Did the narcissist know he was brainwashing you? How does he know how to brainwash a person? I think in some cases the narcissist knows exactly what he is doing but more than likely if you could find one that would give you an honest answer; which is about as likely as finding a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow; they would say you were crazy to think them capable of such a thing. When a person’s whole existence is reliant on controlling others they learn at a very young age how to manipulate and what buttons to push to get the reaction they desire.
Many times the victim of a narcissist will describe them as a misbehaving 3-year-old in an adult’s body; which is more accurate than they think. Think about a 3-year-old when he wants something, they will resort to anything to get it; now put him into a 200 lb male body and what do you have? Your ex. Throwing tempter tantrums, punishing you, destroying your stuff because he is mad, lying, hitting you, telling you he hates you. A 3-year-old wouldn’t know anything about brainwashing but if he was left to his own devices that is what would eventually occur, but we put our foot down and most 3 year old’s learn respect, boundaries and they develop a conscience and empathy, by the time they are 4 they understand that their actions can hurt other people. Narcissist’ brains are wired differently than most people and they never develop a conscience. I remember looking at JC crying about how much he loved me and at times I was reminded of a game I played with the kids when I had a day care. “Show me your happy face, now your mad face, ok now show me your sad face.”
It is important to keep reminding yourself that the narcissist does not and will never have a conscience or empathy which means he is capable of doing ANYTHING to get what he wants. Any emotions you think you see are an act, as much as your mind wants to believe he is innocent and this is all some bizarre misunderstanding, you are dealing with an evil, conniving psychopath and you are fighting for your life, your future and if you have kids, their future also. Do not become a statistic, I think every single woman who has died at the hands of their significant other knew they were in danger but ignored the warning signs and their mind overrode their gut “fight or flight” instinct.
I know JC read magazines like “The Scientific Mind” and “Psychology Today” and was forever on websites dedicated to techniques for getting women into bed, getting women to do anything you want etc. Either way, if they didn’t know what they were doing they have learned that it works and they will do it again.
Whether they meant to or not; they did it, and we are left fighting inner demons implanted into our psyche by them. How do we recovery from it? and how can we avoid it? Because it is so subtle, it is very hard to detect if you are not aware of the techniques used. Any of the techniques by themselves would not result in a person being brainwashed and that is why the victim is unaware of what is happening to them.
As I have been reading the last few days I can find very little on brainwashing being used in domestic abuse cases and most of the information pertains to prisoners of war and cults, but if the same techniques are used and attain the same results it only stands to reason many abuse victims are subjected to brainwashing. Society in general does not believe a person can be brainwashed, whether it is soldiers or cult members let alone domestic abuse victims. The reason people don’t want to believe in brainwashing is because if they believe it then it might happen to them. It is the same attitude that garners abuse victims very little sympathy; generally people do not want to believe it is possible to gain that much control over a normal healthy individual. As long as they are blaming the victim they do not have to face the possibility that it could happen to them and it relieves them of responsibility to do something about it.
Societies tendency to not believe the victim adds to the influence the abuser has over the victim, it makes it easier for the victim to believe she is crazy, everyone she tells about the abuse looks at her like she is crazy. So she goes back.
The biggest step in recovery is admitting and accepting that you are a victim of abuse and mind control, you can not heal when you continue to tell yourself lies.
There are things JC did in the beginning of the relationship that I found strange but basically I chalked it up to a quirk in his personality not as a brainwashing technique and it might be co-incidence. One that hit me today was they say that the brainwasher controls all aspects of the victims daily life; when they sleep, eat, how they dress, what they think and feel right down to when they use the bathroom. It was probably our 3rd or 4th date when JC went in the bathroom and stayed in there for like an hour. I wondered what the hell he was doing in there but of course I didn’t want to be rude, maybe he wasn’t feeling well, when it got to be over an hour I asked if he was ok and he said yes but was in there another full hour. For our entire relationship he would spend hours in the bathroom, I would be on the other side of the door begging to use the washroom and would resort to peeing in a bucket. I stopped keeping my makeup and contact lens in the bathroom so I was able to get ready without using the bathroom. It was very upsetting for me, I figured it was a control issue and was proven right when I got a place with two bathrooms and there was no longer an issue over getting in the bathroom, he no longer took forever in the bathroom.
I thought abusers isolated their victims so it was harder for them to leave, plus there are no neighbors close to run to or to hear the fighting, it never crossed my mind that the abuser isolates the victim to brainwash them or drive them crazy.
I thought JC was just being argumentative and critical and like all victims of this kind of abuse I thought he had stopped loving me and I wanted to do whatever it took to have him love me again. It never entered my mind that he was criticizing me trying to make me lose my identity; I didn’t think it was evil, I just thought at worst he was an asshole.
The untrue accusations, jealousy, suspicions I chalked up to insecurity on his part, and I thought if I proved my unconditional love to him he would eventually see that I was not going to leave or cheat on him. (because all his earlier girl friends had and I was special, my love was special) Now I find out that it is a common tactic of the abuser so your focus is on him totally and your mind doesn’t have time to think of anything but him. If he can keep your mind occupied with thoughts of him, it doesn’t have time to think logically and reasonably and it is easier for him to manipulate how you think and fill your head with lies.
The continual badgering about things he perceives you did, are thinking, or planning even when you have explained clearly and proven without a doubt that he is wrong. Things he seemed to understand once you explained it and then the next day he is on you about the same thing again and you keep thinking, “If I could just explain better he would understand and stop torturing me about it.” Boy! did I ever have that figured wrong! The more a person tells you that you are a certain way, repeatedly accuses you of thinking a certain way, the more you start to believe it of yourself.
Another thing that will probably ring a bell for most of you is people are much more apt to stay in a relationship that they have invested in, the more time a person invests in the relationship the less likely they are to leave. They think I have too much time invested to walk away now, what if he is just about to change and I will have wasted all that time? Even more so when they also invest money into the relationship, the victim feels they will never get their money back if they leave so they stick it out and will even invest more money; similar to a gambler who keeps gambling to win back what he has lost, he feels it has to pay off sooner or later. Cults often use this strategy by making new members invest large sums of money, they know once people make a financial commitment they will be more committed. How many of you invested money into the abuser? I read some where that only about 5% of victims of domestic abuse come out of it better off financially than when they went in and at least 75% come out of the relationship far worse. If you follow the theory of brainwashing; the N isn’t just a cheap son of a bitch who’s looking for a free ride, he is actually using one of the techniques used to brainwash people, which leads to another technique; keeping the person dependent on the abuser.
There is such a lack of education and so many misconceptions out there that we don’t know, no one knows; the depth of evil the woman is dealing with. Consequently the victim doesn’t get the support she/he deserves and (probably doesn’t even know herself), she needs.
Ideally the victim would go away to some all expenses paid spa and be pampered, fed well, exercised, and exorcised. There would be a team of psychologists, counselors, yoga gurus, life coaches, hypnotists and beauticians. After 6 months the woman would emerge self-confident, strong and ready to tackle anything the world throws at her.
Sadly the facts are that the victim leaves the relationship financially destitute, with the narcissist spewing venomous bile all over them, or he is stalking her, she is trying to get her feet under herself, get a job, take care of the kids (who by the way the N is now trying to get custody of and turn against her) she may be afraid for her life, she is crying constantly, overwhelmed with her situation, can not find anyone who is sympathetic to her cause and even doing the things she needs to for herself just don’t seem worth the effort. People are telling her to “just get over it”, “find another man” That was my mom’s answer to my financial woes, “hopefully you will meet a man with money.” Great! so my only hope of having a decent life is to prostitute myself to some man with money when the thought of being with any man turns my stomach. Thanks for the advice.
The woman feels unattractive, old and can’t put a full sentence together let alone partake in witty conversation with some guy she doesn’t know. The future looks very bleak. I know I looked horrible, I felt like I had been dragged through a cow backwards (don’t ask me where I heard that saying, I probably made it up), I was skinny, grey, my teeth needed fixing, my face was drawn and my confidence was at zero. And they are supposed to be out trying to get a job.
Overwhelmed with all the above and then usually she is guilt ridden on top of it all. At first her anger gets her through, or shock, but after not too long she starts to feel guilty, she can think of a hundred things she did wrong, or should have done or not done. The N’s voice is ringing in her ear saying she is selfish, crazy, paranoid and she can remember times she acted totally out of character and crazy, screaming at him like a mad woman. When these times of guilt hit you have to remember WHY you were that way.
Personally, I have always been a good communicator, I can usually express myself concisely and I try to stay on topic, give the other person time to talk, acknowledge what they are feeling, well; when JC and I started dating he said I was so calm, rational and easy to talk to, not like his previous girlfriends. So how did I end up a screaming, crying maniac? for one thing every time I tried to talk he interrupted me, corrected my grammar, misconstrued what I said, twisted my words, changed the topic, walked away, or came at me with his fist raise. Every time I was looking forward to something or had something special happen in my life he found a way to ruin it, the promises he made and never kept. It was enough to drive any woman or man crazy. You must remember the WHOLE picture and not just the parts where you were wrong. Yes I know, the narcissist is never wrong or at fault and you don’t want to be like that, you can see your faults and you are willing to admit them and make amends. All you have to do is be honest, the truth will set you free.
There was not a lot of material on recovering from being brainwashed. The articles I read said that the fastest and most effective method is to do exactly the same thing the abuser did, break you down to nothing and rebuild the person, but they cautioned that it is far too painful and really unnecessary. The core you is still buried and the longer you are away from the abuser (ie: NO CONTACT) the more your old self comes back.
There is a lot a person can do; one of the biggest steps is admitting it happened, being honest with yourself. We are all so used to believing lies, the ones he told us and more importantly the ones we told ourselves. You have to accept what has happened, accept you will never get closure and turn your attention from him onto you.
You have been programmed to believe it was your fault, no one will love you, people will get to know you and realize whatever it was that he saw that made him turn against you. You have an irrational fear that you will be alone forever more because he told you that no one would love you and accept you like he did. Tell yourself it is the bullshit it is. Think about pre narc times, you had friends, and lovers, you were capable and self-sufficient, that person is still there you just have to find her again and you have to be patient with her; she’s been through a lot.
Healing is mainly on your shoulders I am afraid; you are going to have to educate yourself, seek support groups, online forums, (be aware of what kind of forum you join as some of them are stuck on man bashing and staying in the relationship, they just want a place to bitch, you want to heal, not stay stuck in the past) talk to TRUSTED friends who listen without criticizing. If you have friends who insist on telling you all the details of the N’s new life, tell them you don’t want to hear it, it hurts……..and if they don’t stop you will have to cut them out of your life for a while. If they do not respect that, they are not your friend and more than likely if they are coming to you and talking about him they are keeping him filled in on your life. You don’t need it. You may think you want to know what he is doing but it never feels good and always sets a person back in their recovery.
You have to diligently replace the video playing in your head telling you lies about yourself and his new relationship, with positive reinforcement. Every time a self depreciating thought enters your head combat it with a self appreciating fact about yourself. Keep doing it, yell over top of his voice screaming you are not worthy. Fake it til you make it. Eventually you will believe you are worthy of love and every thing else good in this world.
Lower your expectations of yourself, that may sound contradictory but we are all high achievers and expect more of ourselves than we ever expect of other people, give yourself a break, don’t set yourself up to be hurt. If there is a family birthday and he is going to be there, excuse yourself, explain briefly that you do not want to be in his company but you would love to see the person for lunch at a later date or whatever. To go and see him with his new woman, or even if he goes alone, no good ever comes from seeing the N. And stop telling yourself the lie that by not going he is “winning” and you are “losing” or that you “have” to be there. You need to learn that you don’t HAVE to do anything and sometimes you don’t have to be the understanding one who compromises.
Realize that no one that I know of has ever starved themselves to death or died of not sleeping. If you can’t eat make sure what you do eat is healthy, take a supplement, drink some Ensure, your appetite will come back. If you can’t sleep in the bed, try turning on the TV and sleeping on the couch, or stop trying to sleep and getting yourself frustrated because you are watching the clock tick down 3:00, 3:15, 3:25, 3:32…… get up. Sure you will be tired tomorrow but eventually you will sleep.
Avoid alcohol, a glass of wine is a great relaxer but more than a glass or two can be dangerous, that is when the drunk 2 am phone calls happen, when you just HAVE TO tell him what you think of him. Always a regretful decision, nothing worse than being drunk and slurring your words and giving him one more thing to criticize you over.
Be aware of friends that refuse to let you heal, believe it or not there are friends who like you broken, they enjoy your pain and suffering and will feed it if you are not careful. If a friend insists on bringing up your ex even when you have asked them not to or they bring up the subject when you finally are managing to have a good time; it could be time to curtail seeing them for a while. A good friend will take their cue from you, if you don’t want to talk about it, they won’t.
I have put a bunch of links below to many of the posts I have done on the topic of healing. Instead of repeating myself I thought it would give those interested some reading material this weekend. Don’t worry, there won’t be a test. 🙂
Also I took the liberty of altering the 12 steps from AA. The original is in black and my version is in blue.
THE TWELVE STEPS OF ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS
THE TWELVE STEPS OF RECOVERY FROM NARCISSISTIC ABUSE
1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol—that our lives had become
unmanageable. I admit I unwittingly got into an abusive relationship and that my life was out of control.
2. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to
sanity. I have come to the realization that contrary to what the narcissist thinks he is not God and that it is possible for me to restore my sanity and become whole.
3. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we
understood Him. I have made a decision to remove myself from a dangerous situation and trust God has a better plan for my life.
4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. I will make an honest and fearless inventory of myself and I will only own what is rightfully mine to pack and not accept untruths I’ve been told about myself.
5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature
of our wrongs. I admit to myself and others I know I can trust, that I am only human and have made mistakes, seeking forgiveness from ourselves first and foremost.
6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. I am ready to work on the areas I want to improve, give up traits that do not serve me well and fully appreciate my many admirable qualities. I accept that my personality is what makes me unique and I will only change things I see need to be fixed. I will never again allow someone else to dictate the person they want me to be.
7. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings. I promise to take responsibility for my own safety by starting to trust the gut instincts that God gave me and not drown them out with self-doubt.
8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make
amends to them all. Make a list of all the things the narcissist did to harm me, forgive myself for allowing it, knowing that from this day forward we will not settle for less than what we deserve. In moments of self-doubt I will reread the list until the self-doubt dissipates.
9. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do
so would injure them or others. I will try to reconnect with family and friends I have lost while with the narcissist, explain in a calm and rational manner what I went through, give a heart-felt apology to those I may have hurt, explain what I am doing to get my life back on track and ask for their support. If they can not give the support I accept that they may not believe me because I have gone back to the N so many times before and it may take time for them to see I am really serious this time. Know that if they refuse it is not me but their own misconception and issues that prevent them from being there for me and find another source of support.
10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly
admitted it. In all things I will act and speak the truth and trust that the truth will prevail no matter what the narcissist is doing or saying. The only thing I have is my integrity, I will not stoop to the level of the narcissist but hold my head high and believe that the truth does always come out eventually. Through my actions people will see I am a person of integrity and will have no choice but to respect me. I will trust that the narcissist’s mask will drop and he will be revealed to be the monster he is, all the while knowing that some people will always believe the narcissist and it is not my fault nor responsibility to warn them or change their mind.
11. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with
God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us
and the power to carry that out. Whether it is God, karma, or a higher power I will take time daily to clear my thoughts of the narcissist and whether through prayer or a mantra replace the negative beliefs instilled by the narcissist with positive thoughts of what I want in my future. Every day I will find something to be thankful for.
12. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to
carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our
affairs. Once I have experienced a rebirth and reach a level of true appreciation for myself and the world around me I will share my experiences with others to help raise awareness about domestic abuse and I will be a beacon of light for others who follow behind me, showing them the way to recovery and true healing.
Copyright A.A. World Services, Inc
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Well that is it for now! Part 4 I will discuss how a person can protect themselves from being brainwashed and what family members and friends can do if they think a loved one is in an abusive relationship.
Have a glorious weekend!