Harvard psychologist Martha Stout states that 1 in 25 Americans are estimated to be sociopaths! Charming, caring and highly intelligent at first meeting, a narcissist can sweep you off your feet, taking you completely by surprise when the charm wears off.
Narcissists, Sociopaths, and Psychopaths engage in a cycle of manipulation, devaluing their victims in order to create a feeling of superiority in their own lives. This can leave their victims feeling anxious, worthless, and even suicidal in some of the more extreme cases.
While some narcissists are extremely easy to spot with their ‘all about me’ attitude, others are masters of manipulation. They are able to win you over and pull you into their world, willingly toying with your emotions as necessary in order to validate their own self-worth. For many, this is a secret language that they are unable to spot until such time that they have already fallen victim, which is too late.
The abuse that narcissists inflict is particularly dangerous as it is often not even recognized as a form of abuse! It is only in recent years that mental health professionals are beginning to research and understand Narcissist Victim Syndrome, and the serious impact that it can have on the lives of survivors. This is largely characterized by intense psychological and emotional abuse, although some abusers do turn to physical abuse as well. Their ability to manipulate the way in which they are viewed allows them to easily escape accountability in most cases, charming anyone their victims may reach out to into believing that they couldn’t possibly be responsible for that level of cruelty.
This cycle often leaves victims blaming themselves, with no recourse. They struggle to put their experiences into words, and even when they can they hesitate to share them due to the fact that most outsiders cannot see this side of their abusers.
Learning the techniques and language of these individuals will make it easier to identify a narcissist before the problem becomes vastly out of control. This will arm potential victims with the ability to spot the red flags earlier, making it easier to escape their web of control. It enables those who encounter narcissistic individuals to set appropriate boundaries, protecting their own mental and emotional wellbeing.
Watch for These 5 Red Flags:
- Poor Me
They love playing the roll of the victim, with everyone around them paying attention to them, feeling sorry for them and going out of their way to try to help. Be cautious – once you have opened that door for them once, a narcissist is going to remember that and turn to you for an ongoing source of attention. This can be extremely draining! They will use phrases like “You’re so smart,” “I can always rely on you” or “I’m so confused” as a way of communicating the role that you now hold in their lives. They resist learning a way to correct or move past any of life’s problems, instead relying on someone else to constantly do all the work for them.
- Broke on Purpose
This is another technique to ensure that they are always taken care of at the expense of others. They will have excuse after excuse for why they never have a job or money available, but the truth is that they make the choice to not have to go out and find the work! Why would they, in their opinion, if they can make the people in their lives pay for their needs. The more you support them, the more you will see them coming back, sponging off you at every turn. Do yourself a favor and cut them off!
- No Energy Connection
Your body and intuition are a better judge of character than you likely give them credit for! If you find that you feel empty when you are around someone, as if there is no deeper connection than the superficial words that are being spoken, it is time to step back and reassess your relationship! They may say all the right things, with phrases like “I love you” or ”You’re so beautiful” but the words feel cold, or emotionless when they reach your ears. If your energies don’t match, pay attention, energy doesn’t lie!
- Gifts, Gifts, Gifts
You may see the fact that they are showering you in random, small gifts, as contradictory to the idea of always receiving and mooching off those around them, but these gifts have a specific purpose in their world. They use the giving of gifts and doing favors for you to manipulate you further. By giving something to you now, they believe you now ‘owe them’ and therefore are already in the palm of their hand the second that they need you. Try to remember that a gift with strings attached is not a gift!
- Help Me (Not Really…)
Returning to the love of playing the victim, Narcissists are obsessed with problems and challenges. They will call you claiming to be looking for advice, but they are never going to take anything that you offer. They aren’t really looking for your help or advice, they are simply using you as a dumping ground for all of their emotional baggage, however framing it in this way leaves you temporarily feeling good because they reached out to you at their time of need. Don’t be fooled as this can be incredibly draining!