Why Does Your Narcissistic Partner Always Blame You?

Author Article

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If you are wondering why your narcissistic mate blames you for everything that goes wrong no matter who is at fault, the answer is simple: People who have narcissistic personality disorder cannot tolerate the idea that they might be to blame, so they accuse someone else instead.

Why do people with narcissistic personality disorder care so much about who is to blame?

Here are some concepts that can help explain why blame plays such a big role in relationships with Narcissists. (Note: I am using the terms “narcissist” and “narcissistic” as shorthand for Narcissistic Personality Disorder).

Our Inner Guiding Voice

As humans, we come equipped with the capacity to develop an internal guiding voice that praises and punishes our behaviors. This inner voice is programmed during our childhood based on a combination of three things:

1. How our parents treated us.

2. Our inborn temperament.

3. Our interpretation of what our parents thought worthy of praise or criticism.

Ideally, this inner voice is realistic and rewards us with praise when we do the right thing and punishes us with shame or guilt when we do something wrong. And ideally the rewards and punishments are proportionate to the behavior. Our inner guiding voice is supposed to substitute for our parents’ guidance and thus allow us to live independently.

Sigmund Freud (1856–1939), the “Father of Psychoanalysis,” called this voice our Super-Ego. Some people think of it as their conscience. Other people see it as the spark of the Divine in each of us that teaches us right from wrong.

The Narcissist’s Inner Voice

Unfortunately, people with narcissistic personality disorder have internalized an overly harsh, perfectionistic, and devaluing internal voice. This voice rarely doles out praise. Nothing is ever quite good enough to win its approval for very long—and no mistake is too trivial to punish severely.

Self-Blame Leads to Shame

Because narcissists’ inner guiding voice is so critical and harsh, narcissists try to avoid all responsibility for anything that goes wrong. In order to avoid self-hatred, they project the blame onto someone else. If they do not successfully shift the blame, then they may find themselves drowning in a pit of self-loathing and shame. This usually leads them to spiral down into a shame-based self-hating depression. In addition, they unconsciously fearthat their mistakes will be used by you or other people to publicly humiliate them.

Once narcissists sink into a self-hating depression, they lose touch with anything good about themselves. They see themselves as all-bad—as worthless, defective, losers.

Naturally, with deep shame always lurking around the edges of their psyche and an inner critical voice that unfairly and severely punishes them, narcissists learn early in life to never take the blame for their mistakes. Instead, when anything is amiss, they quickly blame someone else. If you are their lover or mate, you are the one that is likely to be blamed—no matter how farfetched this seems.

How should you handle the situation?

The unfortunate reality is that this situation cannot be solved by logic or by arguing about who is right or wrong. This type of blaming has nothing to do with external reality or fairness. It is about self-esteem maintenance.  Your mate is unfairly blaming you for something in order to avoid self-blame.  When narcissists think of accepting blame, they unconsciously fear that the psychological equivalent of burning hot coals will be heaped on their head by you and their unforgiving and unempathic inner critic. They project their inner critic’s opinions onto you and then see you as overly critical.

There are a couple of things that can work in the moment to lessen the tension. Both methods ignore who is to blame and focus on making your narcissistic mate more comfortable.

Method 1—Express Empathy

Method 1 is adapted from one of James F. Masterson’s interventions that he trained therapists to use to help people with NPD feel understood.  In this method, blame is not spoken of at all. Neither is right or wrong. You simply make an empathic statement that attempts to capture the flavor of the emotion the narcissistic person is feeling.

Example: Sam comes home and cannot find the remote for the television. He starts screaming at his wife Jennie: I can’t believe that you did it again! Why do you keep losing the remote? You never pay enough attention to what you are doing!

Jennie knows that Sam was the last one to use the remote. She also knows that it is fruitless to argue with him about it. If she protests, it will just lead to a long pointless fight. So, she empathically tries to “mirror” back to Sam what she thinks he is feeling:

Jennie: That must have been so painful to you when you came home and couldn’t find the remote for the TV. I can understand how disappointed you were. You were looking forward to watching the football game.

Masterson tended to use those same words, “painful” and “disappointed” over and over again. Someone once asked Masterson, “Don’t your clients notice and comment on you saying, ‘It must be so painful and disappointing’ over and over again?” Masterson replied: “Not if they’re Narcissists.”

Narcissists find empathy and feeling understood, coupled with the absence of judgement, very soothing. Most grew up without ever experiencing empathy from their caregivers. That is why their inner voice is so unempathic.

Method 2—Let Me Help You

In this method, you also ignore your mate’s unfair criticisms of you. Instead, you simply offer to help. This method emphasizes that the two of you are a team and not opponents.

Example: Sam starts blaming Jennie for losing the remote. Jenny quickly says: “Let me help you find it.” She ignores his insults and simply gets up and matter-of-factly begins to search with him for the lost remote.

Over time, if Jennie is consistently willing to help Sam and not shame him or try to hold him accountable, Sam is likely to slowly begin to internalize a new model of how to handle mistakes without blaming anyone.

This will gradually build up some sense of trust in Jenny’s good will and intentions. Sam may still devalue and blame Jennie (he still has a Narcissistic Personality Disorder), but he will eventually understand that Jennie is not purposely trying to annoy or frustrate him.

This realization, that he can feel hurt and frustrated by Jenny without her intending to harm him can be a big milestone and turning point in their relationship. The fights will still happen, but there will be less venom in his attacks on Jennie.

What Happened When You Spilled the Milk?

If you want to understand more about the origins of someone’s blaming behavior, there is a simple question you can ask:

When you were little and spilled your glass of milk at the table, what happened?

The people I know who are relatively relaxed and realistic about their mistakes, report something like the following:

My mother got up and said: “Don’t worry. Get the paper towels from the kitchen and I will help you clean it up.

My clients with Narcissistic Personality Disorder report a very different response:

How could you be so clumsy! You make all this extra work for me because you are so careless and irresponsible. That’s it! Dinner is over for you. Go to your room. And don’t expect to watch any television tonight either. You need to learn to be more careful.

A childhood full of harsh criticism for mistakes teaches children to find a way to shift the blame in any way possible and make the error someone else’s fault.

To younger sister Sally: If you hadn’t jogged my elbow, the milk wouldn’t have spilled. It is your fault, not mine. You are the one who deserves to be punished, not me!

Punchline:

The reason your narcissistic mate automatically blames you for things that are not your fault can be expressed as a simple equation:  Blame + Shame = Self-Hatred. Your mate shifts the blame onto you to avoid being condemned as worthless garbage by his or her own overly harsh and devaluing inner voice. There are things you can do to minimize fights, but unfortunately, they all focus on making your mate more comfortable. This will benefit you in the long run, but their success depends on you literally ignoring your mate’s taunts and your own hurt feelings. Instead you have to act as a combination of a good parent and a psychotherapist.  If you do not want to spend the rest of your life helping to manage your mate’s self-esteem at your own expense, you should probably seriously consider leaving this relationship.

Adapted from a Quora post.

What Are the Signs of Damaged Emotions?

Author Article
Healthy emotions are vital for well-being and harmonious relationships. Emotional damage can occur as a result of mental illness, trauma or a combination of both factors, and may impair a person’s ability to form relationships and handle everyday stressors. Learning to recognize the signs of damaged emotions allows you to identify problems sooner and alter the behaviors that perpetuate them.

VIDEO OF THE DAY
Trust Issues
While blind trust can be dangerous in some situations, an inability to trust loved ones can be a sign of emotional damage. According to AT Health, children who are abandoned by their parents often experience trust issues in adulthood, making it difficult to form close interpersonal relationships.

Lack of trust can result from painful past experiences, including acts of betrayal. Examples of situations that could trigger trust issues include abandonment as a child, romantic infidelity or a variety of forms of dishonesty.

Low Self-Esteem
Self-esteem refers to the way in which people view themselves and their worth. Low self-esteem can result from internal sources like mental health conditions or external causes like bullying. The “New York Times” lists low self-esteem as a common symptom of depression.

Signs of low self-esteem include shyness, anxiety about one’s appearance or competence, feelings of worthlessness and unnecessary guilt or shame. It’s possible to use positive affirmations to help raise self-esteem by reaffirming positive attributes.

Anger and Aggression
While unpleasant, anger is a natural emotional response that can be useful when channeled effectively. When managed improperly, anger is capable of tearing apart relationships and leading to frequent altercations between individuals.

Inappropriate anger can masquerade as jealousy, manipulation, suspicion or passive-aggressiveness. If allowed to continue unchecked, anger may even deteriorate into verbal or physical abuse. Long-term suppression of unpleasant emotions like anger can lead to inappropriate behaviors, reinforcing the need to handle anger as it arises.

Self-Destructive Behavior
Emotional damage often manifests as self-destructive or self-defeating behavior. Eating disorders, substance abuse and self-mutilation are examples of self-destructive behavior.

According to the American Humane Association, destructive behaviors like alcohol and drug abuse, suicide attempts and withdrawal can all result from emotional abuse.

Treatment Options
Many options exist for healing emotional damage. Counseling or group therapy can help patients work through unpleasant emotions and get to the heart of their issues. Trained mental health professionals offer solutions by teaching patients stress management techniques and coping skills to help deal with daily problems. When emotional damage affects married couples or families, couples counseling and family therapy may be helpful.

In cases of mental illness, medications like antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs may be prescribed in conjunction with talk therapy.

Originally posted on Lucky Otters Haven: I haven’t written an original narcissism article in awhile, and I was thinking about gaslighting today, so I thought I’d write a post about it. Gaslighting is a defense mechanism commonly used by narcissists in order to diminish their victims and make them doubt and question their own reality.…

via Five types of gaslighting narcissists. — Lucky Otters Haven

Something is wrong. The fact that something is wrong has many manifestations in the narcissistic dynamic. You may experience a sudden eruption of temper, the instigation of a silent treatment as you follow us around the house trying to draw from us what on earth is the matter. It might be that you plead with…

via Why Won’t He Say What’s Wrong? — Knowing the Narcissist

PROJECTION – they accuse us of EVERYTHING they really are AND what THEY are doing to us! We are their dumping ground for everything from their lies, their disdain of life, their betrayal, and just for the sport of managing us down so they feel powerful and in control of their own emptiness! There is […]

via Narcissistic Projection. — After Narcissistic Abuse

What Goes On Inside The Mind Of A Narcissist?

Author Article

Narcissists can be found in every walk of life. Every family, every workplace, and every community has their share of selfish individuals who use others for their own gain.

They can be charming, yet behind the façade lies a damaged, dangerous personality.

A narcissist’s behavior leaves others baffled; how could another human being act so badly? How could someone treat those around them with such contempt?

Understanding how a narcissist’s mind works can help you understand their actions. At first, they seem inscrutable. However, beneath the surface, they are quite predictable.

In fact, a typical narcissist is rather boring. They resort to the same behaviors again and again. Their lives and relationships follow a pattern.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. They are cunning, manipulative, and well-practiced in the art of earning people’s trust
A narcissist knows exactly how to appear extroverted, attractive, and caring. They are masterful actors who make you feel important and desirable.

At first, they are playful, exciting, and encouraging. It’s easy to fall in love with a narcissist. They are extremely seductive, and they will shower you with gifts and romantic gestures.

Unfortunately, once they have you under their spell, they will turn on you. The abuse and objectification starts, and never stops until you leave or they abandon you.

They know that you’d run far and fast if they revealed their true colors up front, which is why they put so much effort into impressing you.

However, because they have convinced you to trust them, you’re reluctant to leave. Instead, you stay, assuming that you must be the crazy one.

You come to believe that you, not them, are in the wrong.

2. They are happy to deceive and insult you
Narcissists have a strange relationship with the truth. They frequently lie, distorting their version of events to suit their emotional needs. At the same time, it’s important to note that, to them, their lies are true.

For instance, if they claim you have mistreated them, they sincerely believe you are the guilty party. They will tell everyone that you are the “bad” or “mad” one in the relationship.

They have no qualms with putting you down. Their insults are designed to erode your self-esteem. In time, you start to believe that the unkind things they say about you are true.

You become dependent on their approval, and leaving is an unthinkable prospect. They hide their true selves from others, and it’s hard to convince anyone that, in private, they are a monster.

3. If you question them, they get mad or just ignore the truth
When it becomes apparent you’re dealing with someone who isn’t in contact with reality, your first response might be to challenge them.

This won’t get you anywhere, because a narcissist will tell you that you can’t trust your own perceptions. In their minds, they always know best.

Don’t waste your time trying to reason with them, particularly if they become abusive when under stress.

4. Behind the confident veneer lies a sense of insecurity
Narcissists gain a fleeting sense of satisfaction from manipulating people, but they are not truly happy. Think about it; happy people don’t need to tear others down to bolster their egos.

They are jealous, weak individuals who know all too well that their capacity for healthy human interaction is limited.

They aren’t able to put it into words, but they know, deep down, that something is seriously wrong with their behavior.

Secretly, a narcissist knows that they are cut off from the everyday joys of relationships. This is a lonely place to be. When they see happy couples and families, they feel empty.

The tragedy is that they lack the self-awareness necessary for personal growth.

They fall into terrible habits – feeding off the energy of others instead of looking inward – and this becomes a lifelong pattern.

You have more freedom than you think
The good news is that you have the power to leave a narcissist. Once you understand their tactics, you can step back and make the right choice.

You can see how they’ve worked their black magic, leaving you vulnerable to their abuse. You realize that it doesn’t matter how or why they became so toxic.

It’s not your problem to fix. Your priority is your health.

There’s no sugarcoating it – recovering from narcissistic abuse takes time. But you can learn to trust yourself again.

Even better, once you’ve dealt with a narcissist, you’ll be adept at dodging them in the future. The moment you suspect someone is trying to manipulate you, you’ll run away – and never look back.

“But I can change.” A phrase so often said by some of our kind. You will, more likely than not, have heard this sentence at some point during your entanglement with us. 2,595 more words

via Does The Narcissist Really Want To Change? — Knowing the Narcissist

What is Narcissistic Supply?

See Psych Central Article Here
By Sharie Stines, Psy.D

(Note: I am using pronouns he, his, him, for simplicity. Narcissism applies to both genders.)

Secure attachment in infancy creates a solid foundation for a person’s entire life.  It creates a feeling of “confidence and trust in the goodness of me, you, us” (Divecha, 2017). This secure attachment is created by the comingling of reflection, attunement, empathy, and love between mother (or other primary caregiver) and infant. It is created when the mother is present, consistent, kind, reassuring, and soothing. With secure attachment, a person learns to trust others and love others for the rest of his life.

Narcissists do not know how to “trust the goodness of me, you, and us.” Narcissists are all about protecting the self – at the expense of the other. Because of the narcissist’s inability to connect in a healthy way with another person, he uses a system of relating that is created in order for the narcissist to take care of himself. Instead of healthy connection, a narcissist seeks for “narcissistic supply.”

People with narcissism usually suffer with a form of early childhood attachment trauma (interpersonal abuse.) At some point in early childhood the narcissist was not properly attached to, or was insufficiently loved. Because of this, he learned how to survive in relationships using a sort of barter system, rather than relying on “normal” human connection skills (because these were not properly internalized in his psyche.)

Narcissistic supply is a form of payment given by others in order to be in a relationship with a narcissist. In essence, when a young child is not sufficiently attuned to or attached with, emotionally soothed and protected, he develops self-protective survival skills. These survival skills come in the form of emotional manipulation and alternate-personality development.

Realize that in essence, people with early attachment trauma, are developmentally delayed – particularly with respect to interpersonal relationships.

Have you ever noticed how your loved one demonstrates behaviors akin to a three year old having a temper tantrum?  This is probably because he was triggered by not getting his way somehow and then he emotionally regressed to an earlier stage of development (one which he has not completed the development phase of maturing through.)

In essence, a narcissist has not properly matured through each stage of early childhood development resulting in stunted emotional growth.

Narcissists are never satisfied.  Once they receive the narcissistic supply for the moment, they soon become empty again; it isn’t lasting. A narcissist’s emotional or “narcissistic supply” tank is always running low or on empty. It’s as if there are holes in the bottom of the narcissistic supply tank. No matter how much you try to love your narcissist well, it is never going to be enough.

What are some common forms of narcissistic supply?

  • Attention
  • Compliments/Praise
  • Accomplishments, such as winning
  • Feeling powerful (having power over you)
  • Feeling in control (being able to control you, and thus, his environment)
  • An addictive substance or activity
  • Sex
  • Emotional energy (can be positive or negative)

The list is not exhaustive and narcissistic supply can be as unique as the individuals involved.

What are some things the supplier of this narcissistic “food” can do to feed the narcissist?

  • Do whatever he wants
  • Lose your autonomy; yourself
  • Praise him/compliment him
  • Be a good “object”
  • Be compliant
  • Be controllable
  • Give up your power

How do narcissist’s obtain this supply from their “victims?” They use some primary tools; these are seduction, manipulation, anger and bullying behaviors.

Realize this truth:

“In a narcissistic encounter, there is, psychologically, only one person present. The co-narcissist disappears for both people, and only the narcissistic person’s experience is important” (Rappaport, 2005).

You can see how this quote applies to this concept of narcissistic supply. The entire purpose of the relationship is that everyone in it has one goal – to feed the narcissist. This form of psychological manipulation works, because when the narcissist is “fed” everyone involved is lulled in to a false, albeit brief, sense of security.

Narcissistic supply is any substitute form of temporary supplier of “satisfaction.”  Most likely, this “food” is in the real form of the neurotransmitter dopamine – the “feel good” brain chemical.

What the narcissist really needs and has needed all along is true human connection. But, since the want of that is a serious threat to the narcissist’s psyche, he has learned to accept narcissistic supply as his source of sustenance.

 

(If you would like to receive a free copy each month of my newsletter, the psychology of abuse, please send me your email address and I will add you to my subscription list:  therecoveryexpert@gmail.com)

References:

Childress, C. A. (2016.) The Narcissistic Parent: A Guidebook for Legal Professionals Working with Families in High-Conflict Divorce. Claremont, CA: Oaksong Press.

Divecha, D. (2017). How to Cultivate a Secure Attachment with Your Child. Greater Good Magazine. Retrieved from: https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/how_to_cultivate_a_secure_attachment_with_your_child

Rappoport, A. (2005). Co-narcissism: How we accommodate to narcissist parents. The Therapist. 16(2).36-38.

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