Wednesday, February 27, 2019

How Narcissists Erode Your Personality

Everything starts with mirroring, and idealization.

You sacrificed yourself trying to absorb every bit of guilt the abuser throws at you in order to maintain the relationship as it was before.

You then were discarded like a bag of trash in a matter of days.You are left alone, guilty, feeling drained and very confused. Your identity gone. 

How did this happen?

1) Gaslighting 

A very harmful manipulative technique. It is relentless, long term. Also known as Crazy Making.

They devalue your opinions, ignore them or deny them. They accuse you of being completely crazy, jealous or of being guilty of everything.

They deny things they promised, or events that happened. "I never said that" or "That never happened".

They create a situation of anger within the victim for others to witness so that they can later on accuse you of overreacting, or of being jealous, or of having "anger management issues".

They hide things, deny they ever did what you know they did, or they even destroy signed papers telling you that you never did signed them.

They tell you "you see things that are not there" they make you doubt your memory

They try to isolate you while they accuse you of isolating them

This is so ridiculous and out there. Normal innocent people wouldn't even think that someone, who by the way may be a relative a partner or a friend, could ever do this intentionally so the victim of gaslighting ends up believing what the abuser is saying creating terrible damage to their self esteem, eroding bit by bit the identity of the victim.

This creates a complete mess. Survivors have to work on themselves once they've left the relationship to regain their stolen identity and self esteem, self worth, self trust and self respect.

2) Everything is About the Abuser 

Your world revolves around every need, cry, sob story, pity ploy, victim playing, or new whim of the psychopath.

Your agenda is long gone and forgotten. In fact you forgot you had a right to have one. That you have a right to even express your needs or ideas.  The abuser's twisted mind sees you as an object. Everything revolves around the manipulator. By then your world view is so distorted by the constant complains and projections that you are flooded with constantly, that you start to internalize the guilt that the abuser makes sure you feel.  And then your self esteem goes on a downward spiral with feelings of inadequacy and of being less than because anything you do is never enough to fulfill the abuser's needs, who makes a point of letting you know that you are not doing enough ever. Meanwhile the devalue phase is operating in full. The abuser will ignore you, leave you guessing, feeling like you now became a detective trying to see what is happening. You now not only turned into a desperate investigator which you never were before but you feel awful for doing things that were unacceptable before. Your identity eroded a little more.

Sometime along the way you realize there's nothing else you can do and that's where the already mapped out discard is imminent. To the victim this is a complete surprise but we know it's part of the cycle of abuse. It was planned long ago but the devalue phase is so much fun for the narcissist who is enjoying every bit of your desperate effort to please them.

3) Reality Twisting.

The abuser twists your reality bit by bit. A methodically planned execution that takes patience and time. These personalities will go to the extent of bending your perceptions, your beliefs and everything that makes you you.

Suddenly you are not as independent as you were before. You no longer take pride in your kindness and open mindedness. You are unable to grasp why you now are plagued with guilt, shame and feelings of not being enough, "I'm not ok" Everybody else is Ok but me kind of mentality. The crazy part is that you always took pride in your independence, your happiness, your positivity. Now all of that is gone.

Your identity eroded. Stolen. The psychopath took your empathic gifts and tried to internalize them. He steels them but they don't stick. The abuser may even use your gifts when their chameleonic personalities require them to groom other victims but they need more. Constantly. From other sources as well. Because nothing is never enough.

Meanwhile your reality is what the abuser worked hard to instill in you. Pessimism, disgust, negativity, judgement.

What to do?

By now they discarded you if you realized what they were doing all along. If not you need to leave. Regain your identity. Go to therapy. Work on your self esteem. Self care to show yourself that you are worth the time and attention.  Learn about psychopathy and narcissism. Start your journey, your own agenda. Re discover yourself. You will go through a journey similar to the ave phoenix a rebirth of an even better, wiser and more caring spirit.

References: Iñaki Piñuel "Amor Zero"and "Psychopath Free" Jackson MacKenzie

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Modeling & Allowing Emotions in Children

Highly narcissistic people don't validate emotions that aren't congruent with their own agenda. They can simply ignore what you are expressing, minimize it, go to the extent of denying your own emotions, guilt trip you for having them, or even mock you for feeling a certain way.

That, in and of itself is traumatically frustrating for other adults and if endured during a long period of time can lead to chronic deteriorations in a person's psyche caused by this kind of abusive behavior. 

Now imagine the object of this devaluing behavior is a kid who is looking up to his or her parent to learn how to behave in the world and how to handle emotions. It would create a complete mess to say the least.

Luckily, if you are the other parent. The healthier one. You can model what is supposed to happen when we experience any emotion. And it can be enough if you make a point of talking with them about it.

Teaching your kids to express anger and every emotion is one of the main reasons, if not the most important one, why it's so important for you to heal and recover.

In today's video I explain why anger is a secondary emotion and why it's very healthy to express it.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

How to Break a Traumatic Bond

Today's video

We develop bonds when we relate to others. Healthy bonds are strong. Traumatic bonds are stronger. 

Trauma bonding is the normal reaction of the human brain when faced with abuse.

Trauma bond & Stockholm Syndrome

traumatic bond occurs as the result of ongoing cycles of abuse in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates powerful emotional bonds that are resistant to change.

Intermittent reinforcement is one of the strongest approaches to ensure certain behaviors are repeated.

A traumatic bond can be stronger than a healthy bond.  It is established when an abuser exposes their partner to mixtures of kindness and meanness. It is inconsistent and therefore behaviorally very reinforcing to the target.

Victims of abuse stay not because they are irrational but because they are trauma bonded. This traumatic bond can take a huge toll on the victim's health for example health induced eccema, high blood pressure, gut problems.

Stockholm Syndrome: it's a psychological response where a captive person begins to identify closely with his or her captors, as well as with their agenda and demands.

The name of the syndrome derives from a bank robbery that occured in 1973 in Stockholm, Sweden. Four employees were held captive in the bank's vault for 6 days. During that time a hostage stated that she fully trusted her captor. They were good to us ... they gave us water all this while they were wrapped in dynamite.

"The bond is initially formed when a captor threatens a captive's life, deliberates, and then chooses not to kill the captive's life. The captive's relief at the removal of the death threat is transposed into feelings of gratitude toward the captor for giving him or her life. It takes only a few days for this bond to cement..." Source Encyclopedia Britannica

"The survival instinct is at the heart of the Stockholm Syndrome. Victims live and enforced dependence on the captor and interpret rare or small acts of kindness as good treatment." 

Sounds familiar? Wait for this...they often become hypervigilant to the needs of the captors making psychological links between the captors happiness and their own.

This syndrome has since expanded from hostages to victims of abuse, domestic violence, prisoners of war, and abused children.

Why this happens and how this works.

Trauma bond happens because of a polarized flow of events. Too good vs extremely bad. One moment everything is great victims are flooded with kindness, love, and attention, the next moment or day,  they are neglected, there's silent treatment, abuse. 

These two extremes cause oxytocin release in the brain. Oxytocin also called the prosocial hormone, because it reacts to others, to the environment. It's the one involved in uterine contractions, and in milk ejection. Also in love, sex, hugs. It also acts as a neurotransmitter. Oxytocin has two different ways of acting when heightened: Calming and Anxiety provoking.

Ronda Freeman hypothesized that:

When partner is kind calming oxytocin receptors activate. (Anxiolytic)
When partner is mean anxiety oxytocin receptors activate. (Anxiogenic)

To this the brain adds the reward system of the brain, opioids dopamine and others that make you feel good when partner is kind. So then you add to this cognitive dissonance which is all the confusion and other factors as well. 

All this makes leaving extremely difficult and confusing for victims of abuse so it's not only reason. That is why people outside the relationship, family members, or friends don't really understand and can get frustrated to see how the friend puts up with the abuse and never leaves.

But now that you know this here's what you can do.

How to overcome a Traumatic Bond

1) Withdrawal. Like from a drug. The "oxytocin drug..."

How? No contact. Sustain no contact. Or minimal contact if you have children. The thing is the victim loves the abuser because he or she bought the lie at the beginning in the "love bombing phase" of the cycle of abuse. And it's completely normal. The dysfunctional thing is not loving back. The abuser never loved really, it's all a lie that they constructed to get narcissistic supply.

2) Get a replacement for the calming feel good oxytocin with good social contact. Good friends and family that understands. Even dogs are good at eliciting good oxytocin.

3) Find a good therapist, counselor or coach that specializes in this. Talk therapy is part of recovery.

4) Self Care.