Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Is it Possible to Be Too Nice? - Yes, When Dealing with a Malignant Narcissist

As children, we're taught to be nice. This is a good thing. As we develop into normal human beings, we also learn to look at life from the perspective of others. If someone is going through a rough time, we feel badly about this and try to help.

Narcissists take advantage of people who are empathetic. Because they are so clever at reading others, they seem to sense when someone has strong empathetic qualities. Then, they'll use these to exploit you.

Although virtually anybody can be taken in by a con artist, being nice and vulnerable in a certain area puts you more at risk, according to the experts.

I'm not sure how scientific it is, but there is an online test you can take to gauge just how much at risk you are, for falling for the ploys of a sociopath (or a malignant narcissist). The test is available on the popular site LoveFraud Blog, dedicated to people who've been deceived (usually romantically) by a sociopath. Here is a link to the test.

Flickr photo by turcottes 78

Friday, December 27, 2013

What do Do, When a Narcissist Turns People Against You

A malignant narcissist wants to bring down her target. So she'll ruin her other relationships. Because people with this personality disorder are adept at sizing others up, they zero in on vulnerabilities with laser-like precision. For instance, you might work in a large office. Your best friend at work is a nice person. But she wants to advance in the company. The narcissist knows this. Since she's in a position of power, she uses this advantage. She employs a tool called "favoritism" to create tension in your friendship.

First, she excludes you from important meetings. She also neglects to include you in after-hours strategy sessions at a local restaurant. What's being discussed is essential to the project you've been working on for more than a year. You're also not invited to a baby shower she's throwing for another colleague, despite the fact you know the expectant mother well. However, she's tapped your best buddy at work to help with the decorations.

Your friend is a little torn between her loyalty to you and her career. In the end, though, she goes along with the narcissist because of her persistent overtures. Then, she justifies this. After all, it's just a "personality conflict" between the two of you. She won't get in the middle of it.

Out of work, you start to see your friend less and less. She's usually bogged down in work-related assignments. On weekends, she goes on ski trips with others from your company. The narcissist, who owns the ski cabin, invites everyone in the office, except for you.

What do you do in this situation, and how do you save your friendship? Actually, the best advice I can give is don't even try. Don't grovel and don't make extraordinary efforts to see your "friend" when she has some extra time. Whenever a friendship starts to become uncomfortable, it's no longer worth investing as much energy as before.

Use this as an opportunity to connect with people outside of your office. You are now working in a toxic environment, and you also might want to think about new employment prospects.

Hold your head up and don't complain. There's a good chance your complaint will reach the ears of the narcissist, who has skillfully arranged this impossible-to-fix situation.

Flickr photo by skley

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Sinister Art of "Gaslighting"

Of all the gadgets in a narcissist's toolbox, the most sinister of all is "gaslighting." This term is taken from a 1940's movie starring Ingrid Bergman. She is married to a psychopath who tries to drive her insane. He makes her doubt herself by playing little tricks on her. First, he rearranges things in their home, but denies doing so. Later, he dims the gas lights in the attic, while she is up there looking for something. However, at this point, she catches on to his sick act.

A malignant narcissist also attempts to get you to doubt yourself, and to blame yourself for the problems they've created. People with this disorder are extremely deceptive. They construct elaborate scenarios, leading up to a situation in which you take the fall. Much of this is done by gaslighting.

My own experience with gaslighting? Believe it or not, it happened at church. I was heavily involved in a certain project. However, this effort attracted the interest of a malignant narcissist. An extremely manipulative individual, she created an uncomfortable situation that forced me to abandon the project. Much of this was accomplished with heavy gaslighting, the details of which I'll spare you.

Pretending to be in the background, and not involved at all, she worked behind the scenes to assume control of the project. (By that time, I no longer cared about it.) This is how malignant narcissists operate.

How do you know you're being gaslighted? First you need to recognize that you're dealing with a malignant narcissist. Learn the signs of this disorder. Then, the events will replay themselves almost like a movie. The confusion evaporates. All those things that didn't make sense before make perfect sense now. Someone was messing with your mind.

Breaking free of this dynamic is the only solution. Malignant narcissists are dangerous. We need to put a lot of space between them and us.

Flickr photo by Thomas's pics

Monday, December 9, 2013

What Happens When Narcissists Grow Old?

Do female narcissists mellow with age? It doesn't appear that way, as reports from various nursing homes indicate that bullying is a huge problem. There isn't much written about this, save for a few scattered articles. A couple of years ago, though, a New York Times blog described in painful detail how some residents are abused by their peers.

Much of this was done through relational aggression. This involved socially isolating certain people. When confronted with this behavior, the perpetrators refused to change, or even admit they were at fault.

One poster on the blog left a message that her elderly aunt was shunned, although she didn't let it bother her. What did she do to warrant this kind of treatment?

Her "crime" was spending time, over the holidays, at her niece's house. Because some residents weren't able to leave, they wouldn't speak to her when she returned.

This was by no means an isolated incident. Social workers and activities directors are well aware of the epidemic of relational aggression among the elderly. It just underscores the sad fact that meanness has no upper age limit.

Flickr photo by quinn.anya

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Can You Ever Win With a Narcissist?

The short answer to that question is no. A narcissist is always at least three steps ahead of you. For some reason, people suffering from this disorder are unusually perceptive. They read others very well. In some ways, they know us better than we know ourselves. This includes our strengths, which they envy, and our weaknesses, which they exploit.

Because narcissists are destructive, they are extremely adept at using the insight they've gleaned to cause a great deal of damage. First they size you up. They gain your confidence by appearing trustworthy. By the time you realize they aren't, they're well along in their plan to destroy you.

They also have no compunction about using underhanded tactics. This includes breaking every possible rule of social decency.

In order to outsmart them, if that were even possible, you'd have to descend to their level. You'd have to probe them for weaknesses, and then use this knowledge to topple them. A normally wired human being wouldn't want to do that. Besides, you're not devious enough and a narcissist wouldn't let you that close to their real self anyway.

This is a game you don't want to play. What you want is to do is to put as much distance as you can between the narcissist and you.

Flickr photo by smlp.co.uk

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Narcissist Will Never Admit She's Wrong and She Won't Apologize

This blog is intended to shed light why women can be so mean. As a woman, I've had some unpleasant experiences with other women.

Many others have had similar encounters. Workplace bullying has reached epidemic levels, with about one in three employees reporting they've been targets of abuse. Oftentimes, this comes from a female supervisor or colleague.

Narcissism is at the root of much of this. It's not normal for an adult female to to mistreat another woman, either as a coworker or as a friend. Emotionally healthy people don't act this way. Nobody is perfect. Sometimes even the nicest people hurt others. But they recognize their mistakes and they try to make amends. They admit they were wrong and they apologize.

Someone with narcissism, however, believes everybody else is wrong. Because she's never at fault, she sees no need to apologize. If she apologizes, it's often not sincere. She may also try to shift the blame back to you.

I've read online forums where women lament the fact that a friendship suddenly ended, or that a triangle has formed and two of her once close "friends" are now a twosome, and no longer have room for her. Reading through some of these posts, it's clear that personality disorders, such as narcissism, are at the crux of the problem.

Helping others understand what's going on will help them understand why some women can be so mean to each other.

Flickr photo by Aprillynn77

Friday, November 29, 2013

Inherent Dishonesty and Why You Can Never Trust a Narcissist

Too many of us have been taken in by a narcissist,  only to discover this person isn't who we thought they were. Someone with strong narcissistic tendencies has a low regard for the truth. Of course, there are always exceptions. People are individuals and they can't be packaged in neat little boxes. But, by and large, when dealing with a narcissist, expect lies.

Oftentimes, lies are mixed with small bits of truth. This makes listeners much more likely to swallow the lie. That's why you need to play your cards close to your chest. Never give people information they can later use against you, unless they've earned your trust.

Narcissists believe they pull themselves up by pulling others down. It doesn't work that way, but that's how they think. So they'll seize every opportunity to discredit you. Spreading malicious lies about you, or about someone else, is how they destroy the opposition. Narcissists always need an enemy. So if it's not you today, it could be you tomorrow.

Also, never believe anything a narcissist says. They often construct elaborate disinformation campaigns to throw you off track. If you're dealing with a female narcissist, be extra careful. Character assassination is her chief weapon.

Of course, we shouldn't live in fear of what people think. But narcissists are capable of causing enormous destruction. Narcissistic abuse at work usually means your employment will soon be be coming to an end. Most targets (about 75 percent) must either find a new job or find themselves (involuntarily) standing in the unemployment line, according to data from the Workplace Bullying Institute.

Flickr photo by Jaredebernhardt

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Warning Signs You're Dealing with a Disordered Person

After extricating yourself from a narcissistic friendship, you'll want to avoid another relationship with anyone else who has a disordered personality. The trick is paying attention to any red flags she may be waving at you. Oftentimes, these are subtle but unmistakable warning signs.

For a few years in my life, following the death of someone close, I managed to attract my share of  false friends. One, in particular, managed to turn my life inside out. I've learned a lot since then. Now I'm very careful whom I trust, and I let friendships develop gradually.

Watch out for people who comes on too strong, too quickly. For instance, after I was awakened to the fact that a certain percentage of folks (about 1 in 25) have strong narcissistic tendencies, I happened to encounter one of them.

I had spoken with her over the telephone briefly, on a work-related matter. Within minutes of beginning our conversation, she launched a tirade against her supervisor. It was a nasty and highly unprofessional rant in which she even complained about how her boss chewed her food. I was greatly taken aback, because this woman didn't even know me.

Then she practically begged me to meet her in person because she wanted to be my friend. Amazingly, she was in a position of responsibility. Yet she seemed to have a big problem with appropriate boundaries.

This is an extreme and obvious example of what I mean. But if you proceed carefully, you'll probably be able to discern someone's character before you get too involved.

Flickr photo by arenamontanus

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Should You Confront Someone Who's Mistreated You?

I'm Catholic, so I try to follow the teachings of the Church. The Bible says that if someone sins against you, to tell him or her directly. That's why I believe this is the best way to proceed.

However, when dealing with a disordered person, you must be extremely careful. They won't accept responsibility for their actions. They also won't apologize, no matter what they've done. Don't expect them to. What you'll probably see is a wall of denial and, probably, a lot of blame shifting as they try to pin their terrible behavior on you. Don't fall for it.

Confronting an abuser sends a strong message you're not going to take it anymore. Especially if you do it the right way. The trick is to be totally detached and unemotional. Focus the conversation on their actions, rather than your feelings. If the other person has a personality disorder, they don't care if they've hurt you. Telling them how sad you are doesn't register. That's why it's better to stick to the facts, and base your conversation solely around their behavior.

Back everything up with specific incidents. In fact, it's better not to confront unless you have a list of these incidents.

You could encounter what psychologists call "narcissistic rage." That means the person will lash out at you. But you don't need to respond. Simply say, "I see we're going to have to talk about this another time," and walk away.

If this drama is playing out at work, though, you'll need to tread lightly. Use a minimum amount of words without any emotion.

However, if you deal directly with an emotionally unhealthy individual, be prepared. She knows you're on to her. She's terrified you'll tell other people what she's done, even if you don't plan to. So she might spread some malicious gossip, in hopes that if you do talk no one will believe you.

Flickr photo by bobsfever

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Narcissists and Their Tendency to Discard People

Because people with personality disorders lack empathy, they use people for their own means. When they are finished, they throw you away, or discard you, like an old tissue. The fact that this may hurt your feelings, or that, perhaps, you valued the relationship, does not concern them. You've served your purpose, so they're done with you.

People who have difficulty relating to others may also take extreme offense at seemingly innocent actions. This is also a good indication you're dealing with someone who has a personality disorder, especially if they react inappropriately to something that should make them happy. Even if you apologize profusely, for some imagined wrong, they may not accept. They may then "punish" you distancing themselves and withdrawing their affection.

Oftentimes, it's very difficult to know when someone has deep-seated issues, which make it impossible for her to have an honest relationship. Sometimes this becomes apparent only when the "friend" in question drops you suddenly. She stops calling. She won't return your calls. If you ask her what's wrong, she'll say "nothing." This is "discarding." Normal, healthy people don't do this.

Discarding is much different than just two friends drifting apart, which happens naturally with no hard feelings. It's also different than deciding a new friendship isn't working out, and trying to pull back. If the other person asked why, and usually they wouldn't ask, you'd be able to say, "We really don't have too much in common, but I think you're a really nice person" or something to that effect.

Don't feel too badly if you are discarded by someone you considered to be a good friend. The fact that this happened indicates something was fundamentally wrong with the relationship.

Flickr photo by Randy Son of Robert

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Best Support When You're Bullied is Found Online

Female narcissists are undoubtedly the most clever creatures on the planet. Extremely manipulative and deceptive, to the rest of the world they appear as angels. That's why targets have extreme difficulty finding support. The disbelief factor is so strong that others can't conceive of what's happening.

It's difficult for anyone who hasn't dealt with a female bully to understand these dynamics. That's why I think it's better not to discuss it with anyone. There are two reasons why. One is that it's best not to reveal the sins and shortcomings of another, even if that person is tormenting you. The other reason is that people may not believe you, especially if they like the person in question.

If you work with a female narcissist, and she has it in for you, please don't make the mistake of talking about this at the office. In a toxic environment, it's hard to know whom to trust. There's a lot of confusion in the air. The bully, most likely, has already sullied your reputation. Actually, it's a pretty safe bet to say she's done that. A bully wouldn't attack if she didn't think she had you backed in a corner. She does this by cutting off your social support before throwing her first grenade.

That's why the Internet has evolved as the best means of support. You'll find a lot of other people who've lived through similar situations. They'll believe you.

Flickr photo by magerleagues

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Freeing Yourself from a Toxic Personality

The realization that someone posing as a friend was causing problems in my life was a sad awakening. But it was also liberating. Once I clearly saw the source of conflict, I knew what to do. The only logical response was to make a clean break. Although I pray for this person, I've decided to have no contact with her.

Previously, I had spent years watching a number of other friendships crumble, inexplicably. There was no peace in my life, and I didn't know why. My social circle of had, mysteriously, dwindled. Then our family started having difficulties in our church, the same one this woman attended.

 I began reading about toxic personalities in an effort to make sense of it all. But I didn't realize my close confidante fit that description. The information I had shared armed her with insider knowledge. Freeing myself from this dynamic has changed my life.

Now, I have new friends and no more drama, chaos and confusion. If you find yourself in a toxic situation, there's always a cause. Once you remove it, you'll never look back.

Flickr photo by izarbella

Friday, November 8, 2013

Narcissists Can't Keep a Secret

Narcissists have no integrity, so your secrets are never safe with them. However, most people discover this only after the fact. They've already confided in someone who will then use this information against them.

It's easy to spill your guts to a narcissist because, at first, they appear so trustworthy. They also have a knack for drawing out information, as they're not afraid to ask highly personal questions. They'll stare at you expecting an answer, and, in the uncomfortable silence that follows, you'll start talking.

They may also "confide" in you, as a means of creating "intimacy." The idea is to get you to reciprocate with something equally revealing. The only problem, is that they've probably told you something that's either not true, or it has no potential to harm them if you told anyone else.

Many women run into trouble at work because they disclose too much, to the wrong people. The effects of this can be devastating. If someone is trying to muddy your image, it's more believable if include a grain of truth wrapped in their malicious words. They may even disguise their nefarious intent by pretending to show concern for you.

It's always a good idea, especially on the job, to be extremely careful with what you share, especially if you don't know someone well. Narcissists appear friendly, especially as they're sizing you up and probing to find your weak spots.

One thing to watch for is somebody who comes on too strong too soon. This is often a sign of a personality disorder.

Flickr photo by RestrictedData

Monday, November 4, 2013

Recovering from an Encounter with a Female Narcissist

If you've ever dealt with someone who suffers from narcissistic personality disorder, you know what it means to have your life upended. No doubt, your social standing has taken a beating. Relational aggression is a female abuser's chief weapon.

You've probably lost people you once considered friends, or at least close acquaintances. Narcissists have a propensity to distort the facts. They also have an uncanny insight into our weaknesses, and they know how to exploit them. Possessing extremely divisive personalities, they are masters at pitting one party against another.

Narcissists like to dominate the social scene. To accomplish this, they need to undermine their "rivals." For instance, they may see another woman with many friends friends. She is happy and popular. Ruled by unbridled envy, they want what she has. And, lacking proper social boundaries, they'll do anything to achieve their goal. They eventually topple their target, either by setting her up for failure or by ruining her reputation.

Why don't people stop her?

There are two reasons. One is that narcissists are very sly. So no one may realize what she's up to.

The other is that most people, even if they're well meaning, will go along with the program. That's because narcissists know how to deliver exactly what someone else wants. Here's what I'm talking about.

My close friend wants to meet another friend. So I do the introductions. Friend number two (a covert narcissist) suddenly stops speaking to me. However, she makes grand gestures to my other friend and attempts to meet all of her needs.

Friend number one desperately wants playmates for her children. She also wants them to be from the same faith background. (All three of us share the same faith.) Friend number two (the narcissist) makes her children readily available. She also offers friend number one (who wants to get more involved with a particular religious community) an easy means to do so, because the narcissist knows a lot of people in this church.

At the same time, the narcissist shuts me out of the new social circle she's forming with my friend, whom I introduced her to. Friend number one knows, on some level, this is wrong. But she's highly invested in finding suitable companions for her children. So she's trying to balance it all. On the one hand, she's hoping to maintain the friendship with me. At the same time, she's being pulled in another direction.

This is an example of how narcissists manipulate relationships. They cause a lot of damage, but we also need to forgive them. That's the only way we'll ever recover from an encounter with a female narcissist.

Flickr image by furryscaly

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

When to End a Friendship and Move On With Your Life

Women can have very intense and close friendships. So, when it's time to end one, or to put it way on the back burner, it's a devastating experience. You've shared a lot with your soul mate and it's hard to let her go. Female friendships are irreplaceable. Our husbands and boyfriends may love us, but it's difficult for them to understand us like another woman is capable of doing.

But, sometimes, people change so much that it alters the relationship in a profound way. We may reach a point where we wonder if it's worth continuing a friendship. Once we've traveled there, oftentimes, there's no turning back.

If someone has grievously betrayed us, this is a turning point. They've broken our trust. The only way to keep this person in your life is with a new set of rules. Going forward, it would be very hard to share personal details. The relationship will now exist on a more superficial level. You won't be able to maintain the same emotional commitment as before.

You'd also be well within your right to cut the cord altogether. In fact, this might be the wisest choice, as betrayal and friendship are mutually exclusive terms.

Oftentimes, though, circumstances aren't so clear cut. Your friend may simply not be as available as she once was. Or, you may notice you're doing most of the planning and making most of the phone calls. Looking back, you realize you've been driving along a one-way street for a long time.

Sometimes, years into a friendship, it becomes apparent that this relationship was a bad idea from the very start.

If a friendship no longer brings peace, harmony and happiness, it's time to evaluate whether it was fundamentally sound in the first place. You'll then need to invest less energy and to widen your social circle. There are billions of people in the world, and everyone needs good friends.

Moving on is never easy, but sometimes it's necessary. Especially if the "friend" in question tends to be overcritical or unreliable.

Friday, October 25, 2013

My Experience With a Church-Mouse Covert Narcissist

I was already well aware of narcissistic people in religious settings. In the United States, it's estimated that one 1 of every 25 people suffers from full blown narcissistic personality disorder. So you can expect to find a few of them in church.

Since I spend a fair amount of time in church, I had run into a classical narcissist. She was really easy to spot. For instance, she couldn't stop talking. Her mouth ran constantly. Much of what came out of it gossip and backbiting. (This type of behavior is a big red flag.) She was gregarious and extremely confident, as narcissists tend to be. She was also drowning in debt, because of her reckless spending.

In addition, she had mood swings. She would suddenly lash out at whomever was around, for no apparent reason.

I also met a man who was classic NPD. He behaved extremely arrogantly and he said obnoxious things. His words and actions were designed to sting. Plus, he had to run everything. If someone else started a project, he'd co-opt it and present it as his own.

For some reason, my family was having great difficulty at church. I realized these folks had obvious personality issues, and I assumed this was why.

So I was blind-sided when I discovered the true source of the trouble. It wasn't either of these individuals I just described, although the man had certainly gotten involved. Instead, as it turned out, the instigator was a church-mouse "closet narcissist."

During the drama, she pretended to be my friend. Little did I know that she was working hard behind the scenes. The truth was apparent only in hindsight. I left our place of worship. But my problems followed me. That's when it finally dawned upon me that I had a sower-of-discord in my midst.

Rooting out this phony friendship has brought peace.

That's why I believe covert narcissists are highly destructive. Oftentimes they are female. They're the last person you'd expect to be plotting to undermine you. They're often called "closet narcissists," but I think it's time to bring this behavior out of the closet and into the light of day.

In retrospect, I could have prevented these shenanigans if I had known what to look for.

One giveaway would have been poor anger regulation. A brief, but intense, emotional storm would bubble to the surface and then disappear. There were also a few verbal slings I disregarded.

One was right after we met. She had asked me to watch her three children while she was in the hospital delivering number four. I thought it was odd she entrusted her most prized possessions to someone she didn't know well. Wasn't anyone else willing to do this? (It turns out she wasn't speaking to her mother-in-law.)

The day she came to pick up her three oldest, she let me know that God would severely punish anyone who "didn't have all the children He intended them to have." I found this a curious thing to say to someone who has just two children, when she doesn't know my circumstances.

Another time, I was babysitting her children, whom were badly behaved. I tried to distract them with a Catholic video. She became angry because they didn't get a chance to play with my children.

This is one relationship I should have ended before it started.

Flickr photo by The Holy Hand Grenade

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Knowledge Will Free You From the Bully's Grip

Female bullies operate through relational aggression. They create havoc for their target in her social and professional settings. This is the chief means by which they inflict punishment. Although, growing up, we're told that "Sticks and stones may break your bones, but names will never hurt you," that's not entirely true.

The psychological wounds cut deep. In a social group, this may mean someone is marginalized. It's particularly painful if she has children, since they may no longer receive invitations to play dates or to birthday parties.

With church bullies, it may mean her entire family must pull up roots and replant themselves elsewhere. The pastor might not be aware of what is happening or he might assume the bully is not capable of such sinister behavior. Bullies are charmingly deceptive.

In the case of workplace bullying, the usual outcome is job loss, either forced or voluntary. Most people, out of self interest, will side with the bully.

Observers may believe this is just "a personality clash." If the target is emotional, she'll be blamed for "causing trouble." Disordered personalities are clever. They know what buttons to push to make you react.

Learning all you can about narcissistic personality disorder helps take much of the sting away. You'll see that your aggressor, most likely, suffers from a serious character flaw. It's her shortcoming, not yours.

Bullies often aim their arrows at people they envy. They see some quality they want, and, because of their disorder, believe they're entitled to get it. Their concept of self is weak. That's why they constantly seek praise and admiration, at the expense of someone else. In their minds, pulling you down elevates their own standing.

Learning about these dynamics gives you the tools to act. Most of the time, walking away is the best solution. It's not defeat. It's choosing a better work or worship environment, or a nicer group of friends.

Flickr photo by tellatic

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

What is a Covert Narcissist and How They Operate

It's impossible spend any length of time talking about female bullying without exploring the role of personality disorders. In recent years, narcissism has become a household word. There's a growing awareness of the psychological traits that go into arriving at a clinical definition of unhealthy narcissism.

These include grandiosity, a feeling that regular rules don't apply to them and an extreme, perverted sense of entitlement, to name a few. For example, a narcissistic friend would consider it a privilege to be in her company. She'll expect a lot of favors, some of which may greatly inconvenience you. However, she feels she's doing you a favor for allowing you to spend time with her.

Narcissists are very engaging individuals who are fun to be around. They have magnetic personalities and plenty of admirers. They're also willing to do just about anything to advance their cause, even if it means injuring others. They're very low on empathy.

A classic narcissist believes she deserves the very best. So you can often expect her to wear very expensive clothes, even if she can't afford them.

The above description, though, doesn't fit all people with this disorder. There's another category known as "closet narcissists" or "covert narcissists." These are the church mouse types. Underneath the humble exterior are highly competitive beings that will scratch your eyes out, if given the opportunity.

In my personal experience dealing with narcissists, I believe these are the more dangerous ones. They are so good at projecting a mask of piety and good will, that it's hard to fathom that they're capable of destruction. Unlike the overt narcissist, they may dress very plainly, or even wear frumpy clothes.

If you're dealing with a closet narcissist, it can take a long time to catch on to the fact that she may be responsible for stirring up trouble. There is one clue, however, that you may only notice in hindsight. Underneath the placid facade is a lot of anger. When she's stressed, it may bubble to the surface for a brief time. Watch for subtle signs of unregulated anger. This is the best advice I can give you on how to spot a closet narcissist.

Flickr photo by Schnaars

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Destructive Effects of Gossip

Relational aggression among females typically involves gossip. A woman's tongue can aptly be called a weapon of mass destruction when she uses it to harm another. Usually it's just not one person. Gossipers are like serial killers, as they slay the reputation of others.

The way to stop this problem is for everyone to stop listening when someone is shredding another to pieces. You can either walk away or you can interject a kind word in their defense.

There are few things you can count on in life, but one thing is entirely predictable. A gossip who pretends to be your friend will also talk about you to others.

Also, the tongue of the tale teller will eventually become the means of her destruction. Eventually, others will realize that she lies, or, at least, greatly stretches the truth. And she'll never be trusted again.

Flickr photo by deviantART2

Monday, October 21, 2013

Meanness in Female-Dominated Professions

Social scientists who study workplace bullying are well aware that it's a huge problem in female-dominated professions, such as nursing and teaching.

It's become such an issue that a body of scholarly work has been dedicated to the fact that mean nurses exist, and they can undermine patient care.

If you or a loved one was hospitalized, would you want someone with a disordered personality creating an uproar on your ward? I think we'd all agree this could be dangerous.

One study in a major American medical center showed 50 percent of new hires felt they were bullied on their shift. Other findings suggest that 25 percent of RNs believe they must care for patients in a hostile environment.

Teachers don't fare any better. An amazing 80 percent of teachers say they are bullied. Oftentimes, the abusers come from within their own ranks, but parents can inflict some punishment as well.

Flickr photo by Lucid Nightmare

Thursday, October 17, 2013

How Can You Tell if You're Being Bullied by Another Woman

Oftentimes, it's difficult to tell when a female bully selects you as her target.

That's because people with disordered personalities, who like to abuse others, are masters of disguise. They pose as your friend. They appear genuinely supportive. But, by the time you figure out something's wrong, this deceiver has poisoned your other relationships. In the midst of the drama, created by her, she may even manipulates the situation so that you're crying on her shoulder.

How can you tell if you're being bullied? If you belong to a social circle, or work in an office, one clue is how others respond to you. Previously friendly colleagues may become aloof, or cast strange glances in your direction. You'll notice that you're now left out of group activities, even though you were once front and center. (Bullies often prey on friendly, popular people.) You'll start to feel increasingly out of the loop.

If this happens at work, you may find it nearly impossible to do your job. That's because you may be denied access to critical information. Or you might not be invited to important meetings anymore.

This is the time to learn all you can about workplace bullying and narcissistic personality disorder. You may need to think about finding a new job. If this happens in a social setting, you might need to reevaluate some of your friendships.

Although this is a very painful period if your life, this, too, shall pass.

Flickr photo by Torley

Female Narcissists and Working for the Boss from Hell

Workplace bullying is widespread. In the United States, more than one-third of employees, at some point in their careers, say they were bullied by a colleague.

This translates into millions of people, and an untold amount of lost productivity. There's also an enormous personal cost, as the targeted individuals, under extreme stress, may develop physical and mental health problems.

Unfortunately, once a target is selected, the odds are greater than 75 percent that she'll soon be out of work. Sometimes she resigns because she just can't take it anymore. Oftentimes, however, her competence, professionalism and integrity are called into question, so she is fired.

Nearly 40 percent of workplace bullies are women. And they usually (71 percent of the time) attack other women, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute.

Many of these corporate tyrants suffer from Malignant Narcissism, or another personality disorder that puts their prey in a no-win situation.

Narcissists are charming, manipulative, deceptive and highly believable. Before striking, she has already ruined your good name, and managed to turn others on the team against you. So, if you start to complain, you're quickly fingered as the "troublemaker" or branded as a malcontent.

Workers in America are at a disadvantage. They do not enjoy the same type of strong anti-bullying laws found in the European Union. So when this emotional abuse starts, they are left defenseless.

Perhaps the only consolation for targets is that they are not alone. There are many resources to help you decide whether to tough it out, or to leave before serious health problems surface.

Flickr photo by Tatiana12

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The Misery Caused by Female Narcissists

Any discussion of bad behavior among women must include description of a personality disorder known as malignant narcissism. People with this condition do not follow the expected rules of decency. They appear to be like everyone else, but they're not. One chief characteristic is an appalling lack of empathy.

Healthy individuals would feel remorse if they lied, stole, cheated or disrupted relationships, made someone lose their job or did anything else to harm another. A person with NPD, sadly, doesn't share this capacity.

Oftentimes, you can spot a highly narcissistic individual by the way she relates to others. She is smooth, charming and fun. She is haughty and arrogant with a highly inflated self worth. This comes with an extreme sense of entitlement. She may expect many "favors" from her friends, in exchange for the time you get to spend with her.

Relationships with a narcissistic individual are always one way. If you work with a NP-disordered woman, don't be surprised if she tries to undermine you on the job, or even steal your ideas in order to pass them off as her own. Don't make the mistake of trusting her with sensitive information either.

"Covert" narcissists are more difficult to discern. But they're just as dangerous, if not more so, because they appear so humble and giving. You may entrust them with your most precious secrets, which can then be used against you.

Not every woman who mistreats another suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. But this condition is fairly common, affecting an estimated one of out every 25 people. Malignant narcissists and people who bully others have many of the same traits as sociopaths.

Flickr photo by katerha

Monday, October 14, 2013

Dr. Cheryl Dellasega Describes Relational Aggression

Cheryl Dellasega, PhD., is on the cutting edge of research into relational aggression, which is another name for female bullying.

In her book, Mean Girls Grow Up, Dr. Dellasega writes that the drama we lived through as teenagers doesn't end as we age.

Some women never outgrow their childhood competitive streak, and continue to abuse others well into adulthood. She describes the roles they play. The “Queen Bee” is the chief bully. But the “Middle Bees” are weak-willed enablers and accomplices. The “Afraid-to-Bees” are their targets.

Dr. Dellasega says that relational aggression (RA) is a form of emotional abuse used primarily by women, as we have stronger social relationships than men. And RA, she notes, typically involves social isolation and exclusion.

In her book, Dr. Dellasega gives many examples of female bullying. This can be fairly subtle. For instance, one mother may invite all the children in one social circle to a birthday party, except the child of a woman she dislikes.

Relational aggression among women, unfortunately, occurs everywhere women gather, she explains.

Flickr photo by The Daring Librarian

Putting the Puzzle Pieces Together

I wouldn't feel qualified to write about mean women if I hadn't met a few myself. My most memorable encounters were, surprisingly, at church.

There, I encountered a group of women who liked to push people around. In retrospect, much of this dynamic was driven by one Queen Bee who sowed discord and created drama.

This was a difficult period in my life because I was forced to pull my children out of their spiritual home. We needed refuge, as I was her primary target. It was a bad environment for my children, as they were excluded from choir and from other activities.

With my head still spinning, I embarked upon a quest to understand what had happened. Soon, I started reading about a disorder known as "malignant narcissism," in which someone goes out of their way to take down a perceived adversary. This usually entails rumor mongering and an assortment of other under-handed techniques.

Often this is done because the predator feels threatened. Or she may be envious. Or she may just decide to torment a particular individual, just for the heck of it.

Unfortunately, it appears as if this pathological behavior is all too common. It's estimated that one out of every 25 people have malignant narcissism, or another serious personality disorder. This leave them devoid of empathy and oblivious to the agony of those they hurt.

I'll be writing more about this character flaw in upcoming posts, in an effort to shed light on why some women can be so mean. I plan to include information from some of the experts, who study the peculiar workings of female narcissists and sociopaths.

It's my fervent hope that discussing this topic, and bringing it out into the open, will empower the targets and help to alleviate their pain and frustration.

Bullying by adult females is a subject that hasn't been discussed much, until recently.

Flickr photo by MagnusA

Saturday, October 12, 2013

The Different Forms of Relational Aggression

Relational aggression is something that is practiced by both males and females. However, women are the gender that use this form of bullying most often.

Gossip and reputation blackening are one of the main means used to bring someone to their knees, socially. Sometimes the tales have a small grain of truth, which makes them more believable.

Social isolation is another way women may inflict psychological punishment. Picture a group of young mothers meeting at a park. If one of them wishes to shun another, she may later telephone and invite everyone but the targeted individual for a "Mom's Night Out" at a local restaurant. The next time the group is at the park, she'll casually mention the event within earshot of the woman she's trying to exclude.

Although this type of behavior certainly isn't illegal, it isn't very nice, and it has the intention of inflicting pain.

Socially aggressive women may also suddenly "discard" someone by withdrawing their attention and affections.

There is new evidence this type of aggression is a holdover from childhood. Young bullies often grow into older bullies.

What is Relational Aggression?

There are a number of relatively new terms coined by social scientists that describe how adult females often mistreat one another. One is "relational aggression."

This is when someone tries to destroy the social standing of someone else. Women often use this tactic to undermine an adversary. They may feel threatened by another woman. Or they may just desire to raise their own profile, at the expense of their victim.

These attacks are usually carried out under the radar. The malicious rumor-mongering is done without the target's knowledge. By the time she catches on the to fact she's been blacklisted, the damage done is often irreparable.

When this happens in the workplace, the results are predictably disastrous.

Flickr photo by Iqbal Osman!

An Old Tale of Friend Poaching

Women have been "stealing" one another's friends from time immemorial. But a new term known as "friend poaching" describes this modern malady, which seems increasingly prevalent in the present culture of entitlement, which can be summed up in the following statement: "I want what I want and I'll use any means to get it."

This happened repeatedly to my grandmother. One of her gregarious, outgoing relatives would always co-opt her relationships. Only a couple of women in her life remained steadfast, and didn't fall for this ploy. It was a source of constant aggravation to my grandmother, as it happened at least four times.

The details of each "poaching" were similar. The relative would meet the targeted party and then proceed to "take over" the friendship. She made sure to tell my grandmother about all the time she was spending with her former pal.

It really hurt my grandmother when one couple she and my grandfather played cards with were "poached." But it turns out the guilty relative did her a favor. This people were fair-weather friends. When the relative in question was suddenly widowed, they did a disappearing act.

True friends can never be "poached."

Flickr photo by Beau B

Three is a Very Bad Number

Anyone who's ever watched little girls at play knows that three is a very bad number. Two girls will happily interact, for hours on end. But, once you introduce a third, that's when the trouble starts.

Usually what happens is that two of the girls will form a bond, leaving the third one out. Oftentimes, no malice is intended. The newly formed pair may simply be oblivious to the fact they're excluding someone. But it isn't long before the one who's been sidelined will begin to complain, usually through tears, that "They won't play with me."

Unfortunately, little girls don't always outgrow this tendency to leave someone on the margins. It's not uncommon for grown women to also indulge in this sort of behavior, by forming alliances that may be based on the mutual dislike of another, someone they've chosen as an outcast.

Adult female friendships can be very intense, and full of twists, turns and drama. Social scientists are just beginning to explore the not-so-pretty truth about why women can be so mean to each other.

One psychologist also explains the term "best friends forever" is largely a myth, although it's very painful when a "breakup occurs. People change, grow and drift apart.

Flickr photo by roto kirby