There are many online support forums that exist with regard to the issue of narcissism and narcissistic abuse.
I have previously moved amongst the shadows of these blogs, Facebook sites, Twitter pages and so forth, observing and absorbing the behaviours that I have witnessed. There are those which provide information. Others are the cathartic disclosures of victims who are seeking to warn as well as recount their own horrors alongside their journey or recovery. There are others which are there to assist people in healing from the trauma they have suffered. The quality and reliability of them varies. Amidst the proliferation of support forums lurk our kind.
There is no doubt that our kind inhabit these places. Indeed, from time to time Lesser and Mid-Range Narcissists have appeared and frequented my blog. Easy for me to spot, but less so for others. Naturally, narcissists appear at other sites and forums, commenting and interacting. Those narcissists will gain some fuel from the interaction with the people on that forum, but more specifically they will look to befriend a fellow commenter or two and take their interaction off blog and onto private messaging, the telephone, Skype and ultimately meeting in person. The Tertiary Source becomes a secondary source and the provision of fuel increases in potency, quantity and frequency. A separate article will cover that type of interaction.
The narcissist also operates on these support forums in a different capacity ; that of moderator, administrator or host.
How does this manifest?
First of all, if a Greater operates such a forum then he or she will be open about the fact, confirm what they are and explain much about the way we think and operate. These sites are extremely rare. Greaters are very rare and those which operate sites similar to mine are even rarer. However, those that do exist make it clear what the site is and who is operating it. This rarity and the common misunderstanding that all narcissists do not know what they are, leads some people to regard such sites in a mistaken manner.
Secondly, a Lesser would not operate such a forum. He or she has no idea what he or she is and being utterly devoid of empathy (including cognitive empathy), it would never occur to the Lesser to devise such a site. They have no interest in appearing as a saintly figure and they have no desire to listen to the woes of others. The Lesser will frequent the forums but they will not run them, indeed they prefer to utilise someone else’s work to enable them to boast about their own (supposed) encounters with a narcissist and then take centre stage as they brag about their life style, attack other commenters and do so with an utter lack of awareness as to their behaviour and of course, what they are.
Thirdly, it is the Mid-Ranger who poses the problem with regard to the creation and running of these forums. Why the Mid-Ranger? Again, he or she does not know what she is but these sites appeal to them because:-
- They are able to engage in their façade management. The Mid Range Narcissist genuinely believes that he or she is a good person, a decent person , an empathic person. It is other people who are the horrible, abusive narcissists. Not them.
- The site gives them an excellent vehicle to sound off about their own perceived mis-treatment. The Mid Ranger loves a good Pity Party, Compassion Conference or Sympathy Symposium and those that interact with these people buy into this.
- It enables them to continue a campaign against those the Mid Range Narcissist perceives as the abuser. Thus the ex-girlfriend, the parents, the boss or the once upon a time best friend, all find themselves routinely smeared and the validation that the site’s readers provides to the Mid Range Narcissist only goes to consolidate in their minds that they are a good person and that they are truly the victim.
The Mid Ranger is the narcissist who you will find operating these forums (or fora if you prefer) . Of course not all of the online support forums are operated by our kind, far from it, but there is a noticeable presence by our kind. Indeed, I have had many of my readers express their concerns and suspicions about certain sites and their provenance, based on their experiences there and what they have witnessed.
This is difficult for people to recognise. They will have some familiarity naturally with the idea of narcissism, since why else are they at a narcissist abuse support forum?! However, it is highly likely that their skills have not yet become attuned to recognising our kind and certainly not this particular wolf in sheep’s clothing.
What then are the indicators which show that a narcissist is operating the site (or is involved as a moderator or administrator)? Based on what I have witnessed at certain sites, you should be aware of the following
- Invalidation. The subject of narcissism is both emotive and complex and therefore people have various experiences, opinions and theories. Some may simply be incorrect. Some may be based on a misunderstanding. Some however remain valid because that is the experience of the individual. The Support Forum Fraud (“SFF”) will reject out of hand the experience of the reader or commenter if it disagrees with, is at odds with or contradicts something stated by the SFF. Rather than recognising a difference of opinion, or politely explaining why the reader’s view is mistaken, the SFF will be dismissive.
- Aggressive. If the reader holds their ground with the SFF then they will be treated in an aggressive fashion. The reader is not insulting or provocative and merely states their view. They are treated to an aggressive response from the SFF. This is the manifestation of the MRN’s ignited fury. They will be told they know nothing, that they are being ridiculous, that the SFF knows far better and reminded that the SFF operates the forum.
- Labelling. The SFF will label the reader as an abuser or as a narcissist. I have seen this happen on many occasions and is a rapid dose of projection designed to put down, invalidate and insult the reader.
- The Labelling also has a further effect. It acts as a call to arms to other readers to launch into an attack against the hapless reader. The SFF expects their readership to gang up on this ‘narcissist’ and tell them what they are and drum them from the forum. Who are those who respond to this clarion call of the SFF? They belong to two groups ; other narcissists and mis-guided victims. The former group of course do not know what they are. The Lessers will see it as an excellent opportunity for some verbal abuse provocation. The Mid Rangers will see it as a chance to curry favour with the host and demonstrate their own credentials as a ‘good’ person. The Mis-Guided Victims (often newbies) are still very hurt by their experience and their inexperience and current world view causes them to lash out at someone who they have mistakenly seen as a narcissist. It is an easy mistake for them to make, after all, they are still learning and the supposed guru of the host has declared this person to be a narcissist, so it must be true. There will be those, those who are more experienced and empathic who will defend the reader, recognising they are not a narcissist and that the person is entitled to express their opinion. They will be set on also and therefore this often causes others to avoid the fray to begin with.
- The host will engage in repeated recollections of their own horrendous treatment at the hands of the narcissist. It will be like a daily sermon as they rail against this person with a zealous enthusiasm which lasts for far too long for that of a genuine victim.
- The host having identified a supposed narcissist on the site will not let the matter go. If the reader remains (or is allowed to remain) on the site, they will be repeatedly branded and subjected to passive aggressive remarks. Even once gone or banished, they will be made mention of by the SFF.
- The SFF will also make repeated reference to their “online attackers” or their “trolls” in order to gain sympathy from readers. These supposed attackers remain vague and amorphous in identity because they often do not exist, but they are a perception of the SFF.
- The SFF will dole out the Pity Plays in order to gain the sympathy and support of their readers. Whilst they will repeatedly make mention of how badly they have been treated by the ‘narcissist’ they were ensnared by, they will also make such comments as “I don’t know why I bother doing this at times” and “I am sick of not being appreciated” and “some of you have no idea how much effort this takes”.
- Waterworks. If the SFF uses videos on the site or has a YouTube presence then the crocodile, self-pitying tears will flow. Those whose tears are genuine either will not post material containing them (they do not want people to see or regard it as unprofessional) or if they do it is clear it is genuine. The SFF’s waterworks will be forced as they summon up the tears. They will switch them on and off like the flicking of the switch. Once you know what to look for, you will see them.
- There is a lack of originality in the material. The SFF can only pose as the supposed empathic supporter of the abused not through actual experience or emotional empathy but through mimicry. Accordingly, the material that is placed on the site will be drawn from elsewhere. Often, the lazier SFF (coupled with their sense of entitlement and lack of accountability) will steal the work of others and either not credit it to the original author or pass it off as their own.
- There will be passive aggressive comments made towards the commenters and readers. Again, this is not always obvious to newcomers, but those with experience will soon spot this indicator and allied with points above the picture becomes clear.
- Sudden blocking. A reader will find themselves blocked from the site without any explanation or understanding as to what they have done. This passive aggressive response will arise because the SFF has perceived some behaviour of the reader which is unacceptable and thus wounded, has lashed out with this cold fury by providing a Silent Treatment.
Over time, the aggregate of these behaviours will demonstrate the true nature of the person operating the site and you will then realise just who is really behind the supposed caring, empathic persona.
You may have found yourself on the receiving end of such behaviour previously. Of course, you will not experience this behaviour in the future. Why? Well, you have no reason to go anywhere else than here now, have you!?