Last night I went on Youtube to look for something interesting and different to watch. I had no idea I could actually watch an entire film without advertising, while not being a payer. I clicked on the link thinking it was a critic engaging in a discussion of the film and ended up watching this wonderful storyline.
The film stars Merle Oberon who was a British-Asian actress (her Asian heritage was a secret to the audience in that time period). This was my first time to see her in a movie other than Wuthering Heights. In Temptation, a woman named Ruby is looking to strengthen her financial picture, and goes after an Egyptologist, Nigel. She shares her secret ambitions with her doctor, assuming that he must keep this secret. She assumes he does. Her marriage takes her to Egypt, and she leads a very boring life until she meets Mahmoud Baroudi. This is when the trauma bond begins.
Healthy relationships are not blaming you by twisting something that you said around – they take responsibility for their own actions. Healthy Relationships do not punish you with passive aggressive tactics such as not allowing you to attend an event they invited you to or not calling for several days. The key word here is Boundaries and the person you are with respecting these boundaries. If they do, you are in a healthy relationship, if they don’t, you are being blamed and punished.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
Last night, I watched a 1948 British classic, “Corridor of Mirrors.” I started by looking on Kanopy, at various films and kept seeing “psychological” thriller or mental health issues and I said to myself “not in the mood for psychology tonight.” Then I see this film and it says it is about a man who thinks this woman is his reincarnated lover from 400 years ago. Sounded intriguing to me and I set about to watch it. The sound was horrible and I had to re-start it three times and finally, put on closed captioning so I knew what they were saying. I was a little confused with the storyline in the beginning too, but kept at it. Then, we get to the character Veronica, who “is allowed” to live in the basement of the mansion. It is where the main male lead, Paul, lives in. Veronica spells out his personality, almost like she is giving the description of a covert narcissist. I thought to myself, “Oh, well now, I have to sit up straight and pay more attention to this storyline.” I just can’t get away from my specialization at the office. And, I knew this was going to be a film I would be talking up to my clients. And, it is an amazing film. It is different from Gaslight, which is focused on the title. This film, bares a lot more explanation to the average person. So, here we go.
Personally and professionally, I have dealt with narcissistic men in relationships, as family members, as clients, and in business. I like to study patterns that I see that continue to appear over and over again, as a psychotherapist and began to reflect on this when it came to the narcissist specifically; for this post. This is not research, just an observation that I have seen, heard, learned of. I do not work with the narcissist (except when they are part of one of my couples), so I often hear it from the partner. If I am working with a couple, I am able to listen to them when I do a family history and glean more from them with the questions I ask. You have read many articles on line, most likely, about the narcissistic relationship to the wife/girlfriend. This article is going in a different direction.
Disclaimer: As we are two humble therapists, all discussion you see between us in the video/podcast is based on our training and education, therapeutic work in our practices, and thoughtful opinions formed over our years of working with the population we discuss. We are not the last word in this discussion, and we commit to providing ongoing resources beyond ourselves to enlarge your understanding of this complex subject. Thank you for viewing and we hope this will be helpful in your recovery process.