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A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 10, 2010 09:51AM


(The author of the blog makes clear that she is not a professional and that her blog is no substitute for seeking counseling from a therapist licensed and (important!) actually trained to assist those who have been wounded by relationships with this type of person.)


describing a rather elongated process ("a number of years") not a snap impression. This may seem discouraging if you're looking for a quick way to read someone so you can avoid a blood-sucking narcissist. There are signs you can look for so as to spot one more quickly, but I'm not addressing that in this particular post. Many of us who have been entangled with a narcissist have been in that entanglement for years already. Especially when we are talking about an adult child of a narcissist or a marriage. Years have become decades. So this quote above is especially relevant if you've had a long contact with the evil narcissist.

The one thing which is a clear and present threat to the narcissist's reality revisionism is your memory. I am sure you can think back right now and immediately recall how the narcissist has tried to subvert, change, re-invent, disparage, lie and deny your memory of every one of those moments when his true colors were displayed. Those moments when his "interior rot" was exposed. The narcissist is supremely agitated when you dare to voice your recall of events which reflect badly on him. Accusations are hurled at you about how you are "unwilling to let go of the past", you're "unforgiving", cruel and mean-spirited. The hypocrisy of these accusations we'll overlook for now as there is nothing like a narcissist for loving to rehearse your past ad nauseum when it suits him. What we are focusing on right now is how the narcissist is always actively working to prevent you from forming "an intelligible narrative" of who she is by her campaign to discredit and invalidate your memories of her bad acts. The very thing you need to do the narcissist is desperately working to prevent you from doing.

"The inconsistencies evident in the behaviour of the narcissist -- prior to his discovery -- should never be simply accepted, only to be forgotten. Rather, one must ponder the inconsistencies in behaviour until they become consistent, that is, until the apparently inconsistent behaviour acquires an intelligible narrative that rings true."
What this requires is that you pay attention to those behaviors which seem inconsistent and which strike you as being wrong or "off". Early on in a relationship you may just accept these as anomalies, but do not forget. I am not suggesting you take an unforgiving and harsh attitude in your relationships. I'm simply saying pay attention to those moments when your inner radar is alerted and don't just dismiss your impressions and observations and flush your memory banks. Your memory is essential in the long term if you are going to make sense of what may not make sense at the time it is happening. If what you've seen or experienced is truly an inconsistent moment the passage of time will testify to that. Over time, though, inconsistencies may very well become consistent in what they reveal. You must be willing to use your memory and re-form the narrative of your relationship with this person when you have enough evidence on hand to do so. Do not let another person have the power to force you to revise your memories to suit them.

I can assure readers that if you try to remind an abusive person of all the incidents where he or she has let you down or worse, and you trust what you remember and stand by your narrative, you are likely to incur one or more of the following responses:

You get accused of holding grudges or of negativity. If you are in a New Age or Buddhist or Hindu or Christian setting, you are accused of sinning by refusing to forgive.

If you stand firm, the person will accuse you of paranoia.

If you really have a winner, the creep will suddenly ooze compassion (fake) and wonder if you are sane and say 'I am really worried about you.'

Or they will claim they dont understand the point you are trying to make and trying to get them to understand is like arguing with a box of rocks.

Just RUN.

The owner of the website also has this very valuable URL


The bullying website lists these two patterns of bully behavior in the work place which are designed to keep targets from comparing observations and creating a coherant, connect the dots narrative.

it's one word against another with no witnesses and no evidence, so personnel take the word of the senior employee - serial bullies excel at deception and evasion of accountability

the personnel department are hoodwinked by the bully into getting rid of the target - serial bullies are adept at encouraging conflict between people who might otherwise pool negative information about them

That is why the Rick Ross website is hated by so many--we accumulate information and make possible accumulation of coherant narratives by targets. RR>com prevents the destruction and revision of history and defends the creation of real history.

Never Forget.

Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 02/10/2010 10:00AM by corboy.

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Re: A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: maariu ()
Date: February 21, 2010 10:25PM

Thanks, Corboy. I found "Characteristics of Narcisistic Mothers" by Chris to be very enlighting. Chris details life with a narcissisist and how children function in this bizarr family system. What stood out to me is that our society is very reluctant to believe that a mother could work against her child so that even when the child seeks help they are not believed. Unfortunatly many victims leave a narcissistic mother or father for a narcissistic significant other. The only way to break the chain is time, and honing ones radar.

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Re: A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: Penelope ()
Date: February 23, 2010 06:34PM

Standing your ground with someone who is used to successfully manipulating you with guilt or sob stories can become potentially dangerous physically . My own brother seriously beat me up and gave me a bloody nose, whiplash and a slipped disc in my neck when I wouldn't budge on an issue that looking back was pretty trivial. I had to go through two months of physical therapy, cortisol shots, and a mountain of doctors bills because of his physical assault. He was used to me giving in, I was always the "nice" sister and because of my religious upbringing I really believed in forgiving and seeing the good in people, even when they behave badly. He always counted on that. And it's hard to admit to yourself that someone you love and want to love you back, your own flesh and blood, could be taking advantage of you.

I decided to have absolutely nothing to do with my brother anymore because of the lies and manipulative behavior that culminated in the physical assault. It wasn't an easy decision, but my brother has lied to me and my parents on many occasions for money and I had had enough. And the lies my brother told after the incident were just the last straw.

My family has been telling me I have to forgive and forget. My mom told me I must have done something to provoke him the night it happened. Looking back, my mom always told me that. Whenever I came to her and told her I was being bullied at school or at home, she would say, 'well they wouldn't do that for no reason, they must have had a reason'.

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Re: A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 24, 2010 01:12AM

Penelope wrote:


My family has been telling me I have to forgive and forget. My mom told me I must have done something to provoke him the night it happened. Looking back, my mom always told me that.

Corboy replies:

Penelope, your mom had better watch out.

I knew a woman who had two grandsons, whom she doted on.

She also specialized in the 'forgive and forget' mantra. I gave up confiding painful stuff to her, because I disliked being invalidated. Later, I found out she lied about all sorts of awful things she'd been through. Pretended to be happy but hid a lifetime of hell beneath a cheery facade and wonderful parties.

I later learned that X had a decades long habit of using Vicodin (codiene
plus tylenol), and the occasional cocktail. No wonder it was easy for this lady to keep saying forgive and forget--she used RX dope to number herself when she wanted to self soothe.

This lady's oldest son (who did not participate in her dance of denial) was appalled when he visited and saw how consistently her older grandson beat up on his 2 years younger brother.

The little brother didnt even resist--he was that resigned to being his older brother's punching bag. The parents did nothing to intervene and neither did the doting grandmother (MS 'Forgive and Forget'). My source told me that the adults would watch the bigger brother beating on the smaller brother and not do a thing to stop them.

Mrs Forgive and Forget had never told me a thing about the chronic abuse of the younger boy by his older brother. For years she kept telling me cute stories of the boys. Made it all seem idyllic.

She kept cooing about how adorable her grandsons were. I had no idea what was going on. I learned all this and more from Mrs X's oldest son years later.

Here is how Ms Forgive and Forget was rewarded for her doting adoration of her bully grandson, whom she covered for and made excuses for:

When Mrs X, practitioner of the Forgive and Forget mantra, was helpless in her wheelchair and dying from cancer, her oldest grandson kicked her in the ankle and made her scream--they were in the elevator and there was no room for the grandson.

He was told to wait, and instead he took a flying leap into the crowded elevator. His uncle heard his mother scream in agony as the elevator doors closed.. She died a few weeks later.

The boys uncle witnessed the incident, with his two daughters at his side. He told me all about it--he was pumped, wanted to run downstairs and slam his nephew into the wall for doing such a horrible thing to his dying grandmother. My pal only restrained himself because he did not want to horrify his own daughters by a display of added violence.

All of three of them agreed that the kid was dangerous as hell.

At her funeral the bully grandson posed as the protector of his little brother.

So your mother had better watch out.

When she's old and defenseless she could get a hideous payback for not setting limits much earlier.

And you're right to stay as far away as possible.

PS When you communicate with your parents, do by word of mouth, not in writing--you dont want your brother getting hold of unsecured e-mails, notes on paper, or letters, because it might set him off.

However, do keep a private chronology of incidents and medical records for yourself just in case it is legally necessary. Keep it in a secure place.

Am sorry you had to go through this.

I escaped being hurt because I broke up with my aggressor over the telephone--thank God.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 02/24/2010 01:29AM by corboy.

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Re: A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: Penelope ()
Date: February 24, 2010 05:00AM

It is extremely unlikely my brother would ever physically strike or hurt our mom. He's mooched and lied to my parents for money but has never been physical. No one in my family would stand for that, either.

I also have a brother who is 4 years older than me, and when we were kids he'd push me and hit me and never got into trouble for it. I remember watching a home movie w/ my immediate and extended family at Thanksgiving once where he started hitting me and I fought back in my lame 'girly' way and it was just hilarious to everyone. My family set the bar on what's acceptable behavior, and the brother who gave me whiplash and a slipped disc (he is two years older) knew he could get away with it.

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Re: A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 25, 2010 12:55AM

That is just vile. You got designated to be the punching bag. Ugh.

You are 100% right to stay away.

However, if your brother doesnt have an outlet, he may select another target.

The Narcissists Suck blog provided this URL and it may be worth a peek. You may even have been socialized to have target characteristics.


I was bully fodder in grade school. Mom wondered angrily why I let myself get picked on. I didnt have the insight (or reckless courage) needed to tell my mother that she, my father and the guy who lived with us ridiculed me all the time at home and I wasnt supposed to protest.

So why expect me to set boundaries with bullies at school, when I wasnt allowed to set boundaries on the bullies at home--namely the same adults who scolded me for not standing up for myself.

In our house, anger was an adult privilage, like smoking. If you were a child, you were supposed to be polite, and expressing anger was not permitted. But adults in our house could be slobs with their anger and get away with it.

Namely the adults needed someone they could use as a barf basin for their anger, and someone had to be trained in the role.

Tag, I was 'it'.

If someone cannot manage his or her anger without having to barf it onto someone, that person is not ready to date, or get into a long term partnered relationship, let alone become a parent.

And, God help anyone who cannot easily change jobs or transfer, who is stuck with that kind of anger dumper/serial bully as a boss.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/25/2010 12:55AM by corboy.

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Re: A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: Confused7609 ()
Date: February 25, 2010 11:38AM

I recently left a position in which the person in charge was a "serial bully". It was not a term I knew at the time but after reading some information from I recognized the patterns immediately. The information on there was very helpful and informative. I wish I read the information from that site sooner.

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Re: A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 26, 2010 12:12AM

Dear Confused, here, here.

I wish I had read that information sooner, but it was not available to me, in my time of need, back in what was then the pre-Internet era.

A good character test is to see how someone treats wait staff, janitors, anyone old or vulnerable.

As Sutton warns, any of us can be an occasional asshole. But when its an established pattern--eg serial bullying, someone who needs a human being in range to be a toilet into which to place toxic emotion--thats quite another matter.



Lord Acton, echoed by Luna Tarlo stated, very simply, power corrupts.

There is now evidence from social psychology that supports this--something we could call The Stanford Cookie Experiment.

And in Cohen's case and that of other gurus, it doesnt matter how seemingly 'enlightened' someone is, or whether that person is capable of creating a social setting in which participants have extraordinary and even at times beneficial experiences for themselves.

Gaining power puts the powerholder at increased risk of misdoing.

Let us look at the Stanford Cookie Experiment.

I first learned of this experiment from reading a book, written by Robert I Sutton, a professor of management and engineering at Stanford University, entitled The No Asshole Rule:Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn't.

According to Sutton's criteria, many a notorious guru or cult leader fits this profile.

Note how powerful people are flattered and treated well by the asshole, while subordinates are dumped on. This is precisely what happens in many a cult. Except that unlike a secular work environment, those treated well defend the bully as their guru, casting a mantle of divinity upon the assholistic behavior.

According to Sutton, one bad apple can make legions of people miserable. He defines
assholism as:

Test One

"After talking to the alleged asshole, does the "target" feel oppressed, humiliated, de-energized, or be-littled by the person? In particular does the target feel worse about him or

Test Two

Does the alleged asshole aim his or her venom at people who are less powerful (author italics here) rathan than at those people who are more powerful?

The Dirty Dozen

Common Everyday Actions Assholes Use

* Personal Insults

* Invading ones "personal territory"
* Uninvited physical contact
* Threats and intimidation, both verbal and non verbal
* "Sarcastic Jokes" and "teasing" used as insult delivery.
* Withering e-mail flames
* Status slaps intended to humiliate their victims
* Public shaming or "status degradation" rituals
* Rude interruptions
* Two-faced attacks
* Dirty looks
* Treating people as if they are invisible.

Sutton tells us this has to be a persistent pattern. We all can have bad days, now and then.

'It is far harder to qualify as a certified asshole', Sutton tells us. 'a person needs to display a persistent pattern, to have history of episodes that end with one target after another feeling be-littled, put down, humiliated, disrespected, oppressed, de-energized, and generally worse about themselves.'

(Sutton, pages 9-12)

Trolls fit this catagory, as do many of the gurus these trolls defend.

Now, let us look at Professor Deborah Gruenfeld's experiment--what I term the Stanford Cookie Experiment. I believe that scholars of cults and dysfunctional organizatins need to place this experiment alongside Stanley Milgram's Obedience to Authority Experiment and Philip Zimbardo's Stanford Prison Experiment.

This experiement demonstrates how a leadership role, randomly assigned, has a tendency to trigger swinish bad manners in otherwise normal persons.

The way the experiment worked (and it was replicated a number of times)
subjects were assembled into a group to do a shared task.

*At random, one subject in each group was assigned the role of overseeing and evaluating the others' work--randomly assigned to a leadership role.

During the experiment, a plate of cookies/biscuits was brought in.

Time and again, those subjects randomly assigned to the leadership role, tended
to do the following:

Took more cookies (greed)
Chewed with mouths open (lapses of ordinary good manners)
Got crumbs on their faces and left crumbs on the table (messes for others to clean up)

Thus, random assignment to a brief, time limited leadership role had a potent effect--increasing the probability that the promoted subject's manners would deteriorate.

Now...these were persons who had not sought the leadership role. By contrast, the persons who interest us are those who are driven to desire power, desire fame, spend years seeking ways to market themselves, hone their persuasive skills, and once they become leaders of personality centered groups, are waited on, insulated from consequences, and have enablers making excuses for them.

Imagine the Cookie Experiment going on for ten years or more.

The experiment was done by Professor Deborah Gruenfeld of Stanford University--her
speciality has been researching the effects of putting people in positions of power where they lord it over others.

Read more about the Cookie Experiment here:


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Re: A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: Penelope ()
Date: February 27, 2010 04:12PM

I've heard the same thing from a friend to whose mom was very emotionally cold and abusive to her, as a child she was blamed for being abused and bullied at school by her mom too.

Being a parent means it's your job to teach your kids how to handle the outside world, to give them support and love, and tools to deal with things like bullying. Your mom getting angry at you is just absurd, where are you supposed to learn how to defend yourself if not from your parents? And add to that the fact that they were abusive toward you, how do you defend yourself against adults that you depend upon for survival?

UGH. I do think there should be some kind of mandatory courses in parenting before people have kids. I'm sorry you went through that corboy, but it's good that you came out as a person who now wants to help others in similar situations. For me I guess that's the silver lining, I didn't become cynical, I wanted with all my being to NOT be like those kind of people, to be a loving and compassionate person instead and stand up for the underdog.

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Re: A Clear Memory and Trusting Your Memory Scares Manipulative People
Posted by: corboy ()
Date: February 27, 2010 11:10PM

One thing that happens is, if a child does not have his or her back covered at home, that child is apt to leak non verbal signals that he or she is unsure, lacks confidence, does not trust that he or she will be believed and will go about with a rather tentative,
hesitant manner that signals the child is likely to put up with bad treatment from others.

And, this can happen even if a child is otherwise well dressed and well groomed. Its nonverbal and a pattern of behavior that the child is not aware of--a quite normal response to a bad situation at home.

And, tragically this can attract bullies the same age.

In some social groups, it is a matter of family pride, even when a family is poor, to make sure school aged children, especially girls, have intricately styled hair and well chosen outfits.

In that kind of social context, if a little girl goes to school with poorly cared for hair (this kind of hairstyle that requires special skilled work from an older sib or adult) that alone will signal that particular child is not being looked after at home. She will become bully fodder because her uncared for hair will signal that no one is looking out for her at home.

These are hairstyles that are complicated--whether you are an adult or child, your hair must be styled for you and you cannot do it for yourself. Having a finely braided hairdo --and one that remains well kept---signals you are part of an alert community.

A teacher or case manager who is not a part of this culture and who does not wear this kind of hair style will not understand how important this is for social survival.

Bullies know how to spot the nonverbal signals we do not even choose to give out. Its the way, in the wild, predators spot any animal that shows signs of a limp--and why dogs and cats conceal they are unwell until they are so seriously ill that the condition is hard to treat.

To cite a very drastic example, in his book, Mans Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl
described being a new arrival at Auschwitz. He and the others were visited by an inmate who had been there slightly longer, and the man gave them some vital survival tips. I will paraphrase from memory. Walk briskly. Stuff your wooden clogs with paper to keep feet warm. Act as though you are healthy and you'd be less likely to be selected as unfit and sent to the gas chamber.

Then the man told Viktor a very hard truth, but a lifesaving one: He looked like a candidate for extermination selection. The veteran prisoner told Frankl that he looked too pale to be healthy. He instructed Viktor Frankl to rub his cheeks until they looked pink and healthy.

Frankl not only survived but used the horror to come up with his form of psychotherapy, based on the search for meaning. He lived to a ripe old age and died so close to the time of Princess Diana and Mother Theresa's demise, that his own death pretty much escaped notice.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/27/2010 11:17PM by corboy.

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