There is lots written about why verbally abusive men and women do what they do. They are lonely, afraid of being abandoned, insecure, have low self esteem, lack control of their inner world and try to compensate in the outer world, they were abused themselves as children and so on.
Sometimes these things allow a victim to make sense of what is going on or sympathize with the abuser and it even means that many stay in the relationship because the abuse is somehow excused away or justified. "I was abused as a child, I can't to anything about that so you just have to accept me as I am."
The above motivations may be true in some cases. However, there is another group of abusers who are cruel and nasty to their partners in order to control and dominate. It's this group of verbally abusive men and women that I want to discuss here. These people have relationships that are based on coercion and deceit with a view to exploiting others.
I am talking, of course, about verbally abusive men and women who have personality disorders, in particular antisocial personality disorder and narcissistic personality disorder.
Maybe you have worked this out already, but if this seems a bit far fetched to you (you think your partner couldn't possibly be a psychopath or a narcissist!) then bear with me for a minute. Let's look at what these terms mean.
A psychopath is a person who has no empathy, no conscience. They do not experience guilt, remorse, shame, fear, love, embarrassment or regret. I know this sounds fantastic, but that's what a psychopath actually is. There are people who do not have the full range of human emotions, one of the significant things that differentiates us from other animals.
What does this mean? It means that a psychopath can do anything they like and they never feel bad about it. This means they can abuse, torture, take advantage of, torment and even rape or kill others and they do not get upset by it. The suffering of others does not bother them. Needless to say, this is very significant.
The other major thing about psychopaths is that they have a big ego, a huge sense of entitlement. This means they consider themselves to be superior to others and that they should be allowed to have whatever they want.
So if you consider these 2 things together, the lack of emotions and the extreme self centeredness, you can see that we are dealing with something that is very different from someone who is a bit jealous, or someone who is lonely and afraid of losing a partner or a person who is lacking in self confidence. (If you scoffed at the idea of your partner being someone who is lacking in self confidence, then you are probably on the right track reading this page!)
When dealing with verbally abusive men and women who are psychopaths, the rules of the situation are completely different from a normal, healthy relationship and it's vital that you find out what those rules are if you want to get out intact.
A narcissist is similar to a psychopath with the addition that the narcissist craves praise, compliments and adoration and if you are in a relationship with a narcissist, then you are expected to be the source of this narcissistic supply. In other words, your job is to continually massage that huge ego as well as provide everything the narcissist wishes for and desires.
If the verbally abusive men are psychopaths or narcissists, then there are certain things that you have to keep in mind.
- They are experts in psychological abuse and manipulation
- They do it on purpose
- They never change. There is no treatment for psychopathy
- They change people's personality
- Once you have been in a relationship with a psychopath, you are very vulnerable to being caught in relationships with other verbally abusive men and women in the future.
Let's look at these things in more detail.
The psychopaths and narcissists are all the time manipulating people around them. They often learn by experience. If something works to manipulate others they do more of it. If something does not work, they just drop it. The thing to remember here is that these verbally abusive men have no shame or embarrassment. That allows them to try out all sorts of things, no matter how outrageous. If it doesn't work out, they don't care! They just move onto the next thing. This allows them to practice and hone their manipulation skills.
As they get older, they typically improve their abilities to deceive and manipulate people. Even children as young as 4 or 5 are often realizing that they are not hampered by emotions and they learn that they can get away with all sorts of things because they see that the adults around them don't suspect a young child of doing outright nasty things. And they just get worse from there!
The end justifies the means is a common theme among the psychopaths. They act whatever way they like because it simply gets them what they want. That's what it's all about for these types, instant gratification. They pay little attention to future consequences which often makes them appear stupid, because they seem to repeat the same mistakes, even if they have been caught out in the past. It's not that they are stupid, they want what they want and they don’t care about the consequences. Obviously most of them are savvy enough to not get caught for things that are obviously illegal because they don't want to lose their freedom. They really don't like being told what to do and they flout the laws and rules on a regular basis. (That's why it's called antisocial behavior!)
The lack of shame and embarrassment means that the psychopaths can be very good actors. They can be very good at conning people. It also means that they are professional liars. "I lie as easily as I breathe," said one psychopath. They will even lie at times when it would be better for them to tell the truth!
The verbally abusive men and women also know that no one is going to start a relationship with someone who is verbally abusive. So they hide this aspect at the start of the relationship. They present themselves as the ideal partner initially. And then once they have some level of control over the victim, the verbally abusive nature is allowed to surface.
They can really manipulate a woman's emotions very well, leading to woman to literally fall head over heels in love, even though they don't experience these things themselves. This is something that the verbally abusive men are practiced at, which leads us to the second aspect.
Psychopathic verbally abusive men and women set out to dominate and control others, whether it's in an intimate relationship, a work situation, a social situation or a destructive cult. Their motivations are the 3 G's, glory, gold and girls, which represents power, money and sex. A particular manipulator may have a preference, for example one wants power and money with little interest in sex, another wants power and uses sex to enhance power with little attention to money.
Whatever the individual preference, these types want control and power over others. They deliberately set out to manipulate and dominate those around them. They want to be the leaders in any situation, even if they are not formally in charge.
If you thought you were the best around, that your decisions and actions were perfect, your ideas were the ideal and any problems or difficulties were the fault of others, would you consider that you needed to change? Of course, not. Well, neither do they.
And even if they did want to change, there is no current treatment that works well for psychopaths. There may be some behavioral modifications possible in strictly controlled environments but there is no successful treatment for them at the present time.
The manipulative personality, being a good actor, can be very convincing when they promise that they will change. Even as an exposed liar, they will act offended that you don't accept their word. However, it's all an act. It's all done to manipulate. They don’t mean a word of it as they have little or no sense of responsibility in keeping their promises.
This is where is gets dangerous. A person who is involved with psychopathic verbally abusive men and women are changed at their very core. Because of the abusive nature of the relationship, the victim ends up thinking in a different way, making different decisions, having different emotions and acting differently. For example, a previously independent, strong woman is turned into someone who can no longer make a decision without checking with her boyfriend and she spends most of her time running around after him, always deferring to him and making sure he has what he wants.
You know those stories about parents saying that their daughter went on a weekend seminar and when she came home they didn't recognize her? She had different beliefs, she was saying strange things and she was acting oddly? What they are describing is the false personality or pseudopersonality that the cult created in her.
The same thing happens in intimate relationships. The friends and family say that they hardly know the victim anymore. The victim is a shadow of their former selves, he or she has lost themselves in the relationship, he is henpecked, she is like a lap dog, they are not the person they once were.
I am not going to go into the details of how this happens here. You can read the details in this article about controlling husbands.
What I do want to talk about is the pseudopersonality itself. This new personality that has been imposed on the victim by the abuser has particular features. This new personality the victim now has is programmed to believe the manipulator, to take care of the manipulator and to never question or criticize the manipulator. In fact, oftentimes, when the victim hears other people criticizing the manipulator, it stands up and defends the manipulator.
The pseudopersonality is also programmed to be very dependent on the manipulator. The pseudopersonality of the victim has low self-esteem, believing that it is responsible for anything that goes wrong as well as having to tolerate all sorts of insults and humiliation at the hands of the abuser.
As I have mentioned, the thinking of the pseudopersonality is changed and distorted and for this reason it is very difficult for the victim to recognize what is actually happening. The pseudopersonality does not see the contradictions in the abuser, between what they say and what they actually do. The pseudopersonality is simply programmed to accept whatever reason or excuse the abuser gives out.
The pseudopersonality never totally represses the real personality and this helps to explain some of the problems the victim has. People subject to psychological abuse often say that they feel that there is an internal battle going on, as if they were at war with themselves. One part of them wants one thing, another part wants the opposite. The real personality wants to leave the abusive situation but the pseudopersonality is programmed to stay and take care of the manipulator. The real personality knows that there is something wrong with the abuser but the pseudopersonality believes that it alone is responsible for the problems. The real personality knows that things are not going to improve but the pseudopersonality is programmed to believe that if it works hard enough things can be fixed. While the pseudopersonality is in place, these conflicts cannot be resolved.
A major problem with the pseudopersonality is that it is put in place with very strong influence techniques repeated over a period of time. When a person leaves the relationship with verbally abusive men or women the pseudopersonality does not just disappear on it's own. The changes in a person are so profound that leaving the relationship is not enough to undo them.
Many of the beliefs and behavior patterns persist in the victim, often for decades. Some minor things may disappear over time but many do not. These beliefs and behaviors cause problems for the victim even long after they have left the verbally abusive men and women.
Of particular importance, though, is that when a person has a pseudopersonality with it's subservient beliefs and behaviors, the victim remains very vulnerable to any psychopaths or narcissists that they meet in the future. The reason is that the abusers recognize these patterns and instantly know that the person has been traumatized in the past. The abusers know that this person will be an easy target and sets to work on them. This is why many people end up in one abusive relationship after another.
It's very important to undo the pseudopersonality, not just to avoid the problems that it causes, in and of itself, but also to make sure that you don't become a victim of other psychopaths and narcissists in the future. Undoing the pseudopersonality is not easy and is best done with the help of an expert in the field.
Don't get hung up on the differences between psychopaths, narcissists, sociopaths, borderline personality disorders and antisocial personality disorders and so on.
If your partner acts like a manipulator, walks like a manipulator and quacks like a manipulator, then it's safe to treat him like a manipulator.
Whether he is a psychopath or a narcissist or a sociopath may be interesting from an academic point of view, but differentiating between them is not going to make any difference to how you deal with your situation or how you recover. And besides getting them to go for a formal assessment is typically an impossible task.
What is important is what they say and what they do. Paying attention to these things and using them to understand how specifically they are manipulating you is all the information you need to protect yourself and to undo the damage.
I am not saying that all verbally abusive men or women are psychopaths or narcissists but a large proportion of them are. And if you are in a relationship with such a person then it is vital to learn about them and about mind control to be able to make sense of what was actually done to you.
They basically destroy your personality, make changes and freeze these new changes in place. They turn you into the kind of servile person that they want around, one who basically listens and follows instructions. Then when they have turned you into a slave, basically, they criticize you for not being able to make your own decisions or for being ineffective in your ability to get anything done.
Because they are not going to change, you are better off out of the relationship. However, because of the dependency of the pseudopersonality, leaving is typically incredibly difficult. And of top of that, just walking away is not enough to undo the damage they do. It takes time and effort to unwind all the destructive beliefs and damaging behaviors they have installed in you. Did I mention professional help?!?
Apart from leaving the relationship, the most important thing you can do is to learn. Learn what techniques were used against you, how they affected your thinking, your decision making, your emotions and your behaviors. Learn why those techniques were chosen to be used against you and learn when an influence technique is being used in a normal situation of healthy influence to help a person be independent and choose freely as opposed to being used in a destructive mind control situation to take away a person's free will and create dependence.
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
You have the theory but how do you actually apply it? This book spells it out...
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