A coterie is a group of people with shared interests. In this case, that shared interest is our kind. We have two groups of supporters; Lieutenants and the Coterie. The Lieutenants are our most loyal supporters, they are dedicated and are manipulated, usually on the premise of reward although sometimes with the prospect of punishment, to do our bidding. They have been convinced of our legitimacy which ensures their obedience and compliance when we call on them. Our control of them will often be subtle, so they are unaware of the true purpose to which they have been applied and other occasions it is patently obvious but they share our sense of direction and therefore do as we instruct. Lieutenants are deployed when specific action is required.
The Coterie is less directed but instead is more of a constant, a backdrop of support that feeds us fuel, lends credibility to our pronouncements and can be relied on to accord with our views. They laugh when we deliver an amusing anecdote, they praise readily when we engage in our boasts and they become the quagmire in which you, as our victim, becomes stuck.
Who constitutes this Coterie? In the main, it is compiled of secondary sources, thus you will find friends, colleagues and family members in its ranks. There will also be the occasional tertiary source in amongst them too, perhaps a neighbour, a teacher, somebody who recognises us from our regular attendance at their shop or restaurant. Those in the Coterie need to be physically proximate to us. Whilst an outer circle friend might be supportive of us generally, the fact he lives three hundred miles away means that his distance excludes him from the Coterie. Those within the Coterie are those secondary and tertiary sources which we interact with on a regular basis, who we will see or interact with at least once a month and more likely more often. Those in the Coterie invariably know one another, thus those inner circle friends are known to our family members and the chosen colleagues socialise with our inner circle friends when both sets are invited to come for drinks. The group has us as the connecting interest, the common denominator.
How is the Coterie created? As with all those that become our appliances these people will be seduced, usually not in an intimate sense (although that is not excluded) and are drawn to us. We paint the illusion for these secondary sources, exaggerating and emphasising our positive points. It is of course not done with the intensity by which we seduce somebody to become our primary source, but the effect is the same. The glittering and shining construct is polished up for them so they are drawn to us, whilst the creature within is kept hidden for fear of driving them away. The expectation of fuel, the provision of character traits by these secondary sources and the key residual benefit – the creation of the Coterie – enables us to exhibit what they wish to see. Through mirroring, we create the image of the good friend who is a rugby enthusiast too, the practical neighbour who is available to tackle the occasional home improvement task, the industrious colleague or the polite and respectful son. What those people wish to see, we show them and thus they are drawn to us. Built from those who we see regularly, who are physically proximate to us and often from those we have known for some time, the Coterie takes shape.
The Coterie is strengthened by the cross-pollination between its constituent parts. Thus, a colleague when invited a BBQ will remark to our parents how hard-working we are. This is what our parents wish to hear and reaffirms their own view of their diligent son. One friend will explain to a newly introduced friend how we have been helpful to them when they have some difficulty. The other person agrees and adds their own plaudit based on their experience of us. Back and forth, like the shuttle in weaving, these compliments and accolades create a backdrop on which we rely.
What then is the effect of the Coterie? It serves several purposes. As mentioned, rather than it necessarily be dynamic in nature, it is more of a constant, a barometer of our credibility, an undying source of support. The Coterie serves us in the following ways:-
- It is a significant part of the facade we create;
- The Coterie can be relied on to turn its back on you when we commence your devaluation or discard, we need only give the word;
- It provides corroboration to our words when we are seducing you. We direct you to it if you want further evidence of our reliability, our integrity, our determination or our bona fides in wanting you;
- It is a key device for triangulation. If you challenge us, we will invite you to ask members of the Coterie knowing they will disagree with you, support us and diminish the strength of your assertion against us. We will tell you that the Coterie thinks ill of your behaviour (even though it has not) or that the Coterie would be disappointed in the things that you do.
- The Coterie will provide us with information about you. With several members, it becomes our eyes and ears and will tell us what you have been doing. The members are not enjoined to specifically watch you, that is a role for our Lieutenants, but rather they are pervasive so that if a friend bumps into you, they will report back on the encounter;
- The Coterie will readily accept the smearing of you when we decide that this has to be done and it will be propagated by them within the Coterie. Lieutenants are used to extend the sphere further afield;
- The Coterie is greater than the sum of its parts. Since it is bound by a common interest in us, the members invariably all know one another and their ever present loyalty to us is unquestionable, the cumulative effect of these people means that our word is taken over yours, we are supported instead of you and they will reject any attempt by you to convince them otherwise. The herd mentality prevails. Even if you might think one member of the Coterie might side with you, the weight of other members all supporting us will drown you out and convince any potential waverer to continue to back us.
So, whilst you know which people the Coterie is drawn from, how can you spot those people who are actually in it? There are essentially six groupings that are drawn from the secondary and tertiary sources. These groups accept us, for different reasons and motivations, which are explained below.
- The Simply Wonderfuls
This group might be equated to performing seals. If we tell a joke, they laugh without hesitation, braying and hooting. They praise us repeatedly, bowled over by how handsome we are, how amusing we might be, how urbane and erudite we behave. Every achievement of ours is met with enthusiastic applause and admiration. These people truly do regard us as simply wonderful and see no wrong in what we do. They regard our behaviours as positive, endearing and magnificent. Always quick to praise, always ready to hear about our latest endeavour and do so in rapt delight. They are genuinely thrilled by who we are. These people are happy for us even though they have no vested interest themselves in the outcome, a state of mind which I find truly alien albeit I readily accept the outcome of their mindset.
2. The Hangers On
These members of the Coterie are hangers on in the sense that they find some gratification in being tolerated as member of our gang. It might be because we allow them to join us at places they would otherwise have no hoping of ever gaining entry to, it might be that they perceive a benefit will be conveyed to them by remaining in our sights. They feel they gain by being associated with us and hope that this will also translate into some improvement of their own position – money, promotion, acknowledgement – and accordingly they remain hanging on to our coat tails, ready to provide a sycophantic compliment or curry favour with us. The very fact we tolerate them gives the more pathetic elements of this group reason alone to look up to us and provide the necessary support which Coterie membership demands.
3. The Pick Me Brigade
This group contains those members of the Coterie who jostle for position to bask in our benevolent light. From those who want to spend the evening with me and me alone, allowing them to crow about it other members of this brigade, to the friend who wants to embark on a run together or go to the cinema to watch a film. The Pick Me Brigade operate on the basis of exhibiting support in such a way that means that they hope they will occasionally be granted an exclusive audience with us in order to inveigle their way into our favour even further. It will come as no surprise to you that some of these individuals will have narcissistic traits and may even be Lesser or Mid-Range Narcissist collected by us. They feel a need to ensure that their praise of us is better than anybody else’s, that they know us best, they are our best friend and supporter. In a non-intimate sense, the Coterie member wants the kudos of being a trusted confidante. Of course they fail to realise there is no such position available for them. In an intimate sense, this Coterie member hopes for elevation to become our intimate partner in a formal relationship and spends their time hoping that they are noticed in that respect. Invariably they are kept in line through comfort crumbs and future faking.
4. The Pride Collective
Usually this element of the Coterie consists of family members, but it is not an exclusive position. These Coterie members are proud of our achievements, the decent human being they foolishly believe us to be. Their belief in our humanity, our kindness, our charity and goodness is unshakeable. They may know of troubled behaviours but consider this to be as a consequence of external factors which heartlessly picked on us and that we are not to blame. They always see the best of us and are immensely proud of whatever we do. Their own desire to have the son or grand daughter, niece or cousin, brother or friend, who is talented, interesting, cultured, hard-working, creative or whatever it may be, causes them to seize on anything we do or say which may accord with this pre-conceived notion. They have created their own idea of what we should be and they will always regard what ever we do to be in line with this expectation, placing a positive spin on our accomplishments and behaviours, trotting out excuses to ameliorate any criticism of us. Their desire to see us become what they want us to become invariably blinds them.
5. The Always Been Fine With Me Society
These members of the Coterie tend to have their head in the sand. Mainly concerned with getting through life without conflict or disruption, they adopt the position that if we have always been okay with them, then that is all that matters. They neither have the time or the inclination to hear you badmouth us. This does not accord with what they have witnessed. They fail to grasp that just because we have always been civil to them that we could be awful to someone else. All they care about is that their life trundles along with no drama or aggravation, so take your complaints elsewhere because these members of the Coterie just do not want to know.
6. The Harpies
You might be forgiven for thinking that these would be Lieutenants. They are not because Lieutenants usually operate in a singular capacity for us. The Harpies are people who think well of us but they really come in to their own when they are granted permission to smear. Cousins of the Pick Me Brigade they see their value in attacking anybody who draws our disapproval. Ordinarily they will be supportive of us, albeit not to the simpering extent of the Simply Wonderfuls or the blinded Pride Collective, but when they are told that you are now on the black list then they leap in to action. They will smear you, delight in rubbishing your complaints about us and look to pick you apart through nasty insults. The Harpies will not actually do anything. They are not proactive in that sense, their area of operation is words and gossip and they will enjoy nothing more than discussing you amongst themselves, picking over your faults and vulnerabilities and should you encounter them when you have been designated by us as the enemy, you will feel the force of their toxic tongues and malicious mouths.
Accordingly, we will build our coterie from secondary and tertiary sources and those who are admitted will belong to the groupings described above.