How Society Gaslights Survivors of Narcissistic, Sociopathic & Psychopathic Abuse

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From Self-Care Haven by Shahida Arabi: “As an author who writes for abuse survivors, I’ve communicated with thousands of people who have been affected by malignant narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths as partners, friends, family members, co-workers, or even bosses. Throughout the course of my work, I’ve noticed a common theme: the societal invalidation and gaslighting of survivors.

This form of secondary gaslighting and invalidation is incredibly painful, especially when it comes from the very professionals, friends, and family members who are meant to help support the survivor on their healing journey. Not only does secondary gaslighting from other people further isolate the survivor, it actually hinders the healing process. I can’t tell you the number of times a survivor has reached out to me to tell me the retraumatizing effects of being invalidated by a friend, a family member, a spiritual leader, or even a therapist who dispensed ill-informed, sometimes even victim-blaming ideas.

. . . It’s important to learn the appropriate ways of communicating with survivors of malignant narcissists – those who lack empathy, who exploit others for their own gain, who abuse others chronically, and who lack remorse and conscience for their actions.

Here are common mistakes people make when communicating with survivors of this type of insidious violence:

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64 COMMENTS

  1. Narcissist=THEM
    Sociopath=THEM
    Psychopath=THEM

    Are ya’ll gonna keep these THEM DSM terms and shred the other chapters? Of course. Keep these because if your not going to love everyone and see everyone as an individual with a free right to hold their own opinion and make their own choices then you need to make “some” people THEY.

    Blame does not work if there is no THEM.

    Good ol DSM.

    Knew it had new uses!

    • Narcissism is a word from Greek mythology that Freud used to describe self-centered people. Psychiatry later bastardized it further by plopping the idiot term “disorder” after it, then shoved it in the DSM.

      And FYI – I see everyone as an individual with a free right to hold their own opinion and make their own choices and I would appreciate it if you would do the same.

      • You seem to believe I am holding back your opinions when I voice my own. I do not recall delivering my comment on MY opinon of the narcissism trope TO YOU.

        I suggest that since you do not understand that I am often in the habit of choosing not to air my notions and comments TO YOU that from now on perhaps you might think about not reading anything I write. See it all as music. I sing my own song and I sing it off key. So just don’t lisyen to my happy song.

        Birdsong, I rather like you. You are full of passion in your believe. Like the Sufi’s are full of celebration of their beliefs. Be more Birdsong.

        And if we differ, stay different, that we may celebrate our differences.

        You may never approve of where my opinions take me and I may never approve where your opinions take you, so let us agree to differ…
        as the thistle differs from the rose.

      • Birdsong, I do not encourage comment chat these days so I have to not reply to teasing debates or I will find myself back in pyjamas having done nothing else with my day.

        (I will use the “you” word to mean “anyone” and so I am not referring to you in particular).

        I do not want to do comment pingpong or theory tennis.
        But I will say this….

        The HOOVER DAM is goihg to EXPLODE. I think it will do so around the time of solar eclipse in 2023 or so. Though I can be a decade out with dates. All I do KNOW is the dam is going. A turning point in American history will occur. We may applaud it. Like the happy cheering Arab Spring protestors in Syria did, soon to realize that war thrives on the narcotic “sprwinklin” of violence and utopia.

        When the dam goes, know that despite my abject suffering in my leprouse schizophrenia-marred brain I have a genius part of my brain where I DO SEE the FUTURE. And this means that later on an ENORMOUS BIBLICAL SIZED FLOOD is coming to many of our coastal cities. We, as a species, are going to survive this. But at the time the collective trauma will metaphorically muddy the shoes of a million psychiatrists, and swamp them in case loads they have to wring out to read the Rorschash inkblots of.

        Birdsong,

        How glad I am that you despise bullies as much as I despise bullies. It is a fascinating topic of crucial concern.

        I guess we can all be bullies in any 24 hour timespan. Bullying comes from manifest stress.

        There is no need to use ANY fancy words for what is just a BIG BULLY.

        The word BULLY does just fine. The word has lasted for centuries. Why people hate using that word is because it has been an easy word to ridicule as a sign of wimpishness, like when a school boy is beaten up and goes all cry baby and says their assailant is a BIG BULLY. It is a word that is the summary of all mealy mouthed jokes. A shameful word to bubble as an utterance, far worse than just sobbing. But bullies have DONE that mischeif with our beautiful proud word “BULLY”. They have covered that school yard word with embarrassing broken up gravel and puffs of self raising flour until we stand tall in what looks farcical..

        When people use obligatory jargony specific science words or religious words or sex characteristic words or ethnicity words for describing A BIG BULLY they are in fact caving in to the way the bully word has been censored for them. So they are still being bullied into not yelling…

        “Stop BULLYING ME !!!”.

        Instead they have to call the abuse and the abuser terms best suited to the rational hey day or REASON when grown men held councils to discuss proof of how female foetuses develop slower than male foetuses.

        REASON cannot always be guaranteed to be our saviour. Often REASON is our jailor.

        Bully is an “emotion” centred word that we should dust off snd declare any time we feel punched by circumstances that cause people stress enough to transform them into bullies. Don’t allow the negating of that powerful simple and clear word!

        To negate the “bully” word is like letting a bully tell you your tears look foolish. And by being so beholden to the bully’s academic mockery you cease crying.

        But also sometimes…

        Those armchair juries who use scholarly names to describe whoever is deemed odd are behaving outwardly as a lesson preacher, They are someone who is BEING a BIG BULLY, and furthermore they are being A BULLY to ALL the INNOCENT people of that science group or religious group or sex group or gender group or ethnicity group.

        A BIG BULLY likes to use pokey picky words to convey logical judgement and expertize against a whole demographic….whom the BIG BULLY often describes as “the real bullies”. The BIG BULLY says ah look look look here is the PROOF the jews or catholics or simpletons or revolutionaries or pious or dyslexic people or ugly people or women people or newborns are bullies….because THEY have THAT mark or blemish or bone structure or warped brain or strange eyes or clumsy gait or too much wadges of cash. The bully will say it stands to REASON that THEY the THEM the OTHERS, are each bullies and LIARS!!!

        The village gibbot is ringed by supposedly morally decent people who are never bullies.

        The firing squad brick wall is fenced by the supposedly sweet and innocent good planet savers.

        The witches ducking chair is hoisted above the lake by the apparently sanctimonious pure of heart who never bully.

        No. No, what the village do, and what the firing squad do, and what the witch prickers and witch picnickers do is FIND DETAILED EVIDENCE that their prisoner is BAD.

        A BAD NARCissist. A BAD sinner. A BAD loner. A BAD simp. A BAD disabled accident of nature. A BAD faith holder. A BAD wife. A BAD wizard husband. A BAD sullen child.

        If people need extra words with scientific clout to thump who they loathe then they are being the bully.

        There is ONLY one rule ever needed. It contains all the essential ingredients.

        The rule is against any sexual abuse and bullying and cruelty.

        That is it. That is sll you ever need to pay attention to.

        You only need ask….

        Is the individual being a bully to “you” directly? Are they telling “you” that you cannot hold your own opinion? Are they telling “you” that you cannot have your innocuous free choices? Are they putting a bruise upon you?

        Or is it just they do not love you?

        All individuals must be free to NOT love you. This is because to force anyone to love you destroys what the feeling of love is. So some psychiatrist who does not love you is NOT a bully. A psychiatrist who is directly maliciously criticising and cruel to you IS a BULLY. But this one psychiatrist who is a bully does not mean that ALL other psychiatrists, or any person on the planet, HAVE TO love you.

        ALL unecessary HAVE TO’s when pushed as a dogma come from the impulse to control and bully others.

        There are exceptions to this…a dad does need to tell his three year old not light a cigaratte. He tells the child it HAS TO not take up smoking in the sandpit. Anywhere else maybe….

        The expectation that every doctor HAS TO even like you is like demanding a waiter must like you. Doctoring is just a service. Like fixing a car. People do not think they are entitled to see their car mechanic kiss their rear view mirror.

        • What’s the meaning of the word “bully”?
          “A person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those they perceive as vulnerable” –

          There are many psychologically-based words in vogue today, and narcissism, psychopathy and sociopathy are a few of them. Some say bullying is at the root of these, but most agree these behaviors are as old as time. And many say today’s mainstream “mental health professionals”, are often narcissists, or sociopaths, or even psychopaths in professional disguise, with (mainstream) psychiatrists at the top of the heap –

          • Bullying, sadly, happens. Many people, of all ages, are victims of such bullying. Some have had to move, change schools, get homeschooled, get new jobs, etc. due to such bullying. Yes, bullying has probably happened since we, humans, became humans, but it’s still there. And now we have technology, the social media, the internet to make bullying even easier. And we even have those tragic souls who champion the bullying of others. Yes, there are those in the mental health field who bully their patients and there are traditional doctors who bully their patients. There are teachers who bully their students or who help to contribute to the bullying of their students. And there are supervisors and managers who bully those who work for them. And of course there are others who bully others in all kinds of situations. Bullying is ever-present. I wish it would disappear, but right now I don’t have a clue. All I know is bullying in any form is wrong. No one deserves being bullied for any reason. The person who does the bullying does have some very major issues. But the damage done to the bullied can last a lifetime. We need ways to stop this bullying now. We do need to stop reward the bullies no matter where they show up. Thank you.

    • DECENCY causes WARS

      DECENCY causes ABUSE.

      By this I mean strict moral decency that only lives in the mind and cold analytical thinking and not the genuine feelings in the heart. Any decency that has no time to feel a feeling of decency is a shambles of a fascade of decency. Rules about good people and wicked people are from black and white thinking, a logic that our poor world has had enough of.

      Being overly pious and celibate and self-flagellating and puritanically right right right makes the human unwell to the point where such a miserable life of perfection snaps and out tumbles bitterness that sees that other people are not as morally upstanding yet are caring and happy and balanced.

      In my opinion MIA offers to be both a science and a faith.

      All faiths are healing until they get fed by interloping bullies arguementative diatribes. This sets up the “right” “wrong” competition. Those found to have “wrong” opinions are designated as people not to be trusted and much speculation goes on about them behind the scenes. As if “wrongness” is a useful “enemy” to practice piety on by compare and contrast. You find this in churches. But it all sets up a ridiculous standard of strict moral decency. I do not mean core ethics that all creatures do have, such as bans against sexual abuse or gross bullying or cruelty.

      I mean only that the overly neurotic extreme of strict moral decency is something that causes imbalance to the inner animal in the human.

      Nobody is supposed to be overly perfect every time they write or speak. The call to be strictly morally enlightened all day is often unhealthy. Humans are supposed to make some mistakes because there is no way to navigate freedom of choice without making a silly choice.

      The fad to persecute unknown people who are genuinely narcissistic or sociopathic or psychopathic
      MAKES the persecutor of them worse, for they have not got that misfortune to have been dealt poor cards by fate.

      Offices are teeming with narcissists, sociopaths and psychopaths and most people never ever find that out. Psychopaths have so little conscience that they are often guilt free to the point of being intriguing.

      We need ALL personality types in a community. So long as basic human rights are strictly keep.

      I have the rarest personality type in the Meyers Briggs personality test. I did another couple of different tests after weaning off antipsychotics. To my amusement I now have as well as schizophrenia some “psychopath” tick boxes. I am sure this has come from iatrogenic harm. The long term effect of being emotionally dopamine dorment. I have white leisons in my brain now. I cannot help being me. Most narcissists and sociopaths and psychopaths are not aggressive or pushy. They do not have to be. They argue less because they have no qualms about believing what they like to. People are drawn to them because they don’t quiver at the prospect of a snub.

      Everyone has a shadow side according to Jung. If you never own it or care for the feelings in it then it can turn on you. But rather than realize it is you letting it turn on you explosively, you project the cause of the inner melee onto someone you don’t know and call “them” the monster. Then you try to control that person.

      Just remember that as you all spit tacks at narcissists and sociopaths and psychopaths and demons and lepers it could be you having that iatrogenic harm and it could be you after you quit meds, and so it could be you suffering from such tick boxes of your own, if you unconscienably soar on up to fundamentalist witch hunting puritanism.

  2. It’s important to keep in mind that many therapists are actually narcissists themselves. In fact, the dynamics of a “therapeutic” relationship are not unlike those experienced in a narcissistic relationship. And being a therapist is a great way for narcissists to act out their narcissistic traits:

    1. Feelings of grandiosity
    2. Needing to influence others
    3. Exaggerate their abilities
    4. Craving admiration and acknowledgment
    5. Loves power and success
    6. Believe their skills are special
    7. Believe they’re owed something ($$$)
    8. Exploits others i.e. “patients”/clients
    9. Lacks empathy (many really don’t care or even like their clients, meaning their help is insincere)

    And some say the whole “mental health system” is built on a narcissistic framework.

    • I thought of psychiatric abuse as I was reading this… Lack of empathy, violence, gaslighting, victim-blaming… exploitation, lack of remorse or conscience… it is all there in that system. And yes, therapists can have some of these traits too, even subtly, and that can harm ‘patients’/’clients,’ too.

        • Dr. Alice Miller has a great chapter on why psychiatrists abuse their patients instead of facing their own childhood pain and trauma. It’s called “The Psychiatrists’ Campaign Against the Act of Remembering” in her book Breaking Down the Wall of Silence: The Liberating Experience of Facing Painful Truth.

          • Thank you for mentioning Alice Miller. Her groundbreaking books stand alone in pulling back the curtain on our traumatized society.

            Another set of YouTube videos on narcissism to check out is Dr. Les Carter’s.

          • “….psychiatrists abuse their patients instead of facing their own childhood pain and trauma” –

            A lot of psychotherapists do this too, but usually in a less heavy handed way.
            Instead of relying so much on psychiatry’s pseudoscience (diagnoses, drugs), they search their grab bag of intellectualized ego trips (“theories”, “treatments”) to distract themselves from facing their own painful memories. It’s a sophisticated form gaslighting (denial) done in a professional setting, which is what makes it so uniquely damaging to people. It’s what makes the “mental health system” as narcissistic as anything else.

            Most difficulties boil down to unchecked narcissism. It begins in childhood and plays out in adulthood in life’s many arenas: family, schools, workplaces, religions, governments, countries. It’s the story of humanity.

          • The main qualification for a therapist is not degree or training or years of experience. It’s the degree to which they have dealt with their own childhood trauma and disappointments and enforced roles. Alice Miller got it right!

          • The problem is narcissism often wears the badge of authority: psychiatrists, psychologists, etc. And some say the therapeutic model, (medical or otherwise) follows the narcissist’s template of emotional abuse: love bombing, devaluation, discard, etc.

          • Narcissistic abuse can happen anywhere, and a therapist’s office is no exception.
            It’s a matter of “better the devil you know, than the devil you don’t”.

          • Yes Susannah, transformative is the word! Reading “The Drama of the Gifted Child” changed my life.

            I wish her ideas were more widely known and accepted, but the way she thinks is too threatening for the status quo.

          • This is exactly it Birdsong. It is too threatening, but in the best, healthiest way.

            “Narcissism often wears the badge of authority.” Spot on! And the more our parents were narcissistic and abused their authority, the less we will be able to recognize that narcissistic abuse in others, the less able we will be to confront authority, the more we will comply.

            I wouldn’t say the problem of unchecked narcissism is the story of humanity, but it is definitely the story of civilization(s). Civilization has only existed for 10,000 years at most and only in certain parts of the world; humanity has existed for much longer. I believe narcissism going unchecked is what causes civilizations to develop and metastasize.

          • Thank you Susannah.

            It’s really hard to see narcissism, even if it’s pointed out, because you go with what you know, and too often that’s abuse in some form. But that’s what makes Alice Miller’s work so important; she exposes narcissistic abuse in a lot of its forms.

            And I agree that unchecked narcissism causes civilizations to develop and metastasize. But human nature being what it is, I’d assumed that narcissism has always been around to some degree. But it definitely runs rampant in advanced civilizations. It seems the more goods (and services), the more greed.

          • Birdsong,

            In civilization we tend to have a poor view of human nature, because there is so much unchecked narcissism and unresolved trauma running rampant. But when Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept: In Search of Happiness Lost, went to live amongst an indigenous tribe in Venezuela, she found something completely different: they had a very positive view of human nature and as a result were able to raise very peaceful, pro-social children as a rule: https://www.madinamerica.com/2022/05/allowing-human-nature-work-successfully-jean-liedloff/

            And Dr. Peter Gray talks about how hunter-gatherer societies tend to practice “a system of ‘reverse dominance’ that prevented anyone from assuming power over others,” thus maintaining a very egalitarian climate for which they’re famous:

            “The writings of anthropologists make it clear that hunter-gatherers were not passively egalitarian; they were actively so. Indeed, in the words of anthropologist Richard Lee, they were fiercely egalitarian.[2] They would not tolerate anyone’s boasting, or putting on airs, or trying to lord it over others. Their first line of defense was ridicule. If anyone—especially some young man—attempted to act better than others or failed to show proper humility in daily life, the rest of the group, especially the elders, would make fun of that person until proper humility was shown.

            One regular practice of the group that Lee studied was that of ‘insulting the meat.’ Whenever a hunter brought back a fat antelope or other prized game item to be shared with the band, the hunter had to express proper humility by talking about how skinny and worthless it was. If he failed to do that (which happened rarely), others would do it for him and make fun of him in the process. When Lee asked one of the elders of the group about this practice, the response he received was the following: ‘When a young man kills much meat, he comes to think of himself as a big man, and he thinks of the rest of us as his inferiors. We can’t accept this. We refuse one who boasts, for someday his pride will make him kill somebody. So we always speak of his meat as worthless. In this way, we cool his heart and make him gentle.’

            On the basis of such observations, Christopher Boehm proposed the theory that hunter-gatherers maintained equality through a practice that he labeled reverse dominance. In a standard dominance hierarchy—as can be seen in all of our ape relatives (yes, even in bonobos)—-a few individuals dominate the many. In a system of reverse dominance, however, the many act in unison to deflate the ego of anyone who tries, even in an incipient way, to dominate them.

            According to Boehm, hunter-gatherers are continuously vigilant to transgressions against the egalitarian ethos. Someone who boasts, or fails to share, or in any way seems to think that he (or she, but usually it’s a he) is better than others is put in his place through teasing, which stops once the person stops the offensive behavior. If teasing doesn’t work, the next step is shunning. The band acts as if the offending person doesn’t exist. That almost always works. Imagine what it is like to be completely ignored by the very people on whom your life depends. No human being can live for long alone. The person either comes around, or he moves away and joins another band, where he’d better shape up or the same thing will happen again. In his 1999 book, Hierarchy in the Forest, Boehm presents very compelling evidence for his reverse dominance theory.” https://www.madinamerica.com/2021/10/hunter-gatherers-maintained-egalitarian-ways/

            This makes me think that narcissism going unchecked is closely tied to our move away from small, peaceful, egalitarian, nature-based tribes to large, hierarchical, unjust, violent civilizations. I’m just not sure what causes the initial failure of those checks on narcissism; or, why so many people in the tribe become traumatized and are unable to heal.

          • Susannah,
            Thank you for sharing so much interesting information. It’s a fascinating topic worthy of much thought and discussion.

            I’d heard bits here and there about the existence of indigenous tribes that were, or are, structured in peaceful, egalitarian ways, and their methods for handling members whose egos got out of control. To me, these made sense because bad feelings effect harmony, and survival depends on everyone cooperating in harmony. And their methods for those who didn’t keep their pride in check were, for the most part, successful, because the offender had nowhere to hide. Respect for others ruled the day.

            And I definitely agree that unchecked narcissism has everything to do with going from egalitarian, nature-based tribes to the unjust, organized chaos it is now. I think this happened gradually as societies became more complex, with all kinds of innovations that led to more wealth and eventual trade with other societies. And this led to hierarchical organization that may have led to interpersonal jealousies/power struggles, that may have led to wars, that definitely led to where things are today – a constant struggle for world dominance, which is, in its essence, unchecked narcissism.

            And it’s really interesting to consider what caused the “initial failure of those checks on narcissism”, or why so many people in the tribe became too traumatized to heal. Maybe something happened, like a natural disaster, or the spread of a deadly disease that instilled fear in the tribe that caused a traumatized leader to take charge.

            Thank you for the links. It’s good to know some people are taking a critical look at how and why we live in such a narcissistically-driven world. And the question is, can anything be done? And for that I have no answer.

      • Susannah says, “And yes, some therapists can have some of these traits too, even subtly, and that can harm ‘patients’/‘clients’, too.”

        Narcissistic psychiatrists are easy to spot, but a therapist’s subtlety makes their own narcissism hard see because people are conditioned to believe therapists won’t abuse them. And the “therapeutic relationship” is the ideal setting for therapists to groom people into being their source of narcissistic supply. But this is hard to prove because being “diagnosed” harms people’s credibility, and it’s a “professional’s” word against theirs, and the “therapy” happens in isolation. It’s a narcissist’s dream job.

        I think the therapy profession is full of narcissists – some benign, but probably a lot more who have varying degrees of malignancy. I think the term “covert narcissist” fits a lot of psychotherapists and “malignant narcissist” fits a lot psychiatrists. And yes, “…it is all there in that (psychiatry’s) system…” as narcissism is – without a doubt – the architecture of mainstream psychiatry. And no one will ever know because both (psychiatry and therapy) are cloaked in confidentiality.

      • Susannah says, “I thought of psychiatric abuse as I was reading this… Lack of empathy, violence, gaslighting, victim-blaming… exploitation, lack of remorse or conscience… it is all there in that system”.

        And don’t forget the DSM – it’s (mainstream) psychiatry’s FAVORITE PLAYBOOK –

      • The subtlety used by narcissistic therapists is what makes choosing a therapist such a hazardous path. The smooth introductions and subsequent schmoozing narcissistic therapists use can easily persuade and hide a narcissistic therapist’s covert manipulation. And seeing credentials on the wall completes the “clinically disguised” seduction. It’s a potent mix for people already confused and vulnerable.

        • It is indeed very hazardous. After disappointments & retraumatizations with many therapists of different kinds, I eventually found Alice Miller to be my best and only trusted therapist. After reading her ~11 books and nearly everything else she’s written, I’ve been hard-pressed to find even once sentence of hers that hasn’t rung true or has rubbed me the wrong way. I don’t think I’ve found even one sentence. The woman could see things clear as day. She has given me the safety, understanding, validation and advocacy that has allowed my healing to unfurl like no one else had. Some somatic therapies I pursued prior to landing on her books probably helped open me up to be ready for them.

          • Susannah,
            I’m delighted and thankful to know how much Alice Miller’s books have helped you. It makes me feel vindicated!

            I firmly believe if more people knew of her ideas, fewer would seek psychotherapy or psych drugs. And somatic therapy can lead to psychic healing. I think it helps people become aware of how psychic tension is stored in the body.

          • Susannah says, “She (Alice Miller) has given me the safety, understanding, validation and advocacy that has allowed my healing to unfurl like no one else had”.

            I experienced these same incredible feelings, as Alice Miller’s work is truly that remarkable. She did everything psychotherapists lay claim to, but they’re often nowhere close to delivering.

          •  Suzannah,

            You say….

            Its a system of reverse dominance, however, the many act in unison to deflate the ego of anyone who tries, even in an incipient way, to dominate them”

            Like you, I see good alternative ways of life in humans having more nomadic or ancient tribal ways of life.

            However…I believe that NOBODY has the godgiven right to manage or trim or fix or cure or berate or heckle or insult or gang up against another human being JUST BECAUSE THEY HAVE AN EGO.

            An EGO is not an act of bullying or murder. An EGO is not a criminal offence. An unpopular tendency to be grandiose comes with some illnesses. See the article on the usefulness of having delusions. We are all entitled to be self aggrandizing bores at times without being leapt on by “thought police” and puritan activism.

            I also want to add that any person’s overly romantic vision of tribal life is just as absurd as any person seeing no worth in tribal life.

            Not every tribe is a oasis of western meditation. Some tribes still have a piquant interest in ritual sacrifices.

            More needs said than merely saying humans can get it right if they get right with God, or get right with a regime leader, or get right with toxic medical cures, or get right with bible study.

            The human will never get right until he goes within and figures out whst motivates his wish to “change” the boring grandiose people around him by turning them into virtuous automatons all chanting the same meno. Humans will never get right until they find out why they cannot stop interferring in other peoples affairs.

            I must now do a complete u-turn and say that my angels just said to me…

            “Forgive them !!!”.

            The angels are always telling me to shut up. The angels are my angels but are equally anyone elses. I must practice being more forgiving. Dearie me.

            No need to replyevouz. I will just go and thump my head on a convenient hard surface.

    • Being a therapist is a great way for narcissists to use their narcissistic tactics. Here’s a few from their playbook:

      1. Feelings of grandiosity – “I’M a therapist, and you’re NOT” –
      2. Needing to influence others – “People will listen to ME, because I’M a therapist” –
      3. Exaggerate their abilities – “Healing is impossible without a therapist” –
      4. Craving admiration and acknowledgment – “EVERYONE will know MY name once I get MY books and MY research papers published!” –
      5. Loves power and success – “I’ll know I’m a success when clients do whatever I want – through cajoling or threats of force” –
      6. Believe their skills are “special” – “Only therapists can do this!” –
      7. Believe they’re owed something ($$$) – “You have to PAY for what WE do” –
      8. Exploits others – “I’m going to use this client’s story for a book I plan to write – and I’m NOT telling them!” –
      9. Lacks genuine empathy – “I can’t stand this client and would have nothing to do with them if I weren’t getting paid for it –

    • Perhaps point them to a YouTube channel that discusses narcissistic abuse issues? Dr. Judy Rosenberg (Dr. Judy WTF – What the Freud), Patrick Teahan LICSW (does good roleplays showing what it’s like dealing with a narcissistic parent), Inner Integration… there are quite a few out there.

    • Recommend the book “The psychopath next door.” That’s what my actual family did for me, just after I politely escaped my first psychiatrist, almost drug free. Not to mention, my actual family then finally pointed out to me that I’d been gaslighted … or at least my husband had been gaslighted, by my former malpractice and child abuse covering up, Holy Spirit blaspheming, and misdiagnosing ELCA psychologist … which destroyed our marriage. All people should be educated about gas lighting at a young age, I unfortunately was not.

    • I was a pioneer proponent of the “stop narcissism” banner wafting. A friend of mine kept chatting me up…for two years. I just had no interest in a relationship with anyone at that stage in time. He was nice but I felt coerced to be a decoration in “his picture”, only his. As if I did not have an interior of my own. I was so caring that I just could not bring myself to rebuke his fond ardour. So I suffered the controlling. But because I was so caring it was going to take my seeing him through a lens that would paint him as manipulative and villanous before I could rebuff him. I needed to “enemy” him, by growing contemptuous of him. Narcissistic channels felt like a godsend at that. I could list how really horrible he was deep down and then move away from that bond, as if he magnetized me to remain rooted to the spot. This characaturizing of a person by going narc hunting over their each and every gesture was intoxicating to me because it gave me an excuse to build a hard boundary between him and me. That was always my job not his, but the whole narcissism witch hunt vogue seems to require scapegoating of disagreeing people IN ORDER to legitimate building a protective boundary around self. A boundary that ought to have been in situ before things turned sour. Basically I used the excuse of “them ming” him so that I could build my strong boundary, whereas if my strong boundary had already been repaired, by my seeing it as MY responsibility, I would not have needed to “enemy-ize” the poor man. I had to pathologize his bland interest in me to get around my guilt at having a protective boundary. Almost as if I had to blame him for my having to construct it at all. But if that boundary was already strong he would never have gotten away with imposing his picture on me unendingly.

      But at the time I soaked up all the narcissism videos and declared him malicious merely for liking me a lot. As if his mere liking was dangerous. What I was really doing was inwardly shouting at a part of me who kept undermining my own need for a tougher boundary. That wandering part kept joining him like a traitor to the rest of me. But after binging on narcissism videos I bought the crap that he had mendaciously “stolen” my wandering part of me. As if he had hoodwinked me by sinister means into having a low boundary, one that he could stride over and impinge on me by.

      It was then he seemed demonic and me possessed by his charming way of climbing over my ricketty empathic fence, that flimsy boundary. I was judgey of him. I was blaming him for my discomfort. When really I should have built my own boundary better. A more substantial barrier.

      What happens is there are boundaries, great and small, but when these let people of persuasive influence stroll on through any gaps, people try to turn the narcissist into a boundary, by teaching him lessons in behaving like a protective curtain wall around a castle. He does not need to be your boundary, he only needs to respect the one you have got, and let you build it stronger. He does not need to change his narcissistic spectrum inclinations. He does not “have to” change who he is at all. He has a free choice and human right to be dislikeable. He does not “have to” be just like you. He does not “have to” change or learn punishments or lessons, not unless his choices really actually involve abuse, bullying and cruelty.

      Annoyance is not abuse.

      All “have to’s” point at coercion. So are you guilt-trippingly coercing him to change out of being a boss or intrusive or argumentative or happily grandiose? If so; maybe ask yourself who the real narcissist is.

      I refused to speak to that friend for a year, because I had been cult brainwashed by the narcissim priests on youtube to fall in love with the myth of the perpetually fixed person.

      Took a while for me to realise that I was being the narcissist by going no contact with a friend who more or less HAD DONE NOTHING WRONG.

      I have since them made my peace with him and feel glad he is an acquaintance. He went on to meet the love of his life in a woman I have not met but who seems a better fit for him. I am glad he is setled and contented. He has schizophrenia so largely his amorous banter is a given.

      It is easy to hate people who innocently trample your boundary just because they like you. But they do not often deserve it. It is you who should mislike your own tendency to build your boundary out of the wreckage of old trauma, rather than realizing that no one is going to respect your trauma as much a you do, and so the clumsy foot stepping over those sacred ruinious boulders of rubble will blithely ignore that mess and ask you banalities like what favourite books you like to read.

      This failure to notice how your boundary is made of brokenness is not the fault of friends, who do not recognize what those hunks of mess mean. What is better to do is build a new boundary that protects all that wounded brokenness. And not expect your friend to know how to do it for you. Such entitled demanding starts to reek of the phrase…

      “You HAVE TO love me”.

      Nobody “has to” love your boundary, nor the broken baggage strewn around behind it.

      It is YOU who ought to do that responsible grown up endeavour.

      But a million “spot the narcissist” videos are allowing people to demand that supposed narcissists become exemplary boundaries to them.

      And that starts sounding like a master and apprentice power trip. When you tell someone else that “they” have to be “your boundary wall” for “you”, and they have to remember to keep keeping your myth of the perfect fixed person intact for you.

      All narcissist videos are witch hunts.

      Why antipsychiatry needs to cling on to those loveless DSM terms is peculiar….or perhaps not. Antipsychiatry struggles to flourish without demonizing. Which is what psychiatry used to do.

      If antipsychiatry demonizes in order to attend to its boundary then I suspect its boundary is made of brokenness and baggage and is not just a handsome boundary. If any person is secure in the strength of their boundary they will not need the other to understand it or paint it and decorate it. They will not need the other to change. They will not need the other to look after it. They will just feel safe within their protective boundary. There is no need to call someone a narcissist just to excuse building protection that should have been there all along. If you feel secure in your boundary of protection you will not feel any need to attack or call outsiders liars and schemers and chancers who keep stepping on Lego bricks with apparent narcissistic aplomb.

      Our escalation in narcissisit channels is a symptom of mass fear about how lacking in protection our individual boundaries are. But repairing boundaries by pushing narcissists to change give an excuse to flog them all for not obeying the rules of our smashed up boundaries. Rules we need not spell out but only know for ourselves….when we want to say “yes” to incursions or “no”.

      It is NOT someone else’s responsibility to read your mind and your history and know all about you.

      What is occurring now is a rush to assert that people SHOULD know people. It has come from our dance with psychobabble. It is a confusion about what natural animalistic boundaries look like. Animals have boundaries that do not need the other animal to change or to learn lots of academia about inner people.

  3. “Rather than focusing on the victim [as the “mental health professionals” do], it’s time for society [and especially the “mental health professionals”] to wake up to the abusive nature of their perpetrators.”

    I made a “wake up” piece of art years ago. And most definitely, the “mental health professionals” – who are systemically covering up child abuse for the narcissistic, sociopathic, and psychopathic religious child abusers – I experienced them as the worst gas lighters of them all.

    “At the end of the day, all abusers have issues with their sense of entitlement, their need for control, and their stunning lack of empathy.” Indeed. Wake up, gas lighting fools of the “mental health professions,” especially those “partnered with” the religions.

  4. Steve says,
    “The main qualifications for a therapist is not degree or training or years of experience. It’s the degree to which they have dealt with their own childhood trauma and disappointments and enforced roles. Alice Miller got it right!” –

    Thank you for saying this. Hearing it from a mental health professional means a lot.

    I think training to be a therapist makes most people narcissistic.

    • I’m not totally sure about that. I think it may be that a certain “brand” of narcissist is attracted to the field, kind of like police and the military. There are also lots of people approaching it with good intentions, but the DSM does make it easy to indulge in narcissistic fantasies. It’s also true that when things get difficult in a “therapeutic relationship,” there is, in my experience, a very strong drive to “fix it” because it is VERY uncomfortable to have to sit with someone else’s pain right in front of you. But I’ve found the key to success is being WILLING to tolerate that pain being there and NOT knowing what to do about it and letting that be true while looking around and exploring what that pain is looking like. The DSM/drug model unfortunately allows someone looking for an “out” to simply say, “Wow, you must have ‘major depression'” or “I think you need antidepressants” instead of hanging in there and believing that a good direction will emerge if we are patient and willing to sit with that discomfort for a while.

      So I think the major challenge is that therapists enter in totally unprepared, have NOT done the work to deal with their own pain, have that pain brought back to the surface by their client, and then feel they have to stop the client from having those feelings because they want to feel better themselves. And the label-and-drug model makes it all too easy to act out those “savior” fantasies within the expectations of your supervisor or “the system.” It’s pretty much a setup for failure. I admire those who are able to work within that system and still help people. I finally gave it up and decided advocacy was the better path for me to go.

      • Yes, Steve, I believe a lot of people approach being a therapist with good intentions, but I’m convinced something happens to them on their way to becoming a therapist.

        I see the whole setup as ripe for abuse: diagnoses, drugs, power imbalance, fees, clients expected to trust a total stranger, and the therapist’s insecurities and agendas ad infinitum. I just found the whole process painfully undermining and totally insulting, even with people I liked and trusted. And I never felt good about myself until after I read Alice Miller – good enough to dump both therapy AND the psych drugs. And I’ve never felt the slightest desire or need to return to either, and it’s been six and a half years of feeling like myself again.

        Your approach to helping people is what it needs to be – if there has to be therapy at all. It’s just being there for another human being without abandoning them or imposing your own agenda. It’s what parents need to be for their children, and what friends need to be for each other. And anyone who thinks they need a “degree” for that has no business trying to help people.

      • Many people who choose to be therapists have good intentions to start with. And many claim to have worked on their own pain. But if that were true, why do they still believe in the mental health system? And what makes them unaware of the harm they’re capable of doing? I believe it’s because the psych profession attracts mostly narcissists – who start off benign, but quickly turn malignant under the pressures of training and practice.

        Maybe psych professionals should take another look at the Moral Treatment Movement. Then they might see how things went to hell in a hand basket as soon as the medical profession got involved. Because THAT’S where a lot of the trouble starts.

        • In fairness, I started out in the “mental health” system because I wanted to help people, as I had been helped by my therapist, who frankly did a great job in many ways and really helped me get onto a new path in my life.

          Of course, I was never a “follower” and always was suspicious of the “medication” advocates and the DSM never made sense to me, and was viewed as a rebel and often tossed monkey wrenches in the system, but still I had opportunities to be helpful in a genuine way, and people seemed to appreciate what I could do, so I continued for over 10 years in the profession. It wasn’t until I worked doing “involuntary detentions” and saw what happened to people in psych wards and how many “mentally ill” people were labeled, drugged and forgotten, their quality of life total shit but their caseworkers interested only in whether they were “on their meds” and what their “symptoms” were, that I felt I had to get out for ethical reasons. Don’t get me wrong, the people who got me for their “evaluations” were quite fortunate, I had by far the lowest rate of detentions in our agency, and I sprung some inmates from the joint as well, but I could not ethically hold people against their will in such horrid conditions as prevailed in the psych wards.

          So people do learn and grow and sometimes grow out of their excuses or explanations for overlooking the real horrors of the “mh” system. Of course, the system is far worse today, and I doubt I’d have lasted 3 months, but there are people in the “system” who don’t really believe in it fully, and we ought to give them some credit for operating behind enemy lines. It’s not a fun role to play!

          • There are some ethical people in the mental health system, and they deserve a lot of credit for working behind enemy lines. But that’s the problem – it’s enemy lines. Now what does that mean? It means the system’s not a good place. And no amount of good people can change that. How can they, when they’re forced to work within the confines of a narcissistic system? The features are analogous:
            Therapeutic Relationship = Power Imbalance = Trauma Bond, etc…That’s what makes it a set up for failure. It’s narcissism run amok.

          • Well, that’s what I eventually had to decide. I realized that it wasn’t because they “didn’t understand” that their interventions were harmful. The people in charge actually believed that “stopping symptoms” was the actual GOAL and that quality of life issues or trauma history or WHY people had the feelings they had were actually not relevant. I remember talking to one psychiatrist about the “medical model” and drug “solutions,” seemed like a perfectly nice person, and I asked him about PTSD. I said, “Well, at least for PTSD, we can say with certainty that it is caused by traumatic events, not malfunctioning brain chemistry.” And he said, “But not EVERYONE who is traumatized gets PTSD! So there must be SOMETHING different about their brains that makes them vulnerable!” I gave up on the conversation at this point.

            But this guy was not “narcissistic” in his presentation in any way. I think he was just trained by and believed in a system that treats ‘the mentally ill’ as objects or lesser humans. As I’m writing this, I think that’s the basic problem. There are plenty of non-narcissistic people who believe that black people “should get over slavery,” that feminism means hating men, that gay people are dangerous pedophiles, and all sorts of stupid things, because cultural prejudices allow them to entertain these beliefs without challenge. Bottom line, the system trains people to DISCRIMINATE against “the mentally ill,” and those who resist are themselves ostracized, ignored, or attacked for challenging the system. It’s not a matter of individual narcissism in most cases. It’s a culture of bias and disrespect and prejudice that these individuals are participating in that makes them feel OK about treating “the mentally ill” as “less than” without any pangs of conscience disturbing them. And of course, Alice Miller’s considerations play strongly into this, as the culture provides ample cover for the “professionals'” need to punish or silence their clients for making them feel uncomfortable with their drama.

          • Steve says, “….a system that treats ‘the mentally ill’ as objects or lesser humans….the system trains people to DISCRIMINATE against “the mentally ill”….It’s not a matter of individual narcissism in most cases….It’s a cultural bias of disrespect and prejudice…”

            I think your assessment of the situation is the right one. But narcissistic or not, the situation creates problems for people that they otherwise wouldn’t have. And it seems narcissistic when one person’s “educated opinion” supposedly carries more weight than another’s, i.e. therapist/client. And diagnoses makes people society’s scapegoat. This alone is traumatizing.

          • And it’s probably true that it’s not a matter of individual narcissism in most cases, but a matter of cultural bias. But it’s especially heinous when there’s a whole system supporting it, (i.e. the mental health system).

          • I agree, it’s worse in a way. Kind of like how the culture of Nazism in WWII allowed more “normal” Germans to feel OK about committing atrocities against Jews and Gypsies and so on. An individual narcissist can be dealt with once you know who and what s/he is. A culture set up with discriminatory rules is much harder to fight!!

            And of course, it does make it easier for true narcissists to find a spot to do their dirty work!

  5. Final comment…

    I have come to be tired of all the covert sleuthing of other human beings. Covert sleuthing that weaponizes the “narc” stigmatization. So I am not going to play.

    Instead, I am going to love all narcissists. My schizophrenic preferences can love talking to talking wallpaper. A schizophrenic is free to love anything and anyone. This makes schizophrenics villains, for refusing to loathe others.

    So glad I am schizophenic. A real disease.

    Even Alice Miller wrote that narcissism is HEALTHY.

    But an overly strict moral decency, akin to puritanism is rounding up “narcissists” to be venting frustration at. This regime of “rounding up” assertive people as a spectacle is abuse and violence made apparently acceptable by ironically using psychiatric lineage. In other words the hateful judgements that blighted traditional psychiatry, back in the day, are hateful words that have looped into campaigns against psychiatry.

    You do not have to build a utopia out of hurled slurs of hatred.

    You can build heaven out of love.

    Birdsong, forgive my unsettling of your week.

  6. Back later…

    I am in hospital. A psychiatric hospital. I am an inpatient who now feels that the HOOVER DAM will collapse soon. Explosives. I get visions. Robert likes rock’n’roll says the spirit of Barbara. I predicted covid. I predicted the gender expansion. I predicted worsening climate change. I predict a tyrannical regime is coming. When the HOOVER DAM breaks via anti-capitalist fervour, it will be a sign to move to higher ground. Other floods are coming because of what happened on Jupiter, and the sea level is rising. However, beyond this way in the future, the future has good in it. So remain calm as you can be and positive.

    LOVE WILL SET US FREE

    In my hospital ward one blonde young woman has been gadding about the ward chatting up all the male psychiatrists and students of that profession. NOT ONE of those men did any abuse to her. NOT ONE.

    This echoes my own experience.

    In my twenty years of seeing all kinds of psychiatrists my greatest sorrow was often that NOT ONE of them ever did lay one finger on me.

    MEN OF COMPASSION.
    MEN OF HONOUR.

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