Category Archives: silent treatment

The Narcissist’s Twin Lines of Defence

THE NARCISSIST'STWIN LINESOF DEFENCE

In order to understand your narcissist opponent (and let’s not avoid recognising the fact that we regard you as our opponent) it is essential that you realise that we adopt two lines of defence. It is imperative that our kingdom remains intact, that our rule over you is not impeded, hindered or diminished in anyway. This means that we must always have control. By maintaining control, we are assured of achieving the provision of  The Prime Aims so we gain fuel (most importantly) , character traits and the residual benefits.

Imagine, if you will, a motor vehicle. This motor vehicle has a computer which controls the suspension of the vehicle, This computer makes thousands of calculations and adjustments every second so that the suspension alters to take into account holes in the road, rocks, rises, dips and any deviation. The consequence of these frequent and instantaneous adjustments is that the car itself never lurches, dips, rolls, leans or deviates. You could balance a glass of water on the dashboard and it would never spill. The car remains still and steady.

We are similar. We must always maintain control. We have to have control over our environment so that we know there will be no loss of fuel, no reduction in the elements of the construct, no destruction of our empire and the descent into oblivion. To ensure this control, just like ensuring the motor vehicle remains steady, we have to make repeated and frequent adjustments to cater for the vagaries of the environment. We must tackle the challenges, maintain the loyalty, head off the insurrection, put down the rebellions, stifle the dissent, maintain the discipline and whatever changes, alterations and differences occur, control must be maintained. It does not matter if our behaviour, when viewed from your perspective, is inconsistent, illogical, hypocritical, contradictory, abusive, absurd and so forth, so long as the control is maintained. That is what matters above all else. By keeping control, we gain what we need and we continue to exist as we require.

Any challenge to this control requires a defensive response from us and this comes in two distinct forms. We have a twin defence mechanism. The first line is Denial. The second line is Distract and Deflect.

Dealing with Denial. If you challenge us in some way, which therefore threatens our control, then our immediate response will be one of denial. Your challenge may be one which wounds us (therefore you can expect a response by way of ignited fury which encompasses the denial) or more likely, you will be providing us with Challenge Fuel. Thus, you will not be wounding us, you will be giving us fuel, but we not only want to provoke you into giving us more fuel but we also have to assert control and assert our superiority and denial achieves both.

Take such an exchange for example, V is the accusing victim and N is the denying narcissist.

V – “I saw you in a bar this evening, Lorenzo’s, and you were with another woman.”

N – “No, I wasn’t.”

V- “Yes you were, I saw you.”

N- “You could not have done, I was at work, I had a meeting run on, there was a new client and he needed the team and I to sort quite a few problems out for him.”

V – “Stop lying, I saw you with my own eyes.”

N- “Well you need new glasses because it was not me, you think you saw.”

V- “It was. I know what you look like for God’s sake. You were holding hands with a slim woman with long brown hair and she had a green blouse on.”

N – “It wasn’t me.”

V- “It was, stop lying. Just admit it, will you?”

N- “It was not me.”

V- “I saw you, I saw you with her.”

N- “You couldn’t have done. Like I said, I have been in work until now, Ring Tom, go on, he will confirm that I have.”

The narcissist maintains the denial. Challenge Fuel is being received as the victim is either frustrated, angry, hurt or upset. The words used, the tone, the facial expression and the body language all contribute to the provision of fuel. If the victim is the Intimate Partner Primary Source (“IPPS”) then the fuel will be of a high potency. The quantity of fuel delivered is so far low since the discussion has only lasted a minute or so, but the frequency is constant for that minute. The narcissist will continue to deny in order to maintain control and assert his superiority for the purposes of ‘putting down’ this challenge. If the victim keeps asserting the allegation, the narcissist will continue with the denial until the victim gives up with the assertion. The narcissist has fuel and has maintained (or regained) superiority.

Sometimes the first line of defence is all that is needed to maintain the defence of the narcissist’s realm. However, if the narcissist senses that the victim believes that they are gaining the upper hand and thus has in effect broken through the first line of defence of Denial, then the narcissist will move to deploy the second line of defence which is that of Distraction and Deflection.

This second line is vast, extensive and draws on a myriad of narcissistic manipulations. Some of them are subtle and insidious, others are blatant and rudimentary. Nevertheless, they fall under the banner of Distraction and Deflection.

Returning to the example above, the increasingly exasperated victim decides to play the ace card and produces a mobile ‘phone which contains footage of the narcissist with the mystery lady, holding hands and sharing a kiss. The victim plays the footage and the narcissist watches.

The Denial could be maintained and in some instances this does happen. For instance the narcissist will state

“That’s not me, that is someone else.”

however, the narcissist will observe that the victim is displaying the signs of gaining the upper hand. The words used, tone and expression will alter to denote that the victim believes that she has now won the argument and therefore the repeated denial is not going to enable the narcissist to maintain superiority. Yes, he may continue to draw fuel from the victim if the victim continues to respond in an exasperated or incredulous manner, but the superiority has to be achieved also.

Accordingly this is where the second line of defence is activated.

The Lesser may just grab the mobile phone and smash it. This is Deflection and Distraction. Admittedly, it will not win any awards for ingenuity but this is what such an action achieves on the part of the narcissist:-

  1. The evidence that supports the victim’s challenge to the narcissist’s superiority has gone. In the compartmentalised world of the narcissist if it is not there it does not exist AND moreover it NEVER existed, accordingly

V- “You smashed it because you know I am right.”

N- “About what?”

V- “You kissing that woman.”

N- “What woman?”

v – “The one on the video.”

N – “What video?”

V- “The one I just showed you.”

N- “No you didn’t.”

Note how the first line of the defence has been resurrected. The destruction of physical property (a manipulation, albeit a base one) was deployed as a Deflection and Distraction and then the narcissist, feeling that the challenge has been addressed, deals with the follow-up challenge from the victim by reverting to the first line again and thus engages in Denial.

Returning to what this act achieves for the narcissist

2. The response of the victim to this manipulation will provide fuel;

3. Superiority is maintained through this act.

How might the Mid-Range Narcissist respond to this escalation on the part of the victim? Denial only worked so far, thus the second line of defence is deployed.

N – “What the hell do you think you are playing at?”

V – “What do you mean?”

N- “Spying on me.”

V – “What? I’m not, I am showing you what you have done.”

N- “Yes you are, I am sick of you trying to control me, spying on me like this. And I am not the only one, John said to me only last week he thinks you are very controlling.”

V- “John thinks that? How do you work that one out?”

N- “Oh he is not the only one a few of my friends think it.”

The victim then gets sucked into justifying her own behaviour, trying to defend herself against the imaginary control she apparently exerts over the narcissist. The narcissist has deployed Blame-Shifting, Triangulation and Smearing as part of the second line of defence and it has worked. Fuel is being provided and the initial allegation about cheating has been left by the way side.

The Mid-Ranger could have Distracted and Deflected by walking off and engaging in a silent treatment (absent or present) or accusing the victim of having an affair (Blame Shifting, Labelling, Projection) and therefore all manner of different manipulations can form part of this second line of defence.

How about the Greater, how might he have responded to the production of this video evidence?

He may have adopted the approach of denial to begin with, however, there is a significant chance that the Greater will have either seen what the Victim had been doing, been tipped off by someone as to what the Victim has done or ascertained from the Victim’s demeanour that there is a potential ace to be produced. Accordingly, the Greater would have not bothered with Denial to begin with. His entire confidence in the efficacy of the second line of defence to this challenge means he can dispense with the first line. Thus, the conversation may have proceeded in this manner :-

V – “I saw you in a bar this evening, Lorenzo’s, and you were with another woman.”

N – “Did you, why didn’t you come in and say hello. I was going to call you. That is Jennifer, old friend of mine.”

V- “Oh, I see, you didn’t say you were meeting her.”

N – “Did I not, I think you will find that I did. I told you a week ago about catching up with her, I haven’t seen her in ages. You have met her before, do you remember? It was when we were at the box at the racing, for Ladies’ Day last summer. You had that delightful dress on, you know, the striking green one.”

Away goes the Greater and embarks on a monologue, drawing up details from the past (real or invented), showering compliments and distracting the victim from the thrust of their complaint. In effect the Greater may deploy a Word Salad to Deflect and Distract and thus gain fuel and maintain superiority. The Greater has a vast array of potential ways of deploying the second line of the defence. For instance he might say :-

“Oh that woman, she is obsessed with me. There’s nothing to worry about. Yes she kissed me, rather presumptuous of her but can you see how I broke it off. I didn’t want her causing a scene, she’s a bit of a looney, but you’ve nothing to worry about there. You aren’t going to let someone like her come between you and me are you?” (Blame Shifting, Smearing, Triangulation, Charm)

OR

“I kissed her, so what. If you kissed me more often, this would not happen. You might want to take notice and up your game or you will lose me.” (Threat, Blame-Shifting, Triangulation)

OR

“It really is nothing, she was just being rather zealous. You know people throw themselves at me, it is you that I want. Why else am I here with you and nobody else? Now, let me feel what a real kiss feels like, hmmm?” (Flattery, Charm, Triangulation)

OR

“I was recruiting her for that threesome you said you wanted, you do remember agreeing to that don’t you? Admittedly, you were a little tipsy but you did say you wanted to do it. She will be calling me at 9 o’clock, to come round, but I wanted you to myself of course before she joins us.” (Triangulation, Gas Lighting)

The Greater will invariably rely on his charm and self-confidence to assert superiority and head off the challenge, possibly switching to the issue of threats if required. Either way, the fuel is obtained and the Deflection and Distraction line of defence remains intact and superiority is maintained and thus control with it.

Denial is the first port of call for us to maintain control (though less so with the Greater) and then the range of manipulations from Gas Lighting, Threat, Word Salad, Silent Treatment, Bullying, Intimidation, Labelling and Triangulation and more besides form part of the second line of defence. We will embed Split Thinking, Volte Face, Hypocrisy, Contradiction within this second line in order to maintain control and keep control on an even keel. Such is the breadth and depth of this second line, you will not breach it and we will keep going until you are forced into a retreat, we are fuelled and we maintain that control that is paramount to us. This is why we do as we do.

 

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Six Silent Soul Destroyers

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The use of and imposition of silence are two of the most powerful weapons in our abusive arsenal. Silence is easy to deploy and horrendously effective in securing our aims of compliance, control and fuel.

1. My silence is always meaningful

You may sit quietly because you have no need to say anything. You may remain silent because you are listening to somebody else or just enjoying the silence.  We do not allow silence to be used in such a passive and redundant fashion. Our silence is used to convey contempt. It is used to draw concern and cause anguish in you. When we fall silent that pregnant pause is an indicator of the fury which will be unleashed against you. The longer silence is the imposition of our cold fury as you are banished to a sustained silent treatment. When we sit in silence we are not savouring the lack of noise, we are thinking, planning and plotting, calculating our next step. Our silences are weapons, they are our operations headquarters, our defence against your critical wounding of us. We use silence to hurt you, warn you, scold you and indicate you have overstepped the mark. Every silence has a meaning, it would be remiss of us to use it any other way.

2. Absence makes the silence longer

The deployment of an absent silent treatment where we remove ourselves from you, invariably with no warning or indication is a confirmation to you that this silent treatment will not be short-lived. The need to absent ourselves sends you a clear signal that we will be gone for some time. It is designed to have you come after us, try to contact us and beg and plead so that you fuel us. When we impose a period of absence by vanishing we are reinforcing how easily we are able to consider you gone from our lives. You may not even be able to contact us but we gather fuel from our knowledge that this sudden disappearance will cause you considerable consternation and worry. The absent silent treatment is also a key indicator that we are engaged in the seduction of a new prospect and providing this person with our false love and attention, which we have removed from you.

3. The silent gesture

Our silences are not just occasioned by us not talking to you or absenting ourselves for a period of time. We deploy silence through gestures. We may not turn up when we have agreed to a date with you, in order to reinforce how you mean so little to us and that we have any number of more pressing engagements to attend to than dine with you in a restaurant. Leaving you alone in bed, our side of the bed now empty and cold is also a hammer blow to your confidence and self esteem as we choose the spare room, the sofa or the bed of another in preference to being with you during the night. The silent telephone call from a withheld number, used when we are hoovering you, is designed to put you on edge. Is it us calling you this late? It must be mustn’t it, but you cannot be sure? The failure to buy you a gift on your birthday,  creating a gap which ought to have been filled stands out considerably and allows us to apply maximum hurt through such a silent gesture.

4. The silent presence

By giving you the cold shoulder when everyone else is met warmly and enthusiastically, we cause you to feel completely alone even when you are surrounded by others. You try to carry on as if nothing has happened but you know that people will be wondering why we are not speaking to you. You feel the flush of embarrassment as once again you try to speak to us and you receive only a glare and then we sweep away. You want to challenge us but as ever it is you that will be criticised for creating a scene. You want to upbraid us for our childish sulking but you have learned that the consequences of doing so are not worth suffering. We of course know all this and we know how powerful our freezing you out in the company of others really is.

5. Suffer in silence

You are never to speak of what goes on between you and I to anyone else. Should you ever do so you are committing an act of heinous betrayal and your punishment for such a transgression will be malicious and fierce. You are not to betray me and speak of what you are subjected to. You are to endure it so that you become a better person, one who is compliant and obedient. Do you understand? I also know that you fear the repercussions of speaking out and this enforces my curfew. I also know that you feel compelled to remain loyal because of the golden period and how you feel duty bound to remain and try to resolve matters, work this difficult period through and fix what has become somehow broken. Your indefatigable spirit teeters on the brink of misplaced pride at not telling tales and instead knuckling down, irrespective of what is thrown at you, in order to bring about a resolution to our problems. You cannot succeed but you do not know that yet. For now you must suffer in silence.

6. I speak, you stay silent

Never interrupt me, never talk over me, never steal my thunder. When I speak everybody listens because what I have to say is brilliant, great and of tremendous import. You would do well to listen to improve yourself, please me and avoid angering me. You are my sounding board, Horatio to my Hamlet, a listener and in my presence you only speak when it is required to honour my achievements and laud my greatness. You are to be seen but only heard when I deem it necessary. Who wants to listen to what you have to say anyway? You only get invited to events because of me. They are only friends with you because they are friends of mine. Nobody is interested in you. Nobody. So stay quiet and listen.

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The Mid-Range Narcissist

 

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Meet Malcolm the Mid-Range Narcissist. Say hello Malcolm.

“Hello.”

Ever obliging is Malcolm, part of his charm. He doesn’t have the ubermensch mentality of the Greater and nor is he governed by the almost rash instinctive behaviour of the Lesser. Malcolm is not so much defined by what he is, but by what he is not.

“Isn’t that right Malcolm?”

“Isn’t what right my dear?”

“You are a Mid-Range Narcissist.”

Malcolm laughs. It is an affable laugh. He knows that a veneer of self-effacement is effective to get what he wants. He is not prone to the wild outlandish boasts of the Lesser (based on what he thinks he is and therefore says as such as a matter of immediate response) or the Greater (who actually has the achievements and accomplishments to back up those boasts, but boasts about them the Greater always must).

“Hey, what can I say, I like to look good and you know, you have to love yourself before you can love anybody else, that’s what I always say.”

You see, Malcolm thinks that is what a narcissist is. Somebody who loves themselves. He lacks the higher function to know what it really means and lacks the cunning to know it himself but to deny it to those who would seek to topple him. He has some understanding so the comment does not present as a criticism to him, but since he has a moderate degree of function, he knows enough to use it to maintain his façade of being a decent, likeable and reliable fellow.

“You are a likeable chap, I must say.”

“Why thank you and may I say how lovely you look today.”

“That’s most kind, mind you, you are not the first person to compliment me on my appearance.”

Let’s see how he responds to that little piece of provocation. Did you see it? There was a flash of the inner fury but he kept it under control. Watch again. You see the sudden frown and the narrowing of the eyes as his jealousy started to climb inside of him as he felt the injury from this criticism. My comment suggested that someone else might be interested in me, that I am not just Malcolm’s. Of course, it was just a well-meant and polite compliment, but like all of their kind, Malcolm views the world from a position of suspicion and wariness. Wariness is an apt description for Malcolm. He doesn’t erupt in the way Lee the Lesser might have done if I had made the same remark. Lee would have responded with insulting questions to my comment. The Greater would show no sign of concern but file the remark away to be used at the appropriate time, when the moment is exactly right. Anyway, let’s get back to Malcolm. There is that flash of fury but he has enough control to keep it held back. For now. He won’t let it go though, he cannot.

“Oh really, who said that?”

He asks in a tone of relative disinterest but he is dying to know. He wants to know because he feels uncomfortable at this revelation. He does not know precisely why, although he knows he has to be wary about someone interfering with his partner because after all, he wants to maintain his façade of family man with the dedicated wife and so forth. Steady Malcolm who knows he is not amongst the elite of the world, but he is also far from the underclass too. He has abilities and people should recognise that. Okay, he is not the best, but he is still good, very good actually.

“Oh you know the attendant at the petrol station, he chats to me every time I am in there, he probably fancies me.”

There it is again. The brief look of consternation. The fury is rising but he is managing to keep a grip on it, but he won’t be able to do so for long. He does not want to erupt, he knows that will not do, that is not how he behaves, but he knows he needs to do something to counter this threat. He does not like the fact that I am accepting compliments from this interloper, I should only receive them from him.

“Yes well, I was told by Lucy at the florists that I look ten years younger than my real age.”

There we are. He is switching to an alternative fuel source. His level of function allows him to rely on a past event and still draw fuel from it. The Lesser would not be able to do that. Firstly, his fury would have erupted already and secondly even if it had not, he would struggle to bring up the previous compliment. His mind does not work that way. Malcolm can though and this is his way of switching the spotlight back on to him. He is also looking to get a reaction from me as well to provide him with some fuel. Let’s pretend I haven’t heard him.

“Yes the guy at the garage, Luke he is called, strapping lad, so pleasant. He always tells me that my hair is looking nice or that I smell gorgeous. He fair makes my day.”

“Yes well he can’t be too bright though can he if he is working in a garage.”

Malcolm doesn’t say it as a question but it’s a statement. He is losing control; the fury is coming. His comment had a dual purpose. You see, his mid-range function provides him with some weaponry in that regard. He wanted to cut down my comment in order to provoke a reaction from me but also by stating that Luke is not very bright he is undermining the compliments that Luke has sent my way. He’s a little bit clever with it you see.

“Oh, he just works there in between his studies. He is going to be an architect, he wants to show me some of his designs, I think I might do that.”

Let’s push it a little more. You can see Malcolm’s face is now set in a frown. He doesn’t like it at all that I am not giving him any fuel and moreover by fawning over Luke I am implicitly criticising Malcolm, at least in his mind that is the case.

Malcolm won’t respond in an outwardly aggressive manner. It’s there if he is really pushed, if he feels cornered in some way or has a frantic need for fuel then the fury will erupt as heated fury and he will lash out. He can only keep the fury under control for a short while. The Lesser can barely do so. The Greater can and will or will not, dependent on how the Greater has calculated whether the unleashing of the fury will provide him with the greatest return at that instant. Malcolm is caught between the two. He can exert some control but not enough to really deliver and savage aggression is rarer with him. Watch now and see how his ignited fury manifests.

Do you see? He has snatched up his ‘phone and rings one of his secondary sources. He knows he does not like this feeling of being ignored and he knows that to deal with it he needs attention from somewhere else. He does not know it as fuel of course, only that when this happens, if I, his primary source, is letting him down, he has to either up his game with me and/or draw attention from somewhere else.

“Hi Janice, just wondering if you were still on for lunch today?”

There’s no arranged lunch but he knows that Janice likes him, he makes sure that this remains the case and she is usually available. Notice the sideways glance to ensure I have heard him. There are not the bold assertive moves of the Lesser (through instinct) or the Greater (through calculation) but the wary steps that are the hallmark of the Mid-Range Narcissist.

Janice is cooing down the ‘phone and he feels better already but he also wants a reaction from me.

“Who are you calling?” I ask in a loud voice.

“Yes I thought so too Janice, thanks for saying that, I appreciate that.” He is ignoring me. I repeat the question but there is no response as he continues to talk into the ‘phone and lap up the fuel from Janice whilst enjoying my irked expression. This is a silent treatment from him as he refuses to acknowledge me. The Mid-Range uses the silent treatment more than any other cadre of narcissist because the Mid-Range is a creature who is passive-aggressive. The Lesser uses them, of course he does, but they tend to be short-lived. The Lesser will storm out of the house and disappear to a friend or a bar for an afternoon. The Greater will organise the silent treatment and apply it for maximum effect, it will not be a knee jerk reaction. The Greater will apply them for a long time as well but does not use them as often as the Mid-Range. The silent treatment is the main method of manipulation for the Mid-Range Narcissist. This is because it allows him to exert control, it can be used whilst preserving the façade (there won’t be a sudden eruption and storming away with slammed doors and cries of “You’ll never see me again”) but rather he will quietly depart for a period of time, or more likely use the present silent treatment. The Mid-Range is a sulker. He has enough control to sit and say nothing to you and drink up the fuel as you keep badgering him. He can sit and sulk for hours, days if need be. He can breeze around the house as if you aren’t there. Yes, Malcolm the Mid-Range Narcissist revels in the effect of his silent treatments and his dual approach here is providing dividends for him.

I walk over to him and stand in front of him, hands on hips. He sees the gesture and this fuels him further but to the him it is as if I am not there. He just looks through me. Again this is some of the discipline that I afforded by him by virtue of being Mid-Range.

He ends the call and walks off ignoring my comments as they drift fuel-filled through the air to him. He won’t shout back (he rarely does) he knows it is more effective to sulk and also then the neighbours won’t hear so he remains seen as pleasant, good neighbour Malcolm. He will probably head next door and hide there with Margaret for a couple of hours. He is good at cultivating a wide range of fuel sources. The Lesser keeps his circles tighter, lacking the discipline to operate too many fuel lines. The Greater of course has hundreds of fuel lines because he can draw them in through his outlandish greatness, his achievements and golden accomplishments. The Mid-Range doesn’t shine as bright but he has charm and ability which he uses to develop many different fuel sources and he can always rely on them. He does not have a high turn-over, keeping many of them in the golden period for years. The Mid-Range is most likely to have long-standing friends going years back. The Lesser and Greater may have as well, but not in the same number of the length of time as the Mid-Range.

So, Malcolm will be away giving me the silent treatment as he draws fuel from Margaret and then Janice. He knows how his silent treatment affects me and that is why he also uses it so often. Oh well, that’s my day spoiled already and he knows it. I suppose I had better go and fill up the car with fuel. I know a good garage and a sympathetic ear to hear my woes.

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