cult of the narcissist

8 Ways Narcissists Are Like Cult Leaders

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Do you feel like a prisoner in the cult of the narcissist?

Many people who’ve gotten out of a relationship with a narcissist describe their experience as one of having been “brainwashed”.  When they recall how they acted in ways that were so unlike them, and how they put up with things they never imagined they would endure, they look back on their past experience with a sense of astonishment, disbelief, and shock, as well as more than a little embarrassment and self-recrimination. 

For this reason, survivors of such toxic relationships tend to keep their experiences to themselves, fearing that if they shared what they’ve undergone, other people would find them naïve, gullible, and foolish.  After all, who in their right mind would stay wholeheartedly committed to someone who is deceitful, unfaithful, abusive, controlling and manipulative?

But survivors of narcissistic abuse might gain a more helpful perspective on their regrettable past if they consider – what might seem surprising at first blush – that narcissists employ on their partners many of the very same techniques of “mind control” that cult leaders use in order to control and manipulate their followers.  And while the ideas of mind control and brainwashing have often been dismissed by the psychological community, there appears now to be a growing awareness that the phenomenon of psychological manipulation demands more serious investigation.[1]

But whether we speak of “brainwashing” and “mind control”, or merely of “psychological manipulation”, there’s no denying the fact that narcissistic individuals and cult leaders share a common repertoire of underhanded psychological techniques that they use in order to win over and control their targets, all while exploiting them in ways that ultimately do deep damage to their psyches. 

In this article, I present eight ways in which narcissistic individuals operate like a stereotypical cult leader.

The Cult of the Narcissist

When considering the mechanisms of mind control, it’s not a matter of the victim instantly losing all free will and suddenly becoming a mere puppet at the command of the narcissist or cult leader.  Rather, mind control is something that is gradually brought about in victims after they are subjected – over time – to a set of manipulative psychological techniques that are designed to change their behavior and alter their perception of the world around them.[2]  These techniques can be described as (1) building rapport, (2) love bombing, (3) isolating the victim, (4) playing the parent, (5) deterring independent thought, (6) sleep deprivation, (7) employing fear and intimidation, and finally (8) the game of hurt and rescue.  Let’s briefly consider each of these manipulative techniques.

1 – Building Rapport

In their efforts to recruit new members, cult leaders are eager to learn all they can about their targets so that they can later use the information they acquire in order to control their victims; and in order to get their targets to open up to them, they need to build rapport with them.  They accomplish this by presenting themselves as caring individuals that share the same interests and concerns as their targets.  They are skilled actors.  They lean forward as they listen intently to their target’s words and they study their target’s non-verbal behavior and try to mimic it in order to further create the impression of a kindred soul and thereby gain the victim’s trust. 

People who have gotten involved with a narcissist (or other low-empathy individual) invariably note how that person seemed to show genuine concern for them in the initial stages of the relationship.  Like the cult leader, the narcissist is eager to learn all he can about his potential victim so that he can later exploit whatever vulnerabilities he may uncover.  This helps to explain why the narcissist appears so sweet, considerate and caring early in the relationship.  It’s their way of building trust and getting their targets to open up to them. 

The narcissist likewise feigns shared interests, emotions, and experiences in order to create the illusion of being a kindred soul or even the “soul mate” of their target.  They try to mimic as best they can the person they are grooming as their partner, and because narcissists fundamentally lack an inner-self, they are good at mirroring their potential new supply.  In these ways, they are thus able to begin eliciting a strong sense of attachment from their victims.

2 – Love Bombing

Love bombing is an attempt to gain influence over a person through lavish demonstrations of attention and affection[3].  It is a concentrated effort that involves the prolonged use of flattery, verbal seduction, and affection, as well as lots of attention to a target’s problems and struggles in life.  Love bombing holds out to its victim the promise of instant companionship and unconditional love.  It is a deceptive ploy that cult leaders employ all too well in their recruitment efforts.  A member of a cult called Buddhafield (which disbanded around 2006) well captured the experience in remarking, “Constantly, your soul was being fed with love and inspiration and awe.”[4] 

Love Bombing is likewise used by predatory narcissists in their intimate relationships, where it takes the form of intense, unrelenting calls and text messages, flowers and other gifts, invitations to meet the family, requests to move in together, and the inundation of their target’s social media sites with cutesy, flirty messages – which will often begin within hours of the first meeting. 

The general technique of love-bombing promotes the narcissist’s goals of control and exploitation by effectively disabling the target’s capacity for critical thought and encouraging their inclination toward wishful thinking.  The need for love is a deep-seated human desire and we go to great lengths to try and satisfy it.  So, when people find themselves being subjected to an overwhelming amount of love and acceptance, they are reluctant to examine the reasons ‘why’, since they are subconsciously afraid of losing what they’ve long been desperately looking for.

Over time, and used in combination with other techniques, love bombing results in the target abandoning their critical capacities altogether and becoming blindly dependent upon their manipulator for their view of things.

3 – Isolation

The technique of Isolation is employed by cult leaders to prevent their followers from having contact with outsiders, including their family and friends.  The tactics they use to isolate their targets are usually presented in the guise of a concern to protect the group from harmful outside influences.  In reality, the technique is designed to ensure that their followers are exposed only to the cult leader’s own perverse propaganda without any critical scrutiny, and more generally to make their targets more dependent on the cult leader by eliminating other sources of support and affection.  In the Buddhafield, members were instructed to detach from their families in order to bring them closer to the leader (who called himself “Michel”) and the gifts of love and wisdom that he had to offer.

Similarly, narcissists try to isolate their partners in order to deprive them of social support, thereby weakening their defenses and making them more dependent on the narcissist.  Of course, this is not how the narcissist will present the matter.  Instead, the target will initially hear seemingly innocent comments like these: “I get lonely when you’re not here”, “I wish you would spend more time with me”, “I don’t have a good feeling about that friend of yours”, “Your sister doesn’t seem to like me.”  (Later, when the narcissist feels more in control and starts to show his true colors, these comments become: “Your friends are bitches and whores”, “You’re a slut, just like your sister”, ‘Everyone knows that you and your friends are trash”, “Are you having a lesbian relationship with that friend of yours?”)

Eventually, under the pressure of the narcissist’s wheedling and abuse, the victim withdraws from his or her family and circle of friends, leaving him or her wholly dependent on the narcissist for love, support, and perspective.

4 – Playing the Parent

We all carry with us memories from childhood of feeling helpless and turning to our parents for comfort.  Involvement with a cult or a relationship with a narcissist can reduce us again to the level of a vulnerable child, which is precisely what they want since they can then step in as the parent figure that we instinctively turn to in such a condition.  And once they’ve assumed that role in our lives, they can then start to dominate us in the manner of an overbearing parent.  

Many women who’ve had a narcissistic partner report that their abuser dictated what they wore, who they could be friends with (if anyone), gave them a curfew, insisted they wear little to no makeup, sneered at them if they fixed their hair, and generally wanted them to appear unkempt.  Female narcissists may insist on a particular (unbecoming) hairstyle for their partner or make them feel they’re clumsy and unrefined, pointing out things like how they use their silverware or carry themselves in public. 

These requests are sometimes conveyed in a civil, diplomatic way.  Other times, the narcissist rages and shouts until their target acquiesces.  Psychological studies have shown that such things as tone of voice, mannerisms, and other non-verbal behaviors play an important role in communication.  What typically happens when someone talks to us as if they were our parent, in a ‘fatherly’ or ‘motherly’ tone of voice? Chances are it will start to influence and shape our mindset, our feelings for the person speaking in this way, and our emotions in general! 

Manipulators are aware of these things and adept at transporting another adult back to a state of childhood with its associated emotions of wanting to please and feel loved and be accepted.

In studying manipulators, Robert Cialdini found that they were doing subtle and barely noticeable things to influence the emotions of their targets by, for instance, creating in them a sense of obligation, fostering in them a fear of loss, and making them feel a sense of subservience. Most targets are unaware that this is going on, and since this form of psychological manipulation generally works outside of people’s normal consciousness it is often incredibly powerful.

David Christopher, a former member of the Buddhafield, likened his programming within the group to the typical programming that one experiences in childhood.  

Your own family has a way of being, and you grow up in that programming, and there’s a language that you use, and a lot of times your parents have an idea of what you should be, and if you want to have an independent thought that goes against that, you might be guilted or shamed because you’re trying to go against the grain,” Christopher continued. “That is a cult. What I often tell people is, I joined a cult to escape a cult. The cult I left was my family. I left my not-so-good programming for a programming I thought was better. And it was better, much higher. But then I had to leave that programming only to find my own authenticity and my own voice, without anybody else’s conditioning. For me, that’s empowerment.”[5]

5 – Opposition to Independent Thinking

Cult leaders frown upon members who show any inclinations towards autonomous thinking. The “thinking,” so to say, has already been done for them by the cult leader; the appropriate response is simply to submit.  Any questioning of the leader is treated as a flaw of character and intellect that must be corrected if the member is ever to attain the “gifts” that the leader has to offer.

Likewise, failure to see things the way the narcissist does is taken by them to be a challenge to their sense of intellectual superiority.  Anytime you voice concerns about their behaviors, you are viewed not as a loving friend who has their best interests in mind, but instead as a troublesome whiner who needs to be brought into line. 

Narcissists don’t care about the wants or needs of anyone but themselves, and in order to make you a better tool to serve their needs, they try to make you believe that you’re not intelligent enough to make important decisions on your own.  Anyone who questions or criticizes them is viewed as an “enemy” who is wrongheaded and incapable of clear, logical thinking. 

Like cult leaders, they use humiliation and guilt to instill self-doubt in their targets and thus weaken their capacity to think for themselves.  Typical remarks that the narcissist uses in this connection include: “You are listening to the voices again”, “You lie to yourself and believe your own lies”, “Remember what happened last time we went with your idea?”, or “It’s cute how you want to be as smart as me”.

6 – Sleep Deprivation

Getting regular, restful sleep helps you stay focused and in control of yourself.  Your body uses sleep to refresh areas of the brain that control mood and behavior, and to process the memories and knowledge that you gathered throughout the day.  When a person is deprived of wholesome rest and severe fatigue sets in, their critical faculties are impaired and they become more susceptible to being controlled by others.  (In fact, under these conditions the brain enters into what is called the “theta state” that is closely associated with hypnosis.) 

Sleep deprivation is a popular technique used by shady cops to coerce false confessions.  It’s also a common technique of mind control used by unscrupulous cult leaders.  By depriving their followers of healthy rest, the cult leader decreases their ability to concentrate and focus and impairs their ability to process information and react to signals in the environment, all of which encourages disorientation and a sense of vulnerability in the victims, leaving them more susceptible to the cult leader’s controlling influence.

Similarly, we see that narcissists often do things that serve to deprive their partners of healthy sleep, such as starting arguments at a late hour.  They frequently deploy this technique in situations where their partner is already a little on edge, for instance, in the lead-up to a high-stakes meeting or exam, or before an important speech or job interview.  For this reason, in depriving their partners of sleep, the narcissist not only leaves their partners in a less self-confident state, but also effectively sabotages their projects.   The result is that the victim is left feeling not only disoriented and vulnerable, but also worthless, especially when the narcissist turns around and rubs the resulting failure in the face of the victim. 

7 – Fear and Intimidation

Cult leaders are also experts in exploiting the basic human emotion of fear.  They tend to surround themselves with an aura of power and authority.  Some will claim to have divine authority to dictate virtually all aspects of the lives of their followers.  Their attempt to secure the loyalty and obedience of their followers is enhanced by not-so-subtle threats to their physical and spiritual well-being for any acts of disobedience or nonconformity.  For example, a former member of Buddhafield was told that he would die within a year if he chose to leave the group.

Similarly, cult leaders will foster the more insidious fears associated with the feeling of guilt by putting their followers down for any traits or behaviors that are associated with independence and self-confidence.  To this end, cult leaders will often insist upon having “cleansing sessions” where members are required to confess their deepest and most intimate thoughts since this allows the cult leader to gain the information he needs to instill feelings of guilt and worthlessness. 

As a result, members lose self-confidence and feel helpless, making obedience seem like a small price to pay for the “salvation” that the leader has to offer.

In a similar fashion, former victims of narcissistic abuse often lament about how their narcissist took the sensitive information gained from intimate conversations – information about their deepest fears and desires or about their feelings of worthlessness —  and used it against them, either by threatening to humiliate their partners by exposing this information to others in a smear campaign, or simply by making their victims feel guilty for having what are in fact common but often concealed human sentiments. 

8 – Fear-then-Relief, or Hurt and Rescue

This final tactic likewise preys on the emotion of fear. Here, the manipulator causes their target a great deal of stress or anxiety and then steps in to relieve that stress, reinforcing the idea that he or she is the victim’s one true savior.  For instance, cult leaders use the fear of ostracization to keep group members in check, rewarding them with acceptance in exchange for their compliance.  The most common tactic used by the narcissist along these lines is the silent treatment, which evokes the target’s fear of abandonment, which the narcissist can then relieve with their return.  The silent treatment is executed by the narcissist when his or her victim attempts to establish a boundary or shows displeasure at something the narcissist says or does, such as taking another lover, having a porn obsession, being financially irresponsible, or being mean to children in the household.

Repeated cycles of fear and relief are emotionally exhausting.  When the Narcissist returns after these numerous episodes of the silent treatment, their victim is emotionally defenseless and more prone to accepting the unacceptable to avoid having their fear of abandonment triggered yet again.  It often leads to the victim begging for the narcissist to stay and offering apologies even when the victim has done no wrong.  (This fear-and-relief cycle, together with the phenomena of trauma-bonding and biological addiction, explains why victims of emotional abuse experience cravings and obsessive thoughts about reuniting with the narcissist once No Contact has been implemented.)

Emotional Manipulation is Abuse

The above discussion has merely scratched the surface of the techniques of emotional manipulation that are used by both narcissists and cult leaders. 

If you constantly wonder about what’s going on in your relationship, obsess about what you could be doing differently, feel like the problems with your partner fall solely on your shoulders, are constantly fearful and anxious, and feel like less of a person than before you met your partner, then it’s highly likely you have been the victim of emotional manipulation.

Narcissists know how to manipulate your vulnerabilities and undermine anything that will alter the balance of power inside your relationship with them.   Recovery from the psychological, emotional, mental, and spiritual abuse of a relationship with a narcissist is imperative for you to put yourself and your life back together.

Leave and Deprogram – What you can do

The longer a target suffers from narcissistic abuse, the more they are programmed through the conditioning of insidious techniques of psychological manipulation.  Once you finally leave the narcissist, you will still feel chronically detached from yourself and your life for a time. You can even find yourself missing your abuser, and feeling a lot of self-doubt because of that. But, in closing, I share seven ways you can begin to deprogram yourself in order to regain self-trust and diminish self-doubt in the aftermath of the cult of the narcissist:

  1. Get into a counseling or recovery program. If you prefer to work one-on-one with a therapist, make sure they have a background in narcissistic abuse recovery. If you like a more flexible approach, an online recovery program can offer you similar benefits, often at a lower cost.
  2. Tell yourself positive affirmations daily. Telling yourself what a smart, loving, beautiful, and capable person you are while looking in the mirror will eventually reprogram your thinking and help you feel good about yourself again.
  3. Read self-help books about overcoming obstacles and finding the courage to trust your own judgment.
  4. Go with the flow of the healing process. Don’t rush or be hard on yourself when you feel doubt creeping in.
  5. Reevaluate your needs in a partner. Make a list of the absolute must-haves and no-ways and don’t settle for anything less. When considering a new potential partner, ask yourself if he/she exhibits those traits.
  6. Focus on listening to your inner voice and keep it positive. This is a great time to incorporate positive affirmations into your daily routine.
  7. Join the Break Free ProgramDramatically increase your chances of breaking free; discover the key to overcoming the addiction to the narcissist and their unending drama; connect with the real reasons why you break No Contact and begin healing them.

Learning the warning signs of psychological manipulation inside relationships with narcissists is critical. Knowledge is power, so empowering yourself to see the warning signs listed above can encourage you to overcome your fear of falling victim again.

If you’re ready to go deeper and change your life right now, I offer a wide range of effective resources and techniques to protect against toxic people – in my bestselling program, Break Free.

I’m excited to share with you the psychological tools I and thousands of others have used to heal from narcissistic abuse.

Explore techniques derived from behavioral therapy (vetted by the psychological and neuro-psychological communities) to finally heal your life.

Learn more here!

[1] Recently, the American Psychological Association was called upon to form a task force to investigate the purported phenomenon of mind control in destructive cults. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2021, from  The phenomenon of psychological manipulation has been studied by several prominent psychologists, including Robert Hare, George Simon, and the late Harriet Braiker

[2] Braiker, Harriet B. (2004). Who’s Pulling Your Strings? How to Break the Cycle of Manipulation. ISBN 0-07-144672-9

[3] Love bombing. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2021, from

[4] Holy Hell Documentary. (n.d.). Retrieved May 2, 2021, from

[5] Standard, P. (2016, July 05). How to Escape From a Cult in the 21st Century. Retrieved May 2, 2021, from

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Leave a Comment:

Linda says October 9, 2023

They ARE cult leaders. Their own little cult of family or a friend group. Or just the two of you. It’s you and them against the world. In fact, that’s a good way to know if someone is a narcissist. If you feel like your world is getting smaller and it’s you and them against the world, then yep, your charismatic leader is probably a narcissist.

Jeanine says March 17, 2022

Needs. To escape sooner than later.

Ash says November 22, 2021

Hi Kim,,
Thanks for all the info you share on social media ..This has made my stronger to leave a narcissist family behind me and leave the country in a vvv secret way during lockdwn too ..As I left unnoticed this created an enormous angry..vicious verbal onslaught towards me and my siblings ..But I felt very relieved to have made the decision and planned the evaluation to leaving all my personal belongings behind to avoid detection of how far I could have gone..Only did they realise 24hrs later that we had landed 6000miles and sound..

Thanks Kim your an Angel..
Now I have to find the courage to find and restart my life

    Kim Saeed says November 23, 2021

    Ash, I am incredibly happy to learn of your brave escape. I hope you will send updates about your new life 🙂


Jolene Abdol says November 20, 2021

L had a relationship with a Narcissist, but I detached myself when I suspected Narcissistic behaviours and he told me he is a Narcissist and dealing in Cybersex InterNations
Im not with him anymore, but he don’t want to stop sending me messages after blocking him, he still try.
But when I discover and start reading all her excellent advice I see light at the other side of the tunnel. I’m happy I’m out of that psychological abusive relationship, thanks to

    Kim Saeed says November 23, 2021

    I am so happy to know you are free now, Jolene. You’ve truly made my day 。^‿^。


Anonymous says November 19, 2021

Wow did this open my eyes…I have been out 2 1/2 years after 30 years with mine..
I have finally committed to absolute no contact..
I have been in a horrible state of depression and anxiety for over 2 years now
I can not go on this way.
I knew I had to change me
My thinking…
I think about my children
How all of this and my sickness because of it…
So detrimental…but I know I need to clearly understand what happen to me and to absolutely start doing the work in me to change my depressive state and try to be a mother to my 15 year old son.

One day at a time
One moment at a time if need bee
I finally feel like I have some kind of direction since I signed up for e mails and beginners roadmap ..
Best decision I ever made and I am only about a week or so in….

    Kim Saeed says November 24, 2021

    I’m so glad to know you took a brave first step. Keeping you in my thoughts. Xo


Christi Harris says November 19, 2021

I had left my partner. I got mixed up with the way international. Then back with my toxic partner. Absolutely you nailed it

Anonymous says July 29, 2021

I did not know such people are called narcissist. I have been in friendship with such person but made me feel like same. After reading all articles on Narcissism from you Kim it feels I have been in friendship with a narcissist.

Came to know that he( narcissist friend) is getting divorced from his wife.

These people are very dangerous even as a friend.

Just wondering how much the spouse tolerates.

Attracta Rattigan says May 3, 2021

Hi. Thank you for all the information.
Very valuable as I’m in middle of Court letigation – very difficult. Writing reply to Affidavits .. Reliving abuse – so hard.
Looking forward to freedom from the constraints of all this bureaucracy…. so time & mind consuming.
Kind regards
Attracta Rattigan

Liz says May 3, 2021

when I clicked on the link to open this page, and that image of the narc’s face suddenly appeared, a cold as ice chill ran up my spine.

wow….ghastly scary. (((cringe)))

Pasha says May 3, 2021

One of the most important, powerful and piercingly insightful of all of Kim’s posts. Its significance and educative, empowering value cannot be overstated. Moreover, the implications of commonalities between cult conditioning and narcissistic control spill over way beyond interpersonal or intimate relationships. It is the Narcissist’s mini-cult that gives him or her a Fuehrer-like control over the minds, absolute allegience and behavours over ‘little nations’ that congregte around the ‘leader’ that make these strange, inhuman characters so unimaginably dangerous in the kinds of energies they can unleash on an inconvenient target in a whole range of contexts and settings.

Anonymous says May 3, 2021

I am married to a covert narcissist for 20 yrs. I had met him in college. He was a popular person but early on I realized that he likes attention. I was sidelined and ge accepted humiliation from others for me and stayed out if any controversy esp if it required speaking up
He suffered fro genetic infertility which he and his family knew but he chose to hide it till the doctors told me and him and showed me old documents.
He was very successful in his workplace and helped everyone. I couldn’t understand anything and internalized my grief
I stay in India. I adopted a daughter. I confronted him a year or do back and he became abusive. All for his outside persona of a successful army doctor. I was disillusioned. In the mean time I lost my mother last year. I then made myself understand rhat in a country like India where even the educated class and even the females have a stereotypical mindset, I shd bide my time till I get some finances to break off.
This journey has been devastating for me but I feel more clear now and read your emails regularly

Deeanna says January 4, 2021

Brilliant piece. My narc was covert and excellent at playing the victim. Since his personality doesn’t fit the typical overt narc, many people believe his emotional manipulation, including our teenage children. Thank you, Kim, for your articles which constantly remind me that getting away from him was the right thing to do.

Pasha says January 4, 2021

One of Kim’s most trenchantly insightful pieces, a piercing and exactly detailed deconstruction of the actual mechanics by which the Narc, like a cult leader, goes about their agenda. Simply brilliant.

?????? ?. says April 17, 2020

This is the BEST information I have seen on narcissism in years of trying to overcome the impact of it in my life. Thank you

Olivia says April 17, 2020

I realise looking back that my mother utilised ‘flying monkeys’. I can think of many examples of when I was really hitting rock bottom and really needed help, my mother’s friends would often say things that were calculated to hurt me really deeply. I’m sure the friends were innocent but I wonder if my mother had primed them to say these things by clever manipulation of them.
e.g. when I was dealing with a very painful, hurtful break up with my boyfriend, one of her friends came up to me out of the blue and talked about her own daughter who was handling her first relationship with her first boyfriend incredibly well and it was all going smoothly. It was really weird and exactly what I didn’t need to hear right then, but I had this feeling my mother was waiting for me to explode or burst into tears, so I just didn’t react to these hurtful comments. This sort of thing happened a few times in my past, with different friends of my mother on different occasions, so it can’t be a coincidence.

Danielle Burke says January 29, 2020

Thank you for all of this eye opening infomation I am stuck in one of these terrible situations with a terrible Narcissist and it has left me hopeless

    Susan says May 3, 2021

    I’m the same as you. . Stuck

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Rex says August 9, 2019

I want to thank you for writing this & I want to send a big thanks to all the people that commented on here too!!!
I know just how everyone has been treated & feels. My abuser is a woman I met through my best friend & he brought her sister down to my horse farm & I starred selling hay to her & shoeing her horses. Then we all started riding horses & camping together. That’s when I met my female narcissis abuser & we all became very good friends over the next 2yrs & that lead to a romance & her being the mother of our 6yr. well almost 7yr. daughter. She is also a Drug dealer, drug user & alcoholic. That quit her job the 2nd year I was with her & has not worked anywhere that does not pay her cash under the table for over 8yrs, because I started paying most all the bills for her, her first daughter, 2 great neices & 1 great nefew that we took care of for 2yrs. Then it was just the 3 of us, for almost 3 more years. Till unexpected, along came our daughter.
I had not drank any alcohol or done any drugs, for at least 8yrs before I met her & before long she got me to start drinking some wine on the weekends when we camped & road our horses. Then before too much longer she had me buying the wine & some drugs for the 2 of us to drink & do.
She used to call me a do gooder for 6 to 8+ years, because I’ve always stopped to help anyone anywhere along the road, that I could see needed a helping hand & I’ve always tried to help any one in our area that needed a helping hand or with anything that needed welded up or made or anything I could work on & get running for them. That’s just the way I was raised.
Then after years of not much sleep, because she would wake me by hitting me everytime I would just roll over or just breathe loud. Not snoring for sure, because I never got to any kind of deep sleep & if I had to use the bathroom, I would get cussed out. Well everytime I would have all running me down, because there was nothing I could do right & I would get so tired & could not take anymore abuse. I would come back to my home. She would only give me at the most 5 days & here she would come all nice & missing me. That went on for years, till I finally had enough & I left her house in late October/1st of November.
She came over to get me several times, but I was not going to be abused anymore & I was only back over at her house 3 or 4 more times. Once was too shoe her horses & take her daughter to ride in the Christmas parade, another time to take her Christmas shopping, because if I would have just given her money, she would have bought drugs to sell at least 1 or even 2 times depending on how fast she got the drugs sold & got her Free drugs from it & if she would have an extra day or two, she would re-up her drugs to make some more free drugs, because I had all but quit using or buying her drugs & wine!!! But I did go back to spend Christmas Eve & day with them. Just wanted to make sure her daughter had a good Christmas. Then I came home, with no intentions of ever going back. But her truck broke down & I gave her my 1 of my cars to drive while I ordered the parts to fix her truck with. Just as I was getting her truck fixed, my car had a part go bad & she showed up late 1 night at my house with 1 of her drug dealers, telling me a lie, that my car broke down along the road & it was not where she left it. So I had to take my trailer over to find where it had been towed to & she had another bit of news TOO. She thought she was about 3 or 4 months Pregnant!!!! So I went to the store for a test kit the next morning & found out that she was lieing about my car being towed. She had it hidden in her Barn. Her drug dealer came up to her barn to help me get my car loaded up. He had been there at her house for 3 or 4 days. They were both bouncing off the walls & had not sleep the whole time!!! Well he sat down in my car & started it up, while I was putting the ramps down to load my car & as soon as I stood up & stepped to the side of the trailer with her dealer standing beside me. MY CAR HIT THE TRAILER RIGHT WHERE I HAD JUST BEEN ON MY HANDS & KNEES WITH MY BACK TO WHERE MY CAR WAS SITTING!!!! For GOD only knows why her dealer had started my car & put the automatic shifter in neutral & got out of it up there on the hill where it rolled hard enough to do $1500.00+ in damages to my car & would have hurt me really BAD if not KILLED me if I would have been on my knees just 1 minute longer!!!!
Well she would not take the pregnancy test that day & I said after I had almost got Hurt really Bad or KILLED!!! That I was never going to do DRUGS again & that was the last time I have ever done drugs!!! I chose to try to get along with her & chose my CHILD over Drugs. It took me 2 days after that before she would take the test & the only way, was I had to finally tell her sisters that she thought she was 3 or 4 months pregnant & still doing drugs!!!! & They finally got to take the pregnancy test. That was as soon as I found out that she was pregnant for sure & to get her to stop all the drinking & drug use. I had to threaten to go to the law & turn her in & I told her drug dealers that I knew, that I would turn them in too, if they gave or sold her any more drugs for the last 5 & a 1/2 mts of her pregnancy. Now after around 12+ years of & me living with her & paying all the bills. I had to stop living with her around 4 years ago & come 25 miles over in another state, because of health reasons-& not being able to be her house & farm slave!!! I sold my Farm & put a 3 bedroom trailer in over at my Dads Farm. Paid off all my bills. Got insurance & finally got the MRIs approved, to show what all needed to be fixed in my body, so I will be able to live a somewhat normal life.
Now all the problems in the world that come up are soully my fault alone according to her & I get

Feeling Guilty About Implementing the No Contact Rule? - Kim Saeed: Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Program says March 26, 2019

[…] has been used for centuries by organizations, cults, churches, and communities as an effective way to punish or wreak vengeance for a perceived […]

Kerry Jachmann says October 19, 2018

Another great article – so helpful.
Thanks Kim.

Juno Shaiza says October 19, 2018

This is great help for me who has been in an abusive relationship for the last 23 years. Now I feel the sense of release coming with this new knowledge. .. bless you for being there for others who are suffering.

Mandy says October 19, 2018

My mother used to tell me horrible stories before I went to bed so that I could not sleep. She wanted to be my only friend and isolated me from everyone; she pretended to read my mind and knew what was best for me. She loved bombed me with unspoken contract gifts and guilt tripped me if I did something she did not liked. She was the mother so she decided everything I wore and what I ate even when I was a teenager. I can´t count all the times she gave me the silent treatment and then came back only to be more repressive and present in my life out of proportion. I am now 5 months no contact with my whole family and holding on.

Graham Browne says October 19, 2018

I agree with this article fully, I have been trying to marry a person for a number of years, and then did some research on what the hell was wrong with me, because everything that went wrong was always my fault, I was the best for a while and then was told that I was bad. Gas lighting, I did not know what the word meant, until I was awakened to what was really happening. Goodness I am in a wheelchair as a result of seizures and have had to rely on her for everything. The emotional abuse is hysterically bad I cannot describe this to anyone. I took her with me to a doctors appointment at one stage and while I was discussing my predicament she was kicking me under the table, and then proceeded to give me abuse for two and a half hours in the car in the way back home. this borders on psychosis I am sure.

Cecile says October 19, 2018

I learned what a cult is firsthand and was able to escape one about twenty years ago. Back then it was called ‘deprogramming’. About fifteen years later I found myself in a very similar situation, including a new boyfriend, but recognized it all by about three months. I was able to protect myself this time as I hadn’t been able to that first time by one main ‘test’ which I highly recommend … how do they react to small ‘no’s’?

Tanja says October 18, 2018

After being in a narcissist relationship with my ex and learning what I was in made me think about my mother and father. Now as I look back on my childhood, my father was a serious Narcissistic especially him being in the army. She was a stay home mom so back then I guess she stayed because that how it was back then when you had kids and no income. He was terrible especially after he retired. Everything that is written above he did and also physically beat her. She would leave but always went back because of the false hoovering and promise. I’m sure she didn’t have anyone to really understand what she was going through with him. She finally did leave my dad when she was really sick and just couldn’t take it anymore. The ending of this story is my mother died because of all the Narcissistic abuse that he did to her. Narcissistic abuse is real and dangerous. I look back on my mother death and wish that it was known to her back then. I use to wonder as a kid, why she just won’t leave him but now I understand why. I just wish that someone would of help her but when she finally did escape, it was to late. My mother was only 35 when she died and she had so much more to live for especially because she had us kids. I was in a narcissist abuse relationship and I’m thankful to you Kim for opening my mind and very thankful and grateful that I got out and stay out because I didn’t want to end up like my mother.

    Chauntelle says October 19, 2018

    I’m sorry to hear about ur mom. I know that dreaded feeling of wishing u knew better then as u do now. My mother abused my older sister so badly that she died from liver cirrhosis at 32 yo in a hospice. Her liver exploded. My mother wouldnt even be nice to her when she visited for about 10 minutes, in her last moments of life. I Hate my mother and cant make myself talk to her. Shes 71 yo & is hopefully close to the end. I wont even know when she passes. Actually, my brother & sister wont know either as no one speaks to her. Shes Satan in the flesh here on Earth. Theres a special place in Hell waiting for her. I hope uve found some peace in ur life about ur mom. I know uve heard this before but it wasnt ur fault. And what kept her hanging on and got her thru as much as she did, was her children. YOU. May God Bless.

      Tanja says October 21, 2018

      Chauntell, thank you and I’m sorry to hear about your mom and the way that she had acted. It amazing that there are people like this and to have lived with these people was a miracle to survive. It was so funny but while I was in a relationship with my ex, he kept reminding me of someone and it was my father except for the physical abuse. But my ex did everything else that is mention above. I knew my mother went through hell but the more I thought about it, it was worse then he’ll.

      Tanja I says October 21, 2018

      Chauntell, and God bless you also.

Diane Murillo says October 18, 2018

Wow everything is just so right to this. Blame every thing on my. Left me cold now with Financial pump problems hardship with my brother passing and my part-time job is that we have no money I can’t help him any more. So he made the petty little excuses to leave me. I was such a fool to fall in love of a man that for me in the beginning I thought he was the world’s best man turned out he was the world’s horrible man.

8 Ways Narcissists Are Like Cult Leaders – Inhuman Traits of Narcissism Psychopath Sociopath says October 10, 2018

[…] 8 Ways Narcissists Are Like Cult Leaders […]

What to Do When Your Family and Friends Disappear During Your Recovery - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says August 19, 2018

[…] subconscious attempts to stick around for your ex.  You were conditioned to do this during their unexplained absences and silent treatments, and you may continue these behaviors even after the relationship is […]

Melanie says August 18, 2018

Insightful article and spot on the money. It’s frightening how these poor excuses for humans behave all in the same manner. They are pure evil.

Kannice says August 18, 2018

Very interesting..really tough figuring these MARX’S OUT..NO FIGURING. THAT ARE NARCS.

Chumpedincanada says May 22, 2018

Sleep deprivation: my ex narc, one we became intimate and started having sleepovers told me that I could not touch him while we were sleeping. He said that because he slept so lightly, any touch would wake him. I was the opposite. I loved to be held and caressed while sleeping.
I lost sleep because I was so uptight about touching him accidentally during the night. Usually he would wake very night at 3am and leave the bed to sleep on the couch as it was more “comfortable”.

Then he started sleeping on the couch and wanted me to sleep there with him. (We had a large “L” shaped couch). I would agree and start off sleeping on the couch, but would eventually sense his displeasure when I moved to the bed. I could not sleep comfortably all night on the couch.

Then one day, out of the blue, he tells me that he cannot stand that my 3 yo son (not his) wakes up in the middle of the night to pee and comes to get me. The children slept upstairs and our bedroom/couch was downstairs. So my son would bump down the stairs on his bump and ex stated this drove him nuts and wrecked his sleep. But every solution I proposed was unreasonable and his advice was that I needed to “step up” my parenting. (I was proud that my son was 3 and out of diapers and could wake up for a pee!)

Sometimes, after taking my son to pee, I would settle him back in his bed and lay with him till he fell asleep. This also caused ex to get upset and he would yell at me to get back in our bed (ironically, while he was on the couch).

If my son tried to snuggle in our bed (while ex was on the couch), I would also get told “he has his own bed!”

The sleep deprivation from all these head games was awful and led to me feeling crazy and depressed. I’m glad you covered this as one of their tactics.

    Kim Saeed says May 23, 2018

    Oh my gosh…trying to dictate how we should raise our children must be one of the worst things these people do. I never, ever advocate for allowing someone we’ve started a relationship with to come between us and our children. This is one of the seeds of early trauma. If someone you’re in a relationship with tells you how to raise your children or that you need to “up” your parenting, I say kick them to the curb. Glad you’re out of that situation!

    Kim XoXO

      Anonymous says May 23, 2018

      Yes, I left him shortly thereafter. We broke up and got back together 4 more times but I never moved back in and our relationship cycles were exactly as you describe in all of your articles.

      He has “moved on” with other women and seems to definitely prey on single mothers with children. He has 2 sons with his ex wife and he is a horrific parent and exposes his children to all the new women and his dysfunctional relationships. His children are very troubled as a result. So I found it very ironic that he was trying to dictate to me how to parent when his own children has severe behaviours resulting in many school suspensions.

      I warned one of the new supply after our 5th and final breakup. But never responded to me, but made him quit drinking. They broke up a few months ago for the exact same reasons that we did.

      He is a train wreck and as tough as my recovery has been, my freedom is delightful and keeping my children safe is my number one priority.

    Kerry Jachmann says October 19, 2018

    Oh my goodness – I didn’t realise until now that this is exactly what my ex was doing.
    He said that I was the worst person ever to sleep with because I would roll over during the night or get up and use the bathroom – all things that woke him up. He accused me of deliberately waking him. I ended up so paranoid of waking him that I never slept a wink when I was with him.
    I din’t realise until reading this that it was all part of the narcissist’s game plan.
    Thanks for enlightening me.

Going No Contact does NOT Make You the Narcissist says October 19, 2017

[…] has been used for centuries by organizations, cults, churches, and communities as an effective way to punish or wreak vengeance for a perceived […]

Love Bombing is the Gateway Drug to Love Addiction - Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed says June 10, 2017

[…] term “love bombing” originally referred to actions that members of cults would use to lure new […]

Anonymous says June 1, 2017

My two youngest children fled and have survived living with a narcissist. At the time I honestly believed I was the problem, but we’ve been free for four years now. Reading these methods was like reading our story!!! All of these were used and I can’t thank God enough for a second chance to live life. We are grateful beyond words -like birds set free from a very isolated, small, dark cage. Now we live in the sunshine and my children are thriving. Thank you for this concise and precise article.

Samantha says February 14, 2017

Hi i dated a Narcisst /sociopath as well. But i read they always hoover? mine never tried to get me back neither contacted me? We broke up almost 43 years ago. How come he never tried? Not that i want that, just wonder?

    Kim Saeed says February 14, 2017

    Hi Samantha! Thanks for stopping by and commenting. Gosh, it’s hard to offer a credible reply since I don’t know anything about your history together or the relationship. I hope you’ve been doing some healing work and self-care after all of this time…you deserve to be happy.

    Wishing you the best,


    avesraggiana says February 14, 2017

    Kim is very wise not to go out on a limb here since none of us know the particulars of your long-ago situation. I will be far less circumspect and offer two possible explanations. He was already with someone else, or found someone else almost immediately, and when they dried up as narcissist supply, he managed to move on to yet another. He just never got around to hoovering you. OR, he intuited that you wouldn’t take him back, that even you weren’t aware on a conscious level of what he was, or what he was doing, he sensed that you sensed that something about him was OFF. OFF enough, for you never to want to go back. Of course on a conscious, surface emotional level you wanted to go back, we all do because the agony of being separated from the narcissist is unbearable. That may have been so, but a wiser deeper, non-conscious part of you took hold, and, you just didn’t go back.

    The latter explanation is what happened with me. There were a few attempts at communication where my narcissist-ex wasn’t trying to hoover me, but trying to inflict more pain by asking back the gifts he’d given me, and informing me that he’d thrown my gifts to him in a black plastic trash bag and left it outside his house for me to pick at any time, just as long as he WASN’T home. That part tore me up back then, it really cut deeply. But I laugh now! So childish, such an amateurish stunt to get back at me, and so Trump-like.

    I missed him of course, I cried, I obsessed, I longed for him, I pined for him, blah, blah, blah. Still, I didn’t go back.

    Apart from sending me a birthday card a few months after we broke up, there was no more contact between us. Indeed he’d already had his next supply lined by the time I broke up with him. I heard through the grapevine that he’s since moved on to a third, or is it fourth, source of supply, and is now “In A Relationship.” Hahaha! Good luck with that!

    I flatter myself only slightly when I tell you that the real reason that my ex never tried very hard to hoover me is because he sensed that I wouldn’t fall for it. He already knew, before I even knew, that I would never go back. So he cut his losses early and moved on.

    Stan says February 15, 2017

    I may contradict some experts, Samantha, but my experience has proven to me that not all narcissists act the same way. We know they maneuver, scheme, manipulate, cajole, “helicopter”, lie, bully, etc… but we know they pick and choose the timing that best suits them for their selfish interests, at the time. The key is that the narcissists’ motives are all about them, and the ones they select are merely their pawns.

    As others have said, none of us know your situation of long ago well enough to diagnose your relationship, which is an admission that a narcissist can have a variety of common [narcissistic] traits. They may not always exhibit them in the same manner, to the same extreme, or within the same time pattern of each of their relationships. Each narcissist has their own personal interests, thus, their own personal motives, so, if they are manipulators and schemers, are we not to assume they will conduct themselves in ways they will get what they want, rather than totally conform to an assumed narcissistic behavioral checklist?

    Please know that I greatly respect and admire Kim’s writings of narcissistic characteristics and behaviors, but I’m sure she will agree her writings fit general similarities, while narcissists maintain some individual differences.

    Julie Clarity says February 23, 2017

    It means you won.
    I moved, recently, to a small town, rife with covert narcissism.
    Many a woman and man here in this tiny town, tried to make me their newest shiniest victim, and I will leave out what happened to my child and me at ‘their’ school.
    But, I already knew the game as it was the game my family played on me, and I refuse to play.

    They all avoid me, now, those who take time to glare at me only get a big old smile in return…anyway….
    when a narcissist avoids you, it means you have won.

Kim Hollands says January 29, 2017

Great article and thread. It’s been two and a half years for me. I’m rebuilding my personality and possessions. Our stories are all long and all that you want to say just cannot be said but my wife, best friend and soulmate of 15yrs walked out in 2014. “Just need some ‘Me’ time” She said. My wash was thorough, I didn’t know what hit me. So in love was I that I remember my biggest hurt was driving home from night-shift at 2 in the morning and no one caring where I was, no call from the woman I spoke to every single day for 15 years. Come back every other weekend and make love….something we hadn’t done for 4 months the day she left, said “sex isn’t important in a relationship”. Told me to keep the house, she’d be back. It took me 8months at libraries and on social media to find out and understand exactly what we’ve been dealing with. In particular was a post on fb called ‘toxic arguments’, that opened the door to the world I’ve only just recently escaped from.
My family in Europe and Australia agree that I am the last of the ‘romantics’ in the family and the narcissists target exactly that so they can suck the love right out of you. I found myself again in the company of a narcissist, this one 10 times worse than my ex and I knew it. Robin was a ‘case study’ and damned good fun until her alter egos arrived toting luggage full of threats, bi-polarised, self destruction and I knew it. Bombshell blonde, my second mid-life crises in full swing and I spoke to one of my support friends, told her I was about to date a Psycho-tri-polar ex-dancer just to learn how to handle them……some of the absolute most fun times I’ve ever had but also a bloody nightmare standing!. Wow, I felt like a spy in a world new to me. Second woman I had dated in 2 years and I’m qualified! I feel like a pioneer can spot them after a sentence, can evade them or mingle, I know exactly what to do and say.I did the ‘no contact’ thing with my ex-wife pretty well I must say, left Georgia and went to work in Seattle…furthest I could go in the continental United States without falling into the ocean. Changed my phone nr and proceeded to forgive and forget. Arriving back in GA last June, I joined “linkedin” inadvertently sending an invite to the ex
Her reaction “where have you been? I’ve been waiting for you for two years”. I laughed so hard my side cramped. I am back in the clothes I met my wife in. I was partying at Kastaways bar in Marietta Ga. With the bass player of ‘Molly Hatchet’ when she walked up and robbed 15 years from me. She’s put on a lot of weight and is looking 10 yes older than her 59yrs. I told her “not a chance” especially with her 3rd ex husband renting a room in her new house. It’s not a trailer but her life is ‘trailer park’ . Ya’ know – you can take the girl outa’ the trailer park but……you can’t take the trailer park outa’ the girl.
Here’s sincerely wishing Y’all a prosperous and ‘narc free’ 2017 and keep passing the info! GREAT STUFF

    Marion says January 31, 2017

    This is also a way! first try to act as a narcist in order to be superior to him and treat him the way he does to you. (but don’t you suffer as well in the same time?) for such a long time. And then the hilarious answer of your ex when you contacted her.

    I am in the middle of having quit just 2 months ago. I cannot feel anything, no hurt, no anger, no sadness, just emptiness. As a robot but after having slept for 2 months from 19.00 until 09.00 in the morning every day, hardly any food, only drinking or yoghurt and instead of medication every day wine (very bad but I know that quitting wine is easy for me, but I do not know how kicking off from medicine will be), I regain my body strength and mind strength.
    And very lonely, not understood, nobody who believes this super kind shy human loving narcist personality could have done this.

    Alice Miller wrote the book : The drama of the gifted child and the Search to your inner self (she is swiss and I do not know if it is also in english : German titel : Das drama des begabten Kindes und die Suche nach dem wahren Selbst).
    It brings you back to your baby/childhood time where you (as the victim) reformed your life with all the pain, where you became the perfect victim for an attacker.
    It helps. And a book by Marie-France Hirigoyen (French title : L harcelement moral. La violence perverse au quotidien). It helps you to see the subtilities of how a narcist works in your work, in your family, in your relationship and how to stay away from it but how to recognise it. It is a great help to me.
    It is astonishing how many narcists there are. We cannot change them, but we can change ourselves like you do in order to become a stronger and happier person.
    Thank you for sharing your attitute!!!

Confused says January 29, 2017

Thank you for this most helpful information! Even though I haven’t completely been successful in using this as a tool when choosing someone I am interested in, I have come such a long way in that I am listening to my intuition more than I used to. Unfortunately or maybe moreso fortunately, I am blessed with the gift of strong intuition but in the past have chosen to ignore what it is telling me. Now I am choosing to listen to it more; though, I acknowledge what it says to me, I “half ” listen to it. I am doing that because it seems that if I choose to invest in my intuition 100% I feel I’m on the verge of paranoia and I would be excluding everyone from my life. With all of this boundary setting and trying to invest more into what my intuition is telling me, I am confused and worried that I may be coming down to hard on people. I am also being somewhat hard on myself in thinking that I am the problem as I am the one attracting and/or gravitating toward all of these people I eventually have the intuitive feelings about and feeling as though I am not ever going to get it right. So, I guess my point to all of this is, how do I determine if I am being to “difficult” or “rigid” on not only others but myself? And how do I know or how can I learn to be able to tell the difference between my intuition being point on or could it be that I think it’s my intuition but really, due to all of my negative past experiences, is it me being paranoid and/or subconsciously not wanting to put myself out there due to fear of being hurt again? I know this probably sounds very complex as well as confusing, but any insight anyone has would be greatly appreciated.

    Stan says January 30, 2017

    Dear “Confused”: My commentary is based on my personal experiences throughout my life and my reading of the past several years to study narcissism to better understand the pattern of my past decisions, as you are doing.

    I’m not going to “sugar coat” my findings to you because surviving our mental anguish over the narcissistic controls we’ve experienced must be seen with reality. I’m not a licensed practitioner or a “wannabe expert”, but as you, I wanted answers to guide me in my future decisions and socializing. Because there are a variety of narcissistic extremes, I can only speak for myself, but I’m hoping my findings and assessments may help you, and perhaps others.

    Narcissistic traits, from my readings, are believed to be from birth, attributed to our family history and our social interactions within. Behaviors can be inherently natural (instinctive), or learned from others (“Monkey see, monkey do.”) They can be assertive or reactionary in various degrees. All behavior, from birth, can be attributed to motive or seen as reactionary. That is, babies cry when they want something, or they feel pain. As we grow, our behaviors and behavior models take on a moral connotation as to work toward a positive or negative result. Eventually, we see the consequences of certain behaviors, and each one us interacts with our personal inner spirit to abide by our conscience or the moral guidelines set forth by our parents or guardians. Later, we wrestle with the complexities of more social interactions, but our upbringing seems to remain our most influential time of development.

    One of the main behavior motive divisions is our battle to suit “the self” versus “unselfish” or “servant” motives. For example, babies cry when they’re hungry or in pain — which are self-motivated. A parent’s motive to aid or provide for the child is typically reactionary and supposedly a loving desire to unselfishly provide for the child’s welfare, to ease the hunger or pain. In short, the normal parent is to be “the provider” or “giver”, but we know that is not always the case. People can become parents for a variety of reasons.

    Where normalcy starts to go awry is when the child realizes that he or she can get attention and be served through their behaviors. As the child grows, the interaction between the parents is crucial in establishing a “proper” parent-child relationship. If the child is successful at outwitting the parents, the child realizes and acquires methods of control over the parents. If the parents are discerning about the child’s motives, they learn to read the sincerity of the child’s motives and respond with various defenses to keep the child from maintaining control over them..

    In the “dysfunctional” narcissistic family, however, the authority structure is out of sync. Not all parents are created equal. Some parents are insightful as to how to deal with a child’s controlling motives which allows them to achieve the desired behavior with delicate instruction or other counters. On the other hand, dysfunctional parents react with uncertainty, impulsiveness, likely with more emotional hostility resorting to yelling, spankings, seclusion punishment, and even more abusive consequences/controls.

    The narcissist, child or adult, has learned how to be a “character manager” through their upbringing, and rather than have a balance of “self” and “unselfish” motives, seeks to be a “taker” and bases their motives on what they can get through manipulations. They become what the Bible refers to as “schemers”. Life’s achievements are not sought with a healthy motive/pursuit of success, rather, they choose to seek their successes through the eyes of a predatory animal. Life to them is seen as a contest. They stalk and target their successes to suit themselves, rather than seek a healthy balance of “giving and taking”. In other words, their ambition is to suit themselves, often exhibiting an attitude of “It’s my way or the highway”. They have learned to enjoy the sensation that power brings them by regarding people, unlike them, as inferior and available to be controlled by them.

    When these narcissistic characters seek a partner, they regard acquiring the partner as a “catch” or a challenge to be “conquered”. Life, to them, is a game, which they play to win for their own self-gratification, not for mutual contentment. They have children to suit their needs, not for the love of the child, but rather a sense of what having that child will do for them — as in carrying on the family name, position, pride, etc.

    To summarize, “Confused”, I’ve been fortunate to have endured a narcissistic family. In retrospect, because of learning about narcissist traits in recent years, I can now see the pattern as to how I resisted the motives of my parents, yet in some ways, I finally learned by doing as you — by asking “Why?” Another solution for me has been to learn to do the opposite. If I find myself “telling” or ordering, I’ve learned to “ask”. If I want something, I learn to ask someone for permission. If I want to do something, I ask what the other person would like to do, first. I’ve learned to surround my social life with people who exercise a balance of “giving and taking”, not just trying to get their way. I’ve learned it takes time to know people, Common is the saying that “First impressions are most important”, but in reality, I’ve found that’s inaccurate. I’m now a practicing illusionist magician in my retirement years. I can attest that magicians thrive on “first impressions”, but that determines our success. In time, most anyone can figure out how an illusion is performed, but a magician’s goal is to amaze and entertain spectators for the moment. Personally, my goal is to perform to bring smiles to those who don’t have them, so my work is primarily charity. Seeing people smile gives me my reward, especially children, and those afflicted.

    Reading about narcissism will, in time, provide you with a deeper understanding and awareness about what to look for, and avoid. Do we ever get completely away from serving ourselves? My answer is, not really, because all that we do can be seen in some ways to be “self-serving”. To me, the secret lies in a motive-perspective of balance, having (and witnessing) a priority to give more than receive. I may not have many friends, but the ones I do have, I see they also have “giving” as their priority.

    I sincerely hope my words offer you some clarity, comfort, and will help you change your name to a more contented character.


      Stan says January 31, 2017

      An addendum to my previous comment for clarity, “Confused”. As Kim has pointed out, narcissists can use “giving” to win over they prey. One key factor to witnessing a true “giving character” is to note if the giving is done to others, as you witness, but also if the giving involves some sacrifice. For example, a giving spirit will offer to do the dishes, so you can rest after a hard work day. The narcissist tends to be demanding, wanting to be served. He or she will eventually start having you do work for them, as they are too tired or not feeling well. Please note that I’m talking about a consistent behavior pattern, not just one or two instances.

      Narcissists are typically very hypocritical. They will tell children not to curse, but be cursing [at them] during the reprimanding. They will be too tired to perform any housework, but if a friend calls, they will be ready to leave for a visit, in a second. They will denounce the importance of money, but will want the more expensive lifestyle and dining pleasures that having money offers. They tend to love the power associated with having a lot of money, but they can spend it faster than the speed of light. To make the hypocrisy even worse, if you catch them being hypocritical and question them, they become very defensive and even deny that they said what you heard. They can become fiercely defensive in an instant at (what they consider) critical remarks. This “spontaneous rage” is common in narcissists. The rage can be so intense as to make you wonder about their emotional stability, and your own, as they will bring you to anger, as well.

      When you have endured the hypocrisy and emotional rage several times, you will really start to doubt yourself, as the blame will be placed on you. Your life becomes one of “walking on eggshells” because you learn that anything can trigger an emotional outburst at any time. Your self-doubt will be at an all-time high.

      Back to your concern about wondering about yourself. Agonizing over ourselves can be exhausting and demoralizing, especially if you’re carrying the burden of guilt for your perceived shortcomings. Again, I encourage anyone to try to focus on something positive, other than “the self”. “Confused”, please count the number of “I’s” in your comment. In your 22 sentences, I count about 28 uses of “I”, not including the uses of “me”. To get back on a healthy track, remember I commented previously about the need for a healthy balance. Rather than keep looking inward, have you thought about how much time could be spent in a more rewarding, positive way? I’m not trying to “Bible thump”, but the single most important factor in keeping our heads straight, in my experience, is realizing that we need to seek forgiveness for our human transgressions. We can’t experience “good” by dwelling on the “bad” things or by carrying a sense of guilt or need for revenge on our shoulders. Our outlook can change if we seek joy in our day rather than dwell on ourselves or the negatives.. If we’re feeling down, going out to eat or going to a store can change our focus. Helping someone can give us a renewed sense of accomplishment and confidence, providing a good feeling within ourselves.

      As our focus is directed toward positive choices with positive people, many of the concerns we are having will seem a lot less important. We should always remind ourselves that there are always others who are hurting a lot more than we are — and just maybe we might be able to help them in some way. There are a lot of animals out there who need our love, as well. A lot of them are suffering worse fates and can’t make other choices.

      Wishing you the best.

        Stan says January 31, 2017

        Oops, one last point. I have found the narcissists in my life to be very poor communicators. Narcissists are known for not having empathy; they can’t really define love. When it comes to saying they love you, they will hesitate, go to some other subject, try to laugh it off, or find some way to avoid speaking with truth in their voice. They only sound compassionate when it serves their purpose or their friend’s..

        They converse, but with gaps in communication. For example, if you tell your narcissist sweetheart that you love him or her, they’ll respond with “Me, too” or they will be speechless and just smile. Narcissists are known to give “the silent treatment” as a punishment or they just won’t ever call you to provide an explanation. They are prone to inquire about you and keep track of you through their network of past and present friends. They behave, at times, as if they are afraid to come into the light for fear you will discover how they really are. You may learn of their decisions or whereabouts “second-hand” through a neighbor or relative before they decide to tell you. They will make plans behind your back and not tell you of their actions until the last minute, if at all.

        The best example I can offer in trying to communicate with a narcissist is that you may ask to go out to dinner, and they make plans for you to see a movie, instead. You want a red dress, but you will get green sweater… typically feeding you with something on their mind, slightly or greatly off-target from what you agreed or expressed. They are “spinners”, tops at twisting the truth about events, stories, history, etc…. always seemingly expressing a diversion or making communication difficult. They may speak, but maybe not loud enough to be heard, or talk down at the ground, or away from you so you have to ask them what they said. They will try to talk over the radio or TV program they are watching as if to say, “Don’t bother me, I’m busy, right now. or “You can’t hear me? Too bad, I tried”. You will have to ask for your messages as they will not likely volunteer them until they think to tell you. (An attitude of tossing you crumbs as they are eating the cake.)

        Over time, you will get fed-up, become angry, and feel demoralized. You’ll start wondering how much they really care about you. You’ll discover that you are, more than likely, just being used to suit them.

        Hope this helps you spot who to avoid, or know when to run. Remember to give yourself time to
        see the person under as many conditions as you are able. When emotions go to “fast forward”, that’s when you’re most vulnerable — blinded by feelings.

        Confused says February 4, 2017

        Thank you.

Marion says January 25, 2017

I just a narcist relationship. Please read gaslighting, the way manupilation integrates into your system.
It is horrifying. Once you know how, you will not regret to have quit your relationship and it helps very much to recover. Step by step, but for sure!!!

Melinda says January 25, 2017

One of the things that stood out was when Kim talked about those who “play the parent”. This is something that certain people have done to me…the idea that they know what is best for me and that I’m incapable of making my own decisions about anything.

One boyfriend I had showed a lot of disapproval over my clothing, claiming that he was just trying to save me from embarrassment. There was nothing inappropriate about my clothes but I could see that it was a shame tactic.
He wanted to control me and telling me what to wear was part of that. He also complained about me wearing “too much makeup” one day when he saw me putting it on.
I hardly wear makeup! When I do, it’s usually just the basics…concealer, mascara, and lip gloss. So that comment also revealed a need for control. I often felt like I wasn’t really an equal partner in that relationship, although he was kind to me in other ways.

But in healthy relationships, people don’t try to dictate their partner’s clothing/makeup choices. Opinions are welcome but I think it’s a red flag when the person tries to tell you what to wear and constantly looks for flaws and corrects your mistakes.
That shows that they don’t respect your individuality or autonomy. Also, if the person is male and he wants you to be unkempt, another red flag. He might try to frame it as simply loving you for who you are, but I think it is more about insecurity.
Some narcissists want their wives or girlfriends to be like trophies…the “hotter” you look, the better they feel. Others, however, prefer their wives and girlfriends to look frumpy because that means your self-esteem won’t improve enough to leave them.
The guy I mentioned above was somewhat pleased that I gained weight in our relationship because my self-esteem dropped lower. He would then lecture me about diet and exercise, although he insisted on me eating large portions of food and rich desserts.

    Stan says January 26, 2017

    Strange as it seems, postings such as yours, Melinda, come at a time of mutual observation and/or experience.

    I have a neighbor who can be funny and charming, but a few days later, can turn from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde.
    We go from enjoying our conversations to my having to defend myself for living. It seems the once he gets
    enough “grapevine” information that he thinks is power over me, he verbally launches an assault on me and I
    then need to seek refuge in “The Miranda Warning”, that “Anything I say can and will be used against me”.
    Fortunately, I have the ability to counter him through my writing ability, but I can hear the “swoosh” as my
    retort is dissected into parts, some parts ignored, and others twisted.

    This relationship, by stretch of the term, has worn to a point of recognizing his recycling “calm before the storm”.
    Yesterday, I finally had terminate any communication because of his insistence on his views, spinning the truth,
    and not accepting reality. My freedom and positive outlook had to prevail from his induced psychological warfare.
    As we know, narcissists enjoy finding fault to gain access and control, then they feed on the conflict that arises from their aggression. We are always to blame.

    Your post couldn’t be more timely and welcome to concur with my observation, experience, and decision to cast
    this nosey anchor adrift and move on. His wife is nosey, too, but she’s far more passive. Being nice just doesn’t work, no matter how hard I try. A narc can tempt a “baseball bat-across their-nose” solution. I should add this man is aging, and by appearance, doesn’t look as if he will live much longer, but I’m guessing he’s frustrated at losing his power and control over people, as you mentioned. His “Jekyll and Hyde” character is now more obvious than ever. I thought of Kim’s insistence on “No contact” as being my necessary alternative at this point.

    Perhaps someday we’ll meet at some café or coffee shop and have some low calorie treat. In reality, I, too, am
    trying to maintain a healthy regimen,, just for “health’s sake”, but I sure have my weaknesses.

    Stay strong. Thanks for the post. (And thanks to Kim, for the opportunity to read it.)

    Stan says January 27, 2017

    Well said, Melinda. Some predominant flags I’ve noticed in detecting strong narcissists are — they are bossy, they can’t trust, so they have to “helicopter”, they think “white lies” are ok, and their attitude with you is “It’s my way or the highway” and/or “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine”.

    Marion says January 31, 2017

    This is also a way! first try to act as a narcist in order to be superior to him and treat him the way he does to you. (but don’t you suffer as well in the same time?) for such a long time. And then the hilarious answer of your ex when you contacted her.

    I am in the middle of having quit just 2 months ago. I cannot feel anything, no hurt, no anger, no sadness, just emptiness. As a robot but after having slept for 2 months from 19.00 until 09.00 in the morning every day, hardly any food, only drinking or yoghurt and instead of medication every day wine (very bad but I know that quitting wine is easy for me, but I do not know how kicking off from medicine will be), I regain my body strength and mind strength.
    And very lonely, not understood, nobody who believes this super kind shy human loving narcist personality could have done this.

    Alice Miller wrote the book : The drama of the gifted child and the Search to your inner self (she is swiss and I do not know if it is also in english : German titel : Das drama des begabten Kindes und die Suche nach dem wahren Selbst).
    It brings you back to your baby/childhood time where you (as the victim) reformed your life with all the pain, where you became the perfect victim for an attacker.
    It helps. And a book by Marie-France Hirigoyen (French title : L harcelement moral. La violence perverse au quotidien). It helps you to see the subtilities of how a narcist works in your work, in your family, in your relationship and how to stay away from it but how to recognise it. It is a great help to me.
    It is astonishing how many narcists there are. We cannot change them, but we can change ourselves like you do in order to become a stronger and happier person.
    Thank you for sharing your attitute!!!

    Marion says January 31, 2017

    By criticising you they challenge you to show your weaknesses, which they will use later in order to destroy you.

NeverTooLate says January 25, 2017

After going no-contact with my ex (minimal contact because of children), I have now gone no-contact with both of my sisters. The narcissist abuse described where “Female narcissists may insist on a particular (unbecoming) hairstyle for their partner or make them feel they’re clumsy and unrefined, pointing out things like how they use their silverware or carry themselves in public.” is my sister to a “T”. She constantly belittles her husband, encourages her daughters to do the same, he takes it with ‘good humour’ but I see how frustrated and unhappy he gets. My Ex Emotionally Manipulated and Isolated like a pro. My younger sister is another type of narcissist – drugs, alcohol, self-centered, egotistical with low-self-esteem is a crappy mix. Anxiety and poor health make things worse. I have initiated minimal contact with them all, I got so sick of the way they made me feel…I allowed it just because they were ‘family’. Why put myself through this again and again (and again!!). I am feeling quite alone at the moment, I guess I’m grieving for the family I never quite had. After years on a merry-go-round of abuse/fear-relief/guilt/humiliation I’d had enough and drew a line under it!!

I really wonder – how is it that I kind of turned out normal? My Mum and 2 sisters all behave in various narcissist ways (Never hear much from my mother, unless she wants something). My mother fed the narcissistic behaviour of my 2 sisters. Poor parenting (lazy, self-involved), highly critical, not one for paying compliments or telling us we were loved. Dad just drank to avoid it, he died young. I guess in every family dynamic not everyone can have their own way, which is why I learned to give instead of take. I am still trying to find myself, but I am liking that journey too.

Good luck to all of you who come here searching for answers:)

On the up-side (there is one!), I am independent and still empathetic, I take responsibility for my ‘stuff’. I have had to learn the hard way how to set boundaries and stay firm with them, but I see myself becoming a person who has more depth and understanding than she had before. I am wiser, I have good friends who support me. I am a good parent (most of the time, mistakes are OK though). I can see where I am at and why I am here.

Stan says January 23, 2017

Everybody on earth died and went to heaven.

On their arrival, God greeted the people and said: “I want the men to make two lines – one line for the men that dominated their women on earth, and the other line for the men that were dominated by their women. Also, I want all the women to go with St. Peter.”

A little while later, God returned to the pearly gates to check on progress. The women had all gone with St. Peter as he had wished, and the men were split into two lines.

The line containing men that were dominated by women during their earthly lives was 100 miles long, but there was just a single man in the line containing men that dominated their women.

Enraged by this, God said to the men: “You should be ashamed for yourselves. I created you in my image and you allowed yourselves to be controlled by your lovers or spouses.”

Turning toward the solitary man, God continued: “Look at the only one of my sons that stood up and made me proud. Learn from him! Tell them my son – how did you manage to be the only one in this line?”

“I don’t know – my wife told me to stand here,” replied the man.

Deb Strout says January 23, 2017

This is what I’ve been experiencing since June with both of my adult boys and my mother. My 28 yr old son told me that I divorced his father and was not entitled to be the mother at his wedding. His father passed away several months before his wedding. When I replied telling them that their stepmother was the new woman in their father’s life for 2 yrs prior to their father and I separating. They both told me they didn’t want to hear it and that i had lost my younger son and my older son chided in and threatened that I would lose him if I continued my craziness and spoke one more ill thing of their father. My older son has always been on my side and knows better. I was disinvited from the bridal shower and wedding and was threatened by my younger son with a restraining order when I didn’t immediately acknowledge his email disinviting me. Like I sit on my email all day. Emailing me when I’m working and don’t have access to my personal email. I ignored their crazy emails and have not spoken to them since June of 2016. I’ve lovingly reached out to them on a few occasions via phone and email at the suggestion of my counselor, however, no contact with them at all. My mother has also become a part of this and I’ve not had any contact with her either since 2 days before my son’s August wedding. I am shocked but more mad! Their father was an addict. He had an addiction to sex, porn, spending, food (400 lbs.) and was in counseling for sex addiction just prior to our separation (unknown to me) and after. Im shocked at how abusive my boys have become when they were so caring and loving and kind growing up. They were raised by me but went to live with their dad around 16 and 17. My older son came back to my home within a couple of years and was fed up with his father and eventually moved to NYC and since his dad passed away has claimed he will never come home again and if I am to see him I have to come to NYC, however, now when I try I am met with no contact. No Christmas.

Denny says January 23, 2017

My abusive ex still attempts to contact me every single holiday even after 5 years (including New Years Eve 2017). I have changed my number numerious times. I block him with an app on my phone, but somehow he still seems to get the information. I have not seen, spoken or responded to him since he choked me in September of 2013. Yet every time he contacts me even blocked it shows his number as a blocked call, I become anxious and afraid for days. If anyone has a way that I can keep him from finding out my number, please let me know. I have no idea how he keeps getting it. My only thought is one of my friends that he also knows, but I thought I blocked all of them too. Any adivce would be helpful

    Kari says January 24, 2017

    I have Verizon and found out blocking only stays in your phone for 90 days and then you need to go on the website and re-block. Its also helpful to put just a generic number voice mail that the cell service provides–not your name or your voice. Don’t answer any blocked or restricted calls. If they don’t leave a message, don’t call them back. Good luck. Stay strong. If you need, get a restraining order that strictly prohibits ANY form of communication.

    Stan says January 25, 2017

    Denny, you have described your “ex” as “abusive” and revealed that you were “choked”. Though I am not an attorney, to my knowledge, “choking” someone is against the law. Did you make any attempt to report the incident to the police? The authorities may have some advice for you as to how to deal with your situation.

    You should consider the fact that if you fail to report your aggressor’s behavior, you will continue to be anxious and live in fear, anyway, so why not take legal steps toward your safety? For no other reason, a police report provides evidence in your behalf for any future harrassment or attempted harm to you, should you encounter threats or further bodily harm. Even if there was no harm done, charges can be brought for “Attempted Assault”.

    My advice to you is to become more proactive about your situation since the intimidation is recurring in the forms of unwanted “Stalking and Harrassment”. There are now more stringent laws for “Stalking” which may apply in your case, especially, if there has been an attempt to do bodily harm to you.

    If I were you, I would write the facts as you have presented in this blog and pay a visit to your local police station for further advice before “The Statute of Limitations” goes into effect regarding the “Attempted Assault”.

    Choosing to ignore such abuse and harrassment has cost people their lives. As advised by many experts in NPD (“Narcissistic Personality Disorder”), victims need to show that they will not back down or run from narcissistic aggression. The aggressor, as you have discovered, will only likely continue to cause you misery.

    A restraining order may be necessary. Such an order may or may not be effective, but it’s a good idea to put the law on your side, early. Showing that you refuse to be a victim may offer relief from your “ex”.

    Another proactive step that may give you more confidence is to enroll in a form martial arts training. Tai Chi is a graceful, healthy form of gentle exercise which has numerous self-defense applications, provided you find a knowledgable teacher. The goal of sound martial arts is to train so we don’t have to fight. Better to be cautious and prepared, than not.

    Best wishes.

Claire says January 23, 2017

Frighteningly accurate. Clear and concise. I experienced each and every one of those things. It’s always a relief to know that it wasn’t stupidity that allowed me to become someone I never thought I would be, but vulnerability.
Although I am over a year No Contact, I still ask myself the question ‘How’? This article is exactly what I needed to read. Reprogramming takes a long time and even having read this I know in a month or two, I will come back to the same questions. But each time I feel stronger and as your article so eloquently quotes, I finally have my own voice.

    Jeff Summerhays says January 23, 2017

    Once again you have hit the nail on the head! Thank you so much for the impertinent information! I have been doing the no contact course for a couple of weeks now! It has helped me immensely! Although I am going at my own pace! I can tell that things are shifting in my mind and body! I feel like I am in a cocoon slowly being released as a beautiful butterfly! To be able to fly into a wonderful new world! Thank you again! That is just what I need the read today!!

    Kari says January 24, 2017

    Two things that have really been helpful for me, in addition to Kim’s site, are YouTube videos of Richard Grannon ( spartanlifecoach) and also Richard Skerritt’s very short read book Tears and Healing -the journey to the light after an abusive relationship. Amazing tools!
    Let’s be here for one another. We have been beat up enough. No reason to beat ourselves up!

avesraggiana says January 23, 2017

How do I go NO CONTACT from Donald Trump? He’s inescapable.

    Robbie Condit says January 23, 2017

    what a great question…

    Stan says January 25, 2017

    Very simple “avesraggiana”! Stop Tweeting!

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