advertisement
Antisocial Personality Disorder

Zombieing: A New Term in the Dating World

So now that we know what "ghosting" is, there is a new concept called "zombieing" in the dating world.  If you have read up on "hoovering", then you will know what "zombieing" is: "A Hoover is a metaphor taken from the popular brand of vacuum cleaners, to describe how an abuse victim trying to assert their own rights by leaving or limiting contact in a dysfunctional relationship, gets “sucked back in” when the perpetrator temporarily exhibits improved or desirable behavior." -outofthefog.website Essentially, "zombieing" is when an emotionally unavailable and/or abusive potential suitor initially "ghosts" on their dating partner. Then this person resurfaces months (and sometimes years later) like a "zombie" to recycle the potential relationship/contact/ego fuel.  It's akin to rising from the dead, like a zombie, and coming back for more lifeblood. Yikes! The time period between Halloween and Valentine's Day is a time when survivors of abusive relationships with a narcissist (or other types of psychological abusers) may experience what is known as a "hoover"...often times narcissists will circle back to prior sources of narcissistic supply to see if they can tap (or suction up like a vacuum) prior targets' attention/affection/adulation to fill their psychological void...be cautious and don't be tempted with a re-hook! And beware that a hoover can happen any time of the year, and often without warning!


Antisocial Personality Disorder

Seductive-With-holding and the Extreme Narcissist

"He's a cold hearted snake, look into his (uh oh)...He's been tellin' " Paula Abdul

*please note this article addresses a narcissist as being either male or female. For simplification purposes the gender pronoun is interchangeable. Narcissism does not discriminate :)

Many of the narcissistic abuse survivors I work with have become intimately acquainted with a seductive-withholding narcissist in their love life. This article serves to define and illuminate the dangers of encountering and preventing a constriction crisis...


Antisocial Personality Disorder

The Role of Gaslighting in the Trauma Bond

“Narcissists gaslight you so you begin to gaslight yourself into thinking what you are feeling, hearing, seeing and experiencing isn’t true. A narcissistic partner can manipulate you into thinking that perhaps that hurtful comment really was just a joke and that their infidelity was just a one-time thing. Many of these partners engage in pathological lying and rewrite reality on a daily basis to suit their needs and to conceal their manipulative agenda.”  ― Shahida Arabi, Becoming the Narcissist's Nightmare: How to Devalue and Discard the Narcissist While Supplying Yourself Many have heard of the term "gaslighting," a weapon emotional abusers employ to maintain or regain power and control over their victims.  The movie, Gaslight  (1944) starred Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotten. It was the first work of art to dramatically portray extreme narcissistic abuse and the cunning and calculating tactic of gaslighting, designed to elicit maximum confusion, or cognitive dissonance, in its victim.   The Movie, GASLIGHT: Ingrid Bergman's character experiences a whirlwind romance with the Charles Boyer character, the latter of which very insidiously begins to inflict psychological abuse. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the gaslights in the new couple's home flicker. Bergman notices this phenomenon, and yet Boyer denies and negates the reality of the situation, suggesting ever so subtly but then more intensely that Bergman is going mad. She begins to doubt her own reality of the situation and believes the insinuations of her lover. Bergman is not aware that Boyer is in fact calculatingly and premeditatedly flickering the lights himself, so as to intentionally cast doubt and create cognitive dissonance in Bergman. Boyer's character also isolates Bergman from any social support system, so that she is dependent upon Boyer to be the translator of her reality. She increasingly loses trust in her own capabilities of discerning the reality of the situation, which results in anxiety, hopelessness, despair, and dependence on her captor. In turn, Boyer can remain in power and control in the relationship, however sadistically he positions himself. How Gaslighting Manifests in Relationships: In modern times, we may not have gaslights, but we do unfortunately encounter emotional abusers who deploy gaslighting tactics in work, community, family and love relationships. When an individual is involved in a love relationship with an abuser, initially, the perpetrator's intentions of power and control and not readily known to the new love object. Oftentimes, a period of idealization typically occurs whereby a honeymoon stage ensues, and the target falls genuinely in love with (unbeknownst to her) the emotional abuser.  Ever so gradually, the extreme narcissist deploys their emotional abuse arsenal of weapons. Gaslighting is almost always one of those tactics. Denying or negating doing or saying something that actually took place is the most common form of gaslighting. The abuser then subsequently moves on to cast blame and doubt at the target for "misperceiving" the situation. Gaslighting's Role in the Trauma Bond: The result of gaslighting is always a sense of confusion and feeling off balance. When a survivor of extreme narcissistic abuse is reeling from the aftereffects of gaslighting, they are said to be experiencing cognitive dissonance. What this means is that the survivor is holding two contradictory thoughts at once in her mind, such as "I love this man, but he is confusing me and making me doubt my perception of reality." By the time a survivor is experiencing cognitive dissonance, he/she has fallen madly in love with his/her abuser and are only beginning to recognize that there are some very real red flags of extreme narcissistic abuse proceeding forth. When gaslighting is woven into the fabric of the emotional abuse, the survivor is further confused and tends to seek comfort from the source of her pain, her captor. A trauma bond forms in which the source of pain is also the soothing agent, reinforced by many vicious cycles of binding the target to the captor through emotional abuse tactics such as gaslighting. Reducing Cognitive Dissonance is a Key Piece in Trauma Recovery: Survivors of narcissistic abuse can and do heal from the effects of gaslighting and cognitive dissonance by embarking on a journey of self-care which includes going No Contact with their abuser, entering psychotherapy with a skilled and trained trauma-informed therapist who understands narcissistic abuse recovery, and working through the traumatic grief associated with narcissistic abuse. Recovery also involves connecting with a trusted support circle and developing safe, healing relationships, in addition to practicing self-soothing exercises to release trauma (yoga, expressive arts, etc). Recovery is multi-faceted and also includes restoring self-worth and investing in present and future goals. With qualified help, survivors heal and move forward to reach a place of balance and restoration of their emotional health and wellness. *please note that the survivor of narcissistic abuse can be either male or female, as can the abuser. *


Antisocial Personality Disorder

What is Narcissistic Projection ?: A Blame-Shifting Tactic of the Extreme Narcissist

 So many of my clients who have had the misfortune of being in a romantic relationship with a narcissist most definitely possess the qualities of high emotional IQ. By that I mean, often targets of malignant narcissists imbue the highly sought after qualities of authenticity, integrity, compromise, accountability, empathy, reciprocity and the capacity to love on a mature level. An emotional abuser actually seeks to entangle him/herself with love objects who possess the very personality characteristics they are lacking.

Remember, a malignant narcissist essentially operates with a psychological void, whereby his/her existence is predicated on extracting narcissistic supply from significant others. Inevitably, the narcissist cannot maintain the facade s/he has masterfully crafted in the idealization stage. So when the inevitable idealize/devalue/discard cycle occurs, the survivor of abuse is often stunned when her former partner projects his repressed emotions onto the love object. Projection was originally coined by psychoanalyst, Sigmund Freud, as a state in which a person defends himself against his own unconscious impulses, emotions, or beliefs by denying their existence in themselves while attributing those qualities to a significant other/family member/person. In the survivor community, projection is also called "Blame-Shifting." In other words, the narcissist may have certain feelings buried or repressed within themselves but because they are so cut off from being introspective and having the ability to generate insight about their emotions, often a narcissist will essentially verbally vomit up (or project) their feelings onto their love object. (Yes, the image of projectile vomiting applies here). Often this blame-shifting happens when a narcissist has experienced a narcissistic injury or a boundary was set by their partner, thereby resulting in the narcissist feeling a sense of loss of control/power. For example, Sally responded to Jeff's flirtatious texts. Jeff made it clear he was looking forward to meeting up with Sally when he was in town on a business trip and looked forward to rekindling their romance. Sally responded to Jeff's "hoover" with some trepidation. She remembered prior cycles of idealize/devalue/discard with Jeff. It had been so long though, so she felt she should give him the benefit of the doubt and see if he had changed in a mature fashion. So Sally set a clear healthy boundary with Jeff that she would only visit with him on the condition that he show sustained ability to be honest. Seems like a normal enough request. However, to the extreme narcissist, a healthy boundary or limit incites a narcissistic injury, or major blow to their fragile ego.  Fortunately, Sally would later learn that she dodged a bullet with an extreme narcissist. When Sally responded to Jeff's flirtation and expressed interest in seeing him, Jeff abruptly responded with anger and disgust that Sally would want to re-engage on a romantic level. Out of the blue, Jeff projected his repressed and buried feelings onto Sally. "You can't get over me. I am not that into you. I am only interested in friendship. Why are you reading into things? You obviously have feelings for me."   Sally was stunned. Jeff was not only denying his feelings for her but projecting his repressed emotion onto her, blame-shifting. Jeff, as an extreme narcissist, could not handle feeling close emotionally to someone he was attracted to and instead felt his alarm bells going off. So he engaged in seductive-withholding behavior  to protect himself from getting hurt. Basically everything he projected onto Sally was really how Jeff was feeling on a deep level. He just could not own his feelings on an authentic, honest level. A healthy, mature individual who is capable of true intimacy would banter back and forth in flirtation and follow-up with actions of integrity and authenticity, confirming and validating their attraction to their significant other, gradually and slowly building trust. An extreme narcissist is terrified of vulnerability and losing control. Expressing one's most intimate feelings for someone is too revealing for an extreme narcissist to consciously own and express, so s/he becomes highly defended and projects their subconscious feelings onto their partner. So what is Sally to do? Unfortunately, Jeff is not just an individual with narcissistic "traits" that might be worked through with some intensive therapy. He is much further on the spectrum of narcissism and is cut off from his own feelings and incapable of authentically owning his repressed emotions. Sadly, Jeff has pretty significant limitations with what he can offer Sally. She is better off cutting her losses and moving on to date someone who can reciprocate the mature love she is capable of expressing and maintaining.  For further reading, I suggest: Brown, Sandra (2010). Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of Inevitable Harm with Psychopaths, Sociopaths, and Narcissists. ​(* a version of this article first appeared in the author's blog, From Andrea's Couch)


Page 1 of 6123...Last »