“The mind in conflict with itself is dangerous to itself, and of course, by extension, to everyone else in all dimensions. Therefore, indeed, beloved friends, beware of those that come in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. Beware of the viciousness of the ego within your own mind.” (“The Way of Transformation,” The Way of Mastery, Lesson 22, Page 266)
Ah, those sheep. They are so handsome, so sexy, or even when they are not, there is something about their character that draws you in like Little Red Riding Hood thinking it is Grandma. In psychotherapy, we talk about countertransference and transference issues. This is when a characteristic of the other person, makes us think of someone else and we transfer those thoughts onto that person. For example, Little Red Riding Hood is so focused on her ego telling her “This is Grandma’s house, so the person answering the door MUST be Grandma.” Her gut feelings told her that she had “Big Eyes,” today and “Big Ears,” and “Big Hands,” but little red’s ego kept insuring her, in compliance with the wolf, that he was in fact her Grandma.
I am a psychotherapist in the Columbus, Ohio area. I have been working with survivors of narcissists for many years and during this time I continue to find new ways to help support the survivor as I learn myself. In my own evolution or increasing self-awareness as a psychology professional and a survivor of narcissism.
The above quote is the very first line you will read in Anna Karenina. It is the only line I really cherished as I couldn’t fathom the book. I could manage the movie but Russian writers are not my forte.
As we go into the holiday season, don’t focus on what you see on social media, focus on the reality of your own life, on how you can become a better person. I can tell you that so many of the lies you see on social media, I have learned about in my office. They are not happy families; they show you what they imagine they have. There are some rare circumstances but more and more, it is like finding that rare penny that will make you a millionaire.
If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State. Adolph Hitler, Mein Kampf
The pathological liar is a covert narcissist, an addict, a psychopath, a sociopath, a gaslighter, or you could say a spin doctor. No matter what you attribute it to, if you are listening to someone who is trying to make you believe something, that you know in your heart to be untrue, this person has prepared their case very well. You may love them, you may have given birth to them, they may be your parent or grandparent, nonetheless, you must trust your soul. Learn from this and grow.
Phantom Thread is a 2017 movie directed by Paul Thomas Anderson. It stars Daniel Day-Lewis as the Controlling Narcissist (Reynolds), Vicky Krieps as the Victim in his trauma bond (Alma) and Lesley Manville as his sister, and dominant female ally (Cyril). The film is well-done in many respects, showing the trauma bond that is created between perpetrator and victim. However, there are some key moments where I felt that Daniel and Vicky came out of character. One scene was him giggling with her in the bathroom, with bowl on his lap and asking her to kiss him. It didn’t feel real to me. Another scene was when she was telling him about the egg dish and again there seemed to be an odd moment between the actors. I was also confused about how the director brought us into the movie. Was there another woman at the beginning of the film that was his girlfriend (I thought his wife, due to the time period) or was this Vicky’s character and we are later going back in time when he meets her in the next scene? We also hear Alma talking to some guy that we will later learn is Reynolds doctor. It was confusing because we see her (the girlfriend) for a brief moment, get to know the character Reynolds, his sister and then suddenly he is meeting his victim or next one, Alma and says he is not married. I already knew he was a controlling narcissist by now but not sure about the women.
Many times in my office I hear this from women “My boyfriend/husband is/was gaslighting me.” I will respond by saying “So, he was trying to make you believe something that didn’t really happen?” Often times they will say “Well, no.” Sometimes they have looked this up and are very clear what it means. The term Gaslighting originated from the 1944 film “Gaslight,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer. In this film, the husband (who would actually be diagnosed with Anti-Social Personality Disorder) is trying to make his wife believe she is going insane. For purposes of the title, he “goes out” for the day/evening, though he is actually going into the attic and he dims the light switches in his wife’s bedroom, so that only she sees this and not the housekeepers. He also moves pictures on the wall, hides a watch that he gives to his wife, many, many other things. This is Gaslighting. Making someone believe something happened that did not. It could be the statement of a pathological liar, in which case this is a reality they believe, or it could be like Charles Boyer’s character where he is purposely setting up the stage to torment his victim.
“The Martha Mitchell Effect,” is a documentary you can see currently on Netflix. While watching this film, which shows her relationship to bringing down President Nixon, in the Watergate scandal, I began to glean some thoughts about her marriage as well. Martha was married to John Mitchell, appointed as Attorney General, under President Nixon. John was previously a law partner with Richard Nixon, before he became president. John and Martha were married until her death but were separated in 1973, as a result of the Watergate scandal. In fact, President Nixon, scapegoats Martha, in a David Frost interview, by saying that there would have been no Watergate, if it weren’t for Martha. As if she were the one who orchestrated the entire affair. President Nixon colluded with John Mitchell, and others in Watergate. During their cover-up, her husband ordered an ex-FBI agent to keep her silent. This involved kidnapping and violently assaulting Martha.
Whoever corrects a mocker invites insults; whoever rebukes the wicked incurs abuse. Do not rebuke mockers or they will hate you; rebuke the wise and they will love you. Instruct the wise and they will be wiser still; teach the righteous and they will add to their learning.
If Amber Heard imagined or expected that the #METOO movement would be there to back her, or feminists, or women in general, she was sadly mistaken in this tragic turn of events. Unfortunately, the narcissist always wins, or, at least, he is empowered to continue being who he is. Her path to redemption now, will only take place if she seeks solace through healing: with psychotherapy, meditation, supportive friends and taking time to herself.
The difference between a madman and a shaman is that a shaman comes back, they gain something and use the tools they have learnt to heal others through their own survival guide. ~ DiosRaw
I would like to address these terms as archetypes. The Madman representing the narcissist, the person in denial, the person who wishes to live with their head in the sand. The Shaman representing the teacher, the master, the healer. The madman stays complacent and will never change. The shaman forever grows but also gives back to the community.
Just yesterday, my client was asking me “How can they [the narcissist] see things that I can see but they don’t learn anything?” It is a question I have asked myself a million times when I have dealt with a narcissist (or a person in denial) in life. This would be similar to looking up at the stars and not noticing how beautiful the night is. It would be similar to seeing a deer in your back yard and not wondering why it chose your yard and no other. A person who looks at a forest but is annoyed for it blocks the sun. A suburban person killing a wild animal for getting lost and having no place to go (especially in a new development, that has eliminated their habitat).
Each day we are giving new opportunities to grow. We make mistakes over and over again. The madman pushes them away and blames someone else. They end up being served the same lessons over and over and over again. Yet, they continue to see the mistake as being the other persons fault and refuse to take responsibility for how it occurred. For their own role in the matter. They live a life with a mask on. The eyes look out upon the world but see nothing. Their body is rigid with control or force. Trying to manipulate people into doing their bidding. Their mind stays unnourished and never blossoms. Like the movie “Groundhog Day,” each day is repeated, over and over again for the rest of their life.
The shaman grows from these mistakes. The shaman looks at these lessons as blessings that provide pain but also comfort. They explore the pain, knowing that at some point they will heal from this, and at that time, will be stronger and wiser. The comfort is the realization that this will pass one day, once they rise above the struggle. While they may not love the obstacle and would not wish it upon others, they understand it is there for a reason. Once they have embarked on this journey and have come to the destination, they give it back to others. Like with Jesus on the cross, he acknowledges that the nails hurt but willingly sacrifices himself for others. This is the shaman, a person living with “Christ” Consciousness.
The shaman can be the psychotherapist, the naturopath, the holistic practitioner, the massage therapist, the chiropractor, the professor, the spiritual teacher, many many titles can come from this archetype. At the same time, people may have these titles and yet be the madman instead. The madman can be anyone. You must trust your instinct and stay mindful of the choices you make. You can be the shaman.
I met with a woman, I will name “Annika,” (a favorite pseudonym of mine), who told me some details about her life story with men. She gave me permission to write about her story here. I am going to write this in “first person,” as if it were a memoir. She is not a client and, I say this, so if my clients are reading this, they won’t think it is their story. I am breaking this up into different parts. I start with this aspect of her journey: coming back from being in a trauma bond after the break-up with a covert narcissist.