The following is an excerpt from Nigel Beckles 2011 - Reflections on Relationships Draft Chapter Extract
The Typical Process of Abusive Brainwashing
The following applies to the tactics a typical Narcissist will employ to assert control but also describes the strategies many mental and emotional abusers operate.
Degradation: Narcissists will dismantle and degrade their victims which can make any resistance to their control strategies very difficult. They will use the tactics of sarcasm, criticizing, name calling, berating, belittling, excessive blaming, screaming, threatening, excessive blaming and humiliation. Constant verbal and emotional attacks eventually weaken the victim over a period of time and erodes the victims sense of self confidence and self-esteem while the Narcissists feels more powerful and exerts further control.
Verbal Assaults: Berating, belittling, criticizing, name calling, screaming, threatening, excessive blaming, and using sarcasm and humiliation. Blowing flaws out of proportion and making fun of you in front of others. Over time, this type of abuse erodes your sense of self confidence and self-worth.
Emotional Blackmail: The abuser plays on your fear, guilt, compassion, values, or other "hot buttons" to get what they want. This could include threats to end the relationship, the "cold shoulder," or use other controlling fear tactics.
Demonstrating Dominance: A Narcissist believes and projects an attitude of being omnipotent and all conquering which can convince the victim that resisting the Narcissist or the situation is futile. They want to be in control of others and must have everything their way and will resort to threats or any other methods to achieve submission. Eventually the victim loses their self respect.
Threats If Victim Does not Comply: Narcissists will cultivate feelings of anxiety and despair in their victims by making threats and using intimidation. They will seek to instill feelings of powerlessness, fear, and dependency in their victims. This encourages the victim to capitulate to the unreasonable demands and coercion of the Narcissist who imposes a type of ‘closed system of logic’ where the victim is not allowed an opinion (that differs from the Narcissists), provide any real input or voice any criticisms. In other words this is not a relationship but a dictatorship.
Abusive Expectations: The other person places unreasonable demands on you and wants you to put everything else aside to tend to their needs. It could be a demand for constant attention, frequent sex, or a requirement that you spend all your free time with the person. But no matter how much you give, it's never enough. You are subjected to constant criticism, and you are constantly berated because you don't fulfill all this person's needs.
Isolation: This deprives the victim of any social support which greatly reduces any ability to resist which eventually makes the victim develop an intense concern with themselves. The Narcissist will keep the victim unaware of what is happening, for example by taking total control of the family finances, making plans that are unknown to the victim or tell lies about their partner and gossip behind their back in order to isolate them from any type of support. This strategy leads to the victim becoming dependent on the Narcissist for validation who will attack their victim’s self-esteem without mercy.
The Narcissist will insist on controlling their partners time and physical environment to try and suppress their natural behavior and feelings of independence. They may insist on their partner giving up certain hobbies, pastimes, social or work activities. They can also insist their partner moves away with them to a new location which will further isolate the victim from their support networks such as immediate family or friends.
Total Control of Victims Perceptions: The Narcissist will frequently seek to make their victims introspective by convincing them there various aspects of their character or behavior that are ‘wrong’ which takes the focus off what the Narcissist is actually doing. By isolating the victim the Narcissist can greatly control what type of information and stimuli the victim has access to while also frustrating the victim if they do not comply with the Narcissists wishes or demands.
Abusive Expectations: The Narcissist will make unreasonable demands and will insist the victim put everything else aside to tend to their ‘very important’ needs. They can demand constant attention, insist on the victim spending all of their free time in their company or expect frequent sex. The victim will be subjected to constant criticism and you are constantly berated because they cannot or will not fulfill the Narcissists needs. Their expectations are like a bottomless pit and no matter how much a person may give, it will never, ever be enough.
Unpredictable Responses: Drastic mood changes or sudden emotional outbursts are used to keep the victim unsettles and nervous. Having someone in your life who is constantly unpredictable with sudden outbursts of rage or unexplained changes in their mood or plans is a form abuse where the victim is being controlled by their partners unpredictable responses.
This behavior is damaging because it puts you always on edge. You're always waiting for the other shoe to drop, and you can never know what's expected of you. You must remain hyper vigilant, waiting for the other person's next outburst or change of mood. An alcoholic or drug abuser is likely to act this way. Living with someone like this is tremendously demanding and anxiety provoking, causing the abused person to feel constantly frightened, unsettled and off balance.
Constant Chaos: A Narcissist may deliberately start arguments and be in constant conflict with others. The person may be "addicted to drama" since it creates excitement.
Gas-lighting: As previously mentioned, the Narcissist may deny that certain events occurred or that certain things were said. You know differently. The other person may deny your perceptions, memory and very sanity. It is this act of abuse which makes you begin to think you are crazy or losing your mind.
Enforcing Trivial Demands: They will make a huge fuss about highly trivial matters which conditions the victim to develop a habit of being highly compliant.
Occasional Indulgences: The Narcissist at times may provide ‘treats’ or demonstrate ‘kindness’ to encourage and provide motivation for compliance with their demands and agenda.
The victim can end up believing their partner is somehow supremely intelligent and all powerful when in reality the Narcissist is a dysfunctional, spiteful abusive and ultimately scared individual. Narcissists and other abusers employ these techniques because these tactics are highly effective for achieving manipulation and so often successful in getting the perpetrator what they want.
Coping Strategies – Maintaining Your Self-Esteem
The first step is to understand is this: a hardcore Narcissist does not want to change and are not likely to change – they are what I call DBR (Damaged Beyond Repair). Accept the reality there are people who are set in their ways and you cannot change them. Their behavior can often be aggressive or bizarre which could lead you to doubt your own sanity and if you are intimately involved and decide to stay in the relationship there are certain realities you will have to accept.
Maintaining your self esteem is the most important aspects of being involved with a Narcissist because the loss of self esteem can be so gradually and subtle which results in a person not even realizing what is happening. The process can be insidious and it is very easy to lose confidence in your own judgment with all of the underhanded tactics and strategies the Narcissist employs.