It’s Narcissist Friday!
Normally, I don’t hold with an “us versus them” perspective on life. It just isn’t helpful. However, sometimes it is necessary. There are times when it is important to remember the distinction between you and someone else.
Victims of narcissists often exhibit signs of “losing themselves” in the relationship. They no longer know what they like or who they are. The narcissist is so strong, so manipulative, that the only emotions and opinions that are tolerated belong to him. A counselor or friend may hear a victim say something like, “I used to like country music, but I don’t listen to it anymore.” A friend or family member may be surprised at how the victim no longer shares any opinion, “Oh, wherever you want to go is fine.” This may be because at home there is only one opinion that matters.
Add to that the narcissist’s ability to project his own negatives onto others. “You are always so angry and critical,” the narcissist says. The victim has tried hard to be neither, but begins to wonder if the narcissist is right. Projection is a favorite tool for narcissists because it has the double value of diverting negative attention and making the victim even more compliant. Some people call this, “blaming the victim.”
There is need for the victim to begin to see himself or herself as separate from the narcissist. That may take several forms and it may require a considerable amount of personal strength. Some have to divorce, change jobs, leave a church, or physically relocate. Some will have to express an amount of anger that will disturb others. Some will use name-calling. These are all tools to begin that process of differentiating.
The narcissist de-personalizes others. He robs them of who they are and uses them as mirrors of his own pretense. The effect on the victim can be quite powerful. Other powerful means may be necessary to restore that division.
I would not suggest this in a normal relationship because I see it as a powerful tool for division, but it may begin as simply as thinking about the narcissist as him or her. That’s her opinion, not mine. That’s his thinking, not mine. I am not him. Eventually, the words may become stronger, but this simple idea of us and them may help the victim of a narcissist find the beginnings of freedom.