Covert aggressors use manipulation tactics to get their way. They fight in subtle and underhanded ways. And they know how to look good without being good.
Manipulative abusers are good at casting themselves as victims and vilifying the true victim. And they can make you wonder if they don’t really see things that way. But their tactics are just another way to avoid responsibility and take advantage of you.
Brash and vulgar narcissists naturally offend us. So, we naturally want to keep our distance and watch our backs. But charming narcissists are in some ways more dangerous. Like I say in In Sheep’s Clothing, dealing with them can be like getting whiplash. You only fully realize who they are and what they’ve done to you after the fact.
Authenticity is not so much a character trait as it is a state of being. To be authentic, you have to choose to be transparent. Doing so naturally makes you quite vulnerable. But it also opens the door to true intimacy with another.
It’s not enough to just to be willing to admit the truth. Many folks will do that, especially after they’ve been caught lying. Rather, it’s more important to truly revere the truth. A solid character knows the value of the truth – its power to heal, to empower, and to free. But it’s always a choice to embrace the truth – a choice truly decent characters freely make.
The most disastrous relationships I’ve witnessed over the years all began with a “con” of some sort. Sometimes the deception was both knowing and deliberate but other times the wool was not so calculatingly pulled over the eventual victim’s eyes. There are times in all of our lives when we simply don’t trust our better judgment – when we won’t let ourselves see what we’re afraid to see – or when we simply can’t accept what seems too unsettling or unimaginable to believe.
Narcissists hate to think anyone “has their number,” so to speak. People who always see themselves as superior to others hate to see the field of “play” (i.e. social interaction) leveled. They especially hate it when someone else in is a position of greater power or authority.
The antics of two public figures have illustrated the cardinal features of character dysfunction with such clarity that I think it fair to dub the actor Alec Baldwin and Toronto Mayor Rob Ford the new poster children for character disturbance.
Kids who have a lot going for themselves and know it well can easily get a swelled head. And, if their parents and others make the all-too-common but almost always fatal mistake of heaping recognition and praise upon them for their God-given (or, if you prefer, nature-endowed) gifts instead of the conscientious exercise of their will, they’re quite likely to end up thinking far too much of themselves.
It’s the senseless and remorseless use and abuse of others that defines psychopathic predators.