To catfish is to create false identities for use on-line and in particular for the purpose of carrying on deceptive online romances. The term was invited for our kind. The creation of false dating profiles, false Facebook profiles and the like is a standard tool of the narcissist as it allows for the gathering of fuel from multiple individuals on a regular basis. From being sat in a study one can reach out around the world and portray whatever we want to a vast array of individuals. Many people who are not of our kind engage in this behaviour as they seek to flirt with someone, to coerce them to send them nude pictures and videos or just to engage in some filthy chat with someone. Those individuals will do this to avoid detection from their current partner or perhaps friends and family who might inadvertently stumble upon their clumsy overtures. We go further than this as we look to ensnare our unwitting victims. Naturally since we are invariably excellent wordsmiths our ability to sit hidden, obscured by the internet allows the focus to be on words so that we can lure people in. I do it from time to time, making full use of the connectivity that arises from being able to access the internet from virtually anywhere and also the various platforms and applications which facilitate this kind of behaviour. I recall a particularly effective profile which I used on Facebook some time ago and which every so often I will roll out. I found a picture of an educated and handsome-looking fellow on the internet. It looked like a work profile picture which was just what I was looking for. I created a false name and then embellished the profile with various interests. I then began the hunt for some friends. I know that nearly everyone has friends on their Facebook profile who they do not know. Accordingly, it is not going to be difficult to begin to generate a coterie of supposed friends. After all, who is going to turn down a request from the erudite and attractive gentleman with the refined name? Very few as it transpires. Once the profile started to take on the look of one which had a base in reality then it was over to certain applications on Facebook to start the fun. At the time there was one called Social Me. It was very straight forward. A picture appeared and you could choose a compliment from a selection (sexy, crazy, hot, beautiful and so on – it was hardly taxing) or you could choose your own. Of course I am not from the herd so I embarked on my own descriptions using my well-known ability to flatter and describe. This soon grabbed the attention of many ladies and the comments went back and forth as they lavished me with their own comments. The fuel came flowing from scores of women as they locked on to me. They then sent the friend requests having been reeled in through Social Me. Messages would pass backwards and forwards and it was not long before they offered mobile telephone numbers. From there the conversations ranged from me talking about an entirely fictitious career (after all I am not going to tell them my real profession) to engaging in filthy chat was they masturbated down the telephone. All delicious fuel. I would be sat with my computer lighting up from Social Me comments, friend requests and messages as the mobile buzzed and pinged. I have a voice which many have commented on as alluring, the baritone of British received pronunciation proving a particular draw. With many I maintained the façade but with a handful I eventually admitted to being someone else, the person I actually was. This privileged group was allowed into knowing my real name and such additional information because they wanted to meet me and who was I deny to them that opportunity. This coterie consisted of a dominatrix from a city in the north-east of England, a nurse from the midlands, a chain-smoking charity worker from  a city in the north-west of England, a long-nailed administrator from the south coast and most entertaining of all a police officer from the midlands. Not one of them challenged me about the artifice that I had created. Why? Because throughout I had created something plausible and their desire for me, created on the basis of electronic exchanges with a complete stranger and then late night telephone calls had proven too attractive to pass up. If ever questions were asked I always had an answer.

“Why are most of your friends on FB women?”

“Many of my male friends are not on FB and those that are I see them often.I use FB to keep in touch with long-distance friends and make new ones, just like you.”

“Why aren’t there more pictures on FB of you?”

“My job (which I was always amorphous about mentioning words such as ‘finance’, ‘developing nations’ and ‘war-torn’ means if I provide clues as to where I am I could place myself at risk.”

Similar questions were always deflected with a plausible answer and they always accepted the explanation. Why? Because they liked the attention. They liked being able to have a conversation with someone who is intelligent and erudite rather than someone who writes, “Fancy a shag” as his opening gambit. I have mentioned before the poor standards of male engagement over the internet provides vast opportunities for those of us who exhibit skill. Those that I allowed beyond the false persona accepted my explanation of its use. I was engaged in tracking a fraud suspect online for a major bank and then befriending her. She knew what I looked life in real life so a false persona had to be adopted in order to draw her in. It gave the ruse credibility by interacting with lost of other people and it also allowed me to meet you. Not one of those admitted to the inner sanctum rejected this explanation or felt any annoyance at the subterfuge. They wanted something so they believed in it, whatever was said. I must admit even I was taken aback at times by how readily they had accepted it. I met all of them, some on numerous occasions and it was evident that they had considerable feelings for me and that was all good fuel. They have no idea what I am and nor would they. Some have been cast to one side whilst others are still used as pipelines as and when the need arises. Just like the catfish my barbels were attuned to sniffing out prey, but beyond that I have no likeness to such a creature. All we share in common is our ability to swim along and detect prey. The catfish combs the water whilst I cruise through cyberspace.

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I have often mentioned the empath’s need to know. Initially this is borne out of your desire to know and to understand for the purpose of enabling you to discharge your caring and nurturing abilities. Only by understanding and knowing what is wrong, what is going through someone’s mind or understanding their situation are you able to assist and help. Some people like to know because they are inquisitive. Some people like to know because they are downright nosey. We like to know so we can use it against you or to further our own schemes. You like to know so you can help. This is a core trait of the empathic individual and it is not something that you are ever able to let go.  Even when we are subjecting you to the devaluation you are unable to accept that it is happening without being able to understand why. You need to know. We know you need to know and we exploit this. This is why we engage in denial, deflection and circular arguments because we are entirely aware this inability to allow you to know and to understand draws fuel from you but also keeps you doing this. Even when we discard you, you still want to make sense of what has happened. You need and want to know why did we treat in the way we did, why did we do all those awful things to you and why were you not enough? By tapping into this trait of yours we also ensure that you have to know what we are doing once we have flung you to one side.

You will ask our friends what we are doing and pose similar questions to our family in a bid to ascertain what we are now doing without you. You ask your friends to spy on your behalf, gathering information about the places that we have been to and the people we have fraternised with. You see, if you try to escape from us then you cannot get rid of us as we appear with Hoover in hand ready to suck you back. However, if we have decided that we have extracted as much fuel as we possibly can from you (at least for now) we will do our utmost to remain invisible and keep you guessing. We want you wondering what we are doing? We want you to be sat contemplating where we are and who we are with? Are we happy? Are we thinking of you? This need to know becomes overwhelming and you then embark on your role as private eye. You will stalk our Facebook page in order to gather information. We will block you in order to increase the work for you but you will use a friend’s profile to look or create a false one. You will drive past the places you know we might be, home, work and recreational and social places hoping to catch a glimpse of what we are doing so you can satiate that need to know. You will create a new profile and follow us on Twitter, checking each day to see what we have written. Is there a new girlfriend? What is she like? Are we taking her to the places we took you? Who are these people in the photographs and where are they taken? We know you will be spying and the more you try and learn the more questions will arise. We use obsessing as a method of manipulation and this continues in this mould. Our everpresence will keep reminding you and you do not help yourself as you repeatedly reinforce our presence in your mind by searching, checking and spying. You will search our name on Google, examine our work website for any changes, check on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. Like a detective hunting for clues you will keep at it each day. You create a habit in order to feed the addiction which is the need to know. We know you will do this, we engineer and we encourage this behaviour in you. The knowledge that you are engaged in these practices gives us fuel. We cannot see you or hear you yet we know you are spying on us. We know what you are like and we can picture you earnestly hunched over your keyboard as you stare at your monitor. Don’t deny it because when we do Hoover you it is one of the first things we tease from you. How many times a day did you check our Facebook profile? You will admit you did it at least three times a day and and tell us how much you missed us. You will ask about the new person we were with and who you saw posts referring to and all the photographs that we displayed. Did we miss you too? You always ask this as well. Why? Because you always need to know.

When we commence our devaluation of you it always comes out of nowhere. By now you should be acquainted with the fact that our modus operandi is that we strike from out of the blue. We arrive full of noise, colour and light although you never saw us coming. We turn on our manipulative abuse from out of nothing and then we open the door to the golden period seemingly at a moment’s notice. Our devaluation just appears and of course it has to be this way to keep you spinning around and unsettled.  We unleash our array of dizzying and destructive words and actions in order to throw you from that pedestal and have you sprawling in the dirt. It is rare for our victims to submit immediately. It takes a period of time to get them where we want them and that does not cause us concern because plenty of fuel will be spilled towards us in the meanwhile. Initially you are bewildered, puzzled and confused. Yesterday we were so loving towards you and today so cold. It really is the archetypal Jekyll and Hyde behaviour. The shutters have been lowered, the drawbridge raised and the door slammed shut. It leaves you perplexed. You have a few days of asking us what is wrong, asking us to talk to you and explain, you rack your brains trying to work out was is going on. You may ask your friends and receive supportive yet ultimately unhelpful responses as they do not know either what you are dealing with. You move to try and resurrect the golden period. You make our favourite meals, suggest trips out, buy us gifts, lavish us with attention and offer your body as you dress up to entice us. This all worked before and as you sit frowning and worrying, you wonder who took away that person you loved and replaced him with this doppelganger. He looks the same but it is not him. You double your efforts to try to return to our golden period, you beg and plead, you ask and cajole but it seems as if we have been cast from stone. Your optimistic entreaties give way to anger and frustration as you demand that we tell you what has changed, you rant and shout as your capacity for understanding becomes overloaded. You feel at your wits’ end as your boil over with frustration. You begin to suggest there is something wrong with us and this ignites our fury. We may allow a short return to the golden period just to confuse you further and raise your hopes. Back and forth we will vacillate as we engage in this push and pull. Round and round we go, dragging you along as we take you back through puzzlement then to endeavour once again. Anger and frustration are familiar stops once again on this circular journey and you begin to feel dizzy. Confusion, charisma, consternation and anger. Each day brings a different emotion and all the while you are being ground down, drained and leeched from. This incessant dance we force you to endure seems never-ending even though the tempo and steps alter. All through this you are haemorrhaging emotion which we gladly drink as our fuel. It is all intentional. It is all deliberate. We will look into your eyes and see the confusion that reigns. Good. Time to make you work for the golden period again. We see that flicker of optimism and hope as you try to win us back, you try to bring us back from wherever it is we have gone. We never went anywhere of course. We have been in the same place all along, but you never noticed because of the illusion we created. Now we want to see your frustration. Now we want to see your anger. Push, pull, prod and twist. We stare into your eyes drinking deep of the emotion that we find there. Over and over we do this, making you run the gauntlet of differing emotions as you pour fuel in our direction We use your eyes as a gauge to see how our treatment is affecting you. There in your eyes we see the fuel. We keep watching until eventually, after everything you have endured we see the light in your eyes begin to fade. It is then we know that we are gods.

Valentine’s Day. Another artifice which amounts to another day that falls prey to our manipulative wiles based on your expectations. Those expectations raised by a society that expects conformity to these commercial festivals yet does nothing when those same festivals contribute to your pain and misery. Much like Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, Mother’s Day and so on, society has deigned for you to behave in a certain way and for you to expect certain behaviours on those particular days. Who are we to disappoint when such a gift horse is dropped into our lap?

Should you be fortunate enough to be firmly ensconced in the seductive golden period when Valentine’s Day arrives then you can expect a day beyond all days. In keeping with our penchant for the grand gesture a large bouquet of beautiful white roses will arrive. Preferably the day falls on a week day so that the arrival of this extravagant display of flora will be at your place of work. Let the world of your office see how marvellous I am to you. Let them gather around you and coo and bleat about what a massive bouquet that is and he must really love you. The flora bomb is merely the start. More gifts will arrive during the day, from jewellery, to confectionary, through to sleek glossy technological items and clothing. All of it is done to draw a reaction of admiration and envy from those around you and to reinforce to you just how fortunate you are to be with me. Valentine’s Day merely provides me with a stage by which I am able to demonstrate how truly wonderful I am and how lucky you are to be with me. My façade of affection and love is reinforced by those observing these multiple gestures. I will take you away for the weekend and ensure that everyone knows what I am doing by insisting you tell all your friends and by repeated postings and photographs on social media. If a weekend away is not practical then it will be a favourite show of yours and dinner at a prestigious restaurant and again I will ensure that this news is broadcast far. Through out the day I will send you thoughtful and delightful messages, whispered voicemail messages and texts declaring my love for you. I shall borrow repeatedly of the choicest phrases from the romantic masters as I maintain this maelstrom of desire on this most special day. My efforts will dwarf yours but that does not matter because today is all about you (so it becomes all about me) and the admiring and loving fuel you yield is delicious and edifying. I will have swept you off your feet during my seduction of you but Valentine’s Day enables me to open up a complete new front of romance, love and seduction.

You should only ever expect one wonderful Valentine’s Day with me and in some instances, dependent on when our relationship has stared, you may not even get that. You can of course be assured to receive at least one day of misery when this supposedly special day becomes just another tool by which I will devalue you. You of course will comply with the obligation to be romantic and do your best to fuss over me, handing me a carefully chosen gift and card which I will barely look at at best and will criticise as being wrong and not something I wanted at worst. Your heightened expectations will be the catalyst for me rolling our malice and disappointment throughout the day. You expect a card. No card will be provided. You will look hopefully each time someone comes to the door hoping it to be a delivery from the florist only for you to feel crestfallen as nobody appears. I may even arrange for a lieutenant to appear with a bouquet in his hands only to have got the wrong house and ask for someone else when you answer the door. The brave face you attempt to maintain despite your obvious misery is a joy to behold. Society has caused you to believe that you should receive special treatment today and of course you will, but not of the variety that you will expect. Do not blame me. Blame yourself and society for causing you to think that on this random day you should be loved, venerated and idealised. I know you expect me to comply with these pre-conceived notions and towards the end of the day, after the lack of gifts, the absence of doing anything special and the third argument of the day, your sobbing in the bedroom provides me with the fuel that I always know I can obtain on this day. I know there are some cynics who do not hold with Valentine’s Day. Like many festivals, they baulk at the crass commercialisation that has taken a grip on what is meant to be a day of romance and love. I am a big believer in Valentine’s Day and U do so from the stance of a traditionalist. Early Christian martyrs in Rome were often called Valentine and thus the day became synonymous with the concept of sacrifice and martyrdom. I am a firm advocate of continuing that tradition as you martyr yourself at the altar of me. Happy Valentine’s Day!

It is an acknowledged fact that you never see us coming. We are creatures that are insidious and pervasive. It is astonishing that we are not seen because we hardly arrive quietly. We appear with great fanfare, fireworks, flashing lights and symphonic sounds. You cannot miss us but of course all of that obscures what we really are. Even when our true intentions begin to manifest you still do not recognise what we are. There are those of you who meet us once and then fall prey a second or even a third time, such is the manner in which we inveigle our way into your lives. You never ever know who we are when we first enter your life and often you do not realise until years afterwards what has happened to you. Some never even achieve enlightenment. Everything we do is designed to deceive. We are shrouded in deceit, it oozes from us and taints everything around us but you rarely see all of that. We are masters of deception, masked and cloaked, our true intentions hidden behind a sheen of flattery and a wall of manipulation. We know you blame yourselves when you finally realise who you have danced with. We are aware that you see it all too clearly after the event and you blame yourself repeatedly. You really ought not to be so harsh on yourselves, you never stood a chance. It is not just you who cannot penetrate our veil of secrecy, the so-called professionals often fail as well. If they cannot see us then you can be forgiven for doing so can’t you?

There is an army of therapists, doctors, counsellors, life-coaches and so on. Call them what you will and for all their academic brilliance, their soothing words and supposed insight there are many (although not all admittedly) who are unable to detect us either. They have not experienced what you have and therefore they can only speak from a position of learned, rather than experienced, knowledge. Many of our kind never have any interaction with these people since we refuse to acknowledge there is anything wrong with us much less see any need to be subjected to this scrutiny. This diminishes the prospects of these professionals from gaining a proper understanding. Moreover on the occasions when they might just happen to have one of our kind inside their consulting rooms we do everything in our expansive charismatic power to persuade them that not only is there nothing wrong with us but we are the victims of vile behaviour from the very person who forced us to attend on this shrink. Accordingly, their opportunities to understand us and learn from us are limited and this in turn allows us to continue unhindered in our machinations.

Prior to the good doctors who at least appear to know what they are doing, I merrily attended sessions with therapists and their ilk on five occasions. How could I pass up such a succulent opportunity to gather more fuel from this new arrival and also from you. I would resist any attempt to move into this arena of psychoanalysis at first, purely in order to heighten your woe, hurt and frustration. Eventually and often when perceiving a risk that you would voluntarily threaten my supply of fuel I would agree to attend. I prepared in advance as I selected all of the instruments of charm and flattery from my Devil’s Toolkit. Oh how I enjoyed those sessions. My other half would always pay for them so there was a blast of fuel from the off and I relished the opportunity to demonstrate my amenable and charming nature to them. In these sessions with therapists and the like I always adopted a twin strategy. Charm on the one hand and plausible deniability on the other.

I would present at the appropriate place, early, relaxed and looking forward to the chance to tell someone all about me for an hour and paid for by you. I would be pleasant, engaging and treat the time as a fireside chat as I spoke well of my other half,my friends, my job and my achievements. I talked about some of my interests, film in particular and would always ask the other person about their favourite films. They never refused me an answer. The first session was always a breeze as I fillybusted until the time had elapsed. I would continue to do this in each session and often they would allow me to talk and talk. They might try and steer the conversation onto something relevant to my behaviour and I would steer it back on to something else. The first counsellor I saw admitted after five sessions that there was nothing to discuss much to my delight and the girlfriend at the time’s dismay.

It became a challenge whenever the issue of help, therapy or treatment arose. I would go along and draw the positive fuel from the therapist and then draw negative fuel from whoever had insisted on me attending.

“Yes it is going well, we just have a chat really. It is all very amicable.”

“She clearly likes me as she always laughs at my jokes.”

“Did you know he supports the same football team as me? He even sits in the same stand.”

“I am not allowed to tell you about it.”

The last one is a favourite as the pseudo-confidentiality that I apply to the scenario frustrates and irritates you because after all, you need to know because you want to help and by not telling you anything on the basis of instruction from the therapist your bewilderment and frustration increases.

Where my opponent has pressed the issue and asked me and kept on asking me about the alleged behaviours that you have detailed to them beforehand I am always able to drive such doubt into the conversation that it dilutes any attempt to identify what I truly am. It is laughable. When I first ensnare you I do not show you my true colours so do you think that I would behave any different with someone who is trying to trap me and pin me down? Of course not. The catalogue of behaviour outside of normative engagements is fed back to me and I am able to deal with it all. I am an astute enough person to realise that a bare-faced denial will seem evasive and may alert my examiner. Instead, I explain away the perceived problem.

“Yes I admit I do sometimes lose my temper but who doesn’t? I work long hours and I do get a little irritable at times, I know I shouldn’t but I am only human aren’t I?”

“She is rather sensitive so she does tend to exaggerate. She had a bad time of it with her last boyfriend you see. I try and be supportive but it can be difficult because she sees so much in the same way as when she was with him. I don’t blame her it just becomes hard to deal with at times, I am sure you know what I mean, for example there was this one time…..”

“We have a passionate relationship so there are break-ups and make-ups. There is a lot of passionate energy between us and sometimes it does get a little out of hand, on both sides, but that’s the way we are. I recognise my part in this, that after all is why I am here and I would really appreciate it if you could help me to help her. What do you suggest?”

Events are watered down, instances diluted and happenings blurred. Plausible deniability is rolled out and allied with charm results in me walking away with another admirer to my collection and you bemused as to how I have seemingly got away with it again. You really ought not to (although I am pleased you do) get so upset by it since they really do have little chance to uncover what we truly are. What of Dr E and Dr O I hear you ask? Yes well it took two of them in a pincer movement and only because I had to yield to them but that war is still ongoing and there is much fuel to obtain yet.