Manipulation Tactics: A Closer Look – Part 2

In last week’s post (see:  Manipulation Tactics:  A Closer Look), we began a more in-depth discussion of some of the more common manipulation tactics as well as how and why they work.  That discussion continues in this week’s post.

One of the more common responsibility-avoidance behaviors and a frequent manipulation tactic is minimization.  This is when the disturbed character attempts to trivialize a wrong or harmful behavior.  It’s their attempt to make a mole hill out of a mountain.  You might confront them on something serious, but they try to get you to believe that you’re over-reacting, being overly judgmental, and unfairly assessing the nature of their wrongdoing.

Minimization works as a  manipulation tactic because no self-respecting neurotic wants to think of him/herself as unfair or unreasonable. So, if I can get you to believe that you made a rash or unfair judgment of me or my actions, I can easily get you to back off or back down in your confrontation.  I might even get you to question your assessment of me.  Even if I am a monster, if I can make you think you’ve unfairly cast me as a monster, you’ll probably get to wondering if you’re not the monster yourself.

Now, in all fairness, all of us are prone to “catastrophizing” now and then.  So, sometimes we might actually unfairly assess the behavior or even the character of someone else.  And depending upon how neurotic we are, if we’ve erred once, we’re likely to be overly cautious the next time about making a similar judgment.  But disturbed characters make a habit of trivializing really important things – things that reflect most strongly on their character.  Maintaining a favorable social image is important to them, even when they know their character is deeply flawed.  And their minimizations are frequently paired with other responsibility-avoidance behaviors and tactics such as excuse-making, blaming others, denial, feigning innocence, etc.).  Once you’re intimately familiar with all the tactics they habitually employ to:  1) get the better of you; and 2) look good while doing it, you can be more sure of your judgments about your manipulator’s character.

Selective attention is a most interesting responsibility-avoidance behavior and manipulation tactic.  Disturbed characters, most especially the aggressive personalities, hear what they want to hear and see what they want to see.  It’s not that they’re attention-deficient (they can focus like a laser beam when it comes to something they want).  Rather, everything they process goes through a peculiar kind of mental filtering.  They hear and see “invitations” from others to pay better heed to the more commonly accepted rules for civil conduct.  But they resist.   And on the occasions when you have to confront them, they most likely began to “tune you out” before you even opened your mouth.  Most of the time, they can anticipate the issue you want to bring to their attention.  But they simply don’t want to pay attention to it because if they took it seriously and with an attitude of acceptance, it would mean two things: 1) the way they prefer to do things is erroneous and in need of change; and 2) they would have to work at changing, which would also mean paying some deference to you, and to the generally accepted rules, etc.  And that’s way too much like respecting someone else’s needs, or the desires  of a higher power.  More importantly, it’s far to much like subordinating themselves – something narcissists feel no need to do and the aggressive personalities abhor.

The fact that so many times neurotics in relationships with disturbed characters waste their breaths expounding on things that simply fall on deaf ears is one of the main reasons I advocate simply taking action over trying to reason or persuade.  It’s likely that half the time, disturbed characters aren’t really listening to you anyway.  And to manipulate you even further, they might try to make you think they’ve heard you or taken you seriously by using the tactic of giving assent.  Assenting is when the disturbed character gives you a superficial “Okay, okay, I hear you,” but has absolutely no intention of really taking to heart your concern or working on changing anything.  What they really want is for you to simply get off their back.  So, they’ll offer you what seems to be capitulation even though it’s anything but.  It’s a tactic very close to false concessioning, which on the surface looks like they’ve actually given some ground when in fact they’re standing firm.

Disturbed characters are generally quite skilled in the use of various intimidation tactics.  Most of the time, covert manipulators prefer the more subtle forms of intimidation (e.g., veiled threats, glaring glances, menacing gestures, etc.).  But all disturbed characters are capable of more overt forms (e.g., bullying, brandishing rage, etc.) of intimidation to get their way.  What’s been recently termed “gaslighting” (for more on this tactic see:  Another Look at Manipulation Tactics) is a particularly interesting form of intimidation and a powerful manipulation tactic.  The term comes from the play and movie Gaslight, about a man who uses the clever tactic of making his wife think she has lost her mind as a way to dispose of her.  Because neurotics are by nature somewhat insecure and apprehensive, intimidation tactics of all types are effective means of manipulating them.  Sometimes intimidation is very deliberate.  But there are times when merely the disturbed character’s apparent level of passion and conviction is intimidating.  Such  passion and conviction can make you doubt yourself.  Skilled manipulators know how to use all the various forms of intimidation to get you to doubt not only your judgment but also your very sanity.  And if they can get you not only to doubt your own position but also to fear what might happen if you don’t see things their way, they strengthen their position of control even more.

As I say in my book In Sheep’s Clothing, a moving target is difficult to hit.  When you try to address an issue with them, manipulators will use the tactic of diversion to change the subject or focus of attention, or the tactic of evasion to side-step the issue.  The more skilled they are in subtle use of the tactics, the less you realize what they’re doing when they’re doing it.  You start off talking about one thing, and realize much later that you’re somehow talking about something else.  It’s always so important to remain focused and centered when you’re dealing with any type of disturbed character.  One of my psychology mentors once made the analogy that trying to get a firm hold on an impaired character’s problematic traits is like “trying to grab a fish in a bucket of oil.”  Getting a firm hold on a fish that’s already endowed with a certain sliminess and is wriggling like crazy not to be contained is hard enough work.  But the task becomes monumental when both theirs and your skin are covered with oil.  So it is with disturbed characters, especially the most manipulative.  Pinning them down is always difficult.  But when they use diversion, evasion, and other tactics as well, it’s an even more difficult task unless you’re extremely well-focused and persistent.

Lastly, there’s lying – the responsibility-avoidance behavior and manipulation tactic that disturbed characters have turned into a virtual art form.   And as I mention in both In Sheep’s Clothing and Character Disturbance, there are numerous ways to lie, most of which are very hard to detect.   Lying is, perhaps, the ultimate manipulation tactic (see also:  Lying:  The Ultimate Manipulation Tactic).  It serves many purposes, two primarily:  1) to possibly prevent something you don’t want to happen (usually, the negative consequence of a behavior) from happening; or 2) to help ensure that something you desire happens.  Some disturbed characters lie more often and in more sophisticated ways than others.   And the most seriously disturbed characters and penultimate manipulators (psychopaths) lie, even when the truth would suffice.  That’s because they simply can’t relinquish a position of advantage over you.  So they’ll lie merely to keep the balance tipped.  One of the most effective ways to lie undetected is to recite a litany of true things but leave out a crucial detail or two that would change the whole picture.  It’s a way to give yourself credibility while simultaneously taking advantage through deceit.

I hope all the readers will do some sharing about how they encountered the tactics we’ve talked about and the tools they eventually used to confront and deal with those tactics.  Next week we’ll be concluding the series on the aggressive personalities with an in-depth discussion on predatory aggressors (i.e., psychopaths, alt: sociopaths).

 

149 thoughts on “Manipulation Tactics: A Closer Look – Part 2

  1. Thank you for informing us, Dr Simon, about these subtle shadow-punch tactics. Had I not learnt of these, I would only have had a vague, gnawing, bothersome feeling about some people and grown defensive, perhaps even paranoid.

    From that I lead to my question. I actually talked about this here and with another poster, although I misconveyed what I wanted to say. It’s about the subject of paranoia. Since trusting just anyone is obviously folly, it’s good to know about different types of personalities and behaviors.

    However, what are the key differences between legit, realistic mistrust and paranoia? Just as a reminder for a future post.

    Folks, what are your thoughts on this? I think this is really important.

  2. IMHO paranoia is not a problem for victims. We are usually way too trusting. IMHO it was the psychopaths/narcissists that were paranoid, and we victims are usually trying to prove our good intentions to them. I wouldn’t worry about being paranoid.. But when I see someone else that is paranoid..It’s a red flag for me.

    1. I think I have trouble clarifying my thoughts on this.

      I think that when we don’t know what to look for and insist on trusting just anyone despite our intuition warning us, then wouldn’t that drive us defensive? Perhaps “defensive” is the better word to describe when someone nearer the neurotic end of the spectrum keeps distrusting his gut intuition.

      I don’t know many of the disturbed characters are genuinely paranoid. They simply lead us to believe so in order to make their actions more “understandable” and get us to forgive them more easily.

      Disturbed characters have no concept of trust. They don’t know what trust really is like. So they think they just need to say an honest thing or act honest once and another person should keep trusting them. People usually do play into that.

      Yet because disturbed charactes enagage in unreasonable thinking as well, they also think they needn’t prove themselves worthy of trust, but that others should trust them automatically. In addition, if someone even by accident says anything that rings a little funny to them, they distrust that person for good.

      Because disturbed characters are so combative, I conclude they readily see signs of others trying to get them to submit. It doesn’t arise out of anxiety. It arises out of the willingness to fight without caring if it’s necessary.

      Now, some disturbed characters may actually be paranoid. Works with other harmful behaviors to create hell.

      Then there’s paranoid personality disorder.

      Of course, since one important part of the subject Dr Simon handles is that neurotics trust too much, I know my thought is going to meet some understandable resistance. For one, I’ve met people in my life, who’ve used some of the manipulative tactics, with my intuition telling me they’re knowingly being cunning in a way I can’t verbalize or pinpoint. When intuition warns near a predator or a user, I agree 100% with everyone that it’s legit mistrust and should be listened to.

      However, I still think there might be cases when someone goes far beyond the justifiable mistrust and actually becomes truly paranoid.

      Yes, sometimes getting hit by gaslighting can definitely be mistaken for genuine paranoia by a target and outsiders alike. I’m not talking about those cases.

      Let’s suppose for a moment someone of decent core character actually became truly paranoid. Is it in the intensity, depth and generalization of mistrust, the feeling that everyone is out to harm you in some way or another? Is it in forming the automatic expectation that anyone must, just must, be willing to screw you over? Is it in the readiness to read malicious hidden meanings into anyone’s comments, regardless of who they are? Is it in the tendency to read hidden meanings into the smallest of cues and relating them back to yourself(delusions of reference)? Can we say that paranoia destroys one’s character?

      I hope I can simplify it thus: Neurotics are simply defensive. They don’t have these ideas of reference, thinking that this must lead back to me even if I have to forcibly come up with some convoluted theory. Am I on the right tracks?

      1. Re: ‘paranoid’ and CDs… A colleague described a CA of our acquaintance as ‘insecure’. I disputed that – following Dr Simon’s line that it is a truism that is often false that people who appear arrogant are really suffering from low self-esteem, all bullies are basically insecure and covering up for inadequacy (etc.)
        She took my point and agreed – this was an immensely narcissistic person with WAY too high a self-estimation. However she was accurately observing something which we then spoke about – maybe this addresses your point, J?
        What some CDs, like this CA, are is a version of ‘hypervigilant’ but of an aggressive, not avoidant, kind. In other words – she has a massively high sense of who she is and is hyper-aware of anything that looks like a slight; in other words, anything, anyone, any comment that seems to indicate that she’s just like anyone else. And that provokes an attack, even if covert.
        So in one sense she was ‘insecure’ and ‘paranoid’ (in a non-technical sense) — always on the alert for challenges to her view of herself as far above everyone else and ready to attack in defence of her view, even if long-term, covert, and devious.

        As for neurotics in ‘post-CD recovery’ – they can also be ‘hypervigilant’ in a very different sense. I am a little too ready now to consider whether some new nice person that makes me feel a little uncomfortable might have character issues. But I certainly don’t tell them that and I don’t act on that suspicion. I just keep an open mind and try not to make myself vulnerable in any way. I think that’s victimless hypervigilance though!

        1. Adeptly described, Been There Often.

          Some CDs are ‘insecure’ like someone with stunted emotional development, who only cares about getting others to see one’s ‘innate superiority’.

          Also, thank you for offering helpful detail. Perhaps it is that justified mistrust is about being observant and paranoid thinking about coming up with malicious interpretations no matter how far-fetched, as well as ideas of reference. Also, aren’t paranoid personalities content with the kind of thinking they engage in while the defensively hypervigilant experience it as its own level of uncomfortable? Perhaps that disambiguation would be useful here.

        2. My understanding is that Spaths have absolutely no true inner sense of self. None. It’s all surface and a mask which is very fragile and explains why they are hypersensitive to anything that resembles criticism, a slight……someone confronting their behavior, etc. Also why they generally hate being alone. They have to be distracted from the empty void at all costs. The people in their outside circle like the mask of the narcissist and the nature of those relationships demands nothing more than the mask provides. No real intimacy, depth of character, etc….all show. Think of a group of guys sitting around at a bar….at work, etc. all typically very superficial ” fun based” interactions. These people hold no importance to the Spath other than to bolster his self created image, and can come and go, be acquired and discarded with very little impact on the Spath. Easily replaced, low maintenance.
          The secondary supply people in the Spaths world have more significance to the Spath for one reason or another. They hold more value to the Spath,,,,,always for him. A source of something the Spath wants, money, sex, power, housing, etc.
          that’s as far as I can take it for now!! LOL. I’m not really as clear about their secondary supply sources relationship dynamics.
          How to deal with these people effectively??? Hmmmm…….leave.

      2. Still having trouble differentiating here the self-doubting (especially doubting of one’s intuition) common to neurotics and genuine paranoia. And, as I mentioned earlier, while a small percentage of disturbed character might indeed be partly motivated in their interaction styles by some degree of mistrust, most are not, although they might speak in terms suggesting they are as a degree of “justification” for their dysfunctional stance.

    2. Traditionally, personality theorists believed that mistrust and a fair degree of paranoia must be a significant part of the motivation behind the actions of malignant narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, and antisocial types. And if you judge only by some of the justifications these types use for their actions, this notion appears to have merit. The problem is that MOST of the time, their malevolent acts are not born out of mistrust but rather out of pure self-serving interest or even pure predatory intent (sometimes for the mere “thrill of the chase”).

      1. Dr Simon, I’m wondering if what some people interpret as a CAs or malignant narcissists “paranoia” is just them projecting their own intentions onto someone else’s behaviors. Just like a neurotic assumes that a CD person has some unrealized and unaddressed issue underlying their behavior, a sociopath might project their sick or aggressive or selfish motivations onto other people and their behaviors in saw Spathx do this with me on several occasions. He would accuse me of things that were way off base and I can remember thinking…..hey! Wait a minute….that’s what HE does!

        1. I think their “mistrust” is a projection of their own untrustworthyness……..OR…..just used as another manipulation tactic, a way to make you feel guilty, pull your strings and keep them at the advantage.

        2. Conscious projection indeed.

          Besides, they see the world as a battlefield, so I figure they would expect base intentions from others as well, in a way that suggests contentment about “affirmation” of rightness of one’s point of view.

      2. Yes, Dr. Simon

        What I have observed in the CD, particularly psychopaths is a running away from boredom and monotony towards novelty. Thrill seeking doesn’t equal fear of…quite the opposite.

      3. Dr. Simon, I totally am in agreement with you on this. I have so many people in my life who were paranoid I was talking behind their backs. When in actuality they were talking behind my back. It seems whenever they talked poorly about me, suddenly they’d accuse me of doing it to them. The real joke??? I had absolutely no friends in that church to talk to in the first place.
        Dr. Simon,
        Can you email me to recommend a therapist? I’m going to need one ASAP. I’m going to need some support to navigate through this transition.

      1. Hi Sean,

        I think you are referring to Lydia, she hasn’t posted for some time now. What questions do you have? I am sure some of the other posters will be able to comment on your situation. You see, so much of what goes on with the CD is a pattern and practice of similar behaviors.

  3. Dr. Simon wanted the readers to talk about encounters with these tactics and how we responded. Guilt tripping and shaming is what I encountered and still encounter with the ca in my life. She will use this on me at every opportunity because she knows I have a huge guilt button and it has worked on me many times in the past. But since reading Dr. Simons books I have come to see and know these tactics and they don’t work any more. First of all I try to have very little contact but when I have to she seems to take the opportunity to guilt me and I just ignore it. Plain and simple. I don’t get into any kind of deep conversation and I keep it very surface. She loves to get in your head emotionally. Actions not words so much work but I am still having a very hard time moving on and not thinking about it. Thankfully she is just a relative that I don’t have to see that often but when ever there is contact there is an agenda. So it brings back the anger and it makes me crazy that she still has that control over me. I want to just handle things and have it not bother me in the least but it does.

  4. Hello all — it is sometimes possible to have a bit of fun at a CA’s expense. I am not in any way trying to diminish the very real pain that most of you have endured because of these people. I served my time in the trenches, grew up under a NPD female biological parent, disowned her when I was 18, am now 72, took me many years to get myself sorted out. And those misguided editors who took NPD out of DSM5 should be sentenced to live as small children with an NPD parent for a
    minimum of 10 years with no reprieve.

    As a much in demand seamstress, I routinely cull my customer list, so as to keep my life as stress-free as possible. One of the corollaries of the Pareto principle is that 20% of your customers cause 80% of your problems. Get rid of the 20% and life is much easier. Most customers are focused on business, because they have other errands to run.

    However, when someone starts off first thing with a hugely inappropriate over-the-top compliment (flattery), that’s a very good warning sign. One recent (now ex-) started out with “You’re the most spiritual person I have ever met.” Yes, I am a Christian, but I am not a saint– my friends would be the first to tell you that.

    I’m necessarily leaving out a lot, would take too long. Anyway, this man I will call Dick, brought in a second batch of dress shirts to have the sleeves shortened. Then he brought out a blazer which had been worn so much that the lining at the back of the neck was in shreds, wanted to know could I mend it. Yes, would cost $40. He, aghast, $40,!!!! But I’m a poor student, I have no income [2 lies, guilt trip]. To which I said, well, I’m a poor seamstress, that’s what it will cost you for my time. Then he said well couldn’t you just take a few stitches and not charge so much. (attempt to get me to compromise my principles.) I bluntly told him I DO NOT do that kind of sloppy work. The blazer’s cuffs were also worn, told him he’d gotten his money’s worth out of it, ought to give the blazer to the thrift store, he took it away with him.

    I try to be polite to all, don’t want to rain on someone else’s parade. Was actually in prayer about how to deal with this man, when the words “covert aggressive” came into my mind. OKAY! Thank you Lord! discussed this with one of my other customers, a local psychiatrist, who said, go ahead and dump him, just keep it simple. Also prayed for guidance as to exactly what to say.

    When he came back to pick up 3 shirts, he had some more shirts he wanted done. I said no, since you were here last, I’ve raised all my prices slightly in accordance with my attorney’s advice (true) and since you said last time that you were a poor student with no income, you won’t be able to afford my work anymore, so you will need to find another seamstress. Here’s the fun part — he could NOT bring himself to admit that he had lied, tried again to get me to take his new batch, I said no. Another customer had come in, was dealing with her, he started out the door, said plaintively “have a nice day” — I ignored him, he repeated it, I still ignored him, he left, somewhat deflated. In effect, he was undone by his own lie.

    There’s a bit more. My friend Joan, who also does alterations, called me a couple of days later to report on him — we keep each other posted on bad customers. She had had a long day dealing with bridezillas and momzillas, plus a couple of appointments who failed to show, so when Dick came into her shop late in the day, started in with all kinds of flowery comments on what wonderful work she did, etc. etc., she snapped “oh, quit spouting sonnets and get to the point!!” It took him so by surprise that he actually backed up a couple of steps. Same drill with getting her to do some shirts, then wanted her to mend a polo shirt that was so far gone she refused to do it, he tried again ” couldn’t you just take a few stitches here and there (attempt to get her to compromise her principles) and she told him to throw it away.

    Neither of us will do substandard work, because it would damage our reputations, but more important, because our abilities are given us by God, doing substandard work would dishonor Him.

    Will have a couple more stories about the CA ex-customers some other time, this comment is probably way too long. For those of you who may have had dealings with NPD people, take a look at the website narcissistssuck.com. And don’t forget, “quit spouting sonnets!”

    1. What a brilliant point about flattery, Elva! Sad to say it worked on me in the past, not (I hope) because I was arrogant but because I thought the person was willing to give and please…
      Learned too late the saying from Napoleon which i think you would like:
      “He who can flatter can also slander.”

      (Made for CAs!)

  5. It does seem to come down to, as Dr.Simon says, knowing what is ok for YOU and letting that be your guide. Sticking to it and knowing that you do not need to justify your principles, feelings, decisions, etc..to anyone. As long as you are not doing something intentionally hurtful, taking care of yourself only needs to make sense to you. My lesson is to buy myself time if something doesn’t feel right. If I think I see a red flag, I need time to figure out what that red flag means to me. If someone cares about you as well as them, they allow you space enough to be comfortable with your decisions.

  6. My father in law expects my husband to take care of him in his old age (of course retirement home is out of the question) although he never lived with him , rarely paid child support and the one and only thing he ever did is tutored him in math 2 weeks before our equivalent of your SAT (entrance exam for high school ,not college) and once took him on vacation. Nevertheless that comes up EVERY time when we see him how he spent his PRECIOUS few hours doing math some 3o years ago.(talking about moooountain over molehill) My husband being extremely responsible and conscientious person is freaked out because soon the time will come when hid dad will be unable to take care of him, has very little pension because was avoiding work until the age of 35, lives in an inherited house worth about 300 000$ ( just because of location) that is completely devastated by neglect again because any kind of work stinks I guess. I m talking about a man who lived his productive life in a country ( I live in southern Europe)where jobs were plentiful and the house he inherited has 3 apartments he could have rented to students in a college nearby and have some retirement savings but NO. That would take some work. Apartments are empty, he keeps garbage in them, and expects his son to take care of everything and him to continue living in his house as he pleases the way he did all of his life. I guess some fairy will show up and take care of him. IN the mean time his main preoccupations are suing first neighbor for expanding a house for one meter ( that is 4 inches), suing some relatives for some land in the middle of nowhere because EVERYONE ARE THIEVES and irresponsible and greedy etc etc. Of course he is old and doesn t have a computer so shows up at my door and forces my husband to write all those lawsuites for him after all day he has been at work. And that takes hours, but he wants it NOW because it is question of life! Never, I mean NEVER came to our house to see grandkids “He loooves sooooo much and would want to see them more ofteen” but screwing the neighbour….here I come! he is the only honest one who has been dealt “raw deals” . WE – in his words(me, my husband and my father HAVE MONEY, well we all work VERY hard and we have our mortgages and we started with nothing ) and he is a poor soul , always so honest and trustworthy and hardworking but no luck. We are talking about a man who can not fix a toilet for the last 15 years so he throws water from the bucket because it would take 20 minutes of WORK.Of course it is my husbands fault because he is “not interested” in a house so he will be forced to sell it. MY H says sell it, it s your house,I bought my own, than he yells at him for being irresponsible how his poor grandmother worked hard and built it his now has to sell it blah blah……. now things are getting much worse now my husband realized it is not his fault that he always gets out of discussions with his father felling like someone just scre.. with his brain.He just tells him do as you please, my door is always opened.He sees there is nothing he can do to manipulate him anymore now he is taking more perverted road telling our kids (10 and 12) aaaaahhh You poor kids you would get this house if it wasn t for your father…. If it was only me I would not see him at all because there is no point in putting up with that kind of abuse but my overly conscientious husband is scared to death what when he falls into bed or ends up in a hospital with all kinds of demands and start badmouthing him all around… Aaahh “if only you were like Mrs X she is sooo nice to her dad. ”
    To top it all – “I never got married again so you wouldn t suffer and so you can inherit THE HOUSE” – the everlasting theme he thought will be the carrot for exploiting everyone around him but didn t work out. NO. You didn t get married because you are manipulative bastard and no one wanted to live with you because of that. And you live in that house because you LIKE IT not that you are “SAVING IT FOR YOU SON” (tears in his eyes)…………there is plllleeenty more but I guess your readers get the point. Gotta go, I could go on forever but there is no point now we know how to handle this thanks Dr Simon!

    1. Sounds like your husband might need help with drawing firmer boundaries. There is no need to allow this old man to just bust into your lives like that, any time he pleases… ey?

      1. Believe me,Vera,he came a looooong way. And dad is king of manipulators so it was hard work. Now that I read my post again I realized how horrible it seems . And that is not half of it.

        1. Don’t worry about it. We all have horrible stories. It’s always good to hear when people’s eyes open and they begin to have a handle on it (them). Best of luck!

  7. Ok, kids. What would you say to this person, a new acquaintance of mine, as we are discussing bullying, and she says: “My experience is most cruelty and unkindness happens when people are asleep, or numb in some way. They are not connected to what they are doing. They can know what they do, but they are not aware (Eckhart Tolle would say they were feeding their pain body). And when I say they, I mean we really. Everyone has been cruel and unkind somewhere along the line. That’s the key. Where are we the bully?”

    Instead of ripping my head off, I am taking suggestions! 🙂

    1. It does have a frustrating side. Let’s say we deal with some trouble person, be they simply someone obnoxious or someone more extreme like a manipulator or an emotionally immature bully. I’ve read advice that says: “Look into yourself. Perhaps you can be difficult as well?” How’s that supposed to justify another person’s behavior, taken they already can come up with rationales of their own?

      1. J, I don’t think it’s meant to justify someone else’s behavior, but to put the focus on our own behavior and choices. People are who they are and when someone tells you who they are, or shows you, believe them!! At that point the choice is back on you. It’s not up to us to change that person, it’s up to us to take care of ourselves and make ourselves the best we can be. Perhaps this persons behavior is showing us something about our selves that needs to be looked at more closely. Not that we are a Spath but still may have some narcissistic elements to our own personality. No ones actions can be a justification for another persons actions. Two separate issues, theirs and ours.

        1. Puddle: Well, I think that J hits it… they do use these (otherwise true) statements as a way to not see the abuse for what it is. And do we need more veils around CAs?

          The person I quoted also said: “However I have never come across a bully who wasn’t bullied themselves, often as a child.”

          This are the kind of remarks people make, to excuse, to deny, to not see what’s out there. Predatory CAs are out there, and our language should help us discern them rather than make it harder. Sometimes I think they make these remarks to make those of us who see, as some sort of unkind biased people who see everything in black and white. Sorry for the rant. I am feeling quite frustrated, not knowing how to proceed.

          1. Oh….I might have missed J’s point there….not sure.
            A lot of relationship “advise” does not pertain to a relationsh-t with a Spath or someone who is character disturbed. In a normal healthy relationship, yes….look at your own behavior and improve what you can but with a CD…..it can be death to you. They will already blame you for yours AND their behaviors.

            I read something that said…..” Aggressors agrees for one reason, and for one reason only……they are aggressive. ”
            Uhhhhh……

          2. That’s funny… relationsh-t. You’ve picked up quite the lingo! 🙂 Btw, I really like the “grey rock” routine on that 180rule site you recommended.

            That’s it… when talking about the character-disturbed, these types of statements lead astray. They basically send the message… we are all the same, we are all suffering souls who’ve been traumatized by life, and to suggest anything else is mean.

            Which, if you think it through, is the way a CA would argue. Maybe we are all CA-trained… you think?

          3. If being granted everything one wants is a curse, then those, whose integrity is stunted do indeed suffer from a curse.

    2. Vera, I think I posted something along those lines a while back but it got all muddled up! 🙂
      I know that what Dr Simon says about CAs ” knowing ” perfectly well what they are doing is right. They know what they are doing, which is trying to get what they want at any cost….to someone else of course. But in a sense…..do they really KNOW or are they even capable of knowing or seeing, WHY they behave and live the way they do? I don’t think so. I think they are “asleep”. What Tolle is talking about is a deeper awareness that comes from an inner knowing and consciousness. Spaths have no conscience and a conscience comes from being conscious and being in touch with your inner senses, spirit, heart. I don’t think that character disturbed people are able to be in touch with anything like what I’m describing, which is what enables them to be so destructive to others. They are void and cavernous and can not FEEL in any real sense. They can mimic feelings but again, it’s only to manipulate. Lack of feelings equals lack of empathy equals asleep, unconscious, numb.
      I wish I could remember the Tolle quote I posted!!

      1. I found it!! Whew HOO! Here’s the quote I was referring to……….

        Choice implies consciousness – a high degree of consciousness. Without it, you have no choice. Choice begins the moment you disidentify from the mind and its conditioned patterns, the moment you become present….Nobody chooses dysfunction, conflict, pain. Nobody chooses insanity. They happen because there is not enough presence in you to dissolve the past, not enough light to dispel the darkness. You are not fully here. You have not quite woken up yet. In the meantime, the conditioned mind is running your life.
        Eckhart Tolle
        Source: The Power of Now : A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment, Pages: 226

        I don’t think that Spaths are willing OR able to wake up. I’m really not sure they are human. More robotic….zombie like. Vampires……when they look in a mirror, no one is there. They are just a mask, a mask of sanity created to get what they want, what they want now, in the moment with no concern for the consequences.

        1. I agree, I think of them as vampires. They have been infected by cannibalism, the “Wetiko Virus”. ( http://www.awakeninthedream.com ) They feed off of their fellow human. I do believe that vampire lore is useful in dealing with them: they can only come in when invited. Crosses and garlic ward them off (spiritual hygiene.) They only operate under cover of darkness. They are wildly charismatic at first. They must be outed and if you’re Buffy, staked. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, as the saying goes. It certainly wipes out emotional vampires, as Elva’s story illustrates!

        2. Very good quote, Puddle. It was only after suffering through my relationship that Tolle’s words resonated with me on a deeper level.

          It’s easier for me if I look it at it like this: Everyone is on their own path.

          You stay in the light, keep working on you. They will either change their ways…or they won’t. That is their choice.

          We choose to shine, and spread our light…and stay away from anything that will diminish it.

          1. To clarify…

            When I say choice, I think that the only way one decides to change is when they are enlightened
            in some way. If I held the magic key for enlightening others, then I would probably still be
            married. The truth is we all hold the key…but only for ourselves (kind of like at the end of the Wizard of Oz, it was always in us).

            But I also realize that I was enlightened through my suffering. As painful and heartbreaking as
            it was…it was something I had to experience to look at the world a little differently, take
            responsibility for my life, and see that there is a lot of fear and wounds out there that
            have nothing to do with me.

            Perhaps, the character disordered will have an experience that makes them look at their
            choices differently…or perhaps, they won’t. But I don’t plan on being their scapegoat.

          2. Very nice thoughts Meg and food for thought. I had a slight debate with Dr. Simon a while back about the Tolle quote about consciousness and awareness and I never felt like I was saying what I wanted clearly enough so I just let it go. There is a difference between being conscious of what you are doing and being conscious on a spiritual level. You can be aware of (and not care) what you are doing and what your objective is and still not be deeply aware of just how wrong and hurtful it is, especially if in Spathtard’s case, mommy keeps propping you up and putting bandaids on your self inflicted wounds because her own unmet needs are being met by doing so. Emotional incest.
            People who are truly conscious and aware and therefore tuned into the deeper, bigger picture of life and nature, just do not do what these monsters do. Oddly i believe that you have to make choices in life to do the right thing in order to gain the deeper connection, YOU have to step towards the light before you can be in it. I don’t know if there really is such a thing as divine intervention or not but it sure seems like there is when I look at the things and people that have helped me at least turn towards the light.

    3. Thank you, Puddle and Vera! You understand me well and the discussion is insightful here, as always.

      Then about the part “They are not connected to what they are doing”, we can understand it thus: Those without character don’t think they need to discipline themselves, that they are supposed to act as they please. They disown responsibility.

  8. The bible says….” Forgive them lord for they know not what they do”. I think this is the case with people this far gone, spaths, CAs, CDs, the like. They know what they do but are unable to change it. It’s all they know and I’m afraid that it’s all they are capable of. Broken or at least so damaged they can’t be fixed. They are living on a different plane of reality….,theirs.
    I think we just have to know they are there and like a hot flame…..stay away from them.

    1. Just a few comments to the recent discussion thread: “unwilling at the moment” does not equate with “unable.” There would be no culpability at all, if such folks were “unable” to change. And although there’s a great deal of truth and beauty in Tolle’s take on awareness and dysfunction, the metaphor breaks down a lot with the character disturbed (but the details of this would take much too long to discuss here). And the notion that all such folks are “broken and damaged” is also dangerous, because although sometimes true, such things are not always the dominant players, more insidious things and subtle things are. Getting my head on straight with respect to all of this and finding a better framework for understanding has brought the two greatest joys outside of my family into my life: witnessing the empowerment and liberation of many one-time victims of disturbed characters and witnessing a select few fairly disturbed folks genuinely change for the better. And hey, a few is better than none!

      1. That’s why I remain leery of the talk framed around their “problems” — for years, I recognized the crazy in my spath x, but labeling it mental illness kept me lulled and asleep. Besides, it disempowered me, since, how the heck am I gonna deal with mental illness?! — I am not a psychiatrist. All those things added to my victimized care-taking attitudes. Bah.

        It is very empowering for me to have the talk framed around our seeing.

        1. Mmm-hmm. I really like your comments here, Vera. My impression is that many of us who get taken in by manipulative behavior are already apt to question ourselves and take the blame for the behavior of others. In the end, it doesn´t matter what is the motivation for the behavior. If someone is taking advantage of you, they are taking advantage of you. If we are talking about covertly aggressive adults, they very well should be aware of what they are doing, and if they are not, it´s not your problem.

          I 100% understand how difficult this is, but it´s really important that you look out for your own well being first. Their intentions are not your problem – because you can´t know them anyway. I was raised by a CA, and though I love her and she did have a difficult childhood, I now refuse to accept sneaky behavior. If she wants something from me, she needs to ask me politely. I am happy to help her, but I won´t submit to covert nonsense anymore.

          P.s. I don´t think Tolle is a good resource. Please consider looking to the spiritual traditions he is taking his words from.

          1. p.s.s. Don´t even think about changing the CAs in your life! This is one I struggle with immensely, but you really should focus on protecting your own integrity – not them.

      2. I would like to think there is hope for them but from the personal stories I read…..it doesn’t look like that to me. One nightmare after another and most look very much alike in many ways. Not one good ending for the people on the receiving end. Horror stories.
        You have way more experience with this whole matter Doc!! I defer to your knowledge and wisdom .

        Regarding the Tolle quotes……I’m wondering if I’m on the same page. Maybe coming from two different places. Ill have to think more on this!

        1. Puddle, all the quotes have been of use to me. We are still learning the language for this, I think.

          As for success, I haven’t had any yet either. I mean, seeing a CA person turn around. Since I have become more skillful and seeing, I have lost several “friends” — some left after me confronting them, the last one I finally had to dump after the CA habits became all too glaring.

          Happily, though, some of the people I pushed revealed themselves not CAs after all. And I do hope that in the future, I will apply my new found skills much sooner, and avoid the protracted hassles that surrounded my past dealings with CAs. I am also happy to report that I have met two out and out spaths in the last several years, both women, and I was able to recognize the first within several weeks, and the other upon meeting her. There is hope!

          1. Vera,
            You go girl!!
            I’ve been told that there are tons of female Spaths and that the Internet is dripping with them.

            Funny you mention learning the language……when I first started looking into all of this, I made a comment somewhere that a new language needs to be written just for this purpose! A dictionary!
            Jeesh! Who would have thought?

        2. No, we’re on the same page. And our differences are slight but still important. Tolle is great and his framework is powerful and full of truth but every metaphor reaches its overstretch point somewhere, and when it comes to fully understanding the seriously character impaired, many of our best metaphors break down. And with respect to the issue of “hope” for change, the outlook is indeed guarded at best and sometimes bleak. But that’s due to multiple factors, not the least of which include how much of the maladaptive predispositions influencing personality are constitutionally endowed vs. learned, how deeply ingrained the personality pattern is, and, especially, the nature of any attempts to modify the pattern. And because I learned early that some of our best metaphors for understanding human nature are woefully inadequate when it comes to understanding and intervening with disturbed characters, I get a bit nit-picky about how we see the causes and prognosis with respect to character disturbance. SOME impaired individuals, especially those who simply never learned better, and whose pattern is not hopelessly ingrained, and who get to a place where they willingly subject themselves to the right type of intervention can indeed become better people. One day, I hope we’ll get even better at understanding all the causal factors and working withing metaphors adequate in effecting meaningful change. Perhaps one day we’ll even be able to modify brain structures in those who seem to be born “damaged,” who knows? But for now, especially given how serious the problem is and how hard it is to address and ameliorate (impossible with traditional perspectives and interventions), it’s really important that we perceive its nature as accurately as possible.

          1. Beautifully worded Dr. Simon!! I wish we could clone you!! I’d love for you to have a sit down with my Spath brother and my self diagnosed Spathx. I love them both in different ways of course but they both are dealing with a mountain of issues……shocking, me too!
            My brother……we just don’t have much contact. I let go years ago for the most part. He does seem some better, he is 51. He will never be not damaged to a fairly great degree but with no drivers license, has managed to stay out of prison for a very impressive length of time.
            Spathx…..I love this man and I am sure some of my own narcissistic and neurotic issues have played their parts in the dysfunction of our relationsh-t. I wish more than anything there was hope for him/us.

            Something interesting……I was told that the difference between a garden variety narcissist and a Spath is the ” mask “. The mask a Spath wears is there for a reason, to hide their malevolent intentions. Narcissists don’t have reason to hide. They are openly narcissistic, not predatory.
            Food for thought..

          2. Thanks for the kind words. And your little tidbit about the difference between the “garden variety” narcissist and psychopath is pretty accurate!

          3. A thought: Since disturbed characters detest humbling, this should help in perceiving the nature of this as well as possible. I’ve had a few experiences myself where I’ve humbled myself and verbally gotten crap back(e.g. someone saying: “You’re not some god commanding us from above” when I’ve never even thought that way, just because I’ve done a small mistake or two. Someone rushes to excuse: “You made a mistake, you can’t expect them to treat you like an angel”, but that in this cae would be pure idiocy and missing the point.

            The point is that casting humility and being able to admit mistake as something that gives a seam to mock the admitter of a mistake, especially spreading this kind of attitude, gives fuel to the attitude of despising humility.

            The most seriously disturbed characters persist in being assholes no matter what. Nonetheless, we don’t need more of the outlook of “Humility must be resisted at all costs” or “Humility equals humiliation”. That would give even more bad name to taking responsibility.

          4. Well said, J. And the tactic of accusing another of “playing God” as a way of humbling (and bringing the other to submission) wouldn’t work at all unless the victim had the capacity to be humble.

          5. Actually I was talking about when people, not necessarily manipulators, say this to someone to remind them: “You are the inferior one here, suck that.” That kind of a message really sets humility in a bad light, just because someone wants to feel better at someone else’s expense.

            Perhaps stories should be spread that discourage this kind of behavior. Mouth-to-mouth communication, spreading stories, can be used for good as well. Perhaps we people should make up stories that encourage healthy humility and discourage being snarky at someone else’s expense. A suggestion I hope everyone considers.

  9. Spaths do a 180 all the time…..one of their subtle tricks is to accuse the victim of their own motivations. It’s THEY who are guilty of what they accuse you of.

    1. Yep. And the “classic” explanation for this was that they are “projecting” unconsciously qualities they simply couldn’t bear to believe they possess onto someone else. I quiver a bit when I think about how wrong-sighted this once dominant viewpoint is.

  10. No…..with a Spath, it’s not unconscious. It is a ” tell” to the victim however. I think it servers two purposes for the CA…..one is to manipulate the victim with subconscious confusion…cognitive disonance. Two, its a boundary test. Will you confront them when you do see that they are accusing you of what they are guilty of. They thrive on confusion to keep the victim off balance. An attempted discussion or confrontation is met with twists and turns ( around on you ) and ” word salads”, things pulled in from every place other than the subject at hand, often in a nonsensical ramble that leves you feeling like you’ve been run over with a semi truck full of dictionaries. What I wish I would have had the presence of mind to do at the time was to ask, ” could you please say that again? I’m not sure I’m following you”. Of course that would have been met with some other type of diversionary tactic, like walking out or further escalating.

      1. Nit picky me here!! This is the thing regarding what Tolle says, tying into the above discussion. When Tolle is talking about being conscious he is speaking about a different type of consciousness then just knowing what you are doing and what you want to accomplish by doing it,,,,,,,covert aggressive manipulation tactics aimed at the victim for the Spaths objectives to be met. Tolle is speaking, in my opinion and understanding, of a deeper consciousness or inner awareness, an inner knowing of the self and ones connection with life. This is why I say, that CAs know what they are doing ( hurting others ), why they are doing it ( to benefit themselves)…….but I don’t think they have any true awareness ( self understanding) of why they are the way they are or do the things they do because they lack the ability for introspection and the ability to self reflect. This is what differentiates an adult from a child. A child is not able to examine its own motives, place in the world, impact on the feelings of others, etc. At a certain age they begin to develop that ability but before they do…..it’s all about them. Emotionally……a Spath is stuck in that place of a narcissistic toddler.
        That is why I say that they don’t KNOW. They don’t have the capacity to really know because they don’t have the same emotional make up that empaths have. How can they empathize with someone’s feelings if they don’t feel? It would be like me knowing what it’s like to be a fish or some other cold blooded creature that gets its oxygen from the water. Mysterious! I know how they do it but I certainly can not relate to their experience of ” breathing” water.

        Maybe I’m taking this too far?? LOL

        1. No, not too far. I’m enjoying the discussion on this and I hope the readers are also.

          I realize full well what Tolle means. And it would take way too much time to explain all the other aspects of his perspective that are poetically beautiful and spot on when it comes to understanding most of the human condition but still quite limiting and inadequate when it comes to really appreciating the nature of character disturbance, especially severe character disturbance. And while there’s a certain amount of truth in the notion that because they can’t fully identify and appreciate certain things because of the limited level of awareness they have of those things and even of themselves on some level, the fact is that they know themselves better than even the most spiritually reflective of us neurotics know ourselves. That’s why I repeat the mantra: “They see, but they disagree.” For example, with respect to the empathy issue, they might not have the level of appreciation some of us have for the value of empathy because they don’t see it in the way we do, they know what it is (granted, they don’t know it like we know it) and they know most of us have it, which is a main reason they can take advantage of us with certain tactics. But despite knowing it at a least that level, they disdain it or regard it as just one of the attributes that make us inferior in their eyes.

          So despite knowing what Tolle (and, BTW, other great spiritually enlightened writers like Ruiz) means, and despite the great power of the metaphors they use to help us comprehend much of the human experience, I still don’t recommend that folks use such frameworks to understand and/or deal with the most character-impaired among us. Every metaphor has a certain realm where it enjoys a better “fit” with the realities it attempts to embrace and explain. There are better frameworks for understanding the character-impaired. And unfortunately, much of the time, seeing things through the lenses of the perspective offered by Tolle and others can really increase the chances that someone will misperceive the nature of the disturbed character’s dysfunction.

          Perhaps I’ll devote a small series of articles to this topic in the near future. That should really get the discussion going!! 🙂

          1. Oooooh boy!! I better rest my typing finger for THAT series!! 🙂
            I think what you are saying is that Tolles ideas just belong on a different arena. Eeeeew! I was just about to say, ” he doesn’t have a dog in this fight” and I just realized what that term actually means!! Gross!!
            But isn’t that interesting?? I’ve used that term before but never thought about what was really behind the words. I just knew what the concept meant….like I have an interest in this subject because I’ve experienced something that qualifies me.
            I will never use that term again!!

          2. Dr. Simon…….what I meant to say was….belongs IN a different arena!! 🙂 anyhow…..at least we are on the same page finally!! 🙂

    1. Perhaps that strategy would not have been met with more crap. I think that if I had known to confront some of the occasional bullies of my life with “What did you just say to me?” challenge, they would have possibly backed down. Cuz… at heart, they are cowards who pick on the naive.

      1. Hi, Vera. It’s nit-picky me again! 🙂 Probably true that SOME are really cowards underneath but most definitely are not. Maybe it makes us feel a little better to cast them as cowards, which is probably why this notion ever got any traction. But what’s really wrong with them is far more insidious than cowardice.

        1. But but but… didn’t you say somewhere that they lose interest when people stand up for themselves, and seek easier victims?

          Hm… see, I took it further than I should have, interpreting that as cowardice. (?)

          1. I know (I think) why you don’t like ‘coward’ here, Dr Simon. I have to say I have a similar discomfort when, for example, people refer to suicide-bombers or the 9/11 perpetrators as ‘cowards’. It’s not that I think it’s heroic of course — there are all manner of powerful condemnations on a moral level one could use that are far, far worse than ‘cowardice’ – but ‘coward’ seems like what philosopher’s call ‘a category mistake’. (Like saying: ‘a green smell’ or ‘a yellow sound’.)

            Trying out a thought:
            Maybe ‘cowardice’ and ‘courage’ are neurotics’ words? Once again we are using our frames in which to understand them, and they don’t fit well. and potentially lead us astray (or into arguments here!)

            They hate to lose; so when defeat seems likely they don’t expose themselves to the humiliation. But not out of ‘fear’ or ‘cowardice’, but because of the deep aversion.

            They are ‘bold’ and often unafraid and have no scruples; which is why often (especially when aggressive) they don’t look cowardly at all, and appear courageous.

            As far as Vera’s point, that challenge in the past might have been successful… maybe the way to interpret this is to clarify the ‘success’. The success is not to change their behaviour; it is purely succeeding at protecting yourself.

            Is this getting anywhere…?

      2. Vera,,,,,it has to be said in a non confrontational way and what I’m speaking about is a response to the non spence they sometimes spew when the have run out of ” logical ” rationalizations and excuses.
        The term is “word salad” and it’s my new favorite spathspeak term. I’ve seen Spathx do this and it was just fascinating. It’s like his mind is in a panic and is frantically grasping for any word it can find because it refuses to loose. It’s as close to insanity as I’ve ever personally seen. I’ve seen my Spath brother do it as well. I wish I could give you an example but I can’t even go there!! I can’t even get into character to find the words. What I can tell you is that when you see it happen it definitely puts you in WTF-ville. It terminates the convo immediately.
        I remember watching it happen with Spathx one time and it actually made me cry. He spun himself into the ground and looked so defeated and forlorn. I remember putting my hand on his back and feeling sorry for him. I think in that moment, I was in such an objective witness state that I ceased to take him personally. I truly felt compassion and sadness. Really deep love. 🙁

        1. Wow. That’s a new one for me! And mindboggling (literally, of course!). Shaking my head.

          I’ve seen two related strategies. One is endless digressions that have zero content but try to masquerade as being pertinent to the conversation. The other is this: a normally perfectly articulate person is suddenly coming across as verbally clumsy, his sentences are weird, awkward and make you do a double take, you go WHAT?, you get concerned. At first, I played his game and asked for clarifications. Pointless. Then I caught on. (This particular relationship was conducted via emails a lot, so that made it easier for me to wake up to this one.)

          Their motto: Confusion to the French! (an old toast and war cry during Napoleon’s reign)

          1. Word salad can definitely happen in writing. I think you may know this without knowing you know it!! Lol. I may be able to find an example. It’s a big old pile of crazy incongruent thoughts that don’t go together and the key signal is being left in WTF-ville.

  11. I can’t really find a good example…..there are references to word salad on the Internet but they seem extreme, like words that don’t go together. When this happened with Spathx it was more like thoughts that didn’t go together or didn’t really ” work” in the context he was trying to use them in. Idk……it was sad.

    1. Hope this helps: “Word salad” as a clinical term, refers to the completely disjointed and illogical speech some schizophrenics and others in the throes of active psychosis exhibit. You greet them with “hello” and they might reply: “barely Detroit for Cinderella orange going typewriter.” Now that’s word salad!

      1. Yes…..I guess what I’ve seen Spathx and Spathbro do is more of a thought/ word salad. It’s not a true word salad like clinically described but t is bizarre.

    2. I guess we’ve found the manipulation tactic of incoherent rambling :D!

      Like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XREnvJRkif0

      I recall that one guy from the beginning of my army stint, who certainly entertained a twisted world of thinking. He really wasn’t the subtlest guy out there, because a few times he could spout something odd out of context(“We all get born, take shits and die!”).

      Also, I was once assigned to a guard turn with him and he kept spitting loudly. I asked him to stop doing that. He started assaulting me verbally. He said: “You’re not my girlfriend and I can’t get pussy from you, so would you cut it off already?” He told me he had already been called to the quartermaster’s office and thus knew the rules(“Yeah, right”, I thought). He tried to “correct my wrong shooting direction” and diverted the topic to how I “tend to blurt out obvious things”. When I stayed firm(I had observed him to be just very callous, not violent), he started spouting something incoherent and borderline nonsensical. He might have had other mental health issues in addition to not being very conscientious about his conduct, but I wouldn’t exclude him having done it to intimidate or throw me off my center to get me off his back. Perhaps he just got a thought of rambling and decided: “What the hell, I can as well.” To that I responded: “What are you trying to say?” It took a little more persisting and because he wasn’t from the worst end, he finally got bored and quieted down.

      Now, some do persist even after you ask them to clarify. Then again, if you know or suspect someone might be so resistant to listening to reason or don’t know enough about whether they are, I’d advise against saying anything like that.

      1. J, what I have witnessed from Spathx is not the same as the Manson YouTube clip although that clip is interesting. I’ve seen it before and he is a trip!
        It was more like your description…..”incoherent and borderline nonsensical”. I can’t explain but have a feeling that there are so many lies, half truths ( covert and overt ) rattling around in his psyche that its just a big old garbage dump. It really is a sad mess.

  12. The Puerto Rican Man. A snapshot into a true tail.
    I once met a Puerto Rican man. He flirted and charmed until I paid attention. He was not unattractive, he had a nice shape and he carried himself well.
    I spent some time getting to know this man. He was kind and charming considerate and easy going, he seemed to share my values. He was smart and seemed ambitious. He was proud of his heritage of his culture. He talked about his history and his search for family and cooked for us ethnic dishes. Wow I thought.
    He asked me to marry him. I said yes.
    He wanted children I said yes.
    I am very pregnant, I am having a boy…….I think…..I have only picked out boy names. I am happy.
    I am visiting with his brother , he is not home but his brother has come to visit. As we sit and chat I am glad that his brother feels so comfortable with me. We begin to speak about family…..I say something about my husbands Puerto rican roots. What my brother in law says to me next shocks me…….Puerto Rican! where on earth did you get that….. I tell him. His face does some weird type of contortions I can’t tell if he is going to laugh or scream. I think he wants to do both.
    Your husband is not Puerto Rican he tells me. He is Mexican. What????? Does he know that? His brother is looking at me bug eyed, he is probably mimicking the look on my face. Of course he knows that! He almost yells.
    Whoa big time whoa. What do I do with this? Wow I thought. How will this play out. I am confused. Why would someone lie about who they are. Why would someone make up a nationality why would why would why would?
    What is that sound in my head. It sounds like music I can not make it out although I am listening. As time goes by I hear it clearer and clearer. Soon I begin to hear the words that go with it ……………..

    There is a dimension beyond that which is known to man. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into… the Twilight Zone. doodoodoodo…………

    • It is Mother’s day twenty years later……..I separated myself from the Puerto Rican man three years ago. We have two children. I send him an email. My sons are taking are taking their momma to lunch, I let him know. Please bring our daughter I ask him. He responds shortly to my email. He begins with a cheery greeting. “Good morning and a Happy Mother’s Day to you” it reads. How very thoughtful of him I think to myself…….I read on. He continues………. “Our daughter has shared with me that her plans today are to take ME to lunch for Mother’s Day. I email back……….
    Well then, I guess the only thing for me, is to whish you, a Happy Mothers Day.
    Enjoy.
    Please let our little missy know how much I love her.
    Thanks,

  13. Some great points in your opening commentary Dr. Simon…..that really reaches out and touches on my personal story. Particularly the traits of selective attention, assenting, intimidatory tactics and the moving target style of arguing ones ‘point’. I have for many many years throughout our relationship, and still do, to a degree, experienced these. Rather foolishly, I’d always dismissed as the personality of someone who was just not too good at reasoning and would thereby give my wife the benefit of the doubt – my BIG doubt! She would eventually get whatever it was she wanted. I was once again agreeing to something I didn’t really want and left feeling soiled and confused and as if in the playful hand of a trickster in the process. My concerns were never ever dealt with, listened too, acknowledged……let along accepted. The analogy I would often use to those closest is, imagine lots of books, each one the reader has started but at some point during the ‘story’, they are abandoned, left open, unfinished, all strewn about having been thrown on the floor………is the way I have felt. Horribly frustrating, debilitating, completely numbing the whole process of talk.

    1. Wow Danny…………that is THE perfect analogy!! The books?? Perfect! And I can SO relate. The issues (yours) just get lost in the shuffle of so many things…..life goes on and the unresolved pile just gets bigger and bigger with you underneath it. By the time we ended up in couples counceling I couldn’t put it all into a story line so the counselor is only seeing the surface layer but doesn’t know the previous parts of the story.
      We went to one councilor who on the first meeting laid down the ground rule of not bringing up the past……that we were going to start from where we were now and move forward. That was out initial meeting. At the first real appointment she said that we had to be able to trust each other. I immediately said that I didn’t know how to trust a person who had already emptied the trust bank account in the past (in SO many ways).
      She jumpped right on me saying…..Now Puddle, We agreed to not bring the past into our sessions, remember? Well what she ACTUALLY said was “we will not be bringing up the past unless it applies to the present”. OK!!!!!!!! I would say that his past violations of trust do apply to my difficulties trusting him in the present. Then she copped an attitude towards me and the rest was down hill. She was borderline rude to me, I was on the ropes and SO confused and OMG!! She contradicted herself a couple of times and I was in tears…..or just shut down to keep from being in tears.

      HE Said HE was confused too when we left but later turned the whole thing into this: Well, We tried couples counseling and you wanted to throttle the woman! What actually happened was when we left I was in tears and told him I didn’t understand and was confused, he said he was confused too and hugged me and said we will just have to find a different counselor. What a mess.
      Thanks for the analogy Danny! PERFECT!

  14. Many thanks for your kind words Puddle. Yes, the books/stories are autobiographical. I am barely reading through each story and before I even get the opportunity to get to the key point of the story, it is torn from my grip and thrown to the floor, sometimes stamped upon or kicked violently from one place to another. And then a short time later I will pick up another, only for the same action to be repeated over and over by my wife. Unfinished books strewn all over the place. Very painful.

    One further thing I would like to mention. After every awful incident (that I have since learnt the CA knows exactly what they are doing) she will aim a metaphorical shot across the bows. It might be an unexpected [seemingly] kind turn, asking me if I would like a cup of tea or coffee, or it might be that she will bring to me a piece of cake or some freshly baked bread, or maybe even a text message wishing me a nice day. However the objective is not in any way to be kind (it always happens shortly after the drama/conflict), it is more a check action aimed at ensuring I am still under her control, still permissive, still compliant, despite her wrong action/s for which there has been no apology offered or even any mention. So as soon as she receives a positive reply (might be a simple “thanks”)……this is all the confirmation she needs to continue the same behaviour.

    Awful….simply awful.

    1. I demanded an apology one time, because it had not been offered voluntarily. The whole story is far too complicated to tell in this format but the end of the evening was this. I was Very upset…….the issue being one of the many unfinished novels that had been kicked across the floor many times…..anyhow, it had come up again and instead of addressing the issue AGAIN, he chose to leave me laying in the bed so he could watch the football game he had been looking forward to. I was in a total shut down…..I don’t know what to say or do……I felt sick to my stomach that this issue had come up again! He left the bed without saying a word to me, went to the kitchen and turned on the game and started cooking diner. I just stayed in bed because I was at a loss how to handle this……so I stayed in bed while he watched the game…………OH….long long story but towards the end of what turned out to be the evening I finally came out to the kitchen and said calmly, “That’s it Jeff, I would like you to go home”. He SHOVED back the chair and in a very hostile spitting tone of voice said “YOUR F’ING CRAZZY”!! I said, “I’m not crazy”. He again spat at me “YOUR F”ING CRAZZY”, and then walked out.
      so days go by……then make up time, right? He comes over and I said….I haven’t heard one word of apology for the way you spoke to me the other night. His response?? Well, you haven’t apologized either.
      Just this story/ incident would take pages and pages to explain all the background info. it’s just impossible!

      1. No, no….I understand completely what you are saying Puddle. I have been there a thousand times…..it is truly horrible. When I err, it is my responsibility to apologise for my mistake. Of course I should be accountable and make things right – shouldn’t I? Shouldn’t we? Shouldn’t everybody?
        When my wife will err, it is also my responsibility to apologise for her mistake because I shouldn’t have wound her up, or vexed her, or spoke to her in the way I did, or provoked her, or should have had more foresight than to have approached her at that time of the day, month or even year, should have been more considerate, shouldn’t have asked her because I already know the answer, yadda yadda yadda. Of course, I should be accountable and make things right – errrmm….because we both [should] know her errors can never be attributed to her. She never ever has to apologise. At times, like you describe so well, I have demanded an apology, only to be laughed at, mocked, sneered at, openly ridiculed, turning her back on me whilst mid sentence…….to walk away and do something else……is one of a number of responses I will receive in return. Another book dashed to the floor violently, and then kicked about and stamped upon gleefully…….
        ……….and then imagine being offered a piece of cake shortly thereafter? Oh the sacrificial piece of cake, that well worn symbolic gesture, to which my acceptance is a symbolic signature, thereupon giving [her] consent to continually repeat the same behaviour over and over and over and over ad nauseum…….

        1. Yes Danny…….one time he told me, after I confronted him about a way he spoke to me or WHATEVER it was that happened………..”well if you don’t throw the ball on the field, it won;t get kicked”. It was such a bizarre response that it stopped my brain dead in it’s tracks. So NOW I have to try to switch in to game analogy brain mode???????? to try to continue to address this issue………………………again???????????
          WTF? It’s one WTF incident after another. My brain felt like a tire that had a pinhole leak in it……..slowly loosing air but not noticing it and once it was almost flat, still not understanding where all the air that had been there went.
          All the failed attempt to actually resolve issues that two adults SHOULD be able to resolve in a relationship where two people love each other…….I aparently made the grave mistake of assuming that he felt the same way about me that I felt about him……that his words meant the same thing mine did. When things pointed to the opposite I would try my best to ask important questions to make sure we were on the same page…….of course, he said all the right things at those times! No Puddle, I love you, No Puddle, you are wrong about me, No Puddle, I blah blah blah!
          SO,,,,,,,,,,If you don’t drop the ball on the field it won’t get kicked?????????? Well, what about the other options?? Like picking the ball up and carrying it off the field? or gently handing it back to the person who dropped it? His rational would excuse a whole lot of behaviors, now wouldn’t it?? If you didn’t own a car, it wouldn’t get stolen. If you wouldn’t have been drinking, I wouldn’t have date raped you. If you wouldn’t have been an 80 year old man, I wouldn’t have mugged you. If you didn’t have expensive things in your home, I wouldn’t have robbed it! WTF?????????????????

          1. And herein lies the problem. My friend, YOU MUST take responsibility for yourself………however YOU MUST ALSO take responsibility for their outright and utter refusal to take responsibility for themselves. In their brain addled sick CD state….the problem is all YOU. No matter how wrong they may be, they are NEVER wrong.

            **sigh**

          2. Danny……….the basic problem is that I CARED what happened and I WANTED it to work which put me at a huge disadvantage. I didn’t want to do things or say things wrong and when I did i felt really bad. If I said something hurtful to him, called him a name of WHATEVER………Not a whole 5 minutes went by without me extending an apology. I did it because no matter what, n matter what he had done…….no matter how much frustration was behind what I said or how I incorrectly I handled myself……I knew what I said/ did was wrong and i owned up to it. PLENTY of times he expected me to own up to things I never said or didn’t mean in the way he told them back to me…….I would just stand there with my mouth open in confusion! HOW did you get THAT from what I actually said?? The answer?? He didn’t…………it was ALL manipulation. I was just “stupid” enough to really not understand SO many things at the time and now I feel like a complete idiot realizing that I let a complete stranger, a fake, into my heart, home and body. If that isn’t rape, I don’t know what it is. Does it matter if he over powered me with drugs? Alcohol? Deception?? It doesn’t matter to me. I can guarantee that I’m going through exactly what a woman who has been violently raped is going through. Only this happened repeatedly and over basically almost two years. It’s horrible……

        2. Oh yes Danny………I was ALWAYS accused or made to feel badly or whatever he was doing because I brought things up at the wrong time. Mornings,,,,,bad had to go to work. Evenings bad had just gotten off work. Then time for dinner and God forbid after dinner……time to go to bed. Weekends? Well how dare I ruin the weekend wanting to discuss ISSUES! (The same issues that have been endlessly shelved). Thats what the final break up consisted of………me telling him that I felt like we were just “buddies”, asking him if he just thought of me like a buddie and not romantically anymore. WHY?? Because that is what I felt like……..well I RUINED HIS Christmas Eve! The worst Christmas Eve he’s ever had…….because I asked a question (the same one I’ve been wanting to know the truth about for MONTHS! So instead of grabbing me and pulling me onto his lap or into the bedroom, he berated me for RUINING Christmas Eve……………………………and then later told me to choke to death on some food he had prepared when I offered to drop it by and leave it on his MOTHERS porch. Said he would call the Sheriff!!!! “You can choke to death on the f’ing casserole for all I care”!
          Lovely…….that was the last night of our relationshi* other than a few failed internet reengagements.

  15. Yes, that sounds to me extremely painful Puddle.

    As I was reading it brought to mind that I have received lots of apologies from my wife but they feel very fake…….
    “I’m sorry but […..it wasn’t my fault because], [….you were getting on my nerves], […..I was tired and was provoked by you], [……you did so and so back in the year so and so, so if you can do it so can I], [……I was in a bad mood and you should’ve been more understanding]…..yadda yadda yadda…….., so often concluded by”…..so if you don’t want it to happen again YOU should look more closely at YOURself and YOUR actions”.

    A total and complete head-wringer!!!!!

    1. I’ve done it again Puddle (replied to the wrong comment). Please forgive – I’m sure you will have twigged my intention was to respond to your post directly above.

    2. Danny, did you say? Have the two of you been to marriage counseling? We “tried it”. but never got very far with it. It was very confusing for me. I had a hard time following the process…too many words and I process things too slowly. It’s hard for me to explain really but It never felt to me like anything was really being addressed but i wasn’t sure…..
      Just wondering what your experience has been or if you think it could help your relationship?

      1. We have Puddle. Not been a pleasant experience for me, plus I think counselling is only as good as (a) what each party is really seeking to get out of the exercise and (b) how good or how assertive is the counsellor……in leading the exchange to positive outcomes. In short,p my experience has mostly been that the manipulator loves a good counselling sessions (or sessions). It is furtile ground for them to ply their trade. Then at the point their self serving chicanery is about to be exposed, they will counter accuse the counsellor and/or me of waging some sort of personal vendetta against them in daring to to suggest that some or even most of the issues are occurring as a result of their actions.

        1. Thanks for sharing Danny. I can’t say that we were there long enough to really have it work…if it was going to. Kind of semi amusing to me now but sickening at the same time….. The first time we went, we walked in, he sat on the couch right next to me and the first time I got a little emotional trying to explain something to her (the first councilor) he reached over and put his hand on my knee in the most tender and understanding way. I remember thinking “HUH”? Like I said in my previous post…..it was all so confusing for me. I couldn’t keep track of who we were talking about, what we were talking about……..my brain would be back trying to figure out the previous topic or sentence and she (the second councilor) would be onto something else. I was, at the time, even very much more hopeful because he had gone.
          Another small thing I picked up…..the first counselor said to him something ……Well Spathtard, I know you said that you were rather ambivalent about not drinking…..
          He had met with her on his own initially and then decided to go to her together. AMBIVALENT about not drinking?????? THAT was MY deal breaker because I can’t be with someone who drinks now that I am sober. He knew that, reassured me time and time and time again that he did not want to drink anymore and that the relationshi* was far more important to him that drinking and that that he had even seen how negatively it had affected his life, how he wanted to quit for him,,,,,not for me or the relationship…………..blah blah blahdy blah blah!!!!!!! but he had told HER that he was ambivalent about not drinking,,,,,on the fence. Another WTF moment for me.

          1. Some people lie just because they can.

            In general people can do some things just because they can, for example eat a load of fries or surf the Net with no aim just because these don’t seem to have unpleasant consequences. Some morally unscrupulous people, we can conclude, can think of lying also as something they like to do because they can. No obvious unpleasant consequences, nothing they see a reason to get pained about.

            Sure, lying can be and often is a weapon, but I think lying can also occur because a liar thinks s/he can.

  16. My husband is doing his best at minimizing his abuse…today I felt I had to address the issue that he’s been wanting to brush under the carpet with playing happy families. I did it over the phone, I wasn’t going to risk bringing it up while we were face to face. With Christmas over I couldn’t take it anymore. Of course I can’t bring it up because I’m just trying to make him feel like a dog. So he turns the tables on me again,so that it’s all my fault once more…saying this is always about me and yet I have not been able to air my grievances at all because he refuses to listen and just goes on about what a good husband and father he is…apparently I’ve done nothing for this relationship over the last 14 years and always complain. He complained that I don’t trust him, that I seem so anxious whenever I see him as if I should suddenly not be frightened of him after what he’s done, yet every time I see him he lets me know how angry he is…if it’s not at me, it’s his father, the woman who stepped in front of him in a Queue, the car in front of him going so slow.. So I let him rant and rave but I still stayed on topic, and continued to bring up the abuse…still it didn’t do any good he just gave me the same mantra and even told me where I should work. I politely and firmly told him he doesn’t get to tell me where I should work eventually I’d had enough… So today I acted and said well if we can”t rationally talk about trying to work this out then do you think we can rationally talk about a permanent separation. Not a hope! I’ve done a lot of thinking these last few days, a lot of reading this blog, Dr Simon’s books, other sites and books and I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s time to get out of this mess. I had a long walk and found the only reason I really wanted to stay was for my son’s sake but it’s better for him if we split and I realise too that counselling just won’t work not for him. And whatever love I had for him is diminishing by the minute. He’s never going to change. I’m scared of what to expect but it’s way too scary to stay in this relationship any longer. So I do thank you so much Dr Simon for this blog and your books they have helped me no end in coming to this decision and I feel better today because now I can move forward with my life. Even with the difficulties that lay ahead of me. I feel a real sense of freedom with this decision.

    1. Tori, I do wish you luck with your decision and it sounds like you are on solid ground in yourself. I think that once you have made up your mind, things will fall into place. Your thinking about your son is important. It’s not helpful for him to grow up witnessing your husband’s abuse, very bad role model. Stay strong Tori and be safe above all else. Think through each move before you act and hold your cards close. He doesn’t need to know anything before the fact…..no threats, etc. No warning shots!

  17. I am pleased for you Tori – in having the strength and fortitude to have reached this point. I wish you the very best for the future.

    1. Danny (and others) This is a VERY interesting article……..Im curious what Dr. Simon would think about it as well. I really do think there IS something fundamentally wrong with them,,,,,,,SERIOUSLY “different”. I experienced what this article describes over and over and over again. I can remember asking him, “is that really what you heard”? or “is that really what you remember”? To this day I don’t know. My ?WTF? bucket overflowed long ago…….

      http://psychopathyawareness.wordpress.com/category/erased-but-not-forgotten-psychopaths-and-emotional-memory/

  18. Thanks Danny and Puddle, I will keep my cards close… and from now on no communication. He’s now associating with another character whom I know is someone to be wary of and is drinking so I will have to tread carefully. I was reading some comments on this post http://www.drgeorgesimon.com/aggressors-narcissists-conscience-and-character/ and a comment I think you made Puddle about how the aggressors appear to have genuine empathy and love for their family and loved ones. Dr Simon responded that they see their child as an extension of their self love and they idolize their own creation. My now ex does have an intense relationship with our son…and he’s his only child…that is a scary thing for me to digest right now. So yes still strength in me but every day brings another fear.
    Reading some other comments on that article that people are facing that read identical to mine…and I guess everyone dealing with these CD’s has the same problems…it’s so hard to digest that there are so many out there, that they cause such havoc to so many people and their families. As it just doesn’t affect the partner, it’s the children, extended families…my oldest daughter who has left home is worried sick to the point she has anxiety…then that in turn affects her partner, her work…it’s just a chain reaction…one they must absolutely delight in no doubt. It’s good to see so many interacting on this site it can only give us hope that the more the word gets out then maybe sometime soon as a community we can really be armed to deal with these people. As always it’s an eyeopener that hits hard.

    1. Tori,,,,,,,,,,,the involvement with him has cost me thousands of dollars in keeping myself above water, mentally, emotionally and indirectly physically. I do have FASD so maybe something about that is having a greater affect than it would have if I didn’t but I do know that there are MANY victims who struggle with this practically indescribable scenario. I THANK GOD that I didn’t have kids with him or a more legally binding relationship. His 4 ex wives carry those burdens.
      It is mind boggling indeed. I have been reading about this for almost a year and I still can’t wrap my head around it no matter what source I’m reading it from!

      Please read the link I posted and any other article on that site. It’s really more from a romantic involvement perspective.

      I have NEVER lived my life in fear before……that may not be a good thing but I somehow managed to make it this far. I now do not feel safe and I’m going to have to spend even more money taking the necessary steps so that I can live in my home and not wonder and worry about what could happen.
      Just an aside……..I was a competitive pistol shooter before i moved where I live now, he knows that as do many. I can protect myself which gives me a certain degree of safety, but I still need to make my security my number one priority and am already starting that process.
      I watch these shows on the ID channel and it has taught me a lot………mostly that the things you and or I find impossible to believe that someone would/ could do………are not impossible. The only answer in my mind is to protect yourself in as many ways as possible……Emotionally (in the future) and physically now.
      Be smart……not paranoid but WISE. Like an animal guarding their offspring. I will tell you this, the LAST thing you should do is make threats of ANY kind about ANYthing. And do not feed his need for drama and control by reacting to him in any kind of emotional way.
      Hang in there Tori.

    2. IF he is indeed what you suspect him to be Tori, Remember above all else……he is not like you in any way shape or form so do not expect that he will act like or respond like you would in any given situation. That is our biggest vulnerability……thinking they are like us.

  19. This what happened to me. I used to be a call girl and stopped because I did not want to do it anymore. I opted to live in shelters for months while looking for work instead and for a new job. I was 22. So then out of nowhere the Lady of the “salon” I used to “work ” from starts distributing security vedio material and saying I made pron and that on top of my new legitimate job I was also street walking. At first I was lucky that I met very supportive women that were supporting me and telling me that the only reason the Madame lady was doing what she was doing was to slut-shame to make me an example for other women who wanted to leave and start clean. You would think I was a call girl for years it was only for a couple of weeks and 4 years later her ” people” those are the people that she paid to put me on websites and people like my roommates who whistle around me and to spread rumors about me are still following trying to demean me. Like when I am at work I get bullied…but I always wonder if I am such a person who a slut then how come I work side with other people in a company. I was lucky to meet a friend who told me that these people were just messed up in the head and had issues of their own and I was that target with the exact mistake that they could use to justify their stalking , spreading of rumors and gas lighting. I believe in God and I am an open Christian , so at work these people would make fun of God or of Jesus when I was in earshot. When I got angry and put my hands to one of them I was labelled the Bitch. But I also learned that some people are manipulators that is what led me to this webpage because my roommates use a specific whistle around me and my friend told me I was being bullied in a subtle way. But me being me I rap my anger and I do not ouch a person or get in their face but I also do nor talk to them and I clearly state my boundaries. Lie first my life is my own.. no matter what that does not give anyone the right to make up stories about me, spread rumors, whistle at me or call me names…and if they are not OK with that they can do it among themselves. I learned something too that every time I prayed for God to help me dealing with them he helped me and I am glad. Because people like this are the kind of people that bully in schools but also want to be the teachers pet. They are normal middle classes people and you would expect better…they are from privileged backgrounds…they smoke weed, drink, and do drugs and turn up for university the next day. The first time meeting these people I noticed they usssually mention what they perceive to be a social achievement and ask you about your then within 4 days of knowing them they get personal by talking you about their personal affliction…like oh my dad has had many heart attacks he is really sick man. Correct me i f I am wrong but things too personal should be shared with people you really know .’ So this article is helping me very much because I can be my self and not turn into an aggressive person and also know that the only reason I am here I because God loves me and he fashioned me in a way that is perfect in his eyes but the devil would have liked to seen more of a prostitute in me so he spreads lies and rumors and uses tactics to prolong his fantasy but in reality I cannot a prostitute, I am a young girl who made a bad choice with my body and It was my choice and I changed that so nothing justifies any bully’s behavior towards me. If I tell you how jealous they get when I succeed hat they start saying oh she uses to live in a shelter ,she used to be this and that. Yes I had a bad start I had no parents , I was an new immigrant, I slept on the streets but look at me now. I a happy I found this site because even though I have anger towards these people I am notgoingtonbenturned into the monster that wish I were…I am gonna be like do you thing which watching me dommy thing and taken note of how God blesses me wheli you spread lies to get social acceptance and friends. Me I have but one friend and that is enough , yes some people say I am nothing and am disgusting but guess what I believe that God has a plan for me and I tell those people sometimes I am not those people who are bullied and say oh let me kill myself I believe and know that to God all men are equal and to me you are no better or lesser than me.

  20. Sorry I wrote an entire chapter . But it is happening and the people who are trying to getn to me are so annoying like thy do not give up.

  21. Thank you so much for this information. I’ve recently had cause to ask Social Services here in the UK to look into someone who you could be describing word for word in this article. I’m so glad I did something to try and help this person instead of leaving things alone as I was tempted to do, but now that I’ve read this I’m glad I acted. Thanks again. Jim.

  22. Having read so much in the last while about CD’s, I was able to end a casual friendship recently. I sensed I was being lied to by a casual friend, who claimed to be speaking for herself and 3 other mutual friends. As I don’t know the mutual friends well, it was embarrassing and difficult to do, but I know this is what manipulators count on — the shield of social awkwardness.

    So, I picked up the phone and double checked. She had indeed made up the claims. I sent her a brief email, quickly explaining the phone call and telling her I had to go no contact with her. I explained that, i knew she had manipulated me a couple of times before and I wasn’t interested in continuing the friendship.

    Wow…they really don’t like being called on this stuff! She sent me two 1200 word essays about how wrong I was. If you have to write half a book to explain your behaviour, that’s a red flag. I was supposed to feel guilty for her mind f’g, somehow. I caught her lying red handed. Too funny.

    Her husband ended up contacting my husband, saying she was going berserk, screaming and yelling and making his life Hell. And would my husband please listen to her side of the story!! Husband said it wouldn’t be necessary. He followed up with ,”I trust my wife’s judgement.”

    A narcissistic manipulator has to be in total control of the social perceptual sphere, at all times, or some of them melt down.

  23. Lisa, good for your husband for championing you like that! And good for you to be able to see what she was doing and “stop the bleeding” in a bad “friendship”.
    I too have learned to call a spade a spade and recently ended a friendship with someone I’ve known and who’s done work for me for over 7 years. He refused to honor my boundaries, privacy and property rights and after I attempted to address this with him many times, in many ways,,,,,,,,it all escalated recently in an unbelievable way. He completely thumbed his nose at my requests and I called the sheriff. The whole story is quite unbelievable but it was evident that my perfectly reasonable request were seen by him as an insult to his overblown narcissistic and entitled ego. Had I not been through what I went through with Spathtardx and done all the reading I’ve done…..I would never have been able to handle this the way I did.

  24. Good for you, Puddle! Unbelievable how hungry their egos are, huh? I am happy for you that you were able to deal appropriately with an inappropriate person! The woman I am referencing here is wife of a good friend of husbands.

    I have observed her for over a decade now, at her ‘fabulous’ dinner parties. She holds forth for an entire evening! And believe me, after the first 2 hours of non-stop self interest, directed at the lucky guests, her delicate little mouth takes on the appearance of a hyper-mobile festering wound–particularly when she starts the fun game of emasculating her husband!

    I knew she was narcissistic–the bragging, putting husband down, lack of interest in others, etc…I figured she was tremendously insecure, so would make sure I complimented her if and where possible- – for years.

    But my compliments were stale and familiar. Didn’t represent a social victory of any kind. So, she felt free to treat me pretty horrendously.

    I find Dr.Simon’s viewpoint on the psychology of narcissism unique, in this regard. If they were in a basic need deficit, wouldn’t kindness and uplifting encouragement work? Nope– doesn’t—not if they are malignant. Your compliments and kindness are perceived as submission, as if you have been conquered. They are always looking for fresh supply– I figure.

    There is a very narrow window of opportunity to be treated with respect by a narc. And it doesn’t even qualify as respect; it’s a weird off-putting adoration, being placed on a pedestal, for something you can offer them in the way of material goods, fun and adventure, a social gateway to meet those they consider important.

    They are VIP’s (very intense and peculiar).

    1. And again,,,,,,,yeah…..good for me BUT,,,,,now I fear retaliation. if his ego was bruised by me asking him to call before he comes to my property among a few other reasonable requests that he thumbed his nose at, it must be hemorrhaging now that I had the sheriff’s department contact him and tell him to stay off of my property!

  25. Lisa, you certainly have a good grasp of the situation and your descriptions are “fabulous” darling!! LOL!
    Kindness and uplifting encouragement doesn’t work because it’s not deserved at their core level. They are not the person you are being kind and encouraging to……it’s their mask. AND since everything out of their mouth is flattery and manipulative BS, they probably think that you are the same as they are. Spathtardx used to say that I was a WONDERful person and the most genuine person he had ever encountered……..and how wonderful my love felt to him………………………blah blah blah…………..what did it really mean? I’ll never know. disgusting.

  26. I had a 2 year on and off relationship with a passive aggressive individual. It was impossible to have a serious discussion with him. He would interrupt, change the subject, raise one eyebrow and smirk, as if I was out of my mind. It was so upsetting I would start to go berserk. The. He would very. Ally sit back in his chair, hands behind his head, watching me curiously like a lab speciman. I finally ended up going to a psychiatrist who was totally useless and gave me a diagnosis of bipolar disorder. I couldn’t for the life if me figure out why the shrink’s questions were all angled around criteria that. I could tell was angling for a diagnosis of some kind of psychosis. Long story short.. And I could have pursued this and taken legal action–the day I left the Passive Aggressive man, I asked him about this psychiatrist and if he had contacted him. He admitted that he had and had told him he thought I was manic depressive. Talk about being gaslighted!

    That was over 22 years ago. I haven’t been diagnosed with bipolar since not has anyone suggested I might be. Lord.

  27. Sorry for all the weird grammatical and spelling glitches. The spell check on this little device I am using has me writing some weird stuff. My iPhone is gas lighting me!

  28. I was in a 5 month relationship with a CA who live an hour away. He was very charming, especially in the beginning…swept me of my feet. Guilt tripping and shaming are his favorite tactics. He’d scold me, everything got turned back to me. I’m naturally playful, fun, and gently tease those close to me. Well, sometime he’d say he like that and other time he kinda liked it or I was mean. Yeah, people don’t call me mean. Because of the distance and work schedules we didn’t get to see each other as much. He quickly primed me not to talk on the phone much by talking about how his exs would complain he didn’t call them. He also said they were needy. His excuse for not wanting to use Skype was the connection was spotty. An excuse for everything. He used assent once…. He was late for a date and hadn’t been as attentive lately. I brought these issues up calmly and he acknowledged it and said he’d make more of an effort. He did, for a couple weeks and it dropped off again. His charming, attentive side would appear less and less. Because of how he treated me, I felt like I was walking on eggshells and was messing up my relationship. I was hesitant to bring up my needs because early an arguement occurred. I told him that I appreciated him opening up about something and said I’d like him to do that a little more. Well, that lead to me being told I was misreading him, he was just passive. It imitation was also used…he was asking rude questions, I told him to watch how he was phrasing things….Oh boy. He made a face and said its ok, that I’d burn and learn. That was early on…smh. Wish I left sooner. It ended with me reacting to one of his stunts a bit aggressively, lead to another arguement. He wanted a break, I ended things. Glad I’m free.
    I know I can be over conscientious and tend to over think things. I’ve worked on my self esteem too. I’ve taken this as a learning experience. I know what to look for now and how to deal with it.

    1. Lauren, Good for you! You are so out of there! Anyone who tells you that you ‘will burn and learn,’ should be afforded all the patience and respect of Ebola. And it sounds like he was dating other women, too? Why, a real upstanding guy, a regular Prince Harming!

  29. My sister in-law as done all of these manipulation tactics to me at one time for nearly a decade. These articles need a picture of her right up at the top of the page. I thought she was a Borderline for a very long time because she use to “copy” me in a competitive way, and she would also mimic my gestures, use my words, the way I talk. she and her family even moved across the country to live in the same town as me, a 2 minute drive away. I thought she had a distorted sense of identity and she chose me to copy me because she liked who I was. I tried to feel flattered but I never was. Upon farther research I read about how psychopaths mimic their victims because they want you to believe “they are just like you” to win you over. Everything came together as soon as I read about it. It was never that she liked who I was and wanted to be like me, but because she wanted me to believe she was just like me to win me over. The only articles I read this on was for romantic relationships so I am confused as to why she would go to all the trouble to use the “psychopathic bond” techniques on me for so long but I truly believe this is what she was doing all along. Ultimately we decided to go “no contact” with her and her family and we feel so much better without them in our lives!

  30. Ruby, Ohhhh creepy. I think, if I am correct, that the ‘mirroring’ is used for all kinds of relationships. It’s how they make targets feel valued, flattered and safe. So, so sorry you had to go through what sounds like a very difficult time. What do you think she wanted from you? Or is that the confusion–it seems like there should have been some payoff for her, but you can’t figure out what it might have been? Nice you are ‘no contact’. Hallmark really should have a special card for that!

  31. Hello Everyone!

    I was recommended to google up on Manipulative person last night and found your website and reading all the comments. I have experienced several friends with NDP without realizing I grew up with dad who is Spathic/Manipulative and he loves to manipulate people for money and make himself look great. Those friends are no longer in the circle. I have cut ropes with my dad last year. I can relate with the comments from other people. I discovered my dad is manipulative about 3 years ago and was struggling with myself.

    It’s very unfortunately that I had to cut my father out (he is 79) past Thanksgiving and haven’t spoke since. I can tell you all that he loves to use guilt trip (using the past good memories, the work he has done for me) that is because I was not allowed to work during high school and my time as an exchange student (can’t work in other country due to Rotary Exchange Student policies) and my time in University. He uses that to guilt trip me. He manipulated my neighbors for money and makes a lot of excuses for himself and excuses for my young brother (who is almost a clone of him). My dad is using my brother to try and con me using the same methods.

    I have seen a tend with person with manipulative and NPD , they like to use your close friends or employers against you. I lost a very close family friend (who i called Auntie growing up) 2 months ago. I had LONG discussion with her (Auntie) 2 years ago and had lots of evidence against my dad and explained on how much pain; the situation was driving me insane. I was thankful of myself that I was in therapy for 2 1/2 years (2012-2014) and have become stronger and can say NO without feeling regret and I have my therapist on a speed dial (emails) for support.

    I have to say this, After interviewing many relatives in 2013 after i suffer through emotional wreck (I flew to Thunder Bay from Toronto to visit my mom’s sister for a break and went to Hannover to visit my mom’s other sister), they all have the same story- my father changed my mother and she wasn’t the same when she grew up.

    Unforunately, she end up becoming insane and was diagnosed with Bipolar. All my mom’s siblings blamed my father to this day. (my parents separated in 1996 and my mom wanted a divorce and my father refused- my mom died in 2007)
    It can be difficult emotional train with family members especially in the inner family circle to let them go compare to disconnect yourself with a friend with the disorders.

    the big difference between NPD is that they have sense of self-worth, very materialistic and don’t see true self. Manipulative people do know the difference between right and wrong but still pratices “wrong” with many people. Both of them often don’t listen to others when got caught. Most of them rarely give specific apologize. I’m still waiting for an apology from my father. Both of them usually have new friends all the time, once their friends diminished, they both get depressed and blames others to make themselves feel better.

    I hope my experiences help you some.

    Cheers

  32. I have one more –

    I have a neighbour, the neighbour dresses up as a woman to manipulate men to give what he/she needs (goes by woman’s name). I’ve been told by other neighbour to be careful. I find it interesting to observe this person. I came home from work at 3:30 and this woman was sitting outside on the porch behaving weird and was talking on her cellphone and being so upset and went somewhere.

    Last night I was socializing with other tenants on front porch I was sitting on the porch with other neighbours socializing and she came out saying I’m calling 911 within 20 seconds when she came out of the front door. This person caused an issue last night and called 911 because nobody wants to talk to her. three of us disappeared when she was talking to 911 operator. The police came 10 minutes later (I was watching through windows upstairs) This woman was taken in custody by the police and I do hope she gets some medical help. This clearly manipulative disorder.

  33. I want to cry reading this. I’ve been searching for so long to label what my husband does to me. I knew he was manipulating me but most articles and books discuss overt manipulation and abuse. My husband is highly intelligent and grew up in a disturbed household where manipulation and emotional abuse was the only way of life. He is exactly how you describe here. The analogy of trying to grab a fish when you are oiled up is EXACTLY HOW I FEEL when I confront him. The extreme frustration results in me exploding and screaming like a mad woman just to release it. He knows everything about me in the most intimate ways and how to use it against me in covert ways. He has a kind of alter ego online and with his friends but had me convinced that’s not his real personality, he just acts that way with them, etc. But now I understand his sweet, mild-mannered and gentle character is not his real self!! This is a living hell!

    1. K,

      If you want out, do it in a smart way. Are you married and do you have joint accounts? If not, it will be much easier to pack up and get out. Do you have children together? The more your finances, etc., are intermingled the more difficult it becomes, but it’s certainly doable.
      As BOTV always warns, never leave your computer access available to him. Use a password to get in and diligently erase your “history” on computer. Don’t let him know what you’re reading or what you’re up to.
      Please report back. We can help, and hopefully you don’t leave making the same mistakes I did. I left in a hurry. Wish I’d have planned it out better.

      1. We have 2 sons together. I stay at home and he works as an Engineer. I’m working towards a masters in accounting so I can set up a good financial situation to leave if I want to. The problem is I can’t tell if he will change or not. I was recetly diagnosed bipolar (runs in my family) and I see a therapist 2x a month. So part of the problem is that I get the manic impulsiveness and pressurized speech which means I never keep secrets from him. I know its a really bad thing. He knows every single thought I have had and am currently having. So I can’t tell if he has the easiest time manipulating me or if he really wants to be a good person but is struggling. He family is effed up so I can see he genuinely doesn’t want to be the way he is. But his refusal to get help should speak louder. And I honestly am terrified of striking out on my own and starting over with relationships. He is my first and only partner. He knows I have a deep need to keep my family together at all costs. I feel like my therapy and medication are making me stronger and more stable and I’m anticipating having to leave when I have a job. I just want to make my life less hellish and in my control on the meantime. I think I’m still in denial about how much he has manipulated me. We met 5 years ago online. He is from a poor country where emotional abuse is the way of life for a lot of people. I blamed it on that a lot but the truth is he is 27 years old and in charge of changing for the better or not.

        1. “so I can see he genuinely doesn’t want to be the way he is”
          That is your assumption or belief.

          “But his refusal to get help should speak louder”
          Right. That is factual data and good insight into what he believes.

    2. K,
      Stick around and read more.
      It seems you are not in emergency situation. So, do read first, build understanding, and then start taking protective/confronting measures.
      If your current therapist does not seem to help, you may consider changing. There is one article on that too, how to find a therapist who can help you in dealing with manipulators.

  34. K,

    How close are you to attaining your master’s degree? It sure would be easier to finish schooling before/if you exit, since you don’t have to work right now and he is paying the bills. You’d come out with good earning potential and be able to live on your salary. It would be much more difficult if going to school, working, and raising two boys as a single mother.

  35. K,
    Welcome, AndyD and Lucy have provided you with some very good advice. They know because they are going through it right now.

    I would think heed their warning of giving him any information you figuring out about his Character Disordered thinking. As long as you keep this knowledge to yourself your hold the A card. Whatever, you do don’t educate him, he will only turn it on you and it will be all the worse for you.

    What you have going for you is your age and your education. Now you have the knowledge of how to deal with the CD individual. There are many people who have posted on this blog questioning and then figuring out, yes, the person who they are living with, family member, or friend subsequently, change. Remember, knowledge is power……. otherwise, you could end up spending the next 20 to 30 years of your life with this CD individual. Then it will truly be a nightmare and perhaps he will make 2 additional CD individuals out of your children and you will have spent the best years of your life wasted, “hoping for change.” It is not going to get better, there are rare cases and whatever you do think “Whatever,” you say will change his mind.

    I would start putting some money aside in the event you decide to leave or need it. As Lucy pointed out don’t wait till you are employed it will be used against you.

    You say you have been diagnosed with Bi Polar disorder. Please read the archives and understand the difference concerning neurotic individuals. Many of us come from dysfunctional families and so many times come out of the environment with low self esteem and neurosis. On the other hand CD individuals can cause the symptoms that mimic and cause psychiatric problems.

    Be very careful letting someone diagnosis you without all the information or is unfamiliar and not well versed in this area regardless of what your family may be diagnosed with. Dr.’s are first becoming aware of how CD individuals and their affect on family members. Again, read all of Dr. Simons work and the blog. Dr. Simon also has done many good YouTube’s and I would encourage you to watch.

    Again, I will appeal to your intelligent side, your gut survival side, not your heart (“NOT” to tell the CD anything. If you do you will throw away years of your life. I have a family full of whom you describe. I understand where you are coming from, the fear of being alone the fear of making a mistake, the fear of all the challenges that face you. Believe me once you master your fears, you will be able to see clearly. Once you get out on your own and experience freedom to be yourself your life will change for the better.

    Giving up on yourself and letting someone else define you is not good. You will never be allowed to be yourself with him. If you challenge him and let on he may be good for awhile, and then he will become worse than before Heed AndyD and Lucy’s suggestions, finish school and then leave. You will be all the better.

    I hope you keep posting and let us help you, everyone here has experience dealing with this sort. Be kind to yourself and give yourself more credit, you can get through this and I guarantee you you will find a good person that will love you, cherish you and be kind to you.

    Blessing to you and your little ones.

    1. Thank you BTOV. I haven’t posted in a long time, but I though I would update you all on what has happened in the past 2 years. I stayed with him for another year and things between us broke completely. It was horrible to live under but I was waiting to finish my degree. I got through 3 semesters and then filed for divorce when he said he was going to cut me off from all of the family finances. I filed in September 2017 and it was final in November. When we knew it was done between us but were still living together, I went on dating sites and actually did find a great stable guy. After my experiences with my ex, I made a point to find someone with very stable emotions. We’ve been together for a year and live together. Since this is my second relationship, I’ve been seeing how much worse my relationship with my ex was than I even realized. I had gotten used to a lot of it. My boyfriend is a great match for me and the most relieving part is that he talks slowly with intention. So when we have disagreements, his slow pace gives me time to think before I speak and as a result our fights never escalate the way it did with my ex. My 5 year old son’s behavior has turned around completely. As I suspected, my son just needed routine, stability, and consistent parenting in order to blossom. I’m reaching my full potential now and I’ve helped my boyfriend reach his as well. He also came from a manipulative relationship, though he didn’t see it until I pointed out behaviors to him. I helped to build him up and go to court for official custody of his child so he could limit his ex using their child as a manipulation tool. Now his co parenting relationship is less toxic, he has a better paying job than he thought he could ever get, and I just finished my Master’s degree. We both have made each other better and more successful in life. Now I understand what a good relationship looks like and feels like. I couldn’t be any happier with someone. Leaving my ex turned out to be so freeing and the best decision I made.

      1. K,

        I am humbly moved by your gracious post and accept your thank you, I will share this gratitude equally with Lucy and AndyD. I think both of them will respond to you, they are exceptionally, kind and caring people who willingly share their knowledge. Its so thoughtful of you to let us know the difference this blog has made in your life. You are indeed a Kindred Spirit.

        K, I am so happy for you, truly, you have have given me a beautiful by your thoughtful post. I know how emotionally difficult this has been for you. When you look back always be grateful for the important life message you have learned. In turn you have given me a life message.
        W
        hen we can accept these painful hardships in life as a positive, we may walk away, sad, full of grief, beat-up and bruised but when we forgive and accept we will have grown to new heights we may never had realized, otherwise. Indeed you are a woman of character.

        I am glad you have found a good man. I have met many good men too, I think I found the one for me. I am glad all is well with your children, this may cause you some conflict in the future, however, you are equipped with a good understanding of what you dealing with.

        Please feel free to post at any time, we have some very knowledgeable people who will respond. I reread your post and recall your situation. Just know you are always welcome and you sharing your experiences may help another.

        I would also encourage you, if you haven’t already, to obtain and read all of Dr. Simons books. The CD are indeed crazy making people and for me, Dr.’s books are are a go to road-map with concise answers reinforcing any doubts or questions I may have.

        It is indeed heartwarming to know you are doing so well.
        From one Kindred Spirit to another Kindred Spirit
        God Bless you and your loved ones..

      2. Thanks K for taking time for find the right blog/context and post update on your life after a long gap. I am sure people will find it encouraging that even in manipulative relationship, one can calmly plan for a future, execute the plan, and come out as better person with good life.

      3. K

        It’s so good to hear how you thrive now that you’re out of the old relationship. I can’t remember your story, but I can glean you are one smart lady. You stuck with your goal of getting your master’s degree, saw what living with a toxic person can do to a whole family, and you made sure you wouldn’t repeat that mistake again.
        It’s so good to hear when someone has recovered and is doing well, and can find a stable life.
        You’re a great example of what can happen when leaving a toxic relationship. Thanks for sharing your story.

  36. K,
    Now that I’ve found your background story I do hope you stick around and share your knowledge and life story with others here seeking help. You’ve lived it and survived it and came out of it for the better, and I think you’re an inspiration.

  37. “I hope all the readers will do some sharing about how they encountered the tactics we’ve talked about and the tools they eventually used to confront and deal with those tactics.”

    The poster I gained the most insight from was Danny who described what it was like to be married to a CD and how he presented the analogy of the books. This was so perfect.

    What I couldn’t find is examples of tools used to confront and deal with these manipulation tactics. When a CD asks “What’s your problem?” for a simple example.
    Anyone?

    1. anonymous,

      I think best is to pin-point the exact problem in response to “What’s your problem”. It is also safe to make a general claim “My problem is that you are a liar”. Lying and deception is foundation upon which manipulators operate. 🙂
      The key thing will be to keep the focus on wrong behaviour of manipulator. Intentions etc are hard to prove, but a real behaviour will be harder to deny or excuse away. This will still be hard, as if you are trying to pin down a fish covered with oil, but over time it should get easier.

    2. anonymous

      Andy gave you good advice.
      And you don’t need to be ashamed to call him/her out on it in others’ presence either. You don’t need to protect this person.
      Stand tall and authoritative when you make the statement “My problem is that you’re a liar.” Imagine yourself getting taller and taller. Look him/her in the eyes.
      I wouldn’t engage much further though in conversation with this person. It won’t solve anything. He/she will deny deny deny lie lie lie. These types are not worth your time and energy, as the more you say the more food it gives them to strike out.
      I had to go nearly NC as I could with the X through divorce proceedings, and now that we are divorced, still have barely spoken. I won’t give him fuel for anything.

  38. Andy,
    Can I tell a CD there is weak link in her network?

    I know I’m being smeared but I cannot prove it. I want to say that one sentence and walk away. I’m not afraid of this CD nor would I go out of my way to say this. BUT if the opportunity came upon me ……

    If the answer is to not lower myself to her level or live my best self, go no contact, say good-bye and so forth then in my case it’s not the answer. I know CDs when I come across them, I do not attract them either but it’s been my misfortune to have this one in our extended family. I have stood in front of people I’ve known before her ever being in the picture and I’m invisible now. Yes, I know they are not worth the bother if they can be swayed so easily BUT at the very least I feel I should be able to insinuate to this CD there is a leak amongst her flying monkeys. I would never allow an escalation I would simply get up and walk away. I would do this in the presence of her H and my H so I’d be safe.
    Why can’t one lie to a liar?

    1. Anonymous,

      “Can I tell a CD there is weak link in her network?”
      Yes. If needed provide explanation that you believe she is spreading lies about you behind your back, and one of that person is updating you, and hence a weak link in her network. This also fits with general principle of speaking truth, at minimum of not lying. So, even if you are not sure if she is lying behind your back or the person in middle is twisting things, you will at least present what you believe to be truth.
      Nothing works better on a rotten murky place as a bright light of sunshine of truth. Also, speaking truth gets rid of the baggage that you may otherwise carry around.

    2. “Why can’t one lie to a liar?”

      By lying to a liar, you will be playing her game… something she has mastered over a long life.
      By sticking to truth, you will be playing your game. Beside speaking truth gets rid of all the garbage from the head.

      Sticking to truth is best policy. At minimum avoid deliberate lying about things that you know to be false.
      Few exception will be:
      – social niceties: How do I look in this big fancy hat? You look just about fine, maybe even better without this rather large hat.
      – upholding something better: Where did that ?*$# go, I am going to kill him? He ran that way.

    3. One more…
      Who is weak link in my network? No idea.
      Though some people will argue that silence is better than saying “no idea”. Silence with stoic face gives away nothing.

  39. I gave this a lot of thought this morning and I realize there are these moments when the injustice of it all rears its ugly head and I fantasize about getting back at the CD, the CD who has created estrangement in our family while merrily smearing us along the way. I’ve been introduced to people for the first time and have been treated as if I didn’t exist and the only common denominator was this CD. I know she is not worth it , I know it, we know it, but…..;/ it’s just not fair!

    1. Anonymous
      I can’t believe that there won’t come a time when her so-called friends figure her out. If they were your friends before, I can understand how upsetting that could be that they side with her. The new people, they’ll figure her out.
      Too bad you can’t just step away from her and not feel the need to deal with her.
      I’ve been slandered to by the X to his coworkers, bank personnel, realtors, anyone who he thought could do me harm and ruin my reputation, and I can proudly say it still didn’t work. He came out smelling like the skunk he is.
      You really can’t shut these people up. Give them fuel and they’ll go at it harder.

      1. Lucy and Andy thank you for your advice.
        Because of CD the family dynamic is splintered and I doubt the fix will come anytime soon.
        I don’t see the CD as much anymore and her H who we surmise is most likely living hell on earth would be with her if I ever did run into them. Sometimes I get a feeling that I will stumble upon them when I’m out and about and if I were to say anything it would be curt and I would walk away. I would never engage in an argument.

  40. Anonymous,

    I find find when I wish one ill will I bring myself down to their level. Why not say “I wish you well and find what you are looking for” and leave at that. You have taken the high road, you have not lowered yourself to hate mongering or feeding into more dysfunction, you have offered peace. Another is “God Bless You” that being, they can interpret God in any way they choose.

    You will never win with these kind, on the other hand a well wish is difficult to diffuse.

    You pose a lot of interesting situations and questions we all have to weigh on heavily in dealing with the CD.

    Take care Kindred Spirit.

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