So, how can you tell the difference between healthy influence and psychological manipulation? Well, it isn’t usually obvious.
When it comes to narcissists, perspecticide is always the end goal: narcissists don’t want you to think for yourself, they want you to think for them.
The narcissist has several resources in their toolbox for achieving this goal.
- Trauma Bonding: Rollercoasters of chronic fighting (you’re always the bad guy, of course) and fleeting moments of artificial compassion to solidify a bond based on trauma. Other than responsibilities like children and bills, these brief moments of seeming love are what keep you from leaving.
- Cognitive Empathy: Objectively empathizing with you for the sole purpose of manipulating your thoughts. This empathy without compassion is a prerequisite for torture.
- Imposing Guilt and Worthlessness: When you attempt to state an opinion – even on benign things like clothing – you’re wrong. And even if you’re not wrong, the mere act of having an opinion will offend the narcissist. This leads you to believe your thoughts are wrong and you must listen to the narcissist for guidance.
A total loss of identity doesn’t happen overnight. But over time, the narcissist gradually implements these tactics to slowly chip away at both your perception of self and the world around you.