Tag Archives: recovery forum

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.

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 this 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.

 

A Link To This Blog On PF

birds

(Sorry for torturing anyone’s eyes with the font size so far; I had no idea how to enlarge the screen shots.)

A couple of days ago, there was some traffic to this blog coming directly from Psychopath Free. The referrer list shows it started with a PM sent by a long time member and reported by an administrator. A thread was then created on the Meta forum (it can’t be accessed unless one is logged in so it must be there).

https://www.psychopathfree.com/showthread.php?46484-Smitten-Kitten-reported-a-PM-by-ReadyToRun&p=618323

The number of views is very small and chances are the thread itself is hysterical or venomously derogatory. Or no longer exists. If anyone who reads this blog from time to time still has access to their account on PF, perhaps they can tell the rest of us what is going on; that would be much appreciated.

However, I take it as a good sign; there is a (slight) chance the issues brought up here were briefly discussed or at least seen by some of the new arrivals, who still have a chance to hit the road before they disclose too much.

I’m not holding my breath for an open discussion or public explanation for the unfair treatment of hundreds of people (or more), some of whom were unceremoniously booted right after a donation or book purchase.

As it was truthfully put in a comment by a former member, the blog and other similar information on the web will not be enough to “make a dent in that monster”, but it might make a small difference to individuals.

The biggest danger of all is not even the treatment one experiences on the forum or the data which might not ever be of use to the team. It’s the false certainty they give those who take a seat at the McDonald’s of pop psychology, which PF has metastasised into. The over-processed, artificial junk which cannot be customised or altered even by the passing of time. In fact, it’s safe to compare the PF dogma to the famous cheeseburger with fries which looked exactly the same after four or five months – not altered by time or wisdom. It takes some members weeks to snap out of it and realise they are intoxicating themselves, whereas others have been there since the beginning.

The thread mentioned by Stefan in a comment below shows just how little it takes for someone to be targeted. A bit of doubt, not even blatantly expressed, but only hinted at. For that reason alone it’s worth posting the conversation (with no exposure of anyone’s private story, of course). This is so far removed from their corny PR material, which claims they welcome people with open arms.

Nothing this new member posted suggested they were less of a victim of abuse than anyone else on the forum. And yet…

2

@sychokarma, not sure what you are asking for clarity on or, in fact, your question? Would you like to elaborate?

3

@Phoenix Oh just kind of wondering if normal people (e.g. ass***) might also have no guilt or shame when they simply want to get away from you or don’t want to be responsible for things?

4

@sychokarma. IMHO, If you have truly been in a P-type relationship, through education, awareness and resultant knowledge you will be easily recognise and know the difference. 

(I guess the “be” was a simple mistake.)

5

@Phoenix Hmm ok thanks!~ Be well 🙂

6

Totally agree. I have met assholes… but a p… omg! Omg! Omg

Hey @Wildfire, so what is the diff. you felt between the ass*** and psychopath?!

Then you’ve answered your own question

@jordy but what is the diff? Normal people might not feel guilt or shame when they want to avoid headache or responsibility.

7

That’s a very considered response (NOT) and in my book, passive aggressive ending!

8

Non disordered people DO feel guilt and a degree of responsibility, that’s the difference. Are you claiming to have had a relationship with a disordered person because if you are you really should know the difference

@jordy The thing is normal people can feel shame or guilt but due to ego or avoid responsibility, they might pretend not to show it. In that case, how do we know?

That’s a very considered response (NOT) and in my book, passive aggressive ending!

@Phoenix hmm not sure what you mean but sounds like you are happy 🙂

 

9

@Phoenix oh so you have banned him 5 years ago? Good!! Could someone who is normal might also feel no guilt or shame sometimes (just ass***)? Lol

Why are you asking about normal people? Don’t you know how normal people act? And are you suggesting that @Phoenix was possibly talking about  normal person? Lol?

10

I personally feel that any interaction with @sychokarma may well be heading for the META board any time soon as their username, IMHO, says it all for good reason! As in reverse meaning!

11

Sorry folks I am going to be in a meeting. Will get back later!

12

And, do we really need or, want, your apology? Or are we in any way, awaiting your return for some kind of “karma” experience to teach the already converted anything?

13

Sounds like the xP…vanishing in the middle of a discussion, but stating that he was too busy to stay of course. Not okay.

14

Lol, very true, lol

@Phoenix @jordy I find it concerning… There is another topic currently going on also started by a new member about the same issue…

15

If you have any kind of concern about anything on PF, then you have the opportunity of reporting your concern by pressing the black triangle withing that particular post to give and explain your feelings and/ or concerns.

16

Why are you asking about normal people? Don’t you know how normal people act? And are you suggesting that @Phoenix was talking about a normal person? Lol?

@Victoria assholes are also normal people vs psychopath. So i wonder what is the difference between assholes and psychopath?

You don’t. Trust your gut instinct and if your gut is telling you this is one fu#kd up spunk wipe who thinks playing games is the way to do things, you show him the door, close it and never open it again for him

@jordy what is the diff between assholes and psychopath?

Sounds like the xP…vanishing in the middle of a discussion, but stating that he was too busy to stay of course. Not okay.

@Aurelia I actually do have a meeting and now I am back. But who cares, you guys should be shamed of bullying while crying you are psychopath victims.

17

And, do we really need or, want, your apology? Or are we in any way, awaiting your return for some kind of ”karma” experience to tech the already converted anything?

No I don’t apologize but I do need to talk to people I want to talk so I am letting them know I will be back shortly. Hehe

This member didn’t even realise he/she was about to be booted. That’s how quick it was.

Any of those who pretended not to notice the absurdity, as one does when they spot a big pile of dog shit on the pavement and just walk past it pretending the air around it smells like roses, could be next. Any of them.

And before they are, they will consider advice on their deepest issues from these people, which is the saddest thing of all.

Yes, it’s their establishment, they can do what they want with it. Except they advertise it as a life-saving, all-embracing community.

People have the right to have the superficiality and gratuitous capriciousness pointed out before they rush to disclose their childhood rapes, court cases or therapy sessions. They think this so-called community will take them seriously. That is clearly not the case.

LATER EDIT

Akin to other times, a quick peek instantly revealed the latest witch hunt, which can be seen below, as a red flag for those who believe the public image of the website. The recently banned member had given a lot of details (unfortunately) regarding her situation, including legal, all of which were used against her by an admin in the end, in her impromptu psychological evaluation, the admin using words such as “cold” and “lacking empathy”.

All of this, of course, for criticising the website and its lack of seriousness. The member (presumably) had been “supported” by the site until the post below, when they instantaneously turned against her (aside from two  who dared to like the post and probably won’t last long either as a result).

I covered as much as possible of the OP’s personal story; the last post however, by said admin, would not make sense without the quotes left in place. If the banned member ever finds the conversation on this blog and wants it removed, it will be (though I have a feeling she is stronger than the people who posted there put together). So I apologise in advance if this causes any bother.

This case is very relevant to the fact that it is impossible for them to provide “support” for anything but  relationship or family related problems, as what they cannot identify with is irrelevant to them.

new0

All in all: we NED service for:

-victims of psychopath crime. It is a special class, they have over 200% higher chances of better treatment by justice because they manipulate law enforcement agents and I saw how badly prepared these people are

-parents of psychopaths : a mother posted this here. For me, it was the most serious post in this forum. Most people didn’t even pay attention.

-legal advice for psychopaths in the workplace

-education for fraud in business caused by psychopaths

-education for victims’ families: families do not usually understand that targets are not stupid gullible imbeciles. They were targeted by professionals, frequently people who are borderline geniuses. Nobody is immune to them.

Victims of hard-core psychopaths have their whole lives shaken and need help – LEGAL help, financial help etc.

Unlike most of you think, there are no special types of psychopath victims because psychopaths come in all shapes and forms (of behavior). The most damaging are the ones who target the highest prizes. Or the signature killers. But then we don’t need a forum for their victims, do we? They are dead…

The post had followed an infuriating experience with the legal system; one of incompetence and greed; however, they had no empathy at all for her situation.They saw red. Her actual suffering ceased to matter.

new01

I’m confused. When you say “unlike most of you think”, do you mean members of this forum? Or the public, in general?

new2

Uh… well, you see, even your reply shows that these forums are for people who suffer the results o a love relationship with a psychopath. My problem was not love at all.

You see, there so much more related to psychopathy damage… We’re talking about an average of 50 BILLION dollars/year in the USA alone. These crimes destroy lives. It’s not “silent treatment”…

Yeah, yeah… I am resentful: my life and many other lives are totally damaged, we need help, I was asked by my daughter to look for these groups but all I can find is another version of “codependents anonymous”. 

new3

If these forums are for people who suffer the results of a love relationship with a psychopath, then I’ve been in the wrong damn place fr almost two years. I’m here because of a friendship.

So his actions disrupted your life? Guess what? Every person here had their lives DESTROYED by the actions of the psychopaths they knew. You thin you’re the only one left without a past or future? Really? Did you even suffer at the hands of a psychopath? it doesn’t sound like it, based on your words.

You just pissed all over silent treatment, which is one of the worst forms of abuse known to man. You just referred to this site as ”codependents anonymous”. Take your PHD bullshit and piss off. We don’t need crap like that from an “educated” woman.

“Did you even suffer at the hands of a psychopath? It doesn’t sound like it, based on your words.”

Because, according to this member and the admin, as they appear to put it, the only way to <suffer> is to actually have had feelings for said psychopath. It doesn’t matter if they burn your house down, poison your dog, steal your life savings or persecute you at work. If you never had any heartbreak through disappointment, silent treatment, disillusion etc, tough.

“So his actions disrupted your life? Guess what? Every person here had their lives DESTROYED by the actions of the psychopaths they knew.”

By reading between the lines, one sees a clear message of “what happened to us is more serious than what happened to you; your life was disrupted; our lives were destroyed”. Just by the way she is phrasing it, it’s almost like winning a competition. If I’m not mistaking this is the same member who was annoyed at others maintaining their “no contact time” intact although they had slipped and contacted their suspected psychopaths.

“You just pissed all over silent treatment, which is one of the worst forms of abuse known to man.”

I don’t know about others, but if I had to choose between silent treatment and being the victim of actual crime, the choice would be an easy one.

“Take your PHD bullshit and piss off. We don’t need crap like that from an “educated” woman.”

Best suited here would be one of Peace’s quotes describing the loving and respectful atmosphere on PF, where members can safely express their social frustration at someone who simply mentioned having a higher education at some point. Once she has become fair game, everything goes.

Better yet, one of those videos with autumn foliage blowing in the wind and soppy music in the background, describing how angels with broken wings (and no PhD) are welcome to the forum. I’m not trying to make fun of this situation; it’s simply grotesque.

new4

Whether it involves a psychopathic parent, child, sibling, other family member, spouse, romantic partner, or friend, it always involves a ‘love relationship’. But based on your other posts, you wouldn’t understand that, because you admitted you had no empathy.

Correction, she had “admitted” having no empathy towards the psychopath. Was she supposed to? Would it cross the mind of anyone who had just been robbed by an unscrupulous individual?

You’ve only discussed revenge and retribution and aggressive retaliation.

Again – what attitude would you show, let’s say, a hedge fund crook? Would you describe to them your heartache over the betrayed trust ? Would they care? Would you expect them to?

“one thing we share in common is we cared about the people we discovered were/ are psychopaths. Apparently you don’t”

It seems she is implying the lack of said feelings makes the psychopath’s actions less real and their impact less serious. She seems to doubt the member considered suicide at all, as if no one in human history has, based on circumstances which had nothing to do with heartbreak (political persecution, poverty, debt, harassment, a ruined career, to name but a few).

Again and again, this type of damage is reduced by PF to bad break-ups. As mentioned above, unless you sing their praises and fit into the only narrative they can successfully process (so&so broke my heart), they will not even take you seriously. 

Plus – isn’t the goal of their forum to help members achieve emotional detachment from the psychopath, so they can move on? Don’t they reprimand others for still having or showing feelings for their ex partners? But in this situation it’s somehow wrong to show detachment? What are they playing at?

I can only imagine a dialogue between another normal individual and one of these PF types (again, not making fun of the situation, but just to show how bloody ridiculous they are).

“But he never stole your heart!”

“He stole all my savings; is that good enough?”

“But he never gave you the silent treatment!”

“Yes he did; he took off with my money and I never heard from him again. How’s that for silent treatment?”

And so on.

“Amazing information! I’m clearly dealing with a psycho…”

How many times have you read that, or even written it, while participating in discussions on a popular abuse recovery forum? The most compelling evidence in one’s eyes (that the person they suspect to be disordered actually is that way) is the plethora of similar experiences posted by others.

As a first disclaimer, I am referring to those who are in doubt, usually when no deliberate, serious acts of cruelty have taken place. Many stumble upon unprofessional information which is very articulate and convincing, yet deep down, intuition tells them they are wrong or that they need to reevaluate matters. 

Also, I’m not trying to minimise anyone’s feelings or experience; however, I have serious doubts every case on these large recovery forums involves a genuine psychopath or narcissist. In a vulnerable state, with clever persuasion, mistakes are easily made.

As a second disclaimer, this is only my opinion.

The following issues to consider can be liberating for someone still pondering whether that label is accurate.

1.The fact that members were mistreated in similar ways is not proof they were all mistreated by psychopaths. This is especially valid when it comes to what is deemed emotional abuse.

Not all people who engage in aggressive or abusive behavior are disordered; there are dozens of variables in analysing why a person might have behaved in a certain way. Even though you find yourself repeatedly thinking “mine did that all the time”, keep in mind similarities can occur with normal people as well. Lying, making unflattering comments, using sarcasm, making excuses, being selfish, being arrogant are things most of us are guilty of at some point in life.

2. The way one feels about another person is not necessarily provoked by the latter.

I believe few people have strong telepathic abilities; most need straightforward communication to understand how one is feeling; even then they can remain disconnected, especially if they are emotionally unavailable for some reason. Reciprocity is an illusion in many cases, unless there is proper communication. The lack of it (two people relating to each other through endless assumptions and signal interpretation) weakens bonds; it pulls people apart. Those who are shy, oversensitive, have anxiety issues etc. find it hard to express their feelings; they can experience great frustration with others. Also, one can feel anxious around a person without that person causing their anxiety or even being aware of it.

3. Aggressive or abusive behaviour often has more to do with the person engaging in it than the person they target. As opposed to the message people get on PF for instance, that a psycho is bent on destroying them. 

I dare assume at some point in life we’ve all been shouted at by angry people just because we were there. Also, some feel too safe at times and take others for granted, as a teenager does when acting up, knowing they won’t lose their family over it. I am in no way justifying abuse – I am merely saying not every case is the same and not every person is the same; hence there are many possible explanations for aggressiveness (blatant or passive) . “This individual is bent on destroying you” is the exception, not the rule.

4. Psychopaths lack empathy and remorse. Calling them offensive or big-headed is the understatement of the century.

For a sample of excellent candidates for that “title”, read the comments under any Daily Mail article dealing with poverty or immigration. You’ll find chilling fantasies of opening fire on refugee boats or rounding up the poor to sterilise them. You’ll find acrimonious anti-immigration rhetoric under pictures of dead children, which fail to move any of these types. People often wonder how in the world mass killings such as the Holocaust, the extermination of a large part of Cambodia’s population or the massacre in Rwanda happened. Some people simply don’t see others as human. That murderous instinct hasn’t gone away and never will, I suppose, though we lie to ourselves we have evolved as a species.

There are also public figures with a considerable platform, such as university professors, who advocate monstrosities; what jumps to mind is referred to as  “after birth abortion”, or the possibility for parents to change their mind about wanting an already born child. Peter Singer argues that in case of disability, they should have up to thirty days to decide if they want to keep it, as people refer to children nowadays. If not, the it would be mercifully put to sleep, I suppose. Then there is Eric Pianka, who has another type of utopia in mind – the ideal world population, he says, would be a tenth of the actual one; it is therefore necessary to get rid of the other 90%. Not to mention an individual I won’t even name, who proposed during a widely followed TV debate that abortion should be mandatory for thirty years. And he wasn’t just saying that for shock value.

Then you have the SJW bloodhounds who ruin – not an overstatement – people for disagreeing with them on issues of faith or family values. Under the guise of promoting marriage equality, they target, trick and break those who won’t give up their traditionalist views, making examples out of them to frighten others. They put hard-working families out of business; they gladly take old people’s savings as compensation for having been offended. The greater the misery and suffering they cause, including to children or helpless elderly people, the greater their satisfaction.

You contemplate such individuals and suddenly, the guy who keeps forgetting your birthdays, changes his plans too much, avoids house chores or annoys you with his quirks seems less of a psychopath by the second.

 5. And then there is the world. An unstable, often depressing world where the future is shaky if not bleak; where values regarding human interaction have long been turned upside-down, to let confusion reign free. Here is a short list of contradictions between what we grow up to expect from people and the factors moulding us all nowadays:

We expect sensitivity in a desensitised world, where human suffering has become entertainment;

We expect not to be sexually objectified in a world where porn and objectification can be seen around every corner, hence kids grow up thinking it’s a normal part of life;

We expect stability, perseverance, work ethics in an economically unstable climate, where one’s efforts can be fruitless, causing a lack of motivation;

We expect commitment, faithfulness, when all around us marriages are breaking, people publicly debate the validity of monogamy and the family as a unit seems to be falling apart;

We want constant respect in an angry world, where people lose their temper with innocent strangers, where they lash out at each other for the smallest trifles; men and women want respect from each other while under peer pressure they ridicule the opposite sex for a few cheap laughs;

We expect others to know us and know what we are feeling when so many of us barely know ourselves; life is often so depressing  we turn to therapy and medication to be able to function;

We expect maturity when all around us adults behave like children or teenagers in older bodies, in a hedonistic culture of endless fun and games;

We expect love in romantic relationships, when fewer people have a clear idea of what that is anymore and where it’s supposed to lead, courtesy of our blessed culture of infinite possibilities, leaving many so confused they no longer know what they want.

These are only a few of the reasons why people should think twice about equating selfishness, occasional nastiness and frustrating behavioural patterns with psychopathy. People are complicated. 

 

Is This A Support Group Or A Cult?

If you’re asking yourself this question, you probably know the answer.

Many former members of abuse recovery forums use the word “cult” freshly after ending their group experience, in what I believe to be a spontaneous manner. Without connecting with other former members, they leave isolated testimonies on the web, mentioning this uncanny resemblance.

Although unlike proper cults, forums don’t seek to lock you away in a compound so you can spend every waking moment devoting yourself to their cause, they certainly want a monopoly on your view on human relationships, as well as obedience and loyalty. And, of course, some money, if you’re easily persuaded to reward them for their time. A few of them pitch books written by staff members (I know four such groups at least), some ask for donations and one offers paid counselling sessions by people with no training whatsoever in this field.

toilet 2 0806PIppouniformity2(1)

A quick list of strikingly similar features between some support groups and cults (freshly edited as the initial one was very long, poorly written and repeated a few points):

The “guru”

All forums of this type I’ve come across  – described by many as toxic – are built around a charismatic leader, thought to have superior knowledge; there is obvious adulation and never any criticism. The so-called expert has no studies related to psychology or psychiatry but instead has written one or more books about abusers from personal experience. It is not unheard of for them to ask members to discredit the competition (other authors writing on the same topic). The forums themselves are littered with brownie points; it’s little wonder these people get such a big head.

The clique

A tight-knit group around the leader is chosen to maintain order; they never display any originality and act as if they represented an institution. They are always cheered on by sycophants in swarms, regardless of the absurdity of their behaviour. Brownie points in their direction also abound. It is known that once inside a controlling group, one absorbs the leading team’s attitudes and after a while cannot realise how absurd they seem to the rest of the world.

No dissent 

There is a clear demand for complete acquiescence to the group’s understanding of the world, as well as the chosen path to whatever the group aims for (in this case, recovery from abusive relationships) . On PF for instance, a single disagreement means you are one foot out the back door. You will be ”tackled” within minutes for any slightly unconventional opinion, as it will immediately be reported to staff members by the vultures of common orthodoxy, posing as loving, supportive peers. Of course, they are not all like that; many people are truly kind, yet I have to wonder how they can look the other way when others are being mistreated. People are even targeted for making common sense observations, such as the fact that it is preferable for the recovery to be quick as opposed to lasting for months or years. If the group agrees on a standard period of time recovery is expected to last, no other option is considered, as insane as that sounds, since every individual and situation is different. And they expect others to treat their estimations as science, being outraged when contradicted.

The false image

They present themselves as a loving, non-judgemental community while being a gossip-ridden wasp’s nest. People join both support groups and cults in hopes of finding a few all-embracing human beings with a higher capability to love, to connect with others. Just before the people at Jonestown commited mass suicide, they briefly managed to keep up that appearance during the official visit. Initially, they were believed.

Disdain for people with actual knowledge in the field

Akin to so-called Christian cults, who hate it when one of the main denominations exposes their aberrant doctrines as non-compatible with Christianity, such forums have an overt dislike for actual therapists or people who have studied their chosen fields in general. The latter will never last there as it is strictly forbidden to ”profess having higher knowledge”, even when you genuinely have it. Just as a quack would not ask for endorsement from an actual doctor, they know they run an improvised show there and are most likely aware they make tons of mistakes.

The pledge

A pledge is sometimes put before members, which they are encouraged to sign as the symbol of starting a new life. It refers to what they will and won’t do in their private life; very intimate things one should think twice about before jovially signing. And that’s because no stranger has any business interfering with or questioning what you do in your intimate life. It’s one thing to receive advice, and another to adopt a pre-packaged set of rules and morals you  find on a website. Even if they sound sensible, for me it’s a bit much. We are all individuals and should never feel accountable to an internet group for what we do privately.

Knowing you better than you know yourself

Such people will boldly tell you not only who you truly are (as you are presumably unable to figure it out by yourself), but who your family members and friends truly are, to the point of lambasting you if you disagree. They will make statements about people they’ve never met and expect you to accept their evaluations, or else. They will draw dramatic conclusions from fleeting online conversations, proving their lack of depth and their sole intention of ”converting” you to their ideology.

Targeting vulnerable people

These sites target people who might not think clearly when joining; staff members are well aware of it and take advantage. The same method is used by cults; they prey almost exclusively on those who are at a crucial junction and don’t know which road to take. Some are suicidal and some just want an ideology to embrace, a new system to live by, if their belief in their former one is shattered.

Attachment and fear of exclusion

One’s journey there consists of love-bombing followed by the swift threat of exclusion, and often swift exclusion as well. At first one is made to feel fully accepted and included; they develop a bond with the group and some of the  members in particular, to be coldly reprimanded for trifles and ultimately thrown out. After establishing that the group is the safest environment in the world, the next thing on the list is establishing you might not be worthy of it; you will be permanently scrutinised.

Walking on eggshells around petty tyrants

There is a lot of nit-picking and placing the group’s technicalities above general principles such as compassion and fairness, demonstrating clear pettiness. The examples are countless. Cults are also obsessed with every small rule which helps them believe they re organising themselves according to a well-crafted system.

Former members describe a tightly controlled environment; an overall feeling of walking on eggshells and insecurity about expressing one’s opinion. You just never know when you’ve used too many semicolons.  Even if you agree with their principles they will manage to find fault with your posts. Out of the blue, someone will pedantically tell you ”you’re on a recovery forum” and you’re ”detracting from the sole goal of giving and receiving support”. Whatever that means to them.

Paranoia regarding group members

On PF at least, members are told not to trust each other but to trust the leadership instead. They are advised not to make friends straight away, not to communicate privately and so forth. Trust the leadership only. There is also a constant hunt for people who are lying about their situation and have a hidden agenda; new members are targeted immediately, without their knowledge. While they apparently receive you with open arms, they regard everything you post with suspicion and encourage all members to have the same approach. This is very very common in cults and extremist political organisations, where paranoid leaders are always wary of a threat to their status, as well as ”enemy infiltrators”. However, on a recovery forum, that is even more ridiculous.

Permanent ban for trifles

One is subjected to quick and permanent exclusion, no explanation needed. Some cults operate that way, whilst others hardly ever allow you to leave. Scientology can ”declare you a suppressive person” for reading material they disapprove of and associating with people they don’t like , and once you’re out, you’re out. They claim they couldn’t save you from yourself and are suspisicous of anyone who still keeps in touch with you. So does the PF admin.

The enemy

Both cults and said groups target a particular category of enemies against whom all morality must be dropped. In this case, it is of course the huge army of psychopaths and narcissisits sweeping the world.

Dissociation

Forum staff and members constantly push others to cut ties with various people in their entourage. The few weeks I was active on PF, I never once saw advice such as ”maybe you could try to work things out” when a partner or family member was involved. Moreover, they encourage cutting contact with the suspected psychopath’s family and common friends, even when children are involved, as if that person were radioctive material contaminating everyone they met.

The Stasi and the lack of transparency

Since only parts of a forum are visible to all members, the ”backstage” is full of  reports, suspicions, gossip, false accusations, and they require no proof to be investigated by staff members, who then analyse a member’s posts for clues of  a rotten personality. On PF, there’s reason to believe even  data such as their IP, location, other profile information etc is shared  with other sites to find matching profiles of ”trouble makers” (LE, this suspicion was confirmed and what is more, they track people’s on-line activity). There is no limit. All ”investigations”, or should I say witch trials, take place behind closed doors, often without the person being aware. Staff members are never accountable before other members. Accusers are never accountable before anyone. This creates an atmosphere of distrust, not to mention omnipotence on the team’s part.

Paranoia regarding outsiders

Cults are famous for this, and so are forums like PF. It’s in their policy to obsessively distrust others. They insist there are psychopaths at every social gathering, in every work environment, in every group. The world is  riddled with these monsters and one must always be on guard.

Baseless arrogance and holy literature

The clique has a chip on its shoulder regarding an advanced level of knowledge in the chosen field etc, which is not substantiated by any recognition in real life. They wear their no contact time like a badge of honour, as if they were eerily competing with anyone along those lines. Such groups almost always sell so-called educational material which is improvised, subjective and misleading, usually authored by their guru; in time this material becomes sacrosanct and above all criticism to them. There is a quasi-religious adherence to the principles and rules of the group, forgetting they came out of thin air and are prone to error.

Money

Such groups commonly seek financial support from members, to aid them in their ”sacred mission” of bringing awareness. Some even make a fortune out of it.

Swarming

Such groups regularly swarm any dissenters or critics with smear campaigns, putting aside all human decency, any positive interaction they had with them and so forth. They gang up on people on the forum and outside of it.

Idealising the group

Even though they’re aware of all the conflicts, drama and complaints, they shamelessly promote their groups as the best thing since sliced bread.In complete denial, they dismiss any reports of negative experiences as unimportant or false, while praising the positive ones. Perhaps they even believe their own lies.

The mission

They seem to truly believe their groups have a special mission on this planet and behave as such (they also behave like others should accept that claim). This, in spite of being aware they are all just improvisers with a strong enough attitude to convince others of their legitimacy. They justify their viciousness through the belief that they are fighting the ”dark side” and everyone they attack is hell-bent on jeopardising their ”sacred mission”; they demonise those who disagree with their actions in order to treat them in any manner.

The lingo

Staff members use slogans and memes, as well as a jargon, and encourage members to use them. Many cults have a specific language, especially those based on space aliens; Scientology must have hundreds of terms. Besides using clinical terms, these groups often use “narc”, “spath”, “P” and so forth, to somehow feel they are in the inner circle of understanding.

Corporate speech

They are no longer acting as individuals but as an institution. Plenty messages reek of corporate PR. ”Here at so&so, we pride ourselves in supporting a creative approach to healing. We take great care to ensure every member benefits from personalised advice…etc”. Besides the hypocrisy, this style is ridiculous through its pretentiousness, since they are only running peer support groups.

Tough love

They claim to put pressure on members and treat them with ”tough love” for their own salvation. Cults do this all the time, applying all kinds of public scoldings and punitive measures to ”save people from themselves”.

The common road from an ideology based group to a cult

a. A few people gather to discuss a subject they are emotionally affected by and develop a common understanding of it. They theorise their view with no science behind it and establish a strict guideline they never deviate from. Any members who show critical thinking and keep an open mind are expelled or leave and the group is now made up of extremists, often led by one person.

 b. They attract proselytes by love-bombing them at a vulnerable time of their lives; they offer answers to confused people who are desperate to be guided, for unconditional support and a space of self-expression; new members develop a high sense of gratitude and attachment to the group. At first they can’t believe their luck, considering the fact that they are improvisers, but the more proselytes they attract, the more arrogant they become.

 c. They market well and gain popularity. They now consider themselves authorities in the matter and there is increased talk about their “mission”; the focus shifts from helping individuals onto the general success of the group, to which members start being sacrificed if they don’t agree 100 per cent with the group view. The initial guideline becomes a fiercely enforced doctrine. Its enforcers become “warriors of light” and anyone who challenges them or disagrees with them is seen as opposing their noble purpose. They start looking down on those who are not “enlightened” enough to fanatically embrace their views as soon as they come across them.

 d. They are now paranoid and see enemies and infiltrators everywhere. They spy on their members and each other; any decision-making goes on behind closed doors. The leaders are too important to be held accountable for any decision they make. They should never be questioned or contradicted. They start using duplicitous tactics to spot infiltrators, while maintaining the facade of a loving family to draw more people in.

e. The leaders have now lost all humility and are absorbed by their self-constructed expert status. They solidify their theories by writing more and more material, building a public image of legitimacy in the field. Among their members, they are know-it-all’s and regularly break the rules of decency they impose on others. They are condescending, dismissive, controlling, secretive and abuse the confidence of the unsuspecting. All their empathy is gone. They quickly stick derogatory labels on all critics in order to silence them and engage in outright manipulation of public opinion to defend their behaviour. They contradict themselves by inflating their role in the betterment of their members’ lives and minimising it when members are negatively affected by their experience with the group.

Psycho Buster Brigade

On several forums in the vein of Psychopath Free, the safety issue is just a pretext to achieve complete dominance over forum members. What they really seem to want is wilful players in their Psycho Buster Brigade game, which must, by definition, include active villains they can demonstrate their efficiency on. Your example can serve as psychological fodder for those who see a threat in everything that moves; they can fortify the idea their group is surrounded by enemies and infiltrators who must be dealt with promptly.

It’s a bit like saying “The world outside of this group is hostile and dangerous; that’s why we have to build this lovely compound on the hill.”

You realise very quickly you are in an “us” vs “them” scenario, where two
“armies” collide and you must choose the side of their heroic volunteers or be cast out like a Gollum figure slithering restlessly at the gates of their sanctuary.

As you notice from their site description, they think their amazing moderation is guaranteed to keep psychopaths out – meaning they are actively looking for signs of psychopathy among members. Sometimes they get carried away and identify one of their own, hence the saga with one of their moderators, who was apparently subjected to a vicious public attack. Which is what they do when you find yourself on the wrong side of them.

Have you seen Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds ? Many have; it’s a cult film, no pun intended. Actually, I did get a mental glimpse of Lila Green when I read the comment denouncing “trolls” and “trouble makers” with such pedantic certainty,  in response to articulate descriptions of the PF  forum experience.

“Triggering”

Within days,  PF members will notice they are very exclusive about what can be discussed there; one cannot diverge a quarter of an inch from their fixed array of sub-themes and approaches, even if the new subject suits the general discussion.

On more than one occasion, members wishing to discuss an original idea have been abruptly told off on the grounds of their posts being “triggering” to others. Which makes no sense since their entire forum qualifies as “triggering” material; most of it is a venting space where people reminisce about the worst times of their lives. In spite of that, they find an abstract new idea threatening. In my view, this is a thought-stopping technique to ward off any originality; it has been absurdly applied in various contexts, in Pavlovian fashion.

Basically, you are only allowed to post in the following lines:

  • Responding in agreement to the articles they provide.
  • Posting personal stories and examples adding to the same ideas.
  • Opening threads which solicit these stories based on a common element.
  • Opening threads which criticise or mock presumed psychopaths or certain traits they have.
  • Opening threads about famous psychopaths or famous people you suspect are that way.
  • Chatting about trivialities.
  • Chatting about ways to improve your spirituality, health and the likes.

According to their Decalogue, former members and my own experience, it is forbidden to:

  • Talk about co-dependency. If you mention you suspect you are co-dependent, without placing that label on others or involving them in any way, you are almost immediately banned. They are so vigilant they’ll ban you for offending yourself!
  • Come up with a new approach to healing from an abusive relationship.
  • Come up with a different explanation for the behaviours discussed there, other than personality disorders.
  • Insist on quoting other authors on this subject as opposed to the site admin, whose quotes can be seen all over the forum.
  • Have a jovial attitude, especially if you are a heterosexual male. You are perceived as flirting with female members.
  • Not toe the party line in cutting all contact with the presumed psychopath in your life, however difficult that may be logistically. Believe it or not, other members will report you for it and you will be banned or publicly admonished and asked to leave.
  • Not toe the party line in cutting contact with that person’s family and entourage. You must perceive them all as a threat to you and yours and avoid them, even when children are involved that they have the right to see.
  • Question the validity of any points made by staff in their material.
  • Question any action taken by staff and defend other members they have targeted.
  • Fail to report your every encounter with the so-called psychopath accurately; they even have a “no contact” counter you should update regularly. If you seem to be in trouble at some point and fail to inform them of the outcome, you will be admonished as if you were a minor.
  • Express any doubt that a suspected psychopath actually is that way.
  • Defend the actions of someone who is accused of being a psychopath; you will be seen as a traitor to the cause, Westboro-style.
  • Post too much out of an excess of enthusiasm, even if you stay on the safe side of the rules. You will be told you are “flooding”.
  • See human interaction as a continuous grey area, as opposed to black and white.
  • Refer to material put out there by self-diagnosed psychopaths, narcissists etc.

Beside the “no contact counter”, which must accurately report what you do in your private life – as opposed to simply talking to members and staff – is a list of moods you can choose from. You may find it entertaining to select yours, without knowing how seriously they are trying to assess every member’s emotional state, tone, attitude etc, with the actual impression of being able to.

On more than one occasion members were told they didn’t seem to be suffering enough, or seemed too happy after being victimised. These sobering statements should pull the veil off anyone’s eyes, no matter how naive they normally are.

Free Thinkers, Inquisitive People and Other Trolls

One could argue that if left to evolve naturally, the discussions on many recovery forums could be beneficial, or at least provide some cathartic value for a short while. Also, it is obvious that staff involvement is sometimes needed to halt genuine trolls, who leave no doubt regarding their intentions.

Of course, since you stumbled upon this blog, you probably know a rational approach will never apply to today’s most popular forums of this type. Let’s take Psychopath Free for example.

There, safety is paramount, given that members are egged on to report each other on suspicions and feelings, instead of actual rule infringements. One is never sure who staff members are meant to guard them against – real or imagined – but rest assured that they are in position day and night. Here’s an encouraging message from the site admin:

People with ulterior motives & agendas can be hard to spot, but there are signs – for example, they do not seem to actually care about the well-being of other members, and instead come across as a bit fake, self-centered, and emotionally disconnected. You will notice EVERY topic always comes back to a lengthy, exhausting story about “My P”, even if the topic has nothing to do with them.

Trust your gut, always. Most of us already learned this lesson the hard way.

And use the report button! There’s one at the bottom of every PM, as well as posts (the little triangle with !). It’s SO fast & easy, and automatically shoots an email to every Admin so we can review it immediately, even if we are not on PF (which is more common for me now that I’m at work). There is absolutely zero penalty or grudge for a false red flag. It takes two seconds to review them, and I would rather get 10 in a day than 0. Reports are GOOD. We do our best to keep up, but with 20,000+ posts, we need to rely on our your intuition as well.

Which reminds me I forgot to call the police about the person who stopped in front of my garden and smiled for a fraction of a second; my gut feeling tells me she was going to steal my begonias. 🙂 Off the top of my head, this video hilariously depicts the paranoia some have about running into “psychos”.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNwhaXLvkdU

Seriously, the above quote is beyond ridiculous and irresponsible from someone who plays the affectionate brother, if not the pretend therapist, to thousands of vulnerable people.

If those who focus on their story too much are exhausting, here’s an idea: maybe they should write a book about it and promote it as a study on psychopathy, like he did. They could then repeat each aspect a hundred times without becoming tiresome – and they might make a few quid as well.

So what exactly does it take to become a troll on Psychopath Free, aside from thought crimes, selfishness and suspiciously little emotion? Here is a more rigorous guide:

”As this site grows to traffic in the millions, it is only natural that trolls start joining us every now and then. Please be on the lookout for behavior such as:

  • Inflammatory comments
  • Condesceding attitude
  • Accusing anyone who disagrees with them of “censorship” or being unable to handle criticism
  • Sharing an apologist viewpoint of psychopaths (victim blaming, arguing that psychopaths are themselves victims)
  • Mocking others for (rightfully) being offended by their BS
  • Professing to have higher knowledge than others
  • Frequently the center of arguments and flame wars in threads
  • Hijacking topics with comments that have nothing to do with the original post
  • Accusing you of being “afraid of a fight”
  • Bossing others around. That know-it-all attitude is not allowed here.”

It’s funny how many of these lines describe his behaviour and that of his acolytes/ sycophants. Perhaps this blog should have been named Sycophant Free instead; it’s amazing how so many can read these arrogant statements, know they are subject to them and still not call him out on it.

Isn’t accusing someone of flirting or having a hidden agenda (without any proof) inflammatory?

Isn’t trying to guess someone’s thoughts and emotions, or lack thereof, condescending?

Don’t they claim to have the single viable approach to healing, aka “higher knowledge than others” and refuse to deviate from it one quarter of an inch, to the point of considering themselves above all criticism?

Don’t they label people in all sorts of ways for “rightfully being offended” by their BS suspicions and accusations?

Don’t they aim to boss others around to a ridiculous degree, as in  leave your partner right away or we’ll kick you out of this community, in the vein of the Exclusive Brethren?

This guideline is one of the finest examples of hypocrisy and projection I’ve seen on the internet so far (and the internet is a big place).

Besides trolls of the general denomination, there are “concern trolls”, “meddlers” and “troublemakers”. And of course, psychopaths. The rhetoric of all these categories is known as “psychobabble” and “word salad” (regardless of how coherent, logical or polite it may be). Here’s a further briefing by a moderator:

The really obvious psychopaths come on here and proclaim their pathology in the very first post and wear it like a badge, so that makes our job easy. But then there are the very covert, clever ones, who write prolifically, and infiltrate the forum as a regular member. They not only make ten people believe them, but actually make lots of friends and gain a “fan-club” and following of sorts. They come here looking for new supply because there is a whole pool of vulnerable people on recovery forums. This is also why we warn people about safety and befriending other people they don’t know when they’re fresh out of the D&D.

And here’s another cold, hard truth. If 4-6% of the general population is made up of psychopaths, what makes you think those statistics don’t apply everywhere? You can pretty much figure that 4-6% of the members are potential psychopaths too. And your friends list on Facebook? Same thing. People in your office building, a party, any gathering of any kind. Figure on 4-6% being psychopaths.

For all an outsider knows, they are banning people for the very fact that they are gaining a following of sorts with their ideas. Intelligent and creative people are usually charismatic and have a certain magnetism, whereas their forum policy is to quell any originality and put everyone in their designated place. The second paragraph is a push towards paranoia, as if anyone could know the repartition of psychopaths on this planet (the percentage being a mere approximation anyway) , in order to conclude there are some in every building and at every party. A person who lives by this creed will actually look for them in every social situation and that is plain sad. No wonder they end up seeing them everywhere.

From the same page:

You can help us catch the trolls! We really appreciate it when you report suspicious posts via the triangle icon and/or share your concerns privately with us via the Contact the Team link. However, please leave confrontations to us! Arguing with or otherwise engaging someone you suspect to be a troll will only make the situation worse. As Peace wrote, DO NOT FEED THE TROLLS!

Isn’t it downright awful for someone to communicate straightforwardly (without deception, sarcasm or any intent of manipulation) and be met by other adults with a thought-stopping do not feed the trolls attitude?  I can almost hear the sheep at Orwell’s Animal Farm going ”Four legs good, two legs bad! Four legs good, two legs bad!”...

This is what human interaction is reduced to over there. Inane finger pointing, labelling and all communication being regulated by staff, down to the last detail.

To think of it, it’s just sad.