How Abusers Manipulate and Traumatize Their Victims

The Secret Language of Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths: How Abusers Manipulate and Traumatize Their Victims

Their blame-shifting language, passive-aggressive sulky behavior and narcissistic rage at the slightest injury becomes all-consuming for the victim, as the victim attempts to strengthen his or her efforts to meet the standards of the narcissist – standards which inevitably set the victim up for failure. For this, the victim is met with verbal assault, accusations and unfair comparisons which instill in him or her a pervasive sense of worthlessness and never being “enough.”

If the victim ever attempts to make the narcissistic abuser accountable for being a decent human being, they will lash out in rage, blaming them for the abuse and stonewalling the victim into silence. They love to have the last word, especially for the language they’ve created.

Taking back our control and power from a narcissistic abuser means going to war with the language they use against us. This means seeking to validate, professional help for the abuse we’ve suffered, detaching from these people in our lives, learning more about the techniques of abusers, finding support networks, sharing our story to raise awareness and finding the appropriate healing modalities that can enable us to transcend and thrive after their abuse. We can channel this experience of abuse for our highest good and for the greater good. We just have to be willing to create in its place what I call a “reverse discourse”—a new language and a rewriting of the narrative that instead lifts us, motivates us, inspires us and revives us by replacing the narcissist’s cutting words with our own powerful truth.

Therefore, now you know how abusers manipulate and traumatize their victims. Such abusers will use these above tactics to manipulate and traumatize you. So, protect yourself from abusers who manipulate and traumatize their victims.

Copyright © 2016 by Shahida Arabi. 

All rights reserved. No part of this entry, which is an excerpt from my upcoming book, may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. This includes adaptations in all forms of media.

This entry is cross-posted at Self-Care Haven and protected under DMCA against copyright infringement. It has been reprinted on The Minds Journal with the permission of the author.

Inspired by the post? Instead of reiterating ideas from this post or posting it in its entirety it without permission – please consider sharing the link back to the post through social media.

Interested in learning more about narcissistic abuse? Pre-order my new book on narcissistic abuse, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself. Also be sure to check out my first book, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self-Care.

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The Secret Language of Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths: How Abusers Manipulate and Traumatize Their Victims
How Abusers Manipulate and Traumatize Their Victims

177 thoughts on “How Abusers Manipulate and Traumatize Their Victims”

  1. Avatar of S Kitts

    The damages vary and much worse raised by a covert narcissist mother and no heroes. Our costs range from PTSD, amnesia, Stockholm syndrome, death and more. A very dangerous situation.

  2. Avatar of Tracy Mayhew

    My ex narcopath used trust to get to his targets. Soooo much happier now that I’m no longer involved in that madness, drama, control, lies and manipulation.

  3. Avatar of Michelle Watson

    Thats exactly what happens and they try to make out they are protective of you and get other people even family to believe its you when it’s not its the worst experience
    You think your going to die or be killed and not get out alive and it goes on around the clock 24/7 at any hour and you can’t do anything about it you just have to keep quiet

    Keeping quiet and don’t answer back is the safest thing to do to keep yourself alive and not make the abusers temper worse

  4. Avatar of KarenCat213

    I disagree that it is impossible for an empath and narcissist to be together. Yes, it will be difficult, but if anyone can even begin to help a narcissist heal and weather the storm with them, it’s going to be an empath. Narcissists are still human beings. For my specific situation though, we are twin flames and we have a child who is a one year old. We are not there YET, and both of us need to heal, but we will get through this eventually. I feel bad for him for whatever happened to him growing up as a child because it wasn’t his fault, so he too was a victim at some point. Of course, me being an empath, would only could think up such a thing as that. We will make it somehow, I firmly believe that we can and will.

  5. Avatar of Mitchell C

    If I may, I don’t think this post is very fair. I mean, I get that you’re trying to warn people about potentially dangerous relationships, but at the same time you seem to be dehumanizing these people by using harsh language and polarizing judgments and stereotypes. As someone who was recently diagnose with borderline personality disorder (BPD), I can tell you that I have struggled with relationships in this life. I have hurt and manipulated people. But you know what? Even though I have many emotional and psychological flaws and struggles, I am still a living, breathing, human-being with feelings and emotions. The answer isn’t just to cut ties with me, unless necessary. The answer is to learn who I actually am inside. Learn to look beyond the mask that I’ve tried to pull off. Learn to see me for who I am. Help me become a better person. Why don’t you write about that in your article? People with autism can’t empathize either, yet does that justify calling them what you’ve called these people in your post? No. Absolutely not. Rather than looking just to identify the problem, I think you should have focused on humanizing the victim (which is also the person struggling psychologically), and finding solutions, rather than just using stereotypical and demeaning references to people who are broken.

    1. Avatar of Katie

      I agree with you, to an extent. I believe people with these issues developed them as a child and that they are deep seated, and it’s very hard to help them. I’ve delt with one myself and still trying to stand by them to this day because I don’t feel it is the right thing to do to leave him stranded because his mind works differently than mine…and if I walk out sure I won’t have to deal with it anymore, but what about him? What about when he’s 80 years old and have pushed everyone out of his life just because he doesn’t understand why people don’t understand him? I can’t do that. We all need help in some way and I don’t think a single one of us would like it if God turned his back on us when we’re all just sinners never going to be anything more. But then again you can try to help someone til you’re grey headed and if they truly do not want to change themselves then you’re the one whose suffering, not the narc…its a sad situation really, some want to change and some dont. I guess it just depends on how you value “for better or for worse”

    2. Avatar of Jean

      Typical coming from a narc. The victim is far from the abuser. I’m a pure empathy and have stayed and put up with unimaginable cruelty because I thought if I stuck it out, he would see I love him for all he is and I want to know all of him and he cant scare me away. Until a few hours ago, idrawline where I wasnt sure if I had died or was I still here. He nearly made my 3 beautiful children to mourn their mother. That’s where I quit. Marc’s show no mercy, and I shall not show them mercy ever again. No one can fix them. Stop whining about someone should give them the attention of a victim, you dont want to be an abuser (narc) then fix yourself because theres no magic wand, it wont be done for you! No one can fix you, no one can ever do enough for you get up off your a@* and do it yourself!!

  6. Avatar of Kristi

    he trolls online for BBW’s and when they respond he slits their throats with his mouth and feeds from their emotional pain…he’s a vampire, he would never associate with one other than to use, to gather negative fuel, a minion…no emotion, no empathy, no remorse, no guilt, no responsibility…blame and project…everything he says is him, his projection of himself because he has no mirror, not capable of love, emotion, logic, rational thought, only mimicry….nothing’s real…..well…you’ll see

    1. Avatar of always

      Listed above: Beware of this one. I encountered one of these creeps a few years ago. I felt like I should have known better, like I’d been sheltered or something. It was earth-shattering to realize how out of touch and creepy this chick is. She appears normal and has a magnetic quality. All the more reason to be aware.

    2. Avatar of always

      I think there should be a public list made of these people, so you know who they are, like sexual predators. You want to know if they are in your neighborhood or college or workplace.

  7. Avatar of Lesa Reed

    I wish I read this article 30 years ago. I ATTRACT narcissist due to my soft heart and extreme empathy for even strangers. My first was in high school. Single white female type of thing. When she realized I was trying to get away from her, she scratched bitch across the hood of my car. My parents had to change their phone number due to all the hang ups. I moved to get away from her. Next was the ex. He was a prince when I met him for the first 6 months. Overnight he become extremely jealous. He would do things so mean to me it was embarrising to tell anyone. Like the time he took my car keys and left me stranded and so he could have sex with a girl he was on the phone with. I knew her and knew she wanted him. Very degrading. Many hours later he came back and acted innocent, like he was just joking. He would start fights so that he could run off with his friends, leaving me crying so I wouldn’t go anywhere.. He threw all my clothes in the rain and mud in a rage then come home with an engagement ring. After about a year of extreme stress, I walked out and never looked back. Until he called to tell me he wanted me back because he had cancer with one year to live. Made up a major LIE. He came from a very loving family, scored an excellent job and was very goodlooking. There was NOTHING hurtful in his past. In fact his parents felt he was too good for ANYONE he dated. Another was a girlfriend I had know since high school. Very wealthy but close knit family. Again nothing hurful in past. She has spent her entire life plotting revenge on anyone that she felt had insulted her in any way. She ruined peoples careers. Even as far as going to local news. Making up crazy lies about people, destroying other peoples friendships. Eventually she found out she had a disease that required a heart and double lung transplant. Would you believe instead of trying to mend all her broken relationships and tell people she loved them, she managed to destroy every relationsip she had left? I was her biggest supporter after being diagnosed. I felt so sorry for her and since I was a stay at home mom I gave her hours of phone time daily not to mention all the 5 hour drives to be by her side. If I didn’t answer her call right away, she would go to the emergency room and fake heart pains and blame me for causing her stress. She tried to sabotage a 30 years reuion I planned for 200 people just because she wasn’t front and center. The lies she told were increadable and that she could make people believe them was even more incredible. She sucked the life out of me and the my final conversation was after she contacted all my family and friends, some people that she had never even met and told them my boyfriend was holding me prisoner and I was in danger. Crazy. Then my ex-husband, another prince that changed again after about a year to someone that completely withdrew any love for me. I wanted so desperately for that first year back. We had two children, moved to another state, I was a stay at home mom and he controlled every penny, so anything I ever had, like clothes my mother bought me. I tried desperately to hide my unhappiness from everyone and paint a pretty picture but everyone could see throught. it. All I wanted was to feel love and he refused. I begged, cried, wrote letters, went to counceling, nothing worked. He always drove a nice car, I had the old one. He had expensive hobbies, I had none. .He went to bars everyday, I focused on my young children’s happiness. I finally gave up after 13 years with him. I then became best friends with a guy I knew who was going through a divorce. He eventually sabatoged and destroyed my relationship with the love of my life because he had wanted me for himself. I turned him down because he felt like a brother to me and I was friends with his ex wife. This made him so angry that he spread ugly lies and turned every mutual friends against me. Now I’m trying to get rid of another friend, who I know will seek revenge if she knows I’m trying to get away from her. When I read this article I felt sick. I am 50 years old and have just realized why these peole I loved and cared for could be so cruel to me. I have known that I love exciting and successful people. I have known that I was a type B personality and I’m attracted to type A. I just never knew I was attracted to narcissist!!! I’m feel so stupid and heartbroken. But, I know one thing. I will run as fast as I can from this type of person in the future.Sorry for the long post, I just thought examples might help others.

  8. Avatar of Joy Miller

    I am so very glad my friend sent me the link to this. I have been with my “friend” for about 4 months now. In the beginning he made me feel something I have never felt before. I truly for the first time in my life felt loved. I see all these red flags that appear several times a day. I’m not stupid I see them but I choose to ignore them because of that moment when I felt it from him. I have spent over $10,000 on us going out and doing stuff, staying in the highest end hotels etc. He now owes me $9000.00 in cash and every time I ask him about it he flips the situation around on me to where I am apologizing by the end of the conversation. I am married and have never done anything like this and once again I’m basing it all on this damn “feeling”. I recognize everything is not right that yeah just maybe I’m being used BUT maybe I’m not. He had been telling me that he cant be with me if I have my husband living in the same house as me so he needed to go. I was really dragging my feet in getting him to move out because {did I already mention he is going to prison in less than a month} I don’t really want to move my husband out, even though I had already wanted him to move way before I met this new guy but I don’t want to be by myself in my home ultimately. So I finally got my husband moved out and within 5 mins he was treating me like complete shit. That was really my eye opener but I still didn’t understand why he made me feel like none ever before….until I read this article. its the only thing that makes complete sense. I’m so very glad its only been months instead of years and leave broken. Thanks

  9. Avatar of birju

    meh. i hope Ms. Arabi doesn’t have her grad degree from columbia in psychology. even if this is meant to be pop psych, i find it to be somewhere between unacademic and making the wrong point.

    narcissism is already plenty misused colloquially as a term, without reducing people with narcissistic, and antisocial traits to the worst examples of a rather large group of people. also note that sociopath and psychopath aren’t the technical terms used academically anymore for the spectrum on which those people fall, but, rather, antisocial, which colloquially is used to mean something like, “not interested in being social” but really means “not good at following society’s rules.”

    then, she focused on narcissistic abusers, hardly the most dangerous or likely of the three to be abusers of this sort, and, what’s more, uses narcissists and narcissist abusers interchangeably.

    one major issue with the way we use narcissist/narcissism as terms to describe people is that we use them where we might say someone is conceited or stuck-up, that people with narcissistic traits believe they’re god’s gift to humanity and just look down on everyone else. some narcissists really have had an upbringing that’s led them to believe that they are more important and entitled than others. Most, however, are driven by a profound feeling of emptiness, of being a fraud. it can be difficult and even terrible to work, live, and be in a relationship with them, and i say that with a lifetime’s close hand experience. but i still would think it unfair to paint them as predators, as people who are seeking out victims and torturing them in this way. rather, this is an unchosen, very broken and damaging way that they deal with themselves and the world, and some people are more likely to tolerate it from them than others. know that it’s not really a choice, that even those who choose to change have a long road ahead of them, and that even when there’s sadism involved, there’s usually at least as much masochism as well. i don’t at all mean to condone or forgive their behavior, but just to point out that there isn’t the intentionality in the vast majority of cases that is presupposed here.

    more importantly, in terms of this article, who cares why they do it or how they might get off on it? this article vilifies and paints as evil a large swath of people when it should be focused on protecting people. regardless of why people might do these things, you, the reader, should be aware of it when it’s happening, and to have ways to ground yourself in a more objective reality, and to get yourself out. there’s a vengeful, hurtful tone in this article that, i think, should have been compassionate and supportive instead – to the victims of such treatment.

    finally, i find it odd that narcissists were the ones singled out of the three groups she mentioned at the top. i’m not sure that any people in these groups truly or fully got to choose to be that way, or not, which is unfortunate. narcissists are the ones who are most likely, of the three, to be suffering great pain as a result of their personality structure. they’re most likely to feel fragile, broken and less than. meanwhile, sociopaths and psychopaths have traits that we so often value and reward in society, despite what we might say about them. when people will do anything, say/be anything outwardly to get ahead, to treat life, business, and politics as a competitive sport with no rules, we put them in positions of power, whether in the corporate world or in politics. we demean people who can’t survive in those arenas for not being grownups, for not being tough enough to survive in the real world. i’d love for someone to write an article about that and expect to get (or succeed in getting) any traction in a society where we couch those traits in terms like the free market, capitalism, and freedom.

  10. Avatar of Craig Theroff

    Hey wtf? no kidding… I have been harassed by one one of theses loco’s for 30 years until someone was kind enough to sit down and tell me exactly wth was going on. I was in shock for about five years as they had gotten so trashy they continued all though they knew I found out what was going on. OMG! Then the shock and dis-belief became a out of body experience as they recruited neighbors, coworkers and friends to o hate crimes to me and when I called the police they just acted like it was all my fault. oh my god no kidding! I moved more five times in nine years trying to escape the stalking, bullying, and harassment. Now I am planning to leave the country as I found out they have gotten a police Sargent to help do malicious things to me. The abuser now has Cancer but its only 70% chance they’ll die in ten years. I have to get free now! out of sight out of mind! There’s no answer from law enforcement on these wicked nuts!

  11. Avatar of ghenri

    Oh my gosh, this describes my ex-husband perfectly. I finally called the police and he was arrested and convicted. It’s now been 7 years and he legally can contact me again. So he did and is trying to suck me back into a relationship with him. But this time I recognize his tactics which this article so clearly describes. I was sucked into meeting him, but I am going to let him know that I love my life now and I am not going back. So many tricks he uses.

    1. Avatar of chazzz

      Sucked into meeting him Ghenri, sounds like you didnt get enough, its easy to just say no.

  12. Avatar of Donna Ross

    Everything you described in this artical is like describing my life with my partner.i cant help but be so afraid now .it has destroyed me totally in every sense of the word …i am lost in how to help myself now .please help me ?

    1. Avatar of Kevin

      Please get help… sometimes we need to reach out to people who know what they’re doing to help ourselves. There are therapy groups out there that you can be part of where these co-dependent and abusive issues are addressed. Or if your health plan will pay for it, seek the advice of a good therapist. A good thing to do may be to do both– a therapist, and a support group. It is a wonderful thing to discover that you are not alone! You get validated and strengthened when you hear others speak about issues that you are suffering from too, and the good, practical advice others can give you. To find a group, a good way may be to check out some churches. They are different than they were years ago. Many have therapy groups on a wide array of topics for those who are hurting in different ways. Marriage and co-dependent groups are high on the list. Also twelve step groups– you know, the ones that came out of Alchoholics Annonymous, like Codependents Annonymous, and I think there are others. Search for them on the Internet and find groups near you and make as many meetings as you can, especially in the beginning. The people there will treat you like a sister cause they know what you’re going through, because they’ve gone through the same thing themselves. If you find a group and/or a therapist that doesn’t work for you, don’t give up– look for another. I don’t think it would take too long because there are ALOT of people out there who are suffering, or have suffered the exact same things that you are. There are many who are in recovery who are getting stronger every day!

  13. Avatar of Bernice Reynolds
    Bernice Reynolds

    Point here is; these people spend more time tearing someone else down than they could ever spend repairing themselves. It’s a choice, they make the choice and unfortunately the rest of us have to deal with them.

  14. Avatar of preety ramdin

    Thank you….i’ve been through this and have still not recovered…most enlightening article

  15. Avatar of Naomi

    Thanks so much for your article my daughter is in a relationship with a narcissist and Ive tried to explain toher what this means but your article explains it very wellso thank you

  16. Avatar of Jaluis

    I can relate to each of the three phases….sadly 12 years on and much destruction in my life from someone who claimed to love me so much. Finally free and can see so clearly now that I only lived on hope and nothing more. They say hope is the last emotion we feel just before our last breath….my spirt nearly died in the hands of this pig. I am grateful that I have survived…thank you God x

  17. Avatar of tony

    54 years of my mother the narc was enough. Now 6 years of bliss. She ruined my first wedding. 26 years later planned to ruin my second wedding. I was good to her, a devoted son, but never good enough. She killed all my love for her. Now I have a calm happy life albeit with depression, anxiety and bipolar 2. She is 83 yo and never at fault. Damn her.

    1. Avatar of Virginia Buck

      Mine is a sister 65yrs of abuse. It’s either that or I don’t see any of my family. Some still believe the roll of troublemaker she created for me, every time I stood up for myself

  18. Avatar of K

    The point of this article is not to sympathize and try to treat these people. The manipulators have already enjoyed way too much good energy from caring souls they anhilated. I don’t care if they can help it anymore and you have to get there. You have to in order to survive. Without victims who swore they could help the Narc heal their disease would never have been so enabled. Nothing’s a ever sacred off limits or unbearable with these individuals. Nothing.

  19. Avatar of Riley Payne

    The only way to deal with these sorry characters is to cut them out of your life – ruthlessly and without regret. They are assassins driven to boost their own shrunken egos at the expense of their victims.

    1. Avatar of Emily

      Agreed. My therapist told me that when you come in contact with a narcissist, run as far and as fast as you can AWAY and don’t look back. My father was a narcissist, and I ended up in a multi-year relationship with one. It took me years to finally break free. They can’t be “cured” and the few who do go into therapy can’t change. They are a therapist’s worst nightmare.

  20. Avatar of Wendell Coe

    We had one of these people as a salesman at our office . He did not sell anything from November to March of this year , but it was always someone else’s fault . He exhibited these behaviors as well as being a male chauvinist pig , who demeaned and sexually harassed any female he was around for any more than 2 weeks . We ( HR and the Branch Manager and Office Manager ) fired him 10 days ago and it has been the biggest relief ever .

    1. Avatar of Anna nikitenko

      Ehat was his name ? Sound exsctly how my ex. Ended hid work. Sad but apprently lot of men in usa are like that. And i ve beeen victim of many ( roommates, people at work and “loved ones” .

  21. Avatar of Thought provoking
    Thought provoking

    I took control by asking him to leave and that was after many years of being in a abusive marriage. I think he knew something wasn’t right. I STOPPED INTERACTING WITH HIM. Many times I craved for his love and acknowledgement, just to talk for a while. I realised if he did not want to talk then, why should I waste my breathe now. There is life after this form of abuse, I could say, I allowed this this to happen, yes I did, I can also say this kind of person can destroy your inner light, self worth, your mind, body & soul. What I know now, if there not transparency between the personal and public life….those are the warning signs. This is my only my point of view….I know it, I lived it, and everyone has there own account of events, this is mine.

  22. Avatar of Andre

    How do you think we can copy/paste the title, or portions of the article to share with other, you have disabled the possibility to do so on your site? I think that is a form of manipulation too, to FORCE us to do something else to rank your site. I hate those “tricks.”

    I have however followed the link to the author’s blog and will share HER website with friends.

    Please consider not making this site ONLY ABOUT YOU? There’s a good article on that…

    “You are not allowed to copy content or view source” says the site posting an article about narcissists and manipulators. So we can’t correct our articles in the text area, copy/paste portions of it to place elsewhere in our comment, quote portions of the article to highlight something that particularly helped us, etc.

    So indeed my comment is going to be all over the place. But I think (hope) you may realize how so 1990-2000 this whole thing is.



    1. Avatar of Shazza

      here you go Andre

      The Secret Language of Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths: How Abusers Manipulate and Traumatize Their Victims by selfcarehaven March 21, 2016

      The Secret Language of Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths: How Emotional Predators and Abusers Manipulate Their Victims by Shahida Arabi Society assumes that everyone has a conscience and the ability to empathize. In fact, 1 in 25 people in the United States are estimated to be sociopaths, according to Harvard psychologist Martha Stout. Narcissists (those who meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder) and their like-minded cousins, sociopaths and psychopaths, speak in the language of crazymaking, of projection, of word salad, of gaslighting and of pathological envy. While I will be focusing on narcissistic abusers in this post, keep in mind that all three are unable to empathize with others and frequently exploit others for their own agenda. If you encounter someone with narcissistic traits, they could very well fall towards the extreme end of the spectrum and be a sociopath or psychopath. (adsbygoogle = window.adsbygoogle || []).push({}); These pathological individuals walk among us every day in their false masks, often unseen and noticed because of how eerily normal they are. They can be of any gender, background, and socioeconomic status. Often times, they are charming, charismatic, the life of the party, able to hook their victims in and dupe the public effortlessly. It’s very possible you’ve dated, worked with, had a family member or friend with Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Antisocial Personality Disorder in your lifetime – even if you didn’t know it then. Learning emotional language of these predators means acknowledging that their cruelty is not only explicit but implicit, deeply ingrained in nuances in their facial expressions, gestures, tones, and most importantly, the contradictory mismatch between their words and actions. Most importantly, their cruelty is deliberate and designed to control and ultimately destroy their victims. Their manipulation is psychological and emotionally devastating – and very dangerous, especially considering the brain circuitry for emotional and physical pain are one and the same. What a victim feels when they are punched in the stomach can be similar to the pain a victim feels when they are verbally and emotionally abused, and the effects of narcissistic abuse can be crippling and long-lasting, even resulting in symptoms of PTSD or Complex PTSD. These types of abusers are fluent in manipulation, well-versed in sadism, in control and in rage – their deliberate cutting down of you, which can be best described as “death by a thousand cuts,” can be just as slow and insidious as it is swift and vicious. It is akin to psychological and emotional rape – a sordid violation of boundaries and of the trust the victim has given his or her abuser. Narcissistic abusers can attack at any given moment, using their choice weapons of sarcasm, condescending remarks, namecalling, and blameshifting whenever they perceive you as a threat or whenever they need entertainment in the form of an emotional reaction. They can  also use their nonverbal language in the form of a sadistic smirk, the cold deadness in their eyes while professing to love you, their bored, sulky looks or their cruel laughter to bully you into believing that you are inferior to them. There are three key pieces of information that narcissists frequently collect in the idealization phase of the relationship that they later wield against you in the devaluation and discard phases using their language of cruelty. 1) The flaws, shortcomings, insecurities and secrets you’ve confided in the narcissist about. The narcissistic abuser rejoices when you share your wounds, your struggles, and your triggers early on. It is then that much easier for them to get underneath your skin and inside of your mind. During lovebombing, you are likely to feel so trusting and open with a narcissist that you share everything with them: your past, your heartbreaks, what you perceive to be your flaws. You may see this as a way of establishing rapport, a connection with your partner, a way of being vulnerable and intimate.  A narcissistic abuser sees it as dinner laying itself on the table. They will pretend to support you and empathize with you when you reveal these to them initially, but will later use these to provoke you, belittle you and demean you during the devaluation phase. Remember: the narcissist has no limits as to what he or she will use. If you tell your narcissist you’re insecure about your weight, be prepared for covert and overt put-downs about your body in the devaluation phase. If you reveal to a narcissist that you’ve been through a past trauma, such as being sexually assaulted, it won’t be long before they are using degrading lingo in the bedroom to make you feel like a used object. They thrive on the fact that you are being retraumatized. Their ability to make you regress right back into the original trauma with just one turn of phrase makes them feel powerful. And they live for that power, because it is the only power they have in their pathetic, empty lives. To a narcissist, any open wound  is an invitation to cut deeper and the narcissist can and always will cut a wound even deeper than the first. 2) Your strengths and accomplishments, especially the ones they are pathologically envious of. Initially when you were on the pedestal, the narcissist couldn’t get enough of your strengths and accomplishments. They couldn’t stop raving about you to family and friends, showing you off, treating you like a trophy, an essential part of them. Their association with you inevitably made them feel superior and important. It bolstered their false image of being a normal human being who could get a “prize” like you. In the devaluation phase, a narcissist will literally translate your strengths into perceived flaws. Once you were “confident and sexy,” – but now you’re “cocky and vain” (a clear projection of themselves, of course). Before, you were “intelligent and driven,” and now you’re just a “know-it-all” or a “smartass.” They gaslight you into believing that your value and worth is not real, all while projecting their own sense of inferiority onto you. They will degrade, minimize, and ignore what you accomplish, now acting as if it means nothing to them and as if it is of little importance or value to the world. They will feed you falsehoods about your lack of competence and ability. They will claim to be better at you, all the while stealing your ideas. They will taunt you into believing that you’re not capable of the smallest of tasks, even if you are out of their league professionally and personally. They will threaten to ruin your reputation and they will often sabotage major events as well as support networks you may have, attempting to turn everyone against you. They will trample upon your dreams, your aspirations, your beliefs, your personality, your goals, your profession, your talents, your appearance, your lifestyle – all the while extolling their own. Their sudden turn of language takes a toll; it is traumatizing, shocking and unexpectedly vicious. Everything they once praised will inevitably be turned and twisted into a weakness. This is because they cannot stand you “winning” and being better than them at something. To them, everything is a competition and a game that they must win at all costs. They seek to destroy you in every way possible so that you, in turn, destroy and sabotage yourself – all the while they sit back, relax and watch the unraveling of everything you’ve worked hard for. 3) Your need to please them and their need to be perpetually dissatisfied. The narcissist cultivated your need for his or her validation and approval early on in the idealization phase. By making you dependent on his or her praise, they conditioned you to seek the excessive admiration that only they could dole out. Now, as they devalue you, they use your need for validation to their advantage by withdrawing frequently, appearing sullen at every opportunity, and converting every generous thing you do for them as a failure on your part that falls short of their ludicrous expectations. Nothing can meet their high standards and everything wrong will be pointed out. In fact, even the things they do wrong shall be pinned on you. Their blameshifting language, passive-aggressive sulky behavior and narcissistic rage at the slightest injury becomes all-consuming for the victim, as the victim attempts to strengthen his or her efforts to meet the standards of the narcissist – standards which inevitably set the victim up for failure. For this, the victim is met with verbal assault, accusations and unfair comparisons which instill in him or her a pervasive sense of worthlessness and never being “enough.” If the victim ever attempts to make the narcissistic abuser accountable for being a decent human being, they will lash out in rage, blaming them for the abuse and stonewalling the victim into silence. They love to have the last word, especially for the language they’ve created. Taking back our control and power from a narcissistic abuser means going to war with the language they use against us. This means seeking validating, professional help for the abuse we’ve suffered, detaching from these people in our lives, learning more about the techniques of abusers, finding support networks, sharing our story to raise awareness and finding the appropriate healing modalities that can enable us to transcend and thrive after their abuse. We can channel this experience of abuse for our highest good and for the greater good. We just have to be willing create in its place what I call a “reverse discourse”—a new language and a rewriting of the narrative that instead lifts us, motivates us, inspires us and revives us by replacing the narcissist’s cutting words with our own powerful truth. Copyright © 2016 by Shahida Arabi.  All rights reserved. No part of this entry, which is an excerpt from my upcoming book, may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author. This includes adaptations in all forms of media.
      This entry is cross-posted at Self-Care Haven and protected under DMCA against copyright infringement.  It has been reprinted on The Minds Journal with the permission of the author.  Inspired by the post? Instead of reiterating ideas from this post or posting it in its entirety it without permission – please consider sharing the link back to the post through social media. Interested in learning more about narcissistic abuse? Pre-order my new book on narcissistic abuse, Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself. Also be sure to check out my first book, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self-Care. About the Author Shahida Arabi is a summa cum laude graduate of Columbia University graduate school and the author of The Smart Girl’s Guide to Self-Care, a bestselling Kindle book also available in print. She is also the author of Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself, which became a #2 Amazon Bestseller upon its pre-order release. She studied Psychology and English Literature as an undergraduate at NYU. Her interests include psychology, sociology, education, gender studies and mental health advocacy. You can check out her blog, Self-Care Haven, for topics related to mindfulness, mental health, narcissistic abuse and recovery from emotional trauma, like her page on Facebook, check out her main website and follow her on Twitter.

  23. Avatar of LL505

    Wow, this really opened my eyes and helped me clearly identify what has been happening to me in those 3 phases exactly over a 3 year period of abuse. Thankfully I recently woke up and ended it and will not need professional help.

  24. Avatar of Joseph

    This post is VERY offensive. Being wired a bit differently is not something we choose, and yet you are casting a large net here. This was done in poor form to prove a point.

    1. Avatar of Selena

      Being wired differently isn’t an excuse to abuse anyone. If someone tells you to stop abusing them and that it hurts, an abuser should take accountability and stop doing that action. You can still intellectually process the fact that the action is wrong based on the reaction, but many of these people take sadistic pleasure in it. The abusers described in this article choose not to stop the behavior that they’ve been taught is hurtful and many of them purposefully continue it.

      Also, why are you reading an article that is written for survivors? Obviously this is about those who are abusive and the survivor perspective isn’t going to sugarcoat the experiences of abuse and try to cater to the abuser, which is what survivors have been forced to do already. You may not relate to the experience, but other survivors will.

    2. Avatar of Riley Payne

      Being wired differently and being abusive are not the same thing. This article is only offensive if you have never suffered under the tyranny of a narcissist. If you recognize the traits described as part of your own personality, you may need to rewire yourself by unlearning the destructive behavior. Then again, a narcissist is unlikely to perceive himself or herself as being the dysfunctional part of a relationship.

    3. Avatar of Jaluis

      This post is meant to provide support and answers to the victim not perputraiter….if you are a victim you would understand!

    4. Avatar of Joanna

      This really misrepresent NPD people. They’re mentally ill for Christ sake. The pain they inflict on themselves is as bad as what they give to others. One part of NPD thinking is they believe everyone thinks like they do! Their mechanisations are a defence in anticipation of your schemes. They wind up completely isolated and have high rates of suicide and they can get better with therapy.

  25. Avatar of Ralph H. Rawls

    I very much appreciate reading this article,I did not know many of the facts of these personalities,it was very intense reading for me,but it was very educational and I very much appreciate

  26. Avatar of Caitlinn

    This article is so insulting and insensitive. As a sociopath (which I’d like to remind all of you is a disorder out of my control), I do not think my life is pathetic and empty nor do I think that I am cruel. I do recognised myself in those words but it doesn’t mean I actually go along with my thoughts. I know how to control myself. This article is condescending and it’s a pity.

    1. Avatar of Leigh

      I support your words Caitlinn. Whilst I read this article, I wonder what is done to help people to address these conditions. The advice for others nearby is to get away and distance ourselves. But how can these people with borderline diagnosis get away from being themselves?
      People with these problematic tendancies also need help and support, as much as the people who are affected by them.
      Its just more undercover stigmatisation of a mental health illness s far as I can see.

    2. Avatar of Brian

      Caitlinn YOU are a pity. Because this article didn’t “serve” you in some way you just had to comment negatively. You seem more interested in how you can manipulate someone else to help you treat yourself instead of owning your condition and understanding it enough to motivate yourself to change. Look inside first and use yourself, not others. Until you do that your condition will not change, and neither will you. Good luck.

    3. Avatar of Sel

      Leigh, where in this article did you see Borderline personality being mentioned at all? All I see is narcissist, sociopath and psychopath. Think you’re projecting some stuff onto this that’s actually not there.

    4. Avatar of Banu

      Haha very interesting approach. How can you say you can control your disorder which you describe as non-controllable in your first sentence? Isn’t that a contradiction? Of course you would find this article insulting and insensitive, as a sociopath. What do you think are the feelings of all people who are suffering and have suffered from sociopaths? Do you think abusing and manipulating isn’t insulting or insensitive??? The only thing people with uncontrollable disorders can do is to not go in any relationship with anyone, friendly, familiar or loving no matter. If they have a disorder non-treatable, than these people have to avoid near contact with anyone. But you will never do this, because abusing and manipulating is your food and life purpose. Because you don’t have a conscience. Otherwise your dead-like!

    5. Avatar of Sam

      I’d like to say, my comment to my friend who posted this was the same, & Im not (as far as I know) suffering this illness. We’re all responsible for each other & ourselves, finding a balance in that means also learning to (as the author says as she closes) feel positive somehow, my best way of dealing with people who act this way is total direct open non tolerance, stopping them & very calmly saying – look, we can talk about how you’re behaving right now, or i can go away & our friendship / relationship goes away too… up to you” often people back off mostly from fear of realising someone is on to them, but some friends have improved so much & stayed – tried, or simply behaved themselves after making the effort to stay calm & be clear with them.. or, you can walk away – either helps them realise & fix their own problems instead of continuing to project them, when they realise it gets them no rewards. So lets all try to take part in it without name calling or rage. It gets nowhere. I’ve also seen ‘victims’ who ENJOY having that person as a partner or friend to blame for their own issues in a co-dependant nightmare, it works both ways, step up & deal with life people – even for your own sake.

    6. Avatar of Denise

      I couldn’t agree with you more… But only because you state that “I know how to control myself.” When a person does those things to a person they love (I know from personal experience as it is being done to me each and every day) and your whole life is invested in this person (children, home, business, dogs, etc) and you are consistently explaining and trying to help this person overcome and they do not… One has to be this insensitive because it is the TRUTH.

    7. Avatar of Riley Payne

      Caitlinn – take a deep breath and say the following: “It’s not always about me. Sometimes it’s about someone else.” (Repeat as many times as necessary to stop focusing on yourself)

  27. Avatar of Miranda

    I think this article is very informative and helpful. I know that if I would have read this, I could have saved myself many troubles. I had a friend for 11 years put me through so many things. And after reading this, I know that there literally was nothing I could do to “help” her. I went to jail over her, I was young and very uninformed of the world and the people in it. I took everyone at their word and trusted so openly, and believed all was good. what a perfect find for someone with these conditions right? Well, after jail, probation,many horrible experiences. I was still filled with hope that she could be the person I met. I wish I could have read this so many years ago!

  28. Avatar of Bernadette

    Thank you for this very interesting article. Narcissistic perverts are professional actors with a high intellectual and emotional intelligence. They are aware of it. They spend their lives compensating for their failures because they do not have the guts to accept them. They take an insane pleasure in depreciating you in order to overappreciate themselves (which is an illusion). If they were sane and courageous, they would repair their own leaking bucket. We have the right and the duty to refuse to be used as their rubber repair patches (especially if we were conditioned to be of the saviour type). We can learn how to put clear and firm limits to them in a quiet way. Learning how to verbally countermanipulate narcissistic perverts is important to protect ourselves if we are obliged to live with them (e.g. a colleague). Otherwise, the only solution is to separate from them with no guilt (weak point if we are of the altruistic type). Narcissistic perverts are unable to make somebody happy. And nobody is able to make them happy. It is committing suicide to depend on their programming. It would be arrogant to think that we can change them. Stand back from them with your inner camera even if at the beginning, it’s just one millimetre. Our best weapon is not to be fooled by them. Sometimes, they feel it and leave you alone. Sometimes, they are more tenacious like dogs biting bones, only seeking their own insane pleasure. It is not a failure to end such a relationship. It is a relief and a victory ! Narcissistic perverts have taught me to develop my self-confidence, assert myself in a better way and be happy with myself first. I have learned that I am responsible for my happiness (with myself and with the others). My belief system has changed. Everybody has the right to be happy.

  29. Avatar of Harriett Wilson
    Harriett Wilson

    How do you deal with a daughter who has not been diagnosed, but shows every sign described in this article. She was married and had a daughter to her husband. That ended sadly, leaving her husband having to declare himself bankrupt. She then went on to have another relationship and another child. This ended horribly also. She has made me out to be some sort of monster, despite having brought her and two younger siblings up as a single parent, through no fault of mine. Their father cut himself off and decided it was a bad marriage, despite me making every attempt and seeking all the support to keep it together. My daughter is so nasty with me and uses the children as weapons against me. She doesn’t realise the damage she is causing, both to the children and myself. It’s so heartbreaking

    1. Avatar of m-lo

      Harriet… Children don’t become narcissists in a vacuum. It is a trait that is passed down from their parents.

    2. Avatar of Riley Payne

      Harriett – you need to set guardrails in your relationship with your daughter. When she pushes past them you have to let the wreck happen. You’ll have no peace in your own life trying to keep her on the road. She needs to hit bottom and crawl back into the human race on her own. You can’t do it for her.

  30. Avatar of Lacy Bateman

    This is very true for me in my marriage ten year ago. I could not have written it better. Thank you for helping me to verbalize what I suffered and still do. I will take this to my therapist.

  31. Avatar of Lew Talbert

    I was married to a woman who did all the things listed in this article. Nothing you could ever do would be enough. Belittling and name-calling were her every day stock in trade. She would purposefully make me late for meetings, for work, and for events where I was the featured speaker. She would try to make me look bad in public and run off my clients, etc. She would say any and all kinds of evil things to me. I feel that i struggled with some PTSD-like symptoms for several years after the divorce.

    1. Avatar of Felicia

      This describes my ex exactly, so I sympathize. 25 years of hell, and I had no idea there was a name for it – not that it would’ve helped. I did everything to please, and at age 45 started having panic attacks when he walked into the room. It was time to get out!

  32. Avatar of Jennifer Holcombe

    The statistics are totally off and because there are varying degrees of sociopathy this raises the percentage considerably higher. I am not sure who keeps coming up with these drastically unsafe and too low numbers but it is time to protect yourself by understanding at the bottom line of a sociopath is that you are going to get hurt, swindled, lied to, and are in an unfair/unbalanced in-correctable situation. The only way to win against a sociopath, and you must win because your life and it’s rights are based on this, is to get away from them. Here are some basic rules to remember when you are dealing with a sociopath (by the way the newest name is dissociative personality/identity disorder) They have no conscience. You are not being heard, no matter what they say or lie about. Their only goal is to get whatever it is that they want. They will lie to you and about you. The only thing harder than interacting with a sociopath is separating yourself from one. They spend all their time creating barbs that are now embedded in you and it takes a long time to one by one cut out these barbs, your pain will be multiplied.

  33. Avatar of Renim Leinad

    Narcissists, psychopaths and sociopaths are all that describes the so-called officials that are supposedly running this nation. This is what the topic should be about. I’ve known quite a few narcissists. and they’re frequent fake criers ( crying without tears) and falsely show empathy towards people they are using. The elite continuously manipulates the perceptions of the masses, are pathological liars, energy vampires and are considered to be psychopaths.

    1. Avatar of Sylvia Fry

      Dear Renim Leinad
      Thank you for bringing up this topic. Every thing I have come across is concerned with how to deal with the psychopathology in romantic and other personal relationships.
      My now 92 year old Mom and I have been abused for several years by “the system.” Her son tricked her into signing documents she lacked capacity to understand. Moved her from my good care of over a decade ( I am an advance practice RN and Mom’s best friend; I have lived with her most of my life – a choice) to his hometown into a memory facility ; a dump essentially – I was an inspector for these places. Lies pursued I was not welcome. My “lithe energetic robust joyous” “lucid” Mom as described by her dementia MD shortly before admission was adjudicated psychotic/agitated drugged into a stupor and I was kicked out IT GETS WORSE EVERY DAY. A NYS Title 81 Guardian was assigned. Reporting elder abuse is bullshit – WORSE at times it results in retaliation against US. Lifespan of Greater Rochester controls court appointed Guardianships AND all elder abuse referrals either start OR end up there. THERE IS NO OVERSIGHT WHATSOEVER. No mandatory education, guardians are disturbingly ignorant in elder and dementia care. Social workers make medical diagnosis refusing known standards i.e. My Mother suffered a stroke to her visual cortex from this dangerous drug;. Within 3 months she lost over 3 inches in height, a marked painful lumbar bend for obvious reasons of neglect; “The stroke caused the bend and height loss and therefore nothing can be done about it.” VISUAL CORTEX???? She has worn glasses for 70 years is denied eye exams, (at her age it is no longer necessary and it would just confuse her) She walks into walls, falls., gait anomaly. We walked 20 miles in a day 2 days before arrival. “athletic for age.” Normal aging my ass. She is not allowed to see me or speak to me. Or anyone else. who cares about her. She begged them to help her “I’m dying I hate it here I need my daughter.” The prevarications about me are functionally impossible make believe – (I quote Christian nursery rhymes “I love you more than tongue can tell.” Which is sexual and proves I force her to perform oral sex ……2 reports of my abusing were made. When I gave her skin care; bloody scratched dry skin I warmed the lotion first – “a disgusting sexual act.” Said the nurse. Never taught this? Never noticed old folks need sweaters in August? Accused of risking her life because of bullshit. My husband accused of felony crimes; taking a photograph of us in an embrace without getting WRITTEN PERMISSION IN ADVANCE someone’s FOOT in the pix as the door was closing. “One more incident such as this and you will both suffer serious repercussions.” We do. “You’d see your Mother from behind bars if it were up to me.” All visits if any chaperoned. Yet when queried “I do not know why your visits are restricted and chaperoned.” My Mother a professional writer has written some 400 motes help why wanting to die, “Hundreds” proudly confiscated from her room All writing material removed It is now LOCKED up available only to staff. “Meaningless.” “Nothing she says or writes has any merit or significance.”
      Forgive me for blab blab blabbing. Just to say if you come across any material that IS NOT directed to personal relationships I HAVE GOT TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO. NO ONE WILL HELP US. Not in this town, this county, this state. Sadly not in my country either. The Justice Dept. Elder Justice referred me BACK TO LIFESPAN. The National Comt on Elder Abuse – Educational Research – and they refer me TO LIFESPAN too! The laws are beautifully written AND USELESS. I have contacted the legislators. Two replied with their deepest sympathies. It is clear that the laws in question are being violated Ms Fry Elder you understand of course we can’t get personally involved….One person said the entire office is praying for you and your Mother. Alz Assn etc all those groups “educational purposes only.” Call your ombudsman. The ombudsman IS LIFESPAN. She has a copy of my “sex abuse” reports and every copy of Guardianship reports. THEY REFUSE TO VIEW MY REPORTS LETTERS FROM PEOPLE WHO KNEW US SAW US REGULARLY PHYSICIANS REPORTS DURING THE YEARS WE LIVED TOGETHER WELL. “Nothing concerning Annette’s life before Lifespan’s appointment has any merit or significance.” Yet her son attends Guardianship Meetings regularly to report lies about how I endangered his Mother ALLTHE YEARS WE LIVED TOGETHER. These “incidents” present grave concerns regarding my judgment Letters from caregivers with 6 months of training in our home 4 days a week x 3 years – “:meaningless,” refused. 13 letters from professionals and friends WHO WERE THERE. He was not anymore than 8 days a year AT MOST staying in motels. His thank you notes praising me NOPE. My pictures of 6 months of recurrent stage 2 bedsores – “There is nothing wrong with your Mother’s skin” I treated them I have put toe tags on people who have died from septicemia with much less skin damage of shorter duration in community dwellings while an ED nurse.
      “You are obsessed with her private parts. Circulating pornographic photographs of your own Mother like that further proves how dangerous you are. Destroying her dignity! Stealing an old woman’s right to privacy, robbing her modesty. You disgust me.” Nonsense lies absolute lies – when advocates ask for specifics we get adjectives and LIES.- creating an incident, Annette becomes upset – Yes she screams bloody murder “NO don’t me make go in there don’t leave me I’ll die. If you find literature related to corporate psychopathology TO THIS! let me know. That said I need someone to look at this paper trail, research what to do how to do it who to contact what to say how to say it and figure out a strategy and institute it – before she dies. Somehow. I CANNOT With computers mail UPS phones etc it can be done from anywhere. Word of mouth…..I know there are capable decent people in this country in addition to my Mom me (and you ) who own a moral conscience . I knew lots of them once upon a time. My parents. Check out Varian Fry. He left me a legacy. My brother emptied our home of 48 years. Everything. Items worth nothing to him but to deny us joy

    1. Avatar of Felicia

      NO, it is NOT! This isn’t about men or women, it’s about a personality disorder that can affect either. How dare you!

    1. Avatar of Martin

      my dad is a narcisisstic parent……he has over the years ruined me going to college….co-signed for a loan, backed out on it for no reason, when we got in a petty argument, locked me out of the house, gaslights and acts like i`m crazy and he did nothing. he filed a PFA (restraining order) against me, and kept calling the cops when i wasn`t even bothering him…to constantly get me in trouble and put in jail for days or weeks at a time…i`ve never gone to jail for anything besides the times he`s done this….i lost an entire music production studio and 3 computers, plus my car, and my entire wardrobe…..i lived on the street, couch surfing, got robbed and ended up with staff infections twice from being out on the street without anywhere to go most of the time. he threw out my birth certificate or kept it, there were important things like a my social security card…..that were at my parents house…..i lost those because of him and it was a living nightmare just to get new documents again…….he ended up causing me to be put on probation for the PFA he filed even tho i did nothing wrong in the first place, and i had to basically leave the state i was living in, just to escape him from being able to find me and call the cops…everytime i would start to start over, he would do something else to ruin what little i did have going for myself. he is a truly messed up person….i have PTSD and major depression issues now because of him….and i had to move 4 hours out of state away from pretty much everyone i know….and any support i had….just to be sure he couldn`t do it again. my mom is trapped in a relationship with him still…it sucks……most people can`t believe it when i tell them my experience…and think i must have done something wrong to cause it…but the truth is i did not.

  34. Avatar of Lisa

    I think this writer is Young and naive. I believe that this is a very complicated disorder. And narcissist can be very very destructive. The best advice I’ve ever gotten about a narcissist is to separate yourself from their focal point. And once you become that it is very difficult to get off their bad list. Really professional help is the best candidate for finding relief.

    1. Avatar of Martin

      i think this article is very very accurate. I have grown-up/lived with a narcissistic father…..completely psycho….he did pretty much everything listed in this article.

    2. Avatar of Rosie

      What you’ve just noted is exactly what the author wrote in her article. Did you actually read the article, or are you trolling because you’re the naive one? It sure seems like the latter.

  35. Avatar of Nuts

    Someone tried to tell me I was a narcissist once, and decided to stop talking to me, I still to this day tear up over this, I was in a really difficult relationship and was suffering with post partum depression and regular depression plus I found out at that time I also had ADHD. I tried to reach out for support to her she was supposed to be my best friend but I guess I was an energy vampire to her. The only people who really helped were councellors at a mothers group I attended for an hour a week.

    To this day I look at everything I say and do and feel and wonder if this is true and I’m tearing up just writing this.

    Careful who you decide to slap this label on to

    1. Avatar of Verna

      It is not your responsibility to make other people’s words and labels come true! Don’t take on responsibility that is not yours.

    2. Avatar of Spearcarrier

      Some friend! It’s one thing to turn to someone in need. It’s another to do what a narcissist does! My narcissist ex (I had a couple before I got wise to the signs) all called me that, as well as controlling, manipulative, stupid, needy… in the end it’s just bad labels to hurt you and keep you down. I had one ex – worked for the government he did – that actually spend a week trying to convince me to quit my new job illustrating a famous book. Why? He didn’t want to see me succeed! Are you like that, or do you do anything like in the article above? No? Probably not if you’re tearing up over the accusation, being as the people described have trouble connecting. Dunno if your ex-friend was a narcissist, but I do know that people are quick to throw out psychological labels these days without even knowing what they mean… and a TRUE friend wouldn’t have labelled you and thrown you away like that. If you had to part ways it would have been handled differently. Be glad they left!!! You don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.

  36. Avatar of Jayne Waterford

    But really what can you? Sociopaths are in the world trashing the planet, destroying lives? Apart from prosecuting them for their crimes what can be done? Tighten your culture’s response to sociopathic actions? Design more repercussions that take them out of circulation? Prevent them from taking office? What do we do?

  37. Avatar of Alex

    With a high interest in psychology, this makes a whole lot of sense. One of my exes is stage 1 bipolar. And one of the reason we dated was my interest to figure out how and what makes a person so extreme on both ends of emotional state of being. Not in a sense to “fix” her but guide her in the right direction of emotional stability. In a good mood, she was everything I could ask for. But in a bad mood, it was misery, blame shifting, and degrading of my accomplishments stemming from her own insecurities as the article states. Perhaps you can say that about anyone who is happy or sad but what separates the 2 is realization and intention of the actions. What I didn’t expect from this was getting scarred after, what I would say, achieving my objective. After prolonged months of constant battle, arguing and pushing in the right direction, she became significantly stable and felt “lost” from the unfamiliarity of that state of being. We broke up because she could not figure herself out while being stable as it became a new world for her. Heartbroken, it was not easy to recover but what helped me cope was that my objective was met and she sees life in a much better light. Needless to say, some narcissists can be guided towards a better life for them and everyone around them. Great article!

    1. Avatar of krissy

      I am sorry, but the reason for your failed relationship was not the girl’s fault but your own. Dating someone just for research is for your benefit and not a viable reason to have a relationship. If you lacked the emotion in the relationship and the empathy for her, then maybe you should have been the one being studied.

  38. Avatar of Kim McCord

    Check out Sandra L. Brown @
    The Institute of Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education. Sandra is the guru of “Cluster B” personality disorders which are “dramatic & erratic” as well as being the most dangerous to their victims causing inevitable harm. Sandra’s expertise focuses on the treatment for survivors of pathological love relationships. Her online course “The Living Recovery” program is incredible!
    Best information you’ll find.
    Read Sandra’s best seller
    “Woman Who Love Psychopaths”
    Believe in the universe that these evil creatures eventually get what’s coming to them!
    There is no menu at the Karma Cafe…they will be served what they deserve!

  39. Avatar of David Bucciero

    1 in 25, no concience? There is a spectrum. The narcissist in me sees the narcissist in you, careful not to fool yourself. Every ex is a sociopath, and that means you too. Toxicity becomes when ownership becomes the nature of a relationship. Not trying to discount extremes, but it usually goes both ways. Peace.

  40. Avatar of Mana Lavette

    I have a close friend but she never wants to hear about any of my adventures, never asks how my vacation was, always brags about how she looks better then anyone else she sees, can’t understand why all 8 of her children won’t talk to her, ranks the looks of tv and movie stars, hates overweight people, and her husband weighs about 350 lbs. She takes it as a punishment cause he used to be so handsome and strong.

  41. Avatar of Shannon

    Great.. now every person with a failed relationship is going to start pointing the finger and saying.. Ah ha!!!

  42. Avatar of John

    The abusers may be former victims of abuse themselves and their behaviour may be linked to physical and/or mental flaws in their brain development. Sometimes, they may display changed behaviour due to physical brain damage sustained in an accident or other trauma event they themselves have experienced. Yes, they are flawed but it is not necessarily all their fault that they are. It may just be that we need to be aware of what can lie behind such behaviour and to show such individuals a degree of compassion that may help them to overcome their damaged behaviour and become an altogether better person, with the corollary that they become much more the kind of person you want to associate with on a long-term basis?

    1. Avatar of Steph

      I was with someone who had a traumatic past and essentially raised himself. It ended poorly with this being the result. And you can’t change them. They love the compassion. They love people feeling sorry for them. And they use it to further manipulate and degrade. It is sad. I tried very hard to help him. Tried again and again. Then again once more. But it was destroying me and the only thing I could do was leave. Because they tell you they want to change. Oh they convince you they can change. But they don’t want to. And if they do they they don’t try very hard. And they don’t get very far before they are abusing you again. The only thing you can do is walk away. And feel sorry for them from afar.

    2. Avatar of Mollie

      Yes! Thank you for saying this. In reading this article I kept cringing and thinking about all those children and adults living with Reactive Attachment Disorder. They may severely lack empathy, but it isn’t their life goal to cause suffering to others. It’s that they are hurting and don’t know how to truly connect with others. They need help, not shaming and being told they are evil and unfixable. That’s basically the very worst thing you could possibly do to a person with RAD.

      The author should be ashamed of herself for merely perpetrating the hate and the misunderstanding of abuse victims (which is what most of those who lack empathy are, abuse victims)!

    3. Avatar of Rosie

      Mollie, the article is specifically about Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I think any victim-blamer and abuser should be ashamed of themselves, honestly. People who excuse abusive behavior and act as if someone is entitled to abuse due to their trauma (by the way, read the research: still no verdict on what causes NPD – new research actually shows being spoiled as a child can potentially cause it) disgust me. The people who have worked with abusers and have done actual research – George Simon, Lundy Bancroft, Robert Hare, Sandra Brown – these people learned how deliberate and manipulative these abusers are. The victims of the abuse described in this article are the ones that end up seeking help. The abusers, as Steph talked about, do not. If abusers did not do any of this deliberately, they wouldn’t be able to put a charming facade on whenever they’re in the public vs. in the private. Nor would they target the exact insecurities a victim has. They do know what they are doing and how much they hurt others. Your cruelty and lack of empathy towards the ACTUAL survivors described in the article is shameful.

    4. Avatar of Bernadette

      It interests me to understand their behaviour only to find strategies to protect myself. People who never question themselves never change. I run away from wolves disguised in sheep clothing.

  43. Avatar of Barb

    Wish I knew this years ago I could have spotted those good for nothings coming. But I learned them and also learn how to deal with them in my family.

  44. Avatar of Gloria

    I’m not convinced that a narcissus complex is actually recognised by the person with that complex. The only problem is that they’re so up themselves that even if they come to a realisation! Guarantee they will have found a reason to dismiss the diagnosed condition!! Whilst they may lack empathy they certainly ‘feel’ (for themselves though). They can be hurt, feel love, even guilt albiet short lived because taking responsibility is not in their nature. We can say run but I have found that due to a massive strength of character (fortitude) I am able to fend of hurt/injury to feelings. Armed with the knowledge of the narcissists weakness I can walk away knowing that it’s the only cure for me. But for the narcissist their loss is incredibly short lived. They’re extremely damaging to others and including themselves, they’re able to reflect on their behavior and acknowledge self inflicted losses but it’s just so incredibly short lived. The bottom line is they cannot change I’ve tried for 25 years to tolerate one but sadly had to walk away for my own self preservation.

  45. Avatar of Kara

    I spent 17 years with one. He had me convinced it was me. It was me if I just changed, or did this, or did that everything would be great. When he didn’t get the reaction he thought he should the physical abuse would. I will never be the same, whatever that was. I also have never been in another relationship. I lost me. I know that it doesn’t take much for those feelings in me to raise their ugly heads, telling me all the lies he had me believing. I finally got it. I was how he was getting his power, carving me up was how he felt okay. Leaving didn’t take his power. He had another victim before the front door closed. They move on fast, they have to.

    1. Avatar of Survivor

      Oh this! Exactly this! I feel so sorry for the poor woman who took my place, I hope that she’s doing better than I did.

  46. Avatar of Kerri

    Anyone still working in this kind of relationship to *rehabilitate* their partner? I am. My husband is non-diagnosed BPD with Narc. Tendencies. (Says I.)
    Only “help” is from me, his wife. (Victim) SK inappropriate, but. It’s all we have.
    Please, if you are in a similar sitch, add me and message me.
    I want to talk to people who are in my shoes.

    1. Avatar of charlene

      Help me plz my bf is a narcissist,together for 12 years now,i gave him the silent treatment now,but he dont care.

    2. Avatar of Jill

      I was married to one for 23 years, tried everything broke my heart and took so much time from me…..and my children … will only manage him/the situation that’s the best you can hope for…..very tiring and all consuming….life will always be about them. I’m 4 mths out of marriage still feel a bit lost but oh my ??I can’t believe how wonderful it is to wake everyday and not have to combat my way thru’ the day ……it just flows and flows so easily now. I do not have one other family member who acts or treats anyone like this person I wed…..not even my own children…..I’m very proud to say they are all wonderful human beings with compassion and empathy …all four …one daughter and three sons. I stayed in marriage long enough to help them help themselves. Together we parented their father when necessary and came very close to normal but lurking underneath is the very sad life of the narcissist always rearing it ugly head and always we were managing our life and our worth ….exhausting work . Hope you have it in you to help him change but it’s hard to tell when they are genuine or just pretending to let you think your winning only to let you down …..Good luck I’m thinking of you Kerri ?

  47. Avatar of Lily

    I’m very fresh from a 4 year Narc relationship where I had my children and friends ostracised, and almost lost my teenage daughter as she couldn’t take ‘his’ abuse of her or me anymore. She tried to end it…… And still I was trapped…… Your article is the closest thing to what I have experienced. He was so fake that he was taking my identity at every turn and claiming it for himself. my ideas, my new career, my hobbies, my spirituality, suggestion of fun things to do – all the things that he use to belittle me for. He was charming and sexy, unemployed and broke… But finally when his lies were undeniable i could see all the previous unconfirmed lies. He was even pursing a court case against me for running over his leg and causing him permanent nerve damage. He had no evidence but his words would convince anyone… How can someone who loves you, lie so blatantly to everyone? – easy money…. I’m still trying to work out how to heal. 🙁

  48. Avatar of Krissy Intuitive
    Krissy Intuitive

    Good article. Thank you for sharing… ALso, they do all they can to destroy you when they can’t control, abuseand use you anymore ( after you exit), by bad mouthing, smear campaign. picture themselves as victims. They are bad people. Run as early as you can. Stay as far away from them as you can. Trust your gut feeling. Never second guess. They are dangerous !!!

  49. Avatar of Chris

    I was married for 13 years to a woman with a borderline personality disorder. The progression of abuse you describe parrallels my experience. I am whole again. Thanks for the affirmation.

  50. Avatar of Janet

    Thank you so much. Every word you have written is true. I am testament to how we can recover and rise above this experience and also, as I read your words how long and deep the scars can last. I am now feeling a deep cellular release of all the negative self worth I absorbed during the decades of this kind of treatment which continues long, long after the relationship ends, when there are children involved. Message to him: you did not starve us back to you; you did not manage to damage your daughters; you failed and we prevailed and the very fact that they now have a stable relationship with you in which their self worth stands strong, is testament to that. In fact, I thank you for being just what you are because otherwise we would never known just how amazing we all are, including my son. I thank you for having been a part of my life, as I would not have know our two beautiful daughters otherwise. I thank you equally for evolving when you finally could as far as you could and I acknowledge that there actually is nothing to forgive. I wish for only that you truly find the worth in yourself that you may be released from the hell of separation in which you live and have lived since you were a small boy. Once you were innocent. Seek, and do not stop seeking, until you rediscover that part of yourself you locked away so long ago so that you may live the rest of your days in peace.

    1. Avatar of Tam

      Janet, your ‘message to him’ was beautifully stated. I often wonder and hope that I am able to release my fears of the possible devastation this/himself may cause my son. Your ability to find peace within is inspiring. Bless you and your children.

  51. Avatar of Carlie

    A girl in my very small department at school who is my same year has been deliberately trying to tear me down for the past four years with some of these tactics (gaslighting is her favorite). Unfortunately, it has worked to a certain degree, and it will take a while to undo the damage she’s done. But recognizing the tactics being used against me (and being validated from other people who had witnessed/experienced these tactics being used) has helped me start to rediscover some of the self-worth I’d lost. It’s because of that knowledge that I know how important this article is. Thank you for writing it.

  52. Avatar of Jodie Wise

    Sadly I had to experience a narcissist in my workplace which resulted in having to leave my job of 15years in the health service due to being diagnosed with depression & anxiety ? . It’s the people that stand up that end up worse off and the narcissist goes about “their” normal life !

  53. Avatar of Linda Hawkins

    For every untended wound we can attract someone that will rub salt in it. Healing starts with healing ourselves that these people do not have a foothold.

  54. Avatar of Mo Hosseini

    Spot on accurate. It’s unreal @ how well they read people @ suss them out for exploitation. Used to be super open, trusting, gullible, revealing, giving, of an approval-seeking nature & was surrounded by these freaks- not even knowing it. Now that so many things have changed- they are no where to be found. They don’t come out unless they see an easy target & size them up first. They dig for weakness & offer a fake helping hand. Then they pounce.

  55. Avatar of Alison Soroka

    One in 25 people will have the disorders associated with ‘no conscience’ which include antisocial personality disorder, sociopath, and psychopath.

    304 million divided by 25 = 12.16 million have no conscience.

    Each antisocial/psychopath will negatively affect approximately 5 partners with their pathology.
    12.16 million x 5 = 60.8 million people! ~Psychology Today 2010

  56. Avatar of Trish Carr

    Thank you, the article finally loaded for me.

    It is articles like this one, that help me to understand, that my ex husbands behaviours, were not, and are not, mine.
    Reading articles like this, empower me with a knowledge and an understanding, an enlightenment of sorts, of just how much power and control I actually fed this man, and willingly to boot.
    I had just come away from a nasty divorce with my first husband, the father of my 3 eldest children, and feeling vulnerable and unwanted, when we met. Oh my, he made me feel so good. The best I had ever felt. I worshipped the ground he walked on, so did my 3 children. The pedestal that he put me on, was so high. He told me how much he loved me and my kids. He was always telling me, and others, of what a good mum and partner, etc, that I was. And, I will blow my own trumpet, I am a good mum. I gave birth to my first daughter when I was 17, yes very young, but a learning curve like you wouldn’t believe. She is almost 30 now.
    So fast forward (16 years) to the present moment. This man and I have 5 beautiful girls together,( yes I have 8 children, 6 girls and 2 boys, from age 29 down to my twin girls who are 7 ?). Five years ago, he physically, beat me up in front of 4 of our young daughters. It took me 3 days before I went to the police. “I have pushed him in some way. I have provoked him. I have made him angry. I didn’t do the dishes. I didn’t lay out the right clothes for him. I cried the night before whilst he raped me, again. I didn’t cover my bruise from the week before so people wouldn’t have any idea. It had to be my fault. He loved me.”
    He was arrested and gone that day.
    Three years ago, he took our girls for his week. He decided that my “mental health” (bi-polar, ptsd, bpd) had declined. He decided that he was not bringing the girls back to me for my week. And he wasn’t until he saw fit. I ended up in hospital, due to a massive break down. I lost my children, I lost my home, I lost my material possessions. I almost lost myself. I tried to embellish the black dog by making numerous attempts to end it all.
    But, essentially, because of what I believed, that he had “loved” me into believing, I deserved nothing anyway. I was a shit mother and person.
    A year ago, he “abducted” our 5 daughters, and moved them to another state.
    There are no orders, there are no court stamps. Only his.
    I’ve been told by child protection, by the police, why not just go and take the girls, he did.
    I’m not him. So, my girls and I, are over 2,000kms away from each other.
    I am slowly getting my ducks lined up, it’s a process. I have an amazing professional support network. My gp, my psychologist, my psychiatrist, and I work very closely, and progress has certainly been made, again, it’s a process.
    So, having more knowledge of how a true narcissistist perceives the world around them, is very educational as to help me in my own journey.
    At the end of the day, this man, is a master at being narcissistic.
    He has a criminal record for beating me, threatening to kill me, child protection records for beating my other kids, to name a few. Yet he is the one with our girls, he is the one who has taken them away, he is the one who has been a victim of family violence. Hmmm, go figure.
    Here I am, 47 years old, homeless, sleeping on friends sofas, living out of a small suitcase, minimal contact with my 5 daughters dictated by him, and finding out that my 7 year old daughter is in hospital having her appendix out, through a Facebook post made 4 hours earlier.
    But, the most important thing, here I am, taking breath, writing this (very long, lol), comment.

    Thank you x

    1. Avatar of pudin

      You will make it. Take courage and continue to pray. Seek help and don’t believe the lies that the enemy shed. Joy comes in the morning.

  57. Avatar of Christina Elen

    Well, as reading such An interesting article, reminding me many examples from past and present, you can always tell him -her to fuck off. Seeing you achieve, is their pain and destruction. (I think so). There is a time an empath wins….

  58. Avatar of Joshua Lavers

    Very good read ! And I Also found it really interesting the comment about how emotional & Physical pain are one in the same & how if you look further into that studies have also confirmed this to be true…

  59. Avatar of Sue Neal

    Read up on The narp program for narcissist abuse by Melanie Tonia Evans, teaches you how to deal and move on from these people so you live a normal life and attract the right people in it x

    1. Avatar of Tamara Berlin

      Just know that the behavior doesn’t end when they leave. It’s up to us to choose how we react. Keep calm and be the light ?

    2. Avatar of Sue Neal

      ? well said, I think the behaviour goes from bad to worse. As little contact as poss or none at all is the only thing you can do to make it stop. Xxx

  60. Avatar of Kiran Bais

    In India i doubt doctors will be aware of such Abusers and Narcissist people. Neither how to recognize or treat…down to the basics…nor the families are aware….they will keep suffering but won’t know what it is…

  61. Avatar of Star Aquarian

    i suffer from complex ptsd,, and to be honest I’ve noticed i know react horribly when hurt, like his pain truly transferred on to me, been three years and i still have not been able to re integrate back to trusting or even a normal part of society.. the struggle is real

    1. Avatar of Samantha Bacho Majors

      I have a degree as a therapist and i still have so much to deal with and its been 5 yrs you are not alone. Just remind and/or learn what “healthy” responses/reactions are. I seem to always want to retreat into my little safe place in my brain and walk away to analyze and reanalyze the situation

    2. Avatar of Priscilla Diane Guill-Wright

      I have CPTSD, too….People think it’s a joke. When, I tell someone that I don’t need their advice, they act like they’ve been through it all, they know exactly how I feel…they don’t know what the hell I had to suffer through and damn near lost my life a few times. I’d rather be alone than hear another male tell me how I should feel…

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