Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The Victim's Guilt and Shame

Some interesting aspects of narcissistic abuse are coming up in the comments. Including shame and guilt.

Unless you've seen it, it's hard to believe, but a narcissist is like a spider that ensnares its prey in a tangled web of dependence on the narcissist. Both material and moral dependence. Subtle and manifest dependence. Real and imaginary. Financial and emotional.

Then the abuse starts.

It's that simple, really: make the victim dependent on you, then reject, reject, reject. Spurn. Kick him or her away.

What is the victim going to do? Since he or she NEEDS you, they get down on their knees and beg you.

Oooh, now you're God, now you really tower over the victim in grandiosity. Prove it by kicking the victim some more. Degrade him or her even more to make yourself even grander.

Et ad infinitum.

In fact, this is exactly why narcissists react so ass-backwardly to things. The more you humble yourself, appease them, and beg them to have a heart, the more you are giving them exactly what they want and can never get enough of. So, behaviors that would evoke pity from a stone evoke further abuse and rage from a narcisist.

To the extent that you submit to this abuse, you will feel shame. Pardon my bluntness, but you know it's true: you are prostituting yourself when you do this. You are acting like a worm, having no backbone, being a doormat.

What a betrayal of yourself! You are bending over for it. This makes a person hate themselves. This is how a narcissist comes between you and your very self, damaging your relationship with yourself.

There is shame in this. But normal people are perfectly capable of handling it. They forgive themselves for it. For, to do this is human. And normal people can bear being but human.

Be comforted in knowing this FACT: Believe it or not, just about any normal person in the same situation would do the same thing. Midieval torturers knew this. The psychological trauma of abuse is so shocking and disorienting that the victim actually clings to the torturer! In fact, the victim's later shame for this is one of the lasting scars left by torture.

We see another aspect of this in the Stockholm syndrome.

Of course, the sooner you face facts, get up off your knees, "act like a man" (whether you're a man or a woman), and fight back, the less shame you'll later feel. In other words, the more integrity you have, the less abuse you'll just take, and the less shame you'll feel.

Which is why integrity is a good thing to have.

There is also shame and/or guilt for having been friendly with the narcissist, for having listened to him or her malign others, for perhaps having been used as an "innocent bystander" by him in the persecution of someone else. Then when it's you're turn, your conscience asks you whether you're just getting your just deserts.

Of course, the less useful you have been to a narcissist in the past, the less you'll have to feel guilty about. In other words, again, the more integrity you have, the less guilt you'll have to bear.

Decent normal people can honestly face their guilt and shame about these things and simply repent. By that I mean, stop it. They see what they did, why, and that it was both foolish and wrong, and they make up their mind never to do it again. End of story.

Such people haven't acted in malice (even toward themselves), so they haven't lost their innocence. They can therefore be fair with themselves and sympathize with themselves. They can honestly answer their conscience to say, "No, I didn't deserve it. I was wronged."

But I do worry about people without integrity. Say that you were one of your narcissistic boss' prime hitmen, a remote-control mouth that spread every vicious lie he hinted about anyone he was "after" at the moment, sucking up to him in the belief that if you worshipped this bully, he wouldn't attack YOU too.

Could you fess up and handle it then when it became your turn? Do you retain any innocense? Could you sympathize with yourself?

I bet not. I bet you'd have to spend the rest of your life in denial of what happened.

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9 Comments:

At 11:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is the first site I've seen that has described the shame and embarrassment one feels when one realizes she has been duped by a narcissist. Perhaps, the narcissist's abusive behavior is his attempt to transfer his shame onto his victim.

 
At 8:09 AM, Blogger puglette said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 9:32 AM, Anonymous GH said...

Puglette, that's a really intriguing added wrinkle -- the guilt of a parent of an N. Even though my little girl is perfectly sweet and caring, I can still imagine how your parents must feel. I think parents in general struggle with guilt over even the silliest things in raising a kid. You try so hard to do the best for them that, when they run into the inevitable hard times in life, you are tempted to blame yourself. So if your LS is a narcissist, your parents naturally find themselve questioning what they did wrong -- and, indeed, so much of the information on NPD suggests the disorder has childhood roots, which must really make it hard for your parents not to feel responsible.

Add to that the natural affection of a parent for a child. When the N is a spouse, a friend, or a sibling, it's hard enough to walk away. We find ourselves loving them, pitying them, wanting to fix things and somehow get through to the wounded child within. How much harder must that be for a parent with a narcissistic child? How do you ever give yourself permission to just walk away from your own child?

I have no helpful hints or anything, but my heart goes out to them.

 
At 9:51 AM, Anonymous Vasilisa said...

When one's parent is a narcissist, they practice inducing shame because it's such a great method of control. They make you so ashamed of the abuse you suffer, and so convinced it was your fault, that you'll never ever admit it to anyone. You might even lie to yourself that "it wasn't that bad" to avoid the shame.

As an adult you can learn about abuse and recognize that it wasn't your fault, but the shame is an old habit and sometimes creeps back in at the weirdest times. It's especially bad if you're already ashamed of your childhood abuse and then get fooled by another narcissist as an adult. You might think "I of all people should have known better."

It's also hard when others really don't understand. Most people mean to be kind, but I've had friends say "How could you just let your mother talk to you like that?" To me it seemed like nothing, thousands of times better than when I was a kid. So, blush, the shame comes rushing back that nagging feeling that I ask for and invite abuse.

It is hard to get over sometimes, even if I logically know I shouldn't be ashamed.

 
At 10:51 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...

"Perhaps, the narcissist's abusive behavior is his attempt to transfer his shame onto his victim."

Yes!

 
At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Projective identification is the name of the game with a narcissist. They try to transfer their own shame and guilt onto the victim. I have experienced that time and time again with a diagnosed NPD brother and N/mother. By the way, narcissism has its roots in childhood abuse and it wasn't until my brother was diagnosed that I realized (w/professional assistance) that my mother was the root of the problem all along. I would always stand up for her and be the first one to protect her when my brother would hurl abusive accusations and verbally abuse this woman. I thought that she was a victim herself. Ha! He learned from her all along and it wasn't until I came out of denial that I realized it.

As a victim of the Stockholm Syndrome myself, I went back to my mother time and again to re-experience the same treatment. Hoping beyond hope that things would be different. It was my fantasy. As a child I had no choice, but today as an adult I do have a choice. As a child, I did not have a voice but today I can get angry at the abuse and refuse to volunteer to be the recipient of that kind of treatment. The only guilt and shame that I feel is when I am not being true to my self. I am really tired of feeling guilt and shame. It has been going on all of my life in regards to this woman. I have nothing to feel shameful about! Why would I go back to this mother who constantly is attacking my character! It is insame. Thank you, Kathy for helping me find my anger!!

 
At 2:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think i am depressed because i havent been able to adjust to how angry i am that i am in as deep as i am. we have been married 23 years.of course he has gotten worse lately. i am angry at myself for not knowing what to do . when i look backwards i am aware that i always knew something was off.it is almost torture to finally know whats different about him only to find there is still nothing i can do.the frustration is exhausting. knowing it is only going to get worse is stifling.ugh!

 
At 4:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

VERY VERY ACCURATE!.IT'S SO EYE OPENING TO SIT AND READ THESE BLOGS,NOW THAT I AM IN CONTROL OF MY SELF.IT HAS BEEN A LONG HARD ROAD BUT,I WILL NEVER GO BACK TO BEING TREATED LIKE A DOOR MAT.I WOULD JUSTIFY MY WILINGNESS TO BE DEBASED BY THIS MAN THINKING MAYBE..JUST MAYBE HE WILL SEE HOW MUCH I LOVED HIM.HAHAHA!LOVE? THESE PPL CAN NOT EVEN LOVE THEMSELVES LET ALONE LET ANTHER PERSON LOVE THEM.I REALIZE NOW.....LEAVING HIM TO HIS OWN DEMISE IS THE BEST PUNISHMENT HE CAN GET.AS HE IS HIS OWN WORST ENEMY.VERY GOOD ARTICLE THANK YOU.........

 
At 8:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very, very interesting.
...♥..♥...
♥ PEACE ♥
...♥..♥...

 

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