Label them as you may, Narcissists or Sociopaths, we have all encountered their traits and been blind-sighted by their destructive personality. Narcissists and Sociopaths are aggressive, violent emotionally and/ or physically, and lack remorse or empathy. Both invent outrageous lies about past experiences and other people to impress and gain admiration. They place blame on others for their behavior, ignore to avoid conflict, unable to be honest and set limits. They can’t say “No”. They lead you on without commitment.
Narcissists surround themselves with people who admire, praise, and depend on them. He/ she feel powerful, all-knowing, and extraordinarily special. He/ she need constant validation, recognition, and reassurance from others. If their sense of grandiosity is threatened they will punish those with neglect, emotional outbursts or physical abuse.
Sociopaths have little concern for another person’s feelings, desires or needs. Their main purpose is to get what he/ she wants, regardless of how it may harm other people. He/ she know how to play the victim. Nothing was ever his/her fault. He/ she have a knack for twisting events around so that you believe that it was somehow your fault.
What is the attraction? The appeal is in what I call the three C’s; Charm, Childhood, and Confidence.
Narcissists and Sociopaths are charismatic, charming, and extremely intoxicating when they want something. Their alluring behavior continues until a sense of trust is built.
Childhood is important to assess because our parents mold what we determine as normal. If we grew-up with Narcissistic or Psychopathic parent(s), then we are attracted to similar personalities.
Growing-up with caretakers who have no empathy, personal responsibility, or boundaries had its consequences. You didn’t have the chance to develop your own identity, trust in yourself, and ability to express your thoughts and emotions.
Such children grow into adults who are attracted to Narcissists and Sociopaths like mice are to cheese. The attraction is due to your childhood circumstances and lack of confidence. The push/ pull stems from childhood confusion of our caretakers. There was dependence for safety, shelter, and nurture yet the abuse denied our natural feelings for what we know innately as love. We grew-up learning that love is attached with hurt, neglect, and unhealthy boundaries. The volatility engrossed the cycle of abuse as the norm in our adult relationships.
Phase 1. The cycle begins with charisma, charm, laughter, childlike giddiness, kindness, and connection.
Phase 2. Trust and reliability are established. Such behavior persists long enough so that you feel some sense of security and safety. This may take several weeks.
Phase 3. Closeness and dependency causes too much anxiety for Narcissists or Sociopaths. Distrust follows emotional and physical distance, name-calling, blaming, and lying. The attacks from Narcissists or Sociopaths are guise with blaming, lying, avoidance of questions and withholding information.
Reactions during this phase are intense. Present feelings awaken the past. Unresolved emotions from childhood neglect and abuse are resurfaced. The current moment triggered unacknowledged childhood pain and creates an overwhelming response. Feelings of helplessness, longing, desperateness, rage, hurt, and confusion are normal responses during this phase.
Phase 4. Healing and reconnection returns the cycle to the first phase. Love and affection are reunited. Intimacy calms anxiety and the sequence continues. Round and round it goes until help intervenes.
Awareness of the past and understanding of the present cycle of violence provides the opportunity and choice to stop the series and get help. As denial of childhood circumstances is released, self-compassion, loving kindness, and self-validation can begin to develop your own sense of identity, self-esteem, and inward trust.
Even if you have not intimately encountered Sociopaths or Narcissists, understanding your childhood and how it affects your present relationships plays havoc on your emotions. During this phase, a skilled counselor who remains compassionately calm and composed can help you feel safe to vent your frustrations, learn to listen and trust your inner workings, and make rational decisions for developing healthy relationships.
You can contact me at www.therapywithapril.com/contact. I am happy to provide a free 15-minute consult to see if I am the right fit for you.