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12 Ways Narcissists or Sociopaths Reveal a Pathological Intent to Harm

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Truth, common sense and wisdom are targets narcissists intentionally attack, thus the need know what tactics narcissists use, and how to protect our minds and hearts from these is real.

The term “narcissist” has become commonplace, too often used to mislabel persons who are demanding or trigger us, we may not agree with or approve, or even more likely, may be targets of narcissistic blame-shifting themselves. 

It is best reserved for persons that meet the actual diagnostic criteria in the DSM for narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) — or its more extreme version, antisocial personality disorder (APD), also known as psychopathology or sociopathology. Why? 

Casually labeling persons as narcissists plays right into the hands of “real” narcissists and psychopaths. Narcissistic personality disorder is a thought disturbance. Together with its more serious and extreme counterpart, antisocial personality disorder (APD), these two diagnostic categories are distinct in that they speak to persons whose lust for power to subjugate and exploit makes them dangerous to others in varying degrees, and in the case of psychopaths, society at large. 24 /7 to recruit others as witting or unwitting accomplices to do their dirty work, to demoralize and isolate those they target away from their community of friends and family. They also know how to provoke a female partner to act in ways, i.e., angry outbursts, that are not socially acceptable for women, or in cases of domestic violence, to get physical, and set them up to be charged with domestic violence if she calls the police. 

In varying degrees men are trained from boyhood to think of relationships in overall rigid terms as dichotomies between topdogs and underdogs, rather than what they are — the most vital life task of every human being. They learn overall, for example, to regard sex as the only “love” that is “manly” (a message reinforced by the porn industry), and thus to mistrust the “soft love stuff,” i.e., nonsexual affection, closeness or partnership relating, etc., that women typically want as not only “emotionally crazy,” but also dangerous, emasculating, potentially signals that the “weaker” sex wants to disarm, emasculate and takeover as topdog. The socialization of boys is cruel and traumatizing; it is designed to train the male gender to feel shame and disgust for their own critical capacity of empathy, without which healthy relating to self and others is not possible.

Gendered roles for men have a traumatizing impact, in effect dehumanizing on men, but also women and society at large. Men are shamed from boyhood to learn to hate, deny and divorce themselves, from their own yearnings to feel emotions of vulnerability in relation to self and others. They are warned to guard against expressing human impulses of empathy, caring or kindness, all of which are traits that are linked with weakness and those the powerful deem weak — and are entitled to exploit — such as women and children, weak men and other groups.

In his article The Man Box and The Cult of Masculinity, Derrick Jensen states that for all of us, male and female, to free ourselves from the lies the “cult of masculinity” uses to divide and conquer, we must first understand the rules for men in this cult are not natural (biological) as mainstream textbooks imply, rather a cultural construct that has been devised and employed for thousands of years by oligarchs to justify the means they use (i.e., rob, rape and pillage) to impose misogynist social orders in which a few rule over the many. Multifaceted cross-cultural historical and anthropoligical studies in the last five decades prove otherwise. And so do advances in studies of cognitive neuroscience now give us hard evidence, no longer theory, that human brains are moral by design, as a feature of “mirror neurons” and our health, happiness and survival depend on learning to make wise choices in how we relate and treat our self, mind and body, and others. 

Narcissists are masters of disguise. 

In other words, NPDs and APDs are adept at projecting, accusing, shifting blame (for what they do!) onto their partners, and destroying, ignoring or denying evidence that dominance and violence are not “necessary evils”! And their work is also conducted by narcissist trolls all over the internet.

A narcissist and psychopath whether male or female identifies strongly with an internalized misogynist belief system, and specific intentions to prove dominance and superiority, and thus feels entitled to take over and control the mind of another with any means necessary. In every institution whether it’s a family, church or school, etc., where a child is in danger sexually and physically, there is a good ol’ boys network of traumatized men, in which traumatized women may also participate wittingly or unwittingly, to hide and preserve the entitlements rights of authority figures — and not children.

It’s a set up for abuse of all vulnerable populations, in addition to women, children, “weak” or gay men, nonwhites, and among others, even the elderly and handicapped. The #MeToo Movement has only scratched the surface. There are many other movements linked to the “cult of masculinity” phenomenon, for example the movement to stop sexual abuse of children in the Catholic church, of athletes in sports and university settings, of women in domestic violence situations, of young persons abducted for slave trafficking, and so on. 

So how does a narcissist reveal himself? In the same way that all persons do. We become our habits and habitual behaviors. Not just occasional, here and there. Our habits reveal what we derive pleasure from, most value, most want. 

Narcissists reveal who they are by what they do,not what they say.

Here are twelve actions that narcissists take that reveal a pathology that poses harm or danger to others: 

1. They use gaslighting to derail any attempt of another to feel fully human, as separate beings with needs, wants, dreams of their own.  

Narcissists regard kind, loving, caring persons as not only inferior and weak, but also dangerous and emasculating to those in authority positions. They live in a topsy turvy world in which everyone is either a hunter or prey. In other words, they lie, lie, lie to themselves and one another about what is normal in human relationships. These lies are not just the “normal” lying most use at least occasionally, i.e., to defend or avoid conflict and so on. They gaslight. And gaslighting is a form of lying, a fear-elevating communication tactic, proven in scientific studies, to cripple the otherwise amazing abilities of the human brain to think, more specifically, to derail any attempts of a partner to emotionally connect as a real live human being with a voice, yearnings, wants, dreams of her own. He sees his job as training her to think, do, feel, say what serves or pleases his needs and interests. Anything else he perceives as a threat!

From boyhood, men learn to be on guard, know they are being watched carefully by men as well women, to make sure they prove they are men by exhibiting traits of rigid masculine gender roles, aggression and control, and in particular no remorse for depriving the woman in their life of feeling valued and fully human, with needs and wants of her own. In couple relationships, the use of gaslighting is a common practice, an example of tactics that even otherwise amazing “good” guys methodically apply to keep their spouse or girlfriend in her place, literally, by shutting down her every attempt to emotionally connect in humanizing ways.

So learn the signs of gaslighting, and save your energy, by letting go of wanting a narcissist to “get” or “understand” the situation you are in — the only prerequisite is that you understand and “get” it, and protect your mind and heart!

2. They lie feeling entitled to do so to prove their superiority.

Narcissists lie as a way of life. They say one thing, yet do another. They often speak in code, amongst one another. They say the word love, they mean sex. They view concept such as soulmates or partnership relations as bait to trap women. To them, it’s nonsense or “emotional craziness” associated with the “weaker” sex. Every “real” man is supposed to only need sex, a form of love that is manly — and it’s his job to “fix” her so that she only serves as a extension of what pleases and doesn’t threaten him! Get to know what they really mean by what they do, and what a narcissist means when he says “I love you” to his partner, and take nothing they say at face value. It is all designed to confuse, derail, diminish another’s sense of agency and worth. It’s beyond what most human beings would ever suspect.

This also explains narcissists’ systematic use of gaslighting. In his mind, he’s proving that women are “emotionally crazy” due to their obsession with “love stuff,” and yet this love stuff supposedly also makes women dangerous, fierce competitors, who are trying to con and strip men of the emotional detachment that protects and keeps them virile, strong, impenetrable — you know, just like Delilah and Samson. As a tool, gaslighting is designed to dominate, domesticate, train a partner to feel their wants and needs and voice are irrelevant, selfish, invisible, undeserving of attention, and so on. Make no mistake, it is a tried and true tactic, however, it is only effective on those that are unaware or disarmed by gaslighting and other con-acts, such as “love bombing” (a narcissists attempt to act like a normal, empathic human beings)!

According to author Derrick Jensen in A Language Older Than Words, the problem is rooted in the “cult of masculinity” that strategically works to explain violence as normal and evidence of “real” masculinity or strength, superiority of male sex, but also dangerous entitlements to benefits that include exploiting and harming those they arbitrarily deem inferior, weak, feeble. In the case of this article, this refers to male entitlements over female, however, these cult practices are responsible for all institutional violence, as they rationalize physical, emotional and, or sexual violence of those in authority positions against whatever group is targeted, for example, children, gays and nonwhites, among others, often within the very institutions that supposedly exist to protect them, such as family, church, education, athletics, government, and so on.

3. They believe violating the rights of a partner is proof of their superiority.

Narcissists do not see their partner, or women in general, as human beings. This more than anything else explains why they act entitled to treat women (perhaps also other groups, children, gays, nonwhites, other religions, etc.) as having no right to voice an opinion, make a request, ask to be treated with dignity. They do not see a woman partner as human. In many cases the domestic violence is mostly or perhaps solely emotional abuse, a form of emotional abuse that is separate and far more severe than the usual tongue lashings of parents scolding, shaming children into obedience (although this is also abuse, and harmful as well).

Trying to get a narcissist to understand that they should stop what they do because it hurts you or your relationship, or another person, often leads to, as one of my clients put it, a “conversation from hell.” That’s because: To argue with their points causes more not less confusion, self-doubt, disconnect from common sense. Narcissists know this well. They want you to argue over the points they make, or their accusations. Time and energy are precious. Do not waste them. Narcissists intentionally violate and abuse a parter, using the tactic of gaslighting to get into their mind to subjugate their will, control what they think, feel and believe about self and their abuser. Ultimately the goal of narcissistic abuse is to inflict on their partner the same topsy-turvy worldview they hold — one in which the abuser is infallible master and justified in all they do to include abuse, whereas their victim is ever to blame, deserves, even caused their own abuse.

4. They display outrage if their “right” to mistreat or hurt another with impunity is questioned.

Narcissists reveal themselves by the way they automatically react to even hints that they hurt or mistreated a partner, or a request for some understanding or attention to the other’s wants or needs. Telling a narcissist that they faltered in any way is likely to get a violent reaction, a fit of rage, physical and, or emotional abuse, stony silence or punitive treatment that lasts for hours or days. They may leave the house for an extended period of time, or react violently just to have an excuse to leave or do what they wanted anyway. This reveals the dehumanizing view they hold of others, and sadly of human relationships. In their mind, those in authority never engage or want mutual understanding, they never cooperate, and they always view a partner’s attempts to gain their cooperation as a dangerous ploy women use to subjugate and turn men into women.

The violent reaction by the way is intentional, itself part of a strategy. It’s how “those in authority” are supposed to use fear-based tactics, in this case, cold anger or rage, to train those deemed weak to keep their place. In their mind, your relationship is a boot camp, and the narcissist is the drill sergeant and you’re a recruit who needs to be subordinated to obey upon command. Narcissists hold a “might makes right” view of this world, which forms the basis of the thought disturbance associated with both narcissistic and antisocial personality disorders. It is a worldview that strategizes 24/7 to destroy any evidence, or persons or groups, which promote ideas of mutuality, compassion-based relationships, cooperation, self-governance, human rights and dignified treatment for all human beings. This is why narcissists hate and fear the truth like nothing else. It threatens their existence because the core of what they believe is simply founded on house-of-card lies. Protect yourself and guard your mind from a narcissist’s lies, and hold fast to the truth of who you are, first of all, as a human being, with needs for your love and acceptance. 

5. They obsessively gather intimate data that a partner discloses to fulfill the aims of their con game.

Narcissists gather data and take note of what a partner reveals are her dreams, wants, likes, and gives special attention to what she shares are her weaknesses, wounds, and details of previous partners and relationships. Narcissists listen carefully, especially at the start of a relationship, but it is never to understand a partner’s heart; it is rather to gather data to fulfill the aims of their exploitation schemes. Narcissists have also studied women as a group (as well as other groups they deem weak) in order to use words and for bait-and-switch traps for them. It’s easy. Most women love to talk, and engage in taking turns talking about self with friends a lot. Now they do so on social media. So there’s even more data to use to entrap. For example, they know women are looking for soulmates, spiritual guys, and they know women hunger for attention, compliments, feeling close, emotional connection, partnership relationships, and so on. (Expect to find a lot of narcissists hanging around churches and websites centered on soulmates, or women who call themselves empaths.) Narcissists may use the information about a woman’s dream job or relationship, for example, to strategize how to deprive and block her success in big and small ways. A covert narcissist may do so in hidden ways by making it more difficult, or may support her, but does so to promote his own image, and take credit for her success, or her as a trophy by his side.

Narcissists also make direct strikes where they know a partner has been most wounded in childhood or a past relationship. For example, it’s common for narcissists to “force” a partner to have sex against her will, despite that she revealed her experience of being sexually abused as a child, i.e., by making her feed bad for not doing her duty, or threatening to have sex with other women, etc. Or he goes out of his way to flirt with other women, make his partner feel threatened, doubt herself, knowing she experienced infidelity in the past, or gets upset when he flirts or gawks at other women. A narcissist goes out of his way to misrepresent his partner, or what she stated were her thoughts and dreams, for example, he may use what she said to accuse her of being selfish or caring only about her success, or make her feel absurd, crazy or evil. Narcissism is a serious pathology, a worldview that causes much suffering for those around them. Seek help to protect your mind, whether the reasons to leave are real. There is no pathology less “normal” for human beings. To the extent a narcissist hates and feels scorn for human traits of love and caring, kindness and compassion, in himself and others, keeps himself walled off from all that brings beauty and meaning — and some semblance of normalcy — to human life. 

6. They employ scientifically proven, fear-based tactics to terrorize a partner into feeling irrelevant, voiceless, invisible.

A narcissist knowingly uses tactics that elevates cortisol in the brain and body of their victims. When this occurs, the body’s survival system is activated, and automatically, thinking areas of the brain go offline. In other words, fear and confusion cripples the brain’s otherwise amazing capacity to think reflectively. This makes it easier for the narcissist to get away with lies and illusions. Narcissists were exposed to many of these tactics of dominance, and learned the rules of “real masculinity” in childhood. They also typically study methods of persuasion, and the use of words and language as a tool to exploit others. Today, we have nearly a century’s worth of science-based methods in thought control available, perfected in the last few decades with studies of neurolinguistic programming. These are commonly used in training workforces in most all industries and sectors, among others, advertising, sales, military, politics, and so on. or sociopath reveals himself in the specific outcomes they achieve in using a specific set of tactics that knowingly cause their partner to lose their sense of self in the relationship, and overall feel voiceless, invisible, irrelevant, to blame for the narcissist’s “unhappiness” or what’s gone wrong in the relationship, yet also confused because they cannot believe the love he professed was never real.

With covert narcissists, the use of these tactics can remain well hidden, and they prefer to operate by making themselves look like “laid back good guys” who have to live with an angry, emasculating wife that makes their life miserable. They know how and when to trigger a partner to complain or have an outburst of anger, and then blame her and turn others against her, or get them to side with him. In all cases, this is narcissistic abuse, and it is separate and more severe than what we also refer to as emotional abuse. If you’re experiencing this, get professional help from someone who has experience in the area. To protect your sense of agency, a first step is to let go of needing any validation or approval from the narcissist. One of their aims, after all, to hook their prey on needing their approval or validation.

7. They expect a partner to take pleasure in being used as a punching bag.

A narcissist lives in misery, self-loathing inside, and misery loves company. They cannot stand the sight of happy, cheery and successful persons, and  hatred stems from the hatred and disgust they feel for any signs of weakness in others, and thus themselves. The narcissist not only takes pleasure in hurting or making their partner feel bad, i.e., selfish, spinning their wheels, failing to make them happy, and so on, they also hold a perverse believe that their partner, or women and the “weak” in general, admire them for dominating or keeping them in their place, and overall take pleasure in being used as punching bags, objects for their pleasure. To break free, the first step is to understand, and believe that a narcissist is hooked on hurting and using others as a punching bag, that’s all the supply they need to keep their false-self superiority over others game going. This explains why it’s impossible to make them happy or rescue them from their misery and fragile sense of security. 

8. They seek to separate their partner from all they love or makes them thrive.

The narcissist takes pride in honing skills that condition a partner with fear and shame, confusion, self-doubting, scared to act on their own, so that they drop what they once associated with happiness, fulfillment, strengths, talents, such as a job, career, parenting, hobbies, and so on. They take pleasure in competing for power to outsmart and block you from realizing your goals for positive growth as individuals and a couple. They cannot stand a partner feels happy or fulfilled, admired, or has any pleasure for that matter apart that doesn’t please the narcissist; they want to keep you obsessed on rescuing them from misery or their addictions, such as pornography or affairs. The secret to outsmarting a narcissist is not trying to, refusing to play by their subhuman rules. Be human, connect to your heart, cultivate the authenticity of your connection to your self and life around you. Learn to control only what you can and let go of the rest, i..e., the narcissist; it is a waste of your energy, not worth the anger build up or headache.

9. They seek to isolate partners away from family and friends.

Narcissists use an array of fear tactics to isolate their partners away from persons who love and care for them. This is part of their strategy to take control and put them in a state of dependency on them. Thus, narcissists work systematically, some overtly but others covert and undetected, to make a partner question family members and friends, at every opportunity, to doubt their loyalty and support, to question your sanity, and rewrite your history, and question their motives. Simultaneously, they may instill others with doubts about a partner’s emotional stability, pull out a diagnostic label or two, i.e., bipolar or borderline, and even actually set up their partner to   look controlling, demanding, emotionally unstable by triggering them. Know how to protect your mind and heart from the goals of a narcissist partner.

10. They regard their “partners” as possessions or objects pleasure.

In their worldview, narcissists regard women as objects for the pleasure and comfort of men. In effect, narcissism is a love deficit, a wound so traumatizing to the person that their brain capacity to empathize and feel genuine sense of pleasure from loving another is zonked, and in its place are elevated levels of guarded aggression. Their brain treats their relationship with you, as a partner, as it would living in a jungle or a war zone. They are conditioned to believe that it’s a woman’s job to make a man feel like a man by meeting his pleasure needs, and that it is both emasculating and dangerous for a man to “give in” to the emotional closeness a woman wants. This explains why a narcissist sees a woman as someone who is a fierce competitor, vying for power to dominate, and that he must get her before she gets him. So they willingly “stoop down” to the level of those they exploit, much like an actor on the big screen, as long as it is part of their con game, one that, in their pathological mindset, proves their superiority and prowess over you.

Remember they’ve studied women, and learn to speak their “emotional connection,” “soulmate,” “partnership” lingo, to say and do, and to disguise themselves accordingly. They also hang out at churches and spiritual websites, and so on, so ladies, remain on guard to not be fooled! And they “love bomb” women as part of their con game — knowing what women want to hear, they put on a “act” of saying loving things, or empathizing and so on, to bait and switch and trap, but also to disarm accordingly. So guard your hearts and minds ladies, trust your gut. If someone says they “love” you, yet expects you to be okay with being abused, doing something that compromises your values, or you find sexually distasteful or uncomfortable, it’s not love — it’s hatred of human truth and common sense wisdom. Run!

11. They feel disgust for human emotions of empathy.  

Narcissists reveal a pathological disconnect to the emotion of empathy and empathic connection by the level of disgust they express whenever a partner tries to tell them something they felt hurt by something the narcissist did! Even in therapy settings for couples, narcissists self-identifyAutomatically, they gaslight to derail the conversation! Contrary to what we once thought, the narcissist can and does express empathy — but only “stoops down” if they think there is some benefit for them to do so, such as to con, to trick, to perform or trap someone they are preying on. Based on their worldview, this and other “human caring” traits disgust them! They grew up in environments where they learned to feel shame and disgust for these “soft human” traits, associate them with women and children, and other groups, i.e., gay that those in positions of authority,  the strong and mighty, are destined (in their mind) to prey upon, exploit and abuse — as proof of their superiority. This reveals the pathology of their thought disturbance, which occurred as a result of early traumatic experiences.

For narcissists, it is an act. They are merely “stooping down” to prove their superiority by using this as a decoy, a tactic to exploit another. This “love bombing” is part of the con game of most narcissists. To them, the fact that women can be fooled in this way is proof the female gender’s inferiority, and proof of the male gender’s superiority and right to dominate, treat a woman like a possession. Using empathy is a bait and switch power-over-another tool used intentionally to deceive, impress, ensnare. 

12. They believe the ability to con others into serving their interests is evidence of their superiority.

Narcissists have honed skills of dominance, practiced them with men from boyhood, perhaps also in the military. They believe women are less than human, and it’s men’s jobs to domesticate them, like animals, i.e., horses, to keep their place, never question the narcissist and become obsessed with his happiness and comfort.  entitled, serving at their pleasure — training her to disconnect from her own needs, wants, feelings, voice, dreams, etc. Their gaslighting reaction is automatic, repeated, predictable, punitive, and over the top, and it serves to train a woman to disconnect from her needs for closeness, to be treated with dignity, like a human being. Gaslighting can render a person speechless, baffled. It’s not occasional, here and there, but repetitive! And it’s not arguing, it’s a 180 degree shift that derails what a partner brought up to the list of things a narcissists uses to make his partner feel bad, small, undeserving, irrelevant, crazy, and so on. A partner merely asked if he’d spend a little more time with her or one of the children, no big deal, right? Wrong! Suddenly he’s conned her into spinning her wheels, reeling from being accused of belittling him as a father, desperately trying to prove she didn’t mean to do that, by listing example after example of all the ways she thinks he’s such a great provider and father, and so on!

** The word “narcissist” here is used interchangeably with “psychopath,” thus reflects a range of intent to harm others on one end of the scale that meet the diagnostic criteria of NPD, to the more serious harm to others that meet the criteria of APD on the other end of the scale.

 

12 Ways Narcissists or Sociopaths Reveal a Pathological Intent to Harm

Athena Staik, Ph.D.

Relationship consultant, author, licensed marriage and family therapist, Dr. Athena Staik shows clients how to break free of anxiety, addictions, and other emotional blocks, to awaken radiantly healthy lives and relationships. Dr. Staik is currently in private practice in Northern VA, and writing her book, What a Narcissist Means When He Says 'I Love You'": Breaking Free of Addictive Love in Couple Relationships. To contact Dr. Staik for information, an appointment or workshop, visit www.drstaik.com, or visit on her two Facebook fan pages DrAthenaStaik and DrStaik


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APA Reference
Staik, A. (2018). 12 Ways Narcissists or Sociopaths Reveal a Pathological Intent to Harm. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 18, 2018, from https://blogs.psychcentral.com/relationships/2018/08/how-a-narcissist-or-sociopath-reveal-himself/

 

Last updated: 31 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 31 Aug 2018
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.