A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Do sociopaths and narcissists have rules?

Many domestic abusers have rules for their victims. It’s scary to think how many  pastors and elders have the same rules for members of their flock. This is a re-post from Domestic Violence Kills – Facebook page.  We put in on our own FB page a while ago, but is seems good enough to post here too.  (thanks to Lynette D for drawing it to our attention)..

Addit 30 Dec 2012:  Since this post came out, we are happy to say we’ve been contacted by the original author of the list Sister Renee Pitelli.
She writes, “I wrote this list as the Narcissist’s Rules of Engagement and posted it on my Luke 17:3 Ministries facebook page. Glad to see it’s making the rounds lol! It will also be included in my next book, the sequel to Narcissistic Predicaments, hopefully coming out in the spring. Everything I write is copyrighted but I always give permission for anything I write to be used for non-profit use if you can use it to help others. All I ask is a link back to my website http://www.luke173ministries.org.”

The list of rules that the sociopath/narcissist expects his /her target to live by…

1. I can say anything I like. You are not allowed to say anything unless you are sure it will not offend me. (Hint: Praise/compliments).
2. I can do anything I want. You are not allowed to do anything unless you are sure I will like it.
3. You must call me regularly to see how I am and give me attention. I never have to call you, unless I need something.
4. You have to respect me. I do not have to respect you. And I don’t.
5. I am allowed to lie about you. You are not allowed to tell the truth about me.
6. I am allowed to lie about you, to make you look bad. You MUST lie about me, to make me look GOOD.
7. I am the only one allowed to get angry. You are not allowed to get angry.
8. I am the only one allowed to have “hurt feelings.” You are not allowed to have hurt feelings.
9. I am the only one allowed to feel “insulted.” You are not allowed to feel insulted.
10. I can falsely accuse you of doing things you never did, and you are not allowed to make a liar out of me by defending yourself.
11. You are not allowed to expose me and reveal the things I really DID do. You must cover up what I do and say and keep it a secret.
12. You are never allowed to complain. That’s MY job.
13. You are never allowed to confront me. I’m the only one who is allowed to confront anybody.
14. I can make faces at you, scowl, roll my eyes, and sneer, but you’d better not look at me “funny,” or even smile at me.
15. I can stop speaking to you, but you are not allowed to stop speaking to me.
16. I can disown you, but you do not have the right to walk away from me.
17. When I’m ready to un-disown you, you have to take me back and start talking to me again, with no further discussion of whatever caused our “rift.” You have no choice in the matter. I am the only one who has a choice.
18. I can “vent” to other people about you, but you must suffer in silence.
19. I can tell everybody the things you “did to” me, but you are not allowed to tell anybody the things I did to you.
20. You are not allowed to have any opinion that differs from mine.
21. You must agree with everything I say, but I am allowed to criticize and degrade the things you say.
22. I have no sense of humor when it comes to me. You must take me very seriously, but I am allowed to mock you and even laugh in your face.
23. If you don’t know why I’m mad, you better figure it out, because I’m not going to tell you.
24. If another person upsets me, you’d BETTER take my side and confront and shun them. If another person upsets YOU, good for them. You deserve it.
25. I know everything, you know nothing.
26. You are weak and inferior. I am a superior being, and you must always acknowledge that and never forget your place.
27. You have no freedom to even think independently. I have all the freedom.
28. Your job is to take care of my needs and feelings. You are not allowed to have needs or feelings. If you do, then take care of them yourself and don’t expect anything from me.
29. You have no rights. I have all the rights.
30. You are here to do for me, I am not here to do for you. You are only here for my convenience. When you are no longer useful or become too much trouble, I will kick you to the curb. Until I want something from you again.

66 Comments

  1. MeganC

    Ticking the box. Even though I read it on our FB page, this one still blows my mind! Crazy accurate!

  2. Wow! Do those sound familiar! All unspoken of course. You forgot to mention I’m not allowed to get sick either.only him.

    • Just clarifying, I didn’t pen this piece. I’m just reposting it from elsewhere. I tried to find out who the author is but was unable to do so.

    • Still scared

      Yes, can’t get sick and need help..I was in a car accident, broken ankle and still on crutches when suddenly he has chest pain !! VENTING!

    • Wow, that for sure. Sickness never allowed.

      • Anna

        Thanks for remembering that.

    • Alessandra

      Or don’t ask for things like a living will or life insurance ( he replied, In insured abd that’s enough) I was rushed by him when I said I was talking to an agent about life and disability insurance…. Needless to say, to keep from arguing I cancelled. 2yrs later, he ok’d my request. ( thank GOD I didn’t listen and rescheduled my appt and kept it to myself.)

  3. Tersia

    Barbara, this is so to the T! the only thing I would add and that is to line 30 “….and you are not allowed to kick me to the curb.” Otherwise yes my husband basically fits all those points. This past weekend he blamed my daughter that he went to jail and is not back home yet and that as soon as the order of protection if over, he is moving back in the same day.

  4. Pepe

    Seems to be a very good description of the ‘god’ of the FLESH which we read about in scripture ….those who serve the FLESH serve their appetites and desires FIRST and usually at the expense of others

    This makes the believer who is compassionate but without thinking they have any ‘right’ to protect themselves or who believe in the necessity to forgive but without wisdom from the knowledge of what , when and how to offer forgiveness and how that works vulnerable to these vampires.

    My mom used to say ” They perceive kindness for weakness’ and take advantage they will ..they believe they have a RIGHT to exploit .

    I have found some who go to churches with this deliberate intent! And some in pulpits! This makes the exhortation for us to put on the whole armour of the word …as it goes through the various aspects of the way we are to ‘outfit’ our lives with the word …very instructive for the purposes of GOD to protect and defend us AND to offer it to any who are willing hearers to consider and seek the truth for themselves.

    More and more we see the world seemingly divided into the two camps …but more so those who are OF this kind of perverse attitude …sadly.

    Stay strong in the walk after our Savior and Lord who is the GOOD SHEPHERD and will not abandon His despite how we seem to often be abused….knowledge and understanding is useful for His purposes in those who are willing to pursue through ..rather than give up hope..

    Thank you for this post…

  5. Barnabasintraining

    This is very much the world view of the abuser I know. I would make only a few minor changes.

    The last part of #3 would be inverted to say I can call or otherwise contact you whenever I want as many times as I want and you MUST take my call every time, no matter where you are or what you’re doing.

    And #25 would say I know everything, you know nothing, and what I know changes according to my convenience, for your inconvenience.

    • Oh so true! He would call several times a day and have nothing to say-if I didn’t answer the phone- he would keep calling and call my kids and just harrass us all until someone picked up. But if one of us called him-he wouldn’t answer.

      • Tersia

        My husband did the exact same thing, then say “well what if it was an emergency”. He called one time and I could no answer so when I called him back he ignored my phone call. When I got home he asked what was so important that I could not answer his call, I told him that I was talking to my boss about a client. He proceeded to tell me that no one was more important that he was and that when he called I had to drop everything and answer his phone call, he might need me to run and get parts for him. He expected me to leave work and help him whenever he asked me to help. My boss could wait. He said he did not care if I was talking to the president of the US.

      • Wow, he was blatant wasn’t he? He trumps the President, every time!

        but he will never be able to trump God…

      • One time my daughter and I drove my EHTB to pick up his truck-as we were all headed back home ( he could see us in his rearview mirror) we got separated – when my daughter and I got home- he was furious because he had been trying to call us both but we wouldn’t answer (one phone was dead, the other was on vibrate) -he claimed he thought we had been carjacked- .we were driving on the interstate-so it’s pretty difficult to be carjacked while driving 70 mph.

      • LOL, Jodi. It’s incidents like that that show up how the perpertrator totally lacks logic (by the normal person’s meaning of ‘logic’).
        He didn’t care about your safety (if you’d got car-jacked) he only cared about enforcing his right to make you answer all his calls. The perpetrator’s Other Reality Logic is all about Him Being the Dictator.

      • ….he can come and go as he please, If I said “”I am going to the grocery store”” which was one block up, I had of course to take the children wether they were asleep or not. Also if I notice on the way I am low on gas, choose to put gas in the car when I am done, THEN come back home…..I therefore became a LIER because I said one thing and did another thing!!! Same applied if I said “”i am going outside to wash the windows on the car, and I happend to got “”caught”” wiping the chrome on the fender…..he would storm out calling me a LIER because I said one thing then did another!!!!!

        What about the right to invade personal space, my MIW would lurk at me, like when I was driving or watching TV, if I ask him to stop he would snarl “”What? I am not aloud to look at my wife?”” Also he would never let me shower without sitting outside the door and ripping open the shower curtain, he had to invade every inch of my personal space, NOT once in ten years was I able to shower or take a tub in my own home without somebody lurking, leering at me? Or if I lock the door he would attack the children if i ever needed to be alone in my own shower or bathroom………

        A cell phone became my worst enemy, no need to say more.

      • Memphis- my husband did the exact same thing always lurking around me always staring at me and he would say the same comment when I would complain. I ended up getting dressed and undressed in the closet always wearing a bathrobe. a few times he would come in the bathroom when I was
        taking a bath and my daughter was in there talking to me and he would just stand and stare until we chased him out and he would just store Mount slam the door

    • Anna

      Ha! Yes!

    • Alessandra

      I had a few seizures so when the feeling comes, I call, if the phone doesn’t go straight to voice mail. He waits either 20 secs or 2-4 hours before returning a call, even if I send 911 text. We have 5 children together and I used to hide the abuse thinking to protect them. Found out he tells them I have serious mental issues and if they see me acting out, call him immediately. When I’m at work he calls AND text every hour. He first starts with I love you, miss you. If my response is not timely, I’m reminded who pays or the phone followed by an lol… 22 yrs and I’m just now seeing it on year 20 =( “How could I miss this?”

      • Dear Allesandra, welcome to the blog. You are not alone in how long you were in the fog before you started to realise you were being abused. Most of us have a ‘how long!’ story to tell. Glad you have found us, and hope your find the blog helpful.

  6. It looks like our little bevy of expert readers will be adding a few points to this list. Once the comments and additions have died down, maybe of you may like to rewrite the list incorporating all the suggestions? We can then recirculate it around the internet. :)

    • MeganC

      Agreed. And, while we’re on the subject, and after reading some of the new additions, I am wondering if anyone else’s abuser seemed to think that their victim couldn’t have a thought of their own? When I spoke, my ex would say, “Where did you hear that?” or “Where did you get that?” as though I couldn’t think for myself. Often, he would turn around and use my thought as his own to others (VERY often). Also, when I left, he was sure that I was just being influenced by bad marriage-hating people and needed to come back under his thumb. It always felt so insulting that he didn’t think I had a thought in my head that someone else didn’t put there! And, he seemed angry that my thoughts and ideas did not ONLY come from him . . . . but now (seemingly) OTHERS.

      • Barnabasintraining

        That does sound familiar.

      • My first husband recognised that I had original thoughts of my own, but he tried to denounce or mock or sneer at them if he didn’t like them, or if didn’t like the way my thoughts showed up his intellect as inadequate, in comparison to mine. Mind you, I never acted superior about my intellect, that was his own paranoia thinking of himself as inadequate.

      • Song

        Yes, Megan, that sounds very familiar to me. Additional questions that are used by my abuser are, “Did you think of that yourself?” “How did you think of that?” Depending on what his motivation is at the time, he either tries to belittle and/or invalidate my thoughts (“No, I don’t like that.”, “No, you are wrong.” “Have you ever considered the fact that your perspective may be wrong.”), or he acts very interested in them so he can use them as his own (“You have great ideas”, “I am interested in what you have to say”). I’ve even observed how he belittles my thought about something to me, and then he will take whatever I’ve said and use it as his own when talking to someone else. I now try as hard as I can to avoid speaking my opinions, likes, dislikes or personal thoughts to him. An example is when he is asking my opinion about his clothing, whether a shirt and pant combination works. I recognize it as the beginning of his set-up to put me down or as a test to see if I am willing to help him. It’s a Catch-22 trap either way.

      • Just want to say you have a lot of thoughts in your beautiful, wise head, and I am so thankful you share them with all of us, Megan! :)

      • MeganC

        Haha! Thank you, Anon! :)

      • Uhm at the end, when I was aware of his tactics, whenever we were together in public he would grope me, like in my private areas, and it was offensive and disgusting, and of course humiliating….I would say “”Please do not do that it is embarrassing and hurts me”” he would reply saying “”Go read ;YOUR books Memphis”” Since he riffled through my belongings every chance he could, he liked breaking into my car, he found my Batterer as A Parent book and never stopped using it against me, he was offended that I was “”Reading””

        One time he broke into my trunk and found my restraining order copy i had just got back with and of course had to hide it until he was served…..uh? Needless to say that did not go over very well, but yes he correlated that also to my “”reading”” and Lundy Bancroft now becoming my god and influencing my weak brain.

        One time I saved 20dollars and tucked it into my wallet, of course he found it. Stormed upstairs where I was breastfeeding my son, ripped him from me and flung me off the bed where I bounced off the wall, when I hit the floor he kicked me repeadetly….when the police came he told them SHE was hiding THIS from me, then LIED about it!!!! Even that in his mind was perfectly rational, and if the police did not see that THEY were, in his mind stupider than me. He got an assault charge slapped on him, but of course when he called from jail he was like laughing, as if we could join together in how ridiculous this whole thing was. Then the whole pressure of what a burden I have caused because of his missed work, how much money this jail thing costs, how much money the anger management costs, its easy in the midst to feel like your responsible because financially his behavior was devastating for us at that time……

        Two weeks into marriage I knew I was in trouble….I wonder if anybody else had an abuser who would openly admitt “”I have abused my wife”” he would shrink in stature, well up some tears, then caress my hand as if i was his precious prize,,,,Not only did that shrink me up as a person, all the focus went right to him, nobody ever looked on me with compassion, they were just so in awe of his humbleness, and openess, the attitude was “”WOW? You should be so grateful he is so open and honest and loving” I mean that is kinda sick right?

        As time went on, he just do the same routine, I was like standing right there but it was as if I was genuinely lucky to have him, because when he would say “”I abuse my wife”” that could of meant a million different things to them. Like they were hearing “”this guy is soooo sensitive he is over exagerating, gosh she is lucky most guys wouldnt own up to it”……but I do not think they ever knew what “”it”” was. He never owned up to any specifics. Just wondering if anybody else had the same freak of nature.

      • Memphis, I don’t think I’ve heard of that ‘freak of nature’ in other cases I’ve been told about. I have heard of men who’ve been to Behaviour Change Programs and then come out talking the talk but not walking the walk. But I don’t think I’ve heard of men using confession of abuse as such a big trump card to draw attention and respect to themselves.

      • Mine wouldn’t exactly admit to abuse-but he would tell people how “he just couldn’t seem to be a good husband to me” in the same way-where it just drew sympathy towards him and in turn made it look like I was so demanding he couldn’t possibly please me no matter how hard he tried. I remember being on the butt end of a marital speech by his aunt one time out of the blue and couldn’t figure out where that came from- I finally got it out of him that he had pulled the same lines on her.

      • MeganC

        Memphis . . . . My ex was like that. He routinely confessed (huge tears . . . public confessions of not loving his wife, of pornography . . . ). He would then claim that God had changed him and everything was going to be different. He did this sort of thing all the time. He went to the dean of students at the seminary, to the pastors, he was very public (not about abuse but about pornography). It was like he was staying one step ahead of me, in case I wanted to go to any of these “spiritual authorities”. And I had those same reactions . . . “It is so beautiful that he is confessing all this . . . . ” When I didn’t chime in with how amazing the “transformation” was, I ended up looking cold-hearted and bitter. But, I wasn’t. I just wasn’t falling for it anymore!

      • Megan- yes, yes and yes on all counts. He would make a beeline to every pastor and have them in his hip pocket this same exact way- from then on- the pastor would be looking at me as a woman who needs to be fixed- or taken down a notch.

      • Anonymous

        Memphis, I know exactly what you mean. I think my ex started adopting that freak nature after he discovered how effective it was in Christian circles. It sure worked with the pastor of the church I moved to. While I was relieved to be in another church, the downside was that the pastor didn’t know us. All the ex had to do was contact him and confess his abuse and profess his love for me – and lo and behold, my pastor was enamored with the guy he had “expected to be a monster” but whom he found to be “honest and repentant”, adding that he could understand why I had married him, as he really liked him. He winked at me as he whispered, “I wonder what God has in store for you…”

        I also relate very much to the accusations of lies if you didn’t do exactly what you said you would do. Unfortunately, the kids have picked up on it and keep pointing out so-called “lies”, and I’ve had to suggest the definition of lying as proposed by the expert of lying, Paul Ekman, and that is a lie is being told when there is a conscious decision not to reveal the truth when it could be revealed. A mistaken belief doesn’t count as a lie. Again, this seems to fit in with the mindset of a pathological – I can twist words to deceive you, and it is not a lie, but if you hide anything from me, you are committing an immoral act of lying to me.

      • Anna

        Wow! Yes!

      • Meg with the MIW, if I EVER stood up for myself which out of ignorance meant I was going to try to “reason with him”, he would always say things like “”Where did you get that Memphis? Your BOOKS!!!!” Ya how DARE I read!!!! And of course the implication was i could never come up with it on my own.

      • MeganC

        YES. My ex had a big problem with my books, as well. He even told me once that, when wives read books, they are prone to start cults. (?????) He always tried to make me mis-trust myself. And it often worked. :(

    • MeganC

      Jodi — ExACTly.

      • For sure the same experience, he would find out what church we were at. Attend all the special mens groups, marital workshops, whatever it took, build this big facade against us, and while we were oblivious as to why our cold receptions at church he was the puppet master behind the scenes.

      • MeganC

        Yes — Another quality of an abuser — they have to work hard at church to keep up appearances. HARD. True followers of Christ just “are”. We are actively and proactively loving others . . . but it is a *state*. It is just who we are. We *rest* in Christ — do not have a need to compete, to work behind the scenes . . . there is *peace*.

      • Oh YES. Light-bulb moment. I just joined some dots here. Have a listen to this and see the parallels:
        Quote taken from The Socially Skilled Child Molester by Carla Van Dam, PhD, 2006, pages 1-2.

        The child molesters in this book are no different from any other addict, but in this case everything about their behaviour is ruled by their desire to have sex with children; every encounter with adults facilitates that goal. Every activity is designed to get better access to children. The smarter, richer, more socially skilled these child molesters are, the greater success they experience. The addictive nature of their behavior ensures that they continuously engage in activities to access children, to molest children, and to avoid getting caught. This is what offenders reveal when assured clemency, when unmasked, when boasting, or when confessing past conduct.

        … the child molesters described in this book, the socially skilled, respected or feared individuals are always on task, namely, looking for opportunities to have sex with children. Their image management serves to give them access to children. Their good deeds are meant to get them closer to children. Their constant activities, leaving them almost no personal time, are geared towards accessing victims. Ingratiating themselves with the adults and doing damage control are all necessary to provide ongoing repeated opportunities to have sex with children.

        Replace “have sex with children” with “abuse their wife” and there you have it: the socially skilled wife abuser.

      • I notice too, like in the beginning he would openly admit, then we would change church after church after church while we still lived together. Then he was doing the sneering, glaring at me from the side, acting all crazy, one time my daughter got sick and threw up in church, he just flipped out and bolted!!! So he could not manage himself with me there, yet he found out it was much easier to set the circumstances up to where he could make me look un-cooperative. He enjoyed going solo, so that he appeared to be so alone and sad and then paint his smeared version of the circumstances as to why I was not there or bringing HIS children to church……when we separated permanently THEN he would do all the work behind the scenes, we would not even be aware anybody knew him until somebody would say stuff like “”oh your husband came for dinner last night, he is soooo lonely””…..I would be like “”What?”” Would not a normal person that wanted to reconcile be actually attending church with his family, instead of on the sly? But he would tell them how I refuse to talk to him or let him see the kids or whatever it took to wrap them around his finger. He was petrified of me finding Godly support, if he found support from church then he felt as if he was an okay person and he didnt have to think about the things he had done. They actually give him false sense of salvation, he gets support so that is what he really thinks its all about, he REALLY thinks he is okay.

      • MeganC

        Barb — Wow. “The Socially Skilled Wife-Abuser”.

      • I think counselors REALLY need to get, an abuser feels one FEELING that is entitlement to do as they see fit. The mistake is when the focus always becomes “”How do we as a group here, make HIM feel better”” the thinking is “”Give more, expect less”” and all will be well in the universe. The problem has nothing to do with his FEELINGS the problem is the as most of us understand, the complete utter lack of any empathy for others feelings. The focus in counseling is based on HIS feelings, what NEEDS of his that are not being met that are MAKING him act out. Take the focus of of his feelings, the ones that are on display when he is caught, those “”feelings”” are for him NOT his spouse. People understandably get sucked into an abusers display of emotions after the fact, makes everyone more comfortable, leads counsel to believe a guy like that just could not be as bad as she has stated, then INSTANTLY we are ALL working on how to make him FEEL better about himself.

      • Bethany

        P&P LOVED to admit his abuse to pastors and seek their advice on how to defeat his sin! He would then use their pride against them. Of course they wanted to help this poor Christian man out, what pastor wouldn’t? He would always make sure we were counseled together so that I could praise him for all the changes he had made. Then before I could get to close to anyone in the church he would find some “doctrinal” reason why that church wouldn’t work for us and we would leave.

      • Yet !!! Get this at church in front of me he would boldly brag about how smart I was. I think he wanted to make sure people saw me as somebody that couldnt possible be abused by this man!!! ……and people on the outside just wonder “”Well if he WAS actually abusing her, she would just leave !” Abusers really know how to set the snare in every situation! They beat you down in private, lift you up in public for their own purposes.

    • Joyce

      Memphis – mine did the liar thing too! I’d never heard of anyone else doing it. Very familiar with all those other “rules” as well.

      • Ya. No matter what I did or did not do, the result remained the same……I am not an expert but since most abusers inherently are lyers, this guys sense of reality was so off the mark, he not only lie about been a lier, he would admit he lied all the time because it was fun and he knew people would end up so confused they would give up on holding him accountable for anything. For example in court, the judge tells me “”look he obviously is not going to tell the truth, so refrain even questioning him”” then she turned to him and say “”Mr. – You are an obvious poor lier, nobody here believes anything you say”” but somehow he just did not care, he knew it, and enjoyed it. He also worked over time to find me in a lie, I think its regular abuse tactics, like “”Haha!!!! I caught YOU!!! YOU are not perfect either, YOU lie all the time too, your not any better than me””….of course I did lie. I lied about retaining a restraining order, I lied about bills that were not getting paid because he would withold out finances, I lied about my intent to leave in the wee hours of the morning, I lied about where the kids got clothes and food from. If he ask if they whined at all that day, I would lie. I remember one of the church counselors interagating me, saying “” He claims you are spending money behind his back, that you have stolen money and put it in hiding”” then he proceed to lecture me on the Pillars of marriage, and how finances are the number one killer in a relationship, and they never notice how my MIW was continually coming to them with these minuete complaints trying to make me look bad…….when you are married, when did it become not OURS? As far as money went if I had any it was HIS, if he had any it was HIS. Abusers use such across the board tactics its as if theyhave the same playbook. He used the children, trying to deflect from his abusive behavoir, he would tell the pastor I was not a good disciplanarian, then they would lecture me on NOT stepping in, to LET him make his own mistakes!!!!!!!! The same people that held ME responsible if my MIW EVER left bruises on the children!!!!! They kept following his ques, and flipping tracks to appease HIS complaints!!!!! Even when he was obviously caught in a bold face lie, he was excused, because after all “men had tougher responsibility”” it was my job to cater, look the other way if he was a harsh abusive parent, unless of course the kids were harmed, then they would do an about face and look at me as if I should of done something????? The bottom line is he succeeded and to this day is succeeding in manipuaaltion, and deceitfulness, and he is SO heavily rewarded he has no REASON to stop!!! Not that a good reason exists to an abusive person. Just remember always, they are NEVER REALLY SORRY, they do not feel your pain, BUT the pressure of getting caught or looking in the wrong certainly will provoke them into a response that eases their own discomfort.

  7. Belle

    So, if someone fits only 10 or so of the characteristics are they still a narcissist?

    • MeganC

      Belle — According to Martha Stout, a narcissist is a different bird than a sociopath, which makes the list a little foggy. I would say that, if an abuser has 10 or so of these traits, he or she is a narcissist. A narcissist is utterly self-centered (to be sure), but a sociopath has no conscience.

    • Belle, I think it’s probably wise not to worry about the label of narcissist. A lot of these traits are consistent with anyone who has a sense of entitlement, narcissist or not. Whether someone has NPD- that really can only be judged by a test. But for our purposes it’s not really key. The key is that these are hurtful behaviors that we should not think are normal or acceptable.

    • Belle, I am not keen on the whole thing of fitting people into categories on the basis of how many boxes they tick. So I wouldn’t like to hazard a guess as to your answer.
      I do know that there is a whole swag of pop-psychology books and websites that talk about narcissists. I think those things can be helpful for lay people, up to a point. It’s from that realm that this list was drawn, and the list helps us identify and understand the mentality of abusive people. But it’s not always wise to read a pop-psychology resource, such as this list, as if it has the standing of a professional psychiatric resource.
      We need to remember that in the DSM IV (the current diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association) there is category ‘narcissistic personality disorder. But some psychiatrists also refer to ‘narcissistic traits’ which can occur in people who don’t fit the classification of narcisstic personality disorder.
      I’d be looking it up in Wikipedia if you wanted to know more. And remember, the DSM IV is just a humanly developed classification system that is regularly being revised, and the psychiatrists engage in great debate with each other over each revision. Presumably, they do their best, but they are the first to admit that their don’t know it all and that their systems are very much a work in progress.

      Rather than focus on whether a person ticks enough boxes to be given a label (whether that label comes from a pop-psychology quiz, or from registered mental health professionals) I think it’s more helpful for non-professionals – that’s us – to be aware of what the traits of narcissism are, and the traits of covertly-aggressive manipulators, and the traits of sociopaths or psychopaths, and the traits of spouse-abusers, and the traits of socially skilled pedophiles.
      Some mental health professionals break down things into lots of small distinctions and then put various labels on them. But for the rest of us who simply want to live lives of integrity, knowing how to recognise and deal with selfish and wicked people is much more useful than knowing whether or not we can stick a correct label on them.

    • MeganC

      And, just to add this cracker to the pot in a succinct way — I think what everyone is trying to say is . . . If you know someone who fits 10 or so of the characteristics (a spouse, a friend or a family member) . . . things are not healthy, regardless of the label.

    • And Meg was answering as I was writing my answer, so I’ll respond to her comment too.
      “According to Martha Stout, a narcissist is a different bird than a sociopath, which makes the list a little foggy.” That’s exactly what I was trying to say about this list. It is a list that comes, so far as I can see, from the realm of pop-psychology, and that’s why it may seem a little foggy.
      I suggest we don’t worry too much about whether the list’s *title* is good (whether it’s correct to more or less equate narcissists with sociopaths), but just concentrate on the numbered points in the list, as to me, they are the gold. I republished the list because the numbered points were good, not because the title was good.

  8. coco

    We should also add all the things a victim tells herself in response to some of these things. 1. If only I had complimented him more, or sooner. 2. I should have asked his permission first…etc, etc. finally, my feelings aren’t important. All of which are lies and coping mechanisms!

  9. Kim

    I want to share this with the abusive marriage support board I am part of. I used something in the past and I believe Jeff gave an ok to share things from this website. I want you to know that you are a huge blessing and resource for many women on the board I am on. Thank you for all you do for us. I pray we can give back when we are out of our situations. Blessings

    • By all means, Kim! We would like to see our stuff shared as widely as possible. There is no copyright on anything written on this blog, unless specifically stated, and so far as I can recall, only one post (one of mine) has a copyright statement. So go ahead. The more the merrier!

  10. aspen

    This is the type of post that is very helpful as someone trying to understand abuse and help a family member. My sister and I have discussed it and she was able to point me to some of the “rules” that had existed in their household. Thank you Barbara, for reposting it. Too bad it was overshadowed by another post following in quick succession…

  11. Hi Barbara, Just wanted to let you know I’m the author. I’m Sister Renee Pittelli of Luke 17:3 Ministries. I wrote this list as the Narcissist’s Rules of Engagement and posted it on my Luke 17:3 Ministries facebook page. Glad to see it’s making the rounds lol! It will also be included in my next book, the sequel to Narcissistic Predicaments, hopefully coming out in the spring. Thank you for posting this and the great work you do to help others. Blessings and peace, Sister Renee.

  12. (PS) Sorry, I didn’t realize someone had mentioned the copyright issue. Everything I write is copyrighted but I always give permission for anything I write to be used for non-profit use if you can use it to help others. All I ask is a link back to my website http://www.luke173ministries.org.

    • Thanks very much, Sister Renee,
      I’ll add your link into the body of the post. We really appreciate you contacting us and letting us know. :)

  13. Coming out of the fog is so hard; sometimes it seems easier, even safer to retreat back into it. I am deeply disturbed by how many of these things apply to my dad. I’m not sure I would say that he does have NPD or anything, but. There are a lot of similarities in these ‘rules’. :/

    • I too have found that sometimes it seems safer to retreat back into the fog, especially if that means my family won’t stiffen or prickle at me so much. :( And for me at least, there is a kind of solacing dream-like comfort in going into that shut down place where I just numb out and pull the imaginary doona over my head (if not the real doona). It’s a kind of emotional first aid.

      • Right, just not having to deal with it anymore. It takes energy, both mental and emotional, to sort through all the crap that goes back decades.

  14. Kaiters

    Wow! This was my last boyfriend that dropped me 3 weeks ago. I was put on anxiety pills because of him. The worst emotional roller coaster ever … Lasted 4 months. I pitty people that are like this and are on the reciving end.

  15. Carla

    This list is absolutely to the tee of the nightmare I have been living…I know I need to leave…very beaten down and have to come up with a way out..help!!

    • C, welcome to the blog :) I hope you find a lot of help here. On our resources list we have safety planning page; I suggest you look it over and work out what will be most useful for your needs.

      And I also suggest you contact your local domestic violence support service — check this page on our resources for phone numbers: http://cryingoutforjustice.wordpress.com/resources/domestic-violence-agencies-us-and-canada/
      Don’t be put off by the term ‘domestic violence’ that most of the secular agencies use: the agencies are there to help all abuse victims whether or not the abuse has included physical violence, and they know that many victims have never been physically assaulted but have suffered other forms of abuse which can be just as or more damaging than physical violence.

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