The Blame Game – Part 2

Disturbed and disordered characters are notorious for playing the blame game.  As I mentioned in last week’s post (see: Externalizing Blame Can Have Deadly Consequences), their unwillingness to accept responsibility for the consequences of their actions always causes problems and can sometimes even have deadly repercussions.  But given how different folks with character disturbances are from those I affectionately term as more “neurotic” (for more on the key differences between neurotic and character-disturbed and disordered individuals, see the series of articles beginning with: Neurotic or Character Disorder? – Criterion One: Anxiety and the two chapters on neurosis-character disorder differences in my books In Sheep’s Clothing, Character Disturbance, and The Judas Syndrome), how one plays the blame game can make all the difference in the world in a relationship.

In the series on neurotic-disturbed character differences, I make the point that the aforementioned two groups of individuals are markedly different in nature on just about every dimension of interpersonal functioning one can imagine.  One of those dimensions has to do with a person’s level of conscientiousness, which is itself a consequence of how well-developed someone’s conscience is (for more on this, see: Neurotic vs. Character Disorder? Criterion Two – Conscience). And because neurotic individuals tend to have fairly well-developed and sometimes even “overactive” consciences, they’re often all-too-ready to accept the blame for things when a disturbed character uses the manipulation tactic of blaming. That’s what enables the tactic to work so well. Manipulators know that conscientious people always want to do the right thing. So, when issues arise, rather than look at their own part in things, it’s so much easier (for more on this see:  Character and Attitudes toward Work) and so much more effective in getting one’s way to invite the more conscientious party in the relationship to do all the work and accept all the responsibility.

One of the things I came to realize early on in counseling couples beset with character-related problems is that one partner (i.e. the more conscientious partner) “enabled” a lot of manipulation because they didn’t clearly recognize the natural boundaries between the things they vs. their partner should rightfully be held accountable for. The more “neurotic” partner, forever seeking to “understand” (for more on this topic see the article:  (Abuse Victims Try Too Hard to Understand) their disturbed character partner’s behavior, would inevitably end up inadvertently finding excuses for it (e.g., fears of commitment, harsh upbringing, presumed low self-esteem, etc.) instead of holding their partner to account for the choices they made and behaviors they displayed. Moreover, when on occasion they did try to hold their partner accountable, they too easily succumbed to their manipulator’s tactic of blaming circumstances, others, etc. – everyone and everything other than themselves.

In next week’s concluding article I’ll be presenting two case examples that will hopefully illustrate how difficult it can sometimes be for the overly conscientious party in a relationship to recognize clearly the natural boundaries that exist between what truly belongs to them vs. what lies in the exclusive domain of their character-impaired partner.

Sunday’s Character Matters Program should be a live broadcast (if all my current traveling goes as planned) so I should be able to take your calls.

33 thoughts on “The Blame Game – Part 2

  1. I think that this article identifies so well why the victim stays around in the relationship so the predator continually feeds off the innocence. I can remember when I was trying to explain to myself what was going on in my marriage. I used all three of the excuses that Dr. SIMON speaks of (harsh childhood, his low self-esteem, and his perceived fear of commitment) to justify why I need to change MY way of thinking. Their is no doubt that the predator had this game that he was playing all layed out. I was fighting the seeds of doubt inside me ever before I could consider what he was doing to me. I can remember that anytime I even thought about confronting him about his behavior he managed to turn everything around and place blame right back on me. Besides turning the blame back one he would turn scary and throw a fit that was always work than the previous one. The entire household was under seige. Everyone got to the point where we were fearing for for our lives and something needed to be done. His mother was sure that my children and I were the answers to her prayers regarding him. After all he seemed very happy to her now. The reality was that he WAS very happy because he had several souls to feed off of. She was just enabling this monster and adding tons more anxiety to me. As I look back it all seemed very cut and dry to her. She had dealt with the same kind of individual but decided to go on antidepressants to overlook the chaos that was going on right under her nose. She was never able to understand why that was not an option for me. I was very fortunate to have a program through my work that offered counseling services free of charge. I took advantage of this for several months and maybe even more. By the Grace of God we made it out. 

    1. Oh my… this sounds EXACTLY what I’m going through. We have been seperated for 8 weeks now because of stuff I found out and have proof he did and he still somewhat denies it and it’s my fault. And like Carrie said “his mom is the enabler”. I been doing this insane relationship for 5 yrs and I’m asking for help to find a way out without getting hurt, in more ways than one, and without looking back. I leave and then I feel some form of responsibility to pick him back up and same cycle different day, month, year. It isn’t that I believe anything he says that makes me go back. I know EVERYTHING, but what is controlling me to feel I have to be his babysitter or be there to keep him motivated to work, stay half sober, not cheat, or lie, or manipulate somebody else. And to add to that… somehow he manipulated me into marriage last November swearing to put a stop to all the crazy and I fell for it…. I caught this website by glance so please anybody .. help me end this.. I know it’s insanity-doing samething repetitively , expecting different results or knowing the outcome us going to be the same.

      1. Misty, I am sorry you are going through this. I was married to a hard core psycho and I know things are.very tough for you right now. I am currently reading Dr. Simon’s book CHARACTER DISTURBANCE and he tells how so many of us were taught that this kind of dysfunction is brought on by some kind of neurosis and we are trying to help. Truth is that these are just evil people that enjoy what they are doing.
        I kept getting sucked back in whenever I tried to leave. I went to lots of counseling and the thing that I needed to do first was get my self esteem up and realize that I am worth. So much more than I was getting. You need to realize that you are not the babysitter I waited until my psycho went to work and had the locks changed. It needs to be quick and permanent. You need to think what is best for you. I think in most states a marriage can be annulled up to a year. This would be tons easier. Call a women’s shelter. Call a church. Women’s resource center is in most big cities and they offer many things including counseling.

        1. Thanks Suzie, You know the sad part is he tries to lower my self esteem but I don’t think i really fall for it. Sometimes i think maybe im the one messed up because its also a cycle for me to find these men with same personality traits, but I have always been able to walk away except for this one. He can be so evil and then turn around and give me 30 min. speech on how much he loves me and im the love of his life. which im not really falling for that either. I even studied his mom, he is a lot like her and I never met his dad. I don’t think he has seen him either since he was really young. I’m going to have to look that book up. You know i already diagnosed him years ago… but this past year I can really see outside the box. And Im in the position I can permanently leave him alone. But somehow i need a motivational coach to keep me going for a few months to stay off the phone and social media… he attacks me with what he is going to do or what he is doing to make me look into what he is really doing and before i know it , im right back in the situation praying to leave again. Suck in as they would call it. And all the promises and the swears don’t make it past 24hrs. I really do need some counseling or just a motivator to keep me entertained in some sort of way to change my thinking and get my focus on something else. Crazy, but I can answer my own questions just typing this to you.. I know what i need… but the will power to do it because i still got that What if…..

          1. Narcissists have a way of instilling PTSD in their victims and we don’t realize it. Yes, the victims of predators need counseling. Everyone hits a bump in the road of life once in a while. I have found myself just agreeing with the psychopath once in a while just to get him shut up.  Psychopaths can watch us for only a short time and pick out what makes us tick. I could pick up on things that I saw in the psycho the day we met. Silly me, I still got involved with him though. I had a double whammy though because I ended up getting pregnant by him.
            You say his mother is very malignant too, right?! The dysfunction does run in families and each generation gets worse. My great-grandmother was a narcissist, my Nana was a psychopath, my mother is a psychopath, and my sister is a very hard-core psychopath. Unfortunately my brother married a psychopath so we bring them into the family too.
            Get some counseling and I suggest that you get some kind of women’s shelter because they will know exactly what you need. Remember where there is a will there is a way. You can do what you put your mind to and he knows that if he says I LOVE YOU  and that gets you back then he will do it.

          2. Well I bought the book.. wolves in sheep’s clothing lastnight and have already read it… it was very explanatory to the questions I asked. So glad I fell onto this page… I guess I will buy the one you are reading tonight…. I get sucked into knowledge… I majored in social and human services but never got this much out of it 🙂

          3. Hahahaha……. When you are right in the middle of something it is so much more fantastic when you get some answers. I can remember that when I took psychology in college it never really grabbed my attention like this. Dr. Simon speaks about a new multi-demensional approach to therapy that is becoming popular and I think it is wonderful. If you really love to read then as you gain knowledge you gain strengh. Robert Hare has a book called WITHOUT CONSCIENCE and it is also a good one. Marianne Williamson writes wonderful books also. I think it is called THE WORTH OF A WOMAN. That book will help you get your self-esteem up and you will never go back to him. If his mom is enabling his behavior and is also just like him then let her babysit him. NO CONTACT is the best method when dealing with a psycho.
            Good luxk!!

  2. Do I remember right that we’ll also get an example of what it looks like when a manipulator or other disturbed character believes their own lies?

  3. First I have to commend Dr. Simon for his web site, and the wealth of information and the time he has dedicated in education; an ounce of prevention goes a long way. A diagnosis doesn’t matter, the internet full of sites about narcissists, psychopaths, sociopaths, batters, liars, cheaters, anti-socials, all kinds of personality disorders, how to identify, deal, divorce or live with…let us agree….that untangling from these creatures may cost you nearly everything you have; and often it requires just walking away and starting over. I would love to see Dr. Simon write more about how the hell to start over after you survived such a creature…I equate it to the movie PREDITOR, you will never win in court or other wise, because the only way to beat a sociopath is to be a bigger sociopath; and since they are highly evolved predators, they pick highly empathic prey. It’s been 6 years and it will probably be another 5 years before my life will be recovered and back on tract, if I’m blessed. The only way sometimes to gain ones freedom is losing nearly everything, and it is very true. At times it is difficult to not be angry or resentful, because they go on to plow through someone else’s life, leaving everyone behind to pay for their mess. I don’t think there is Karma for these kinds of folks…cause till the day they die….they are the victim and it’s everyone else’s fault, as they are destroying other’s lives…the creature is the victim. Sadly these creatures aren’t stopped UNTIL they commit a crime that is prosecutable, and by then it’s too late. The only way to survive is disengage and walk away if you are lucky.

    1. I am sorry, I feel your pain. I know our court system is not informed on these kinds of things. I ended up with a narc lawyer in my divorce. He tried to take me for everything that the narc didn’t. I have had friends divorce narcs and they lost everything including children to the narcs. Find a spiritual place and prayer because I can relate.

      1. My pastor recommended that I use a woman lawyer and I did. He said too many male lawyers have issues with women and take advantage of their situation. I had a 45 year marriage, so I was entitled to half of everything for the rest of our lives. I was awarded that, plus I was already the benefactor on his retirements and they are non-revocable.

        I can’t believe that the court system is not knowledgeable about these types of people. They come in contact with them much more that the average citizen. There should be laws in place to prevent them from taking over and winning. The only reason that I can attribute it to is that there are too many lawyers that are just like them. I guess it pays to be very selective about which lawyer you use.

        1. I think that the court system is ready to deal with the violent psychopath who is committing crimes but not really set up to deal with the slandering narcissist in divorce court. I think that since different lawyers go into different fields the divorce lawyers are not trained to deal with such predators.

    2. Thisgirlsjourney, Noel, Susie Q, Carrie, Joey, everyone really:

      That’s damn disturbing, someone, whose mind is so utterly trained in spotting possibilities to victimize and torment others, like “I wonder if I/someone did this with that”.

      If someone here personally knows an honest lawyer(oh no, not disparaging lawyers like Shakespeare), please tell them about this site and ask them to study psychopathy, manipulation, abuse cycles, harassment, drama-mongering and subtle crazy-making, all things nasty.

      What about listing books(and other material) again? This time on abuse?

      I’ve seen Verbally Abusive Relationship by Pat Evans and Emotional Abuse by Marti Tamm Loring mentioned here, at least, so if there are other resources worth reading, perhaps even lying around(I may have time to take more of a look-around sometime next week), please list them, okay?

      Don’t be afraid to post what others may have posted already, may I say?

  4. The articles that Dr Simon has posted. Are Quiet simply WOUNDERFUL. I see so clearly what was going on AND I hasten to ADD, IS STILL GOING ON NOW. The power play that my it mother used all her life. BLAME GAME Yer. It mother is to blame always was and forever is to blame. Preditor, WOW to her own children as well. Grime

    1. Oh yes, the predators who use the children as pawns are quite possibly the worst. When they don’t hesitate to use their own children the monsters set the stage for further abuse and so the cycle begins.

      1. You are right. We have 2 grandchildren we practically raised who are 12 and 9 years old. Two years ago our CD son moved a malignant narcisist in with her 2 children. They gave primary custody of her son age 4 to the father. She has a girl now 8 years. My son married her thinking I would take off his hands emits every weekend “the most irritating kid I have ever been around” – his exact words. I can not handle the child, and the wife is ugly to us, so I am cut off from my grandchildren. Their mother does not contact them and the step mother mistreats them badly while he turns his head. She called the sheriff’s office to the grandson while his dad was deployed. Children’s services have been called to them. The first time they were called we knew nothing about it.

  5. Dr Simon,

    I have this question that’s been bothering me a long time.
    I read the book “Why does he do that?” by L. Bancroft, where he does a great job explaining the abuser’s mindset and entitlement attitude. However, he says that most abusers are not people with personality disorders, such as narcissism or psychopathy. He makes no distinction between types of abusers in terms of personality disorders – he says they’re all dangerous and unlikely to change, but very few are actually psychopaths or narcissists. At one point he says that we might get some clues whether the person has a PD, e.g. they’re abusive not just in the relationship but towards other people or they have difficulty holding a job or have a criminal record. The point is that allegedly disordered personalities behave in a disordered way not only in the relationship but in other contexts, whereas those who abuse their partners but not other people, don’t have a personality disorder but ‘just’ a problem with abuse. And they do so supposedly because they feel entitled and have a skewed notion of the role of women in romantic relationships, but it seems like it’s only confined to romantic relationship. The abuse looks the same for the victim, though, regardless whether the abuser has a PD or not.

    Is it possible? Is it possible to act ruthless and callous but only to your partner, whereas being “normal” with other people? Should such people be qualified as disordered or considered normal personality-wise?

    1. You may not want my opinion. If so, I am sorry! I was married to a psychopath who was very abusive. He was wonderful at a flaky personality. He seemed so wonderful and helpful to everyone outside of the house. I would never say that he was only abusive to us because he was mentally abusive to everyone. He did not have access to others to be physically abusive. The physical abuse would start as mental abuse until the time was right to take it to a physical level. He was a very bad character who would “feed” off anyone.

      1. Thanks, Carrie 🙂 Every voice is welcome, so I’m glad you expressed your opinion. I understood your ex abused other people in covert or more subtle ways. Mine was not physically abusive, however very malignant, and I was wondering what his attitude was to others. He seemed normal with friends, albeit a bit witty/playfully competitive – which is not a bad trait in itself, but with me he took it to the extreme and was Mr Always Right. I sometimes wonder whether it’s because he was not so close with those people and therefore not much reciprocity was demanded that there just was not that much friction and he could afford to be nice to them. Or if it was something in me that predisposed me to the abuse.

    2. Great question. I’m glad you asked it. Lundy is “technically” right, but his assertions are misleading in a very real and troubling sense. While the majority of abusers might not fully qualify for a specific personality disorder diagnosis, that doesn’t mean their characters are either “normal” or healthy. That’s why I stress so ardently that character disturbance exists along a continuum. And there are also plenty of times when an abuser’s personality is truly disordered overall, but because they have only a smattering of problematic traits in their personality they’re not afforded an unspecified pesonality disorder diagnosis (a lot of clinicians think such a classification a “waste basket” and/or invalid diagnosis). Suffice it to say that no truly healthy character abuses. But whether or not someone meets the criteria for a specific personality disorder is another matter. And while there are exceptional cases where someone truly is healthy in character but suffers from a biologically-based impulse control disturbance, the vast majority of abusers have character issues to be sure.

      1. Thank you for your reply, Dr Simon.

        I didn’t know there was such a thing as an unspecified personality disorder. At first glance, indeed, I wonder what the use of such diagnosis could be.

        I am wondering if one can act like a classic narcissist or a psychopath, i.e. meet the criteria of the PD, but only with relation to a certain person, based on… well, what? Based on, e.g. the victim’s meek character, or the victim’s role in their life (romantic partner) or the fact that the victim is a woman. For example, my ex acted like a malignant narcissist – solely based on his behaviour towards me I would label him as such as opposed to a different CD. But the thing is, as far as I know, he only acted that way with me and not, say, his family of origin (though he was kind of haughty or nasty, but so were they) or his friends – who he was nice to. So I was wondering if acting like a narcissist with me makes him a narcissist overall or it was for some reason “specially for me”.

        1. I have to be in contact with my psycho since we have a son together. I see all of his tricks, that he used on me, now being used on his new girlfriend. A psychpath can not survive mentally without feeding on someone. As long as the boy and I were in the same state the psycho was getting his “fix” from the boy. Since we have moved to a different state the predator had to rush to find a girlfriend to abuse since he was going into deep depression. The girlfriend is very sad and I can see it in her face. She hugs me when she sees me and probably is wondering why she is the unlucky one. She sends my son messages stating that she misses him so much. I am just guessing that the psychopath is nice to her as long as he is around. I was there too once.

        2. Hi Iam:
          I would ask: Are you sure that this kind of behavior was directed only toward you? Do you know all the people in your ex’s life? As far as I know (and I have witnessed), the narcissists use to damage/use specific people and then erase them from their lives. They have a bunch of admirers that are not aware of this situation, and they go for the next victim as soon as the last one cannot take more abuse or is not source of narcissistic supply anymore.

          1. Hi Marriane,
            No, I cannot be sure I was the only one. I was his only (and first) girlfriend, so I have no comparison with others. However, I can’t say he was nice to everybody. Superficially yes, but I remember he was in conflict with our roommate, for reasons I don’t remember and probably didn’t understand. What’s funny, she studied psychology and she wanted us and her other friends to fill in some questionnaires she used for her project. She was really surprised he scored high on agreeableness as she considered him pretty high-conflict. The other roommate liked him. With his parents he was argumentative, often like a child, but he would always tell me his mum was controlling and his father was egoistic so I put down his behaviour to his dislike and resistance of them. I think, although he wasn’t nice towards them, he had limits to what he could do as he kind of respected them.

        3. Iam, “I am wondering if one can act like a classic narcissist or a psychopath, i.e. meet the criteria of the PD, but only with relation to a certain person, based on… well, what?”

          Yes. Mostly they are selective about their target.

          My take will be, this depends upon two things:
          – closeness and duration of relationship
          – vulnerability of target
          More closer the relationship, and more time one has spent time in it, more you can see past the surface and more will know the real character of other person. Of course, he does same thing to you and everyone else including friend, co-worker, a person on train. The frequency of interaction varies, you are targeted few thousand times more compared to a person on train. Also, the type of relationship matters, from you he can take away all your money, from a “friend” he can take few thousand dollars at most before he gets questions, from a person on train he will get a nasty reply instead of a single dollar.
          Similarly, vulnerability of target, how easy it is to exploit target is another big factor. A gullible person on train may still shell out few hundred dollars when manipulated by crafty master.

          Fortunately, you have power to change both the closeness of relationship as well as make yourself a hard target.
          Making yourself hard target is preferred in long term. World contain sufficiently high number of nasty people to ensure that one runs into more than one character disturbed during the lifetime.

        4. Hi Iam,

          It is difficult to answer your question in regards to your exes behavior towards you without knowing your behavior towards him…although you might be understandably biased to the way you view your own behavior. If he truly only acts this way towards you, (and as far as you have witnessed, he has an overall meek character when dealing with everyone else) then I feel there may be key elements to the story that you are omitting. It would not be sensible to label someone as personality type x based on their interaction with one person.

          1. Hi plaidinum,

            What you say is possible. There are cases, when a person can be so blind to his/her behavior that he either projects his behavior on to others as his/her defense mechanism, or causes other person to respond badly (mind you bad response, against a nasty provocation, is not good behavior in itself, but at least bad response has some justification)

            As Dr. Simon says, and I agree, such cases are far fewer in today’s society. Now a days, most often problem is rooted in deficiency of socially good traits. People are simply too selfish and too aggressive.

            A quick litmus test will be that there is a problem and Iam is looking for answer. Also, Iam is allowing excuses for bad behavior “But the thing is, as far as I know, he only acted that way with me and not, say, his family of origin (though he was kind of haughty or nasty, but so were they) or his friends – who he was nice to.”
            Probably what is needed honest narration of few incidents highlighting the behavior of both parties. Of course, Iam can lie there too and making up complete false story! but we need to assume she is making reasonably honest attempt. Sorry, but I think I am bit of paranoid now. 🙂

          2. My behaviour towards him was “normal”, i.e. not nasty or manipulative etc. I was considered by my friends to be non-assertive and for a long time I was meek with him. The meekness refers to me, not him – he was not “meek” – even if he wasn’t nasty to his friends and was nice, I wouldn’t use the word ‘meek’. Then after some time I started standing up for myself, which made his behaviour worse.
            As I said, I can’t really know how he would behave with other people as close to him as I was. With his family he wasn’t so nice, with his friends he was – but was also very witty and competitive, which seemed okay, only I got the extreme version of it, i.e. Mr Always Right, which was no longer fun. And as I wrote in another comment, one roommate, a psychology student, didn’t like him for some reason and was surprised he scored highly on agreeableness.
            And sadly, I can’t compare myself to any other girlfriends, as I was his first.

  6. Would like to see something on family mental illness – is it inherited, is there any treatment or cure, how to deal with….

    Having 2 siblings who are (the description of) sociopaths or psychopaths – and how to deal with them in family estate matters. And Now Court – they are suing each other. It affects the rest of us. Yes, we do try to distance ourselves, but there are times when it is necessary to confront or deal with them. How do you do that when they have no conscience and insist their delusions are fact?

    Will keep reading all the articles I can find on this but it is frustrating and time consuming stress.

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