My husband is a narcissistic abuser

Eight Mental Abuse Tactics Narcissists Use on Spouses

Medically reviewed by Scientific Advisory Board — By Christine Hammond, MS, LMHC on April 15, 2015

If you have clients who are intentionally exploited by their spouses; endure regular insults and rejection, alternating with affirmation; and feel manipulated into doing or saying something out of character, then they might be experiencing abuse.

Abuse is not just physical. There are many other forms of abuse, such as sexual, financial, emotional, mental, and verbal. While some of the other forms of abuse are obvious, mental abuse by a narcissist can be difficult to spot.

It starts simply with a casual comment about anything: color of the wall, dishes in the sink, or the car needing maintenance. The remark is taken out of context by the narcissist to mean that their spouse disapproves of them in some way. She tries to explain that wasnt her intention, but they are off on a tirade, which ends in your client feeling like she is losing her mind.

How did this happen? Here are several favorite narcissistic mental abuse tactics:

  1. Rage This is a fit of intense, furious anger that comes out of nowhere, usually over nothing (remember the wire hanger scene from the movie Mommie Dearest). It startles and shocks the victim into compliance or silence.
  2. GaslightingNarcissistic mental abusers lie about the past, making their victim doubt her memory, perception, and sanity. They claim and give evidence of her past wrong behavior further causing doubt. She might even begin to question what she said a minute ago.
  3. The Stare This is an intense stare with no feeling behind it. It is designed to scare a victim into submission and is frequently mixed with the silent treatment.
  4. Silent Treatment Narcissists punish by ignoring. Then they let their victim off the hook by demanding an apology even though she isnt to blame. This is to modify her behavior. They also have a history of cutting others out of their life permanently over small things.
  5. Projection They dump their issues onto their victim as if she were the one doing it. For instance, narcissistic mental abusers may accuse their spouse of lying when they have lied. Or they make her feel guilty when he is really guilty. This creates confusion.
  6. Twisting When narcissistic spouses are confronted, they will twist it around to blame their victims for their actions. They will not accept responsibility for their behavior and insist that their victim apologizes to them.
  7. Manipulation A favorite manipulation tactic is for the narcissist to make their spouse fear the worst, such as abandonment, infidelity, or rejection. Then they refute it and ask her for something she normally would reply with No. This is a control tactic to get her to agree to do something she wouldnt.
  8. Victim Card When all else fails, the narcissist resorts to playing the victim card. This is designed to gain sympathy and further control behavior.

You can teach your clients to memorize these maneuvers, remain silent when they are being used, and end the conversation as soon as possible. This will keep them from being a victim of mental abuse.

Note: This article is written about a narcissistic husband married to a woman but the reverse is also equally valid.

How To Survive A Narcissist When You Choose To Stay

Sometimes, when a woman has been betrayed and abused by a narcissist, she chooses to stay in the relationship.

Her reasons to stay are hers alone, and she should not be judged for choosing to stay.

With these women in mind, Anne Blythe, founder of Betrayal Trauma Recovery met with Dr. Ramani Durvasula on the free BTR podcast. Together, they take a deep dive into helping victims learn how to survive a relationship with a narcissist when they choose to stay. Read the full transcript below and listen to the free BTR podcast for more.

5 Tips For Surviving A Narcissist When You Choose To Stay

Often, victims feel stuck, knowing that their choice to stay is causing them harm and that the narcissist isn’t going to change – what can they do to survive and thrive when married to a narcissist?

Dr. Durvasula shares these five tips:

  1. Know how the narcissist operates.
  2. Manage your expectations.
  3. Know who you are.
  4. Set clear boundaries.
  5. Don’t lose your compassion.

4 Techniques A Narcissist Uses To Control

One of the most telling signs of a narcissist is that they are controlling.

As victims set and maintain clear and effective boundaries, they can become empowered to protect themselves from abusive behaviors, including control.

What techniques do narcissists use to control you?

  • Deflection: blaming their partner or others for their actions, changing the subject during a conversation
  • Projection: gaslighting, accusing the victim of doing something that he is actually doing, such as having an affair
  • Isolation: cutting the victim off from family and friends through guilting her, shaming her, blaming her, and projecting onto her
  • Generosity: appearing to be a “good guy” to others which enables him to continue his abuse

Understanding these four techniques and how the narcissist in the relationship uses them can help a woman stay grounded in reality.

Setting Clear Boundaries Will Help You Survive Staying With A Narcissist

It’s good to have boundaries, but when it comes to living with a narcissist, it’s important for a woman to know exactly what her boundaries are.

Dr. Durvasula recommends three boundaries all women should have when dealing with a narcissist.

3 Boundaries To Have For Dealing With A Narcissist

  • Don’t engage.
  • Don’t try to have deep conversations.
  • Don’t try to defend yourself.

You’ve got to learn to totally dial it down to make sure that you’re keeping it literally to all the things you talk about is the weather, the first day of school is next Wednesday, did you see that the guy across the street got a new tractor to mow his lawn, like that’s it.

Dr. Ramani Durvasula, narcissism expert

Knowing Who You Are Will Help You Survive Living With A Narcissist

A narcissist will try to engage and get his healthy wife to cross her own boundaries. He’ll also try to convince her that she’s the abusive one or that she’s the one that is unhealthy.

If a woman knows who she is and what she is about, she is less likely to fall for these tactics.

Finding a strong support group, becoming empowered through learning about abuse and trauma, and practicing self-care can help women discover who they truly are and stay grounded in reality.

Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group Supports Victims of Narcissistic Abuse

At BTR, we understand the depth of grief and pain that narcissistic abuse victims endure.

Women who choose to stay are not weak, stupid, or naive. They deserve to be respect and supported.

The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is a safe place for all victims, whether they stay in or leave an abusive relationship. The Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group meets daily in every time zone and offers victims a community of validation, support, and compassion.

Join today and begin your journey to healing.

Full Transcript:

Welcome to Betrayal Trauma Recovery, this is Anne.

I will be continuing the conversation I had last week with Dr. Ramani Durvasula. If you have not heard the beginning of this conversation, please go to last week’s episode, get caught up, then join us here today.

Before we continue that conversation, if you are struggling with a relationship where a man is exhibiting abusive behaviors like lying, gaslighting, manipulation, or you’re not sure if he is and you’re not sure if you’re crazy, Betrayal Trauma Recovery Group is the perfect place for you to talk about your situation.

We have multiple sessions a day in multiple time zones. It is the only place on the earth where you don’t have to explain what’s going on. You don’t have to get somebody to understand. They understand it immediately and so they can immediately help you in a really safe space.

What Tools Can A Woman Use To Survive A Narcissist?

Often a narcissistic man will attempt to deflect his own behavior patterns to the healthy partner, to his wife or girlfriend, causing the healthy woman to question whether it could be true, whether she, herself, is the unhealthy person, or if she’s abusive. Do you recommend any self-assessment tools to provide a reality check for a healthy woman?

Dr. Durvasula: Yes, this pattern of deflecting their behavior to the healthy partner reflects two things. In part, it’s something we call projection. When something is uncomfortable in us, we don’t like it, so unconsciously we’ll project it on to other people.

For example, somebody might have a forbidden sentiment, like they have a racial prejudice or something, they’ll accuse someone else of being racist when that is not at all true. We tend to project those uncomfortable, forbidden parts of ourselves on to other people. Projection is one of the key defenses of the narcissists.

Survive A Narcissist: Learn To Recognize Manipulation

Secondly, deflection is also gaslighting, so it confuses the other person. Anything that confuses someone else and denies, twists, and contorts the other person’s reality is gaslighting, which is emotional abuse. When all of that is happening, some people say, “It’s almost like my reality changed. I was getting sucked into this alternate universe.”

If you are in a truly, truly abusive relationship, we know that one of the main tools of the abuser and the controlling partner is to cut that person off from other people like from friends and family. Because one of the most important self-assessment tools for a reality check are the other relationships you have.

The people that far predated this partner, the people who know you and love you and get you and unconditionally are behind you. That you can go and check this out and say, “You know, it’s interesting, my partner accused me of (whatever it is and it’s not something you believe about yourself).”

Survive A Narcissist: Cultivate Healthy Relationships

A good honest friend will say, “Yeah, sometimes you can be like that,” or they might say, “Goodness, in no universe we occupy are you that thing. That’s so strange that this person would say that.” We all need those safe check spaces to go to.

Like I said, in a lot of these narcissistic relationships, many times the narcissist detects that there are other people around their new partner that are going to be healthy and, slowly but surely, they distance themselves from them. They say negative things about those friends like, “Oh, your friend, she doesn’t have your best interests at heart,” or, “Your sister was flirting with me,” or whatever it may be, to create mistrust in those relationships to take away that support network. But we need those faces.

Survive A Narcissist: Get A Good Therapist

Another place a person can get that is in therapy. If you have a good therapist, that good therapist will give you the reality check. If you’re go into therapy and say, “This is what happened, and it confused me.” A good therapist will walk you through and say, “That’s not been my experience of you.”

It’s having these kinds of unconditional accepting spaces, where your reality is not being twisted. That can be very useful. Ultimately, though, what I want for everybody is that they have within themselves a space where they know who they are.

A Woman Who Knows Who She Is Can Survive A Narcissist

The challenge with narcissistic relationships is that narcissists prey upon vulnerable people. People who aren’t cynical. People who actually have been hurt in the past, so they believe the party line that was given to them in childhood. People with histories of trauma.

All of these groups are more vulnerable to narcissists because they, themselves, are still doing their own work on themselves. That’s not at all meant to be blaming the victim, it’s just it’s a vulnerability. It’s just like people whose parents are addicts are more likely to be addicts. It’s genetic.

This isn’t genetic as much as what we learn. They know, because as soon as they see that somebody is not falling for their game, they’re going to get out pretty quick. Narcissists are uncanny at figuring out who a good target is and running with it.

I think that that’s another thing that’s so important, especially for young women, to do the work of knowing who they are and what they are about. The problem is, many people start dating and getting into relationships long before they do that kind of inner psychological work, so they’re building the airplane in the sky. You’re learning about yourself while you’re in this relationship and this relationship is actually twisting your reality.

Narcissists Will Buy Their “Good Guy” Image

Anne: What would you say to women who are worried about their abusive husband spending time with unhealthy people around him? So, they’re like, “Ugh, I don’t like it when he spends time with his family or these friends because they just support this entitled mentality that he has.” What would you say to women like that, who are actually attempting maybe to isolate their abuser from the system that enabled him to be an abuser?

Dr. Durvasula: It’s an interesting idea because, obviously, these enabling systems around this person are adding fuel to this person’s fire, right? There is no dissenting voice. They are empowering him, they are enabling him, and he gets away with it, and this can happen.

Anne: I’m just going to interrupt you, in some circles they’re called “flying monkeys,” right?

What Are “Flying Monkeys”?

Dr. Durvasula: Yeah, but flying monkeys, to me, are also people that the person enlists at the time the relationship ends. The flying monkey model, to me, is like—let’s say a marriage is falling apart or someone is breaking up. The narcissist will then go and poach everyone. Even the people close to their partner, their friends, other family, and say, “Hey, did you know that she cheated on me?” “Hey, did you know that she was doing this?”

They bring everyone over to their side, and then they’re all doing the bidding. Like, “What are you doing? Why are you breaking up with him, he’s such a great guy?” “Well, why did you do that to him? Of course, he’s hurt.” That kind of thing. They enlist people.

Survive A Narcissist: Stay Grounded In Reality

I think that the people around them before that kind of rupture happens are just merely their enablers. One of the classical models of the narcissistic person is they are often very generous because they use money or invite people on trips, or they buy the round of drinks at the bar. That’s their way of keeping people close. It’s a lot less effort than having to actually listen to people and people never want to kill the golden goose, right.

They’re like, “He’s a good guy. He buys the drinks.” That doesn’t make him a good guy, that makes him somebody with a lot of wasted money in a bar, but they then fall for that thinking, “Oh, well he’s a nice guy because he buys the drinks.” Then, they can find a lot of people who enable them. It could be their boss, it could be somebody who is very powerful in a small town, it could be any number of reasons.

A Narcissist Doesn’t Change By Changing His Friends

The fantasy, though, becomes, “If I could just get this abusive, controlling, hostile, difficult, unempathetic guy away from his enablers, he’s going to turn into a nice guy.” That’s a fantasy. That’s absolutely a fantasy.

Because, even a person in the midst of any group of people, if they’re good and solid, that goodness and that solidness will shine through. Maybe not as brightly as it would if they were around good people, but a person who is just not a nice person is going to be not a nice person. These people make his voice louder but getting him away is not going to silence that voice.

Anne: Yeah, it also made me think, as I went through that, that this is—because after his arrest he was “free” to hang out with whoever he wanted, because he had a no-contact order and he couldn’t talk to me and I couldn’t influence him at all.

Survive A Narcissist: Understand That He Is Irrational

Then, from a safe distance, I was able to observe who he chose to hang out with. He was just choosing to hang out with people who I thought were super unhealthy and abusive and just people I would never want to be around. That’s who he was choosing to be with when he had all these options.

That helped me realize, “Wait a minute, why am I trying to get someone who is acting this way away from other people who act this way, when that’s really who he wants to be with? I just need to let him be free, fly. ” I even told him that at the very end. I said, “Fly, go, go do what you want,” and he refused to leave. He wouldn’t leave the home, so that was fun.

Choosing To Stay With A Narcissist

You acknowledge that some women may not be able to walk away and, for them, managing expectations can protect them from individuals and the effects of ongoing abuse. Can you expound on managing expectations and how it can protect a victim from ongoing abuse?

Dr. Durvasula: There are so many reasons why people can’t leave narcissistic relationships. Financial reasons, cultural reasons, they have children, religion, fear, anxiety, and that they still actually love the elements of this person, they want to be married. Even on some of the good days are enough, they want that person around.

All of these are valid reasons and I, nor anyone else, can stand in judgment of that. In this group, though, I’m not counting people who are victims of severe psychological, emotional, or physical abuse. Obviously, that’s an entirely different game where safety becomes everything, but in your garden variety narcissistic relationship there are a lot of reasons why people stay in these invalidating spaces, all of them valid.

Survive A Narcissist: Maintain Realistic Expectations

If you’re going to stay, though, then you’ve got to maintain realistic expectations. By that, I mean you’ve got to recognize that this is not going to change. This pattern is how it is. Do not expect that, all of a sudden, if you lose 25 pounds, they’re going to be happy. When your kids are grown and out of the house everything is going to be happy. If you kept the house a little cleaner, it would be happy, he gets a promotion, he’s going to be happy.

Nothing is going to change. This is who this person is. This is who they were when you met them, and this is who they are now.

Survive A Narcissist: Expect that It Will Get Worse After Having Children

A lot of narcissistic relationships get worse after you have kids. Some people will say, “We were kind of going along and then we had kids. Then it got really dark.” You’ve got to remember, for a narcissist, a kid coming along, kids are inconvenient, they’re noisy, they’re messy, they’re demanding, they are magnificent, but the fact is they’re demanding. For a narcissist that feels not only like a competition, they’re not always the greatest source of narcissistic supply and they pull the partner away.

That’s often why a lot of narcissistic relationships start changing, and not to mention a woman who has a child, her body changes. There is a period of time where it’s not what she wanted it to be and, unless she has lots of resources, she’s not going right back to her pre-baby body, ever, quite frankly. All of those things can make it complicated.

Survive A Narcissist: Manage Your Expectations

In terms of managing those expectations, this isn’t going to change. This is it. You are going to live a life devoid of empathy. You are going to live with someone who is arrogant. You are going to live with someone who is rageful. You are going to live with somebody who’s constantly needing validation.

What that means, then, is that you know that they are going to insult you. You know that they’re going to invalidate good news. When you get a promotion, they should not be the first person you tell. You call your people. You call the people you trust and love and who will be thrilled for you.

Call a few of them first, and then, and only then, you can tell your partner, “Oh, by the way, I got a promotion.” They’ll insult you, “Oh, that’s just a new title with no more money,” or “Who cares?” or “That’s not even that important of a job.” But, by then, you’ve already heard good things from the people who matter.

Survive A Narcissist: “Learn Not To Engage”

You’ve got to learn not to engage. You’ve got to learn to totally dial it down to make sure that you’re keeping it literally to all the things you talk about is the weather, the first day of school is next Wednesday, did you see that the guy across the street got a new tractor to mow his lawn, like that’s it.

The conversation can’t go any deeper than that. If you want deeper conversation you need to do it with other friends. People close to you. People you can trust. You have to engage in radical acceptance that this is how it’s ALWAYS going to be, much like the managing expectations.

You have to get out of patterns like defending yourself. Many times, people in relationships with narcissists are always explaining themselves. “No, no, no but actually remember. Remember when?” No! There is no defending. There is no explaining.

You’re never going to win at that game because narcissists argue like lawyers. You can’t win, so don’t bother. There is no defense. They like the argument for the sake of argument so don’t argue with them.

Survive A Narcissist: Set Clear Boundaries

Set clear boundaries. Have the topics that you won’t talk about. If you do have to spend a lot of time with your narcissist, create a little bit of a detox period for yourself. Do something that’s pleasant for you whether it’s a meditation, a book you like, exercise, something. But understand that, sadly, once upon a time you made a choice, or a choice was made for you, that wasn’t good for you and, for reasons that are important to you, you’re choosing to stay in it.

But to choose to stay in it with realistic expectations is very different than maintaining unrealistic hope that one day this is going to get better. This is like being in Chicago in the dead of February and walking outside in a bathing suit. You’re going to freeze to death. You know that. You live in Chicago, it’s February. You always wear a heavy coat.

This is the equivalent of pulling on your coat when you know that the weather is going to be cold. You know it, so you prepare for it. You don’t walk outside in a bathing suit. It’s the same thing with a narcissist.

Anne: That makes total sense. I so appreciate you taking the time to come on the podcast today, and also, I want to thank all of our listeners who come and listen and who are so supportive of what we do here.

Words Of Wisdom For Staying With A Narcissist

Is there anything else you want to leave our listeners with since all of the listeners at Betrayal Trauma Recovery are in a relationship with a man who may not necessarily be narcissistic but with problematic behaviors and they’re going through really difficult things? Is there anything that you’d like to leave them with?

Dr. Durvasula: I would tell them that, “You know what, no matter if you’re stuck in this relationship or you can walk out, please don’t lose your compassion in this.” It can be so easy to become so hardened by this and so hurt by this that you don’t allow other loving spaces to occur in your life.

Survive A Narcissist: Surround Yourself With Loving Friends And Family

I don’t mean finding a new partner or finding a lover, I mean friends and family and people close to you. These relationships, people put so much of themselves in it that they get tunnel vision.

Sadly, we tend to give 90% of ourselves to the most toxic people in our world and then give the 10% to all the good ones. We need to flip that math. Give 90% to the good people and give whatever is left over to these really difficult toxic people.

I think a lot of people blame themselves for these situations. The fact of the matter is, we do not do good jobs, not as educators, not as a society, not as parents to teach our daughters to choose healthy partners.

People tend to replicate their early cycles over and over again. People with authoritarian, cold, distant, abusive, admiration, validation-seeking, unsatisfied parents tend to choose that in their partners. So many people didn’t get that lesson so, yeah, they threw themselves into these relationships.

“It’s Often A Heavy Legacy To Carry”

It’s often a heavy legacy to carry, but you don’t have to lose the best of yourself because you’re in this. I think that we all have broader shoulders than we think, and you can carry this burden and see it for what it is. Find meaning in that suffering and cultivate the other meaningful parts of your life.

Anne: Thank you so much, Dr. Ramani. I appreciate your time. Again, I will leave all these links to the things that we talked about in the article available on our website.

Dr. Durvasula: Wonderful, thank you so much.

Anne: We always love to hear your questions and your comments so please leave a comment below.

Until next week, stay safe out there.

My Abusive Ex Keeps Texting Me – What Should I Do?

Do you get a pit in your stomach when your phone dings? Learn more about strategic communication as Anne interviews two fathers of victims.

3 Ways to Help Your Abused Daughter

Is your daughter a victim of betrayal and abuse? Please be the parent that she deserves – learn more on the BTR.ORG podcast.

3 Things Manipulative Men Say To Keep You Stuck

Trying to discern if you’re being manipulated by your husband? An abuser emailed Anne – an her response may help you identify manipulation.

5 types of people to stay away from

August 13, 2021 Relationship

Sometimes a real sadist can hide behind a beautiful appearance.

A beautiful appearance, a large family, a prestigious education, a successful career - often this is just a facade, an illusion behind which a cruel person is hiding. It could be a man, a woman, your boss, a colleague, or that nice guy you went on a great date with. Of course, there can be no talk of any friendship or love with them.

1. Critic


The critic condemns everything you do, every move you make and every breath you take. Yes, you are doing everything wrong. Everything and always.

You need to understand the difference: criticizing is not the same as giving advice.

Behavior Scenario No. 1

You arrive 15 minutes late for dinner without warning. Your other half is visibly angry and instead of asking why you were late or what happened, he begins to pour accusations: “You are always late because you never think about anyone but yourself. I've been sitting here for 15 minutes! And you can never be on time. "

This is the ideal critic. As a rule, such a person criticizes your every movement: “Are you really going to wear this?”, “Why do you never ...?”, “What is wrong with you?”. The list can be continued indefinitely. Next to the critic, you feel humiliated. No matter how hard you try and no matter what you do, you never get it right.

Behavior Scenario No. 2

You are late for dinner and you do not warn about it. Your other half is visibly angry, but instead of lashing out at you, he starts asking you about this habit. “I noticed (a) that you are constantly late. What's happened? Is there a reason for this?" This is an example of how a person is trying to understand the origins of wrong behavior.

Instead of blaming a particular person, he or she blames an action.

A critic may never even say anything rude to you personally. But he speaks offensively about your beliefs, appearance, thoughts. Often this is due to low self-esteem and the desire to keep everything under control. Instead of helping you get rid of bad habits, he rebukes you for them and suppresses you as a person.

The critic condemns the person, not his behavior. The most detrimental experience a person can have is when a parent says "You're a bad boy/bad girl" instead of "You did a bad thing".

2. Passive aggressor


With such a person, you feel as if you should walk on tiptoe. You never know what message he is trying to convey to you. Denial of feelings, sarcasm, questionable compliments are clear indicators that you are dealing with a passive aggressor.

Behavior scenario

You did something that upset your partner, but you can't figure out why. You ask why he or she is angry (you want to understand what you did and how to fix it in order to avoid mistakes in the future). But do not even hope: your other half will not tell you anything. Most likely, you are waiting for answers in the spirit: "I'm fine," "I'm not angry." At the same time, this person continues to maintain a distance and show with all appearance that you have acted incredibly mean.

You begin to obsess over the situation, trying to figure out what he or she really thinks, why he keeps dropping hints instead of speaking directly. You can spend countless hours trying to learn how to read the mind of a passive aggressor, going back again and again.

Passive aggression is a veiled expression of anger, anger. If a person cannot just talk, but uses sarcasm as a defense mechanism, sends incomprehensible messages or does not show his negative emotions directly, but does it only on the sly, then you have a passive aggressor.

3. Narcissus


Narcissus shows with all his behavior that his existence is the best gift for the Universe: he knows everything, he is the best in everything and does not hesitate to remind you of this every minute. No matter how smart and interesting you yourself are, you are far from being a narcissist.

The narcissist puts himself on a pedestal from which he looks down at you.

It may seem to you that you are always competing with each other in something.

Behavior scenario

Narcissists do not want to compromise, feel a lack of understanding and empathy, and want to always be in the spotlight. Even when it's your time to be the center of attention - on your birthday or at your promotion party - the narcissist will be able to draw all the attention to themselves. Even if it's a big scandal.

The story of Narcissus from ancient Greek mythology helps us understand the nature of narcissism. When Narcissus looked into the water and saw a beautiful flower in his place, he was surprised. In fact, Narcissists hate themselves.

They are easily hurt, and when they do, they release the anger and hatred that builds up because of low self-esteem. Narcissists are ready to destroy everything and everyone around them when they feel rejected or hurt.

4. Stonewall


A stonewall is a person who refuses to engage in conversation and share his feelings when problems arise. He constantly dodges direct questions. Because of this, the other person begins to feel insignificant, unworthy of honest communication.

Behavioral scenario

The stone wall will never acknowledge the existence of a problem. If you're trying to connect with a person who you know refuses to be honest and open with you, it might be worth considering why you even need such a relationship.

Not wanting to answer your questions, such a person not only refuses to communicate with you - he makes you feel disappointed and even angry.

This is a good tactic for political debate, but totally unacceptable in private life. The behavior of the rock wall is somewhat passive-aggressive, only he does not try to convey a hidden message to you - he does not consider it necessary to tell you anything at all.

5. Antisocial personality

If you communicate with an antisocial type, congratulations: you got a gift 2 in 1.


a consequence of childhood abuse. At the very least, sociopaths can be imbued with empathy.

But an antisocial person cannot, because he also has the inclinations of a psychopath: lack of remorse and empathy, a tendency to use others in his own interests, greed, revenge.

We all have many different tendencies that society perceives as negative. We may even find characteristics of antisocial behavior in ourselves. Therefore, we forgive and even favorably treat people with antisocial behavior, as we forgive and favorably treat ourselves.

Behavior script

Don't forget that psychopaths are psychological chameleons who constantly engage other people's emotions. For what? To manipulate others, to control the situation, to get money, to have sex, to satisfy one's own ego, and so on.

They are so good at it all and lie so masterfully that their victims are unaware of what is happening.

It is extremely difficult to resist such psychologically predatory behavior.

No wonder most people refuse to believe this and accept no evidence until it is too late. In fact, the “love” of a psychopath is just a cover.

If you are in a relationship with a person who has these traits, it's time to think: how do you feel around him? Avoid toxic relationships, don't be afraid to say goodbye to unpleasant people, and cherish those who don't try to put you down and manipulate you.

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Toxics, narcissists and gaslighters: simple tricks to help them resist


Shahida Arabi has been studying behavior strategies for victims of bullying and abusive behavior for several years. She is the author of several bestselling books on how to stop manipulators, gaslighters, and narcissists from doing what they are so good at. In the summer, Mann, Ivanov & Ferber published her book Toxic People. Inc. publishes an excerpt.

Pointless arguments and distractions in conversation

Malignant narcissists use many conversational distractions to unsettle you and drag you into their chaos. These may include the following tactics:

Passing on personalities and undermining reputation. When narcissists cannot logically refute your argument or point of view, they resort to personal attacks: use illogical reasoning, insults, projection, and gaslighting to confuse and confuse you if you just disagree or challenge them. This is done in order to discredit and confuse you, divert you from the main problem and make you feel guilty about the fact that you are a living person with thoughts and feelings that are different from their own. Ten minutes of arguing with a narcissist is enough, and you are already wondering how you even got involved in this. You just expressed disagreement with his ridiculous statement that the sky is red, and now your entire childhood, family, friends, morality, career and lifestyle are mixed with dirt. This is because your disagreement conflicts with his false belief that he is all-powerful and all-knowing, threatening his inflated ego and sense of his own superiority. Instead of responding to your arguments, he attacks your personality.

How to resist becoming personal. By far the best reaction is none, but if for some reason you are forced to respond to the narcissist's attacks, then don't fall for his red herrings. Repeat the facts and let him know that personal attacks are not relevant. Stop this conversation if possible. You do not have to explain to an adult how to be a worthy person. Remember: toxic people are not arguing with you, they are, in fact, arguing with themselves, and you are just an accomplice in their long, exhausting monologue. They love drama and live to create chaos. By trying to find an argument to refute their ridiculous claims, you are providing narcissistic reinforcement. Don't feed the narcissists - better realize that the problem is not with you, but with their abusive behavior. Stop communicating as soon as you feel the first signs of an escalation of the situation, and spend your energy on self-care and self-defense.

Labeling. As you know, daffodils make an elephant out of a fly in case of any threat to their superiority. In their reality, only they can be right, and anyone who dares to disagree will become the cause of narcissistic rage. According to psychiatrist Mark Goulston, this is not a result of low self-esteem, but a sense of permissiveness and a false sense of superiority. He writes: “In the eyes of the narcissist, the whole world must approve, adore, obey and agree with him. Anything less is perceived as an attack, which, in the opinion of the narcissist, he is entitled to respond with anger. For the most base representatives of this type, rage takes the form of labeling when they fail to influence your opinion or emotions in any other way. They feel entitled to humiliate and call you names. Name-calling is a quick and easy way to humiliate your intelligence, appearance or behavior, while depriving you of the right to be a person with your own opinion. This tactic can also be used to criticize your beliefs, opinions, and ideas. Your personal life experience, reasoned point of view, or reasoned opinion suddenly becomes "stupid" or "idiot" in the hands of an aggressive narcissist who feels threatened but can't really object. Narcissists insult your intelligence to cover up their incompetence. Instead of attacking your arguments, the narcissist attacks you in every possible way to undermine your authority and question your intelligence.

How to resist labeling. It is important to stop any offensive interaction and convey to the opponent that you do not intend to tolerate this. The situation will only get worse. Do not take it personally: understand that a person resorts to insults only because he does not know other, more worthy ways of communication. You can do the following:

- If labeling is frustrating for you, use mindful breathing techniques to calm yourself and focus on the best ways to protect yourself in your circumstances.

- If a family member or partner uses this tactic against you during a discussion, say firmly that you are not going to tolerate such disrespect and end the conversation safely.

- If this is happening in the context of harassment or harassment by a former partner, save the evidence in case it is needed to initiate a criminal case.

- If you are labeled in a professional environment, consider whether you can bring this to the attention of your superiors.

- If you encounter an incident on the Internet, report it to the relevant social network service and block the aggressor. Save screenshots if the person continues the cyberstalking.

Large-scale generalizations. Instead of dealing with real problems, narcissists prefer to make sweeping generalizations if we dare to claim mistreatment. These generalizations include exaggerating your hypersensitivity or sweeping statements like "You're never satisfied" or "You're always overreacting." This tactic can be especially powerful with empathic people, as it uses gaslighting to instill the idea that our hypersensitivity is the problem, not their violence. And while you can be overly sensitive at times, it's much more likely that a destructive person is insensitive and cruel most of the time.

How to deal with big generalizations. Toxic people who wield superficial statements do not represent the fullness and all the nuances of reality. They express a distorted point of view based on their own self-centered intentions. Stick to the truth and try to resist generalizations, because this is just a form of completely illogical black and white thinking. Depending on how receptive you think the person is to feedback, you might say, "You're generalizing. There were many examples of the opposite." However, the more toxic the person, the more likely you are to get bogged down in pointless arguments designed to throw you off balance. Try not to fall into this trap, but stick to the primary statement you are trying to convey and end the conversation if the person stoops to personal attacks.

Deliberate distortion of your point of view to the point of absurdity. If you dare to disagree with a narcissist, your differences of opinion, emotions, and real experiences turn into character flaws and "evidence" of your irrationality and inability to think critically. This common cognitive bias is called "mind reading." Toxic people claim to know your thoughts and feelings. They regularly jump to conclusions based on their own reactions instead of rationally assessing the situation. These discrepancies may be based on their own illusions and delusions, as well as the need to purposefully unsettle you and divert attention from the problem. Narcissists make up all sorts of tall tales that distort your real words, and as a result, your thoughts look absurd or just monstrous. Instead of acknowledging your emotions, the narcissist distracts you with unimaginable accusations. For example, you point out to a toxic partner that you don't like their way of communicating. In response, he distorts your words: “And you, then, are perfection itself?” or “So you think I’m bad?” - although you just expressed your feelings. Or he may begin to criticize your character, saying: “So you mean to say that I should not have an opinion. You love to be in control too much!” This gives them the opportunity to revoke your right to think and feel about their inappropriate behavior and instills guilt in you when you try to set boundaries.

How to respond to such distortions. The best way to draw a clear line is to repeat, if necessary, “I didn’t say that. Don't speak for me." If the person continues to accuse you of things you didn't do or say, end the conversation. Don't let the toxic person shift the blame and divert the conversation away from their own destructive behavior or make you feel ashamed for daring to speak the truth.

If you can't avoid interacting with someone (for example, at work), you should briefly and to the point describe what you did or said and end the conversation.

Change of subject to escape responsibility. I call this maneuver the “And you?” syndrome. It implies a digression from the topic under discussion in order to direct attention to a completely different one. Narcissists don't feel like discussing their personal responsibility, so they divert the conversation to avoid the consequences. Do you complain that he does not devote time to children? He will remind you of the mistake in their upbringing that you made ten years ago. Are you making it clear that his lies are unacceptable? He will mark the moment when you resorted to innocent deception in order not to attend a family event. This maneuver has no temporal or thematic limits and often begins with the words: “What about the time you did it?”

How to avoid this maneuver. Don't get distracted. If the toxic person tries to switch things up, use the broken record method described above: keep repeating the facts without going off topic. Move the arrows back, say: “I'm not talking about that now. Let's concentrate on the problem that is relevant at the moment."

Lure and feigned innocence. Toxic people create a false sense of security in order to be even more destructive in their cruelty. Common tactics include provocative remarks, hurtful jokes, labeling, offensive accusations, and unfounded generalizations. A toxic partner may make a casual comment about a co-worker's good looks or make an inappropriate joke about wanting to have an affair. This is a ploy to test your reaction. Once such a person drags you into a senseless, random quarrel, and it will grow like a snowball, because he does not know sympathy and remorse for tactless behavior. Ordinary disagreement can be a bait, and even if you initially hold back as politeness, you will quickly realize that it is driven by a malicious desire to humiliate you. Hidden humiliation disguised as a joke is a way to get deep into your soul, while avoiding responsibility. Such aggressive injections under the guise of a joke skirmish allow the manipulator to say the most terrible things, while maintaining outward innocence and equanimity. However, every time you are outraged by an insensitive, blunt comment, you are accused of having no sense of humor. After all, it's just a joke! Not at all. This is a way to use gaslighting to make you think that such verbal abuse is just a joke: a way to distract you from your opponent's brutality at the expense of your receptivity. Having lured you with a seemingly innocent comment, they begin to play with your emotions. Remember: narcissists know your vulnerabilities, weaknesses, they know what unpleasant phrases will undermine your self-confidence and what topics will open old wounds. They use this knowledge to provoke you. After you swallow the bait whole, the narcissist will calm down and innocently ask if you're okay, assuring that he "didn't mean" to disturb you. This feigned innocence takes you by surprise and makes you believe he didn't really mean to hurt you, until it starts to happen so often that you can no longer deny his obvious intentional cruelty.

How not to fall for the bait. Beware if you are bothered by some rude comment, if someone is playing devil's advocate or inappropriately joking. There is usually a reason for this. This will help to understand at what point they are trying to catch you, and will allow you to stop communication as soon as possible. Trust your intuition: if even after the interlocutor has explained what was said, you feel that you have been humiliated, this is a signal to slowly comprehend the situation before reacting. Not everyone is able to express their disagreement respectfully. Remain vigilant and beware of a possible escalation of the conflict.

Instead of responding directly to the bait, say something like "That's interesting" and end the conversation.

This leaves almost no chance to continue the conversation and does not give the manipulator the emotional response he expects. Certainly, such situations will be repeated. Some toxic people will continue their provocation without even getting any emotional response. In this case, it is important to be able to stand up for yourself and make it clear that you will not tolerate such behavior and immediately end the conversation, finally breaking off the relationship.

Trying to answer manipulative people to their hidden provocations can lead to further gaslighting, but stick with your opinion that their behavior is not normal. Be firm by breaking contact with the person who provokes you and encourages you to an emotional reaction. Given your hypersensitivity, it cannot be said that you are "too" sensitive to the provocations of an insensitive person. Your reactions are justified. Trust yourself.

How to use the cleaning method when interacting with a narcissist

Description. If you need to describe a situation to a narcissist, refrain from overly emotional statements and deal with facts, this will help avoid direct confrontation. If possible, use email or text messages to be able to save correspondence. Narcissists feed on your emotional reactions and love to provoke hypersensitive people. Less emotional receptivity is part of a larger technique known as the "grey stone method." It was invented by the victim of a psychopath - a blogger named Skylar. The essence of this technique is that you begin to play the role of an "inconspicuous gray stone" so that the narcissist stops noticing you and does not seek to actively manipulate you, similar to how a hunted animal pretends to be dead to avoid being pursued by a predator. Using less emotional language can help you a lot, because in this case, the narcissist will not get much return from you and will switch to a more accessible victim of provocation and manipulation. In this case, it is effective to use a calm, reserved, or even unemotional tone of voice when presenting facts, or to give short and dry answers when exchanging text or email messages.

Clear wording. When you explain what the problem with the narcissist's behavior is, it is important to turn the attention away from yourself and onto the possible consequences. Example: "If you do not stop looking for contact with me, I will have to involve law enforcement." Or you can say directly: "Stop following me." You should do this by email or text message in order to be able to save the correspondence.

Use of boundaries. State your wish directly, but only once via electronic communication channels. For example, if a married man is looking for communication with you, you can write to him: “I do not start relationships with married people. Please don't mess with me again." If he continues to disturb you, you can block his number and social media accounts. If he uses anonymous accounts or multiple phone numbers, save all information: it may be required for legal purposes.

Thank you. In most cases, when interacting with a narcissist, you should not say words of gratitude: do not put your finger in his mouth - he will bite off his whole hand. However, you can pay attention to your needs. If you need to negotiate in a situation where you cannot permanently end the relationship (for example, at work), find a way to meet your needs in one way or another. For example, if a colleague asks you to do most of the work on a project, tell him that you will do your half after he finishes his. Make sure that there is a factor of responsibility or reciprocity so that the person understands that his needs will be met only after yours.

Hardness. Stick to the facts and your goals, regardless of all the manoeuvres, by which the narcissist tries to manipulate you. For example, if you are gaslighted, you can use the broken record method and repeat the same thing. Another option is not to say anything at all, cut off communication with this person and just remind yourself of the real state of things. Bringing yourself back to reality is just as important, if not more so. You don't need the narcissist's permission to end this interaction and take care of yourself.

Compromise. As a general rule, narcissists are incapable of dissenting peacefully, so don't count on honest negotiations with them. They will be furious if you threaten their sense of permissiveness. However, it is important to find unity with your goals, establish contacts with supportive people, connect external resources and expand your capabilities. No matter how vehemently they push your boundaries, keep doing what you do that is good for you and don't let them get away with it. As you observe and gather information about what is happening, keep all the evidence and remember that the narcissist rarely keeps his word. Strive to achieve wholeness within yourself and steadfastly resist the emotional manipulation that the narcissist is sure to use to get his way.

Active show of force. Faking confidence even when you don't feel it is even more important when dealing with a narcissist who is constantly looking for any vulnerabilities. Avoid direct confrontation whenever possible. If that's not possible, use this interaction to boost your confidence. Get a third party to mediate, witness, or give you courage. If you are usually a quiet and gentle conversationalist, in this case, speak in a firm, dry and unshakable tone. If it helps you, take a "strong posture". Maintain eye contact.

Exit strategy

If you suspect you are dealing with a narcissist, implement the steps below. You can use the acronym SUPPORT to remind yourself of the ways out of a situation:

O review instead of accusations.

P gradual disappearance.


R relationship breakup and safe departure plan.

A careful observation instead of reaction.

Review instead of blame. Narcissists show their true colors more quickly if they think you have no idea who they really are. A direct confrontation with the narcissist will lead to further manipulation and narcissistic rage, which will get you even more stuck in the cycle of violence. If you suspect that a narcissist is around you, the best option is to mentally prepare for the end of the relationship, while collecting as much information as possible about his character. For example, if you are planning a divorce with a narcissist, do not tell him about it until you have completed all the necessary things: consulting with a divorce lawyer who specializes in working with conflict personalities, contacting a financial adviser who will help you deal with debts and a budget, studying guardianship legislation, opening a separate bank account and finding a place to live. Watch for red flags, and when you notice them, build self-worth by not relying on the narcissist's claims (which will most likely consist of pathological lies, gaslighting, projections, and understatements). His actions and patterns of behavior will tell you much more than any words.

Fading out. Narcissists go berserk when they are ignored and rejected. But instead of directly rejecting them, you can gradually disappear from their lives. Pretend that everything is as usual, but gradually spend less and less of your energy and time on them. Stick to monosyllabic and dry answers in conversations. Step by step, reduce your contribution to the person so that he gets used to the fact that you are not always around. Narcissists cannot stand the lack of attention, so they will try to get narcissistic reinforcement elsewhere.

Excuses. As you gradually disappear from the narcissist's life, it is important to have a convenient excuse—something he finds plausible enough to explain your withdrawal without realizing that you are actually pushing him out of your life. Pretend to be very busy with a work project, emphasize how hard you are working on a term paper, talk about a new task that takes up your time. If this causes more rage, move on to the next step.

Relationship breakdown and safe exit plan. Ultimately, you will need a safe escape plan. Speak with a counseling psychologist, your company's human resources officer, or a domestic violence lawyer to develop an escape plan. Depending on the nature of your relationship with the narcissist and whether or not you live together, you may not have to organize as many activities as it seems.

Careful observation instead of reaction. If you are forced to interact with the narcissist even after the end of the relationship (for example, in the case of co-parenting or at family events), you need to keep your emotions under control. As you already know, narcissists love to provoke you. Notice manipulation tactics, give them names, but do not show the expected reactions.

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