are the only ones applicable and the most useful in the situations that he, himself, wrought. The abuser generates his own indispensability.

TIP

Stay away from such quagmires. Scrutinize every offer and suggestion, no matter how innocuous.

Prepare backup plans. Keep others informed of your whereabouts and appraised of your situation.

Be vigilant and doubting. Do not be gullible and suggestible. Better safe than sorry.

Control by Proxy

If all else fails, the abuser recruits friends, colleagues, mates, family members, the authorities, institutions, neighbours, the media, teachers - in short, third parties - to do his bidding. He uses them to cajole, coerce, threaten, stalk, offer, retreat, tempt, convince, harass, communicate and otherwise manipulate his target. He controls these unaware instruments exactly as he plans to control his ultimate prey. He employs the same mechanisms and devices. And he dumps his props unceremoniously when the job is done.

Another form of control by proxy is to engineer situations in which abuse is inflicted upon another person. Such carefully crafted scenarios of embarrassment and humiliation provoke social sanctions (condemnation, opprobrium, or even physical punishment) against the victim. Society, or a social group become the instruments of the abuser.

TIP

Often the abuser's proxies are unaware of their role. Expose him. Inform them. Demonstrate to them how they are being abused, misused, and plain used by the abuser.

Trap your abuser. Treat him as he treats you. Involve others. Bring it into the open. Nothing like sunshine to disinfest abuse.

Ambient Abuse

The fostering, propagation and enhancement of an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability and irritation. There are no acts of traceable explicit abuse, nor any manipulative settings of control. Yet, the irksome feeling remains, a disagreeable foreboding, a premonition, a bad omen. This is sometimes called "gaslighting".

In the long term, such an environment erodes the victim's sense of self-worth and self-esteem. Self-confidence is shaken badly. Often, the victims adopts a paranoid or schizoid stance and thus renders himself or herself exposed even more to criticism and judgment. The roles are thus reversed: the victim is considered mentally deranged and the abuser - the suffering soul.

TIP

Run! Get away! Ambient abuse often develops to overt and violent abuse.

You don't owe anyone an explanation - but you owe yourself a life. Bail out.


 

HOW TO COPE WITH ABUSE in the WORKPLACE

By: Sam Vaknin

 

 

To a narcissist-employer, the members of his "staff" are Secondary Sources of Narcissistic Supply. Their role is to accumulate the supply (in human speak, remember events that support the grandiose self-image of the narcissist) and to regulate the Narcissistic Supply of the narcissist during dry spells (simply put, to adulate, adore, admire, agree, provide attention and approval and so on or, in other words, be an audience). The staff (or should we say "stuff"?) is supposed to remain passive. The narcissist is not interested in anything but the simplest function of mirroring. When the mirror acquires a personality and a life of its own, the narcissist is incensed. When independent minded, an employee might be in danger of being sacked by his employer (an act which demonstrates the employer's omnipotence).

The employee's presumption to be the employer's equal (friendship is possible only among equals) injures the latter narcissistically. The employer is willing to accept his employees as underlings, whose very position serves to support his grandiose fantasies. But the grandiosity rests on such fragile foundations, that any hint of equality, disagreement or need (that the narcissist "needs" friends, for instance) threatens the narcissist profoundly. The narcissist is exceedingly insecure. It is easy to destabilise his impromptu "personality". His reactions are merely in self-defence.

Classic narcissistic behaviour is when idealisation is followed by devaluation. The devaluing attitude develops as a result of disagreements OR simply because time has eroded the employee's capacity to serve as a FRESH Source of Supply.

The employee, taken for granted by the narcissistic employer, becomes uninspiring as a source of adulation, admiration and attention. The narcissist always seeks new thrills and stimuli.

The narcissist is notorious for his low threshold of resistance to boredom. His behaviour is impulsive and his biography tumultuous precisely because of his need to introduce uncertainty and risk to what he regards as "stagnation" or "slow death" (i.e., routine). Most interactions in the workplace are part of the rut – and thus constitute a reminder of this routine – deflating the narcissist's grandiose fantasies.

Narcissists do many unnecessary, wrong and even dangerous things in pursuit of the stabilisation of their inflated self-image.

Narcissists feel suffocated by intimacy, or by the constant reminders of the REAL, nitty-gritty world. It reduces them, makes them realise the Grandiosity Gap (between their self-image and reality). It is a threat to the precarious balance of their personality structures (mostly "false", that is, invented) and treated as such.

Narcissists forever shift the blame, pass the buck, and engage in cognitive dissonance. They "pathologise" the other, foster feelings of guilt and shame in her, demean, debase and humiliate in order to preserve their sense of grandiosity.

Narcissists are pathological liars. They think nothing of it because their very self is FALSE, an invention.

Here are a few useful guidelines:



  • Never disagree with the narcissist or contradict him;




  • Never offer him any intimacy;




  • Look awed by whatever attribute matters to him (for instance: by his professional achievements or by his good looks, or by his success with women and so on);




  • Never remind him of life out there and if you do, connect it somehow to his sense of grandiosity ("These are the BEST art materials ANY workplace is going to have", "We get them EXCLUSIVELY", etc.);




  • Do not make any comment, which might directly or indirectly impinge on his self-image, omnipotence, judgement, omniscience, skills, capabilities, professional record, or even omnipresence. Bad sentences start with: "I think you overlooked … made a mistake here … you don't know … do you know … you were not here yesterday so … you cannot … you should … (perceived as rude imposition, narcissists react very badly to restrictions placed on their freedom) … I (never mention the fact that you are a separate, independent entity, narcissists regard others as extensions of their selves, their internalisation processes were derailed and they did not differentiate properly)…" You get the gist of it.


Can the Narcissist be harnessed? Can his energies be channeled productively?

This would be a deeply flawed - and even dangerous - "advice". Various management gurus purport to teach us how to harness this force of nature known as malignant or pathological narcissism. Narcissists are driven, visionary, ambitious, exciting and productive, says Michael Maccoby, for instance. To ignore such a resource is a criminal waste. All we need to do is learn how to "handle" them.

Yet, this prescription is either naive or disingenuous. Narcissists cannot be "handled", or "managed", or "contained", or "channeled". They are, by definition, incapable of team work. They lack empathy, are exploitative, envious, haughty and feel entitled, even if such a feeling is commensurate only with their grandiose fantasies. Narcissists dissemble, conspire, destroy and self-destruct. Their drive is compulsive, their vision rarely grounded in reality, their human relations a calamity. In the long run, there is no enduring benefit to dancing with narcissists - only ephemeral and, often, fallacious, "achievements".


 

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Reviewed by Valerie Roeske 9/4/2008
This should be posted everywhere, what great information, thank you so much for sharing this Valerie, Education is the best key,
Reviewed by Damaa -- 8/13/2005
Oh my goodness! This article needs to be republished. I wish I had read it a few months ago. Thanks for writing this piece.

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