Monday, March 31, 2014

Female Sociopaths

I believe so many of us get taken in by female sociopaths/malignant narcissists because we are conditioned to think that all women are nurturing. That's what society tells us. We're bombarded with loving images of mothers hold their babies and women helping one another. However, there is a dark side that's rarely discussed. One out of every 25 people has a serious Cluster B personality disorder, in which they have little to no regard for others. Without this inner guidance, they have propensity to do a lot of damage. They not only don't care if they hurt someone else, but they appear to derive psychological pleasure from setting up scenarios in which others fall.

It's commonly said that most sociopaths are men, and that they outnumber female sociopaths by a margin of four to one. However, some experts also believe the number of women suffering from this disorder is vastly under reported. Women who harm others tend to do it discretely. They go after social relationships, and they don't leave a paper trail. Their actions are also, technically, not illegal. So they don't run into criminal implications as often as men do. Nonetheless, female predators are still exceptionally dangerous.

No doubt this is an area that needs a lot more research, so innocent parties know that female sociopaths do exist and they also know what to watch for, before a friendship with another woman moves past the acquaintance stage.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

How Malignant Narcissists Cluster Together

A malignant narcissist working solo is virtually powerless. He or she (this blog, by the way, is focused on female bullies) needs a string of cohorts. Oftentimes, these individuals also have strong narcissistic traits. We've all heard the expression that "water seeks its own level." In this case, that's definitely true.

Hanging out with the chief bully gives them a sense of kinship. They feel righteous and empowered, because the bully has primed them to do her dirty work. These weak-willed enablers can inflict a great deal of the pain, while the main narcissist watches it unfold, as if she's viewing a movie.

I've long wondered how such like-minded people always manage to find each other, and then, somehow, quickly form a group. This is something I haven't quite figured out, even after observing malignant narcissists in action. This, to me, remains a mystery. All I can gather is that narcissists and sociopaths (there's a lot of overlap) are acutely aware of other people's weak points, and they play upon these defects to get others to follow through on their wicked plans.

For example, they might sense someone in their cluster has a strong need to fit it and to belong. They will use this insider information to get them to attack the target. However, if this enabler still has a bit of human decency, the narcissist directs things so the attack doesn't conflict too much with their values.

Another person, though, may have a mean streak, something the narcissist will make sure is fully exploited.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Astounding Numbers of People Have Suffered from Narcissistic Abuse

When a narcissist selects you as a target, it feels as if you are the only one in the world suffering. However, malignant narcissists are everywhere. An estimated 1 in 25 people now have a serious personality disorder, in which they are filled with so much rage and jealousy that they choose to inflict pain on someone unable to defend themselves. Narcissists also make sure you don't have a support system, because they manage to erode it before they launch their direct attacks. So, by the time you realize that something is wrong, it's, regrettably, too late to do anything to reverse the situation.

Bullies often begin their destructive acts in childhood. Their disordered behavior serves them well, because it gets them what they want. So they often continue their antics well into adulthood. Corporate tyrants (both male and female) are now an occupational hazard. At least one-third of all Americans report being abused at work, at some point in their career, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute. This organization is run by Dr. Gary Namie, PhD. and Dr. Ruth Namie, PhD, a husband and wife team who founded it after Dr. Ruth was bullied in a professional setting. It is among the best resources for people who are having trouble doing their job, because someone wants to run them out of their position.

Workplace bullying is extremely damaging, and often results in job loss and stress-related illness.

Flickr photo by Wayne Large

Monday, March 24, 2014

Deciding When a Relationship is Toxic

Many online writers who've encountered malignant narcissists have described the character traits of toxic people. These include excessive negativity, chronic complaining and bad mouthing others behind their backs.

I'm coming to learn that the best gauge of whether or not someone is a bad companion is simply how you feel after spending time with them. If you're uneasy, uncomfortable, angry, resentful, on edge or emotionally drained, of if you notice yourself questioning your self-worth, then it's highly likely the relationship is toxic.

Sometimes people change, and this change is not for the good. A person who once brought a lot of joy into your life may no longer do so. Sometimes this happens because a highly divisive third party has entered the picture. You can't control this, but you can control whether or not you choose to participate in this dynamic, and all the drama it brings.

If, after thoroughly thinking this over, and realizing there's no other alternative, you might need to move on. I don't believe in suddenly cutting people out of your life, without good cause. However, sometimes you need to do this for self preservation. If you are dealing with a disordered female, directly or indirectly, staying highly involved will only bring you misery.

People and situations don't tend to fit into neat little packages. Someone may not be suffering from a full-blown personality disorder, but keeping in close contact with them might still be toxic for you.

Flickr photo by HaPe_Gera

Friday, March 21, 2014

What is Ambient Abuse?

I'm constantly learning new things about malignant narcissism, even though I've been "studying" it for a number of years. Ever since a female sociopath, posing as a friend, managed to infiltrate my life and many of my personal relationships, I've had an interest in this disorder. This week, I learned of a new term called "ambient abuse."

It turns out that this is the same thing as "gas lighting," which is a very horrible way that malignant narcissists toy with you, by playing mind games that make you doubt your perception of things, and, in extreme cases, can even make you question your sanity. They often combine this with "hinting." This involves a very subtle suggestion they anticipate you will follow through with. It could be designed to cast you in a bad light, in an attempt to undermine you.

For example, the narcissist might have prepped a third party to expect you to approach them, with a suggestion. They then attribute a nefarious intention to what you're going to suggest. Then, they drop a hint to you, that encourages you to make this suggestion.

They don't come right out and ask you to do this. But they let you know, for one reason or another, that they can't do it themselves. Being the nice person that you are, you volunteer for the task. But, by doing so, you are walking right into their trap.

Narcissists have an almost superhuman ability to manipulate situations, to their advantage. No one can understand this unless they've had first-hand dealings with a malignant personality.

So, even though I consider myself fairly up on the lingo associated with personality disorders, the term "ambient abuse" was a new one to me.

Flickr photo by Eden Sweden

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Another Blessing of Malignant Narcissism - Upgrading Relationships

After you begin to recover from relational abuse, you can look back and see the blessings. Believe it or not, there are many positives, although you usually can't see them at the time. I've already written about the satisfaction I gain from being able to (hopefully) help other women who've, unfortunately, allowed a female malignant narcissist into their lives. I also like the insight I've gained from my experience. As strange as it sounds, I'd now choose for everything to play out exactly as it did, because some wonderful things have happened, as a direct result.

Since the time a female narcissist forced me to leave a religious and social setting, where I'd been for a long time, I've met many incredible people who don't suffer from this disorder. I appreciate them in a way I never would have before.

I've also had to lose my best friend along the way. The narcissist also targeted her, in a way that strained her loyalty and our friendship. That's okay now, because I have different boundaries and expectations. I won't stay in a relationship like this, with divided loyalties, because I've done some upgrades. My new relationships won't be subject to that same kind of stress. For several years, since leaving that toxic environment, I've been surrounded with goodness and kindness.

Happiness and healing can definitely follow relational abuse. Just keep reminding yourself of this while the pain is still raw.

Flickr photo by vivevans

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Blaming the Targets - The Myth of Co-Dependency

The term "co-dependency" is a controversial one. It first came into widespread use during the 1970's. I've never really understood quite what this label means. What I can glean is that it's often used to describe a caring person who puts others first. There is nothing wrong with doing that, to a point. Those of us with Christian backgrounds have been raised to serve others and to love our neighbor as ourselves. We are taught to bear with one another and to forgive.

It's important to remember that narcissists take advantage of people who like to help others, and of those who like to ease people's burden's, rather than add to them. We all have difficulties in our lives. Everyone you meet is fighting one type of battle or another. The problems that many people face seem almost insurmountable these days.

Being kind and generous is not a fault. Many targets possess these qualities. It's troubling to read material online that seems to imply the targets are the ones with the problem. The truth of the matter is that we now have a lot of malignant narcissists walking among us. (One estimate puts this figure at 1 out of every 25 people.) These folks are clever and sneaky, in ways the rest of us cannot even dream of being. So we shouldn't feel too bad when we get taken in by one of these charlatans. Even the professionals can be fooled by high-functioning covert narcissists.

That's why I don't like the term "co-dependency." It implies that the target, and not the abuser, is really at fault. Such terminology takes the issue of accountability off of the abuser and further victimizes the target.

However, as we recover from abuse, it doesn't hurt us to take a look at our weak spots, in order to firm them up a bit. This will, hopefully, prevent us from falling into another relationship with a malignant narcissist/sociopath. Learning as much as you can about this disorder is the best way to protect yourself.

We should embrace our kindness and not feel guilty because extend ourselves to others. So many people right now need a kind word or gesture.

Flickr photo by alexisnyal

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Balance Between Anger and Forgiveness

I'm hoping this blog can help women who've had to deal with female malignant narcissists, no matter what stage of awareness or recovery they find themselves in. My focus is on shedding light on this societal problem, in hopes that doing so can ease some of the trauma. It's truly mind boggling to think about how much damage one person can cause.

However, I also want this blog to be more about survival than about anger. That's because holding on to anger longer than you need to is a victory for the narcissist, who thrives on conflict. Moving beyond the pain and starting a new chapter in your life is the best "revenge." Forgiveness is very liberating, because it means the narcissist no longer has any power over you.

At the same time, I realize this is a process. So, if anyone is angry and leaves comments expressing their indignation over all they've been through, they also won't be judged by me. I also went through a period of anger and outrage. So I want this blog to be balanced, since anger is a normal emotional response to being bullied.

From my current perspective, it's easy for me to forgive. It's been several years since the worst of the abuse ended, because I left the setting in which it was happening. I'm still tying up a few loose ends, though, because my abuser infiltrated a number of my relationships. I'm still deciding just how to juggle one relationship with a person who is close to the abuser. I've detached myself a lot from her, and I wonder if eventually I'll need to do so more. Right now, this relationship is in sort of a holding pattern until I can gain more clarity.

Flickr photo by Archbob

Monday, March 17, 2014

Church Bullies Blog for a Different Perspective

My most damaging encounters with a female malignant narcissist were at church. Until this series of events happened, I was blissfully ignorant about the severity and the scope of this personality disorder. I knew about narcissism in general because one of my close relatives is a marriage and family therapist with a special interest in personality disorders.

But, until I had first-hand experience, I really had no idea that some seemingly normal people actually go far out of their way in an attempt to destroy someone else. I had assumed that anyone with anti-social characteristics this strong would be locked up, because they had committed a punishable crime.

Unfortunately, high-functioning sociopaths/malignant narcissists walk among us. They can be our neighbors and our co-workers and they can masquerade as our "friends." We can even meet them at church, as I did. Actually, church is a haven for these sorts because they like to run things. Since most other parishioners, as well as the pastor, usually try very hard to please, a house of worship is actually the perfect place for abusers to gain an upper hand.

Drawing on this experience, I started another blog that focuses specifically on narcissists who flourish in religious settings. If you're interested in this topic, please visit my other blog on church bullies.

Flickr photo by stevendepolo

Saturday, March 15, 2014

How a Narcissist Gets Others to Betray You

I recently saw a "pin" on Pinterest that shed a lot of light on how female narcissists operate. It aptly describes how one person is capable of causing so much destruction. Anyway, this little bit of wisdom posted on Pinterest explains what happens. Narcissists are master manipulators. In their drive to destroy their target, they direct other people to do things that hurt the target.

People with personality disorders, such as narcissism or sociopathy, have incredible insight into what makes others tick. So they are able to use this knowledge to harm our relationships.

In a group setting, female bullies typically choose one target at a time. Then, they seek to isolate her. The idea is to make her so uncomfortable that she'll have to leave the group. This might play out in a professional setting, or in a volunteer capacity, such as a parent-teacher organization or a church. Or, this particular dynamic might unfold among a neighborhood full of mothers with young children.

A narcissist will carefully construct various scenarios that leave a target out in the cold. Let's say, for instance, you belong to a social group of six women who have children all around the same age, who also attend the same school. You've known each other for years, ever since your children were infants.

You also have one best friend in this group. The narcissist knows this, and she wants to put some pressure on the relationship. So she tries to fulfill your best friend's most pressing need.

Right now, your best friend is worried about her painfully shy seven-year-old son. She desperately wants him to find friends. The narcissistic mother has an outgoing eight-year-old son. So she puts a lot of effort into facilitating a friendship between the boys. However, she isn't trying to do a good deed. She's using the opportunity to get close to your friend.

She arranges frequent play dates for her son and your friend's son. Soon, the two women are spending a lot of time together. At the same time, the narcissistic mother starts giving you the brush off. She also starts to arrange a lot of group-wide events, while neglecting to include you.

If your best friend was truly loyal, she wouldn't stand for this nonsense. True friends don't allow their friends to be mistreated. However, most people don't have the integrity or backbone to stand up to a malignant narcissist.

Flickr photo by kodomut

Friday, March 14, 2014

In the End, a Female Narcissist Destroys Only Herself

Female narcissists work differently than male abusers. They destroy their targets with gossip, lies, innuendo, calumny and detraction. (Detraction is the vile practice of revealing another's true faults, with the intent of making them look bad.) For instance, if someone had a period in their life where they did things they weren't proud of, but have since managed to turn everything around, someone who knew them before shouldn't dredge this history up, unless there's a very good cause.

Gossips tend to use detraction combined with calumny, which is an out-and-out false accusation. Including a bit of truth, along with their outrageous falsehoods gives their story more plausibility. Female bullies who use these tactics probably have a long history of tearing down others.

Even though most people are easily deceived, in time, their poisonous words will come back to haunt the unfortunate narcissist. Eventually, she'll be pegged as a gossip and a troublemaker. No one will want to be in her presence.

Those of us who realize that people who talk badly about others will also do the same to us like to give these destructive individuals a very wide berth. There is no upside to starting up a friendship with someone who treats others so poorly.

Flickr photo by puuikibeach

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

If You Dig a Pit for Someone Else, You'll Eventually Stumble Into It

There are a number of sayings from different cultures around the world about setting traps. What happens is the person who sets a trap for someone else will later fall into it. In Jamaican, for instance, it's said that if you dig a hole for someone else, you better dig another for yourself, because that's where you're going to end up, or something to that effect.

This saying probably means that you've likely made an enemy or two along the way, and someone else is probably digging a hole for you, according to an online poster.

There is also a Russian proverb advising against digging a hole for someone else, because you will eventually fall into it.

Those of us who live in the United States have all heard the expression, "What goes around, comes around."

This truism is also found in the Bible, in Psalm 7:8, which notes that sinners "open a hole and dig it deep, but fall into the pit they have dug."

In my own lifetime, I've seen this play out. Years ago, for instance, when I was working outside of the house, at a job I planned to leave anyway, I supervised a woman who desperately wanted my position. She was a highly charismatic charmer who convinced a higher up that I was mistreating her, which, of course, I wasn't.

Because I was planning to leave anyway, because I wanted to be home with my children, that's what I did. A year later this woman was fired, as the higher up eventually got wise to her antics.

Later, when I was out of the workforce, I ran into another female malignant narcissist at church. I wouldn't say she's fallen into the pit  yet, but it will happen eventually. Knowing this helps me reconcile what has happened, and move toward forgiveness. I'll let God take care of it.

Flickr photo by -JvL-

Saturday, March 8, 2014

How Narcissists Size You Up and "Groom" You for Abuse

Before a narcissist makes a move, he or she will size you up. Since this blog is dedicated to female abusers, I'll be using the pronoun "she." During this phase, also known as "grooming," a narcissistic predator will pretend to be your friend. In her mind, she may even think she's your friend. But people with such severe personality disorders are incapable of friendship.

During this time, she'll shower you with attention. She be available and "helpful," while she's looking for your weak spots. You may mistake this for true friendship, and you might think you've found a soul mate who understands you perfectly. The problem is, she does understand you. She will later use everything she's learned to launch her attack.

A narcissist will probably still pretend to be your friend, even after she's laid the ground for your destruction. (However, she's not going to destroy you, because you're going to rise from this challenge stronger than ever.)

Life then becomes difficult for a stretch. If this plays out in the workplace, your job is at risk. You might have to seek new employment, if the going gets too rough. If it happens in a social circle, you'll probably have to expand your horizons and find new friends.

Narcissists usually win, because they are very savvy and most people can't see through their shenanigans. Even if they can, and it makes them uncomfortable, it's a rare person who will risk their own position, especially on the job, to come to your defense.

There is a way to protect yourself from female covert narcissists. Be very careful of opening up to a new female acquaintance too soon, especially if she is the type that asks a lot of questions. Watch for the warning signs. Be very careful of someone who speaks unkindly of others when they aren't present. They'll do the same thing to you. That is something you can bank on.

Flickr photo by Cook24v

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Healing from Narcissistic Abuse - That Light Bulb Moment

During my encounter with a malignant narcissist, I vividly recall the confusion. Why were things so crazy and what was happening? Learning as much as I could about this personality disorder was the first step in my recovery. This was the "light bulb moment," when I realized that I'd allowed a deeply flawed character into my life. Changes had to be made and I needed to make them.

The first order of business was putting a lot of distance between myself and the person orchestrating all the drama. This wasn't as easy as it sounds because I had introduced her to my best friend, with whom she had become extremely close. Out of necessity, I needed to pull away from my friend a bit as well.

I've never discussed the issue of narcissism with my friend. All I could say was certain dynamics were making me uncomfortable, and that I needed my space. There are two reasons why I couldn't be more candid. One was that I don't like talking about people behind their backs. If I confronted the narcissist about her actions, she'd deny them. Narcissists will not be held accountable.

The second reason is that my friend would probably not believe me. Although she witnessed the narcissist in action, at one point, it was followed by a plausible excuse. She shouldn't have bought it, but narcissists are very convincing. Eventually, she will learn for herself, unfortunately. Narcissists have a pattern of mistreating the very people they are initially so anxious to please.

The period of confusion is, by far, the worst part of dealing with a malignant narcissist. Once you catch on, you are on the road to becoming free from their lethal grip.

Flickr photo by nist6ss

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Narcissistic Abusers Need Accomplices

Narcissists like to rally people to their cause. When they go after a target, they typically pull in others as co-abusers. These accomplices are weak and spineless people who may have personality disorders themselves. Or, they may be the victims of narcissistic abuse. Sometimes they have so little character that they align with the powerful narcissist because they cower in fear. If they don't march in lockstep with her agenda, they could be next.

Other observers may turn on the target because they believe the abuser's twisted lies. Narcissists have no compunction about spinning the most elaborate tales about someone they want to discredit.

It's a shame the majority of people can't see through these tactics. But the reality is that a narcissist almost always wins the battle.

One of the most painful aspects of being a target is watching people you thought you could count on, one by one, jump to the narcissist's side. Many of us familiar with narcissistic manipulation call these folks "flying monkeys," named after the evil monkeys in the Wizard of Oz. A narcissist can get nowhere without them, and would never be able to cause so much damage if they didn't have a fleet of these pathetic creatures.

When you're immersed in the drama, it appears as if you're losing a lot of friends. However, after you recover, and look back on the situation, you can see that each of these flying monkeys had their own set of issues. Some were narcissists themselves. Others were simply very shallow.

Moving forward, your life will be filled with much better relationships. This is one of the blessings of being a recovered target.

Recovery happens only after you forgive, no matter how malicious and devious the behavior was. It's not easy, but it's necessary in order to move forward.

Flickr photo top by TORLEY