Narcissistic Brainwashing

A relationship with a narcissist involves cruel and relentless emotional abuse. Narcissists are able to do this by brainwashing their victims. They use a variety of methods of in order to obtain control over their significant other. First they “love bomb” their prey, then they threaten, degrade, shift blame, criticize, manipulate, verbally assault, dominate, blackmail, withdraw, withhold love and affection and gaslight their victims.

Self-professed narcissist and author of “Malignant Self-Love, Narcissism Revisited,” Sam Vaknin describes how a narcissist abuses his victim:

He infiltrates her defenses, shatters her self-confidence, confuses and confounds her, demeans and debases her. He invades her territory, abuses her confidence, exhausts her resources, hurts her loved ones, threatens her stability and security, involves her in his paranoid states of mind, frightens her out of her wits, withholds love and sex from her, prevents satisfaction and causes frustration, humiliates and insults her privately and in public, points out her shortcomings, criticizes her profusely and in a “scientific and objective” manner – and this is a partial list. Very often, the narcissist acts sadistically in the guise of an enlightened interest in the welfare of his victim. He plays the psychiatrist to her psychopathology (totally dreamt up by him). He acts the guru to her need of guidance, the avuncular or father figure, the teacher, the only true friend, the old and the experienced. All this in order to weaken her defenses and to lay siege to her disintegrating nerves. So subtle and poisonous is the narcissistic variant of sadism that it might well be regarded as the most dangerous of all.”

Love bombing

“Love bombing” is an attempt to influence a person by lavish demonstrations of attention and affection. It has been used to refer to abusers in romantic relationships showering their victims with praise, gifts, and affection in the early stages of a relationship. One victim describes it as follows:

The narcissist girlfriend thought the world of me, came to me for advice, and would do anything for me; she was so like me and so perfect until the cracks began to show. They cannot keep up the facade for very long. But they are masters, if you don’t know better, at getting you hooked.”

That feeling of “love” that you have is more intense than normal because the narcissist first floods you with expressions of love, and then they withhold, and then they give a little; over time this changes you- it’s a form of manipulation, control and brainwashing. There is no doubt that you have loved. But narcissists can’t love you back. What happens in these types of relationships is that you get so caught up in the feeling that you don’t listen to the alarms that go off in your head.

Degradation

Narcissists degrade their victims and tear apart their self-esteem which can make resistance to their control strategies difficult. They use tactics such as sarcasm, criticizing, name calling, berating, belittling, excessive blaming, screaming, threatening and humiliation. Over time, the constant verbal and emotional attacks weaken the victims and erode their sense of self confidence and self-esteem while it makes the narcissists feel more powerful and, hence, exert further control.

Verbal Assaults

This includes berating, belittling, criticizing, name calling, screaming, threatening, excessive blaming, and using sarcasm and humiliation. It also includes exaggerating your flaws and putting you down in public. Over time, this type of abuse erodes your sense of self confidence and self-worth.

Emotional Blackmail

Here the abuser plays on your fear, guilt, compassion, values, or other “hot buttons” to get what they want. This could include threats to end the relationship, the “cold shoulder,” or other fear tactics.

Demonstrating Dominance:

A Narcissist believes and projects an attitude of being all-powerful and all-conquering which can convince the victim that resisting the narcissist is futile. They need to be in control of others, must have everything their way, and will resort to threats or any other methods to achieve submission. Eventually, the victim loses their self respect.

Threats If Victim Does Not Comply

Narcissists will promote feelings of anxiety and despair in their victims by making threats and using intimidation. This encourages the victim to submit to the unreasonable demands or bullying of the narcissist.

Abusive Expectations

The abuser places unreasonable demands on you and wants you to put everything else aside (including your children) to tend to their “very important” needs. It could be a demand for constant attention, frequent sex, or a requirement that you spend all your free time with the person. But no matter how much you give, it’s never enough. You are subjected to constant criticizing and berating because you don’t fulfill all of this person’s needs.

Isolation

Isolation deprives the victim of any social support which reduces their ability to resist. The narcissist will keep the victim unaware of what is happening (e.g. by taking total control of the family finances, making plans that are unknown to the victim, tell lies about them to others, etc).This strategy leads to the victim becoming dependent on the narcissist for validation and information. The narcissist will insist on controlling their partner’s time and physical environment to try to curb their natural behavior and feelings of independence. They may insist on their partner giving up certain hobbies, social or work activities. They may even insist their partner move away with them to a new location which further isolates the victim from their family or friends.

Total Control of Victim’s Perceptions

Abusers may convince the victims that aspects of the victim’s character or behavior are ‘wrong’ which takes the focus off what the narcissist is doing. Using isolation of the victim, the narcissist can then control what type of information and stimuli the victim has access to.

Unpredictable Responses

Drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts are used to keep the victim unsettled and anxious.

This behavior leaves the victim feeling like they are always on edge. They are always waiting for the other shoe to drop and can never know what’s expected. They remain hyper vigilant, waiting for the other person’s next rage or mood change. Living like this is extremely demanding and anxiety provoking, causing the abused person to feel constantly frightened, unsettled and off balance.

Constant Chaos

A narcissist may deliberately start arguments and be in continual conflict with others. They are often addicted to “drama” since it creates excitement.

Gas-lighting

The narcissist will deny that certain events occurred or that certain things were said. The victim knows differently but the other person will deny their perceptions, memory and sanity. That makes them begin to think they are crazy or losing their mind.

Enforcing Trivial Demands

They will make a huge commotion over trivial matters in order to condition the victim into developing a habit of being compliant.

Occasional Indulgences

The narcissist may provide ‘treats’ or demonstrate a kindness to encourage and motivate compliance with their demands.

In the end, the victim is brainwashed to believe their partner is somehow supremely intelligent and all powerful; the victim feels it is useless to resist them. The reality is that the narcissist is a dysfunctional, malicious and abusive individual. Narcissists and other abusers employ these techniques because these tactics are highly effective for achieving their goals of manipulation and control.

References:

www.lisaescott.com/2010/11/15/crazymaking-behavior-narcissist

http://narcissism-support.blogspot.com

http://forum2.aimoo.com/NARCISSISTICPERSONALITYDISORDER/categroy/The-Typical-Process-of-Abusive-Brainwashing-1-1200822.html

 

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About Alexander Burgemeester

16 Responses to “Narcissistic Brainwashing”

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  1. Whoa! This is so true to life. It’s freaky even. Their games and deceit – all of it is so true and I don’t have to be part of that elaborate circus act anymore!

  2. Carolyn Leaks says:

    I’m still in that circus! It’s like I can’t get away from it! When I leave him he stalks me. I don’t know what to do.

  3. Debbie Boroughs says:

    This is everything I suffered for 18 months including physical abuse. I don’t know if I will ever trust again. He is a monster. I am out of my situation but it still affects me on a daily basis. Emotional abuse is so damaging.

  4. Broken healing says:

    For 2.5 years I lived this nightmare. She was absolute, relentless, and nearly complete in her devastation. Repeated physical assaults, and horrible psychological abuse. She had me completely isolated from my friends, family, even my daughter. The culmination of the abuse ended in a suicide attempt on my part, as well as possible felony charges because I tried to defend myself against a very violent assault. These people are dangerous, violent, destructive and cruel. Listen to your friends and loved ones. Get away and stay away. You’re too important to live and or die like this.

  5. sheila says:

    AMEN. Their is life after a narcissisitic relationship. You can’t see the whole picture until you escape, you can live again, smile again, love again but deal with what brought you down that road to begin with, get rid of emotional garbage and live again.

  6. Alden says:

    I am currently free of the Covert Narcasist who I spent 18 years in a cyclical relationship. Her last knife to the gut was in August. That June I was seriously injured. We live

  7. Kathleen says:

    I am currently in what I believe to be a narcissistic relationship. He shows all of the behaviors mentioned, but what got me is the gas-lighting. He does it constantly and tries to make it my fault. For instance I will mention something he said that was horrible, and he will immediately object and say he never said it. I should know if I was called ugly by someone especially if it hurt. He does it over and over. We have been together for 11 years and he refuses to marry me, wouldn’t leave his house so i ended up having to move in here and my mom died one month ago- he’s back to name calling. But when he makes me feel guilty it throws me off…if he’s a narcissist wouldn’t he have no feelings? Or is this just more manipulation?

    • marcus says:

      Hey Kathleen. When people say they have been in a realationship for a couple of years with a narcissist I think it is early enough for them to escape fairly in tact. I was with mine for seven years and my life has become a wasteland. I still can’t get my head around her malevolent intentions after having left her two years ago. One of the worst things for me is that I have recently started having feelings which I now know are the same ones that she had.

      If there is doubt then there is no doubt; get out. It’s a painful journey away from your narcissist and in my case they even made leaving with constant aggravation.

    • Kat1976 says:

      Hi Kathleen
      I know you wrote this a few months ago and I really hope that by now you have left this horrible man. I was with a narcissist for just a year but that was long enough for him to completely strip me of my self-confidence and spirit. I was called b****, w***e, sl*g and sl*t but of course when I got mad he was ‘only joking’ and I had no sense of humour.

      I understand the gas lighting – one night he called me a prostitute and for some reason I let it go. But the next morning I was angry and called him on it. He denied saying it and said that because I’d had a few drinks that night how could I remember what was said, and then started going on about my imaginary drinking problem – a clever deflection! I was so brainwashed by him that I actually apologised for accusing him of calling me a prostitute!!

      I walked away from him 1.5 years ago and I’ve never been happier. It was so hard at first but now I have my confidence back. If he is calling you names just after your mum died then he is a sick individual. These people are disgusting human beings. Please, please leave him.

  8. Kathy says:

    Kathleen, I’m so sorry about the loss of your mother.

    You are not ugly and that is a sadistic thing for somebody to say, I’m sure you would remember.

    YES! it is manipulative for him to try to make you feel guilty, and now that your Mom is gone he may turn up the volume knowing you are hurting, so be on the alert and do what she would want you to do: protect yourself.

  9. Zaphod says:

    I have met a few people with NPD. There is an early warning sign, observable on day one, that I call “narcissistic chatter.” They want to talk about themselves (and to have someone listen) an extraordinary amount of the time. Not every one who I hear talking about themselves has NPD, but if it is a constant pattern, look out. You will eventually see all of the other things that take time to come out.

    I went to visit someone I had met. She talked about her personal history for 2 hours. When I had to go, she invited me back. This happened 3 more times, always giving me her life story. She never asked me a single question about me. The fourth time I saw her, I said that I knew almost everything about her, but did she know where I was from. She did not know. I pressed her as to why this was so. As they always do when confronted, she became very hostile, and asked me to leave.

    To me it was all very strange. When I described it to a psychologist, she said, “Oh, that was probably a narcissist.”

    One guy at work would log onto conference calls about 5 minutes early, then dominate the pre-call conversation with self-praising chatter. Later experiences made it clear that he had NPD. When confronted about unprofessional behavior on one call, he was unable to contain his hostility and acted up in front of the whole group.

    This method probably will not work for a one-on-one counselor, since in that setting, a person is paying to talk about his self and have someone listen.

  10. Charlotte says:

    My N never chattered, Zaphod. Mine is covert and everything he does is very manipulative. He never belittles me in front of anyone except the last time when he did it in front of our children. I finally caught him “flirting” over email with a co-worker. He gas-lighted for 3 hours over it. This was in black and white and I emailed myself a copy so when he deleted it I’d still have it! After 3 exhausting and brutal hours he finally gave in. The first time in our 20 year marriage! A few days later he confessed to years of flirting. He swears he’s never physically cheated, but he’s imagined “being with them”. It’s all the same in my book. I definitely do not believe him, either way. Here’s what has me wondering if I should give him a chance… He moved all the assets to my name… nothing joint. His paycheck goes into my account. He set himself up to see a behavioral therapist that specializes with NPD, BPD, etc. The therapist tells me he things my N is being sincere and truly wants to change. He’s been seeing him for two months now. Should I trust this? Do narcissists really ever become self-aware and if so can they ever really change?

  11. Lavender Rose says:

    Narcissists are also very convincing in the lies they tell. They can make up untrue stories and make it seem so real and true. If you don’t know how a narcissist works, then you will believe the lies. Narcissists are everywhere in society. They are nurses, school teachers, bakers. You can also find them in churches.

  12. Susan says:

    I spent 25 years with a narcissist – I was so depressed, I don’t know how I had the strength to leave. He never showed his true colors to anyone but me, so everyone in his family blames me. Talk about PTSD!! I am still suffering 8 years later, but I am much better. Have been going to counselors for years. When you live with someone like that for so long, you don’t know how to be your own person and be without them, as they have controlled your identity out of you. Still fighting depression, even lost my job due to the depression. But I still have hope for my future.

  13. Leannak says:

    I’m 90% sure my son’s father is a narcissist. We have known each other for 5 years, it all started with the love bombing…then 9 months later he was withholding affection and telling me daily that he had never been attracted to me and it must somehow have been my fault. I have always been in good shape and consider myself to be pretty. I finally left a little over a year later. My self esteem and self worth were very damaged.

    He spent another year and a half trying to get me back (again with the love bombing and false promises) I gave in and I got pregnant. He was good until the baby was born and then he turned on me again. My daughter is 9 months old and I left 7 months ago. He has threatened me, drug me through court, made false accusations against me and everyone I know…now suddenly he loves me again and has told me he’ll stop fighting and give me more time with my daughter only if it’s the 3 of us spending time together as a family. He also told me that I imagined everything that happened between us. I see it for what it is now, his attempts to scare me back to him didn’t work and now he’s trying to leverage our child to get me back under his control.

  14. Kathy says:

    I have just been left by my husband of 16 years.
    This website is so interesting- it all fits: he left suddenly, after having found another group of people from whom to get his narcissistic supply; I recognise the occasional treats given to keep me compliant, over against rigid financial control ( he has left me without anything); I felt deeply that he had forced a family weekend to go awry by behaving badly on purpose ( inexplicable and almost engineered outbursts ), which he used as an excuse when he left ( gas lighting: he told me it was me who was out of control- even said this to my 14 year old son about the weekend. Thank God I think my son realises how his dad is and we are very close).
    It was very healing to read this article, as I have been a mess and in moments believe it was all my fault, as he would have me believe- but this helps me to realise that it is a personality disorder on his part, and one that has massively got worse of late- or, as has been stated on other websites, it is just that ‘his mask has fallen’, as it is bound to do with all narcissists sooner or later.
    I am now in the process of trying to beat him at his game and secure financial security for my boys and I ( he did not want me to use solicitors! Of course I needed to- he would have, and had begun to, manipulate and bully me financially in relation to a settlement, trying to force me to agree to something ridiculously minimal- or else he’d ‘come to the house’ etc.
    I have logged everything, and these websites on. At issism help me to give actual examples of his controlling behaviour and type of manipulation as evidence in my case, also helping me to decipher details of his plan to ruin me!

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