Understanding the Mind of a Narcissist

Narcissists are not who they appear to be. They’re both easy and hard to love.

Despite having a seemingly strong personality, narcissists lack a core self. Their self-image and thinking and behavior are other-oriented in order to stabilize and validate their self-esteem and fragile, fragmented self.

The gods sentenced Narcissus to a life without human love. He fell in love with his own reflection in pool of water and died hungering for its response. Like Narcissus, narcissists only “love” themselves as reflected in the eyes of others. It’s a common misconception that they love themselves. They may actually dislike themselves immensely. Their inflated self-flattery, perfectionism, and arrogance are merely covers for the self-loathing they don’t admit — usually even to themselves. Instead, it’s projected outward in their disdain for and criticism of others. They’re too afraid to look at themselves, because they believe the truth would be devastating. Emotionally, they may be dead inside, and hungering to be filled and validated by others. Sadly, they’re unable to appreciate the love they do get and they alienate those who give it.

The Diagnosis

When we think of narcissists, we usually picture someone with an inflated ego — someone bossy and arrogant, who has to be right. To be diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), the person must exhibit grandiosity (if only in fantasy) and lack of empathy, as exhibited by at least five of the following traits:

1 Has a grandiose sense of self-importance and exaggerates achievements and talents.

2Dreams of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.

3 Believes he or she is special and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions.

4 Requires excessive admiration.

5 Unreasonably expects special, favorable treatment or compliance with his or her wishes.

6 Exploits and takes advantage of others to achieve personal ends.

7 Lacks empathy for the feelings and needs of others.

8 Envies others or believes they’re envious of him or her.

9 Has arrogant behaviors or attitudes.

In addition to the grandiose “Exhibitionist Narcissist” described above, James Masterson identified “Closet Narcissists” — those with a deflated, inadequate self-perception, a sense of depression and inner emptiness. (They are also referred to as “Introverted Narcissists.”) They may appear shy, humble, or anxious, because their emotional investment is in the idealized other, which is indirectly gratifying (Masterson, 2004). “Malignant Narcissists” are the most pernicious and hostile type, enacting anti-social behavior. They can be cruel and vindictive when they feel threatened or don’t get what they want.

Early Beginnings

It’s hard to empathize with narcissists, but they didn’t choose to be that way. Their natural development was arrested, often due to faulty, early parenting. Some believe the cause lies in extreme closeness with an indulgent mother; others attribute it to parental harshness or criticalness. Although more research is required, twin studies revealed a 64-percent correlation of narcissistic behaviors, suggesting a genetic component (Livesley, Jang, Jackson, & Vernon, 1993).

Psychoanalyst Heinz Kohut observed that his narcissistic clients suffered from profound alienation, emptiness, powerlessness, and lack of meaning. Beneath a narcissistic façade, they lacked the sufficient internal structures to maintain cohesiveness, stability, and a positive self-image to provide a stable identity. Narcissists are uncertain of the boundaries between themselves and others and vacillate between dissociated states of self-inflation and inferiority. The self, divided by shame, is made up of the superior-acting, grandiose self and the inferior, devalued self. When the devalued self is in the inferior position, shame manifests by idealizing others. When the individual is in the superior position, defending against shame, the grandiose self aligns with the inner critic and devalues others through projection. Both this devaluation and idealization are commensurate with the severity of shame and the associated depression (Lancer, 2014).

Although most people fluctuate in these positions, exhibitionistic and closet narcissists are more or less static in their respective superior and inferior positions, irrespective of reality, making them pathological. Arrogance and contempt, envy, withdrawal, denial and repression (unconscious), aggression and rage, projection (blaming or accusing others of their own flaws or actions), self-pity (especially closet narcissists), and avoidance (e.g., addictive behaviors) are common defenses to shame (Lancer, 2014). Narcissists also defend against shame and fragmentation by feeling special through idealizing or identifying with special or important people.

A Relationship with a Narcissist

At home, narcissists are totally different than their public persona. They may privately denigrate the person they were just entertaining. After an initial romance, they expect appreciation of their specialness and specific responses through demands and criticism in order to manage their internal environment and protect against their high sensitivity to humiliation and shame. Relationships revolve around them, and they experience their mates as extensions of themselves.

Many narcissists are perfectionists.

Nothing that others do is right or appreciated. Their partners are expected to meet their endless needs — for admiration, service, love, or purchases — and are dismissed when they don’t. That their spouse is ill or in pain is inconsequential. Narcissists don’t like to hear “no” and often expect others to know their needs without having to ask. They manipulate to get their way and punish or make partners feel guilty for turning them down.

Trying to please the narcissist is thankless, like trying to fill a bottomless pit. They manage to find fault with your efforts or give back-handed compliments, so that you always feel one down. If they’re momentarily pleased, they’re soon disparaging or asking for more from you. They make their partners experience what it was like having had a cold, invasive, or unavailable narcissistic parent. Anne Rice’s vampire Lestat had just such an emotionally empty mother, who devotedly bonded with him to survive. The deprivation of real nurturing and a lack of boundaries make narcissists dependent on others to feed their insatiable need for validation.

Partners often doubt the narcissist’s sincerity and question whether it’s really manipulation, pretense, or a manufactured “as-if” personality. They feel tense and drained from unpredictable tantrums, attacks, false accusations, criticism, and unjustified indignation about small or imaginary slights. These partners also lack boundaries and absorb whatever is said about them as truth. In vain attempts to win approval and stay connected, they sacrifice their needs and walk on eggshells, fearful of displeasing the narcissist. They daily risk blame and punishment, love being withheld, or a rupture in the relationship. They worry what their spouses will think or do, and become as preoccupied with the narcissist as they are with themselves.

Partners have to fit into the narcissists’ cold world and get used to living with emotional abandonment. Soon, they begin to doubt themselves and lose confidence and self-worth. Communicating their disappointment gets twisted and is met with defensive blame or further put-downs. The narcissist can dish it out, but not take it. Nevertheless, many partners stay, because periodically the charm, excitement, and loving gestures that first enchanted them return, especially when the narcissist feels threatened that a breakup is imminent. When two narcissists get together, they fight over whose needs come first, blame and push each other away, yet are miserable needing each other.

Often in these relationships, narcissists are the distancers when more than sex is anticipated. Getting emotionally close means giving up power and control. The thought of being dependent is abhorrent. It not only limits their options and makes them feel weak, but also exposes them to rejection and feelings of shame, which they keep from consciousness at all costs (Lancer, 2014). Their anxious partners pursue them, unconsciously replaying emotional abandonment from their past. Underneath they both feel unlovable.

Darlene Lancer JD, LMFT

Full article:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201804/understanding-the-mind-narcissist?utm_source=FacebookPost&utm_medium=FBPost&utm_campaign=FBPost

DYNAMICS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE IN RELATIONSHIPS, MARRIAGE

Emotional abuse in relationships, marriage, is sneaky because while abuse is taking place, no physical marks or scars ever appear. Often the only sign that something is wrong in emotionally abusive relationships is just a feeling that something is amiss. Often the victim can’t quite put their finger on it, but to outsiders there is often no doubt that emotional abuse is taking place.

Emotional abuse in any relationship, including marriage, has the same dynamic. The perpetrator aims to gain power and control over the victim. The abuser does this though belittling, threatening or manipulative behavior.

BEHAVIOR IN EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS, MARRIAGES

Abusive behavior can be enacted by a female or male and either a female or male can be a victim. (Information About: Emotional Abuse of Men) And it’s important to remember that even though the scars from emotional abuse are not physical, they can be every bit as much permanent and harmful as the scars of physical abuse.

Emotional abuse is designed to chip away at a person’s self-esteem, self-worth, independence and even make them believe that without the abuser they have nothing. Tragically, this keeps victims in emotionally abusive relationships as they feel they have no way out and that they are nothing without their abuser.

Emotional abuse comes in many forms, they include:1

• Financial abuse – the abuser does not allow the victim control over any of the finances

• Yelling

• Name-calling, blaming and shaming – forms of humiliation

• Isolation – controlling access to friends and family

• Threats and intimidation

• Denial and blame – denying or minimizing the abuse or blaming the victim; saying that the victim “made them do it”

These emotionally abusive behaviors seen in relationships, marriages, are all used in an attempt to control the victim.

SIGNS OF EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE RELATIONSHIPS

Signs of an emotionally abusive relationship can sometimes be seen more easily from the inside out. Assessing an emotionally abusive relationship may first start with how you feel about the relationship and then move on to actually dissecting the nature of the abuse.

Signs an emotionally abused person in a relationship might notice are:

• Feeling edgy all the time

• Feeling they can’t do anything right

• Feeling afraid of their partner and what they might say or do

• Doing or avoiding certain things in order to make their partner happy

• Feeling they deserve to be hurt by their partner

• Wondering if they’re crazy

• Feeling emotionally numb, helpless or depressed

Natasha Tracy

Full article: https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/dynamics-of-emotional-abuse-in-relationships-marriage

What Phase 3 of the Abuse Cycle REALLY Feels Like

It’s often been described as feeling like you’ve been run over by a train. A runaway train you weren’t expecting, a train you never saw coming, and one you didn’t see leave. A huge, invisible, mystery train.

Few in your life will be capable of comprehending, understanding or truly empathizing with your deep, overwhelming, confusing pain unless they’ve experienced a similar trauma themselves first-hand. Some who have may begin to struggle with the familiarity of their own past traumas, pain, or unresolved guilt and shame if they caused this similar pain to another, and become cruel, compassionless, and cold in an attempt at self-preservation. Some may deny or simply not believe or see it at all, especially the one doing the abusing. Emotional abusers are just that good at what they do. They may convince many, even convince themselves of anything they choose.

At first there will appear to be no visible, identifiable cause and effect, no logical or reasonable explanation for the sudden and total disappearance of love, emotion, empathy, long standing affection and positive regard. It feels inexplicable and unreal in that sudden moment as you begin to search for that logic and reason, all the while finding none. It’s as if you just witnessed the real-time suicide of a loved one. It feels as if this person you knew, loved and trusted, suddenly unzipped their human suit, stepped out of it and threw that person lifelessly to the ground, leaving you viewing an unfamiliar monster you’ve never seen before who is now, for the first time, openly in control. You realize at once and more over time that person you loved, never truly existed because of a masterfully hidden personality disorder and manufactured persona. A persona you will learn, that has morphed and changed to suit every new source. This person you knew wasn’t real they were created, customized to fit, uniquely, specifically for you. It was all a long running, pathological show. It will leave you completely confused, feeling like you’ve been suddenly catapulted into an alternate universe that you never could’ve imagined existed. That’s the most baffling thing about psychological and emotional abuse. You typically just don’t see it happening when you’re in it and then, it’s too late.

And there begins the journey. The journey of discovering exactly what and who you’ve been cluelessly sharing a life with, who you’ve been dealing with, while all the while you made excuses for their “moodiness” those random, sudden, continuously surfacing bad moods, the overly excessive, never ending drinking, the “work pressures” while constantly being told you are so loved and none of this mood being taken out on you has anything to do with you. Having nothing to do with you is the only truth you will find. Suddenly, these moods cannot be explained in the same way any longer. You will eventually learn from other friends and people who will now feel it appropriate to reach out with shocking facts of the abuser’s past and their previous relationship occurrences. You will shockingly learn that the tales you’ve known and heard for years from this person are mostly all untrue. There’s much, much, so much more going on here than you previously realized, or ever possibly could’ve imagined. You just couldn’t see it. That is, until they began to realize that you had begun to unknowingly see too much of who they really are beneath the facade. They are just that good at what they do. They’re experts at fooling everyone, especially themselves, after years of deception caused by the deep layers within this complicated personality disorder. If it’s combined with the complex affliction and the pseudo-coping of high-functioning alcoholism, it will be even more dumbfounding, intense and complex. You may witness the previously solid sanctimonious (and commonly known) standings make a sudden 180 degree turn toward all things they previously professed to vehemently despise.

Here is where the extremely difficult, shocking, and strength building journey of discovery begins. The journey of learning, of uncovering the sad, disappointing, heartbreaking truth of this complicated, hidden reality. For now, just take a deep breath and treat yourself with patience, compassion and kindness. Your jaw may frequently drop during this changing, transformational time of discovery, but with your due diligence it will likely all come together in time with the logic and reason that was so profoundly absent before. Your eyes will be opened to what you could not see until now because you’re now aware and away from it. The wisdom and strength you will develop and gain during this time will be life-changing, profound, priceless. Invaluable. You will now be able to see the tongue biters and enablers that had closely surrounded you in their true form as they cannot hide their ulterior intentions for being in your life any longer. There is no such thing as mutual friends after emotional abuse. If they can look the other way, they are not real. The other good news is, seeing truth will slowly rebuild your strength and bring you the closure of understanding of what it was this unforeseen runaway train had been carrying all that time.

Buckle up, and hang on to your seat. It’s going to be a bumpy ride as you approach your destination, the busy intersection of Truth and Reality that lies just outside the city of Emotional Abuse.

The Psychological Damage of Alcohol Abuse Can Be Lethal

A new study from University of Colorado at Boulder reports that the psychological and social consequences of heavy drinking outweigh the physical hazards of alcohol abuse. This is especially true in terms of mortality rates. Heavy drinking was found to create a domino effect that can lead to a premature death.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines heavy drinking as exceeding an average of one drink per day during the past month for women and two drinks per day for men. Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks for women and five or more drinks for men on a single occasion at least once during the past month.

The April 2015 study “Drinking Problems and Mortality Risk in the United States” was published in the journal Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

The CU-Boulder researchers found that the social risks of drinking—which included everything from losing a job to having a spouse threaten to leave—were strongly linked to mortality. Surprisingly, the physiological consequences of alcohol abuse—such as having the jitters from withdrawal or becoming physically ill—were less linked to mortality.

What Are Your Habits Surrounding Alcohol Consumption?

The CU-Boulder study analyzed the drinking habits of 40,000 people across the nation, and focused on 41 specific drinking problems. The researchers had access to information about which participants died between the time of the survey and 2006.

The statistics linking alcohol abuse and mortality are alarming. Study participants who had been through an intervention by physicians, family members, or friends had a 67 percent greater risk of death over the 18-year study period, according to the lead author, Richard G. Rogers.

Participants who reported cutting down on social or sports activities because of alcohol use had a 46 percent higher risk of death over the same 18-year period. In an unexpected twist, issues like drunken driving or engaging in other physically hazardous behaviors did not result in a significant uptick in death rates.

One of the most unexpected findings of the study is that 48 percent of people who consumed less than one drink a day also admitted to having some type of problem with alcohol in the 12 months prior to the survey.

The research data allowed the CU-Boulder team to investigate the mortality rates associated with 41 separate drinking problems including:

• Drinking more than intended

• Unsuccessfully trying to cut back

• Driving a car after drinking too much

• Losing ties with friends and family

• Missing work with hangovers

• Drinking more to get the same effect

Depression

• Arrests

If you drink alcohol, what are your patterns of behavior? Do any of the bullet points on this list relate to your life experience? Do you ever binge drink or abuse alcohol?

Rogers said there was substantial variation in drinking problems. Among drinkers at the time of the study: 23 percent started drinking without intending to, 20 percent drank longer than expected, and 25 percent experienced a strong urge to drink. For those who experienced a strong urge to drink over the past year, 19 percent were light drinkers, 40 percent were moderate drinkers, and 57 percent were heavy drinkers.

Binge Drinking by American Women Is Skyrocketing

Binge drinking in the United States is on the rise according to a different April 2015 study from the University of Washington published in the American Journal of Public Health. The skyrocketing increase of alcohol consumption by American women is considered to be the driving force behind the nationwide escalation of binge drinking.

On average, heavy drinking among Americans rose 17.2 percent between 2005 and 2012, largely due to rising rates among women. Across the nation, binge drinking among women increased more than seven times the rate among men. In Santa Clara County, California, women’s binge drinking rates rose a whopping 36 percent between 2002 and 2012, compared with 23 percent among men.

The researchers suggest that women’s drinking habits have evolved as a reflection of changes in “social norms,” but the reasons are probably much more complex.

A 2011 study from the Center for Advancing Health found that people who abuse alcohol and are impulsive will most likely to die sooner. People with a drinking problem and weak impulse control are more likely to die in the next 15 years than their sober peers.

Alcohol abuse can be a catalyst for impulsive behavior, excessive risk-taking, and recklessness that can lead to an accidental death. On a promising note, the researchers found that having a strong social support network can diffuse life-threatening behaviors caused by alcohol-fueled impulsivity. In a press release, lead author Daniel Blonigen, PhD said,

Based on past research, impulsivity is related to a wide range of health risk behaviors [besides heavy drinking], like smoking, drug use, dangerous driving, and risky sexual activities.

On the positive side, the study found that individuals who reported strong supportive relationships with peers and friends to be somewhat protected from the consequences of impulsivity: They were less likely to die than those who lacked that resource.

“What seemed important was the strength of friendship, the degree of trust, and the ability to confide,” Blonigen concluded. “The numbers of friends didn’t make much difference. The findings reaffirm the importance of measuring and emphasizing the social support network in alcohol treatment programs.”

In response to this study, Kenneth Sher, PhD, a professor of psychology at the University of Missouri, pointed out the dual-edged sword that someone’s social nework can have on his or her alcohol abuse and impulsivity. Sher said, “If you’re around people who keep you in line it will help; if they themselves are heavily involved in problem behavior, it could have the opposite effect.”

Conclusion: What Is the Best Way to Reduce Alcohol Abuse and Binge Drinking?

If you think you might have a problem with alcohol, there are a wide range of options for seeking help. Unfortunately, relapse rates for alcohol abuse remain alarmingly high for those who seek total abstinence through traditional 12-step programs. That said, groups like Alcoholics Anonymous have helped millions stay sober and live longer.

Traditionally, complete abstinence has been the modus operandi for treating alcohol abuse or dependence. However, there is a growing movement toward “harm reduction” by many addiction specialists.

Christopher Bergland

Full Article: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201504/the-psychological-damage-alcohol-abuse-can-be-lethal%3famp

EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE MEN AND WOMEN: WHO ARE THEY?

When someone pictures an emotionally abusive man or woman, they often picture some sort of caricature. They might picture someone of a lower socioeconomic status, a blue collar worker or an uptight housewife. No matter what picture of an emotionally abusive person you have in your head, you are wrong because emotionally abusive men and women run the gamut and no group of people is immune. In fact, if a group of people were to sit in a room, drinking coffee, you would have no way of pointing out which were the emotionally abusive men and women. There are no outward signs of an emotionally abusive person. There may even be no signs when interacting with them, as abusers tend to be able to turn their abusive behavior on and off when convenient.

EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE MEN AND WOMEN SEEK CONTROL

No matter who the emotionally abusive person is, they seek power and control over their victim. Children are the most common victims of emotional abuse for just this reason – parents want to completely dominate and control their children into doing what is “right.” Similarly, a husband or wife may abuse their spouse to control them into “behaving correctly,” in the mind of the abuser.

Emotional abusers seek to have their way irrespective of those around them, assuming that their way is “best,” “right,” or simply most convenient for them. Ironically, many people who emotionally abuse do so because they themselves are scared of being controlled.

CHARACTERISTICS OF EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE MEN AND WOMEN

Emotionally abusive men and women are of all different types but some common characteristics are found among many of the abusers. Emotional abusers tend to believe they are “owed” by everyone and thus everyone (including their victim) should give them what they want. This makes them feel entitled to give orders, control and abuse in order to get what they want. Similarly, emotionally abusive people tend to be self-centered to the point where they feel they can, and should, tell others what they are thinking and feeling.

For men, this may be the idea that men are superior to woman and they believe in stereotyped male and female roles. They often talk about being the “man of the house.” An abuser also might claim to be superior due to their background or ethnicity.

Other characteristics of emotionally abusive men and women include:1

• Low self-esteem – some abusers abuse others to make themselves feel good about themselves, although some people feel that the opposite is true in many cases.

• Rush into relationships – some abusers enter relationships and claim “love at first sight” very quickly, perhaps fearing being alone. (Read about: Signs of Emotionally Abusive Relationships)

• Extreme jealousy – an abuser may see jealousy as a sign of love rather than possessiveness.

• Having unrealistic expectations or demands – an abuser will demand that the victim be the perfect spouse, lover and friend and fill every need, even when this isn’t reasonable or healthy.

• Create isolation – an abuser will work to cut off ties to the victim to keep the victim completely centered on the abuser.

• Use of force during sex – acting out scenarios where the victim is helpless may be part of their sex life.

• Use drinking to cope with stress – alcohol doesn’t cause the abusive behaviors but abusers have a higher-than-average rate of alcohol abuse

• Have poor communication skills – abusers may have trouble with open conversations about their feelings so they abuse instead.

• Are hypersensitive – abusers often take the slightest action as a personal attack.

• Appear charming to others – abusers tend to hide all their abusive behaviors in other scenarios so that the victim is the only one that sees their abusive side making it very difficult for the victim to reach out for help (Information About: Emotional Abuse Help).

And although emotionally abusive people set out to purposefully hurt victims, they often minimize their role and blame the victim for the abuse. “She made me do it,” or “he should have known not to talk to me when I was in that kind of mood.” Abusers often claim they have no control over their abusive behaviors.

PERSONALITY DISORDERS AND EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE MEN AND WOMEN

It is also known that many emotionally abusive men and women have a type of mental illness known as a personality disorder. Personality disorders are estimated to affect about 10-15% of the population. In the case of a personality disorder, a person develops hurtful and maladaptive patterns of thought and behavior that are consistent throughout their lifetime.

Three personality disorders are linked to emotionally abusive behavior are:2

• Narcissistic personality disorder – this disorder involves the perception of being grandiose and requiring the admiration of others. People with narcissistic personality disorder exaggerate their own accomplishments, have a sense of entitlement, exploit others, lack empathy, envy others and are arrogant.

• Antisocial personality disorder – this disorder shows a pattern of disregard for the rights of others and the rules of society. People with antisocial personality disorder tend to lie, be aggressive, disregard safety, violate the law and have a lack of remorse.

• Borderline personality disorder – this disorder involves intense and unstable relationships, self-perception and moods. People with borderline personality disorder (BPD) tend to have poor impulse control. People with BPD frantically avoid abandonment, are impulsive, are suicidal or self-harming, feel empty, feel inappropriate anger and may be paranoid.

Natasha Tracy

Full article: https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/emotional-psychological-abuse/emotionally-abusive-men-and-women-who-are-they

How to Spot Narcissistic Abuse

Knowlege is Power: Abuse is Never Your Fault

Narcissists don’t really love themselves. Actually, they’re driven by shame. It’s the idealized image of themselves, which they convince themselves they embody, that they admire. But deep down, narcissists feel the gap between the façade they show the world and their shame-based self. They work hard to avoid feeling that shame. To fill this gap narcissists use destructive defense mechanisms that destroy relationships and cause pain and damage to their loved ones.

Many of the narcissist’s coping mechanisms are abusive–hence the term, “narcissistic abuse.” However, someone can be abusive, but not be a narcissist. Addicts and people with other mental illnesses, such as bi-polar disorder and anti-social personality disorder (similar to the older term, sociopathy) and borderline personality disorders can also be abusive, as are many codependents without a mental illness. Abuse is abuse, no matter what is the abuser’s diagnosis. If you’re a victim of abuse, the main challenges for you are:

1 Clearly identifying it;

2 Building a support system; and

3 Learning how to strengthen and protect yourself.

What is Narcissistic Abuse

Abuse may be emotional, mental, physical, financial, spiritual, or sexual. Here are a few examples of abuse you may not have identified:

• Verbal abuse: Verbal abuse includes belittling, bullying, accusing, blaming, shaming, demanding, ordering, threatening, criticizing, sarcasm, raging, opposing, undermining, interrupting, blocking, and name-calling. Note that many people occasionally make demands, use sarcasm, interrupt, oppose, criticize, blame, or block you. Consider the context, malice, and frequency of the behavior before labeling it narcissistic abuse.

• Manipulation: Generally, manipulation is indirect influence on someone to behave in a way that furthers the goals of the manipulator. Often, it expresses covert aggression. Think of a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” On the surface, the words seem harmless – even complimentary; but underneath you feel demeaned or sense a hostile intent. If you experienced manipulation growing up, you may not recognize it as such. See my blog on spotting manipulation.

• Emotional blackmail: Emotional blackmail may include threats, anger, warnings, intimidation, or punishment. It’s a form of manipulation that provokes doubt in you. You feel fear, obligation, and or guilt, sometimes referred to as “FOG”

• Gaslighting: Intentionally making you distrust your perceptions of reality or believe that you’re mentally incompetent.

Competition: Competing and one-upping to always be on top, sometimes through unethical means. E.g. cheating in a game.

• Negative contrasting: Unnecessarily making comparisons to negatively contrast you with the narcissist or other people.

• Sabotage: Disruptive interference with your endeavors or relationships for the purpose of revenge or personal advantage.

• Exploitation and objectification: Using or taking advantage of you for personal ends without regard for your feelings or needs.

• Lying: Persistent deception to avoid responsibility or to achieve the narcissist’s own ends.

• Withholding: Withholding such things as money, sex, communication or affection from you.

Neglect: Ignoring the needs of a child for whom the abuser is responsible. Includes child endangerment; i.e., placing or leaving a child in a dangerous situation.

• Privacy invasion: Ignoring your boundaries by looking through your things, phone, mail; denying your physical privacy or stalking or following you; ignoring privacy you’ve requested.

• Character assassination or slander: Spreading malicious gossip or lies about you to other people.

• Violence: Violence includes blocking your movement, pulling hair, throwing things, or destroying your property.

• Financial abuse: Financial abuse might include controlling you through economic domination or draining your finances through extortion, theft, manipulation, or gambling, or by accruing debt in your name or selling your personal property.

• Isolation: Isolating you from friends, family, or access to outside services and support through control, manipulation, verbal abuse, character assassination, or other means of abuse.

Narcissism and the severity of abuse exist on a continuum. It may range from ignoring your feelings to violent aggression. Typically, narcissists don’t take responsibility for their behavior and shift the blame to you or others; however, some do self-reflect and are capable of feeling guilt.

Malignant Narcissism and Sociopathy

Someone with more narcissistic traits who behaves in a malicious, hostile manner is considered to have “malignant narcissism.” Malignant narcissists aren’t bothered by guilt. They can be sadistic and take pleasure in inflicting pain. They can be so competitive and unprincipled that they engage in anti-social behavior. Paranoia puts them in a defensive-attack mode as a means of self-protection.

Malignant narcissism can resemble sociopathy. Sociopaths have malformed or damaged brains. They display narcissistic traits, but not all narcissists are sociopathic. Their motivations differ. Whereas narcissists prop up an ideal persona to be admired, sociopaths change who they are in order to achieve their self-serving agenda. They need to win at all costs and think nothing of breaking social norms and laws. They don’t attach to people as narcissists do. Narcissists don’t want to be abandoned. They’re codependent on others’ approval, but sociopaths can easily walk away from relationships that don’t serve them. Although some narcissists will occasionally plot to obtain their objectives, they’re usually more reactive than sociopaths, who coldly calculate their plans.

Darlene Lancer JD, LMFT

Full article: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201709/how-spot-narcissistic-abuse%3famp

10 Major Signs of an Alcohol Problem

If all warning signs came with gigantic flashing lights, they might be more effective. But the trouble with warning signs is that we often don’t recognize them at the time we most need to. With something like addiction that takes some time to develop, we may already be steps down the path before we realize we’re even on it. For a variety of reasons, people may start to wonder about their alcohol consumption or other potentially addictive behaviors. Regrets and recriminations often fuel this question. Those may provide an opportunity to take stock.

The following warning signs below are a starting point for exploration. They may seem familiar or even somewhat benign or insignificant. However, if they become more common and routine over a period of time, they warrant further attention. This list is by no means exhaustive. (Also, though geared toward alcohol consumption, these warning signs can be amended for other addictive substances and behaviors.)

You find yourself organizing your social life around drinking. This can take various forms: You might find yourself wanting to spend more time with people who like to drink, rather than friends who don’t. You might also find yourself wanting to stay home alone drinking instead of going out with friends. Staying at home may even provide a justification for more drinking because you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving.

You start to have a few drinks before you go out with friends. College students call this “pre-gaming.” The idea is to get a head start as a way to loosen up or save money. You may tell yourself that a bottle of wine only costs $10, which is cheaper than buying two drinks at $8 each, but while you might intend to have only one drink out, you may still have that second.

You may start counting your drinks using “alternative math.” You might not “count” the drinks you had before you went out, because that was hours ago, or you have eaten since then and theoretically countered the effects of the alcohol. When you start creating a formula to figure out how much you are drinking or to get the answer or number you want, that is something to take seriously.

You begin to define “drink” differently. Alcoholic drinks are not all created equal when it comes to alcohol content. You may decide that wine, for example, isn’t a “real” drink like vodka, and then tell yourself that only “real” drinks count. You may decide to give up the hard “real” liquor and replace it with the lighter stuff. But if you increase your consumption of that lighter stuff, the results could be the same.

You worry about running out of alcohol. If you live in a state with laws prohibiting the sale of alcohol on Sunday, Saturday night may become a concern. If the weather is bad, you might tell yourself to buy some extra “just in case.” You may also decide to finish your open bottle, because you know you’ll be buying more, and so you might as well get it out of the way.

You are stunned when someone puts the cork/top back on an unfinished bottle. You may even think, “Who knew that was an option?!” You may also be surprised when someone doesn’t finish “a perfectly good drink,” because that is a waste of good alcohol.

You get annoyed by how slowly other people drink. You may find yourself wishing other people would hurry up and finish their drinks so that you can get another. No one wants to stand out by obviously and overtly drinking more than others. Ordering “another round” or filling the others’ wine glasses gives the appearance that people are socially drinking the same amounts in the same way, so that you can hide in plain sight. You might also get annoyed when friends “have had enough” and want to go home before you think you’ve had enough.

You look at photos, and notice you always have a glass in your hand. While it is true that a photo captures only a particular moment, enough of those moments can be deeply revealing. You may start to notice that you look more intoxicated than others, or that you all look rather intoxicated. You may even notice that your face and the rest of your body looks different from how you think it looks or how you remember it looking.

You worry about your recycling or garbage bin. Bottles tend to rattle around and make what seems an enormous amount of noise that would “out” you to your family or neighbors. As a result, you may hide bottles and dispose of them after the bins are out for pick up. You may dispose of them at a gas station, in a neighbor’s bin, or wherever there is an unlocked dumpster not under surveillance.

You meet people in recovery and see something in them that you want. It may be someone with whom you used to drink. It may be a total stranger. You may start to hear your drinking patterns in their stories. You may also discover that they drank for similar reasons or for very different ones. They may suffer consequences similar to yours, or they may have suffered much worse. But you do see that they are living a life in recovery that is making them happy, and you start to want that for yourself.

Peg O’Connor PhD

Full article: https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/philosophy-stirred-not-shaken/201702/10-major-signs-alcohol-problem%3famp