“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:
Intensity: The affection and attention feel overwhelming and come on very strong.
Rapid progression: The relationship moves quickly, often skipping normal stages of emotional intimacy.
Idealization: You are put on a pedestal, and any flaws you have are either ignored or spun into positive traits.
How to avoid it:
Pace yourself: Slow down the relationship and insist on a more typical progression.
Seek outside opinions: Consult trusted friends or family about the relationship, and share your misgivings about its pace of progression.
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:
Instant community: You receive immediate acceptance and friendship from multiple members.
Unconditional affection: Love and acceptance seem to be given freely, without the need for personal growth or change.
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:
Be skeptical: Question why you’re receiving so much attention and what the group might want in return.
Research: Look into the group’s history, beliefs, and any reports or articles about them.
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
Trust your instincts: If something feels too good to be true, it probably is.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Stay calm: Avoid responding with anger or defensiveness, as this can escalate the situation.
Set boundaries: Clearly communicate your boundaries and stick to them.
Avoid escalation: Do not try to argue or reason during the height of their rage.
Seek support: If you’re regularly exposed to such behavior, consider seeking support from a mental health professional.
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:
Be diplomatic: Communicate issues or criticisms gently and diplomatically.
Respect their need for recognition: Acknowledge their achievements and strengths.
Avoid direct confrontation: If possible, avoid situations that directly challenge their self-perception.
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, it’s important to seek professional advice. A mental health professional can provide personalized strategies and support for coping with these challenging dynamics.
They think of themselves as special; chosen; beyond the fray — rules do not generally apply to them, but oh do they ever to you. They tend to see the world in black and white terms, a Manichaean struggle of hierarchy vs. fairness, with strict social status to abide by and perpetuate — a world of dominance and submission, with themselves at the top.
The higher on the Cluster B scale you go (with psychopathy at the top), the less empathy these individuals possess. Without empathy, there is no basis for forming a conscience. One could say the classic defining hallmark of this group of personality disorders is that the people exhibiting them have little to no conscience. The general consensus from research to date indicates that somewhere between 4-8% of the general population has very weak or no conscience at all — a scary figure when you think of it in terms of being about 1 in 15 of the people you will meet in your lifetime.
Cluster B includes:
Narcissism — This is the root trait of all the Cluster B personality disorders. We all exhibit narcissism to some degree, and it’s a large part of childhood and teen development to learn how to balance it with sociality. As with all life skills, some develop it more or less well — and if the narcissistic phase is never fully outgrown, adults can be emotionally immature in surprising and at times dangerous ways thanks to a kind of profound psychological arrested development. When the self-absorption is so severe as to profoundly disturb aspects of their lives, that is when clinicians might say a person has a narcissistic personality disorder, or NPD. There are several types of narcissism, including covert narcissism and malignant narcissism. Park of the dark triad in psychology, narcissism is often found in conjunction with two other malevolent personality traits: psychopathy, and Machiavellianism.
Borderline — Perhaps best known culturally from the movie Girl, Interrupted (1999), borderline personality disorder of BPD is characterized by intense mood swings, impulse behavior, fear of abandonment, unstable self-image, dissociation, and self-harm. One way to think of BPD is as a sort of failure to form an integrated personality.
Histrionic — The least well-known of Cluster B, histrionic personality is extremely dramatic and over the top, well out of proportion to the magnitude of events or circumstances. They have an overwhelming desire to be noticed, and will behave extremely or inappropriately to get attention.
Sociopath — Sociopathy takes narcissism and adds more sadism into the mix. A narcissist could hurt you and not really care either way, while a sociopath will derive from pleasure from it and often go out of his or her way to cause harm for the purpose of reaping that enjoyment. Though not as unfettered as psychopaths, sociopaths can be prone to violence and criminality at the worst, and are commonly cruel and mean-spirited at best.
Psychopath — The psychopath is the scariest of the Cluster B bunch. Unbelievably horrific folks like Ted Bundy and Hannibal Lecter were almost certainly psychopathic — committing horrific and murderous crimes that have shocked generations in their brutality and stomach-churling details.
Common traits and behaviors:
Projection— blaming others for your own misdeeds. Projection involves attributing one’s own undesirable thoughts, feelings, or motives to another person. It serves as a defense mechanism to avoid confronting or accepting these aspects in oneself.
Scapegoating — blaming the wrong party for a transgression; scapegoating is the practice of unfairly blaming an individual or group for a problem or fault. It often serves to divert attention away from the real issue or to absolve the blamer of responsibility.
Gaslighting— a form of psychological manipulation where the perpetrator tries to make the victim doubt their own perceptions, memories, or sanity. The aim is to gain control or induce confusion.
Stonewalling — refusing to speak or dilvulge information. Stonewalling involves refusing to communicate or cooperate, often in a relationship setting. It serves as a way to avoid conflict or evade responsibility, but it can be damaging to relational dynamics — and is prevalent in Cluster B.
Grandiosity; extremely high self-regard, often out of proportion to actual achievements. Grandiosity is an inflated sense of one’s own importance, skills, or achievements. Often seen in narcissistic personalities, it can manifest as excessive confidence, arrogance, or a belief in one’s own exceptionalism.
Love bombing — a technique in which the narcissist first showers you with affection and grand displays of positive attention early on in your relationship, in order to secure a quick bond that blinds you to their darker traits and behaviors that begin to spill out more prominently later on down the road.
Splitting — the tendency to view people or situations as entirely good or entirely bad, with no middle ground. Common in borderline personality disorder, it can lead to unstable relationships and emotional volatility.
Black and white thinking — this cognitive distortion involves viewing situations in extreme, either/or terms. It lacks nuance, often categorizing things as good or bad, right or wrong, with no middle ground. This can limit one’s ability to see alternative perspectives.
Lying — the act of deliberately presenting false information as true. While it can serve various purposes, such as self-preservation or manipulation, it erodes trust and can have significant relational consequences.
Malignant envy — this virulent form of envy is destructive and stems from a desire not just to attain what another has, but also to deprive them of it. It can lead to harmful actions aimed at undermining the envied individual.
Denial — a psychological defense mechanism where one refuses to accept reality or facts, often to protect oneself from painful emotions or situations. It can be both conscious and unconscious. Common in all of us, it is often especially pronounced in Cluster B.
Narcissistic rage — triggered by perceived threats to self-esteem or self-worth, narcissistic rage is an intense, disproportionate anger often aimed at destroying the source of the threat. It can be overt or covert, involving passive-aggressive behavior.
Cruelty — causing physical or emotional harm to others, often deriving pleasure from their suffering. It’s an extreme form of antisocial behavior that can manifest in various ways, from verbal abuse to physical violence.
Bullying — a repeated, intentional act of aggression, often exploiting a power imbalance to intimidate or harm others. It can be physical, verbal, or relational, and occurs in various settings like schools, workplaces, and online.
Sadism — the act of deriving pleasure from inflicting pain, humiliation, or suffering on others. It can be psychological or physical and is considered a concerning trait when it leads to harmful actions.
Word salad— a jumble of words and phrases that lack coherent meaning. Often seen in severe mental disorders, it can also be used manipulatively to evade questions or confuse listeners.
Narcissism is a complex psychological construct that manifests in various forms, each with its own set of characteristics and implications. It actually refers to a range of conditions that fall under the umbrella of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) — which itself falls under the umbrella of Cluster B.
Grandiose narcissism is the most commonly recognized form — it’s the stereotype of what most people refer to when they think of a narcissist. Individuals with this type exhibit an inflated sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy, and a need for excessive admiration. They often believe they are special and unique, deserving of special treatment. Their self-perception is rarely grounded in reality, leading them to overestimate their abilities and underestimate the contributions of others. This form of narcissism is usually quite visible and can be disruptive in both personal and professional settings.
In contrast to the grandiose type, vulnerable narcissists are sensitive and introverted. They still have a heightened sense of self-importance but are plagued by insecurity and a fear of rejection. Their narcissism serves as a defense mechanism to protect a fragile self-esteem. Unlike grandiose narcissists, they are not outwardly arrogant but may harbor secret fantasies of greatness that they fear will never be realized.
This is a severe form that combines traits of narcissism, antisocial personality disorder, aggression, and sadism. Malignant narcissists are not just self-centered; they are also willing to manipulate or harm others to achieve their goals and often do so repeatedly. They lack remorse and are often deceitful, making them particularly dangerous in relationships and organizational settings.
Social psychologist Erich Fromm, who fled the Nazis in the 1930s, describes the Nazi “quintessence of evil” as an canonical case of malignant narcissism. They are among the most concerning members of Cluster B.
Also known as “closet” or hidden narcissism, this type is less obvious than the grandiose form. Covert narcissists often present as shy, reserved, or self-deprecating. However, they share the same sense of entitlement and lack of empathy as other types. Their narcissism is expressed in more subtle ways, such as passive-aggressiveness or quiet disdain for others.
This type is characterized by a grandiose sense of one’s own altruism. Communal narcissists believe they are the epitome of generosity and kindness. They seek admiration not for their looks or achievements but for their perceived selflessness. However, this is often a façade to garner praise and adoration.
This is not an individual trait but a shared belief within a group that they are exceptional or superior. It can manifest in various settings, from nationalistic fervor to corporate culture. Collective narcissism can be dangerous as it often leads to in-group favoritism and out-group discrimination.
Somatic narcissists are obsessed with their physical appearance or bodily achievements. They may spend excessive time and resources on grooming, exercising, or undergoing cosmetic procedures. Their self-worth is tied to their physicality, and they often seek sexual conquests to validate themselves.
Cerebral narcissists derive their sense of superiority from their intellect rather than their appearance. They consider themselves smarter than everyone else and seek to demonstrate this at every opportunity. They are often dismissive of others’ opinions and intolerant of intellectual disagreement.
This form manifests in the realm of spirituality or religion. Spiritual narcissists believe they have a direct line to a higher power and may consider themselves enlightened or morally superior. They use their spiritual beliefs to justify their actions, even when those actions harm others. Abusive priests and handsy preachers with large hard drives fall into this group.
A relatively new concept, eco-narcissists are individuals who flaunt their environmentally friendly lifestyle for the sake of appearing superior. Their primary concern is not the environment but the social capital gained from appearing conscientious.
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.
Some common features of word salad in NPD include:
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.
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.
Evasion: The person may use vague language, refuse to answer direct questions, or change the subject to avoid taking responsibility or admitting fault.
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.
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 façade, they often have fragile self-esteem and are highly sensitive to criticism or rejection.
Lack of empathy, an inability to recognize or care about the feelings and needs of others.
Envy of others or a belief that others are envious of them.
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 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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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, or negative emotions to pressure someone into complying with the manipulator’s demands or desires.
Forms of emotional blackmail
Threats: The manipulator may threaten to harm themselves, the victim, or someone the victim cares about if their demands are not met.
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.
Fear: The manipulator may use the victim’s insecurities, anxieties, or fears to manipulate them into submission.
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.
Black and white thinking is the tendency to see things in extremes, and to view the world through a very polarized lens. Even complex moral issues are seen as clearcut, with simple right and wrong answers and no gray areas in between.
Also referred to as all-or-nothing thinking or dichotomous thinking, black and white thinking is a very rigid and binary way of looking at the world. Black and white thinkers tend to categorize things, events, people, and experiences as either completely good or completely bad, without acknowledging any nuance or shades of gray. This can manifest in various aspects of their lives including relationships, decision-making, and self-evaluation. Black and white thinking can be a defense mechanism, as it provides a sense of certainty and control in situations that are complex, uncertain, or anxiety-provoking.
For example, a person who engages in black and white thinking may view their work performance as either completely successful or a complete failure, without considering any middle ground. They may view themselves as either a “good” or “bad” person, based on a single action or mistake. This type of extreme thinking can lead to feelings of extreme anxiety, depression, and self-doubt, as well as difficulties in personal and professional relationships.
Black and white thinking in political psychology
Black and white thinking can also be seen in political or social contexts, where individuals categorize people or groups as either completely good or completely bad, without acknowledging any nuances or complexities. This type of thinking can lead to polarizing beliefs, rigid ideologies, and an unwillingness to engage in constructive dialogue or compromise.
The origins of black and white thinking are complex and multifaceted, but it can stem from a variety of factors, including childhood experiences, cultural and societal influences, and psychological disorders including personality disorder. For example, individuals who have experienced trauma or abuse may engage in black and white thinking as a way to cope with the complexity and ambiguity of their experiences. Similarly, cultural or societal influences that promote a strict adherence to binary categories can also contribute to black and white thinking.
Psychological disorders such as borderline personality disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and eating disorders are also associated with black and white thinking. For example, individuals with borderline personality disorder (BPD) may see themselves or others as either completely good or completely bad, without any middle ground. This type of thinking can lead to unstable relationships, impulsive behavior, and emotional dysregulation.
Narcissists too, especially malignant narcissists, tend to exhibit black and white thinking, with the frequent framing of any narrative as being primarily about themselves (good/The Hero) and everyone else (bad/The Other).
Challenging black and white thinking
There are several strategies that can be used to challenge and overcome black and white thinking. One of the most effective ways is to practice mindfulness, which involves being present in the moment and observing one’s thoughts and feelings without judgment. Mindfulness can help individuals to become more aware of their thought patterns and to challenge any extreme or polarized thinking.
Another strategy is to engage in cognitive-behavioral therapy, which focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and beliefs. This can involve examining evidence for and against the black and white thinking, as well as exploring alternative perspectives and possibilities.
Overall, black and white thinking can be a limiting and damaging cognitive pattern that can negatively impact various aspects of an individual’s life. However, with awareness, practice, and support, it is possible to overcome this pattern and develop a more nuanced and balanced view of the world.
Defense mechanisms are a set of unconscious psychological processes that help individuals cope with stressful or anxiety-provoking situations. A defense mechanism protects the individual’s mental well-being by reducing or avoiding feelings of anxiety, guilt, or other forms of psychological distress. Defense mechanisms operate on an unconscious level, meaning that the individual is not aware of using them to cope.
Defense mechanisms can be adaptive or maladaptive, depending on the situation and the individual’s coping strategies. Adaptive defense mechanisms allow individuals to manage stress and anxiety in a healthy way, while maladaptive defense mechanisms can lead to problems with emotional regulation and social functioning.
Defense mechanism examples
Some commonly familiar examples of defense mechanisms in everyday life that can be positive (i.e. adaptive) include:
Humor: Using humor to diffuse a stressful situation can be a healthy way to cope, as it can help individuals see the situation in a more positive light.
Sublimation: Channeling negative emotions into constructive or creative outlets, such as art or sports, can be a beneficial way to cope with stress.
Altruism: Helping others can be an adaptive defense mechanism, as it can give individuals a sense of purpose and reduce their own feelings of anxiety as well as those of others they help.
Suppression: Deliberately putting aside troubling emotions or thoughts for a period of time can be a healthy way to cope with stressful situations.
In contrast, maladaptive defense mechanisms are not generally mentally healthy, and can lead to serious psychological problems, especially when overused. Some key examples of maladaptive defense mechanisms include:
Denial: Refusing to acknowledge a problem or a difficult situation can prevent individuals from taking appropriate action to address the issue. Denying the existence of a problem does nothing to change the reality of its existence.
Projection: Blaming others for one’s own negative feelings or behaviors can prevent individuals from taking responsibility for their own actions. Projection also creates or exacerbates conflict with others socially, which can introduce new problems to the existing difficulties of managing one’s negative emotions.
Repression: Pushing negative thoughts or memories into the unconscious can lead to feelings of anxiety or depression, as individuals are unable to process and address their feelings. Over time, repression can create enormous psychological distance between oneself and one’s own emotions, which can act as an existential kind of alienation from oneself.
Regression: Reverting to childlike behavior or emotional states can prevent individuals from effectively coping with stressful situations. We’ve all wanted to run and hide in the face of life’s challenges from time to time — but when people choose to actually do so, it usually exacerbates and compounds the existing problems they are unable or unwilling to face.
Defense mechanism vs. Coping strategies
One thing to note is that defense mechanisms are not the same as coping strategies. Coping strategies are conscious, intentional efforts to manage stress and anxiety, while defense mechanisms operate on an unconscious level. While some coping strategies may overlap with adaptive defense mechanisms, the two concepts are distinct.
Defense mechanisms are often used to protect the individual’s self-esteem and sense of well-being. They can be useful in certain situations, such as during times of acute stress or trauma. However, over-reliance on defense mechanisms can lead to problems with managing emotions and functioning in social settings. People who consistently use unhealthy defense mechanisms may benefit from therapy or other forms of treatment to help them develop healthier coping strategies.
Therapists and mental health professionals may use techniques such as psychoanalysis or cognitive-behavioral therapy to help individuals identify and address their defense mechanisms. By becoming more aware of these unconscious processes, individuals can develop healthier coping strategies and improve their ability to manage emotions and participate fully in social life.
Grandiosity is a psychological term used to describe a pattern of behavior characterized by an inflated sense of self-importance, a preoccupation with one’s achievements and abilities, and a need for admiration and attention from others. Grandiosity can manifest in a range of behaviors, including boastfulness, arrogance, entitlement, and an exaggerated sense of one’s own abilities and accomplishments.
People who exhibit grandiosity often have a huge ego — and an exaggerated sense of their own importance and abilities. They may believe that they are unique, superior, or special, and that others should recognize and acknowledge their exceptional qualities. This can lead to a sense of entitlement, as individuals with grandiosity may feel that they deserve special treatment, privileges, or attention. They may become upset or angry when they feel that their needs are not being met or that they are not receiving the recognition they feel they deserve.
Grandiosity can also manifest in a tendency to exaggerate or embellish one’s accomplishments and abilities — or even to outright lie about them, or completely fabricate them. People with grandiosity traits may feel the need to constantly promote themselves and their achievements, and may be inclined to brag or boast about their successes. They may also be prone to exaggerating their abilities, skills, or knowledge, and may present themselves as experts in areas where they have limited experience or actual understanding.
In addition to an inflated sense of self-importance, grandiosity is often accompanied by a need for admiration and attention from others. Individuals with grandiosity may crave recognition, praise, and validation from others, and may go to great lengths to gain (and keep) attention and admiration. They may be drawn to positions of power or influence, where they can exert their control and influence over others. However, they may also become resentful or angry if they feel that they are not receiving the level of attention or recognition they believe they deserve.
The downsides of grandiosity
Grandiosity can have a range of negative consequences for individuals who exhibit this behavior. People with grandiosity may have difficulty forming meaningful relationships with others, as they may be more focused on promoting themselves and seeking attention than on building genuine connections with others. They may have little empathy for others, which can make their friendships and attachments very one-sided, with too much time and focus directed toward the grandiose person and too little time for the other person(s).
They may also have a tendency to overestimate their abilities, which can lead to poor decision-making and mistakes. In some cases, grandiosity can lead to reckless or dangerous behavior, as individuals may take risks or engage in behavior that is outside of their abilities or experience. Their supreme overconfidence can lead them into risky activities, and they may lead others into danger as well.
What causes grandiosity?
There are a range of factors that can contribute to the development of grandiosity. Some individuals may have lived through early childhood experiences that led them to believe they were exceptional or entitled, while others may have a personality type that is prone to grandiosity. In some cases, grandiosity may be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition, such as narcissistic personality disorder, bipolar disorder, or other personality disorder. Grandiosity can also operate at the group level, with collective narcissism driving the inflated self-importance and sense of entitlement for a particular organization or class of people.
Treatment for grandiosity typically involves therapy and counseling to help individuals understand and manage their behavior. This may include cognitive-behavioral therapy, which can help individuals identify and challenge their negative thought patterns and beliefs, and develop healthier ways of thinking and behaving. Additionally, medication may be prescribed to treat underlying mental health conditions that may be contributing to grandiosity. With appropriate treatment and support, individuals with grandiosity can learn to manage their behavior and develop more positive and fulfilling relationships with others — on the other hand, it is generally quite rare for a grandiose person to even seek help and treatment in the first place, largely due to their own overconfidence and conviction that they do not require any professional assistance.
proteanism is Robert Jay Lifton’s idea of a model for the self that could serve as an aspirational escape hatch from the clutches of cultism, which is otherwise always happening
cultism (i.e. “losing reality“) is what happens “by default” if effort is not made to form and maintain healthy cultures
cultism is what most individuals devolve to or maintain throughout their lives, if they lack proteanism
I believe professor Lifton is onto something real in this particular interpretation of our Manichaean struggle — in which the political left and the right have self-sorted into separate clusters with wildly disparate interpretations of reality
the cultists are dying (quite literally) for the words of a delusional sociopath who swept them out of power with his spew of thinly veiled white supremacy and gold veneer charm
they want the apocalypse to come
The oil preachers have brainwashed the masses into believing climate change is The Rapture — they want climate change. They think it’s God’s plan.
Cultism as a kind of collective personality disorder
we all get stuck in our own mental loops sometimes. Some people are exclusively stuck in their own mental loops — most are disregarded, but some achieve wide notoriety, wealth, and sometimes political power.
Some nefarious mental predators thrive on getting other people stuck in *their* loops — everyone from garden variety abusers to cult leaders take this general approach to convincing others to abandon their own ways of thinking and spend all their time consumed with thoughts of The Authority’s Philosophy. Some individuals with an authoritarian worldview willingly submit to a strongman and abdicate decision-making to untrustworthy others.
Charismatic leaders have ruled over human groups since the dawn of humanity itself, but only in the past century with the invention of mass media technologies and techniques have demagogues been able to achieve a kind of totalist saturation of the common space and common understanding — giving them an ability to spin the entire agenda in their favor, and in turn, effectively “own reality”
When a leader with a personality disorder achieves power, he draws the other antisocial sleeper cells out of hiding for the coming feast.
The leader installs his cronies into positions of power and corrupts the institutions that are meant to safeguard democracy. Instead of acting as a bulwark against nefarious intent, these agencies begin to look the other way against crimes committed by the leader and his buddies — and later, will directly participate and optimize their contributions.
The enemy at the gates is us
Cultism can be induced very simply, by stressing a population. That’s it — that’s all it takes, for people to turn inward, become suspicious, and react with excessive fear in the face of gnawing uncertainty.
It takes strong character to resist the siren songs of disinformation and spoon-fed flattery
Building strong character is hard work. Much much harder than most people are interested in putting in — or even capable of
Consequently, many people of weak character are easily taken in by con men, grifters, and slick talkers of all stripes.
However, these con artists are very good at one thing: convincing people of weak character that specific enemies are to blame for all their troubles, and getting them to give money or take action against these Satanic Democratic pedophiles who want to ruin the world with their Leftist Apocalypse, instead of ruining the world with the proper Rightist Apocalypse and Rapturing all the evil elites away!
These pawns, peons, and proles will dutifully go looking over hill and dale, under Pelosi’s chair for the violent Antifa socialists who want to take over the government
They want to build a physical border wall to keep out poor, bedraggled refugees while allowing foreign bidders to pay pennies on the dollar to buy political influence through Facebook, Google, and other unregulated new media platforms
It’s McCarthyism turned on its head — but since we’ve already cried wolf once, no one will really believe that Russians pulled off the greatest psyops campaign of all time
seeks expansion of event horizon
radical reduction of the "size of the universe" and human potential
Malignant narcissism is a more severe and more dangerous version of narcissistic personality disorder. NPD is an extreme and pervasive set of traits associated with narcissism, a common human quality that most of us possess in small amounts — while some have it to excess, and even great excess. Those folks conversely have less or even no empathy for others, which means they are deficient in the area of basic conscience.
Adolf Hitler is the prototype
While there are several vocabularies around the phenomenon of narcissism and antisocial personalities, the historical clarity of the term malignant narcissism can make for helpful reference. Social psychologist Erich Fromm first coined the term to describe the mentality of the Nazis in the aftermath of World War II.
As the world reeled to understand the nature of the atrocities of the Holocaust and the unfathomable destruction wrought by the Third Reich, Fromm searched for a model to explain what he referred to as the “quintessence of evil.” He thought the extreme inhumanity exhibited by the Germans was emblematic of severe pathology and mental sickness, at the root of vicious destructiveness unleashed on the world.
As we push higher on the scale to psychopathy from narcissism we enter an arena with even less empathy, less conscience, and more sadism. It’s not merely that these folks are extremely self-absorbed (which they are), it’s also that they enjoy other people’s pain. They get off on hurting others for their own enjoyment, and feel like guilt or shame in doing so.
Quotes about malignant narcissism
“regressive escape from frustration by distortion and denial of reality” — Edith Weigert
“a disturbing form of narcissistic personality where grandiosity is built around aggression and the destructive aspects of the self-become idealized” — Herbert Rosenfeld
“These people are preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love, and with chronic feelings of envy for those whom they perceive as being more successful than they are” — DSM-III-R
‘exploitative and parasitic:’ it is as if they feel they have the right to control others and to exploit them without guilt — Otto Kernberg
“The defect, to be precise, is chiefly his missing conscience, which makes him incapable of empathy, guilt, and shame, unable to experience higher level feelings, and understand and respect higher values.” — Elizabeth Mika
I’ve been reading John Stuart Mill’s “On Liberty” and am reminded of the quintessential liberal definition of the term:
The only freedom which deserves the name, is that of pursuing our own good in our own way, so long as we do not attempt to deprive others of theirs, or impede their efforts to obtain it.”
— John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (emphasis mine)
It seems to me that Libertarian proponents tend to make a systematic error in portraying liberty as only commensurate with the first part of Mill’s description: essentially interpreting it as, “I should be able to do whatever I want, and have no constraints placed upon my person by the government whatsoever.” The idea of “cancel culture” is a reflection of this ideal, whereby the right wing complains that moral constraints that apply to everyone should not apply to them.
The Libertarian narcissist Venn Diagram is practically a circle.
Libertarianism sees itself in control
It believes its ideology should dominate others despite its extreme minority status. The Libertarian narcissist wants to get the benefits of the social contract and civil society, without having to pay back into the system in proportion to their usage of public resources at scale. The Libertarian political philosophy violates the fundamental, cross-cultural principle of reciprocity — exhibited in societies through the ages.