It’s becoming apparent we have more emotional manipulators among us than we realize! They are showing up in positions where their behaviour is abhorrent and we are flabbergast they get away with what they do. They ruin families, they ignore the rights of marriage, they break laws, they disregard authority and rules, they hurt people and they leave a mess of complex ptsd, anxiety and depression in those they abuse.
Wake Up Society
This “mutant gene pool” is estimated to be around 20% of our population and includes Psychopaths, Sociopaths and the Narcissistic, Antisocial, personality disordered.
Sure, we all known the classic historical perpetrators, think King Henry VIII, Adolf Hitler and Jack the Ripper and we are curious about the contemporary perpetrators, think Warren Beattie, Kim Kardashian and the obvious, Donald Trump, to name a few.
But beyond the obvious, we ALL know someone on a more personal level who fits the description of a toxic personality. They occupy our “top-ranked” roles in society for example, political and religious leaders, doctors, lawyers, policemen, chairmen of boards, and financial executives. They might be our partner, our friend or family member, our boss or coworker, our neighbour, the list goes on. In any case, they are abusive of personal boundaries, etiquette, morals and ethics.
Masters of Abuse
One personality disorder stands out as a master of abuse tactics.
Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is known as one of the masters of emotional manipulation. Essentially their toxic behaviour is hard to identify, it can be terrifying and bewildering. And the tactics of the NPD are often more damaging than most people realize. Whether covert or overt, they prey on empathic, low self-esteemed or isolated targets and the vulnerable population (grieving, trusting, elderly, mentally ill, children and the poor).
Not to be confused with “normal narcissism” which is a requirement in every human being in order to survive, those with NPD are “wired” differently.
The cerebral cortex is the area of the brain which is involved in processing and generating compassion. In the Journal of Psychiatric Research, June 17th, 2017, a publication titled “Grey matter abnormalities in patients with narcissistic personality disorder”, involved researchers using magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brains of 34 people, including 17 individuals who suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder The researchers found that the degree to which a person was able to exhibit empathy was tied to the volume of grey matter in the brain. They found that pathological narcissists have less grey matter in a part of the cerebral cortex called the left anterior insult. Brain scans of people with NPD showed they have less brain matter in these areas associated with emotional empathy.
NPD’s have identifiable patterns of behaviour:
- Abuse Cycle – idealization, devalue, discard
- Triangulation – involving others in the abuse cycle to disguise the source
- Gaslighting – manipulating a target to question their own sanity
- Cognitive Dissonance – a state of having contradictory beliefs, ideas, values
- Trauma Bonding – cycles of abuse creating powerful emotional bonds
- Smear Campaign – discrediting by making false or dubious accusations
- “Hoover”ing – a tactic to “suck” the victim back into abusive relationship
- Parent Alienation – manipulation of a child for narcissistic supply
Why do they do this?
- Narcissistic supply – to satisfy their need for attention and admiration, essential to their self esteem
- Money – generally poor money managers and will steal from target
- Status – believe they will “status up” when connected to target
- Control – over targets, events, reality
- Projection of self – onto target to avoid bad feelings
How they hurt you:
- Loss of self
- Avoidant and Isolation behaviour
- Stress and Nervous system overload
- Trouble sleeping/Insomnia
- Feelings of being stuck
- Complex PTSD
What has to happen?
- No contact
- Get support from others who “get it”
- Treat your complex PTSD symptoms with EMDR
- Work with a therapist who understands NPD and is an EMDR Clinician
As society wakes up to its reality, hopefully it will see that more and more targets of narcissistic abuse will need help. Therapists who work with clients suffering from the trauma left over from narcissistic abuse need to understand the cause and effect of this type of abuse. EMDR ( Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), Neurofeedback and Sensorimotor Psychotherapy techniques will be most effective for the complex PTSD these clients have been relegated.
Wake Up Society!
With all that said, the general society has a responsibility to pay attention to this growing population of emotional manipulators and the damage they incur to others. We need to validate the fact that targeted people of narcissistic abuse need support and resources to heal from the abuse. We need to warn society of the prevalence of these abusers and the damage they do. Let’s all wake up here!
Martha C. Digby, Registered Psychotherapist, EMDR Clinician
Post Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Therapist