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#1656 - 10/21/04 02:38 AM Re: Red Flags [Re: Dianne E.]
Nan Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 501
Hi All,

Re-reading the Red Flag thread I remember the many subtle ways the P initially undermined my thoughts, feelings and actions. It was rarely something I could grab a hold on, it was only when it escalated that I started thinking that something was wrong - I just did not know what.

I think that we can all add other Red Flag stories that could help readers and posters alike.

Red Flag:

Alienating the victim from close friends and family in order to maintain control, thus depriving the victim of care, understanding, love and support.

P wanted to know all about my close friends and family. I thought it lovely that he showed such interest and I readily told him what he wanted to know.

Slowly, as I told about this or that positive experience with friends and family, he started observing negative traits in them all, none of whom he had met. (He initially lived 5000miles away). It was VERY subtle!

My son made dispararing comments!

My adult son had jokingly mentioned that aside from his mother breaking all his china, it was a lovely visit(I had broken a plate). I know my son to have a very dry, almost deadpan, delivery when telling jokes and related the joke to P, who replied that a son should be more protective, i.e., not say such things about his mother. He also said that my son mentioned this because he was secretly annoyed with me. P was careful though. When I defended my son, P always agreed with my defense aside from some small item that showed a flaw in my son's personality or showed a lack of TRUE consideration. P was, of course, unbelievably solitious about it all. I started thinking that P must be right about my son = alienation.

When P finally came to visit me, he insisted on meeting my close friends, each of whom I have known for decades and people who would instantly drop what they were doing if I asked them for help.

The same subtle, dispararing comments, but here with a twist. I was used to meeting my women friends for lunch or a movie or just for 'girl' talk, but suddenly P insisted on coming along. I did not understand this, but P softly brushed me off saying that he merely wanted to get to know these dear friends of mine.

I now know, that what he really wanted was to assess whether any of my women friends were capable of seeing through him and blowing his cover. One of them could and tried very softly, carefully to warn me, but I did not hear her. I told P about it. He successfully managed to stop me from seeing this friend. He would get sick as a dog, and I had to tend him. He would create an emergency and I had to help him. He would do anything to stop me, but I never caught on. I always felt that he, who had done so much for me, helped and supported me, should not be without help and support when he needed me so much.

When finally, I caught on, I was left without the support and understanding that my close friends and family would normally have given me without hesitation.

They now understand, but for a long time I was left trying to cope with the terrible alienation that I, at the P's behest, had unknowing created.

Does this type of experience ring true with you as well?

Regards,

Nan





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#1657 - 10/21/04 03:18 AM Re: Red Flags [Re: Nan]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Yes!

I have experienced all of this and currently have it going on with my brother and his girlfriend (who I suspect is a P), but I think the thing that does the most damage to our friendships is us getting totally preoccupyed with our relationship with them. We don't notice it happening but we are so there for them, we start to be less there for everyone else. Our friends who are not preoccupied with Ps notice that we have become very P and self-focused. Which is not usually seen as a positive development in a friendship, and our friends take solace in other less self-centered friends.

Indeed I think they take over our lives like this until they have our undivided attention (which alleviates them from jealousy).

I think this behaviour is very common in the stories on this board, but actually I think the psychodynamics involved are to do with issues with self-boundaries and narcissism, not psychopathy.

I think its healthy to recognise that if someone is sucking us in into supporting them and mirroring their oppinions that they have little regard for our integrity and that we are at risk of getting stuck in isolated co-dependence with them.

Conclusion: avoid people who demand your undivided attention.

I for one, don't ever want to go back there again!

Kind regards

KT

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#1658 - 10/21/04 10:18 AM Re: Red Flags
Nan Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 501
Hi KT,

“I have experienced all of this and currently have it going on with my brother and his girlfriend (who I suspect is a P)…”

I am so sorry. If you are close to your brother, it must make you feel sad.

”… but I think the thing that does the most damage to our friendships is us getting totally preoccupyed with our relationship with them.”

The P? Once caught, I don’t believe you are given a great deal of choice about whether you want to be preoccupied with the P. Of course, you are not consciously aware that your choices are extremely limited. It happens so slowly and over such a long period of time.

“Our friends who are not preoccupied with Ps notice that we have become very P and self-focused.”

Are you saying that as we become P victims, we become P-like and therefore self-focused?

If so…I do not agree. I have never been less self-aware and more un-focused than when I was with the P.

“…and our friends take solace in other less self-centered friends”.

Friendships of more than two decade’s standing do not occur in a vacuum. To maintain such long standing friendships requires that you are a friend in kind, that is, not self-centred. My friends simply did not understand, but I never got the feeling that they thought that I had suddenly become self-centred. Rather, I think they thought that the P was a very demanding man, who used fear of who-knows-what to make me stay at home with him. I became increasingly busy trying to pacify both my friends and the P.

”Indeed I think they take over our lives like this until they have our undivided attention (which alleviates them from jealousy). “

Some P’s may well be the jealous type, the P I knew was not. I believe that yes, they want our undivided attention but that the main reason is control. Fear makes you submissive and easy to handle.

“….actually I think the psychodynamics involved are to do with issues with self-boundaries and narcissism, not psychopathy. “

Could you explain this? I honestly don’t know what you mean. That the P is not a P? Or that his behaviour concerning jealousy has to do with issues of self-boundaries and narcissism? Or are you discussing the victims’ state of mind?

”I think its healthy to recognise that if someone is sucking us in into supporting them and mirroring their oppinions that they have little regard for our integrity and that we are at risk of getting stuck in isolated co-dependence with them.”

You’re right! Of course, it is healthy to recognise these things. But it seems to me that here we have a ‘what came first, the chicken or the egg?’ type of dichotomy.

”I for one, don't ever want to go back there again! “

Me neither! Never.

Kind regards

Nan


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#1659 - 10/21/04 05:41 PM Re: Red Flags [Re: Nan]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Hi Nan,

there are 3 men in my family: Grandfather, Father and Brother, they are all now with callous women - I don't expect too much and I think I'm desensitised to it all.

"The P? Once caught, I don’t believe you are given a great deal of choice about whether you want to be preoccupied with the P. Of course, you are not consciously aware that your choices are extremely limited. It happens so slowly and over such a long period of time. "

I do think there is a choice. If we decided once a month to step aside and think about how much time we are spending with and thinking about the P and our (deteriorating) relationship with the P, and by substitution what our loved ones are missing out on in terms of our time and emotional energy... it should be pretty clear cut when things are getting out of hand. At some point we should realise that the relationship is taking over too much of our lives and make a call.

“Our friends who are not preoccupied with Ps notice that we have become very P and self-focused.”

should read "...very P-focused and self-focused."

I think we get very self-focused (pre-occupyed with things relating to our-self and not occupyed with things relating to others) because all we talk about is P and our relationship with the P, friends usually can't get a word in when things are going wrong.

I mean relatively self-centered, not absolutely self-centered.

My best friend's marriage broke down 5 years ago and she left her husband last year... she drove me nuts in the 4 years before she left him. Now she's back to talking about life again - phew! If she hadn't left him and continued only talking about her failing marriage, I think it would have stressed our friendship because it was not pleasant being around such enduring misery and negativity.

"Some P’s may well be the jealous type, the P I knew was not. I believe that yes, they want our undivided attention but that the main reason is control. Fear makes you submissive and easy to handle."

Indeed that supports my understanding that some Ps are not narcissists.

“….actually I think the psychodynamics involved are to do with issues with self-boundaries and narcissism, not psychopathy. “

I think you can have no control issues (have healthy self-boundaries) and not be jealous or possessive ( be a narcissist) and still be a P.

P's don't care if they are at fault so nothing changes even when they are, so I think it matters not who is at fault.

If I find myself in another abusive relationship, the last thing I will be concerned about is whether the P initiated isolating me from my loved ones or I am responsible for isolating myself from my loved ones... the important thing is to be able to spot it happening early on and get out.

We know that Ps will abuse us, it is up to us if we submit to the abuse past suspecting they are a P or other type of abusive individual.

Kind regards

KT

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#1660 - 10/22/04 04:35 AM Re: Red Flags
Nan Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 501
Hi KT.

As I read you post to me, it seems as though you are working out from the assumption that I am still involved with the P.

Nothing could be further from the truth. I have not seen him for two years and I broke off ALL contact just before Christmas. I would not dream of contacting him. I don't like him, I don't miss him and aside from sometimes posting about my own experiences, I don't think about him. Like Sylvie said about the P she knew, "He is history and that's where he belongs."

That there are still issues arising from the relationship with the P is another matter.

I wrote:

"Some P’s may well be the jealous type, the P I knew was not. I believe that yes, they want our undivided attention but that the main reason is control. Fear makes you submissive and easy to handle."

You replied:

"Indeed that supports my understanding that some Ps are not narcissists. "

OK. I do not want to suggest that you are wrong, I simply do not agree with you.

The P I knew was no longer a young man. He was past fifty. He was mentally controlling and emotionally possessive but he was not sexually possessive.

Without a doubt he is also a narcissist. I have never known anyone so self congratulatory - so certain that he deserved kudos for everything he did. Never known anyone, so focused on his own self and his comforts - so demananding that the rest of the world observe and bow down to his needs and wants as though he was the king of all.

You write:

“….actually I think the psychodynamics involved are to do with issues with self-boundaries and narcissism, not psychopathy. “

Hmn...A narcissist is not necessarily a psychopath. The two are not the same. There are some major differences; among others, a narcissist can feel empathy and can also feel joy and happiness.

A psychopath is not capable of feeling empathy, nor joy and happiness.

I believe that the postulate: A narcissist is not a psychopath, but a psychopath is always a narcissist, should be understood to mean that the qualities that make up a narcissist are enlarged and exaggerated to such a degree that the positive traits like the ability to feel empathy, joy and happiness that are known to exist in the narcissist, are completely overshadowed, i.e., they do not exist, in the psychopathic mind.

I also don't think that a narcissist is evil incarnate. A narcissist can be a something of trial to be around but they can also be sweet and empathic people, able to see beyond their own nose. You cannot say that about a psychopath.

You write:

"I think you can have no control issues (have healthy self-boundaries) and not be jealous or possessive ( be a narcissist) and still be a P. "

I am not convinced that healthy self boundaries are synonymous with being jealous and possessive.

You write:

"We know that Ps will abuse us, it is up to us if we submit to the abuse past suspecting they are a P or other type of abusive individual."

We NOW know that a P will abuse us, but if you do not know about P's, I do not believe that you would have a clue. If you do not know about P's you will, just like all of us here, be blinded by their initial charm, intelligence, persuasiveness and good looks.

If if was so easy to get out from under an abusive relationship (of any kind) there would be no need for the many Domestic Abuse trained police officers, and certainly no need for the many Women Centres for abused women. Many of these women are aware that they are being abused, for the abuse is so up front, still they are caught in an endless cycle of needs versus wants - of needing to be loved and wanting to be be free of the man. Financial security is also a huge issue especially if there are children involved.

A woman who is "merely" psychologicaly abused is by virtue of the cleverness of the abuser, not able to see the abuse as up front - it is slow and insidious - for it damages the woman's ability to see and understand the dynamics that are at play.

After the fact we are wiser and much more careful - maybe even too careful. Certainly, I have learned a lesson that will stay with me the rest of my life.

Regards,

Nan


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#1661 - 10/24/04 04:37 AM Re: Red Flags [Re: Nan]
Anonymous
Unregistered


Nan,

“As I read you post to me, it seems as though you are working out from the assumption that I am still involved with the P.”

Nan, I am still involved with the P, and with many Ps, and I do not think that you are still involved with your P. I think there is a difference between some of us posting, in that very broadly speaking, when you realised your P was a P it seems you cut him off pretty quickly. Some of us, realise their Ps are Ps and stay with them, sometimes physically, but certainly emotionally. Others do wean themselves off the P (eventually over years), yet we know deep down that if they turned up on our doorsteps with a bunch of flowers promising to whisk us of our feet, that we probably would not be able to bear in mind what happened previously, and go back with them.

Therefore I am writing in the present & future tense making assumptions about my experience(s). How you get from that that I could be working from the assumption that you are still with your P, I find a little concerning.

Back to the topic, my P taught me that I had a choice. He didn’t accept that I would stay with him if he was abusing me. He took my staying and trying to work things out (through being unfeasibly good and therefore eliciting him to treat me better – which never happened) as evidence that the way he was treating me was fine. The last night we spent together, I think he was testing his own premise, that I wouldn’t stay with him if he was abusing me, but I took it that he was taunting me, “If it’s a nightmare [my life with him in it], then there is nothing stopping you from ending it [the nightmare].”

Whatever else you can say about this, everything he said was rational. Staying with him was not rational AND would confirm to him that the way he was treating me was just fine. Things deteriorated very quickly after this. He became increasingly spiteful. So all in all I think it was a very good job I had been on this forum long enough to know that things were not going to improve, and I had my head together enough to be able to see it rationally, and got out via saying we shouldn’t contact each other for a year. I first left him in August 2001, I went "No Contact" for the first time in August last year, he turned up over here by Thanksgiving begging. The problem for me is that its such a relief to have them in begging mode than it is to have them stalking you and offensive.

I’m still a little obsessed, and posting about P-obsession to Sadwiser really was cathartic. I think I talked myself out of one of the daft things I was doing that was keeping me emotionally involved with the P. It wasn’t something I planned, it was just that the compulsion disappeared after writing that post. I think that maybe it’s the introspection that goes into providing such insights that actually makes me reflect on my own progress, and as a result the urge behind that compulsive behaviour seems to have diminished.

This would all be positive, but I have found that at least the last remnants of emotional connection keeps the P on your mind and therefore on guard. When you move on mentally, you are more vulnerable. I think that Ps actually sense this, that you have moved on and are totally off guard. I think this is another big reason why you never respond to the Ps again… as when you really are over them, you tend to treat them friendlily like everyone else, and that resets the entire dynamic and it starts off again. So even as I’m no longer indulging in compulsive behaviours I ambivalent to them waning, because at least they keep me alert.

One of the things that does irk me about the effect a P has on you: when you split your personality trying so hard to mirror their splits and with the loss of integrity comes ambivalence. I hate ambivalence, it is so nice to know with integrity how you feel about something, and I really want to get back to that again.

Well aren’t I just rambling today(?)… I have a cold and its affecting me.

Right:

" A psychopath is not capable of feeling empathy, nor joy and happiness.”

Empathy aside, I don’t think there is anything in Hare or in the DSM IV that says that they do not have these emotions, other than they are frequently blunted. Albeit my P did have a habit of saying “happiness is overrated”. All the Ps I know show joy and happiness, albeit sometimes immorally. For example, P introduced me to a friend of his who I am quite sure is another P. They started indulging themselves in Essex jokes implying that her fiancé was from from Essex. As an aside she told me it was OK that they all found this so funny because he was brought up in Essex, but born outside the county. I replied, "There are a lot of nice people in Essex." Whereupon she continued to make derogatory jokes about people from Essex, so I repeated myself, and told her that I was lived and was born in Essex.

I think she was gob-smacked because P was sitting next to me, and he was laughing along with them totally oblivious to the faux-pas that they were all committing. The only thing he had to say to me about this was when I brought up I was aggrieved about this incident when we were going to meet up with them again. He didn’t validate me at all, he was furious at me for making his friend feel awkward, and spoiling the atmosphere, and we didn’t meet up with them – which was just fine with me as I found this woman repulsive. He just could not see that the remarks were offensive to me.

“I am not convinced that healthy self boundaries are synonymous with being jealous and possessive.”

I don't think I said they were, but I think that's a very interesting thing to consider, I don't know what side of that one I would come down on.

“I believe that the postulate: A narcissist is not a psychopath, but a psychopath is always a narcissist, should be understood to mean that the qualities that make up a narcissist are enlarged and exaggerated to such a degree that the positive traits like the ability to feel empathy, joy and happiness that are known to exist in the narcissist, are completely overshadowed, i.e., they do not exist, in the psychopathic mind. "

I see. Its an interesting theory of how Narcissism and Psychopathy relate to each other. It differs with point 7 of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder in the DSM IV TR which you can find here: http://behavenet.com/capsules/disorders/narcissisticpd.htm

(7) lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others

All my assumptions of Narcissism and other personality disorders are consistent with the DSM IV TR, and all my assumptions of Psychopathy are consistent with Hare. Unless we are comparing like with like I don't expect we will ever see eye to eye on it. So I really do not think it will be constructive to continue to discuss this. I have directed Mati to the published work that supports my assumptions and I believe she understands why I do not think that assumption "all Ps are Narcissists" is safe, so I won't repeat it all again.

I’m going to post the comments you made regarding leaving Ps to a new thread.

Anyhow take care Nan,

KT

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#1662 - 10/26/04 08:46 AM Re: Red Flags
JustAMan Offline
member

Registered: 09/04/04
Posts: 186
In reply to:

When engaging with a psychopath in an intimate relationship, there is so much "wonderful" that it is hard to spot the "red flags", and when we do, we tend to overlook and misinterpret them because of all the wonderful. I think it would be a good exercise to talk about the red flags, and I hope others will add to them.




This is doubling up on another recent post.. but in case anybody misses that...

No personal mementoes

Ps do not keep personal mementoes, from previous relationships or family. If, for example, a P has children from a prior relationship you will likely find no photographs of them or hand made gifts from them on display in its home...

As a general point, Ps do not personalise their living spaces in the same way that normal people do,

If you are ever invited to somebodies home and it has the atmosphere of an operating theatre or a show home - i.e it feels clinical or impersonal - Beware! A Red Flag!

This told to me by a friend currently separating from her P and confirmed from other sources.

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#1663 - 11/10/04 03:53 AM Re: Red Flags [Re: JustAMan]
Anonymous
Unregistered


dear friends

Driving through town the other day I realised something profound, an indication that my p. did not ever experience the frequency or intensity of emotion normal people experience - he had no laugh lines, around his eyes or mouth. This despite fair, freckly celtic skin vulnerable to wrinkling, and all for a 31 year old man! Have others found this to be the case?

To engage in some levity, being a p. really could be considered the ultimate form of botox!! No emotion, so no expressions, and hence a wrinkle free face!!

To be serious, I think physical signs of a p., should they exist, are most useful in identifying these people before we are involved, and hence vulnerable.

sadwiser

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#1664 - 11/10/04 06:45 AM Re: Red Flags
JustAMan Offline
member

Registered: 09/04/04
Posts: 186
In reply to:

To engage in some levity, being a p. really could be considered the ultimate form of botox!! No emotion, so no expressions, and hence a wrinkle free face!!


This rings a big bell with me, sadwiser.

My friends P, she describes as having a 'Dorian Grey' syndrome. Looks a lot younger than his age. As you say, a largely unlined face. This P does also seem to have hefty dollop of somatic narcissism in his character, whch probably adds to this - he really does look after himself. Into sport and takes good care of his fitness / appearance. Spends a lot of money on shoes, clothes, accessories (watches etc..) and male grooming products. Currently buying a complete new wardrobe as he is changing his persona to fit his new victim and her parents - a more conservative look mainly to win over her father!

Have to be careful with this. I think this also applies to normal people. Emotional extroverts do exhibit more laughter and wrinkle lines than unemotional introverts.

Useful to know though. If this effect turns up with other red flags when considering the personality traits/behaviours of an individual, it obviously would add weight and put you more on guard.

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#1665 - 11/10/04 10:42 AM Re: Red Flags
Nan Offline
member

Registered: 01/12/04
Posts: 501
Sadwiser,

Thanks for the smile.

"To engage in some levity, being a p. really could be considered the ultimate form of botox!! No emotion, so no expressions, and hence a wrinkle free face!! "

Said one P to another, " Have you tried Botox yet? It really adds to the worry-free look."

Nan

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