Saturday, January 12, 2008


Let's take a look at the manipulative narcissist's favorite tool, the Guilt Trip. We've looked before at some of the sneaky and covert manipulation tactics of aggressive personalities. Malignant narcissist's are usually of the covert-aggressive sort. Sneaky fighters. Lying and underhanded SOBs. Frakking...Oops...getting carried away here...

You must keep forever in the forefront of your mind that when you are dealing with a character-disordered individual (which includes narcissists as well as many other screwed up types) that they have a very different conscience from you. The reason you must remember this fact is because the manipulator never forgets it. They are deliberately using your conscience against you when they use the Guilt Trip. They are keenly aware that you possess a sound conscience. If you try to do the same to them; if you try to convince them of their guilt in something, you find that the Guilt Trip does not work on them. This is because their conscience is a very different thing than your conscience. The character-disordered conscience is blighted, twisted, perverted, malfunctioning on every level. They can not be manipulated by you with the Guilt Trip. An effective Guilt Trip is only achieved on a sensitive conscience. The covertly aggressive character-disordered person is unencumbered by such a thing.

The manipulator knows that a fully functioning conscience has the ability to register guilt and shame. The more conscientious you are, the more effective the Guilt Trip can be on you. I have said this before, I'll say it again: the malignant narcissist uses your own conscience against you. It is a handle on your heart that they can grab at will if you don't know enough to stop them.

You should not try to erase your own sound conscience in order to remove the handle. That would be destructive to your decency as a human being as well as well-nigh impossible to do. There has to be another way. And there is. You need to be informed, which is what I'm doing right now. Armed with the knowledge that the sneaky fighter is capable of using your own conscience against you, you are able to better recognize when it is happening and run a manual over-drive on yourself when you recognize someone is using you against yourself.

The manipulator tells you that you are selfish, that you are not caring enough, that you are hurting their feelings...and you find yourself high-centered on a big old boulder. Keeee-runch. Suddenly you feel horrible about yourself and are scrambling to apologize, make amends, soothe the manipulator's "hurt" feelings. You feel like a cad, and they walk away with whatever prize they were aiming for.

Pay attention to the interaction. When you suddenly find yourself being sent on the Guilt Trip train to surrender, pull the brakes. Don't let some lying and under-handed manipulator fight by using you against you. There is something quite unseemly about a conscienceless creep using your fully operational conscience to further their selfish ends. Don't be a patsy. Don't roll at the first intimation that you are too mean, too selfish, too uncaring. Know the truth about yourself even when someone is lying to you about you.

Hurting someones feelings in the process of defending truth and principle is not a crime. Some people deserve to have their feelings hurt. Don't fall victim to the "cult of nice". Narcissists have taken full advantage of the now endemic belief that hurting someones feelings is a sin. If the truth hurts someones feelings, so be it. Too often people are unwilling to stick to and defend truth because someone may be offended by it. This is only advantageous to the covert and overt criminal. Society, churches, families are not benefited in the long-run by the evasion of truth for the sake of someones feelings. It is this reflexive aversion on the part of decent people that so often lets evil run unchecked.

The truth is, the "hurt feelings" are a ruse when used by the character-disordered. Malignant narcissists are not experiencing hurt feelings...they are simply angry and annoyed at not getting their way. Know the difference between someone who has a legitimate claim to hurt feelings and someone who is just pissed off because they want what they want. The two are worlds apart. Getting hurt feelings for not getting your way is equivalent to a two-year old child throwing a tantrum simply because he wants what he wants. Let's not make it more than that.


Anonymous said...

Ironically enough, people like that CAN be manipulated in kind. Just in a different way. That was actually mentioned in a Heartless Bitch article about the Emotional Blackmailer.

"How did I hurt your feelings"? "How am I mean?" Etc... Might be a good question to ask, but I'm not sure how effective it is. Guess it depends on who you're dealing with.

Anonymous said...

Ns don't have feelings. Therefore, they can't have hurt feelings.

Stormchild said...

Thank you for this post, Anna. It sums up the tactic brilliantly.

One of the things I find very frustrating about N 'grooming' is the way they shame their prey for actively observing and thinking about the N's manipulative tactics [or, god forbid, pointing them out to the N, or other targets]!

More guilt-tripping, and serious brainwashing. Trying to convince the prey [that's us] that there is something inherently wrong and shameful about being sufficiently aware that we're able to observe our own feelings and responses.

This is codswallop, of course. They don't want us aware or in control, because that would interfere with their ability to confuse and control us.

And thus do bullies rule unchallenged...

Anonymous said...

I'm wondering if the N 'creates' the 'hyperconscience' (for lack of better word) in us. While I believe I was innately sensitive and conscientious, I found myself in a kneejerk situation with my Nmom....totally attentive to her every move....I spent most of my life with her 'reading the wind'....trying to sense if I was 'in trouble'....if I had offended her.....if I hadn't done or said something quiiitttteee right. It's debilitating. I didn't dare try to even have a life....much less figure out how it all worked in life (outside her arena). After all these years, I can't figure out if she was my 'reason' or my 'excuse' for all I did and didn't do. (Probably both things going on...) Geez. Makes my brain hurt. Whatever. Just glad to not be in contact with her now. Thank you, Lord!


Anna Valerious said...


There is no doubt that the narcissist works busily at honing our consciences. My own mother is brilliant at doing this. She works diligently to train the consciences around her making them hypersensitive to accommodate her agenda.

I was like you in that I was trained to be hyper vigilant to her every mood and expectation. This type of training of our consciences has to be overcome because it is a twisting of our consciences in order to suit the perverted world view of the narcissist. A hyper sensitive conscience is not necessarily a rightly trained conscience. We are trained to feel guilt and shame when, in reality, we've incurred no guilt or shame. The narcissist unloads their own guilt and sense of shame onto their scapegoats. We walk around with a burdened conscience. Their burden.

It is important to examine our consciences in the light of objective morality in order to begin sorting out the garbage dumped there by the narcissist. We have been carrying around two is ours and one is the narcissist's. We need to dump the narcissist's perverted conscience in order to be able to live free of their tyranny.

Anna Valerious said...

Well said, Stormchild. I've seen this too.

Anonymous said...

A timely piece Anna. I am set to attend a mandatory event next week out of town where I will have to be around a former N, whom I have not been in contact with for six months.

Your post added reinforcement to what I already knew to be on the lookout for. Without detailing too much, this person didn't like my pointing out their emotional emptiness and lack of appreciation over something that was quite important. They completely cut me off and refused any sort of communication, despite having spent four years with me

I have no doubt that their b.S. reason is that I "hurt" them and owe them an apology.

These sorts of emotionally and morally bankrupt persons remind me of an old Japanese samurai saying: "Warrior, heed this, when battling with demons, aim not at their hearts."

Very true as it regards narcissists, who have no hearts or consciouses that can be appealed to.

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT post. I'd say that all this guilt comes from the unreasonable standard of excessive 'good' that the N immediately holds you to in order to make you feel bad at their every disappointment; it's how they draw people close to them, only to have no remorse when the person starts to call them out and reciprocate blame. You find your conscience inflated and roused by their self-centered tales of misery, and they keep this reaction going based on the initial adulation they give you for the confusing and baseless presumption that you are their INSTANT source of good in the world just for listening. They give you a plastic badge and suddenly you feel like the town sheriff, in a way. Even though most of us want to feel like good people, serving others with our kindness, this brainwashing roleplay is a great example of why NOBODY SHOULD EVER TRUST THE SINCERITY OF SUDDEN OVERVALUATION in the same way that they would feel amiss at sudden contempt from a dear one. Know what you are and where you stand, and watch the other person closely before you respond to manipulations with a string of one-sided reactions for their pleasure. To operate in extreme, insincere 'emotions' is to be completely confused as to one's own.

Barbara said...


1/12 would have been my 23rd Wedding Anniversary this year.

STBXNH tried to take me on one of these "trips." NOT!!

Anonymous said...

This post and the comments have been a REAL break through for me in regard to my 'hyper-ness'....both in 'vigilance' and 'conscience'. I know it has been said (one way or another) all along...but somehow, I 'got it' on this round.... Like a piercing light, breaking through my blindness. Wonderful! I can't thank you all enough.

And another thing.....I can see how the successions of boyfriends and a husband or two over the years were ALWAYS Ns. They were 'fun' and/or 'good' as long as I did all the 'set up' and 'clean up' of their laziness. I did my job, their job, and our job. When I burned out, there was Nothing. There. Geez. It's kinda nice to be too tired to take care of anyone else's shit. It's not even a decision I have to's just the way it is. I ACTUALLY sleep eight hours ONE job....etc. Imagine THAT!


Greendaze44 said...

Oh so true. My STBXN has everyone fooled. He fooled me for 12 years. I always said I felt like I had to walk on eggshells around him. I finally understand why I felt that way. Because it was all about him and making sure I didn't hurt his feelings. He said he was very sensitive and always has been and that he was the peacemaker in his family. And even his family says that about him.

I am just so sorry it took me so long to figure it all out. Because we were active church members I even considered suicide rather than leaving him. That's when I knew I had to go. I read Gary Chapmans book about The 5 Love Languages and I figured out and that not only was my "love tank" empty, it was sealed off because it was so dried up from giving and giving and not receiving love. And I did all the work around the house.
WHen I finally moved out last August I can barley bring myself to do anything around my house. I am too tired of taking care of the world. I've barely even unpacked still. I function and that is about it.
So when I told him I was coming to get the rest of my stuff on Sunday and it was Friday, he freaked out and said why didn't I give him more notice. Why should I give him notice to get MY stuff? Then he said he would pack it up and put in the garage. I told him it was still my house and I could go in there anytime I wanted, since we own the house together and that he couldn't just pack up what he felt like was mine. I have every right to go in and make sure I was getting what was rightfully mine. He then yelled at me saying, "You want the house?" I said, "No, I can't afford it." He said, "Then why are you throwing this in my face?" As long as I've been around him, it still amazes me how he acts. I just remained calm the whole time and said i would come the following Sunday instead to give him more time. (The dresser and chest of drawers we agreed I would get, so he says he needs time to find something else to put his clothes in.) Thank goodness we had written down everything we agreed on as to who would get what, so I have it to fall back on.
I love this blog site. It hits home every time! I recommend it to many people.

B.E.C.K. said...

I just stumbled across your blog a few minutes ago, and it's quite a timely find. My ex is a psychologist and a narcissist -- a dangerous combination. We have a seven-year-old boy together and I do everything I can to make sure our son doesn't grow up to be a narcissist as well. (Any tips?) Anyway, we went to court (his initiative) for custody in 2004 and it was grueling and degrading to me, but I wound up with two-thirds custody and my ex has one-third. We thought that was the end of it, but we recently were notified that we need to convert the court order to a judgment, so we're having to deal with lawyers, etc. again. My ex called me to say he wants us to "fire" our lawyers and "do this ourselves," citing a lack of money. However, he drives a Prius and is taking our son on a huge vacation next month, and has plenty of money in the bank besides. (Yes, he told our son about it -- outrageous.) I won't get rid of my lawyer, and am dreading any legal dealings with the ex. The past eight years with him have been nothing but a constant stream of criticism, guilt trips, mind games, etc. I can't throw him out of life entirely, since we have a child, so I walk the fine line between politeness and self-protection. It's exhausting. I don't know what my point is here, but I sure am glad to have found your site. I'll definitely be back.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Anna. Great comments. krl I could have written what you wrote...thank you for saying it.

This all has brought to my mind Matthew 10:16, which reads in part 'Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.' and then the proverb about 'guarding your heart for it is the wellspring of life.' (can't remember which one)

Anyway thanks for the blog Anna. I'm a little late, but thanks.

Anonymous said...

Wow. The "signs"..the "answers'... the rush i just felt reading all this. Confirmation. Years ive spent unknowing the tunnel i walked with my x N was so tight i... thankfully got so far down.. so tight..i lost all ability to even breath. This "choke" over recent months..his cruelty.. was top shelf horror.clever.insidious schemes.. wore me to my knees. I dont no wear or how or why i found a part of myself to actually "see"..and tge true begin the detatchment .this besutiful freeing of him. Yearz to learn him and his material...his tricks didnt work anymore.his "trys" after that were so in my face out of whak...i saw...who was the worst of us. And its after new grest day...its real. Im not bad. I wish this on no one ever. For very hard as he tried to go to every extreme to convince me im the blame for all his troubles was when i stoppedisolating it. I stopped being ashamed embarressed and with every monsterous attack on me i shared with his crew of "good people.his respected peopke. I sent his texts his vmailz to the people he tried so hard to hide it from. ...he cant stand that these people know this side of him. I was the only one. This has been an interesting turn of events. He succeeded at gettin me to hide.secretive. i finally choked and all locked up hidden truths of him that he loaded on me is now out there. Proven. Not mine alone. I lovr that i just read this blog..anothher sign ..ive had soooo many positive signs recent...that im ok. Im gonna be ok. Thanks for all your stories wise words. Evrything i could never explain.u all explained. Thanks for letting me post

Anna Dau said...

Hello, Anna, my name is also Anna, and I would like to expend my most heartfelt thanks concerning this wonderful article. Thank you so much.. I really needed to hear all of this. I walked away from my N, and it has been a struggle to keep that No Contact, but I have been faithfully dedicating myself to educating myself as much as possible about Narcissism, Sociopaths, and all that jazz. It has been enriching, informative, and eye-opening. I also been collecting quotes about it too, and keeping them in a notebook to remind myself daily. I also have my rage journal, which has been informative and helpful. Rage journaling is like journaling, except that you can write as much as you want, and be as annoyed as you want. I hope some other people use it too to help them heal and recover. Thanks again. - Yours Truly, Anna

Erin Lyndal Martin said...

This is a well-spoken post, and I needed it after a (not infrequent) guilt trip from mom. It seems I used her emergency credit card to take a cab to the emergency room, and she had to go a month without getting takeout because of my crushing expense.

Anyway, I was wondering, Anna, for you or anyone, is there a response to being guilt tripped that might at least stem the flow of them somewhat? I once got a whole week's relief by saying "I would like the guilt trips to stop" but wonder if there are other phrases that can help (when said with a cool head, of course).

Kl said...

This is an amazing reading matetial for Validation !! Wat the N wants most is having the victim React !! This post is the Validation i needed to wake up and stop giving my precious time to Dead People like the N. All true. Im awake. Am i Ever awake !!
My N used to say " i miss the old you"" !! And i would reply " i dont " !!!! Lol i was blinded but i now i see. And he would hate me more. Thanx all for the great learning stories. I think that one good thing the N will give is the knowledge that Ur a great human being....him not !!

Unknown said...

Your second paragraph is excellently explained. That is so true. The N wants you to believe there is something so wrong with you when you become aware that their tactics is manipulation. They " train" you not to trust your own gut instinct.
And when your training started at a very young age it's so much harder to recognize what they doing.
Thank you for this A-HA moment.
It is a super one