How We See Others

We tend to see others how we see them, from our own imagination, not how they really are.

We tend to fixate on certain markers that are familiar to us from our own lives and past, and then create an image around the person based on those markers.

We tend to quite literally miss huge amounts of information about the real person, even if they are our own child, our own parent, our own family member, or our close friend.

For example, we may know a person who is actually a very orderly person and very much likes order, but when we met them, they were overwhelmed by something in their lives, and appeared "scattered". So we fixate on that "scattered" marker, and build an image of them around that. THEN, as time goes by, we don't see that they aren't really a "scattered" person, that we just LIKED that marker because it made us feel more organized in comparison, and maybe it seemed endearing. Or maybe we like feeling like we're better than someone else. Either way, we keep seeing them as a "scattered person", and therefore keep treating them as if that's what they are, like it's carved into their skull, because WE like it, not because it's who they are.

The more we treat them that way, the more likely they're going to get sick of the way we treat them and become distant and unavailable. If they're our child, partner, or other very close person, we can actually cause them emotional/mental pain and damage from treating them as if they're something they're not, which will impact the bigger picture of their life. 

We can also fixate on a marker that we see as very positive, and we often do. We build an image of that person around that positive marker, and then we don't see them for who or what they really are. The image we build becomes like a painted picture that lays over them like a blanket.

Nearly all human beings do this, especially before we are aware of the process. It's just the brain's way of making shortcuts and "easy buttons" for the things and people in our world. Becoming aware of this process means we can appreciate others for who they really are.

Narcissistic Victim Syndrome, CPTSD

"...I think that the healing professions in general are remiss in not considering in every case that presents signs of depression, low self esteem and hopelessness that CPTSD should be considered not as a diagnosis, but as a path towards cure and away from the abuse. When the victim of CPTSD is counseled to seek a path of survivorship, like classic PTSD, the cure for the curable makes a lot more sense then trying to treat the little Hitler’s of the world..."

Amen, to that.
Excerpt from a reply-comment by Steve B., on an excellent (imo) post on Narcissistic Victim Syndrome by  Mary Jo Fay
(RN, MSN, a national speaker, author, columnist and survivor of several narcissistic relationships. Her new book, "When Your Perfect Partner Goes Perfectly Wrong - Loving or Leaving the Narcissist in Your Life" is available at < I haven't read it yet, but I agree with much of her writing that I have read.

CPTSD is "Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder"

Like Playing Ball (With A Narcissist)

Being in a 'relationship' with a Narcissistic person is a lot like trying to play ball with one.

You throw the ball, they catch it, but they drop it on the ground instead of throwing it back to you.

You throw the ball, they catch it, but they throw it to someone else instead of throwing it back to you.

They encourage you to "go for it" and "be confident" in yourself, but when you do, they're attacking and criticizing you, saying you don't know what you're doing, and you don't "have the credentials".

They don't pay attention to your existence, or anything about you until they realize you've stopped throwing the ball, then they get mad at you.

You throw the ball... they catch it, and then criticize your throw, or give you "advice" that you didn't ask for.

You throw the ball, they catch it, and they WHIP IT at your head.

You throw the ball... they walk away and start talking to someone else.

They whip the ball at you, it gives you a concussion, and they accuse you of "making it all up to get attention".

You throw the ball, they make fun of the way you throw with their "buds"; they say they're "just joking".

You return the same favor and make fun of the way they throw with your "buds", and they have a tantrum and go home.

You throw the ball, they catch it, and then throw it as hard as they can over your head so you have to run after it.

You throw the ball... they catch it, and then throw it as hard as they can to get attention and applause from whoever is watching.

They ask you to play ball with them, and then accuse you of begging to play ball with them all the time.

They ask you to play ball with them, and then make fun or your race or your sex every time you throw or catch imperfectly, claiming that theirs is naturally superior.

They ask you to play ball with them, but when you get there, they're already playing with someone else... and they act like you invited yourself inappropriately, and aren't welcome.

They ask you to play ball, but they don't show up, and then don't answer their phone.

They throw the ball when you're not looking and then criticize you for being lazy or too slow.

They ask you to play ball, but when you show up, they change the plans, change the rules, and argue every thing you say or do.

They ask you to play ball, but every time you go to throw it, they walk over to you and "correct your stance".

They ask you to play ball, but they don't tell you that you'll have to provide all of the supplies, and you have to give them a ride to the field.

When you ask THEM to play ball, they say no. Or, they say "yes", but then say "no" at the last minute.

They slowly convince you over time that they're the only one who likes you enough to play ball with you, because you're such a loser, a crappy player, a spoil sport, or a whiner.

They tell you they can't play ball today because they have to do laundry or work, but when you go to the field, they're already there playing with someone else.

They ask you to throw the ball to them over and over so they can practice hitting and catching, but when it's your turn, they "have to go home" or they're "too tired". Next time, same thing. And so on.

They blame you for the ball getting dirt on it.

They throw your ball and glove away.

They steal your ball and glove.

They keep losing their own ball and glove, and DEMAND that you replace it.

They "punish" or retaliate against you whenever you have something else to do, even though you've played ball with them 15 days in a row.

They judge you, or get mad at you, if you don't have a ball or glove .

They BEG you to play ball again, but every time you agree, they do all the same things they did before.

Everything they do is about themselves.
They CAN'T just "play ball".
They can't just DO anything without making it about themselves, or getting some kind of fix of control or superiority where someone else gets treated with disrespect and ridiculous unfairness.
They have to somehow make it into a dramatic display that has nothing to do with actually playing ball. 

"Those who don't have any balls of their own need someone to throw them some." ~Anonymous

Attention and Praise Seeking Narcissism

For some Narcissists, their "supply" is just attention, perhaps praise, and possibly affection and comfort. They might actually be simply still trying to get acknowledgement from a parent who was cold or abusive to them. When that very basic, very important need was not fulfilled during childhood, either by the parent or by someone else, a person can become fixated on "filling the hole", and seek out people who might fill it.
They probably aren't paying attention or respect to their "supplier", because they don't see the other person really as a "peer", they're trying to just get them to give them the attention. That's all they really want, to RECEIVE attention, praise, and often affection.

FLAGS may include:
Making announcements about themselves, but not responding to things you say either in speech or in messages.

Fidgeting and apparently feeling uncomfortable when you're talking about yourself.

Looking around the room when you're talking instead of at you, walking away, doing other things,

Not acknowledging either that you spoke or messaged, or what you said, as if you didn't say anything at all.

Not remembering much if anything about you, or things you've said.

Not remembering your experience, skill, knowledge, capability.

Not seeming to remember what you do or have done for work, education, or interests (and they're supposed to be a close friend, partner, or close family member.)

Explaining things to YOU that you've explained to them, especially if it was more than once, and especially if it's directly related to your main focus of work, study, or interest. Or explaining rudimentary things about a field that they should be aware that you are well-versed or experienced in. (Like explaining how casts are made to an orthopedic doctor or student, explaining what acrylic paint is to an artist, or explaining why child advocacy is so important to a child advocate.)

Explaining things to you that you've said or done, because they heard someone else say them (someone "important"... i.e. male, famous, or in a position of authority), so now it's "true" or "real". Apparently when you said or did it, it wasn't important or real, because it was "just you" who said or did it.

Not making plans with you till the last minute.

Expecting you to make more of an effort than they do, overall.

Refusing to do activities with you that they didn't think of. Veiling it as "compromise", but it's really just refusal and control.

Not standing up for you when others disrespect you. Not wanting to 'hear it' when you're upset about being disrespected, or about anything else, really.
(They aren't actually IN the relationship with you, they just want attention FROM you, so they have no feeling of protection or loyalty toward you, or empathy.)

Seeking attention and praise from other supply people as well, and when they find another attractive source (whether it's a sexual attraction or not at all), they suddenly aren't around; they don't need your supply at the moment, they have another one. And they probably don't invite you, because again, you're not actually "IN" a relationship with them, you're a source. 


Like a child with a parent, it doesn't occur to them to reciprocate. Children don't return the same kind of care, praise, validation, and attention to their parents until they're much older. So while they're playing the part of the child seeking attention, recognition and praise, they're doing all kinds of things and making announcements about their lives, both good and negative, in order to RECEIVE reactions and attention. But they aren't making any effort to GIVE the same kind of attention, care, or effort TO the person they have cast in playing the parent role.

Occasionally it might occur to them to make a show of paying attention, giving credit, praise, or making an effort, but it's usually because they suddenly realized that the person in the parent role is slipping away, losing interest, getting fatigued by the one-way relationship.

This kind of Narcissism can be non-malignant; it can even be a relatively safe relationship in certain cases (their other behaviors would show whether it was dangerous). But it will never be a mutually beneficial relationship, a HEALTHY one. It can be absolutely exhausting, spiritually depleting, and mentally confusing. The only way it will change is if the person with the N. traits realizes what they're doing, and makes a concerted, long-term effort for recovery, which includes making serious effort, no matter how difficult it seems at first, to GIVE the attention, respect, and support that they're trying to GET. 

Some individuals simply don't have the capacity to see it, or to do this. If one is aware of the other person's N. traits, then one can make informed decisions and plans about how much time to spend with the person, and how to interact with them, without expectations of a genuine two-way connection. More like a caregiver/client relationship than what the relationship is 'supposed to be'. One's boundaries need to be healthy for this to work, otherwise it's easy to get caught up again, and forget the nature of the relationship.  
(Intimacy with such a person is probably not a good idea, for the sake of one's emotional health and quality of life.)

The person who is being cast in the "parent" role can become so depleted that they fall ill, and then may begin to break down, especially if they don't become aware of what's happening soon enough. Even without "abuse" going on, or intentional emotional assault.
(Actual abuse may or may not occur in such 'relationships'; if and when t does, it's often due to Narc. Injury when the "parent role" person either brings up the disparity, or stops giving in to the one-way-flow of attention and effort.)

Caregiver As IDENTITY: Caregiving, Leading, Codependency and Narcissism

When Codependency turns into Narcissistic control, it's often because the person has taken on the IDENTITY of "The Caregiver" and the "One Who Knows Best". It often occurs in those who were forced to take care of others when they were children themselves, and it also occurs often in those who were raised by a person with this issue; they learn to model the behavior because their role models do it, and no one teaches them otherwise. There is little or no awareness of the dignity and autonomy of others. There is little or no respect for another's right to choose for themselves, for the intelligence of others, or for the CAPABILITY of others. There is little or no respect for DIFFERENCES in others from one's self.
This becomes Narcissism because "Caregiving" is about ONE'S SELF, it is NOT about the person who is being "cared for" or "lead". Their well-being is not the real focus, it's the excuse for the behavior. The Controller wants to be SEEN and KNOWN AS "A Benevolent Caregiver", a "Wise Advisor", a "Benevolent Healer", or as a "Strong, Good Leader". That's what's important to them, so if and when someone either "fails" to recognize their "Leadership" or "Wisdom", or if and when someone refuses to follow them, they suffer Narcissistic Injury, and become infuriated.

From the Codependent Controller's Point Of View:

"Follow my advice, my guidance, and my planning, accept my 'constructive criticism' and my management over you, and further, make sure you show gratitude for all of it, OR ELSE!"
~Because, after all, it's all about how much I care about you...
"If you don't completely accept my management and "leadership" over you, if you resist or protest in the least, then I will be deeply offended, and feel rejected, and therefore will feel entitled to retaliate against you. I'll probably insult you immediately, try to humiliate you, and then accuse you of being stubborn, rebellious, lazy, or hostile. If you protest against that, I may fly into a rage, I may become ill, I may become extremely upset and lock myself in my room. I will probably threaten you with all manner of things, from punishments to assault to destroying your reputation, to abandonment, to discarding and ostracism. I might spread terrible rumors about you to anyone who will listen in order to gain sympathy from them, and turn them against you.
"If you ever try to do anything that seems like "initiative",  "leadership", or "autonomy", I will become annoyed or even angry, and will try to shut you down. I will either dismiss you and whatever you're doing, or I will criticize and counter you. I may sabotage you in various ways, or I might slander you to get others to help me work against you. 
"If you ever do something that would make people listen to you, recognize you, admire you, or like you, then they might not hold me in such high esteem anymore, or give me all of the positive attention and credit. So I will continuously work on convincing you that you are not capable or able to learn, or likeable.

"At the same time I will project an image to others that makes me look wonderful, responsible, and worthy, and makes you look lazy, unstable, self-centered, and a burden on me. But I will do it in a way that sounds like I CARE about you. That is essential to my identity as a "Caregiver" and a "Leader".
"The only person that might notice what's going on will be you, because I'll have everyone else smoked and mirrored. But I don't know any other way to get other people's approval and acceptance, and I need that desperately; without it I feel completely worthless and alone.
But I would never tell anyone that, because I'm afraid that it would make me look weak, and then I might get bullied.
(That's actually accurate, bullies attack "vulnerability"; the person probably learned that the hard way, but did not receive guidance in dealing with bullies in a way that's healthy for themselves.)
"The only way I will allow you to receive any help, assistance, or care from me, even if you're my child, even if you're my partner, even if you're my "friend", even if you are paying me, is if you allow me to have control over you, and allow me to be The One Who Leads And Advises. You must obey my every command and accept my every advisement, no matter how small or large. AND you must give me large amounts of credit and gratitude for everything I do 'for' you, regardless of whether you wanted it or not, requested it or not, and EVEN IF it was DETRIMENTAL to your life or health."
"Never, EVER, resist me, protest against me, question me, doubt me, argue with me, or refuse to accept my advice, criticism, management, or control. Or there WILL BE consequences."
This Codependency Narcissism behavior is COMMON in dysfunctional societies where adults refuse to COOPERATE and assist respectfully with other adults in raising children; and especially where children are forced to care for other children or for the adults in the household. And also when children were raised by parents who had been forced to be a caregiver to others when they were children.

"Caregiver" as IDENTITY instead of as an action. They're not "giving care", they're BEING "A Caregiver" or "THE Caregiver". Or BEING "The Leader", not actually doing the act of "leading".
Both leading and caregiving absolutely require humility, and respect for those who are being "cared for" or "lead".

M. Black 2013