Category Archives: Recovery Forums

“Out Of The Fog” – Another Toxic Recovery Forum

After losing interest in the subject for a long time, I finally had a close look at another internet community based on personality disorders, a disciple of which I’ve seen trying to poison strangers online (for a couple of years and ongoing), perhaps out of reflex, with the idea that they are being emotionally abused by their partners or family members. When the response given to anyone succinctly posting a relationship dilemma is by default along those lines, something is awry.

Not having spent more than a few hours looking it up and reading through it, I do know what comes out of there, when one is immersed in this line of thought.

The difference between offering an opinion and proselytising is in nuance, in the ability to evaluate every situation on its own merits. When someone reacts like a person with a hammer, to whom everything looks like a nail, things are clear.

The forum is differently structured than PF and covers more than romantic relationships or marriages, which PF focused on. It doesn’t overtly demonise people with personality disorders, but claims to offer coping strategies instead (a misleading appearance, as detailed below). At a peek there is no mention of evil, demonic beings set on destroying their targets etc. However, a review of the book with the same name mentions black and white thinking, splitting humans into two categories: “the PDs” (personality disordered) and the “nons” (non-disordered) . And the acronym PD appears often on the site. Hence they don’t even have to pretend they are knowledgeable enough to identify a specific disorder.

To their credit, they declined to create a subsection for teens, seeing the problems that might pose (while PF targeted them directly in a marketing effort).

However, at a closer look, one can see a person is likely to be labelled disordered, or at least be suspected as such, for just any reason. And any reason is no stretch.

There is a subsection about friends, neighbours, acquaintances and coworkers, where I reckon most of the baffling stuff is, from what I’ve seen so far. At least in a close relationship one has a reason to over-analyse.

As an example, a member ended up thinking her roommate might be disordered because the latter asked her to hold her stuff at a bar, “as if she were a coat rack”. Because apparently, disordered people are known to be selfish and since this one momentary gesture of debatable rudeness bothered her, the roommate is likely to have a real issue, regardless of the lack of other indications. A thread was opened about this gesture and no moderator stepped in to even issue an opinion regarding how accurate this might be. Which is proof that anything goes. Perhaps this is a random exaggeration; however; there don’t seem to be any guidelines helping people differentiate between what is likely real and what is likely imaginary.

All this has nothing to do with a presumed expertise in personality disorders, but with people airing their day-to-day grievances and sometimes ending up sticking labels on others.

The specific language is present as well (abbreviations understood only by those who activate in these circles, such as NC, LC, VLC, PD, JADE etc). More interestingly, I found the abbreviation FOO (family of origin) in a few places, previously encountered in Stefan Molyneux’s cult lingo, as in “family of origin”. He is the “patent holder” of the term de-FOO, as in disassociating with one’s family of origin (and often friends who don’t share Molyneux’s political ideology, when it comes to his followers).

Very interestingly, there is this remark on a page listing “what not to do” when confronted with disordered behaviours:

Amateur Diagnosis – An Amateur Diagnosis is when a non-qualified individual confronts someone whom they suspect suffers from a personality-disorder and shares this belief with them, usually in the hope that this revelation will help to improve the relationship or the situation.

Excuse my French, but doesn’t that cover doing so behind the person’s back, based on unprofessional information, and sharing that with strangers? I’ve come across diagnosing people by proxy (the boyfriend’s ex-wife, because he claimed so, lacking any diagnosis per se, or the member actually knowing the person referred to as disordered).

What is ethical about the fact that there is no difference of approach between members who do have a diagnosis for someone and those who simply suspect someone of having a disorder, as if it were all the same?

More food for thought about this site not being what it appears to at first. The comments on the first site mention a few of these forums (recognisable with a bit of prior knowledge).

The Aftermath of the Psycho/ Narc Hunt Obsession

As predicted, amateur online content claiming to offer insight into psychopaths and narcissists has been multiplying for a few years.

Obviously, there are content creators out there who have done intense research on the matter and have analysed it from any angle, including the problem of false identification (off-the-cuff diagnosis based on superficiality). However, they share the platform with a sea of dross.

A few years ago, such content was relatively rare. Now a large array of blogs and YouTube channels predicate inside knowledge into the “minds of the disordered”. On a mere glance, the vast majority seem founded by individuals with  no qualification in this field or in depth study of the issue. I dare assume that many were started as a result of a sour break-up or childhood-related resentment.

Though the term “psychopath” is sometimes used, “narcissist” is far more prevalent. Perhaps because it has been a lay term before becoming clinical and appears more relatable.

A few quotes picked up just through a quick search on YouTube:

  • How to spot a narcissist in five minutes/ on the first date. Pardon my doubts yet I think that unless someone is extremely disturbed it’s very difficult to tell, and most people do manage to make a good impression on a first date, if for no other reason than their conscious effort to do so. Such guidelines would be better worded as “how to ruin a first date by constantly checking for signs of narcissism”.
  • Is the narcissist watching you right now (the narcissist may be stalking you in any number of ways). So you’ve successfully distanced yourself from this person and all you need now is a dose of paranoia regarding what they might be doing. Very healthy indeed (excellent for triggering people who have been stalked in the past, by the way).
  • 121 things narcissists say while gaslighting (collected from a support group of people believing to have been targeted; most are extremely common in arguments; one of these things is “whatever”). This is on a large channel, by the way. Predictably, the first comment is “OMG I’ve been told 90% of these”. Absolutely unrelated, unscientific crap.
  • How to torture a narcissist. Better yet, why try?
  • 6 strong signs you have narcissistic abuse syndrome. This is directed at women and invites them to imagine that if they have certain emotional problems that is a strong indicator of their partner being a narcissist (no mention of the possibility of preexisting problems at all, or them being caused by other factors). The first two are “feeling alone” and “not feeling good enough”, which are par for the course with abandonment and anxiety issues and not necessarily caused by others in real time.

Moreover, this “support” has seeped into neutral environments. After watching someone seek out confused people to “help” on a forum, where they would pop up to  ask for relationship advice (being told each time they were being abused, regardless of the details), I did a quick Google search with specific keywords, to try to see how prevalent this is.

Doubtlessly, some who soak up this material, with a clear self-gratifying intention, try to sway unsuspecting strangers into thinking they are in a hopeless situation or even in danger. They actively search the internet for psychological fodder in other people’s temporary problems. And unlike content creators, who often have a financial interest, they gain nothing but the satisfaction of having potentially “saved” others from “Cluster B types”, regardless of how little they know about them.

Hence, some disciples of sites such as Psychopath Free, Out of the Fog & Co now try to influence people outside of those environments, who are merely looking to vent online or obtain objective advice (which is an illusion as most respondents simply project their own life experience). Disorders were not even an issue in discussions I’ve witnessed until said faithful disciples brought them up.

If sifting through broadly-themed forums was too time-consuming and lacked efficiency, I did have a look on other platforms. On Quora, for instance, there are many threads enquiring about the new general obsession with narcissism.

It’s definitely a mass phenomenon, not reserved for platforms one only ends up on when specifically seeking answers. Many reputable publications have covered the lists of behaviours and red flags, though to their credit, they tend to seek out professionals when putting out articles.

 

 

 

 

Tight Ships Do Sink – New PF Screenshots

Through the kindness of someone who has emailed screenshots of a recent internal debacle at PF, former members who still return to this blog can see the their practices questioned and discussed, and of course justified (quite poorly, I might add).

It appears that a number of long-term members are openly challenging the team’s treatment of them, the response being that they have formed a mutinous clique and there can be no other clique than the one in charge. The sycophancy of some, who accept this authority of PF over their life decisions, is fairly disturbing.

The dispute involved a long term member, admonished for the apparently inexcusable crime of having invited her ex to a conversation… last year. And having maintained a business-related channel for him to contact her, which obviously is related to her livelihood. Arguably, a normal group of friends would not attempt to get this person to overdramatise the presumed danger she has put herself in by simply contacting said ex, let alone chastise her for it. That’s not what emotional support is about. But then again, this is no normal group of friends, but Fahrenheit 451 with a twist of sour lemons.

On the PF mother ship, one is no longer allowed to be human. Being human is a sign of imperfection; a transgression of ideological purity. They cannot see how their attitude of excluding people for normal human interaction with “undesirables” renders them as bigoted as fundamentalist Mormons, who mandate that remaining with a partner/ spouse is an absolute, regardless of other factors. It comes from a need to control what others do, to regulate the details of other people’s lives.

When someone is truly empathetic, they listen. They take your life experience into account and seek to learn from it just as you might learn from them. Throwing the book at people on a constant basis is reserved for preachers and hypocritical moralists; it indicates distance and superficiality, not friendship.

 

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“She received an email and came here to get help and reinforcement to not respond, which was the right thing to do. After several days of pages and feedback form other members, it appeared she was going to ignore the hoover. What happened next though is she popped up in here a couple of weeks later with this dramatic, attention-grabbing thread written in ALL CAPS, as if it were breaking news, bragging about 1000% validation for doing everything she was told NOT to do. (…)

But the arrogance and false bravado with which she bragged about it and took offence with certain members and administrators who didn’t “congratulate” her for her supposed “closure” and breaking NC was a big part of the issue. It was only when she received some feedback from seasoned veterans that she didn’t want to hear, that she wanted her thread taken down. But then she started another thread, thanking members for their support in this thread and passive-aggressively complaining about the members who did not express unwavering support. That thread was taken down.” (Smitten Kitten)

Quick recap here, in more realistic terms. The member sought their advice but did not follow it, as, lo and behold, it was, ultimately, her life. Her choice turned out to work better for her than theirs. Instead of being happy that she was in a better place, they were outraged that she dared to break the community rules. Because in the end, it was all about them, not her, though they wouldn’t benefit or suffer whatsoever as a result of her choice. Them or anyone else on this planet. It was such a terrible affront that they never stopped to contemplate that she was, in fact, feeling better about her situation. You’d think they were trying to dissuade this woman from joining ISIS.

If you read through this admin’s entire account of matters, it’s rather bemusing.

“Honestly I am sick of PF becoming a place where the admins are accused of wrongdoing for reacting in an adult way to non-adult situations.” (Peace)

I recall the numerous cases, on this blog alone (not to mention other platforms), of members banned out of the blue, without an explanation, even after requesting one. An adult would at least dignify a supposed friend of a few years with a quick response. Is that so emotionally straining? What about the way they treated Thomas Sheridan, with a hysterical and vicious smear campaign? Is that an adult way to do things?

“While folks may say or do things out of pain, that doesn’t erase the hurtful effects that those words & actions have on their recipients. Yes, we are all human. That doesn’t make it okay to blame a website or friend for one’s internal discomfort.” (Peace)

How about applying not blaming a friend for one’s internal discomfort when thinking of those “hurtful effects” then? Do some people have more of a right to be hurt by others and act on it? How is it so unbearable to be questioned that you have to exclude this person from the communal entourage, cutting them off from everyone else?

“People here declare abuse or judgement or censorship because they aren’t validated 100% for everything they do.” (Peace)

When you react with such effervescence to common actions they take, and declare them potentially unfit for your group of straight-thinkers, excuse people for taking offence. I’d say a mirror is required here. It’s them who don’t validate you through what they choose to do with their lives in the end, and you find that unacceptable. You find them unworthy of speaking to unless they adhere to your exact guidance. Because you couldn’t possibly find valuable insight in someone else’s experience. You’re way above learning about life.

“That’s not how growth works.” (Peace)

Perpetually failing to address concerns or criticism, by blocking people and running away, is not how growth works either. You might as well cover your ears and start humming. Unless of course, you think in your case growth is no longer required, because you’ve already achieved the status of an all-knowing being.

“PF is not an echo chamber to validate and say “yes you’re right” to everyone all the time.” (Peace)

That’s exactly what it is, only in reverse. Admins and mods have an imperious need to be validated by other people living their lives by each letter in their program. If you fail to comply, you are of no use to them anymore.

“If anyone else would like to leave, they are welcome to do so. Please just contact us privately, instead of these dramatic public exits.” (Peace)

Quite a leap from seeing members off, or even their fellow admins and mods, with a rotten tomato fair-well party, accusing them of being disordered. I assume those were not dramatic exists.

“I 1000% agree with what you all have written here and especially in connection with what I have recently been astonished and confused by in witnessing in connection to the arrogance with regard to PF where some members feel that its theirs and theirs alone so, it might be perceived as “anything goes”. The statement of, “US against the admins” reminded me of a line from Lord of the Flies. REALLY????” (Phoenix)

I don’t know about entitlement to speak your mind on a forum of so-called unconditional friends – I’d worry more about the entitlement of someone else’s life being yours to manage, and the idea that not following your directives and contradicting your perspective is offensive. This person realised she didn’t have to do what they dictated. That she could choose for herself and surprisingly, it could have better results.

“On reflection, and simply put, a moment of strait talking and the resultant shock, can save years of unnecessary emotional abuse after taking a step back and properly “digesting” and evaluating. In my view, PF has always been about “the greater good, for the greater number”, never the reverse.” (Phoenix)

Explain to me how this is different than a fundamentalist religious group. Preemptive saving of the congregation. Do not speak to this person even once because he’ll end up convincing you to go back and you will suffer for years. Do not look at that Playboy as you will end up having orgies and getting HIV. These people don’t know where they themselves will be in five years’ time, let alone someone else.

The crux of the matter is their quest is not to help individuals – otherwise they would at least take a moment to be happy for them when their lives improve. Individuals don’t matter; the cult mentality does.

“We thought closing registrations would help calm things down and make it easier to keep the peace without an influx of new trolls, but of course that doesn’t solve the problem of existing trolls who are already here.” (Smitten Kitten)

She is referring to someone who had been there for years, not a “troll”. Regardless of how well you think these people know you, trusting they would never class you as such, surprise.

“Instead, there seems to be some new kind of arrogance that’s developed in some of the membership, where they act like they’re part of an exclusive club now and they act like that gives them the right to complain about us whenever they feel like it.” (Smitten Kitten)

Pure lese-majeste, which is French for an affront to royalty, or authority, by association. Subversion, no less.

Perhaps said members are connecting privately and starting to realise what really goes on. There should be little doubt with regards to what admins think they’re running there. It has nothing to do with friendship or even consideration towards others, let alone helping vulnerable people, and everything to do with control and self-aggrandisement.

 

Internet Cult Posing As A Philosophy Group

People who have recently been exposed to Freedomain Radio podcasts and videos probably accessed them for an in-depth analysis of current events, as the material seems quite popular with the sceptic “community”, as well as the alt-right (the two seeming to fuse nowadays on social media).

Unbeknownst to new listeners, this group is a proper cult aimed at reaching young people at the age of individuation; it used to convince them to separate from their families by cutting all contact, a practice known as “defooing”, which has its dedicated website for members, defoo.org, reminiscent of Scientology or the Exclusive Brethren. Although apparently the advocacy for this has stopped (perhaps for legal reasons) the consequences remain.

The young people lured through discussions about politics, ethics, dogmas and so forth were encouraged to analyse their entire lives in ways which would lead them to think their families were morally corrupt and sabotaging them psychologically, at an age of being prone to rebelling naturally, which exacerbated the effect. They were encouraged to move out of their homes, which led to homelessness in various cases and at least one suicide, leaving behind dumbfounded families who only understood what had happened when discovering their children’s interest in Freedomain Radio.

From the start, members were told it was their duty to “get out there” and “become active” in order to help create a better world, and that occasional support such as the odd donation or product purchase was not enough for them to consider themselves “part of the conversation”.

As former members recounted, the group went way beyond what abuse recovery forums do, as it encouraged them to publicly berate the families trying to bring them back, even reading out private letters and emails for the world to hear, which reaches a deeply disturbing level of arrogance. Instead of the promised liberation, young people found themselves increasingly depersonalised, at least two describing a loss of interest for anything outside of group discussions.

Ad-hoc psychoanalysis was used by the leader to mimic a deep bond and understanding; it was also employed towards “recovering repressed memories”, in order to further antagonise them against their parents or even siblings and friends. They even used to provide those who wished to leave their families with a standard “goodbye letter”, in case they felt they could not formulate their own. Moreover, some of the most dedicated members ended up living together after “defooing”.

The group remains very popular today, continuing to attract those who consider themselves anti-system. Akin to any cult, they reject what their former peers have brought to light and berate them for being “weak enough to return to their morally corrupt families”.

There is plenty material on YouTube and dedicated sites, consisting of testimonies from former members and their loved ones, as well as the input of cult experts, confirming the nature of these dynamics.

 

New Evidence Of Disturbing Extremism On Psychopath Free

(Sorry about the size of the images; I simply copied the text on each one.)

It seems the assumption that behind closed doors PF would become even more deranged in terms of its treatment of members (and cult-ish behaviour in general) was spot on.

Someone who still has access to their account was kind enough to take screen shots and send them; they reveal what seems to be a complete lack of sanity.

First off, as seen below, a member wishing to leave and have their account deleted is immediately labelled an impostor and a narcissist/ sociopath/ psychopath, for merely stating they didn’t need the forum anymore.

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Seriously, what kind of group outright accuses you of being the worst kind of person imaginable, just for saying you want to leave them? What kind of “sense” does that make? It’s obvious that these people are a joke, as a community anyway, and that they always have been.

If that is their methodology in recognising personality disorders, one that they were very keen on peddling to schools and psychology practices, allow me to assume they wouldn’t have been taken seriously.

Such is their conviction of unchallenged expertise that they aspired to spread it all over the world, only a few months ago.

And if you want to see something even sicker, look no further.

According to a group of devout PF members, a woman can be labelled a “narcissistic mother” for dying one day after her daughter, apparently, to … get attention. The posts below refer to the sad recent passing of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds, both of natural causes, though it is quite clear that Debbie Reynolds’ death was accelerated by her daughter’s, which is not uncommon within families.

The high calibre humanists and sensitive snowflakes on PF somehow ended up seeing a grief-stricken mother as a “narc” who wanted to “steal her daughter’s moment of fame” by none other than dying.

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I’m not sure further comments are even needed…

A big thank you to the member who sent this, as it is a very revealing “inside glimpse”. And though posting these screen shots here might be perceived as intrusive, we can’t forget that these people are playing with the personal details and even sanity of those they have lured.

Later edit: PF banning members for… liking another author, possibly seen as “competition”

Melanie Tonia Evans, also referred to as MTE for short (on their forum anyway) is an author exploring roughly the same topics as they do, from a personal perspective, apparently introducing too many nuances for their liking, versus the black and white view of human interaction they propose. Although her motivation is at least partially financial – which appears to be par for the course in this field – it seems extreme for PF to take such a strong stance that she can’t even be mentioned. After all, what are they selling, if not made-up solutions to the problems of those in need?

The following quotes are from a thread about her (sorry for posting them so late after they were sent), after having previously referred to one of her books as a resource, in 2011.

 

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Three of these posts stand out in my opinion – one claiming not to need other resources but PF, another mandating that members stick to the resources listed on the site and of course, the admin’s power trip display in the end, while banning someone suspected of trolling (I presume) for linking to MTE.

Also notice the language, the venom and contemplate being on the wrong side of PF staff, ever, even through a misunderstanding. Then contemplate having given them your most intimate details beforehand.

 

New article on Psychopath Free: “What if they’re not a sociopath?”

This post is in response to this new PF article, based on the idea that healing from a hurtful relationship is all that matters, combined with dealing with your own demons – which would normally be true, except for the situations detailed below. Here is the conclusion of the article:

The question “What if they’re not really a sociopath?” loses all of its significance when we come to love ourselves regardless of the answer.

To start with, the article conveys a warm, fluffy and appeasing feeling, detailing doubts which might arise and nuancing an individual’s response to a failed relationship – an introspection which would undoubtedly be positive … were the website not called Psychopath Free, claiming to teach people how to identify  and deal with monsters. Not people who at one point in time displayed toxic behaviours. Soulless, irredeemable monsters.

It matters when you have publicly labelled said person a sociopath

This label is far from a private matter, at one’s discretion to keep or discard, when it was turned into a public accusation, ranging from a circle of friends to the presumed sociopath’s own family. Where exactly does the hipsterism fit in once you’ve damaged that person’s life?

Of course, one might argue that they’ve also damaged yours in ways which are difficult to repair. But still, does that absolve someone of the wrongdoing of tarnishing another’s reputation?

When you broke up with a significant other specifically because you applied this label

Which I’m sure has been the case on PF time and time again – confused people coming across the “life-saving” information which raises their adrenaline, feeling self-righteous beyond the shadow of doubt and making crucial decisions based on it.

The sheer thought that a loved one is impossible to deal with by default has been breaking marriages and relationships apart. At times, had it not been for this black and white thinking, many people would’ve surely reconsidered.

While I believe that education about narcissism and sociopathy are essential to healing and sanity restoration (especially in the early stages as we break the chemical bond and learn to go No Contact), I think there is something very powerful about eventually releasing this duality.

That’s just it – they are essential to those who are genuinely involved with these types, not to the rest, who might think they are in a moment of desolation, to later brood over their assessment and find it impulsive and inaccurate. People can heal from heartache without resorting to this demonisation, which is anything but sanity when untrue.

He is basically saying that this “education”, as well as going no contact, is essential even to those who later question their judgement. In the vein of act now, think later.

With the risk of emphasising this for the hundredth time: even when a lot of heartache was involved, on one or both sides, it doesn’t mean one has to give up on the relationship, as if this were the only beneficial route. Assuming that ending it was for the best regardless, even if the label is later questioned, and that reading about disordered people was just a prop towards the “liberating” break-up even when said person was not necessarily disordered, is absolutely ridiculous.

When you claim to be an expert on sociopathy and coach others on the subject

Basing your entire expertise on your experience, “educating” others with fanatical dedication, influencing their lives (sometimes irreversibly) and suddenly turning around to say that it doesn’t really matter if your judgement was correct regarding said experience just doesn’t fly.

It is basically stating that your cut-in-stone perspective on human interaction just might be based on a murky, questionable situation, in which you just might’ve been wrong. In this case, the smallest of doubts matters a great deal. Because you might’ve – just might’ve – fed lorry loads of horse manure to all the people who regarded your approach as the absolute truth.

One of the most common questions asked during recovery is: “Was he/she really a sociopath?” Survivors ask this question over and over again, because for most of us, the alternative is the sociopath’s reality: “You are crazy, jealous, sensitive, paranoid, unattractive, unwanted.” And so we oscillate back and forth between these two realities: bad other, or bad self.

This binary excludes the middle ground – actual rationality and sanity, which admits the possibility of both individuals being wrong at the same time, to various degrees. One for saying hurtful things and the second  for taking them as the absolute reality of the other’s thinking, prompting them to label the other as a merciless sociopath.

There is no need for this radicalism, as if one were completely incapable of analysing matters beyond “I was right” versus “this person was right”.

This is not a healthy way to look at life and people who tend to think in black and white should not be teaching others how to handle their problems.

 

The post is followed by quite a few which are glorifying an empath’s ability to love, regardless of their presumed sociopath’s behaviour. I know this will sound cruel on my part, but in this context it seems like a self-gratifying exercise which does not address the real question – what if the people they labelled as such were not actually sociopaths?

This article not only implies but states it is beyond the issue for anyone “recovering” from a hurtful relationship. Is it really though? Is loving yourself enough to obliterate any damage you might’ve done to someone and any afterthoughts about what might’ve been in the absence of this label? And is loving yourself enough to give you confidence to keep “spreading the word” about disordered people, even in the absence of certainty that you have even met one? And regardless of the damage you might do to others who believe you know what you’re preaching?

The answer is logical.

Holiday Misery – A Presumed Red Flag Of Narcissism

There are dozens of articles and videos describing how narcissists are always miserable during holidays others fully enjoy and make a point out of ruining them for everyone else.

Never having met one, to my knowledge, I  can’t claim to be able to dismiss this criterion; however, if this is one important reason why you have labelled a person as such, please think twice – as there are many valid reasons for not sharing the holiday cheer.

  1. People don’t have a “happy” button they can push for social convenience. The more this is asked of them, the more miserable and antisocial they will become.

Whereas for some, a diversion from their usual existence is more than welcome, for others, this yearly ritual of let’s try to be happy (desperately, clinging to this magnificent day as if we were in danger of missing the boat to move overseas) is just as dry and robotic; difficult to understand, in a way. Here is  an article on the matter, describing a whole nation experiencing feelings of gratitude, being kinder, reacting emotionally to songs and symbols, as if these things suddenly occurred on cue at that time of the year.

For many in the United States, as the month of November approaches, their spirits begin to lift as they start to prepare and decorate for Thanksgiving and they reflect on the blessings that they are grateful for.In December, the holiday songs, decorations and white bearded guy in the red suit reminds everyone to spread goodwill and cheer to others.

Let’s forget about the location for a moment, as people around the world could make the same statement. The first issue I have with this is that feelings are private, not collective; one can’t simply tap into the communal cheer as many claim, and catch it from others. It’s not Ebola FFS.

A human being does not owe these feelings to anybody. It is absurd to claim that someone’s mood should be lifted simply by how other people feel; it is also absurd to claim that joy is a cultural thing, brought on by certain stimuli such as dates or decorations or costumes (much like bulls react in a predetermined way when they see red).

Another common way narcissists deflate holiday bubbles is to buy the worst gift imaginable or cry “poverty” to get out of having to purchase gifts at all. Many narcissists will even purchase something they purposely know won’t be liked, only to delight in the disappointed expression on faces as the gift is opened. (same source)

So that spiritual high is at least partially material, and if one cannot “pay their dues” to the communal happiness by buying gifts, they are somehow inferior?  Perhaps they are themselves fed up with this culture of customs become obligations and happiness derived from what lies underneath the wrapping paper. Giving gifts is wonderful when it actually comes from one’s heart. When the “joy of giving” becomes the stress of where to get money to rise up to everyone’s expectations… it is visibly just another chore on the year’s calendar. Nothing spiritual in the slightest – hence one cannot genuinely claim heartache from not receiving the kind of gift they wanted, for some reason. That is superficial and snobbish, sorry to say. (PS, think of the worst gifts you’ve ever received and then consider the following: a Chuckie doll, a box of toilet brushes, a ticket to see feminist theatre which would scar you for life.)

On the deeper level, Sam Vaknin describes the narcissist’s need of complete autonomy , which manifests by rejecting what society tries to impose – forced cheerfulness and celebration on certain occasions – corroborated with the need to control how others feel and to bring them down. Whereas the latter is indeed toxic, I can safely argue that the need to reject any imposition related to how they should feel is natural. They might just experience a visceral repulsion  towards anything that is artificial, without ever looking down on those who embrace it.

When a person deems a partner cruel and neglectful because of this rejection of conformity, they’re basically stating that they long to be like everyone else, to have and do what everyone has and does around them. In my view this is not a natural and personal need but a culturally imposed one and should not come between two people.

2. They might just be a nonbeliever among a group of believers ceaselessly attempting to drag them into the “holiday spirit”.

This year I had my first Easter as a non-Christian in a very religious country, where for 3 days (although I think it extends to 40) people greet each other with “Christ was resurrected” instead of hello. But during the three days of Easter, if you greet them with a simple hello, they give you some right funny looks. Some older people don’t even reply; they think you’re being dead rude. It’s the type of context of being constantly warned not to work or wash on a Sunday, in spite of repeating you have no fear of any higher power smiting you with lighting for turning the washing machine on. So I can totally sympathise with anyone in that context or any variation.

3. The nauseating commercial mania is enough to put some people off.

As we’ve all become accustomed to, Christmas tends to start in October now. If during the rest of the year major stores (at least) are conniving, annoying and relentless towards making people buy things they don’t need, during the holiday season it’s like they’re all on cocaine. Some folks, myself included, find that this intoxication drains the spirit right out of such occasions.

4. The personal turned impersonal

Nowadays, someone needn’t even write a few lines on a card for a loved one; they can pick from a variety of standard messages and just sign their name in a hurry. Let’s call these depersonalised cards. As to Valentine’s Day (when society assumes every couple enjoys a mandatory evening out and mandatory sex), aside from its blatantly commercial nature, the whole concept of something intimate being celebrated collectively is uncomfortable to say the least. If anything, it’s proof of the robotic nature of our existence, with a preset date for the best quality romanticism.

Slowly, our interest is being compartmentalised, with foreign groups somewhere deciding which days or months are to be dedicated to a particular matter. Not that certain matters weren’t important or worthy of more awareness, yet setting international standards for what people should focus on, on fixed occasions, is not natural.

5. People can also hate larger celebrations due to social anxiety, simply preferring to be alone or in a very small group.

If someone feels out of place in a room full of people they’re not close to, there’s probably nothing you can do to fix them – because they don’t need fixing. It’s just how they are and how they approach life. Some think they’re doing others a favour by forcing them to socialise or that others have a “duty” to attend an event with them, even if they feel out of place the whole time. It’s like putting a drop of oil in a glass of water – it will always end up isolated and taciturn, and will probably make others feel uncomfortable as well.

Perhaps this analysis is somewhat superficial, yet might raise useful points to anyone who places an emphasis on conforming to the norm to the degree that it causes trouble in their relationships with others.

 

What Is NOT Gaslighting

By now, many people are familiar with this notion, especially if they have an interest in unhealthy interpersonal dynamics. A brief article explaining gaslighting can be found here. First of all, a few ideas are worth noting (though doing so might seem superfluous):

  • -It is inflicted on a victim by an abuser who believes to be superior;
  • -It is a consistent technique ( it’s used more than once);
  • -It is always deliberate (planned, organised in cold blood);
  • -It is meant to cause actual suffering (confusion, self doubt, low self confidence etc).

After encountering this term in a variety of inappropriate situations – its use being meant to accuse someone of foul intentions – there are some observations to make regarding what is – only in my view of course – not gaslighting.

  1. Someone trying to convince you of their opinion (yes, I know how stupid that sounds). A couple of times I’ve seen this artifice used on PF, along the lines of:

You want me to see this event your way, not mine, therefore you are trying to make me replace my version of reality with yours, therefore you are gaslighting me.

Which is of course an eerie, cult-like stretch, caused by a person automatically analysing the world through the lens of psychopathic behaviour – a lens most people do not use on a daily basis. One often has a different perspective and imparts it ingenuously, debating others; most people understand that; it’s only to the paranoid that a different opinion can seem a devious attempt to blur their sense of reality.

From everyone is entitled to an opinion it suddenly becomes  telling me that my view/ my perception is not accurate is abusive.  Which practically means they’re always right and contradicting them is a direct attack on their well-being.

2. Most fleeting conversations (online or not).

With an emphasis on ”fleeting”. Although presumably there are those who enjoy genuinely screwing with the minds of others for the fun of it (as opposed to simply trolling), jumping to bite the jugular of every recently met person for “gaslighting you” is not a healthy reaction.

Gaslighting is known to have a purpose; there is a clear intention behind it; it’s difficult to associate it with a few words exchanged by people who will most likely never meet again (unless criminal intention is present, as those involved in crime have to act fast). Otherwise, for a person to suspect this intensity or interest from a complete stranger, their ego must be quite inflated.

3. A poor way of making excuses.

Yes, someone might say, for lack of inspiration, “I didn’t say that”,”maybe you heard me wrong” or “that’s not what I meant”, while awkwardly avoiding eye contact. Some people are worse than others at apologising (that takes some balls) or even admitting guilt, or might try to cover for others, protect your feelings by not repeating an insult etc. When caught red handed, they might just say something stupid, such as this never happened. Which is not a laudable thing to do and obviously would trigger people who were actually gaslighted in the past.

Does that automatically make a person  a psychopath? Of course not. If it’s an isolated event, it means nothing at all. If it happens repeatedly, then it is a problem – however, if that’s the only thing to go on, I’d still reflect on it before jumping to conclusions.

4. People who lie compulsively out of anxiety.

The only instance in which I can find a valid excuse for repeated lying is when it comes from people who have developed this as a defence mechanism, after a long time (usually years) of suffering serious consequences whenever things went wrong, they made a mistake or they risked angering/ upsetting someone else. These people lie very naturally to pacify a situation, hiding negative aspects others would have liked to know about. The reaction they get when their lies are uncovered is worse than the one they would’ve received for simply making a mistake. But in a way I can sympathise with the chronic fear of attracting other people’s anger.

In a way it’s comparable to what children do. Since gaslighting is based on control and deviousness, not anxiety, it doesn’t apply here.

5. People who don’t pay attention.

Everyone’s met the type who is a bit self-absorbed and has rosy sunglasses on, meaning they minimise and brush off your sincere concerns as if they didn’t matter (and no, I’m not one for writing this post or any others which deal with these complicated issues).

I’m sure you just imagined it! I’m sure everything’s fine! Everything works out in the end! 

Of course they do it in order to keep things comfortable and keep talking about their own preoccupations, without bothering with yours. I’m not saying these people are worth maintaining a close relationship with or confiding in – obviously not – but that doesn’t mean their attitude is devious and seeks to undermine your confidence. It’s just complacent and ignorant. They also do that to protect their own view of the world, of a family, a community, an institution etc. Basically, it’s all about them, not about invalidating or worse, destroying you.

Most people are not out to abuse others – gaslighting is a cruel, premeditated and sustained  form of abuse, just like psychopathy is a chilling disorder, not to be pinned on every selfish asshole.

Later Edit

Nowadays, every other progressive has been harmed by a narcissist or psychopath, has been the victim of oppression and is suffering from PTSD, requiring trigger warnings whenever they are exposed to unfamiliar information. Next on the agenda, half of them will soon claim they are being  or have been gaslighted (probably more since the straws they cling to are so diverse).

Unfortunately, analyses such as this one are not unnecessary, since misinformation is already spilling out of the poisoned well of the victimhood culture, with feminism at the centre of it. This feminist website (which as a whole is possibly the richest source of unadulterated bullshit I’ve come across so far), seeks to take the false victim complex into the mainstream in every possible way.

This particular article, “10 Things I’ve Learned About Gaslighting As An Abuse Tactic”, is precisely the type of  generalisation I was referring to at the beginning of the blog post.

Far from wanting to invalidate the author’s experience, my honest opinion is that here, gaslighting is presented as a common method of overpowering someone using an emotional bond, by which a person gets another to see things their way, and undermines their confidence as a result, whether they intended to or not. There is nothing in the article to suggest maliciousness or duplicity from the supposed abuser.

Direct quotes are essential (the fair use notice is displayed on the homepage).

1. Gaslighting Doesn’t Have to Be Deliberate

(…)Unfortunately, the first definition I looked up was woefully inadequate. Gaslighting does not require deliberate plotting. Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality.

The rest just happens organically when a person who holds that belief feels threatened. We learn how to control and manipulate each other very naturally.

First of all, the fundamental aspect of defining and identifying gaslighting is the clear intention of causing someone to lose their mental balance and self-confidence, manifesting systematically and in cold blood, inflicting as much harm as possible. It is the method through which pathological types gain control over others, with no remorse whatsoever, sometimes resulting in their victims committing suicide.

Muddying the waters to blur the logical differentiation of this technique from ordinary lying, spontaneous excuse making and even expressing a different perspective is very detrimental, as the real meaning of the word is lost, resulting in an excess of zeal and hysteria wherever this diluted information spreads.

Clear intention, calculation, persistence and cold blood are essential elements to identify in order to make an accurate assessment. Gaslighting must by definition be deliberate.

The author of this piece claims the generally used definition is inaccurate, instead of pondering her own decision to use this specific word. Which is what progressives often do – instead of finding their place in the world, they want to make the entire world adapt to them. With no disrespect to her experience, when a concept does not suit someone, what they do is let go of it and find anther one – or why not, invent it. What they don’t normally do is re-engineer that  concept to suit them specifically, claiming that everyone using it previously was going about it all wrong.

Another red flag is using a situation which is charged with emotions and subjectivity – an argument between romantic partners (which almost by default involves accusations), adding that the “gaslighting” was spontaneous and not deliberate; combined, these aspects become very suspicious. One should consider the following aspects:

  • Whether lies were definitely told, with the partner definitely being aware they were lying; the contentions made may very well be the partner’s honest opinion;
  • Whether the contentions were commonly made or just a one off;
  • Whether the partner simply had an emotional outburst, even if they went a bit overboard;
  • What their composure was and if they seemed to take pleasure in winding up their target (arrogance and delight usually become apparent in these situations).

Of course I’m no expert but this is all just common sense. The key issue is that this technique cannot be identified from an isolated incident or from the mere existence of two conflicting perspectives. Deceit (deliberate, repeated lying) and malicious intentions both have to be involved – lying once in order to cover something up does not count.

“Gaslighting only requires a belief that it is acceptable to overwrite another person’s reality”.  I’ve seen this happen with parents and children, indeed, yet the purpose was shitty excuse making (counting on children’s short memory and volatile perceptions to deny they had done something). Therefore this is an interesting nuance, though more of a cowardly thing to do and not intended to destroy a child’s self-confidence.

You can see it in the media constantly.

For instance, every time an obvious hate crime is portrayed as an isolated case of mental illness, this is gaslighting. The media is saying to you, What you know to be true is not true.

The media does gaslight people all the time, no doubt about it, on behalf of an establishment seeking to confuse them constantly, to the point that they no longer know what is going on around them. Alan Watt gives a good example with the contradictory conclusions of  studies, published from time to time, bamboozling those who read them. For instance, today coffee prolongs your life, tomorrow it gives you cancer, the day after tomorrow it is presented as a miraculous cure for some other disease.

However, the example the author chooses is not relevant, as it claims a presumed hate crime should cause a hysterical reaction and not be treated as an isolated incident. Why presumed? Well, when a person forming part of a minority of any kind is attacked (conservatives excluded), the media, followed by a choir of progressive activists, tends to simply assume that “hate” was involved, even before the actual motive is established. Violence can erupt in a multitude of situations and it is idiotic to simply assume, each and every single time.

But now if you abuse your partner, you’re usually considered to be a bad person. So what do you do, with all the beliefs that would lead you to violence, if violence is no longer an acceptable option?

You use manipulation, and you use gaslighting.

Here it is simply assumed that if these forms of abuse both involve control and a power imbalance, one is a suitable replacement for the other. However, causing someone to fear you is not the same as causing them to think they are insane. Moreover, while gaslighting is premeditated, violence is, more often than not, mindless and momentary. Also, violence is commonly used by the run-of-the-mill asshole, whereas gaslighting is a calculated and sophisticated technique employed by devious minds. Comparing the two implies gaslighting is very common and can be used by just anybody, which in turn implies that the world is full of heartless, devious people (basically psychos), fully capable of this level of evil. And since this is a feminist blog, guess which sex the psychos would predominantly belong to.

A gaslighter doesn’t simply need to be right. They also need for you to believe that they are right.

The whole point is getting their victim to believe a lie – it’s not that they think they are right to begin with; they know full well they are lying. This quote reinforces my initial suspicion that the author ignores this fact, which reduces the technique to someone convincing someone else of their perspective, which the other party (presumed victim) thinks is invalid or which later proves objectively invalid.

The description of the “three stages of gaslighting” is too long to paste here; you can find it by clicking the link above. Yet again, it describes a common argument in a romantic relationship, with no apparent, demonstrable conniving involved. The short version:

1.You argue for hours, without resolution. You argue over things that shouldn’t be up for debate  – your feelings, your opinions, your experience of the world.(…)2. Winning the argument now has one objective :  proving that you’re still good, kind, and worthwhile. (…) 3. You consider their point of view as normal. You start to lose your ability to make your own judgements. You become consumed with understanding them and seeing their perspective. You live with and obsess over every criticism, trying to solve it.

Just a few observations:

  • -One’s feelings and opinions are subjective; they are not absolutes and are always up for debate.
  • -Gaslighting deals with distorting one’s perception of reality, usually by reframing events or conversations, denying them or making them up, aiming to make the other  think they are confused or crazy. Feelings and opinions have nothing to do with this.
  • -The fact that someone eventually convinces their partner of their perspective does not mean that they are deliberately lying – or even mistaking, for that matter, and gives no indication of trying to drive the partner crazy.

By accusing someone of gaslighting you, you are basically accusing them of being a monster. Not every hurtful or difficult relationship involves that and not every insecure, hypersensitive,  overly loving or overly tolerant person drained by arguments is being subjected to an actual form of mind control.

Once again, this is the result of confusing feelings and opinions with actual reality, which opens the door for any argument to be seen as gaslighting, trivialising this notion.

Another article, this time written by a professional, gives three peculiar examples:

  • -A woman is left abruptly at the bus stop by her date (recently met), who prefers the metro and then calls later to justify his strange gesture.
  • -A woman complains to her boss about her assignments and is told she is stressed and sensitive; this keeps happening overtime.
  • -A woman develops anxiety over the fear that she doesn’t care enough about her husband, as he often criticises her for not paying attention to details (such as going to the right store at the right time to get him the right kind of salmon).

Call me crazy, no pun intended, but I do not see any deliberate attempts to make any of these women doubt their sanity. The first case involves a second date and an impatient and tactless prick; it is unclear what he thought he would achieve by dumping her at the bus stop. In the second scenario, the woman is aware of the injustice; she does work harder but nowhere does it say that she feels confused or crazy. And in the third one, she develops this unease because she lets him get away with being so demanding in the first place, taking his shallow reproaches to heart. However, nothing suggests he is being deceptive or that he wants to destroy her self-confidence; he is probably just exploitative and thinks he’ll gain some advantage out of making her feel guilty over trifles.

The list of signs is a long one, describing the targeted person’s feelings. Taken separately, none is a clear indication of being gaslighted, and adjoined, they paint a picture of an unhappy individual in an unhappy relationship, facing anxiety issues and low confidence, possibly depression. And yet there is no mention of actual inconsistencies in this person’s daily reality, of the facts which do not match between their memory and that of their abuser, of this person thinking they might have lost the plot or might be lied to on a constant basis. Someone going through a depression affecting their relationship might apply these filters and end up thinking they are the victim of a deliberate attack on their sanity.

Many comments I read agreed the examples were quite poor; however there were also others, such as this one:

“I recently found the term and its meaning. I was in a relationship (my ex husband) who was a classic gaslighter. I have been divorced from him for almost 20 years. However, a work situation, too bizarre to discuss here, has led to gaslighting on the job more than once, and by extension into the community thanks to ex colleagues. Your description, however, also describes my current relationship with certain family members. I have been feeling that things were not right in the home for some time, and I know this is also an extension of the workplace issue. Very nosy nervy backstabbers. What a great article.”

It becomes apparent that due to such vague criteria, some people end up believing they are being targeted in this manner by multiple individuals (much like others identify “narcs” at every street corner). On a large scale, this leads to a lot of misinformation being circulated.

Silent Treatment – Is It Always That?

As the old proverb goes, all that glitters is not gold, including when it comes to difficulty in relationships.

A few of the behaviours labelled as forms of abuse and signs of psychopathy or narcissism are, in my opinion, ambiguous. Silent treatment is one of them. Whereas it can certainly be used as a form of aggression or control, abuse recovery communities encourage people to generalise, excluding other interpretations.

The reason silence is seen as abuse in romantic relationships is the strong reaction it provokes in the partner, who anxiously awaits communication, seeming lost without his/ her significant other and agonising over what they might be thinking. When complaining, the partner is sometimes referred to as needy and feels insulted; compared to them the presumed abuser seems cold, unemphatic and unloving.

But is this any proof  of foul intentions? Why should one assume these people are even aware of the drama they cause? Who’s to say that instead of being – as portrayed – sadistic monsters grinning beside the phone with a stopwatch, they’re not simply incapable of dealing with the intensity of a situation and need some distance?

Believe it or not, some people are more aloof than others; they need more space, even if that might seem unreasonable.

Even when done for selfish reasons, silence is not necessarily meant to induce a state of despair in the other, to punish them or to control them – in other words to intentionally inflict suffering. Even if someone habitually fails to care about the partner’s feelings, it’s still not the same as causing them deliberately.

To elaborate on that, I would like to make a few points.

1.The partner’s reaction is just as significant as the silence itself, if not more.

If the partner carried on with their own interests in the meantime, focusing on other matters, the situation might be seen as an odd behavioural pattern, yet not abuse. I’m writing from experience here, not out of some desire to engage in victim blaming. When one becomes so  emotionally dependent on another person, to the point of their feelings becoming an unseen burden on that person’s back, it’s not only unfair but also unhealthy. It is not a sign of maturity or balance to be unable to detach mentally from the relationship and turn your attention elsewhere for a while. This strong, disproportionate reaction to someone’s distancing might just be the tip of the iceberg.

2. These patterns (of one ignoring and the other responding with neediness) are likely to be influenced by what both partners have observed in their homes while growing up.

Although the dynamic is sometimes reversed, typically, it is women who feel neglected and men who feel their partners are always dissatisfied with their lack of emotional support. There is a very interesting video by Teal Swan on the perpetuation of these patterns and the Oedipus complex, describing how girls go on to seek the affection of partners who are predisposed to ignoring them and how boys go on to seek caring yet nagging women they end up withdrawing from – and so the cycle continues.

People may develop automatic reactions to certain situations, as a defence mechanism. For example, when someone in front of them raises their voice, the response might be to walk out of the room, regardless of other variables. This might be very frustrating for the partner, who can’t get a point across as things always escalate and end in this manner before any resolution is reached.

3. Poor synchronisation.

It’s fair to say that disappointment is the result of the expectations we have regarding others, whether they have caused us to have them or not. The reason we place such emphasis on trivial matters, like a forgotten anniversary or a trip which never materialised, is the importance we give them, as opposed to their real importance, which might be as small as a grain of sand.

When for instance someone makes an effort to plan a special evening with their partner and instead of it progressing well, the partner is morose and withdraws, causing discontent – if not a fit – the only damage done is to the figment, to the expectation. Nobody owns another person, as to force a certain mood on them and instantly demand reciprocity in their emotional state.

4. Love is about giving. Even space.

When we feel lonely and misunderstood, it can slip our minds that the people we are unhappy with might themselves have serious problems, be very tired or otherwise unavailable. Sometimes, the last thing to help the situation is ceaseless complaining over matters they might not have the energy to deal with. Neediness does make people withdraw more.

If someone is quiet for long periods of time, it can also be due to an issue they are trying to work through, at their own pace.We often come across these statements in popular culture:

If he/she really loved me, whatever issues he/she had, we could work them out together. There’s nothing he/she can’t tell me.

Wrong. Again, nobody owns another person and the need to keep some things private (even take them to the grave) should be respected. There is nothing more annoying and alienating than being prodded by others to speak because of the role they think they must play in your life. People don’t owe others explanations regarding their moods or feelings, if they do not wish to give them. They also do not owe them a mask of jolliness in order to not ”bring them down”.

 

In conclusion, this matter is as complex as it is delicate. One should pause and think very carefully whether another’s actions are really designed to affect them, or are simply an expression of how the other feels at the time.

 

 

Recovery Forums – A Tool Against The Family

For those of us of the opinion that the family as a concept is being pounded on with a battering ram, it’s easy to see how the ever-expanding identification of abuse (especially emotional) is aiding this ”progressive” quest. After years of observing this phenomenon, its role in isolating individuals within society is becoming clear.

Besides the fact that their gains are sometimes financial – for example, forums which charge for membership or sell a lot of improvised material – they are, even if not admittedly, part of the crusade to  elevate one’s transitory feelings to the rank of absolute truths, which is a typical SJW attitude.

Eager to capitalise on grief and confusion, these groups resemble ambulance chasers, mastering the art of convincing people to see victimhood in murky situations, in order to cash in on the profits. 

Akin to talented divorce lawyers, they strongly encourage exaggerating the harm one has experienced through rejection, emotional unavailability, instability, lack of support, criticism etc – thus making it easy for those who are momentarily displeased with a significant other to think they  should consider cutting contact altogether.

A few examples of the fallout of wrongfully identifying a significant other as a sociopath, psychopath or narcissist:

  • People going through a difficult time in a viable relationship or marriage can freak out and give up, to later regret it.
  • Break-ups and divorces can escalate into a huge mess, with children being particularly affected by a parent’s suspicion that their ex  is disordered, which can escalate into hysteria.
  • Parents can end up alienating children from their former spouses, to later realise the mistake, as well as extended family.
  • Adults can disassociate from their parents or siblings due to grievances they’ve kept hidden for years, suddenly convinced they are dealing with something more serious.
  • Teenagers can be – very easily – persuaded that the difficult relationships they have with family members (who often fail to provide emotional support at an optimal level) are in fact abusive.
  • Impressionable young people in general can start seeing disordered types everywhere and have an even more difficult time integrating into society.

To complete the process of isolation, another list of attitudes pushed by these groups as healthy, conducive towards healing.

  • Spending one’s precious energy overanalysing every word, gaze or gesture they receive on a daily basis, in order to identify hidden intentions (and finding oneself accurately described in the DSM as a result).
  • Blaming one’s upbringing almost exclusively for the decisions taken in real time.
  • Demonising any friends who show difficult behaviour and eliminating them from one’s life straight away.
  • Once out of  a romantic relationship, ossifying  selection criteria which make sure one will run scared of most potential partners.
  • Living with a pervasive sense of danger in relation to the outside world.
  • Unearthing mistakes made years ago by others, which are no longer relevant (excluding serious maltreatment which affects a person for life).
  • Identifying as a victimised empath to the point of muddying one’s sense of responsibility in everyday life and absolving oneself of all blame for one’s troubles, regardless of their nature or importance.

This is not only prevalent in romantic relationships, which are the prime target nowadays, our culture inviting people to wallow in dissatisfaction and constantly scrutinise their partners for the smallest clue of wrongdoing. It is reaching far beyond, as many start to analyse their past, sticking labels on those who raised them, in a bid to rid themselves of negative influences. As someone who has partaken in this hysteria, seeing it as a personal quest at the time, I can safely argue it has become a fad, and a dangerous one at that.

There is a positive way of going about changing toxic attitudes one has inherited from previous generations; that is part of self-improvement and a noble goal. The catch is trying, to one’s best ability, to understand those attitudes in their original context, instead of judging previous generations by today’s standards, in  Maoist fashion, eager to write off any wisdom passed on by them. As usual, balance is the key to everything.

People have grievances, from the mundane to long term issues which need addressed. Leaving them to fester in the basement of unacknowledged needs or frustrations can make them seem insurmountable; at times they rise to the surface like an overflowing septic tank, bringing a person into a state of crisis. This is not necessarily, in real time, the fault of those who share their life, though it might feel or appear that way – hence separation is not necessarily a solution to anything.

For abuse recovery communities, knowing just what buttons to push at just the right time is guaranteed to reel in some potential believers.

In this bid, they discourage forgiveness, open-mindedness and empathy, feeding one’s need for validation right away, before even having enough data regarding each case. Evidently, this does a major disfavour to those who are simply mistaking and would benefit from objective advice (though it is difficult to be objective with so little insight, which is why I’m against seeking advice on the internet on such complex, delicate matters). Rage and bitterness are parasites of the mind; they end up consuming their hosts.

No one on the internet is able to understand your exact situation. It’s impossible. Even if you wrote a novel for them to read, you still wouldn’t be able to paint the entire picture – let alone in a few paragraphs posted anonymously.

What they do is look for buzzwords which trigger them and identify with your feelings, without accurately understanding the cause (which might be unknown to you as well). It’s not you inviting them into your reality; it’s them dragging you into theirs.

They start by encouraging you to refer to yourself as a survivor of abuse. This label becomes part of your identity and, depending on how consumed you are by it, it can take over. For those who still post daily about ”their P’s”, some of whom exited the stage years ago, the label ”survivor” has doubtlessly become their identity. How toxic is that? If you were a woman who divorced Bob  five years ago, when asked to introduce yourself, you would not say, ad infinitum,  I’m Bob’s ex-wife or I’m the one Bob stood up at the altar or I’m the one Bob’s mother always hated. It’s the same thing; defining yourself by what you meant to someone else or what that person did to you.

That takes away from your  real identity, from your energy and vitality, not to mention optimism and confidence.

Last but not least, one has to consider that calling a loved one a psychopath or narcissist, especially publicly or over a prolonged period of time, can end up in a permanent rupture, which wouldn’t necessarily happen with other insults or grievances. It’s a very strong statement to make and should not be made lightly, especially at the nudge of an internet community.

The internet might seem like an immediate source of relief and comfort when we are dissatisfied with those closest to us; at times we end up using it in this sense for trivial reasons. It’s far too easy nowadays to air one’s underpants for all to see, only to regret it later. But at the end of the day, it’s those same people we collaborate with day in and day out; when it comes right down to it, we have them and they have us, through thick and thin (genuine cases excluded, of course).

The thought that we can get a balanced perspective on our intimate problems from complete strangers is a mirage, an illusion, as the only ones able to solve them are those who are directly involved.