Monthly Archives: January 2020

Torture by triangulation – narcissists and psychopaths

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476042DB-05B6-4BD0-8203-A52DB19577BETo draw you closer, narcissists & psychopaths create an aura of desirability—of being wanted and courted by many. It will become a point of vanity for you to be the preferred object of their attention, to win them away from a crowd of admirers. They manufacture the illusion of popularity by surrounding themselves with members of the opposite sex: friends, former lovers, and your eventual replacement. Then, they create triangles that stimulate rivalry and raise their perceived value. (Adapted from “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene).

A note before I continue: people fall in and out of love. People find new love, before and after relationships come to an end. People cheat on one another. This section is not about these everyday occurrences—no matter how heartbreaking and unfair they might be. Instead, I will be describing a very specific set of patterns and behaviors that psychopaths utilize in order to torture and control their targets.

Psychopaths, like most predators, seek power and control. They want to dominate their partners sexually, emotionally, and physically. They do this by exploiting vulnerabilities. This is why they love-bomb you with attention and flattery in the beginning of the relationship—because no matter how strong or confident you are, being in “love” makes you vulnerable by default. Psychopaths don’t need physical aggression to control you (although sometimes they do). Instead, relationships provide them with the perfect opportunity to consume you by manufacturing the illusion of love. This is why it’s so damaging when bystanders say: “Well, why didn’t you just leave?” You never entered a relationship with the psychopath expecting to be abused, belittled, and criticized—first, you were tricked into falling in love, which is the strongest human bond in the world. Psychopaths know this.

So how do psychopaths maintain such a powerful bond over their targets? One of their favorite methods is through triangulation. When I mention this term, survivors usually equate it with the next target, but that is not always the case. Psychopaths use triangulation on a regular basis to seem in “high-demand”, and to keep you obsessed with them at all times. This can occur with anyone:

1. Your family

2. Their family

3. Your friends

4. Their friends

5. Ex-partners

6. Partners-to-be

7. Complete strangers

The psychopath’s ability to groom others is unmatched. They feel an intense euphoria when they turn people against each other, especially when it’s over a competition for them. Psychopaths will manufacture situations to make you jealous and question their fidelity. In a normal relationship, people go out of their way to prove that they are trustworthy—but the psychopath does exactly the opposite. They are constantly suggesting that they might be pursuing other options, or spending time with other people, so that you can never settle down into a feeling of peace. And they will always deny this, calling you crazy for bringing it up.

The issue here is that you’re accustomed to such a high level of attention after they first lured you in, so it feels very personal & confusing when they direct that attention elsewhere. They know this. They’ll “forget” plans with you, and spend a few days with friends that they always complained about to you. They’ll ignore you to spend more time with their family, when they initially told you that they were all horrible people. They’ll seek sympathy from an ex when a member of their family dies, and explain that they just have a “special friendship” you wouldn’t understand. Often—if not always—that ex is someone they first claimed was abusive and unstable.

Seeking attention, sympathy and solace from people who are not you is a very common tactic of the psychopath. As an empathetic person, and as their partner, you rightfully feel that they should be seeking comfort in you. You’ve always healed them in the past, so what’s different now? They once claimed that they were a broken person, and that you were the reason they were happy again. But now, they turn to private friendships or past relationships that you could “never understand”. And they will always make sure to shove this in your face.

This brings me to the next topic: social media.

Technology makes it so much easier for psychopaths to manipulate through triangulation. It can be as simple as liking a comment from an old ex, while ignoring one from you. They will “accidentally” upload a photo album where they’re embracing the ex they once claimed to hate. Everything appears to be unintentional—you often attribute it to insensitivity—but make no mistake: it is carefully calculated.

They will post strategically ambiguous statuses, songs, and videos that suggest you might be “losing” them. They will share things that are intentionally meant to lure in new & old targets. For example, an inside joke with their new victim. Or the love song that they once shared with their ex. This does two things: it leaves you feeling unhinged, anxious, and jealous. But it also makes the competing party feel confident, loved, and special. They are grooming others as they erode your identity—two birds with one stone.

They want you to confront them about these things, because they are so seemingly minimal that you will appear crazy and jealous for bringing it up. They will calmly provide an excuse for everything and then blame you. Covert abuse is impossible to prove, because it’s always strategically ambiguous. You can’t prove that they’re luring in their ex because of a song they posted, but you know it intuitively. This is how they finalize the crazy-making. Because let’s be honest: complaining about Facebook statuses & comments does seem immature. That’s exactly how they want you to feel.

Psychopaths are also expertly skilled at surrounding themselves with givers—insecure people who find self-worth in taking care of others. This is why your giving seems so insignificant and replaceable during the relationship. They adore qualities in others who are nothing like you—sometimes even the exact opposite of you. The message is simple: you are no longer special. You are replaceable. If you don’t give them the worshipping they deserve, they’ll always have other sources. And even if you do give them positive energy, they’ll get bored of you eventually. They don’t need you. Their current round of fans will always spoil and admire them, making you believe that they truly must be a great person. But take a careful look around. You’ll notice that they all seem to have an unspoken misery about them.

The final triangulation happens when they make the decision to abandon you. This is when they’ll begin freely talking about how much this relationship is hurting them, and how they don’t know if they can deal with your behavior anymore. They will usually mention talking to a close friend about your relationship, going into details about how they both agreed that your relationship wasn’t healthy. In the meantime, they’ve been blatantly ignoring frantic messages from you. You’ll be sitting there wondering why they aren’t chatting with you about these concerns, considering it’s your relationship.

Well, the reason is that they’ve already made the decision to dump you—now they’re just torturing you. They only seek advice from people they know will agree with them. That “friend” they’re talking to is probably their next target.

After the breakup, they will openly brag about how happy they are with their new partner, where most normal people would feel very embarrassed and secretive about entering a new relationship so quickly. And even more surprising, they fully expect you to be happy for them. Otherwise you are bitter and jealous.

During this period, they make a post-dump assessment. If you grovel or beg, they are likely to find some value in your energy. They will be both disgusted and delighted by your behavior. If you lash out and begin uncovering their lies, they will do everything in their power to drive you to suicide. Even if you come back to them later with an apology, they will permanently despise any target who once dared talk back to them. You’ve seen too much—the predator behind the mask.

This is why they constantly wave their new partner in your face, posting pictures and declaring their happiness online. Proving how happy and perfect they are. It’s a final attempt to drive you insane with triangulation. To make you blame the new target, instead of the true abuser.

Exes who stay strung do not understand that they are puppets to the psychopath. Instead, they feel that they are fulfilling some sort of beautiful duty as a friend—someone who will always be there for them. They don’t understand that they are only kept around to spice things up when the psychopath becomes bored. They don’t see that they are the basis of so many fights—not because their friendship with the psychopath is special and enviable, but because the psychopath intentionally creates that drama. They are operating under the delusion that their friendship with the psychopath is brilliant, unique, and unprecedented. When in reality, they are just used for triangulation.

So how can you protect yourself from this devastating emotional abuse? First, you must learn self-respect. I will discuss this in more detail later on in the book. But the bottom line is, you need know what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior in a relationship. You should know that a partner who cheats and antagonizes is not worth your time. You should never resort to calling yourself crazy in order to account for their extremely sketchy behavior. But that’s hard to do with subtle, covert, crazy-making abuse.

So here’s where I introduce “The Detective Rule”. The idea is simple: if you find yourself playing detective with someone, you remove them from your life immediately. Remember your Constant? Do you play detective with them? Do you cyberstalk their Facebook page and question their every intention? No, of course not. So you know the common denominator is external.

Even if this sense of distrust feels obscure and unreasonable, trust your gut. If you are constantly worrying or doubting your thoughts, it’s time to stop blaming yourself and start taking action.

Miraculously, every single time you remove that toxic person from your life, you will find that the anxiety subsides. Some of us are better at judging ourselves than others, so this finally gives you a chance to put that to use. You can decide whether or not you like the way you feel around someone. No one can ever tell you that your feelings are wrong. Remember the question: “How are you feeling today?” The answer is all that matters.

Triangulation leaves long-lasting emotional scars, and it makes you feel as if you are a jealous, needy, insecure monster. Start healing those scars and understand that they were manufactured. You were not yourself—you were manipulated. The real you is kind, loving, open-minded, and compassionate. Never question these things again.

The most harmful narcissistic manipulation tactics

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One study reveals that individuals with the narcissistic character traits enumerated above possess what the authors define as narcissistic awareness: they know of their tendency to be narcissistic from time to time.

The other kind however, is a genuine psychiatric disorder, and if you aren’t prepared, you will find yourself the victim of narcissistic manipulation.

Individuals who meet the criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder use extremely manipulative tactics when dealing with relationships.

This is due to their dishonesty, lack of empathy and their tendency to be outwardly exploitative.

Recognizing their harmful influence, and removing yourself from the grip of narcissist manipulation is the best thing you can do to protect your mental and emotional well-being.

Here are 7 Of The Most Harmful Narcissistic Manipulation Tactics:

1. Public and private shaming.

Whether it is in a public setting, or the privacy of your own home, a narcissist will make comments that belittle you. They derive pleasure from making others feel small, look weak, or appear less intelligent than themselves. This form of manipulation is subtle- dangerously so. You won’t recognize it under the guise of “I’m only kidding.” “Can’t you take a joke?” or “I’m just trying to help you.” Eventually you begin to rely on their hurtful words. Or rather, you rely on the hope that one day you will be “good enough”, and they won’t have to say them.

Trust me, you are good enough already.

Narcissistic individuals feel very comfortable in today’s world of global interconnectedness, where public shaming is being used to shift our beliefs, and we’ve started accepting is as the new normal.

2. Third-party reinforcements.

Of course the narcissist needs back up. Their egos are massive, and as big as they are, they are equally fragile. This means that regardless of what you say, or how much logic you use, or what facts you have on your side, you won’t win. You can’t. They have already swayed one of their friends or colleagues and convinced them to take their side.

Unbeknownst to you. So now, you, the person you intended to have the conversation with, and a third-party member of their choosing are now all a part of this triangle of defeat from hell. This is known as triangulation.

Toxis narcissists do not miss a chance to triangulate their partner with family members, friends, colleagues, ex-boyfriends or girlfriends, or even complete strangers in order to spark jealousy and uncertainty in them.

3. Minimizing your worth.

When your relationship began, the narcissist complimented you and made you feel like you both could be the greatest couple that ever walked the earth. You were so happy- or you thought you were. Then they started changing things around. The compliments turned into things you needed to change about yourself. The way they liked your hair is now “dated” or “silly.” Your awkward puns that everybody genuinely enjoys?

“Nah, those are dumb too, and the people only laugh because they pity you.” You will never feel like you are worth more than what they say you are.

4. Perpetuating the role of victim.

Despite the fact that you’re the one who is being victimized, the narcissist will turn it around on themselves. You might have told them how it feels like you are talking to a brick wall when you try to get through to them, and the narc will say something like, “See? I just can’t get through to you.”

It literally makes no sense whatsoever, and their words will have you questioning if you really are the one to blame. Maybe you just haven’t been clear enough. Do not fall for this kind of manipulation.

5. Gaslighting or “crazy-making.”

Each one of these types of manipulation can damage your mental and emotional health, and this happens because we start to doubt ourselves and our sanity. We begin to question if we really said something, or if they never said something, or if everyone else sees the same thing you do. Well, unless they are living with them, someone else isn’t going to see what you see. Gaslighting works exceptionally well for the narcissist because there is no proof.

You can’t prove how they feel, and you can’t prove if they said something or acted irrationally. Of course, you could record them, but then you would be the crazy one. Again, it all goes back to making you rely on them- for your sanity, for your worth, and for your very basis in reality. If that’s not dangerous, I don’t know what is.

6. Controlling everything.

The conversation, the meals, the social outings, the bills- literally everything. The narcissist feels the need to control these things so they are the center of attention and main focus of the relationship. If you want to talk about your day, go for it. But know that they won’t hear you, they won’t remember anything you’ve said, and the conversation will immediately encompass their day.

This eventually causes you to forget all about yourself and what you want. As soon as the relationship reaches this level of manipulation, stop, and ask yourself what you are doing and where you can go from here that will better your life.

7. Project, and deflect.

Remember, the narcissist is flawless. So if they’re upset about something at work, or if they’ve been made aware of one of their many “flawless” attributes, they are going to take it out on you. And guess what? You aren’t going to be prepared. You can’t be. When you say something that triggers them (and it could be anything under the sun) you become the target of their aggression. Not only is this dangerous for your mental and emotional health, it can be detrimental to your physical health as well. Read more at CPOE.org website

Increased levels of cortisol rush through your body when your stress levels are elevated, and too much of it can cause heart problems.

A brief conclusion

Hopefully, knowing these signs can help you to recognize and identify them when they happen, so you can take the appropriate measures. These can include anything from physically distancing yourself from the narcissist (e.g. stop meeting them, moving out of the home you share with them, or even moving out of town) to building an emotional barrier around you, whereupon you just cut all communication with them.E946124A-6BCF-4555-BFCE-524C5CA3380E.jpeg

Cognitive Dissonance with a Narcissist

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The Narcissistic Weapon of Choice, and its Catastrophic Damage to the Psyche.

The term cognitive dissonance is used to describe the feelings of discomfort that result when your beliefs run counter to your behaviors and/or new information that is presented to you. People tend to seek consistency in their attitudes and perceptions, so when what you hold true is challenged or what you do doesn’t jibe with what you think, something must change in order to eliminate or reduce the dissonance (lack of agreement). A classic example of this is “explaining something away.” — Verywellmind.com
Cognitive dissonance is a catastrophic breakdown of steadfast beliefs and self-knowledge. It is the sense of complete confusion — an entire dissolution of clarity. It feels like mental torture. If you have been in a relationship of any kind with a narcissist, you will know this feeling well.
In day to day life, we all face bouts of cognitive dissonance. In small doses, and dealing with normal healthy people this is no bad thing as it can allow us to consider two sides of the same coin with fact, reason and critical thinking.
But when cognitive dissonance becomes a pattern of ongoing conflict and confusion in your mind as a result of toxic abuse, severe damage can be done to your sense of self and personal autonomy.
In a relationship with a narcissist, Cognitive Dissonance underlies trauma-bonding. In its extreme, it can cause Stockholm-syndrome and battered wife syndrome.
With Narcissists
Word Salad
Narcissists are spectacularly skilled in causing cognitive dissonance.
They engage in word-salad type monologues — taking you on a wild goose-chase with their words and long self-oriented tirades. You are left exhausted and depleted trying to decode what it is they are saying.
If you manage to get a word in edgeways, narcissists will surreptitiously sidestep the thrust of your every point, and then deflect and redirect incessantly to a point where you cannot even remember where you started or how you end up at the final destination. The final destination looks like chaos — a complete and utter jumble of words and re-framed semantics that actually lack meaning entirely.
Projection
They are even more adept at redirecting to you. Woe betides if you express sadness or disappointment at the narcissist. Masters in the art of projection, you will be on the receiving end of all their rage and self-hatred. They will insult you, criticise your character and press deeply on all your own insecurities to deflect the spotlight from themselves. What started out as you hoping for some resolution from your disappointment, finishes with you doubting yourself and all that you are.
Projection is an insidious form of lying — by projecting unto us, we are the ones to blame and the narcissist avoids all accountability. Shame is often the cornerstone of their projection. It lies at the root of the narcissistic personality type. Narcissists cannot handle the deep severity of the emotion thus they project it onto others in a primitive attempt to rid themselves of it.
When you love this person, cognitive dissonance magnifies in its power. It slowly breaks down the psyche causing chronic confusion — about yourself, and about the person in question. We wonder, how can this person keep saying the same things if it isn’t true? They love me, so they must be right. How horrifically tragic it is when we start to believe this.
Gas-lighting
Of all the weapons in the Narcissists armory cabinet, this is probably his favourite. Gas-lighting is a deleterious maneuver that narcissists and other toxic types use to make you bring your own sanity into question.
“I think I am losing my mind, I don’t know what is real and what is not anymore.”
It is a terrible notion to believe — that somebody we love could be purposely trying to distort our version of reality but sadly it is a reality in life with a narcissist. Narcissists use this tactic to make us dependent on their account of reality whilst covertly pulling the rug from under our feet so that you are no longer on psychological or emotional terra-firma.
Examples of Gas-lighting
Flat-out denial of events that occurred, words that were uttered, abuse that took place.
Reversal and projection of facts — onto you. “It’s you that is insane, why do you think I keep telling you this? I say it all the time but you just don’t listen, I’m tired of you not hearing me.”
They’ll tell you you’re irrational, you’ve lost your mind, you are too sensitive.
The supremely artful narcissists of the covert type will mask their words under sweet-icing “No baby, I know what is right for you, you just need to trust me, what I am saying is right.” Or, “I was just joking sweetie.”
Your deepest wounds will be prodded and poked at — upturning your self-control and emotional stability.
Reactive abuse — goading you to a point where you implode and then blame you for being the abuser.
Cognitive Dissonance Paralyses Clarity and Agency
Rationalization — something feels intuitively very wrong, but we rationalize the behaviour of the toxic other; they love me, they wouldn’t want to hurt me on purpose. This explanation reduces the anxiety of the abuse, strengthening the toxic trauma-bond to the abuser.
Defensiveness — we defend the toxic individual to other people, especially when loved ones are trying to protect us. We think the abuser is simply misunderstood, that we understand their psychological wiring and therefore must act to defend it.
Denial — the brain goes into overdrive to protect the internal conflict. It is too painful to consider that the person we care for may actually be abusing us. So we deny the reality and force it deep into our unconscious. But the conflict is magnified by doing so and will rear its head in complete emotional depletion.
Justification — we justify to ourselves why we need to stay in the relationship. Maybe we think that the narcissist suffered terribly in childhood and justify his behaviour.
The Impact of Cognitive Dissonance to the Psyche
A complete deterioration of self-worth. Tragic but inevitable that self-worth breaks down when your mental reasoning is protecting an abuser to the point that you believe it is you to blame for the toxic state of the relationship. This reasoning is the only way the brain can justify staying in the partnership.
Chronic self-doubt. The line between right and wrong is now entirely muddled, blurry. We are no longer in control of destiny, emotions, desires. We have become wired to the ambient mood and behaviours of the toxic other, enmeshed in their way of thinking and being. Self-doubt becomes an internal disease, rendering the psyche entirely devoid of a sense of self.
Perfectionism and people-pleasing. Unconscious fear about the next bout of rage or shift in mood leads to a persistent hypervigilance. This vigilance is a finessed attunement to the moods of the other, allowing us to cultivate ways of avoiding or deflecting the next meltdown or round of abuse. How this plays out in practice is perverse pleasing of the other — anything to avoid further damage. In doing so we lose ourselves entirely in the other, neglecting ourselves fully in the process.
Social withdrawal and isolation. The clever narcissist has a way of making himself look like a pillar of grace and humility. And he will make you look like you’re deranged and unhinged. So we withdraw from those that we love, retreat into our hovels of confusion and despair, further amplifying the self-doubt that is haunting the mind.
Profound lack of clarity. You no longer know what is real and what is not, what is right and what is wrong. Your narcissistic loved one has shattered your sense of reality so you have to clarify everything — when somebody speaks you ask them to elaborate, to be clearer — you don’t trust your own perception or interpretations.
What to do When You Realise You’re Suffering From Chronic Cognitive Dissonance
Your intuition has probably been telling you for some time that something is interminably wrong. You care for this person deeply, but you feel confused, lost and depleted for the majority of your waking hours.
Confusion and depletion are luminescent markers of cognitive dissonance.
So now what?
Take a big step back from the toxic other, and seek help. If you can get access to a counselor or therapist this will be a great blessing to yourself and your healing from this covert emotional abuse. A therapist or counselor will help you wade through the murky terrain and identify the behaviours and actions of the narcissist. In doing so, you will reclaim all of what you have lost in time — control, self-worth and clarity.
Accept that the other person cannot change. Certainly not with your help, only with that of a therapist. Even then, it is sadly unlikely that they will change. Their behaviours are deeply embedded in their personality structure, formed in very early childhood. Moreover, it is a the hallmark of a narcissist that they never ever believe they are in the wrong. This would shatter their false illusion of entitlement and grandeur. This is the most heartbreaking aspect of it all — especially if we really love the narcissist. But it is an immutable truth: they cannot and will not change.
Remove this person from your life — they have been abusing you, intentionally. Any human being that purposefully makes us question our sanity does not deserve any place in our life.
Seek clarity as your number one goal in these early days after you have removed yourself from the relationship. The loss of definitive lines is the main crux of the damage done. We need to regain this as a priority. Only then can we rebuild the definition of right and wrong, real and fiction, healthy and unhealthy. And then reclaim ourselves and all that we stand for and believe in. Friends, family and therapists can help us redefine the lines (with permanent marker this time).
Surround yourself with good, kind people that love you and respect your boundaries. A healthy soul does not try to bulldoze over, or eradicate your personal boundaries. Someone who truly loves us will respect the lines that we draw.
When cognitive dissonance betrays our once wise and clear mindset, we feel like we have lost ourselves. Rest assured, this is a temporary madness, we can reclaim all that has been squashed under the oppression of narcissistic abuse. We just need a little time, and a whole lot of love from ourselves and healthy loved ones.
N.B. Narcissists come in all shapes and sizes, I have referred to the narcissist as a ‘he’ here as my only experience has been with two males. Please forgive the reference, there are plenty of female narcissistic abusers out there.C079330E-EB3E-4B0E-B0E3-12203A5D045B.jpeg