Monday, August 14, 2006

You've Been Brainwashed by the Narcissist

Part One

There are many who've been caught in the vortex of a narcissist who come out the other side saying they felt like they had been brainwashed. I came to define it the same way myself a few years ago. The book, "Emotional Vampires: Dealing With People Who Drain you Dry" by Albert J. Bernstein calls it hypnosis. His case is convincing. He is also very helpful because he takes all the mystery out of the concept of hypnosis and enables you to understand how and why it works as well as what is in you that makes you susceptible to it. Get the book. Amazon sells it for around $10.

I was raised by a malignant narcissist who also happened to be my mother. Through the long and laborious process of growing up under the burden of misinformation and reality-bending forces imposed on me by her, I finally started to realize what I was dealing with (as I started pushing forty years old) and ultimately to escape (at age 43). I issued my narcissistic mother notice that I was "divorcing" her back in May of 2005.

Because I was emotionally and geographically estranged from her I had a different perspective as I observed my Nmother's antics in her dealings with others whom she had gained a grasp on (after her control of me had seriously waned). I started to see in her methods what I suspicioned could be classified as brainwashing techniques. I started reading up on the subject by doing some Google searches online. My hunch was completely confirmed. Note that I couldn't see the brainwashing when I was the recipient. It is only by looking back that I can see it in my own experience.

Note this quote from a 1956 document from the CIA about Communist brainwashing methods (available at :

"The brainwashed victim does not consciously change his value-system; rather the change occurs despite his efforts. He is no more responsible for this change than is an individual who "snaps" and becomes psychotic. And like the psychotic, the prisoner is not even aware of the transition."

I highly recommend you seriously consider this concept of brainwashing especially if you had a narcissist for a parent. It isn't your fault you were brainwashed. You had no idea what was happening, but to escape the narcissist you will have to de-program yourself. More on that in the next post.


Anonymous said...

I think a definition of Narcissist\ism would be helpful for this blog. Because of one strong internet self-proclaimed "expert", the definition of NPD seems to encompass other personality disorders, like APD, psychopathy, and throws all these people under one label, which isn't fair and doesn't do readers any good.

Anna Valerious said...

This blog is not written from a academic or clinical perspective, but a practical and experiential one. I use the psychological terminology (i.e. NPD) because it's what people are familiar with - not because it fully encapsulates my views. My goal here is not to provide sympathy for the perpetrator but for the victims. This site is about providing aide and comfort to the victims of NPD, not presenting the perfect definition and "reasons" for why the malignant narcissist is what he is.

There is a plethora of sites out there which offer the clinical definition of malignant narcissism. This site is where people come after they already know what NPD is.

Barbara said...

Sandra Brown, MA thoroughly explores this in WOMEN WHO LOVE PSYCHOPATHS and how pathologicals (Ns and Ps) put their prey "in a trance" and how easily this is done.

Advertising & marketing does it to us every day so it's not a stretch.

And anonymous - you don't need a "definition" of narcissism to know you've been harmed by one.

Jan said...

My mom is not intelligent enough to brainwash anyone.

Anna Valerious said...

Consider yourself blessed in that regard.

saddaughterofsmn said...

Isnt that the truth ' u have no idea how lucky u r n that department !!! ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA Hnw BLESSED AND LUCKY!!!