Have you ever been confused about whether to call a schoolmate, family member, coworker, employee, boss, partner, acquaintance, or social contact a friend, an enemy, even a bully, or something in between – a “frenemy?” It turns out that getting clarity, identifying the taxonomy, taking action to prevent sadness, harm or even tragedy is possible, as confusing as it looks on first glance.
There needs to be an understanding of exactly what makes a friend.
Maybe you’ve been on Facebook, Twitter, online matchmaking sites, or had email exchanges with an acquaintance or business contact, or schoolmate and felt concerned about your privacy, being labeled, slandered, or objectified for the lack of being known personally, or worrying about their intentions?
There’s actually a quick, practical way of assessing this.
This scenario can be fraught with difficulties……..
It’s a familiar story. A group of three or more friends, having the best of times. Then two of those three friends begin a feud and the third, innocent party is stuck to choose. We’ve all been there and I know from personal experience it’s hard to tell whether or not you can trust a friend who’s friends with your enemy, but it’s also hard to be friends with two people who hate each other.
For the innocent party who just wants to be friends with everyone, it’s really hard. I personally don’t know if it’s actually possible because I’ve never seen it work out. You’re going to like one friend more than the other, or you’re going to accidentally betray one or the other friend and they’re going to turn on you. I understand wanting to keep your friends, but unless you can be perfect and schedule the same amount of friend dates for the same amount of time, while also not becoming the middle person for their petty vendettas, it just isn’t going to work and someone is going to end up losing.
Suicide is newsworthy because life is precious. In 1993, a 6-year old girl living in Florida stepped in front of a train. She left a note saying that she “wanted to be with her mother” who recently died from a terminal illness.
This is the power of the human mind. A small girl thinks of the past and imagines a future that is so bleak, so devoid of meaningful moments without her mom, that she takes her own life. The same mental tools that distinguish us from other animals, the same mental tools that allow us to solve problems and produce creative works that give us symbolic immortality are the same tools that allow a 6-year old to contemplate a future that is terrible enough to physically leap into an oncoming train. If a 6-year old has the cognitive capacity to kill herself, then we need to step up our efforts to understand and prevent it from happening.
Understanding why people commit suicide and what is causing the need for such drastic measures may help you prevent a suicide attempt before it happens.
Bullying and Suicide
Bullying is ongoing aggressive or abusive behavior from one person or a group of people who harm and threaten another either physically or emotionally or both. Bullies come in many varieties and are not always physical in peer groups. Sometimes the popular or older adults band together to ostracize the person. Maybe they were once friends. They will pick on the person or ridicule them over social media such as Facebook and Twitter with harsh words and criticisms aimed at making them feel bad about themselves.
The word bullying is used to describe a repeated pattern of negative intrusive violational behaviour against one or more targets and comprises constant trivial nit-picking criticism, refusal to value and acknowledge, undermining, discrediting and a host of other behaviours.
The Psychology of Mob Mentality or Groupthink
The overwhelming need for many individuals to blindly and unquestioningly follow others is commonly known as ‘mob mentality’ , ‘herd mentality’ or ‘groupthink’.
The consensus nature of groupthink and the collective rigidity and irrationality of their attitudes may result in extreme measures to preserve the consensus, even to the point of attacking any who disagree and perceiving them to be enemies who must be silenced
We’ve all heard of ‘mob’ or ‘herd mentality’. That is, when individuals get together in a group, lose their sense of self and start to act as the group without feeling responsibility for their individual actions. Classic examples of this are riots, looting, and many other instances of violence where people commit acts as part of a group that they would never commit on their own. There’s something about being part of a collective that dissolves personal accountability and causes people to behave in strange ways. Psychologists call this ‘deindividuation’.
In recent years, there has been a great deal of research on bullying, and we are beginning to understand more about the motivations of bullies, and the effects of bullying. Here are the factors that are associated with being the target of bullies:
Certain members of a social group can listen to an opposing (and not always truthful) side of a dispute and choose to believe the opposing version without approaching their other associates to hear the full story. I have reasearched why this occurs.
This subject has also been raised by clients during consultations so these occurrences inspired me to do further research.
From cocktail parties to family reunions, the water cooler to theprofessional convention, we all enjoy the guilty pleasures of talking about other people. But gossip is more than just idle chitchat, it’s also how we arrange our world as social animals. Nigel Nicholson, Ph.D., discusses the evolutionary reasons why humanity is a beehive of communication.
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is diagnosed when an individual exhibits a cluster of symptoms related to an elevated sense of self-importance or worth. Online narcissism refers to the emergence of these symptoms on the internet.
Many individuals on twitter and facebook believe the world should be interested in every aspect of their lives. Similarly, on writing and blogging websites, narcissists take advantage of the self-publishing platform to soothe their vulnerable egos, and it is this phenomenon that will be focused on here. The symptoms that manifest in someone suffering from NPD are varied, but often include:
A willingness to emphasize and exaggerate traits or achievements that may prove to be reputationally beneficial.
A belief in being special and unique in the world.
Is callous, exploitative, and envious of others.
Requires persistent positive reinforcement from those considered allies.
Has an inability to apologize or take responsibility for one’s actions or words, but is quick to demand apologies from others.
Suffers from extreme self-preoccupation to the point of being paranoid about the opinions and conspiratorial motivations of potential critics.
Has a sense of entitlement and a preoccupation with fantasies of success.
Has delusions of grandeur that are sometimes derived from supernatural beliefs, including astrology, past-life regression, and some forms of religion.
Demonstrates superficial charm or glibness, which is used to derogate critics without alienating allies.
Will only experience short-lived egocentric emotions, with a complete lack of empathy (coldness)
These traits can be described as a dispositional defense mechanism. NPD develops over many years to cope with a vulnerability to psychological pain. NPD sufferers are remarkably insecure, and this persecution complex is strengthened when they are inevitably trolled online. Unfortunately, the trolling intensifies their detachment from the world, and perpetuates a need to comfort their bruised ego with further narcissistic behavior.
Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (exaggerates achievements, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited power, success, brilliance beauty or ideal love
Believes he or she is “special” and can only be understood by similarly special, high status people
Requires excessive admiration
Has a sense of entitlement
Is inter-personally exploitative
Isenvious of others or believes others are envious of him/her
Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
SOCIOPATHS EXHIBIT SOME OF THOSETRAITS, AND THESE AS WELL:
Failure to conform to social norms as evidenced by repeatedly performing acts that are grounds for arrest
Irritability and aggressiveness, as indicated by repeated physical fights or assaults
Reckless disregard for the safety of others
Consistent irresponsibility, as indicated by repeated failure to sustain consistent workbehavior or honor financial commitments
Lack of remorse, as being indifferent to or rationalizing having hurt others
If you recognize any of those behaviors in a partner or friend who you have had a relationship with, then congratulations- you were in a toxic relationship with a narcissist or a sociopath.
Now, if you were like others, then you probably felt at war with your own mind, constantly wondering if the fault was with you, or them. After doing some research, as I’m sure many of you have done in this situation, discovering that all the things you thought were “broken” in you, were actually just fine. You are not the one who was so destroyed that you couldn’t find a way to keep yourself together unless you were destroying another person…that was them.
People with strong narcissistic tendencies are known for certain destructive social patterns. Anybody who has had the misfortune of dealing with these types of people may notice that whenever there’s a conflict or any type of disagreement, they tend to act in an abhorrent yet predictable manner. In this article we will explore the common behaviors and scenarios where narcissistic and otherwise toxic people (hereafter narcissists) play the victim and manipulate the narrative.
People with strong narcissistic tendencies are known for certain destructive social patterns. Anybody who has had the misfortune of dealing with these types of people may notice that whenever there’s a conflict or any type of disagreement, they tend to act in an abhorrent yet predictable manner.
In this article we will explore the common behaviors and scenarios where narcissistic and otherwise toxic people (hereafter narcissists) play the victim and manipulate the narrative.
Delusion and denial
Narcissists can’t deal with reality because it contradicts what they want to be true, and this creates painful emotions. As a coping mechanism, they learn to delude themselves that what is real is actually not real, and however they see the situation is real, even though it isn’t.
Sometimes they truly see it that way. Other times it’s just a story they tell themselves and others. And often the longer you tell a story, the more you believe it, even if initially you know it’s not true. And so eventually they may start truly believing it.
Either way, the first step is to create a version of events that is an alternative to what actually happened or what’s going on.
While delusion is more of an internal process, lying and denial is often in the context of other people.
Regular people deal with their problems by themselves, internally. Or they discuss it in a very private setting: in therapy or among very close, healthy people. Narcissists don’t have people like that in their life and are not really interested in actually resolving anything or being introspective.
Narcissists simply want to know that they are in the right. For that, they need other people’s false validation to regulate their shaky self-esteem. They need to find people who would agree with them. And in order for others to agree with them, these other people either need to be terribly unhealthy and unable to recognize their toxic tendencies, or the narcissist needs to lie and present a different story than what is actually true.
Here, they tend to flip the roles where they are good, noble, caring, virtuous and the other person is evil, cruel, selfish, and immoral. Which brings us to the next point….
The most common way narcissists create alternative narratives is by projecting. We’ve talked about narcissistic projection in a separate article but to extract the main point, narcissists love to project.
If they say that the other person is jealous of them, then you know that the narcissist is jealous. If they say that the other person was cruel to them, then you know that the narcissist was cruel to the other person. If they say that the other person was lying and cheating, then you know they were the one lying and cheating.
Yes, sometimes it’s not as simple and there could be unhealthy behavior on both sides, but more often than not whatever the narcissist is presenting the other person as is a much more accurate description of the narcissist.
Whatever the case may be, the mechanism here is that in the narcissist’s mind they try to attribute their own unhealthy behavior, perspective, and character traits to the other person because it shifts attention and responsibility from them. And if the other person “is” all these bad things then it can’t be that I am these things—thinks the narcissist—I’m the good guy here.
When the majority think of a “cult” they tend to focus more on religious orders. A cult can develop when a group of any kind is formed such as: “friends”, a performance group, a spiritual group etc.
You could happily be a member of a group and not realize you are gradually becoming more under the control of a particular person.
I found this article informative as it shows the type of personality to look out for in any group where there is a leader:
“Cult members are “focused on a living leader to whom members seem to display excessively zealous, unquestioning commitment.” The leader is a strong-willed, domineering character who rules the group with tight control. He lets it be known in subtle ways that he is in charge of the movement. He makes the plans, he orchestrates the movements of the group or groups (sometimes he exercises his sway over several groups). He dispatches the workers, assigns their chores, etc.
Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged,” and there can be pressure or social punishment when there is disagreement with the “boss.” Those who disagree are made to feel as though they are stupid or inept. They are brainwashed with the notion that they do not have the knowledge or experience to question the leader. Younger people are particularly vulnerable to the leader’s gift of gab, and his feigned expertise. No matter how radical the leader becomes in his decisions or actions, the cult members will not criticize him. Even if there should be mild disagreement, no specific expressions are voiced. The members reason that though he may be mistaken in some of his judgments, yet the overall good he accomplishes outweighs any minor flaws.
Members are taught to “rationalize” the conduct of the leader in matters they have always “considered unethical before,” under the guise that the “end justifies the means.”
The cult leader always takes the major credit for the movement’s accomplishments. Members become psychologically dependent upon him. “What would we ever do without our leader?,” is the cult mentality.
The cult leader generates within his members “a polarized” mentality. His people evolve an us-versus-them outlook. Little by little, he criticizes other groups with which his members might tend to associate, undermining confidence in them, attempting to discredit anyone who could have influence over his flock.
An abusive person seeks to isolate the victim and make them a carbon copy of themselves by dismissing any criticism or dissent and demanding that followers or partners think like them and offer support for unacceptable acts under the guise that it benefits the group. An inability to accommodate difference and rage at those who challenge or question unethical conduct is also used to make members tow the party line and mirror the values of the leader as good despite the reality that the consequences are often harmful to the followers.
Such people and groups are dangerous as they prey on the vulnerable to build personal assets and a faulty sense of strength and power by dominating and crushing all opponents as weak. Thinking that people can know people better than they know themselves has been the basis of analysis; however, many analysts have blind spots and react with rage to justified criticism by their patients who challenge their interpretation as projection or wrong.
Beware any leader whose ego blocks him or her from being responsible for mistakes or unacceptable behaviour and instead tries to blame the victim for daring to point out his weakness or mistake. Be wary of any group that exploits its members and makes false promises or claims power or knowledge while behaving like a mad or bad man.”
If you find this behaviour in a group of people you associate with it would be wise to extricate yourself (even though this will be difficult) before any serious damage is done.