It’s Narcissist Friday!   

Like all predators, narcissists use their environment to increase their success with victims and to protect themselves against challenges. One of the key factors in predation is environment. Predators are more successful in some environments and not as successful in others. Most hawks don’t do well in the brush of the forest, for example, so they seek their prey in the fields. Lions rarely take prey from the center of herds, but wait for stragglers. The environment plays an important role for the predator.

Abusers, narcissists included, are almost always at the center of a system or environment. They surround themselves with support and keep themselves away from threats. This is why we so often hear people say that the serial murderer next door was “such a nice man.” Even when the behavior of the abuser negates the image, the system supports it. Church, friends, co-workers, choice of neighborhoods—all become part of the environment.

Some predators simply use the environment that best suits their needs. Like the hawk over the open field, the narcissist knows which churches will support him and his desires. The service organization is carefully chosen as the place where she can “use her talents.” These environments already exist and are already useful.

Other predators build their environments for their purposes. Like a spider builds a web, abusers sometimes create the environment within which they operate. Narcissistic parents manipulate and mold their children to serve as supply. Bosses can create work environments in which subordinates are pitted against each other and all serve the boss.

But most narcissists have neither the need nor the inclination to create their system out of nothing. Instead, they adapt existing environmental factors. They find weakened prey: people longing for recognition or appreciation, people who have already been softened by other narcissists, or people who are alone and apart from support. They work in churches, organizations, and businesses already lacking accountability and supportive leadership. Narcissists are pragmatists, finding and manipulating useful objects in their lives. Those useful objects include people, organizations, and ideologies.

Legalistic church systems provide rich environments for the narcissist. Double standards for men and women, lack of accountability for leaders, demanding expectations for those under authority, and high appreciation for those who perform according to nebulous measures of spirituality—these all serve the narcissist well. Narcissists use the ideologies of these churches without owning or obeying the standards.

Some churches, to continue the example, simply pass from the hands of a covert narcissist pastor to an overt narcissist. Much of the environment was already in place. Or vice-versa. The covert narcissist looked so good after the overt that no one asked the right questions. And the weakened leadership is happy to turn everything over to the one who promises to fix everything.

The narcissist begins to adapt the church or organization or even neighborhood to become a supportive environment for his/her purposes. With a carefully chosen word or intimidating look, certain obstacles are pushed over to one side. Minor criticisms open the way for greater ones when needed. Casting suspicions and manipulating perceptions minimize the effectiveness of challenges. Doubts planted in the hearts of victims, perhaps over a period of years, help to keep the victims docile and submissive. Doubts planted in the hearts of others toward the victims, again perhaps over a period of years, prepare for any challenge from the victims.

Because the narcissist, through predatory instinct, prepares his/her supportive environment so well, anyone who challenges will find themselves enmeshed in a much larger battle than expected. Quickly, the battle turns against the challenger. The support the victim expected dissipates. The support around the narcissist seems impenetrable. No matter what accusations are brought out, they are filtered through the support environment.

“Oh, but he has always been such a good leader.” “Well, we understand that you feel hurt, but don’t you think his motives were good?” “She has been so faithful. What would we do without her?” “He has been a good neighbor; keeps to himself mostly, but quiet and friendly.” “You just don’t understand the way he does things.” These are all walls put in place by the narcissist or abuser, prepared long in advance against your attack.

Predators are creatures dedicated to competition. Their survival depends on their success. Their provision and protection come from their attention to detail and their careful preparation. When you challenge the narcissist, you will almost certainly find that his environment is already an active part of his support structure.


Filed under Church, Narcissism

37 responses to “Environment

  1. noel6119

    The xnh is now using his skills as a predator in a trailer park setting where there are lots of lonely widows. One up north and one in the south.

  2. BBGB

    Wow, this post said so much!!!! It explained a lifetime of pain. I’ve lived 40 years with my abusive, predator un-husband & it is ALL ABOUT finding the perfect environment to hunt for prey. A million thanks for this!!!

    noel6119 I can totally relate!

  3. L. Mary

    Yes…..and speaking of utilizing their environment….. I also experienced that a powerful and highly intelligent narcissist/sociopath can actually create an unconscious coven out of a group of people who are also living in rebellion and pride. People who will unconsciously cooperate with the narcissist mostly out of conformity pressure. I attended a congregation where I was brand new and one evening I showed up for the womens group. I never experienced anything like that in my entire life. A group of about 25 mostly mature middle aged women sized me up and metaphorically encircled me like animals singling out their pray. It was a strange experience and I felt very uncomfortable and intimidated but I had no idea why? I figured maybe they were protective of their group and wanted to get a better feel for a new person before that were overly welcoming. It was only late that the Father revealed to me that it was a coven of unconscious witches who were serving the chief witch. They must have known that I was a genuine servant of the God of Abraham because it felt like they knew who I was and they didn’t like it. Within a few months after that incident I left that congregation because the control and manipulation became increasingly obvious.

    • Annette

      Wow! L. Mary, you are remarkably spiritually alert and discerning! I wish more Christians were like that. Then groups and churches like the ones you describe would not flourish.

      In one Christian group it took an eye-opening experience for me to realize that the leaders were really operating in witchcraft.

    • Mary

      That is just horrible! May I ask what affiliation?

    • HisDaughter

      L Mary – Those who serve evil do recognize Him who we serve. They tend to recognize us more readily than we recognize them. I had a situation where my husband and I were socializing with people he worked with and there was one woman who I would say hello to and try to be cordial, it wasn’t like I was running up and giving her a hug like we were best friends or anything and she wouldn’t return the hello and would turn her back and walk away from me. One time we were helping at a new house the couple was buying and she stopped by to drop air mattresses off and when I answered the door you could tell she was shocked and had to regain her composure. Then she threw the mattresses at me and told me to give me to the AM. I said you can come in and give them to her there’s lots of people here helping and she said I have to go and left right away. She came back later and was around and she just stood behind a counter quite obviously ignoring me. I wanted to know what I’d ever done to her. She ended up being a predator who went after my husband and when I googled her all kinds of things came up on social media that she was a Pagan and proud of it and was also wiccan. If the Lord and his angels hadn’t been looking out for my husband (he has a habit of leaving his Christian armor off and usually at home as well) he could have gotten in a lot of trouble. Everything became clear when I realized who she was serving and why she reacted to me the say she did. Needless to say we NO longer socialize in any way with those people. My husband has to see AM at work but He greatly limits his interaction and its kept strictly professional.

  4. Wow! You could also be describing the behaviours being investigated by the Child Abuse Royal Commission. One church leader moved to the Vatican but the Royal Commission went to him. Crowd funding paid for some victims to attend the hearing in Rome. George wasn’t happy (George is too much of a distasteful man to use his church title). The “Ballarat Boys” attended with great dignity & presence. I think knowing much of the community was supporting them gave them strength.

  5. Teresa

    Such an insightful post! My N husband presents as very religious and knows the Bible extremely well. He won’t have anything to do with any counsel that isn’t overtly “Christian” nor much that is (unless it’s something that he agrees with, of course). I hadn’t fully considered how well the church environment supports him in his narcissistic behavior with teaching on submission of women, male leadership, keeping marriages together at all costs, concerns about “gossip”, high value placed upon Bible knowledge, reluctance to confront or judge another since you should be ‘taking the log out of your own eye’, teaching that we’re all hopeless sinners (so who can say that the narcissist’s sins are any worse than those of anyone else), desire for “peace”, and so much more. This is the environment that he thrives in and would feel vulnerable in any other. In the church he can use his Bible knowledge as a weapon to attack and rebut anything he doesn’t like and can win allies accordingly. It’s his home turf and he is, understandably, unwilling to take the conversation any place where he doesn’t have those built-in advantages. If only Christians who aren’t narcissists could see what’s happening rather than being manipulated for the narcissist’s purposes. Thank you so much for faithfully addressing this issue, Pastor Dave!

    • noel6119

      When I confronted nxh about his infidelity, he said, “We are all sinners!”

      • Noel… that breaks my heart.

      • noel6119

        It just proves to me that he has no idea how his actions and words hurt. He is broken. He is now 75 and I don’t believe he will ever want to change. He was either short changed at birth or in his upbringing or maybe both. A very sad situation because he has a family that loves him, but that has to be from a distance.

      • I understand what you mean, I feel the same way about my mother. I believe she is broken somehow and doesn’t have a clue about how her abuse has hurt others, especially me, her primary scapegoat. She goes to church, sings in the choir, joyfully beats people over the head with the Bible, and believes that there is no need to stop her lying and verbal abuse because she is forgiven by God.

        My mother is in her 80s, I am in my 60s, and I have been waiting and hoping and praying for her to change since she was in her 30s and I was a teenager. My reason tells me it’s never going to happen but my heart doesn’t want to let go of hope!

      • HisDaughter

        Lady Q,

        I’ve experienced the same with by my parents. It’s very sad. My mother actually also has a masters degree in psychology which you think would give her some understanding of others and insight into her own behavior but it has actually made her abuse worse because I think she now has more knowledge about how to manipulate situations, gas light, and mess with my head and ultimately my heart even more. I don’t know how people who don’t know the Lord and have the Bible to show them how things should be get through this type of thing.

      • Oooh…. I can just imagine what my momster would be like with a master’s degree in psychology. As it is, she takes the pop psychology articles she reads in her magazines and uses them to manipulate and gaslight even more. Whew. God bless you, my heart goes out to you! Where would we be without Jesus, indeed. I am feeling lonely and defeated today, some hard things are going on. It helps to be reminded that the Lord will never leave or forsake His own, and greater is He who is in me, than he who is in the world.

      • HisDaughter

        Amen. I’ve recently had to cut off all contact with my folks. It was either that or need a padded cell and have my physical health wrecked. I’ll be praying for you.

  6. Icedancer

    Sometimes I think that the narcissistic isolates his/her spouse or children…like a lion. This makes us more dependent on them, and less likely to see contrast between our toxic relationship with our N and more healthy relationships.

    This leads to profound loneliness once we understand what’s going on. It’s hard to “un-isolate” oneself when your self esteem has been eroded away over years and years.

    Thank you Pastor Dave.

  7. “He has been a good neighbor; keeps to himself mostly, but quiet and friendly.”
    This is my life. He is well respected because he doesn’t step on toes, however, for years he would malign people to me. I finally told him to stop doing this in front of the children as he was no better than the men he criticised, considering our sinful marriage. He eventually stopped but now the adult children and in-laws favor him as they are all alike. I attempted to overlook the selfishness, praying that the answer to prayer would be true repentance and a marriage and family that honored and worshiped the Lord and Savior.
    I can also relate to the comments concerning “isolation” … I was isolated for years as I raised the family … now everyone has left me, emotionally as they nurture their friendships; knowing I have very few because of my strong devotion to Jesus Christ.

  8. Having read this post, I now see why my Covert Narc-ex chose each and everyone of the churches we attended. All about him, his needs, his ‘people’, his ministry and his fake friends and leaders. I was always on the outside – never “in” thank the Lord! I despise cliques in churches or anywhere, for that matter. I was on the worship team early on in our marriage, I loved it and felt it was a privilege to lead people into the worship of God, but I did not enjoy the other people on the team – very clique-ish, and definitely not friendly to me. And that was probably my fault because I shunned them for being cliqueee! But, my ex looooved every minute of it! Always the happy, funny guy making everyone feel good – except me, of course. It was like I didn’t even exist. I had no idea what he was basing his decisions on, but now I do, so very, very crystal clear! And no matter what I suggested or preferred, it was always about him. I wish I had the time to tell you all how the Lord protected me in every situation that he (narc h) put me in, thinking he was so clever and sinister and hurtful. When all the while, my wonderful, loving, faithful God, my Heavenly Father, was protecting me from so very much. He truly held me up with His right hand…..

  9. HisDaughter

    Thank you for talking about narcissistic and predatory parents here. Many times most of the focus is on marriage relationships. Parents like this due extreme damage to their children during critical development years that have lasting impact and especially when fathers are involved distorts the view we have of our heavenly Father. This type of injury and damage doesn’t leave marks that can be seen like bruises or broken bones so getting help is VERY difficult. In my situation my parents specifically moved me away from my extended family who I spent a great deal of time with and received love and support from. When we moved I was hardly ever even able to talk to my family on the phone. We visited 3 times in the period of 8 years. My parents were always active with the youth groups to “keep and eye on” and control interaction. Churches and Christians always took their side since children are to obey their parents according to the word of God. I had a youth leader that tried to intervene at one point but my parents told him to mind his own business and I paid the price. One of the counselors I had once I left home and married was surprised that I have a decent marital relationship because women raised in these situations most often choose “drunk wife beaters” as husbands. I told her that it was by the grace of God and that I knew what I did NOT want in my family life. Parents like these are often gaslighters well into their children’s adulthood continuing to cause great mental and emotional damage. They look for opportunities when the child is most vulnerable to attack. They also get their jollies out of pitting their children against one another. It took 30+ year for my sister and I to come to the realization that our problems were not ours but our parents, specifically my mothers. My brother being 12 years younger than I and 9 years younger than my sister was greatly manipulated by my parents and behaves exactly like them. So currently, and most likely forever, I have no relationship with my parents or brother. The Lord has been kind enough to give me “adopted parents” in adulthood so that I have a parental like relationship.

    • New Creature

      So glad, HisDaughter, for what the Lord has done for you. My MIL “split” her children for about 35 years. Horrible! No “normal” mother could ever split her children! Now they realize what happened and have made a pact never to let her split them again. They are in their 50s and still feel the pain of being raised by an N mother. I, too, appreciate any conversation about N parents and how it affects the children…helps me to have compassion for my husband.

      • HisDaughter

        Thank you New Creature. It always helps to hear there are others who struggled with those type of parental relationships especially when my parents and others always said that I was wrong in my interpretation of their actions/words when I wasn’t . It’s enough to make you seek a rubber room.

  10. Val

    I so appreciate your articles Dave. You are always so insightful. It is so helpful to see the behavior examined and called for what it is. My question about the environment is this: we have 2 grandchildren ages 9 & 7 who are living 1/2 time with their N mother the other 1/2 with our son. There are other many terrible things going on. We just found out from our granddaughter that before interviews with a court appointed psychologist their mother coached them on what to say and then made our granddaughter wear a small purse with the mother’s cell phone inside recording the conversation. The kids were threatened that they would be in big trouble if their mother found out that they didn’t say what she had coached them. The kids live in fear and intimidation and they never have peace because she overwhelms their time with their dad, our son as well. We’ve searched everywhere for how to help young kids go8ng through this now but everything is about adult survivors of N parents. Do you have any advice or suggested resources? It’s been terrible and it’s worsening. What can we do now to lessen the impact, soften the stress and help the kids to be healthy and strong?

    • I don’t know if Pastor Dave will respond,
      but I know of some books and sites that may prove useful to you in this struggle. These authors have other books that may also prove insightful, but these would be a good place to start. Dr Childress is very good, but he is aimed at the professional therapist, not the parent who is struggling. I found him first, and it really helped me to understand the dynamic and how it really is not anything one thing that I did.

      Prayers and heartfelt good wishes to you in this painful struggle.

      Co-parenting with a Toxic Ex:
      What to Do When Your Ex-Spouse Tries to Turn the Kids Against You
      by Amy J. L. Baker, Paul R Fine

      Don’t Alienate the Kids!
      Raising Resilient Children While Avoiding High Conflict Divorce
      by Bill Eddy LCSW Esq

      Dr. Childress Site

      More Dr. Childress Treatment of Attachment-Based Parental Alienation 1:47:00

    • Mary

      In cases like these children were put in by their nmother, the interviewer, guardian ad-litem, attorney, judge, social worker, etc must be told so that the interview can be re-accomplished in a more controlled environment and the children protected.

  11. Janet Siegel

    This is so absolutely true. I describe it as the narc creating “satellite people”, those not super close to the narc so as not to discern them. It is also true, we who see them plainly and try to alert leadership find OURSELVES questioned because the narc has already fooled them. The stronghold for a narc is the spirit of deception. Beware!! Because that is Satan’s name in the book of Revelation.

  12. Mary

    His environment is literally to be alone or alone with only very select people allowed for certain periods of time. VERY private and very secluded.

    • Yes, Mary … I’m still here but he now travels alone – never used to do that. He is now visiting his siblings and adult children whom he never ever visited without me. He does not want to be a husband but won’t divorce for financial reasons. He now visits others — makes him appear so friendly now that he is no longer with me. He sexually and emotionally abused me. I feel so utterly used and abandoned especially since others don’t seem to care.
      He used to comment that he hated visiting others but could pull it off for awhile because he knew he wouldn’t have to be around them for long. 😦

      • Mary

        So much easier to pull off the smear campaign and setup when you’re not around, to be sure. Wondering if divorce is something you would consider filing on your own. Mine left 15 months ago, so I’m not currently in hell. Just limbo, since he has refused to cooperate in filing and I can’t afford an attorney. I don’t know what these creatures are, but they destroy. I don’t understand how one can be a “Christian narcissist.” It just does not compute.

      • Kathy

        Not sure what you mean by “won’t divorce.” A divorce is always granted, regardless of whether it’s wanted or not by one party. The REASON for the divorce may not be approved by a judge, but a divorce will be granted.

    • Kathy – These were his words to me after several months being ‘here’ but non-verbal. We sleep separately, and according to law the length of time definitely warrants that we are considered “separate”.
      2014 — I had to discuss something concerning the house and of course it leads to our present living arrangements. He said, “Look, I am not your husband. I don’t want to be a part of your hole anymore. I won’t divorce you because it would cost me too much, however if I am served the papers, I won’t challenge them.” I confronted him on his double-standards.
      He was annoyed with me talking to him and asked me to leave the living room; leave him alone. I was crying and reminded him that I too owned the house and could stay in the living room, too. That was fine he said but just don’t talk to him.
      I don’t feel prepared to move out. I’m exhausted and he knows it. I am the one always having to move. He would probably like to buy me out but I do not want to move until I can secure a decent place to live. What makes it so utterly evil is that the adult children and in-laws condone this behaviour.

      I am having trouble securing a decent lawyer. The last one spent $2000 and then returned my pkg stating that she felt I lacked confidence in her. Yeah, I did because I challenged her on the fact that she and ‘him’ had been conversing when he dropped of his paperwork and that she seemed to hint that ‘everything would work out’ (for him). He had lied to her and she would not address the issue with me but hinted that perhaps I was not ready to ‘move on’. Of course, I’m not willing to be pressured out of the house that I helped to maintain; especially if my lawyer is making it easy for the abusive one come out ahead??.
      I discovered the above info when ‘he’, the one who didn’t want to divorce, (remember) … asked me if I was stalling? He said the lawyer had told him we were to be sitting down to complete the process. I questioned him on why he was suddenly so anxious to be done? He paused and I could tell he was trying to hide info. He made some comments which proved that he knew how to play on the sympathies of this lawyer. I informed him that there was a delay because I was concerned about some issues. He could tell that he had said too much and the bluntly said, “Well, after all she is your lawyer.” … as if to reassure me that everything was okay?? I don’t think so.
      Since receiving the pkg I have had a chance to look over the documents and noticed that she has made an error. She used my mother’s maiden name instead of mine. Strange? But I am wondering if this is God’s way of perhaps helping me retain back some of my fee? I didn’t pay for her to make errors. The lawyer had also claimed she was going to make him pay for half the procedure which hasn’t happened… (I now realize that they had gone to school together; small town dynamics) 😦

      • Kathy

        Only lawyers can legally give legal advice. Seek another one.
        Also, please know that a lawyer cannot speak to your husband directly, but only to his lawyer.

      • Kathy – I’m praying about which lawyer I should seek. Not easy in a small semi-isolated community.
        Hmmm, it is obvious my past lawyer “spoke” with him. That’s the kind of gal she is and no one tells her what she can or cannot do except perhaps for another lawyer, however, as I reflect on her total self-confidence; she may not even listen to another lawyer!
        My husband has no intention of spending money on a lawyer. Remember, he won’t divorce me b/c it would cost him too much but he would fully comply if served the papers. So, in a situation like this, the lawyer would have said that she needed to discuss this with him?? Something seems wrong and I must seek better legal advice.
        I am realizing there is a lot of mind games which my daughters and extended family are also very much a part of.
        Waiting for God’s timing in all of this. (one specialist upon hearing of only a part of my ‘history’ shook his head and said, “You should write a book!”

        Thank you for patiently reading through all of this and offering the advice.
        You have definitely confirmed that my past lawyer crossed the line in speaking with ‘him’. There is a very good chance that she also emailed him as this is often how she corresponded with me.

      • HisDaughter

        You have grounds to lodge a complaint with the county or state Bar Association or with the attorney general of your state if you can’t get good representation. You can also call the Bar for a referral to an attorney. They may be able to help you find an attorney outside your town but still relatively close. What your attorney did by speaking with your husband was unethical and she could be subjected to discipline by the Bar.

      • HisDaughter — Thank you for offering even more confirmation of what I must do. I have been wanting to pursue having this lawyer disciplined but it has been difficult … it’s a small town and some like her and some don’t. I’m already being shunned because many don’t want to believe that ‘he’ is all that bad which means they don’t believe me?? These same individuals seemed quite chatty with me as long as I was considered ‘his wife’. He’s the one that several times confirmed, “I am no longer your husband.” And also for years he admitted that we were married; “on paper.” 😦 My strong conviction to keep my marriage vows, kept me here – my greatest desire was to please my Lord and Saviour.
        The evilness of “sin” is revealed in that it’s the adult children and extended family that seem so comfortable with this — they want to paint it as just a ‘bad relationship’; it’s more than that but they don’t want to bring shame on themselves for condoning it. He won’t tell others that he has told me that he doesn’t want to be my husband; just says that we argued all the time because he now realizes we are just too different. (after 40 yrs; he now realizes this?)
        I would like others to then question him and my children on why they seemed so pleased for many, many years homeschooling, giving interviews etc … AND what specifically did I do for them to all turn on me? Nobody is brave enough to do so … here I go feeling terrible but having to take legal action in order to “get on”. AND I only want to do it in God’s will and timing.

      • noel6119

        My husband said the same thing to people, that we argued a lot. It was because when I would confront him he would not be open and honest. Luckily my girls saw some of his actions. As time goes on they will have to deal with him one on one and you will not be there to buffer situations for them. They will see eventually. My girls still see and contact their father, but they all know something is not right. The best thing that I did was just focus on me (it takes constant effort). I got a woman lawyer recommended by another woman lawyer in my church. You may want a recommendation from the bar association for one that is not in your immediate town. The hardest thing is to focus when your mind is reeling and you feel all alone. There is a good forum on “narcissistic abuse recovery.com” that helped me immensely.

      • noel6119 — Thank you for more confirmation concerning the lawyers. Yes, I keep praying that the adult children will actually repent. Sadly, his parents probably gave them ‘finances’ and included them in the Will so that is why they are so loyal to him and the family.
        Praying that the blinders are lifted. I ache as my children have become so self-centered but others don’t see this; only wanting to see how successful they are at their careers.

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