this is a page for

Browsing Tag: mind games

No triangulation here thanks

Triangulation is defined as indirect communication where one person (usually the narcissist) acts as a messenger between two others, often fabricating the message to suit the talebearer’s objective. Triangulation is commonly used by narcissists’, and it ties in with gas lighting and projection. In narcissistic families the narcissist will avoid discussing any issues they have with a targeted individual in the family unit. Instead, they will communicate with a third family member, or a few family members at one time, in regard to a problem, which normal healthy adults would be able to resolve by themselves without involving other people. The narcissist’s minions often feel compelled to become a part of the triangle in a bid to resolve the narcissist’s problems with targeted individuals. Usually, this solution to the problem ends in triangulation, anger and passive aggression.

The personality disordered mother or father is without an interpersonal tool box. They do not know how to resolve conflict, do not want to resolve conflict, enjoy drama, and will often create drama by deliberately becoming upset over trivial things which normal people simply do not become upset about. Vengeance will often be taken out against a target (which is usually one of the narcissist’s children) for trivial slights, via triangulation.

In normal families the parents act as leaders. They do not involve other people in their problems, and they deal with any problems they have with their children directly. Healthy parents do not discuss issues they have with one child, with the other children in the family. Healthy parents want their children to grow into assertive, authentic human beings who know how to handle problems head on without involving friends or family in their issues with other people.

How does the narcissistic family handle conflict?

The narcissist is no stranger to divide and conquer. With this strategy, the narcissist will sow seeds of instability between the family members, in the hope of creating havoc, and to eventually turn the entire family against a target of choice (usually the scapegoat). For this strategy to work, the narcissist must share information, or mean spirited comments (real or not), that the target has mentioned in confidence to the narcissist about their siblings. The narcissist thrives on telling each sibling how unhappy their other siblings are with them.

The narcissist uses divide and conquer day in, day out to create conflict. The narcissist is constantly twisting the words of their allies around to suit their own agenda, in the hope of emotionally harming their target. There is always a slither of truth added to the lies the narcissist tells each individual party that the other party has said about them.

Question: What happens in family situations where there is divide and conquer?

Answer: If all of the siblings feel offended by the target’s mean words, they will feel more compelled to triangulate against the target, in the hope of resolving what is now a family problem with the target.

In the narcissist’s mind, they honestly believe that if they can secure allies’ against another family member, than this family member will have no choice but to become submissive to the narcissist, and behave as the narcissist would like them to.

  • Why does the narcissist involve everybody in their problems?

The narcissist doesn’t want to solve their problems directly with the many people they have a problem with. To do so would be to resolve the problem, and narcissist’s do not want to resolve problems. Instead, a narcissist will often create a problem with one of their children, the next door neighbour, or the enabling parent, just to gain attention, adoration, and sympathy from their many allies’. The narcissist feigns victimhood so well, and the narcissist’s allies’ (who are under the spell of mind control, and honestly believe they are helping) often take the problem on as though its their own, and try to fix the problem for the narcissist.

If one sibling can make the other sibling behave appropriately, (usually through aggression or anger) than the narcissist will be happy. However, all that happens here is that the attacked sibling, or enabling parent simply becomes resentful of the narcissist’s ally (usually a brother or sister, or son or daughter) because they have become involved in something that has absolutely nothing to do with them.

  • To gossip or not to gossip?

The narcissist’s children learn from the narcissist first hand, that the only way to handle a problem with a sibling, or parent is to gossip about this person to another family member, and to try to draw this person into the triangle.

Over time, the gossip spread about each family member behind their backs, is fed back to them through another family member. This becomes the family’s pattern of communication. Confrontation becomes something to be afraid of, which of course, results in a fear based system of communication. This fear based system of communication becomes the catalyst for passive aggressive communication which results in rage.

Where does the problem lie? 

The narcissist has the emotional capacity of a three year old, which means that the leader in this family leads the children down the garden path, and ends up passing skills down to their children which will destroy the children’s future relationships. The ‘leader’ in this family is nothing more than a perpetrator, which is why this family often falls apart.

What is the problem with indirectness? Tools of the unskilled

  • A lack of assertion

Indirect communication between family members often leads to resentment and discontent in the narcissist’s children. When siblings find out indirectly about a problem another family member has with them through a ‘Chinese whispers’ type style of communication, the affected family member feels hurt, which is often the reason why relationships between siblings often fizzle out. Triangulation makes the narcissistic family unit an unpredictable, and frightening place to be.

Many adult children of narcissist’s eventually grow tired of the chaos that triangulation causes. They eventually realise that they cannot solve the narcissist’s problems, become tired of their own part in the dysfunction, and often walk away from an entire family, deciding that they will no longer have triangulation in their lives.

  • Poor modelling

The narcissistic family’s values and belief systems are topsy turvy. In the narcissistic family set up, the children quickly learn that it is not ok to put up boundaries, behave assertively, or to resolve a problem through direct communication. Yet it is ok triangulate against loved ones, including friends and family.

It is very likely that at least one of the narcissist’s children will take on some of the trouble making behaviours passed down from the narcissist.

Venting or triangulation?

Venting to a trusted friend about an issue with another person can be very helpful, if the intent is to gain advice about resolving the problem. This is a very effective way of handling conflict resolution, and will often lead to the person enquiring, to take their friends advice, and to use it to help to resolve an ongoing problem.

However, involving other people in your problem with another person in the hope that this person will take on the problem and try to resolve it for you is called triangulation, and is one of the narcissist’s favourite tactics.

Confrontation in the narcissistic family

Confrontation is a big no no in the narcissistic family system. The narcissist’s anxiety ridden, petrified children become immune to triangulation, and will often resort to this learned behaviour through fear of confrontation. However, instead of resolving the problem, this fear of confrontation perpetuates the problem and exacerbates the issue even further.

  • What are the consequences of confronting a narcissist?

When confronted, narcissist’s can become verbally or physically aggressive, may turn against the victim by implementing allies, and will most likely use the silent treatment to pay the victim back.

The assertive child, teenager, or adult child of the narcissist who dares to assert their needs, says no to the narcissist about an agreed upon arrangement, or challenges the narcissist’s poor behaviour will most definitely be shamed. Authentic children who speak their mind are the narcissist’s biggest fear. Hence, the reason why authentic children are almost always scapegoated, and emotionally crushed beyond belief.

The rule of thumb in this family is that you never ever confront anybody in this family unit. Children in the narcissistic family do not come out unscathed, and often suffer with some big emotional issues of their own. After all, these children have spent their entire childhoods with a narcissistic parent who exhibits a complete lack of accountability, a sense of entitlement, and who refuses at all costs to be wrong. Often the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, and the narcissist’s non-narcissistic children often struggle with some of these issues in adulthood themselves.

Damned if you do and damned if you don’t

Children of narcissist’s often hand over their power, back down, and accept mistreatment, in order to stay safe from potentially harmful caregivers, or an angry, aggressive golden child.

However, the problem with backing down, and forgoing the right to assert ones needs is that this ‘child like survival mechanism’ is merely a temporary solution to a very big problem. Not discussing problems with the person concerned, and turning on them instead through triangulation is like stepping on a grenade. Inappropriate aggression, venting, and resentment from the narcissist’s minions towards those triangulated against, is the consequence of an innate fear of confrontation.

Adult children of narcissist’s often refuse to assert themselves around their peers through fear that the people they associate with will react to their assertiveness with the same outrageous response the narcissistic parent once did.

Triangulation tactics

  • To kill two birds with one stone: To obtain control, attention or adulation, narcissists’ will often inform child number one that they are a bad child, and that their sibling, child number two, is being really good this week. The next week the same parent will tell child number one that they are just so well behaved and their sibling, child number two, is such a bad kid. This idea of adding a third party to the relationship, which is now a triangle, kills two birds with one stone. Firstly, it stirs up feelings of jealousy and insecurity in both children, and subtly warns each child that they are replaceable. Instinctively, both children begin to resent one another, and will try harder to please the narcissist so as to not be replaced. It creates a delusion of rivalry, both of which fill the narcissist with narcissistic supply, adulation and control.
  • Recruiting reinforcements: One of the ways narcissists’ use triangulation to manipulate their children, or the enabling parent into siding with their point of view, is by using a third party to reinforce the narcissist’s opinions. This is an extreme form of bullying. The third party involved doesn’t realise that the reason the narcissist is trying to get the opinion from an outsider, is so they can take the opinion, and twist it around, just so as they can serve it on a platter to one of their victims. What victim’s fail to forget when this is happening is that the narcissist hasn’t told the third party the truth. Usually, the narcissist’s third party is a biased relative who sees the narcissist with rose tinted glasses. This relative’s false perception of the narcissist will be used as a tool by the narcissist to help settle differences and coerce their children, the enabling parent, or anyone else into accepting their viewpoint through the use of persuasion, embarrassment, majority rules, or guilt.
  • Splitting:This method of triangulation involves pitting two children against each other.  The narcissist does this by smearing the character of one, or both people behind their backs. This enables the narcissist to preserve their false image and ensures they’re viewed positively amongst the triangle. In many instances the narcissist will portray themselves as the victim, who just so happens to have these terrible children that just cannot get along. This may happen if the narcissist realises that their scapegoat child can now see through their manipulation, game playing, hypocrisy and abuse.  The narcissist will react by planning a full-fledged smear campaign behind their back. So, by the time they discard the scapegoat child, the narcissist will have already turned the siblings, relatives, friends and family against the scapegoat.

Emotionally healthy families

In emotionally healthy families,  parent’s do not recruit third parties (the other siblings), or use messengers to help to settle their differences with their children. Instead, they have face to face discussions with their child, teenager, or adult child.

Emotionally healthy parent’s encourage their children to discuss their issues with one another openly and honestly. These parent’s do not gossip about their children behind their backs with the other children. Instead, they guide their children in conflict resolution.

 

 

 

Cognitive Dissonance: Children of narcissists

 

Cognitive dissonance is an abuse tactic utilised by the narcissistic abuser to confuse the victim of abuse. To be in a state of cognitive dissonance, is to hold conflicting beliefs about the narcissistic abuser. In this state, the victim struggles to make a decision in regard to whether or not the abusive person is ok.

An abused child will experience cognitive dissonance when their abuser says one thing and does the opposite.

To be cognitively dissonant is to have two inconsistent thoughts ruminating within the mind about the person; often consistent with an overall, whole body, negative feeling about something or someone.

Why do abused children of narcissists often become afflicted with cognitive dissonance? 

Children of narcissists are continually told one thing, only to experience the opposite. They may be told how loved they are, only to be abandoned when sick. They may be promised a special gift, only to be told when the gift is asked after, that they were never promised the gift.

The child becomes confused and anxious about the parent. They begin to suffer from cognitive dissonance; a very uncomfortable, whole body feeling, which completely takes over the child’s mind and body. Of course, the child often turns the feeling back onto themselves, and blames themselves for the abuse, in an effort to remain attached to their abusive parent.

‘Are they nice? Or are they cruel? Why do they do such lovely amazing things for me, and than hit me? Oh, it must be me that brings the worst out in my parents. Why else would they hit me, than provide for me so well?’

Who is vulnerable to cognitive dissonance?

Small children are especially vulnerable to cognitive dissonance because their minds are not yet developed enough to put two and two together. In fact, anyone, no matter what their age, can be vulnerable to cognitive dissonance abuse tactics. Unless of course, they are extremely intuitive, and knowledgable about narcissistic abuse.

Cognitive dissonance abuse examples:

  • The narcissist buys the child a gift, says I love you very much, than fails to turn up to the hospital to visit the child, teenager, or adult – child when sick with pneumonia.
  • Narcissistic parent goes all out and spends hundreds of dollars on an 18th birthday party for their teenage child, and than throws them out of the family home the next day when they disagree with the parent’s opinion.
  • Narcissistic parent tells son or daughter they can have buy a dog. When the day comes to go and purchase the dog, the parent informs the child they hate pets, and never said the child could buy a dog.

What does cognitive dissonance feel like?

Cognitive dissonance is a horrible feeling for children to endure, because it leaves them in a state of confusion, limbo, and discomfort. They don’t know which way to turn, or what to do. Do they dismiss the behaviour, and travel on? Or do they accept that their parent is sick, and make plans to leave as soon as they are of age?

Victims of cognitive dissonance often feel as though they are going crazy, turn the cognitive dissonance back onto themselves, blame themselves for it, and believe it is just one more factor which proves that they are the crazy, unstable person.

Researchers believe that the awful feelings associated with cognitive dissonance are the very reason why abuse victims continue to stay in the relationship with the abuser.

How do children of narcissists soothe cognitive dissonance?

Abused children often make excuses for the abusive parent in order to release the anxiety they feel due to cognitive dissonance; all so as they can stay in the relationship with the parent.

Examples:

  • ‘Oh well, I know they care about me, I’m just not the favourite. Its ok for mum to have a favourite child.’
  • ‘I know dad has a lot on his plate and he doesn’t cope very well. Thats why he hits me all the time.’
  • ‘My poor dad, he had such a bad child-hood. He can’t help but treat me badly. He tries his best.’
  • ‘I just need to toughen up and try not to be so sensitive. Why am I so sensitive?’
  • ‘He can be so easy going about so many things. I just need to excuse the rage, and try to accept him for who he is.’
  • ‘But my parents do love me. They must. Why else would they buy me lovely gifts, take me on excellent holidays, and throw me big birthday parties? Its not really that bad. I just need to take the good with the bad.’

The decision the victim often takes is the pathway offering less emotional pain. For victims of abuse, its all about safety; emotional and physical. If they can do everything within their power to please the abuser, instead of angering the abuser, they will be safe. So, they often turn a blind eye to the abuse, deny what they believe could be the truth, convince themselves that its all in their head, and make the decision to believe that their abusive parent really does love them.