narcissistic abuse

Cyberbullying involves the use of digital technologies, like social media, texting, and websites, to harass, intimidate, or embarrass individuals. Unlike traditional bullying, its digital nature allows for anonymity and a wider audience. Cyberbullies employ various tactics such as sending threatening messages, spreading rumors online, posting sensitive or derogatory information, or impersonating someone to damage their reputation — on to more sinister and dangerous actions like doxxing.

Geopolitical impact of cyberbullying

In recent years, cyberbullying has transcended personal boundaries and infiltrated the realm of geopolitics. Nation-states or politically motivated groups have started using cyberbullying tactics to intimidate dissidents, manipulate public opinion, or disrupt political processes in other countries. Examples include spreading disinformation, launching smear campaigns against political figures, or using bots to amplify divisive content. This form of cyberbullying can have significant consequences, destabilizing societies and influencing elections.

Recognizing cyberbullying

Identifying cyberbullying involves looking for signs of digital harassment. This can include receiving repeated, unsolicited, and aggressive communications, noticing fake profiles spreading misinformation about an individual, or observing coordinated attacks against a person or group. In geopolitics, recognizing cyberbullying might involve identifying patterns of disinformation, noting unusual social media activity around sensitive political topics, or detecting state-sponsored troll accounts.

Responding to cyberbullying

The response to cyberbullying varies based on the context and severity. For individuals, it involves:

  1. Documentation: Keep records of all bullying messages or posts.
  2. Non-engagement: Avoid responding to the bully, as engagement often escalates the situation.
  3. Reporting: Report the behavior to the platform where it occurred and, if necessary, to law enforcement.
  4. Seeking Support: Reach out to friends, family, or professionals for emotional support.

For geopolitical cyberbullying, responses are more complex and involve:

  1. Public Awareness: Educate the public about the signs of state-sponsored cyberbullying and disinformation.
  2. Policy and Diplomacy: Governments can implement policies to counteract foreign cyberbullying and engage in diplomatic efforts to address these issues internationally.
  3. Cybersecurity Measures: Strengthening cybersecurity infrastructures to prevent and respond to cyberbullying at a state level.

Cyberbullying, in its personal and geopolitical forms, represents a significant challenge in the digital age. Understanding its nature, recognizing its signs, and knowing how to respond are crucial steps in mitigating its impact. For individuals, it means being vigilant online and knowing when to seek help. In the geopolitical arena, it requires a coordinated effort from governments, tech companies, and the public to defend against these insidious forms of digital aggression. By taking these steps, societies can work towards a safer, more respectful digital world.

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A Cult Dictionary of Mind Control, and the Language of Abuse

Cultism has a long history here in the United States — but what is a cult, exactly? One could argue the Confederacy was a kind of cult, and the KKK after it. America gave rise to cult leaders Charles Manson, Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Sun Myung Moon, among many many others who led cults big and small (Charles Koch, perhaps?! Certainly Donald Trump.).

Christianity itself was considered a cult by some during its humble beginnings after the turn of the millennia and then some. It’s no accident that religious revivalism and many types of faith fervor colored the nation for decades and centuries. It’s the blind worship of a singular ideology or individual, in the case of a cult of personality, that is often the signature trait of both cult leaders and cult followers, who will do anything they’re told — even unto the grave.

A cult leader tripped out byy his loyal followers, by Midjourney

Some might call the patriarchal nuclear family the Original Cult. Many if not most Evangelical sects revere it, among numerous others who believe in God the Father quite literally. Others still seek to exploit that zeal, by offering up a series of “flawed saviors” who dangled the prospect of a more theocratic state governed by Law and Order. Their money buys them much more than just the puppets who rule, and the citizens struggle to pierce the veils of illusion.

Mind control and emotional manipulation

Known by many names, from mind control to brainwashing to undue influence techniques, the use of methods to knowingly manipulate a target’s sense of reality is a devious and unethical way to achieve one’s aims with increased plausible deniability. Having obedient servants do your dirty work, bury your secrets, and protect your property perhaps is an archetypal dream of an America gone by… or current.

From schoolyard bullies and repressive religious upbringing to sexual predators and organized crime, the toolkit is eerily similar — it makes you wonder if they all get pamphlets in the mail from Head Evil, or if they instinctually all arrive at these methods on their own. Their goal is to get inside your head, destabilize you and keep you off balance, and gain some sort of advantage over you both currently and in ensuing negotiations, conflicts, or other events.

A cult leader manipulating his followers with charisma and disinformation. by Midjourney

Today we are seeing it on a large scale in the digital domain, from Facebook radicalization and QAnon to right-wing backchannels and encrypted messaging. We had better get familiar with the lexicon and vocabulary of the coming era, so we can fight the creeping scourge of thought control roiling the land.

TermDefinitionNotes
abuseUsing one's position of authority unfairly and/or deceptively for personal gain.https://doctorparadox.net/tag/emotional-abuse/Includes many forms, from emotional and psychological to financial, physical, narcissistic, and more.
aggressionBehavior intended to harm, injure, or assert dominance over another, either physically or psychologically. It's often characterized by hostility and, in some contexts, can be provoked or unprovoked.https://doctorparadox.net/the-authoritarian-personality-craves-power/
anarchyA political philosophy and social movement that rejects all forms of involuntary, coercive hierarchy and authority, advocating for a society organized without a government or governing body.
anti-governmentAn attitude or stance that opposes or is critical of the existing governmental structure, policies, or officials, often advocating for limited government intervention or reforms to current governance systems.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Ideologies/anti-governmentExamples: the Oath Keepers, Proud Boys, and other militia groups; the Sovereign Citizens Movement
anti-SemitismAntisemitism is a form of discrimination, prejudice, bigotry, or hostility directed against Jewish people with a history dating back thousands of years.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/antisemitismReferred to as "the oldest hate," anti-Semitism is also inherently anti-feminist, because Jewish societies wereย once matrilineal.
apocalypticismPreoccupation with the imminent end of the world.https://doctorparadox.net/proteanism-vs-cultism-open-closed/see also: millenarianism
ArmageddonThe apocalypse; the End Times; the end of the world as we know it (...and we feel fiiiiiiiine!)https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/end-times/also a movie with Bruce Willis, Liv Tyler, & Ben Affleck -- from back in 1998 when our apocalypsi seemed somehow more quaint
authoritarianA personality type characterized by conventionalism, aggression, anti-intellectualism, superstition, paranoia, cynicism, destructiveness, projectivity, and a profound lack of imagination.https://doctorparadox.net/essential-thinkers-on-authoritarian-personalities/
authorityAuthority refers to the legitimate power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience. It is typically associated with individuals or institutions that hold a recognized position within a social, political, or organizational structure.
beliefsBeliefs are more like a kind of stock we own than a calculation we do on the fly. We spend time building them and deriving value from them.They're not simply tools for making good decisions, though, but are treasured in their own right and new information that challenges them is unwelcome. We often try to avoid it, in order to protect our beliefs.https://doctorparadox.net/category/psychology/beliefs/
biasBias is a predisposition or inclination, often unreasoned, that leads to a subjective perspective or judgment in favor of or against a person, group, or thing. It can manifest in various forms, such as racial bias, gender bias, or confirmation bias.https://doctorparadox.net/data-sets/psychological-biases-list/see also: motivated reasoning, bigotry, prejudice, revealed wisdom
bigotryAn unreasonable or irrational attachment to negative stereotypes and prejudices against a particular group, often manifesting in intolerance or hatred towards those of different races, religions, or sexual orientations.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/bigotry-is-bad-thinking/see also: hate crimes, genocide
boundary violationsBoundary violations occur when someone oversteps personal or professional limits, disrupting the expected or agreed-upon boundaries in a relationship or interaction. These can range from minor infractions to serious breaches, like in cases of harassment or abuse.
brainwashingA process of forcibly and systematically altering an individual's beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors through psychological pressure, often in a controlled environment, stripping away previous identities and beliefs.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/hybrid-warfare/brainwashing/see also: mind control, thought control, undue influence
briberyBribery involves offering, giving, receiving, or soliciting something of value as a means to influence the actions of an individual in a position of power or authority, typically in a way that is illegal or unethical.
bullyingA form of aggressive behavior where an individual or group repeatedly and intentionally causes harm or discomfort to another person, often involving an imbalance of power.https://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/how-to-deal-with-bullies/
charisma schoolCharisma schools are institutions or training programs that aim to teach individuals how to enhance their personal appeal and persuasive power, often focusing on communication skills, self-confidence, and leadership qualities.Popular in PUA and "men's rights" communities
child abuseAny physical, emotional, sexual, or psychological maltreatment or neglect of a child by an adult, resulting in potential harm or risk to the child's health, survival, dignity, and development.
child bridesYoung girls, typically under the age of 18, who are married off, often in cultures where early marriage is practiced, leading to issues like loss of education, health complications, and abuse.
child pornographyThe creation, distribution, or possession of visual depictions of minors engaged in sexual acts or in sexually explicit poses, which is illegal and considered a severe form of child exploitation.
child traffickingThe illegal practice of procuring or trading children for various forms of exploitation, such as forced labor, sexual exploitation, or illegal adoptions.
cognitive dissonanceCognitive dissonance occurs when an individual experiences mental discomfort or psychological stress due to holding contradictory beliefs, values, or attitudes, often leading to rationalization or attitude change.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/cognitive-dissonance/
con artistA con artist is an individual who deceives others for personal gain, often through manipulation, fraud, or confidence tricks, typically involving financial or emotional exploitation.Synonyms: swindler, scammer, trickster, deceiver, fraudster, charlatan, impostor, grifter, hoaxer, hustler
conditional loveConditional love is an affection or emotional attachment that is dependent on specific conditions being met, contrasting with unconditional love, which is given freely regardless of circumstances.
conspiracy theoriesExplanations for events or situations that invoke a conspiracy by sinister and powerful actors, often politically motivated, when other explanations are more probable. They typically involve the belief that certain events or situations are the result of a secret plot by usually unseen and influential forces. https://doctorparadox.net/why-do-people-believe-conspiracy-theories/
corruptionThe abuse of entrusted power for private gain, often involving practices like bribery, embezzlement, or nepotism, and can occur in both public and private sectors.https://doctorparadox.net/category/politics/corruption/
C-PTSDComplex post-traumatic stress disorder -- a psychological condition occurring after exposure to trauma whether physical, emotional, or otherwise.see also: PTSD
CSAMChild sexual abuse material
cult leadersPeople who wield an alternating current of fear andย "love" -- they swing a blunt instrument because they cannot manage the complexity of human relationships and real love.https://doctorparadox.net/are-all-cult-leaders-narcissists/Many cult leaders are on the narcissism spectrum.
cult of personalityA cult of personality arises when a country's regime โ€“ or, more rarely, an individual โ€“ uses the techniques of mass media, propaganda, the big lie, spectacle, the arts, patriotism, and government-organized demonstrations and rallies to create an idealized, heroic, and worshipful image of a leader, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. A cult of personality is similar to apotheosis, except that it is created specifically for living leaders and not usually maintained after their death.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/american-fascism/cult/
dark moneyPolitical spending by organizations that are not required to disclose their donors. Common in U.S. politics, it allows for significant financial influence while maintaining anonymity, often impacting elections and policy-making.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/dark-money/
DARVODARVO stands for "Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender." It's a reaction pattern by perpetrators of wrongdoing, particularly in cases of sexual misconduct, where they deny the behavior, attack the accuser, and present themselves as the victim.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/what-is-darvo/
deep fakesHighly realistic and convincing digital manipulations of audio or video, often using artificial intelligence to alter or create content where someone appears to say or do something they did not.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/disinformation-dictionary/deep-fakes/
defense mechanismAn unconscious psychological strategy used to protect oneself from anxiety or distress, often by denying, distorting, or repressing reality. Common examples include denial, repression, and rationalization.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/defense-mechanism/
demagogueryA political strategy where a leader appeals to popular desires, prejudices, and emotions rather than using rational argument, often through rhetoric and propaganda, to gain power or manipulate the public.https://doctorparadox.net/people-data/demagogues/
denialismDenialism involves the refusal to accept well-established facts, theories, or evidence, often in the context of historical events, science, or social issues. It's characterized by the rejection of expert consensus and the use of rhetorical tactics to give the appearance of legitimate debate.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/american-fascism/denial/
denying plain factsDenying plain facts refers to the outright rejection or dismissal of clear, indisputable evidence or truths. This behavior is often rooted in cognitive biases, ideological beliefs, or a deliberate intention to mislead or deceive.
dissociationPsychological dissociation is a mental process involving a disconnection from one's thoughts, identity, consciousness, or memory. It can occur as a coping mechanism during trauma, leading to a sense of detachment from the self or the external world, like a protective psychological escape from reality or intense stress.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/what-is-dissociation/
dogmaA rigid ideology or belief systemhttps://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/freedom-from-dogma/A central lesson of science is that to understand complex issues (or even simple ones), we must try to free our minds of dogma and to guarantee the freedom to publish, to contradict, and to experiment. Arguments from authority are unacceptable. -- Carl Sagan
domestic violenceDomestic violence is a pattern of abusive behavior in any relationship used by one partner to gain or maintain control over another intimate partner. It can include physical, sexual, emotional, economic, or psychological actions or threats.
emotional abuseA form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, such as anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It often involves manipulation, belittling, and controlling behavior.https://doctorparadox.net/tag/emotional-abuse/
emotional blackmailEmotional blackmail is a form of manipulation that uses guilt, fear, and obligation to control someone. It often involves threats and punishments, either directly or implied, to coerce the other person into doing what the manipulator wants.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/emotional-blackmail/
entitlementEntitlement refers to the belief that one inherently deserves privileges or special treatment. It's a mindset in which an individual feels that they are owed something by society, life, or others, often without corresponding responsibility.
extortionExtortion is the practice of obtaining something, especially money, through force or threats. It's a criminal offense which involves coercing a person or institution to hand over assets, services, or property.
extremismExtremism involves holding extreme political or religious views and often advocating for radical or violent measures to support those views. Extremists often reject or undermine the norms and values of society in pursuit of their ideology.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/extremism/Now that sensible moderate conservatives have sensibly gone elsewhere, all that's left of the GOP is the terrifying extremism.
false memory implantationFalse memory implantation refers to the psychological phenomenon where a person recalls memories that are factually incorrect but believed to be true. These memories can be implanted through suggestion or therapy techniques.
father figuresMen who provide guidance, support, and mentorship to someone, often in the absence of a biological father. They play a significant role in personal development, offering emotional, moral, and practical support.Some people think of "freedom" as "freedom from" -- freedom from having to take responsibility for oneself, because one can take orders from a crusty old white dude who promises protection
financial abuseFinancial abuse involves controlling a person's ability to acquire, use, and maintain financial resources. Often seen in domestic relationships, the abuser may withhold resources, hide information, or limit the victim's access to money, severely restricting their autonomy.
flying monkeysA term derived from 'The Wizard of Oz', used in psychology to describe people who act on behalf of a narcissist to a third party, usually for an abusive purpose. They may spread lies, gossip, and carry out abuse by proxy.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/flying-monkeys/
front groupsPublic-facing groups with innocuous and virtual-sounding names that exist only to recruit new members into the next circle of the organization, where the process of wearing down the independence of the target begins.
fundamentalismA strict adherence to specific theological doctrines typically in a reaction against modernist theories, leading to a literal interpretation and strict adherence to basic principles of a religion or a religious branch.https://doctorparadox.net/diptychs/the-artist-vs-the-fundamentalist/
gaslightingGaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation where a person or a group covertly sows seeds of doubt in a targeted individual, making them question their own memory, perception, or judgment, often evoking in them cognitive dissonance and other changes such as low self-esteem.https://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/gaslighting/
God complexA God complex is an unshakable belief characterized by consistently inflated feelings of personal ability, privilege, or infallibility. A person with a God complex may refuse to admit the possibility of their error or failure, even in the face of complex or intractable problems.
grandiosityAn unrealistic sense of superiority, characterized by a sustained view of oneself as better than others that is often expressed as disdain or disregard for others' feelings. It is typically associated with narcissistic behavior, where an individual may exhibit exaggerated self-importance, need for admiration, and lack of empathy.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/grandiosity/
griftGrift refers to the act of engaging in petty or small-scale swindling or fraud. It usually involves trickery or deception for personal gain, often in a charming or persuasive manner.see also: con artist
groomingThe process by which an offender draws a victim into a sexual relationship and maintains that relationship in secrecy. The grooming process is often very deliberate and involves manipulating the victimโ€™s trust and isolating them.see also: child abuse, child trafficking, human trafficking, sex trafficking
groupthinkGroupthink occurs within a group of people in which the desire for harmony or conformity in the group results in an irrational or dysfunctional decision-making outcome. Group members try to minimize conflict and reach a consensus decision without critical evaluation of alternative viewpoints.https://doctorparadox.net/models/bad-models/groupthink/
guiltA cognitive or an emotional experience that occurs when a person believes or realizesโ€”accurately or notโ€”that they have compromised their own standards of conduct or have violated a universal moral standard and bear significant responsibility for that violation.
guruA spiritual teacher, particularly in the Indian religions. In broader use, it's an expert or authority in a particular field, who seeks to guide others based on knowledge or wisdom they possess.
high demand groupsOrganizations that often require extreme commitment and loyalty from their members. These groups can be religious, political, or social, and they typically demand a significant amount of time and energy from their members, often at the expense of personal relationships and independence.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/high-demand-groups/
human traffickingHuman trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labor, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation for the trafficker or others. It is a serious crime and a grave violation of human rights.
hypnosisA trance-like state in which a person has heightened focus and concentration. It is commonly used for therapy to recall memories or modify behaviors, often induced by a hypnotist using verbal repetition and mental images.see also: Neural Linguistic Programming (NLP)
ideologyA set of beliefs, values, and ideals that form the basis of a social, economic, or political philosophy or program. It can be a comprehensive vision, a way of looking at things, or a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Ideologies/%E2%9C%B3%EF%B8%8F+Ideologies+HomeHas it slain coherence?!
influence techniquesInfluence techniques are methods used to try to persuade or influence others' thinking, behavior, or perceptions. These can range from simple persuasion and negotiation tactics to more complex psychological strategies like manipulation and coercion.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/influence-techniques/
intermittent reinforcementThe same psychology behind casinos, intermittent reinforcement rewards the subject according to an irregular payout schedule that does not correspond to any of the actions of the subject. It is cognitively a very "sticky" mechanism -- one that has another common ancestor: addiction.
isolationIsolation is the process or fact of isolating or being isolated, which can be physical, social, or emotional. It involves keeping a person away from others or limiting their access to external sources of information or interaction, often used as a tool for control in various contexts.
Kool-AidThe phrase "drinking the Kool-Aid" is a colloquialism that has come to refer to a person or group holding an unquestioned belief, argument, or philosophy without critical examination. It originally referred to the 1978 Jonestown Massacre, where followers of Jim Jones drank a cyanide-laced drink as an act of revolutionary suicide.
labor exploitationA situation where workers are not fairly compensated for their work, often involving poor working conditions, low wages, and long hours. It can include violations of labor laws and is often linked to practices like forced labor and child labor.
love bombingA manipulative strategy used by individuals, often in the context of romantic or personal relationships as well as in cults, where excessive affection, attention, and flattery are used to influence or control another person. It is typically characterized by overwhelming displays of attention and affection, often early in the relationship, to gain trust and dependency.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/love-bombing/
magical thinkingThe belief that one's thoughts, words, or actions can influence the course of events in the physical world in a manner not governed by the laws of physics or biology. This type of thinking is often characteristic of childhood development, but in adults, it can be a feature of various psychological conditions or a cultural belief system.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/magical-thinking/
malignant envyA deep-seated resentment and anger towards another personโ€™s possessions, qualities, or luck, often leading to a desire to harm or undermine the envied person. It's a destructive and pathological form of envy.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/malignant-narcissism/see also: narcissism, NPD, malignant narcissism, Cluster B
manipulationA skill or art of influencing or controlling someone to your advantage, often without their awareness. It involves using tactics like deception, misdirection, psychological tricks, and exploiting weaknesses to gain control or achieve a desired outcome.
mental predatorsPeople who assume they have the right to abuse and manipulate others and use them for their own personal gain -- and behave accordingly.https://doctorparadox.net/tactics-of-emotional-predators/see also: cult leaders, narcissism, sexual predators
mind controlA process in which an individual's thoughts, feelings, or actions are manipulated by another person or group. It often involves techniques that decrease the victim's ability to critically analyze or make independent decisions, leading them to adopt certain behaviors or beliefs.see also: brainwashing, undue influence, mental predation
minimizingMinimizing is a psychological defense mechanism where a person downplays the significance of an event or emotion. It's often a way of reducing the impact of an action or thought that is perceived as threatening or harmful.
misogynyMisogyny is the hatred of, contempt for, or prejudice against women. It manifests in various ways, including social exclusion, sex discrimination, hostility, patriarchy, male privilege, belittlement of women, violence against women, and sexual objectification.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/misogyny
mob ruleMob rule refers to control by a mass of people, where decisions are made through the exertion of group dynamics rather than established legal procedures or democratic processes. It often suggests a chaotic, lawless situation controlled by a volatile, aggressive crowd.
moving the goalpostsA logical fallacy in which evidence presented in response to a specific claim is dismissed and some other (often greater) evidence is demanded. It's a way of changing the criteria of a debate or argument to exclude evidence that may oppose one's stance.
naive realismThe belief that we see reality as it really is โ€“ objective and without bias; that the facts are plain for all to see; that rational people will agree with us; and that those who don't are either uninformed, lazy, irrational, or biased.
narcissismNarcissism is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. It's often centered around a person's inflated self-image and deep need for admiration.https://doctorparadox.net/mental-self-defense/narcissism-and-cluster-b-personality-disorders/
narcissistic rageIntense anger, aggression, or passive-aggression when a narcissist experiences a setback or disappointment, which threatens their sense of superiority and self-esteem. It's often disproportionate to the event that triggered it.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/narcissistic-rage/
narcissistic supplyNarcissistic supply refers to the attention, admiration, emotional energy, or other forms of "supply" that narcissists require and seek. It's a form of psychological dependence on others to fulfill their self-esteem needs.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/npd-narcissistic-personality-disorder/
neggingA manipulative behavior where a person makes a deliberate backhanded compliment or otherwise flirtatious remark to another person to undermine their confidence and increase their need for the manipulator's approval.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/negging/Often used in PUA and "men's rights" groups.
nihilismThe philosophical belief that life is without objective meaning, purpose, or intrinsic value. Moral nihilists assert that morality does not exist naturally, and that any established moral values are abstractly contrived.
organized crimeThe mob and mob-like structures
paddlingA type of physical punishment, often delivered to children by strict or fundamentalist parents, in which a paddle is used to psychically strike the child -- often on the backside.see: spanking
paranoiaExtreme constant fear; conviction that others are "out to get you"https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/paranoia/
patriarchyA social system in which men hold primary power and predominate in roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege, and control of property. It often leads to the marginalization of women within these structures.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/patriarchy
phobia indoctrinationThe process of teaching and ingraining irrational fears or hatreds towards certain groups, concepts, or ideologies. This often involves reinforcing negative stereotypes and fostering discriminatory attitudes.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/american-fascism/phobia-indoctrination/see also: bigotry, prejudice, racism, sexism, hate crimes, genocide
plausible deniabilityA situation where a person can deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy because there is no clear evidence to prove involvement. It is often used in situations where it is beneficial to avoid direct blame or legal liability.
playing the victimA manipulative behavior where a person portrays themselves as a victim of circumstances or the actions of others, typically to gain sympathy, justify their own behavior, or evade responsibility. It often involves exaggeration or fabrication of troubles.
police brutalityThe use of excessive and/or unnecessary force by police officers against civilians. This can include physical violence, verbal attacks, psychological intimidation, and abuse of police powers.a murdery version of the circle jerk
post-truthA political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. It denotes situations where objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.post-truth scandals: Trump, Iran-Contra, Benghazi, Whitewater, Hillary's emails
prejudiceA preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience. This bias, often negative, is directed towards people, groups, or concepts, and is typically founded on stereotypes.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/prejudicesee also: bigotry, motivated reasoning
"proactive" violenceViolence committed as a deliberate strategy, often preemptive or anticipatory, rather than as a response to an immediate threat. It is used to achieve an agenda or exert control before any actual aggression has occurred.
projectionA psychological defense mechanism wherein individuals attribute their own unacceptable thoughts, feelings, or motives to another person. It is often a way of denying one's own negative traits by ascribing them to the external world.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/projection/
propagandaInformation, especially of a biased or misleading nature, used to promote a political cause or point of view. It is often characterized by its persuasive intent, aiming to influence the audience's beliefs or actions.https://doctorparadox.net/dictionaries/authoritarianism/propaganda/see also: disinformation, fake news
prophecyA prediction of future events, often based on divine or supernatural revelation. Prophecies are typically found in religious contexts and are seen as authoritative declarations of what will happen.
Prosperity GospelA religious belief among some Christian denominations that financial blessing and physical well-being are always the will of God for them, and that faith, positive speech, and donations will increase one's material wealth. It is often criticized for prioritizing material gain over spiritual values.
psychological abuseA form of abuse characterized by a person subjecting or exposing another to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It includes emotional manipulation, intimidation, and persistent criticism.
psychological apocalypticismThe belief in an impending collapse of society or a cataclysmic event that will lead to drastic changes in the world order, often based on fear and anxiety. This mindset can drive extreme behaviors and ideologies, based on the perception of an imminent existential threat.see also: phobia indoctrination, Armageddon, End Times, paranoia
psychological warfareThe use of propaganda, threats, and other psychological techniques during war or conflict to influence an opponent's state of mind, undermine morale, and manipulate or deceive them. It aims to weaken the enemy's will to fight and resistance, without direct physical confrontation.https://doctorparadox.net/category/politics/psychological-warfare/Employed heavily and optimized for the modern era by the Soviet KGB
psychopathsIndividuals who exhibit a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. This is often associated with an absence of empathy and remorse, bold, disinhibited, and egotistical traits.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/psychopaths/
PTSDPost-traumatic stress disorder -- a psychological condition occurring after exposure to trauma whether physical, emotional, or otherwise.
purityA concept often associated with an absence of contamination, pollution, or imperfection. In various contexts, it can refer to physical cleanliness, moral or ethical standards, or cultural or religious ideals of innocence and virtue.
racismThe belief that different races possess distinct characteristics, abilities, or qualities, especially so as to distinguish them as inferior or superior to one another. It also refers to prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief in racial superiority.https://doctorparadox.net/category/psychology/racism/
radicalismThe beliefs or actions of individuals, groups, or organizations who advocate for thorough or complete political or social reform. It often involves the desire to transform or replace existing structures with new systems that are fundamentally different.
rapeA type of sexual assault usually involving sexual intercourse or other forms of sexual penetration carried out against a person without that person's consent. It is a serious crime and a grave violation of the victim's rights and dignity.The second most serious violent crime after murder.
rape cultureA sociological concept describing a setting in which rape is pervasive and normalized due to societal attitudes about gender and sexuality. Practices that contribute to rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification, and trivializing rape.see also: misogyny, patriarchy, bigotry, prejudice, strict father morality
re-educationPeriod of indoctrination when the recruit is taught the ideology of the cult as the One Truth; a process by which individuals are forced to abandon their previous beliefs or ways of thinking, often in a controlled environment, and to adopt new attitudes, often aligning with specific political or ideological agendas
religious abuseThe maltreatment of a person, often a child, in a religious context. This can include psychological manipulation, exploiting religious beliefs to exert control, and sometimes physical or sexual abuse under the guise of religious practice.example: the notorious child sex abuse scandals of the Catholic church, the Mormon church, and the Evangelical church
retconShort for "retroactive continuity," it's a literary device in which new information is introduced to a fictional narrative that alters the interpretation of previous events. It is commonly used in serial storytelling, like comics or television series -- as well as in disinformation campaigns and propaganda.
revealed wisdomKnowledge or understanding considered to be divinely disclosed, often through sacred texts or spiritual experiences. This type of wisdom is often foundational to religious beliefs and practices.
sadismThe tendency to derive pleasure, especially sexual gratification, from inflicting pain, suffering, or humiliation on others. It can also refer more broadly to cruel behavior or attitudes.
scapegoatingThe practice of unfairly blaming an individual or group for problems or negative occurrences, often as a way of distracting attention from the real causes or to satisfy the need to assign blame. It's a common tool in politics and social dynamics.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/scapegoating/
selective exposureThe tendency to favor information or media sources that confirm oneโ€™s beliefs and to avoid information that contradicts them. This behavior often leads to biased decision-making and a polarized understanding of issues.
sexual assaultAny type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. This includes rape, but also encompasses a range of non-consensual sexual activities.
sexual predatorsIndividuals who seek out or engage in sexual activity with another person in a predatory and exploitative manner. They often use manipulative tactics or force to coerce their victims into sexual situations.
shameA painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. Unlike guilt, which is a feeling of distress about one's actions, shame is often related to the self-perception of being seen negatively by others.
social dominanceA socio-political theory which suggests that societies are structured in hierarchical group systems, where one group has dominance over others. This dominance is maintained through a combination of power, social norms, and ideologies.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/social-dominance/
sociopathsPeople with little to no empathy -- they can be very cold and cruel, yet also warm and charming.
sophistryA method of argument that is seemingly plausible but actually fallacious and misleading. It involves using clever but unsound reasoning, often to deceive or persuade others.
spankingA form of physical punishment involving the act of striking the buttocks of another person to cause physical pain, generally with an open hand. It is often used as a disciplinary measure for children.Popular in a number of religious circles, usually fundamentalist sects.
spare the rodA phrase often interpreted as a justification for physical discipline in child-rearing. It suggests that failing to discipline children physically will lead to poor behavior and character development.
Special MissionIn a general sense, this term refers to a specific task or duty assigned to a person or group, often implying that it has a unique, important, or secretive nature. It's commonly used in military, diplomatic, or corporate contexts.
stonewallingA refusal to communicate or cooperate, such as in a conversation or negotiation. This behavior involves shutting down dialogue, often as a power move or to avoid dealing with an issue.
supremacyThe state or condition of being superior to all others in authority, power, or status. It can refer to the dominance of one group, ideology, or social system over others.https://doctorparadox.net/psychology/supremacy/
tax fraudThe illegal practice of deliberately falsifying information on a tax return to avoid paying the full tax obligation. Examples include underreporting income, inflating deductions or expenses, or hiding money in offshore accounts.
televangelistA preacher who uses television broadcasts to spread their religious or moral messages, often appealing for financial support from viewers. Televangelists are typically associated with Christian evangelical movements.
thought reformAlso known as "brainwashing," it's the process of forcibly and systematically changing an individual's beliefs and attitudes, usually in a controlled environment. It often involves the breakdown of the individual's identity and beliefs, followed by the introduction of new beliefs.see also: re-education, influence techniques, undue influence, brainwashing
thought stoppersTechniques or phrases used to halt or disrupt an individualโ€™s critical thinking or analysis. These are often simplistic sayings or mantras designed to end an uncomfortable conversation or silence dissenting thoughts.
tortureUsing physical violence during interrogation or to achieve compliance with a subject or recruit.
totalismA practice or expression of a totalitarian system, which demands complete subservience to an authority or ideology. In a totalist system, individual needs and opinions are often suppressed for the perceived good of the group or the authority's agenda.https://foundations.doctorparadox.net/Dictionaries/Politics/totalitarianism
toxic positivityThe overgeneralization of a positive mindset, dismissing or invalidating genuine emotional experience. It involves the rejection of negative emotions and the insistence that individuals should maintain a positive attitude in all circumstances.
trauma bondingThe development of a strong emotional connection between a victim and an abuser, formed through a repeated cycle of abuse, devaluation, and positive reinforcement. It's often seen in abusive relationships and can make it difficult for victims to leave the situation.
undue influenceExcessive pressure or influence exerted by one person over another, which disrupts the victim's ability to make independent decisions. This can occur in various relationships, including legal, financial, and personal contexts.
verbal abusePervasive and chronic denigration of the recruit or target, with the goal of diminishing her self-esteem and building up a dependence on the cult leader.The use of words to cause harm to the person being spoken to. It involves the use of derogatory remarks, criticism, threats, and yelling, with the intent to intimidate, control, or demean the victim.
victim blamingThe tendency to hold the victim of a crime or wrongdoing responsible for the harm that befell them. It involves suggesting that the victim's own actions or behaviors were the cause of their victimization.see also: DARVO; Mudsill Theory
white nationalismWhite nationalists argue for policies that would establish or maintain a white majority in the country, often opposing immigration from non-European countries and advocating for policies that they believe would preserve white culture.https://doctorparadox.net/save-democracy/right-wing-ideologies/white-nationalist-beliefs/
whitewashingTrying to clean up the reputation of someone or something after the fact -- attempts to rehabilitate a famous person following crime, for example.
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The concept of “flying monkeys” is a term that originates from popular culture, specifically the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” where the Wicked Witch of the West employs winged monkeys to carry out her malevolent deeds. In the realm of psychology and interpersonal relationships, the term has been appropriated to describe individuals who act on behalf of a narcissist or emotional predator, often without full awareness that they are being used to harm others.

Psychological underpinnings of flying monkeys

Flying monkeys serve as extensions of the narcissist’s inflated ego and domineering will. They are often manipulated into believing that the narcissist’s cause is just, and they may even think they are helping to protect or defend someone they care about. This is achieved through a range of manipulative tactics such as gaslighting, projection, and triangulation.

Gaslighting is a hallmark of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) and emotional abuse that involves making someone doubt their own perceptions and memories, while projection shifts the narcissist’s negative traits onto the victim. Triangulation pits people against each other, creating a web of confusion and mistrust.

Usage by narcissists

Narcissists employ flying monkeys to extend their sphere of influence and control. These enablers can be friends, family members, or even colleagues who are manipulated into carrying out various tasks for the narcissist. These tasks can range from spreading rumors and gossip to more overt acts like harassment or stalking. The flying monkeys often believe they are acting out of loyalty or love, not realizing that they are pawns in a larger scheme.

The narcissist’s relationship with their flying monkeys is transactional. There’s an unspoken quid pro quo: the flying monkeys get to bask in the narcissist’s approval, and in return, they carry out the narcissist’s bidding. This dynamic allows the narcissist to maintain a clean image via plausible deniability, as they can always distance themselves from the actions of their flying monkeys.

Usage by cult leaders

In the context of cults, the concept takes on an even darker hue. Cult leaders often employ a cadre of devoted followers to enforce their will and isolate potential recruits from outside influences. These flying monkeys serve as a buffer between the leader and the outside world, allowing the leader to maintain an aura of mystique and unapproachability. They carry out tasks ranging from recruitment to punishment of dissenting members, all while believing that they are part of a grand, noble cause.

Evil flying monkeys are in every environment, by Midjourney

Ethical and social implications

The use of flying monkeys raises significant ethical and social concerns. It disrupts the social fabric, eroding trust within communities and families. Victims often find themselves isolated, as they cannot easily prove the manipulation at play. This isolation can lead to severe emotional and sometimes physical harm.

Flying monkeys and manipulation

Understanding the concept of flying monkeys is crucial for recognizing and combating manipulative behaviors in both personal and broader social contexts, and as an essential cult warning sign. Whether deployed by narcissists in interpersonal relationships or by cult leaders to maintain their power structures (or, often, both), flying monkeys serve as tools of manipulation, coercion, and control. Awareness of these dynamics is the first step in breaking the cycle and fostering healthier, more authentic relationships and societies.

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“Love bombing” is a manipulative tactic employed to gain emotional control over an individual by showering them with affection, compliments, and promises. This technique is often used by both narcissists and cults, often for similar objectives — to overwhelm a target with positive feelings, in order to secure their loyalty. Understanding the nuances of love bombing can be crucial for identifying and avoiding this core tactic of emotional predators.

Love bombing by narcissists

Narcissists use love bombing as a way to quickly establish emotional dependency. They may shower their target with gifts, compliments, and an overwhelming amount of attention. This is often done during the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship, creating an illusion of a perfect partner who is deeply in love.

How to identify love bombing by a narcissist:

  1. Intensity: The affection and attention feel overwhelming and come on very strong.
  2. Rapid progression: The relationship moves quickly, often skipping normal stages of emotional intimacy.
  3. Idealization: You are put on a pedestal, and any flaws you have are either ignored or spun into positive traits.

How to avoid it:

  1. Pace yourself: Slow down the relationship and insist on a more typical progression.
  2. Seek outside opinions: Consult trusted friends or family about the relationship, and share your misgivings about its pace of progression.
  3. Set boundaries: Make your limits clear and stick to them. If someone is pushing back and not respecting the boundaries you set, it is yet another red flag of potential narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) traits.

Love bombing by cults

In the context of cults and cultish groups, love bombing serves to recruit and retain members. As one of a host of different influence techniques, newcomers are often greeted with extreme enthusiasm, given immediate friendship, and showered with positive affirmation. The objective is to create a euphoric emotional state that is then associated with the cult — making it harder to leave later, when the cracks begin to show.

How to identify love bombing by a cult or high-demand group:

  1. Instant community: You receive immediate acceptance and friendship from multiple members.
  2. Unconditional affection: Love and acceptance seem to be given freely, without the need for personal growth or change.
  3. Isolation: Efforts to separate you from your existing support network and even your family, making you dependent on the cult for emotional support.

How to avoid it:

  1. Be skeptical: Question why you’re receiving so much attention and what the group might want in return.
  2. Research: Look into the group’s history, beliefs, and any reports or articles about them.
  3. Maintain outside connections: Keep in touch with your existing network and consider their opinions. The group may encourage secrecy, but sharing your experiences outside the group and getting a wider perspective on them is critical.

General tips for avoiding love bombing

  1. Trust your instincts: If something feels too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Time: Time is your ally. Manipulators often need you to make quick decisions. The more time you take, the more likely you are to see inconsistencies in their behavior.
  3. Consult with trusted individuals: Sometimes an outside perspective can provide invaluable insights that you might have missed.

Understanding the mechanics of love bombing is the first step in protecting yourself from falling into such emotional manipulation traps. By being aware of the signs and knowing how to counteract them, you can maintain control over your emotional well-being.

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Narcissistic rage is an intense emotional reaction often exhibited by individuals with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) or strong narcissistic traits. It is characterized by extreme anger, aggression, or passive-aggression, typically in response to a perceived threat to their self-esteem or self-worth. Unlike typical anger, narcissistic rage can be disproportionate to the triggering event and can escalate quickly.

NPD is part of Cluster B, a group of personality disorders that also includes psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder, among others. Narcissistic rage is one of many types of narcissistic abuse.

Characteristics and manifestation

Narcissistic rage can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Verbal attacks: Sudden, intense verbal aggression, often disproportionate to the situation.
  • Physical aggression: In severe cases, it can lead to physical violence.
  • Passive-aggressive behavior: Indirect expressions of hostility, such as silent treatment or backhanded compliments.
  • Manipulative tactics: Attempts to control or undermine others, especially those perceived as threatening.
  • Emotional outbursts: Intense, often unpredictable emotional reactions that may seem excessive.

Underlying causes

The root cause of narcissistic rage is typically a fragile self-esteem and an externalized sense of self-worth. Individuals with narcissistic traits often depend on external validation and can perceive even minor criticisms or failures as devastating. Key factors include:

  • Threats to self-image: Anything that challenges their perceived superiority or specialness.
  • Perceived criticism or rejection: Even constructive or mild criticism can be seen as a personal attack.
  • Failure or defeat: Situations where they feel they have lost control or are not the best.

Dealing with narcissistic rage

Dealing with someone experiencing narcissistic rage requires patience and tact. Here are some strategies:

  1. Stay calm: Avoid responding with anger or defensiveness, as this can escalate the situation.
  2. Set boundaries: Clearly communicate your boundaries and stick to them.
  3. Avoid escalation: Do not try to argue or reason during the height of their rage.
  4. Seek support: If youโ€™re regularly exposed to such behavior, consider seeking support from a mental health professional.
  5. Protect yourself: In cases of physical aggression, prioritize your safety and consider seeking help from authorities.

How to avoid triggering narcissistic rage

While it can be challenging to prevent triggering narcissistic rage, understanding and being mindful of the sensitivities of individuals with narcissistic traits can be helpful:

  1. Be diplomatic: Communicate issues or criticisms gently and diplomatically.
  2. Respect their need for recognition: Acknowledge their achievements and strengths.
  3. Avoid direct confrontation: If possible, avoid situations that directly challenge their self-perception.
  4. Maintain emotional distance: Keeping an emotional distance can help prevent getting deeply affected by their reactions.

Narcissistic rage is a defensive reaction to perceived threats to a narcissist’s self-esteem or self-worth. It’s essential to understand that this rage is rooted in deep-seated insecurity and fragility. While it is challenging to deal with or avoid entirely, understanding its dynamics can provide strategies for managing interactions with individuals exhibiting these traits. It’s crucial to remember that maintaining personal boundaries and emotional well-being should always be a priority when dealing with such situations.

In cases where you find yourself frequently dealing with narcissistic rage, especially if it affects your mental or physical well-being, itโ€™s important to seek professional advice. A mental health professional can provide personalized strategies and support for coping with these challenging dynamics.

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A cult leader who is definitely a narcissist, sitting in a chair glowering

We’ve been obsessed in our household with documentaries about the Nxivm cult — and next with Scientology. The heads of both of those organizations are quite clearly pathological and often malignant narcissists, with grandiose and delusional ideas and an addiction to other people’s attention. Separately, I’ve studied narcissism quite a bit and feel, at least anecdotally, that all the cult leaders I’ve read about or known of have been led by these types of people, who are notoriously lacking in empathy, self-centered, entitled, and have an insatiable lust for power and control. It started me to wonder: are all cult leaders narcissists?

While certainly not all — or even any — cult leaders are clinically diagnosed narcissists, many pretty obviously exhibit narcissistic traits. Narcissism, particularly in its more extreme forms (including narcissistic personality disorder or NPD), is characterized by a grandiose sense of self-importance, a need for excessive admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. These traits can be paradoxically and counterintuitively conducive to the development of a cult-like following.

Cult leaders often exhibit the following narcissistic characteristics:

  1. Grandiosity: They may have an inflated sense of their own importance, believing themselves to be special or uniquely gifted, which can attract followers seeking answers, guidance, or a sense of certainty.
  2. Need for Admiration: Cult leaders often seek excessive admiration and validation from their followers, which reinforces their self-perceived superiority and authority and reifies their over-idealized self-image.
  3. Manipulation and Exploitation: They may manipulate or exploit followers, viewing them as tools to achieve their own goals, rather than as individuals with their own rights and needs. Employing love bombing and other psychological influence techniques, they can abuse, steamroll over and/or capture decades or entire lifetimes of people under their sway.
  4. Lack of Empathy: Cult leaders may show a lack of empathy, being indifferent to the needs and feelings of their followers, or callously exploiting their vulnerabilities. They are primarily concerned with gratifying their own needs and desires, and rarely recognize the needs of others as valid or worthy of attention.
  5. Charisma: Like the exceedingly self-confident narcissist, many cult leaders are charismatic, which aids in attracting and maintaining a devoted following. They turn on the charm when they feel it might get them something they want, but just as easily withhold it when they wish to devalue you for some other strategic purpose.
Continue reading Are all cult leaders narcissists?
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word salad

Word salad is a term used to describe disorganized speech that can occur in various mental health conditions, including some personality disorders like Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). In the context of NPD, word salad may not be as severe or disorganized as it is in conditions like schizophrenia, but it can still be difficult to follow and understand.

Word salad in NPD is characterized by a mix of unrelated or loosely related words, phrases, or ideas, which may be used to manipulate, confuse, or maintain control in a conversation. This type of speech may be a defense mechanism employed by someone with NPD to avoid responsibility, deflect criticism, or maintain their sense of superiority.

Word salad almost seems like a kind of pseudoscience or paleological babble that narcissists use to hold the floor with their own agenda, such that anyone who is trying to challenge them can’t even get a word in edgewise. It is a common tactic of emotional predators, who seek to disorient and confuse their targets in order to achieve their hidden agendas and goals.

word salad from a narcissist

Some common features of word salad in NPD include:

  1. Tangential thinking: The person may go off on tangents, bringing up unrelated topics or ideas in an attempt to distract from the main point or issue at hand.
  2. Circular reasoning: The person may engage in circular arguments, repeating the same points over and over without ever reaching a resolution or addressing the underlying problem.
  3. Evasion: The person may use vague language, refuse to answer direct questions, or change the subject to avoid taking responsibility or admitting fault.
  4. Gaslighting: The person may use word salad to make others doubt their own perceptions or understanding, in order to maintain control and avoid accountability.

It is important to note that not everyone with NPD exhibits word salad. However, when it does occur, it can be a source of frustration and confusion for those interacting with the individual. Effective communication with someone who engages in word salad may require patience, setting boundaries, and seeking support from a mental health professional.

Word salad in cults

Word salad can also be used as a tactic by cults and other high control groups to create confusion and maintain control over their members. This technique involves the use of jargon, ambiguities, and convoluted language that might sound profound but is ultimately meaningless or contradictory.

By employing such language, leaders can create an illusion of insight and wisdom, often leading members to believe they must align themselves closely with the group to understand its teachings fully. The confusion created by word salad can hinder critical thinking, making it difficult for members to question or challenge the group’s ideology or leadership. This method thus reinforces dependency and control, ensuring that members remain committed to the group’s principles and less likely to seek external perspectives. In the realm of manipulation, word salad is a subtle but potent tool for influencing thoughts and behaviors.

Know the cult warning signs, and keep an eye on the use of word salad jargon in potential groups you may be considering joining.

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Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a mental health condition characterized by (as the name implies) narcissism, including a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a lack of empathy for others, and a need for admiration. People with NPD often have an inflated sense of self-importance and believe they are special or unique in some way. They may be preoccupied with fantasies of power, success, beauty, or ideal love. However, behind their grandiose faรงade, they often have fragile self-esteem and are highly sensitive to criticism or rejection.

NPD is part of the Cluster B family of personality disorders. People with NPD tend to exhibit odd, sometimes bizarre behaviors — including word salad, emotional abuse, and other tactics of emotional predators — that are offputting to others and tend to have serious effects on the individual’s life.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD)

NPD diagnosis

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) outlines the following diagnostic criteria for NPD:

  1. A pervasive pattern of grandiosity, characterized by a sense of self-importance and an exaggerated sense of achievements and talents.
  2. Preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited power, success, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
  3. Belief that they are special and unique and can only be understood by other high-status people or institutions.
  4. Need for excessive admiration.
  5. Sense of entitlement, expecting to be treated in a special way or given priority.
  6. Exploitation of others for personal gain; using the tactics of emotional predators; narcissistic abuse.
  7. Lack of empathy, an inability to recognize or care about the feelings and needs of others.
  8. Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them.
  9. Arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

The symptoms of NPD may vary in intensity and presentation, but they are typically stable and longstanding. The condition may start in early adulthood and may be diagnosed only after adolescence, as it is difficult to differentiate between normal developmental narcissism and pathological narcissism in childhood.

NPD: Lack of empathy

People with NPD may have difficulty in maintaining close relationships because of their lack of empathy and preoccupation with themselves. They may feel entitled to special treatment and have unrealistic expectations of others. They may exploit others for personal gain and may become angry or hostile when their expectations are not met. Additionally, they may struggle with criticism or rejection and may react with narcissistic rage or humiliation.

NPD is often co-occurring with other mental health conditions, such as depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. It may also be comorbid with other personality disorders, particularly Borderline Personality Disorder, as individuals with BPD may exhibit traits of NPD, such as a need for attention and admiration.

Treatment for NPD often involves psychotherapy, particularly psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapies, which aim to explore the underlying psychological factors contributing to the disorder. Cognitive-behavioral therapy may also be effective in addressing maladaptive beliefs and behaviors associated with NPD. However, individuals with NPD may be resistant to therapy, as they may not recognize the need for treatment or may be unwilling to acknowledge their role in the dysfunction.

Types of Narcissistic Personality Disorder

  1. Grandiose Narcissism: This form is characterized by arrogance, dominance, and a need for admiration. Individuals may appear self-confident and assertive but are often preoccupied with fantasies of success and power. This is the classic version of the narcissist that most people think of when they think of NPD.
  2. Vulnerable Narcissism: Unlike the grandiose type, vulnerable narcissists are sensitive and insecure, often feeling unrecognized and inadequate. They may harbor intense envy and resentment towards others and are prone to feeling victimized.
  3. Malignant Narcissism: Malignant narcissists combine aspects of NPD with antisocial behavior, aggression, and sometimes even sadism. This type can be dangerous, as they lack empathy and remorse and may exploit or manipulate others without concern.
  4. Covert Narcissism: This type manifests as hidden or masked narcissism, where individuals may not outwardly display arrogance but still harbor grandiose fantasies and exhibit a lack of empathy. They often feel misunderstood and neglected, leading to passive-aggressive behavior.
  5. Communal Narcissism: Communal narcissists see themselves as especially caring or altruistic, often emphasizing their contributions to others. However, these acts are driven by a desire for recognition and praise rather than genuine empathy or compassion.

Please note that narcissistic personality disorder is a complex and multifaceted condition, and these categories may overlap or manifest differently in each individual. If you have concerns about this disorder or would like more detailed information, consulting a mental health professional would be the appropriate step.

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covert narcissism

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is a complex psychological condition characterized by a long-term pattern of exaggerated self-importance and grandiosity, an intense need for excessive attention and admiration, and a lack of empathy for others. Narcissists can be classified into different categories, with covert narcissism being one of the more insidious types.

Covert narcissists

Covert narcissists, also known as closet or hidden narcissists, exhibit a more subtle and hidden form of narcissism. Unlike their overt counterparts, they tend to present themselves as modest, self-effacing, or even victimized. However, beneath this humble exterior lies an underlying sense of entitlement, grandiosity, and a constant need for attention and validation.

Key Traits of Covert Narcissists:

  1. Insecurity: They often feel inadequate and may suffer from anxiety or depression.
  2. Passive-Aggressive Behavior: Rather than being openly demanding, they may use subtler tactics to manipulate others.
  3. Victim Mentality: They may cast themselves as the victim to gain sympathy and control others.
  4. Sensitivity to Criticism: Even mild criticism can provoke intense reactions, as their self-esteem is fragile.
  5. Chronic Feelings of Envy: They may resent others’ success or happiness and believe they are entitled to the same.
covert narcissism

Comparing covert narcissists to other types

1. Overt Narcissists:

Overt narcissists are the opposite of covert narcissists. They are open and unabashed about their self-centered behavior, displaying arrogance and a sense of superiority or supremacy. Unlike covert narcissists, who may mask their true intentions, overt narcissists tend to be more transparent.

Differences:

  • Overt narcissists are openly grandiose, while covert narcissists hide their grandiosity.
  • Overt narcissists seek attention directly, while covert narcissists manipulate subtly.

2. Malignant narcissists:

Malignant narcissists are more aggressive and may exhibit antisocial behavior. They often lack remorse and may engage in deceitful and exploitative practices.

Differences:

  • Malignant narcissists are more openly antagonistic, while covert narcissists use passive-aggressive tactics.
  • Malignant narcissists may harm others intentionally, while covert narcissists often manipulate indirectly.

Covert narcissism resources

This curated list of five key resources for understanding covert narcissism provide valuable insights into identifying and dealing with covert narcissists:

  1. Psychology Today
    • Website: Psychology Today’s Narcissism Section
    • Description: This platform often features articles by mental health professionals that delve into various types of narcissism, including covert narcissism. It’s a great starting point for understanding the subject from a psychological perspective.
  2. The Mayo Clinic
    • Website: Mayo Clinic on Narcissistic Personality Disorder
    • Description: Mayo Clinic offers a comprehensive overview of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, including symptoms and treatments. While not specifically targeting covert narcissism, it gives an essential foundation on narcissistic behaviors.
  3. Healthline
    • Website: Healthline’s Guide to Covert Narcissism
    • Description: Healthline’s guide specifically focuses on covert narcissism, providing detailed information on recognizing the signs and understanding how it differs from other forms of narcissism.
  4. Narcissistic Abuse Recovery by Angie Atkinson
    • Website: QueenBeeing
    • Description: This resource is dedicated to helping victims of narcissistic abuse. Angie Atkinson, a certified life coach, offers various tools, including videos and articles, to understand and recover from covert narcissistic behavior.
  5. The Little Shaman Healing (Podcast)
    • Website: The Little Shaman Healing
    • Description: This podcast series by a professional therapist addresses issues related to narcissistic relationships, including covert narcissism. It offers insightful episodes that can be valuable for those dealing with covert narcissists in their lives.

Covert narcissism in a nutshell

Covert narcissists represent a unique and challenging form of narcissistic personality. They are adept at hiding their true intentions and can be difficult to identify, especially when compared to other, more overt forms of narcissism. Their passive-aggressive behavior and tendency to cast themselves as victims make them particularly insidious. Understanding the differences between covert and other types of narcissists can provide valuable insights into their behavior and help in recognizing and managing interactions with them.

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phobia indoctrination, illustrated

Phobia indoctrination is one of the principle ways a charismatic leader will lull potential followers into his thrall, by putting them into a state of perpetual fear and anxiety. They know, either instinctively or through training (or both), that people can be induced into a prolonged state of confusion easily, and that many people in states of confusion act quite irrationally. Abusers, cult leaders, and other controllers use demagoguery and other tricks to hide in plain sight and continue to accrue power while passing themselves off as harmless or extremely patriotic.

These chaos agents use emotional manipulation and other tactics of emotional predators as a tool of control. They whip followers up into a fear frenzy frequently enough to instill a set of phobia-like instinctual reactions to chosen stimuli. In addition to stoking fears of the enemies at the gates, they also inculcate irrational fears of the consequences of questioning their authority — invoking authoritarianism. Any doubts expressed about the leadership or its doctrine are subject to terrifying negative results. Cults use this formula to wield undue influence over followers, and prevent them from questioning or leaving the group.

Phobia indoctrination is a tool of cults

As part of a larger overall program of brainwashing or mind control, cults and destructive organizations use imaginary extremes (going to hell, being possessed by demons, failing miserably at life, race war, Leftist apocalypse, etc.) to shock followers into refusing to examine any evidence whatsoever. A form of unethical hypnosis, phobia indoctrination can now be carried out on a mass scale thanks to the internet and our massive media apparatus. Be sure to be on the lookout for any cult warning signs in groups and messaging all around you.

Sociopaths and other types of emotional predators are taking ample advantage of their advantage in time and distance over the slow pace of justice. The wielding of fear as a cudgel in American politics has reached a fever pitch, with anti-Critical Race Theory hysteria, anti-vaxxers, anti-government types, anti-science, Lost Cause-revival zombie MAGA footsoldiers screeching about the “freedom!!!” they wish the government to provide them for persecuting their enemies, and other social horrors are merely the tip of the climate changing iceberg.

phobia indoctrination, illustrated

Phobia indoctrination tactics

Strategies of phobia indoctrination include Repetition and Conditioning, where fears are built through constant exposure; Misinformation and Propaganda, using false information to paint something as dangerous; Utilizing Existing Fears, exaggerating known fears or anxieties; and Social Pressure and Group Dynamics, leveraging social influences to convince others that irrational fears are common.

Other tactics include Authority and Expert Manipulation, where false credentials are used to lend legitimacy; Emotional Manipulation, appealing directly to emotions; Isolation and Control, where a person’s environment is manipulated; and Media Manipulation, using media to provoke fear.

Phobia indoctrination and cults book list:

Or, support local bookstores instead of Jeff Bezos:

Related to phobia indoctrination:

Cult Dictionary โ†—

We had better get familiar with the lexicon and vocabulary of the coming era, so we can fight the creeping scourge of thought control roiling the land.

Jim Jones toasting his cult members with a cup of cyanide, by Midjourney

Disinformation Dictionary โ†—

Disinformation is meant to confuse, throw off, distract, polarize, and otherwise create conflict within and between target populations.

Disinformation, by Midjourney

Cult Warning Signs: How to recognize cultish groups โ†—

Recognizing cult warning signs can be vital in identifying and understanding the risk before getting involved with a group who may not have your best interests in mind.

cult warning signs, by Midjourney
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cult warning signs

Cults, in general, refer to organizations or groups that often manipulate and exploit members, typically by using unorthodox beliefs and practices. Recognizing cult warning signs can be vital in identifying and understanding the risk before getting involved with a high demand group that may not have your best interests in mind.

  1. Excessive Devotion to a Leader: Cults usually revolve around charismatic leaders who demand absolute loyalty and obedience. A disproportionate reverence for these figures may serve as a red flag.
  2. Us vs. Them Mentality: Cults often draw clear lines between insiders and outsiders, emphasizing that only they possess the truth. This divisive mindset encourages isolation from family, friends, and society, leading to further control over the members.
  3. Coercive Persuasion and Manipulation: High-pressure tactics are common in recruiting and retaining members. This may include controlling information, employing guilt or fear, manipulating emotions to maintain allegiance, and other tactics of emotional predators.
  4. Excessive Financial Demands: Many cults require significant financial contributions, sometimes even requiring members to relinquish personal assets. This financial control reinforces dependence on the group.
  5. Rigidity of Beliefs and Practices: A cult’s ideology is often absolute, with no room for questioning or dissent. Those who challenge the beliefs are typically met with hostility, punishment, or expulsion. This fundamentalist mentality permeates the entire group’s thinking and behavior.
  6. Unrealistic Promises: Cults may lure individuals with promises of spiritual enlightenment, exclusive knowledge, or personal success, often unrealistic or unattainable. These promises can entice individuals seeking meaning or connection in their lives.
  7. Control Over Personal Lives: Intense control over members’ personal lives, including relationships, employment, and living arrangements, can be a clear warning sign. Such control can erode personal autonomy and self-identity.
  8. Emotional Abuse and Fear Tactics: Cults frequently use fear, shame, and guilt to control members, creating an environment where members feel constant anxiety about meeting the group’s standards or displeasing the leader.
  9. A Focus on Recruitment: Many cults prioritize recruitment above all else, viewing every interaction as an opportunity to bring others into the fold. The pressure to recruit can be relentless and is often a central component of the group’s activities.
  10. Impacts on Health and Wellbeing: The demanding nature of cult involvement can lead to negative effects on mental, emotional, and physical health. This can manifest as anxiety, depression, exhaustion, or other health issues, often ignored or downplayed by the group.
  11. Use of hypnosis and neurolinguistic programming (NLP) techniques

Recognizing these warning signs is crucial for individuals, families, and communities to understand the potential dangers and take appropriate steps to protect themselves. The subject of cults is sensitive, often tied to deeply personal and societal fears, and it requires careful consideration and empathy.

Resources on cults

  1. Cult Education Institute (CEI)Website
    • Overview: Operated by Rick Alan Ross, an internationally known expert on cults, CEI offers extensive resources, including a database of information on specific groups, techniques for intervention, and guidelines to recognize coercive persuasion.
    • Target Audience: Anyone looking to educate themselves about cults, from concerned family members to academic researchers.
  2. International Cultic Studies Association (ICSA)Website
    • Overview: ICSA is a global network of people concerned about psychological manipulation and abuse in cultic or high-demand groups. They offer conferences, publications, and support networks.
    • Target Audience: Researchers, professionals, former cult members, and concerned family and friends.
  3. Freedom of Mind Resource CenterWebsite
    • Overview: Created by Steven Hassan, a mental health counselor and former cult member, this site offers resources on combating mind control in various settings, including cults, terrorism, and human trafficking.
    • Target Audience: General public, mental health professionals, and individuals directly affected by cults.
  4. Cult Information Centre (CIC)Website
    • Overview: Based in the UK, the CIC provides information, advice, and support to those concerned about cults. They offer educational programs and direct help to those affected.
    • Target Audience: UK residents, though the information is applicable globally.
  5. Redditโ€™s Cults CommunitySubreddit
    • Overview: This online community allows individuals to discuss personal experiences, share research, and ask questions related to cults. Moderated for respectful dialogue, it offers a more informal but still informative perspective.
    • Target Audience: Those looking for community interaction, shared experiences, and casual information on the subject.
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Emotional blackmail is a manipulative tactic used by individuals to exert control and undue influence over others by exploiting their emotions, fears, and vulnerabilities. It typically involves the use of threats, guilt, negative emotions, and other influence techniques to pressure someone into complying with the manipulator’s demands or desires.

Forms of emotional blackmail

  1. Threats: The manipulator may threaten to harm themselves, the victim, or someone the victim cares about if their demands are not met.
  2. Guilt-tripping: The manipulator may try to make the victim feel guilty for not complying with their wishes, suggesting that their refusal indicates a lack of love, care, or loyalty.
  3. Fear: The manipulator may use the victim’s insecurities, anxieties, or fears to manipulate them into submission.
  4. Obligation: The manipulator may insist that the victim “owes” them something, such as a favor or support, in order to pressure them into compliance.

Emotional predators use blackmail

Emotional blackmail can be subtle or overt and may occur in various types of relationships, including romantic partnerships, friendships, family, and professional settings. Emotional predators (often people with personality disorders) tends to use psychological manipulation techniques to get what they want from you — without much (or any) regard for your own feelings in the matter, or the ethical dubiousness of doing so.

Recognizing and addressing emotional blackmail is essential for maintaining healthy boundaries and relationships.

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A technique of torture and compliance, brainwashing is used in many contexts to control victims. From personal relationships and marriage to cults and high demand groups, all the way up to the scale of nation-states, removing or reducing independent thinking and action in a person or population gives the brainwasher enormous power and advantage.

The word’s origin is from a Chinese term meaning “forcible indoctrination to induce somebody to give up basic religious, social, or political beliefs and attitudes in favor of a belief system imposed by the brainwasher.” It’s also been referred to as mind control, thought reform, undue influence techniques, or coercive persuasion — and is a form of highly unethical emotional and psychological manipulation.

Thought reform

Brainwashing is essentially a method of inducing a false personality into a target, after breaking them down psychologically. There are many different methods and techniques employed, from disinformation and sleep deprivation to hypnosis to emotional, physical, and sexual abuse. The goal of this “thought reform” project is to remove the individual’s agency and train them to follow the orders of the cult or high-demand group.

Seemingly normal, totally “average” people can fall under the sway of brainwashing techniques in use by cults much more easily than one might think. Cults and abusive organizations prey on people at vulnerable times in their lives, when they are most suggestible and least likely to mount an opposition. People who have gone through a loss, or a major life change, or are feeling particularly adrift may be lured by the sway of a deceptive organization. It can be very exhilarating to feel plugged in to an intense community after going through a period of grief or anxiety — almost irresistable, to some.

7 brainwashing tactics

  1. isolation — separating you from family and friends, or any kind of support network who may provide alternative and negative views of the abuser
  2. monopolization of attention — they seek to have the target orient their entire world around the abuser, leaving them little time to think about anything else
  3. weaken your resistance — wearing down your defenses over time, so their messages take firmer hold
  4. give occasional indulgences — providing temporary relief or even pleasure contributes to the overall program of intermittent reinforcement, to induce dependency on the abuser for stimulation of any kind
  5. demonstrates “all-knowingness” — becomes an absurd moral authority on your entire life, presenting the truth about your inner self and past history with more omniscience than you yourself possess. They know you better than you know yourself — and you believe them!
  6. destroy all sources of joy — the brainwasher needs to ensure that they are the sole source of pleasure and pain, for complete operant conditioning control over the target. All other pleasures in life are eradicated or eroded.
  7. degradation and humiliation — if the target gets close to figuring out the truth about the power imbalance and impropriety of the abuser’s behavior, the abuser will immediately begin a scathing shame campaign to punish the temerity of daring to stand meekly on one’s own

Brainwashing in politics and religion

Use of brainwashing by communist officials in China, Korea, and Vietnam gained attention in the U.S. in the mid-20th century. The brainwashing technique is also used by gangs, cults, and organized crime networks to control both members and outgroups.

Perhaps most commonly it is associated with fringe religious groups like the Peoples Temple, Unification Church (or Moonies), Children of God, Branch Davidians, Heaven’s Gate, Aum Shinrikyo, The Manson Family, and thousands of other cults less well known. Sometimes the brainwashing is intended to limit the followers’ access to the outside world, and sometimes it is about grooming them to perform criminal acts from financial crimes to murder to starting a race war.

Important research

Many interdisciplinary minds across multiple fields have studied the topic of brainwashing and undue influence, or have contributed significantly to our understanding of behavioral influence. Here are some highly consequential thinkers, researchers, and experiments on the subject:

Related to:

See also:

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Cult leader playbook:

1. Position himself (and the group — his extension) as the benevolent safe haven to turn to when afraid

2. Isolate the follower from other sources of safe haven

3. Arouse fear in the follower

Rinse; repeat.

Qualities of a Cult Leader

  • Narcissistic — highly self-absorbed, they demand excessive admiration and slavish devotion to their whims.
  • Charismatic — they have a way of grabbing attention, whether positive or negative.
  • Unpredictable — erratic behavior keeps enemies on their toes and fans “on edge” with desire to please Dear Leader.
  • Insatiable drive — it could be status, money, sex, power, or all of the above, but they feel they deserve it more than anyone else on the planet.
  • Lack of conscience — they have no shame and will demand things a decent human being would not.

Trump has all the cult leader qualities and follows the playbook to a tee — doing little else, in fact. He should be considered highly armed and dangerous. An emotionally unstable individual with access to the United States’ greatest powers and deepest secrets. A threat to American life and liberty. Dictator Don.

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