Trolls, Narcissists, and Codependency…an Open Debate

By Kim Saeed | Narcissism

Dec 28

**Warning – Trigger Alert**

For those of you who read my article, Why Going to Therapy with a Narcissist is a Bad Idea, you may have read the many interesting comments that were left on my blog.  I welcome all comments, even from readers whose opinions differ from mine.  I enjoy the occasional healthy debate because we sometimes learn things when we keep an open mind.

Until…the “debate” becomes abusive and toxic from one side.

In fact, I debated on whether to share this, and I decided it was important simply because it shows abuse in action. The whole purpose of posting this is to highlight what comes across as caring comments, only for the truth to be later revealed as deep contempt. This is the blueprint of a behavior that is typical of a Narcissist, and how destructive it can be to someone who takes the Narcissist’s words at face value.

I’ve been having a virtual dialogue with a commenter who has left various comments on my blog under the gravatar names “Dave”, “Anonymous”, and “Shmoo Report” (the latter of which has since been removed).   In the beginning, this commenter seemed credible in his replies, until he became aggressive, going to so far as to say my articles are harmful to readers and that I’m engaging in victim-blaming.  He even left a comment as “Anonymous” and replied to his own comment under “Dave”.

When I asked for proof that my reasoning on the topic of codependency is flawed, he instead became aggressive and abusive, never really providing any proof.  Further, when you read his later comments, he goes on a tirade that can only be construed as the worst form of victim-blaming, and I’m sure his comments will leave many of you with a sense of familiarity, as his comments are a classic example of a narcissistic reaction.

Towards the end when it appears I’ve replied twice to a single comment, it’s because he’d removed the “Shmoo Report” comment before I sat down to write this post.  I’ve taken the liberty of copying the ones that remain so you can see how a (suspected) covert narcissist instills doubt and shame in his or her victim while seeming educated and articulate about a particular topic.  ** A check before posting this article reveals some of his original comments have been deleted.

Towards the end he asks me to delete his comment.  Believing I wouldn’t share it with my readers, he goes on to shame those who follow my blog, and simultaneously tries to make me feel incompetent.  Very familiar, right?

(I’ve included Michelle’s comments in pink as they were part of the original debate which was seemingly healthy in the beginning, and also because she specifically addressed the dialogue between myself and “Dave”.  Please note I am not including her comment as being harmful in nature, but as part of a valid line of inquiry)

Please feel free to share your comments and thoughts!

dave

DECEMBER 13, 2014 @ 5:38 AM EDIT

Yes. Except mine was a covert narcissist, so even better at playing the victim. 3 couples counsellors, and several sessions of bewilderment on my behalf, not realising she was using the individual sessions to totally misreperesent, and lie about what was happening. Last session with the second therapist was pretty much her screaming at me and the therapist not knowing what to do. He later advised that we should separate, as he could see no evidence that she was willing to change or make any movement.
I do get sick of reading that the victims of narcs are co-dependent. Sometimes, possibly, but this denies the art and artifice of the narcissist. They work hard to lie, deceive and fool you, and get your sympathy (which in itself them becomes a narcissistic injury to them!) The covert (introverted) ones are superb at it. If you are a loving, committed, empathic person, you are the perfect “mark”! That doesn’t make you co-dependent – to say that without evidence is just victim blaming.
The covert narc is brilliant at bewildering the victim. I had no idea the amount of work that was being put into creating false situations, generating false impressions, and generally lying to others, to make me look like I had the problems and attitudes that were actually hers. Yeah, the PTSD is still pretty strong too. Hope I can use my knowledge to help others. The “counselling” actually became.part of the abusive process!

REPLY

DECEMBER 13, 2014 @ 7:05 AM EDIT

Thank you for commenting, Dave.

In regards to victims of narcissists being codependent – everyone I work with in my coaching practice is given a set of personality quizzes and every single person up to this point has been determined to be codependent. So, it’s not victim-blaming, but a matter of helping victims of this kind of abuse to overcome the wounds and defense mechanisms that cause them to engage in codependent behaviors.

I agree that joint counselling with the narcissist generally becomes a part of the abuse process. The best approach is to seek individual therapy.

dave

DECEMBER 13, 2014 @ 6:25 PM EDIT

Thanks for the response, Kim. I’d love to know what questionnaires you are using. Also how you differentiate between “codependency” and ” narcissism, given many of the characteristics are the same ?
I understand that the majority of narcs (that are obvious) are overt “classic” narcissists, and they seek “victims” who already have a repertoire of co-dependent behaviour. It’s a a natural fit.
Even the introverted narcissists seek out a narc to replace the parent narc – I would guess that some (a few) of your clients might fit that profile. However, we need to be aware of the fact that there are also a lot of reasonable, well-developed, nice, easygoing, people out there who, through no fault of their own, may be targeted by a narcissist. More likely an introverted one who hasn’t yet separated from the narcissistic parent. We need to take care not to be victim blaming. The fundamental statement that “it takes two to tango” does not apply when looking at relationship dysfunction. It only takes one to lead the other up the garden path, in many cases.
Perhaps the blink below might explain it better.

https://www.psychopathfree.com/content.php?313-Codependency-Victim-Blaming-Why-Abuse-Is-Always-Wrong

 

Kim Saeed

DECEMBER 28, 2014 @ 11:45 AM EDIT

The Narcissist and Codependent are indeed similar in that they both look outside of themselves for validation.

I’m not trying to persuade your beliefs one way or the other. I simply stated the fact that up to this point, all the evidence I’ve been presented with shows that victims of Narcissistic abuse have varying levels of codependent traits. I’ve not come across one compelling instance that points otherwise. Further, I suggested that those who have been the target of a Narcissist should take a quiz to see if they are, indeed, codependent or not. That’s only logical. Refusing to consider it an option points to possible denial.

With that being said, I am willing to keep an open mind in regards to your theory, it’s just that I haven’t read or been presented with evidence that points to it in regards to a person who’s been narcissistically abused not being codependent. Granted, some of the information you’re sharing is accurate, but there is an obvious bias on your side when it comes to your conclusion.

As far as it taking two to tango…each individual in a relationship influences its dynamic. If there is a pattern of any negative sort that is tolerated over a period of time, it’s because the person being exploited hasn’t established healthy boundaries.

REPLY

  • Anonymous

DECEMBER 16, 2014 @ 11:25 AM EDIT

In my experience most covert female narcissists don’t go for co-dependent men at all, they go for strong, independent men who believe in love and want to take care of the woman in their life.. also, on average, women are naturally more narcissistic than men so it’s so much easier for female pathologicals to blend in.
There is also the factor that male.. umm.. “targets” quite often strike back once the lies are exposed.
Quite a different and perhaps an even more complicated dynamic than the male narcissist – normal female one.

REPLY

DECEMBER 19, 2014 @ 7:53 AM EDIT

Anon, thank you for visiting my blog and for commenting.

A man can be strong and independent and still have codependent tendencies. Determining if one does indeed have codependent traits isn’t a form of blaming, but an acknowledgement that something may be going on in their subconscious mind that may be causing them to stay in an unhealthy relationship. A man can believe in love and want to take care of the woman in his life, but if the relationship is toxic and he still stays, he’d want to explore the reasons for that.

I do agree that it’s often easier for women to get away with narcissistic behavior because of society’s expectations for the man to “rescue” her, and since a common belief is that women are “naturally moody and difficult”, toxic behaviors could be chalked up to that. However, if someone is abusive and can never be pleased, it’s a sign to contemplate the future of the relationship.

    • dave

DECEMBER 27, 2014 @ 12:58 AM EDIT (This is in response to his own December 16th comment left under “Anonymous”)

Anonymous, that’s pretty much spot on, I reckon. I suspect that this type of person appears to the covert narcissist very much like the narcissist parent. Remember, they don’t have experience of this type of person, nor the empathic ability to understand where they are coming from!
A big “victim-blaming” mistake to label this as “co-dependent”.

DECEMBER 27, 2014 @ 7:22 AM EDIT

Actually, David…using the term “codependent” isn’t labelling or blaming. Again, every person I’ve worked with so far has been determined to have varying levels of codependency….most often of the significant kind. And not only my clients, but those of various colleagues I work with, including therapists.

Further, it’s not my goal to blame victims. It’s to help them. As a former victim myself, I know what it’s like to be at the receiving end of Narcissistic abuse. And it was only by coming to the understanding that I was codependent that I was finally able to make sense of my experience. In contrast to the article you keep referring to, it became clear to me that I was codependent after just the one relationship. However, after learning about codependency, I was able to see how my “empathetic” tendencies of caring and wanting to do the right thing had manifested in other areas of my life up to that point.

Codependency is a defense mechanism that typically develops in childhood and with it comes a set of beliefs about oneself, as well as engaging in specific behaviors. It’s only by understanding how one’s codependency keeps them enmeshed with a Narcissist can one begin to make the necessary changes in order to begin breaking free from their disordered partner and begin to rebuild themselves. I say rebuild because the Narcissist knows what buttons to push to cause his or her target to completely lose their self-esteem, and worse, their zest for life.

It’s my goal to help, not to blame.

  • Michelle Mallon

DECEMBER 18, 2014 @ 7:53 AM EDIT

The following comment was left on my Facebook Page in regards to this post:

I just want to say that I am really very interested in this conversation between Dave and Kim and I really appreciate the time each is taking to explain where they are coming from in terms of where they might disagree. While I really connected with this article, (and Kim, thank you so much for writing it) I too had difficulty with the use of the term “codependent”. Actually I have had difficulty with it for some time now. The problem is that I have never really been able to put my finger on what it is that bothers me about it. It might be the term itself “codependent” which does seem to imply a sharing of responsibility for the abusive relationship. While I have found that for so many survivors of Narcissistic abuse, the ones who are beginning to understanding that what they have been through has a name, they almost always begin to realize that there were other Narcissists in their lives whose abuse primed them to try harder in the next relationship (which would often at some point end being with another Narcissist since Narcissists are very talented at finding people who are primed to try harder to make doomed relationships work).

In fact, as I am writing this, I believe I am starting to realize what it is that bothers me about the term “codependent”. I am not certain at all that what we are discussing is truly what “codependent” is. In fact, Dave if you look back at the list of characteristics of people who are “codependent” from the link you provided, look very closely at the last half of the list- “An extreme need for approval and recognition, a compelling need to control others, lack of trust in self and/or others, fear of being abandoned or alone”. These characteristics seem to define more of the characteristics of pathological Narcissism than anything else. How did those end up on this list? There seems to be some blurring and I think I know why that is. I believe that a better term for what we are all discussing might simply be “Narcissistic Victim Syndrome”. For anyone who has ever endured this type of abuse, we know first hand just how cruel and destructive the abuse is- it literally shakes us to the core. The “blurring” of symptoms I believe may be due, in part, to the projections the Narcissist has thrown onto the victim being partly or completely internalized by the victim. Anyone who has ever worked with a victim of Narcissistic abuse who hasn’t yet discovered the truth of what they have been through knows how confused, hyper vigilant, paranoid, fearful, depressed, guilt ridden, etc these victims look. They don’t really know which end is up. They can’t make sense out of anything. In fact, they are pretty sure the problem must be something with them because they have been slowly led to believe this.

I could say a lot more about this but I want to let my thoughts come together for a bit. This really has just hit me. I think what we are all describing is a pattern of “priming” which is more consistent with the after effects of the abuse itself (and the further insistence by a mental health profession that doesn’t “get it” and tells victims they just need to try harder to make things work). I believe what we are describing is consistent with Narcissistic Victim Syndrome. A great place, in my opinion, to read more about this is on Christine Louis de Canonville’s sight “The Roadshow For Therapists” at http://narcissisticbehavior.net/category/narcissistic-victim-syndrome-what-the-heck-is-that/

Thank you for allowing me to join in to this really important conversation.

REPLY

    • Dave

DECEMBER 27, 2014 @ 2:29 AM EDIT

I strongly agree with pretty much everything your “poster” says, (and she seems to be partly repeating my point – although I may be misunderstanding the “co-dependent” discussion?) Essentially I don’t agree that “everyone” who ends up in a relationship with a Narcissist is co-dependent, or has co-dependent tendencies. By the same token, if you do the reading on NPD as parents, they very often produce children with NPD, (and particularly covert/introverted types that are VERY hard to recognise), but we shouldn’t label everyone that way either!. I guess, the list of “co-dependent” characteristics in the link I provided (posting below) matches some of the NPD characteristics – more so for the covert ones. A lot of the literature also says a narcissist has to pair with a “co-narcissist”. In some cases, yes, of course, in others no. The idea of Narcissistic Victim Syndrome covers a lot of this as well (thanks for that – yes, NPD’s are MANIPULATIVE and for the overt classical NPD’s, aggressively abusive. That’s a lot of toxic work to unpick and re-integrate yourself healthily.)

Does it look the same? I reckon it would to the external observer, but there are subtle differences and degrees of things, and you need someone who will evaluate, question and challenge the statements made to them as a therapist. This is where an understanding of the behaviours and their motivations is helpful – and yes, sometimes informed by labels such as those above. The dangers are twofold – one is not “getting” the label and trying to interpret the behaviours from a reasonable, empathic, logical framework – the second is is always applying the label, and perhaps missing the subtleties. Also remember the NPD tendency to represent their partner as having the exact same behaviours as they themselves are doing, and painting themselves as the victim.

I think the “co-dependent” label that disturbed your poster is for the same reason I disagree with it. It implies that the victim is somehow facilitating and enabling the abuse through their own sense of “need” (which is why is sounds so self-centred, or even say, Narcissistic?). This is not in anyway to denigrate anyone who has suffered the the point that they are lost in that horrible reciprocal pattern – the NPD often moves the goalposts quite slowly until you have shifted what behaviour you will accept (and the belief that you are doing something wrong, or are at fault) . They also manouevre you to a point where you are not in a position to leave without severe consequences. Particularly if you are empathic, and for example, love your kids.

In summary, I just think it is good to be aware that the classical NPD isn’t a “one size fits all” and AS WELL we have the covert NPD – very different presentation, and probably different victim population characteristics too. That list on the link I gave ? I could only apply one tendency to most of the victims of a covert NPD – “a tendency to do more than their share” – it’s called empathy, for someone they love. They just don’t know their partner (parent, sibling) is often subtly playing the victim.

https://www.psychopathfree.com/content.php?313-Codependency-Victim-Blaming-Why-Abuse-Is-Always-Wrong

DECEMBER 27, 2014 @ 9:28 AM EDIT

Dave,

You do make some good overall points about Narcissism, though I still disagree that someone who’s been the target of a Cluster-B disordered person isn’t codependent, even with your analogy of the Narcissist “subtlety moving the goal posts”.

As I stated in my other reply, I found out I was codependent after just one toxic relationship, which is in direct contrast to the main idea in the article you’re referring to. This does happen rather frequently, especially with survivors who have been married to one person for years of their adult life. Further, if someone is unwilling to consider that they might be codependent, they run the risk of attracting another Narcissist, which is highly unfortunate considering the strength and courage it takes to get away from the first one.

I would suggest that all targets of Narcissistic abuse do the self-discovery that’s necessary to determine why they stayed in a toxic relationship, including taking a quiz to determine if they are codependent. Not doing so would simply be detrimental to their recovery process, and also point to possible denial.

    • Anonymous 

DECEMBER 27, 2014 @ 9:57 AM EDIT

Please stop this, Kim, you are incredibly wrong and damaging. You really seem to be unaware of those covert narcissist dynamics where really no co-dependency is involved. If so, then your whole understanding of narcissim is deeply flawed, and so is the understanding of your fellow colleagues and therapists.

DECEMBER 27, 2014 @ 11:13 AM EDIT

I’m fully aware of covert narcissistic dynamics, as I attracted one after leaving my first overt Narcissistic husband. That happened because I wasn’t aware of how my own beliefs and behaviors were playing out in my reality.

If you could present some kind of proof that my reasoning is flawed (and that of my colleagues, some of who are therapists), I would be open to reading it. However, as it stands right now, this is your personal opinion. Whereas, my reasoning is based on scientific, documented research, as well as concrete evidence from my own experiences and those of my clients.

We do have an influence on our reality. Suggesting that those who find themselves the target of Narcissistic abuse explore the possibility of their being codependent is only logical, instead of insisting that we are at the mercy of outside forces, including manipulators. That’s what is wrong and damaging and keeps people in a state of victimhood.

    • Anonymous

DECEMBER 28, 2014 @ 4:49 AM EDIT

Please delete this comment, overall you are still having a positive effect on humanity so I don’t want this to be shown.
You have simply attracted many people to this site who have the same weak personality, victim mentality and overall high narcissism that you have too, deep down still always blaming something else and only pretending to understand your own shortcomings. In reality never truly facing that a lot of all this, at least 20-30%, was your fault. And you are working with these people who are all somewhat kinda like this.
You are unable to admit to yourself that you are so damn attracted to pathological narcissists because you yourself have many highly narcissistic traits and delusions on the non-pathological side, co-dependency only being one of them. Being similar attracts, it’s the world you know.
But this is only one (but yes, probably the most common one) form of narcissist dynamic. You have no comprehension of for example pathological narcissism in women, nor does society and psychology in general. It’s a huge taboo. There is for example really no co-dependency involved when there are zero humanly detectable signs of any abuse for months/years, most female covert narcissists can be that tricky and do everything perfectly. Some male narcissists too. They come across as someone completely normal.
I think you lack an understanding of sociopaths and psychopaths in general, you believe they are some weird forms of, for the lack of a better word, “human”. Well they aren’t, but something completely else. Pretty much all psychopaths are also pathological narcissists.
More like you are running a business here, trying to treat everyone of co-dependency. Those who never had it, nor did they let the narcissist create any co-dependancy in them once the lies got exposed, won’t turn to you because it is obvious to them that something is very off with your views, very damaging to them, almost like “victim-blaming”.
I have no idea how those therapists you mentioned got their degree (I mean, I have an idea, because of the taboos and how their education works).
Makes me wonder whether you really are an INFJ.. they see through such things easily..
Simon

DECEMBER 28, 2014 @ 9:11 AM EDIT

I won’t delete your comment because it’s a wonderful example of a trolling, cerebral narcissistic reaction. I know your kind very well and I’m sure you’ve left similar comments on other blogs. Just please understand that whatever damage you were trying to inflict here is lost on me.

DECEMBER 28, 2014 @ 9:27 AM EDIT

Once again, you’ve come here without proof… only more finger-pointing and name-calling. It’s obvious that you’re trolling and your leaving comments under different names only amplifies that fact.

Your comments seemed harmless in the beginning, but once I asked for proof that my reasoning is flawed, your response was to go on the attack instead. A classic example of a narcissistic reaction.

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(22) comments

Kat January 7, 2015

Yesss this is Good one…..

they want to Win at every cost even if in the process, destroying you others… in fact its a High “Achievement” in their crazy heads XD

Reply
silkred December 29, 2014

The form of language used by this ‘Dave’ I found to be triggering of my own experience with ‘the narcissist’. There is something sharp and barbed about the expression of these people that I recognised here and that felt spiky and triggering to me.

I dont like the word dependant in co-dependent – but I think you are right – if I look back then I was necessarily dependent on the community that the narcissist excluded me from – I liked my part in that community and liked the feeling of inclusion – I liked being able to express my thoughts and opinions on that forum of others.

It was keenly painful to have it taken from me – and excruciating to observe the sort of inattentional blindness of all the others, in fact that more than anything was painful and so I have to agree and add myself in your list of victims who were co-dependant to at least some degree with their abusers.

I come now to view the narcissists behaviour as a manifestation of his own limitations and fears, he was simply not able to have someone within his group who was happy to voice opinions contrary to his world view. I look at the little group of facilitating sidekicks as maybe with some degree of incredulity – that grown men of some intelligence can be seen to adulate someone like the narcissist is quite a spectacle.

There is a great degree of surreality infused through all of this for everyone involved – no contact is the only way you can hope to regain your sanity and so is learning and sharing of our unique experiences. Sharing this interchange is extremely important and valuable. Sharing as much of this real world manifestation of abusive expression helps all those touched by this nightmare to ground their experience as not unique to them and most importantly not something of their own doing, it was never their fault, never was and never will be no matter how difficult it is to come to objectively understand the mechanisms of narcissistic abuse.

What you do here with this blog is extremely valuable – thank you Kim.. very much.

Reply
Patty December 28, 2014

“Dave Anonymous’ ” comments are great! He illustrates how deceitful, shamelessly pompous, totally self-absorbed and full of himself a narc can be! Reminds us all how the narc is a cunning and calculating predator, who sets the bait, then when it doesn’t immediately draw a response fast nor easily enough, he burns the woods down. Thank you Dave Anonymous for being real life narc example number one! Your words soooo predictable, your pattern (yawn, BIG yawn) so known to us all; you fool no one but you. Kim– you help so many. We know, we acknowledge, we are so very grateful.

Reply
emergingfromthedarknight December 28, 2014

I can only understand how distressing it can be when we have suffered due to lack of needs met in childhood then to have to wear a label. The first label for me was alcoholic, then I discovered I was also co-dependent and possibly had a touch of borderline traits as well. All very painful to swallow. But as has been said once we can name something we are in a better position to take steps to heal. I see the co-dependent as one who looks outside the self for validation, longs to heal his or her own deep pain by connecting to others wounded (consciously or unconsciously) too to bond and replay the drama. It only ends with pain when we learn how to undo the false beliefs of the wounded child who came to feel unlovable and learned not to give love to oneself or truly understand the effects of distorted love in the narcissistic family (Dr Karyl McBryde has done some great work on this.). When we realise the love we seek outside has to first be found from within. Without blogs like this one and many others I don’t know how possible it really wound be to heal, since I have had a lot of therapy myself that never ended well with therapists who tried to control and I am sure, had their own unresolved issues. Yesterday I made contact with an ex who I feel was narcissistic to a degree as I wanted to own my part in it, but what I remembered was that when I really went to him with my deep pain I would get a slap, He was not capable of affirming or validating it, or me. In the end the ending forced me back on myself.
Dave shows a lack of empathy and insight with his comments. I think the narc has to put up some kind of hard defensive exterior to retain control and it can be very subtle the way it is done. I am still not totally clear on it. But It was great that you posted this debate as it clarified some issues. Labels are labels, they are a map used to define the territory but they are not the territory entire only pointers to a vast terrain mysterious and complex in its entirety.

Reply
Paula December 28, 2014

All victims are different and each victim deserves a personalized approach to their healing. I think what you offer to victims/survivors is VERY personal, Kim. Your quizzes and reflective coaching helps people tap into their power to heal themselves.

No one therapist or modality is perfect for everyone. I think we all agree on that. What this string, especially Dave’s last accusatory and critical comment, left me pondering is how victims themselves devalue eachother when our approach to healing, recovery and self-discovery seems challenged by another’s approach. The key word is “seems,” because none of us who are truly interested in seeing everyone heal and succeed would be so arrogant as to think our answers are THE ONLY answers.

I have always had an issue with the term “codependency,” especially after trying to read the book, “Codependent No More.” I simply didn’t see myself in how that book was explaining it. Since putting down the book, I took the quiz and discovered that I do have codependent tendencies. Learning this has opened my eyes to areas in which I could benefit from growth and transformation. I don’t label myself as “codependent” simply because calling myself that doesn’t work for me; it keeps me stuck inside the label. Much like weighing myself every day doesn’t help me lose weight; it just hinders it.

I think it’s less important to own the label and more important to at least recognize that none of us who fell for narcissists or sociopaths could have prevented it from happening regardless of the degree to which we are or aren’t codependent. I think everyone is a potential victim. And it is clear in your practice, Kim, that you attract and help those whose codependency played a large part in why they were targeted.

I’m attrated to your work, Kim, because it’s honest, thoughtful and intelligently presented and supported. I’d like to see survivors who are working to help other survivors heal and transform work together and not tear each other down. This type of work is not easy or without controversy. Attacking the credibility of someone like yourself and insinuating you are pathological just because you refuse to relinquish and allow someone like Dave to be right is not acceptable. Not acceptable.

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Michelle Mallon December 28, 2014

Thank you so much, Kim, for clarifying the context of my comment you included in this article. I appreciate it very much.

Reply
    Kim Saeed December 28, 2014

    Sure thing 🙂

    Reply
Karen December 28, 2014

“In my experience most covert female narcissists don’t go for co-dependent men at all, they go for strong, independent men who believe in love and want to take care of the woman in their life.. ” I could have said this two years ago, except I am a woman and my socio was a man. This comment shows all the reasons why I never thought I was codependent. I still hate the term, because it seems to describe a weak person who looks to others to meet their needs. I was a strong woman, an independent woman, a woman who needed no-one. But a woman with a HUGE drive to care for another, especially a seemingly broken other.

People become really defensive when their world view is challenged. I didn’t, because I was coming from a place where I have naturally always taken responsibility for my life (and, wrongly, for others). If I am not happy, if something is wrong, it is because of me (and we know how a socio will take advantage of THAT!), So I knew instinctively that the reason I ignored the red flags when other people didn’t was down to me. But because of the ‘dependency’ bit of ‘codependency’, it took me a long time to ‘get’ it – I knew there was something about me that had allowed me to tolerate the way he had treated me, but it has only been this year that I recognised ‘codependency’ as the name for it

Many people aren’t like that – if they don’t seem ‘weak’ and ‘needy’ they genuinely don’t believe it could possibly be anything at all to do with them – it must therefore be pure bad luck. They genuinely think it is all about the red flags. They don’t see how the ‘covert narcissists’ still give themselves away (otherwise EVERYONE they met would fall for it). They don’t see how they ignore all the red flags however well they know them.

They become defensive and call it victim blaming because to do otherwise means THEY have to change. Claiming victimhood and hiding behind ‘victim-blaming’ as an all-encompassing shield is hugely protective. But it is as futile and as self-endangering as the victim of robbery who refuses to take advice on locking their doors and windows.

One can only stay calm and wait for them to be ready. I believe in the cycle of change and that everyone is on some phase of that cycle or they wouldn’t come across the websites or whatever that challenge us/them. That person may not be ready for change, but just hearing the facts may plant a seed, even if it is fervently denied. We all hear eventually, when we are ready.

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    Kim Saeed December 28, 2014

    Beautifully written…thank you for sharing!

    Reply
Anonymous December 28, 2014

If I did not know better I would have said that Dave/Anonymous was my narcissistic soon-to-be ex-husband. The language he used, the deliberation of words – him to a “T”. The word Co-dependent is not in itself derogatory but I agree that Narcissistic Victim Syndrome better explains the level of abuse experienced as an adult – it is insidious, it is covert, it is punishment and torture blended with veiled demonstrations of “being in love” and boy do they know how to manipulate the situation to make them appear “the victim”. It is as heinous as it can get – evil wrapped up in all its guises. Namaste xx

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    Leslie December 28, 2014

    Ditto here. Same conversations over and over.

    And to all who react negatively to the term codependent … I’m an RN and all of my career codependent meant some alcoholics wife who allowed and even helped her mate to continue to drink, abuse and suck the life out of everyone around them. Or the mother if some drug addict who continually made excuses for her little angel and blamed everyone else for the addiction except for precious.

    But like so many of you here, I searched the net and time and time again I read stories that mirrored my experiences so closely it felt that we were all married to the same person. I say, no I scream “there is a name for this” and not only is there nothing wrong with me … I’m not crazy.

    And I have learned that codependent is not what I have always defined it to be. I am codependent. I never bought alcohol and brought it home for an alcoholic to drink or continued to feed someone who was so mortibly overweight-but I do fit the description. Codependent has many fascits. I am loving and giving and most always put others needs ahead if my own. Why? It surely was not a ploy to control others. I suppose more than anything it was a need to be loved and validated. A basic human need. I could say more about my childhood and the late discovery of narcissists in my formative years, but I’ve gone on longer than originally planned. I am a loving and giving person who just needs to learn boundaries and realize I need to look up for love and validation when the people around me don’t.

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Anonymous December 28, 2014

I just wanted to say, good for you Kim! for calling a spade a spade – you are a true inspiration for us sensitive empaths like yourself – it seems that a true narc, sooner or later reveals that what they are – just like a criminal who goes back and visits the scene of their crime – i have met some narcs in my life, and once their backs are against the wall, they always come out swinging – the Dr Jekyl in them disappears and out comes the Mr Hyde in them, flipping the situation over and chiding whoever had the gumption to recognize stand up to their staggering sense of entitlement

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Michelle Mallon December 28, 2014

Would it be possible for you to clarify that in your article? Currently my name and comment are included without any real explanation about why they are there. At one point you mention that Dave used other names to post, so people reading your article may not know if maybe my comment was really written by him. I guess I am respectfully asking that you make it more clear in your article why my comment was included in your article.

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Rebecca December 28, 2014

I really do not agree with the label of codependent. We are a product of behaviors shaped by caregivers. Children who are raised by self absorbed parents have struggles to heal many unmet needs. They lack psychological self care skills and we need to label the cause, not the victims of dysfunctional parents. Put the attention back on to the dysfunctional parenting. We have many categories for them, but one for the victim, codependent? No, they have dysfunctional coping skills which were reinforced in the crazy environments of which they survived. We do not label rape survivors, why are we labeling helpless children? Please focus on the behaviors which can change and not on a label to identify an abused child. We need to stop blaming the victim of a dysfunctional parent. I have found the only way out for these children is to learn to identify the abuse traits and how they developed irrational behaviors to survive these environments.

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    Kim Saeed December 28, 2014

    Rebecca, I agree with the context of your comment. Though the descriptors you include are the very definition of “codependency”. As you said, it’s a defense mechanism rooted in dysfunction during childhood in which children learn limiting ways of dealing with their environment. However, my articles are targeted to the adult who has carried those negative beliefs and conditioning into their mature relationships. Again, it’s not a destructive “label” any more than one who has been determined to have PTSD, C-PTSD, anxiety, and/or other conditions that are the result of emotional trauma. It’s a way of identifying the underlying symptoms and behaviors in order to begin healing.

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Michelle Mallon December 28, 2014

Kim, could you clarify why you have included my posting to the original article you wrote? You have included it above in a pinkish color. If you recall, I asked for your help in posting that comment because I could not post to your page. I wrote that comment well before anything abusive occurred on Daves behalf- the conversation still had the semblance of a constructive comment. What purpose does including my comment serve for this article? Please clarify.

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    Kim Saeed December 28, 2014

    I included it because you made the comment in all sincerity as part of the discussion between me and “Dave”. I would imagine there are others out there who may share your line of inquiry. When the discussion first started, your comment was a part of a seemingly healthy debate, and further you included the link regarding Narcissistic Abuse Syndrome, and although that’s not yet included in the DSM, it’s a very real set of symptoms. Your comment was highlighted in pink only to separate it from my comments, and the ones from “Dave”. So, although Dave’s comments turned out the way they did, yours is still very constructive in that line of discussion…

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Jade Winthorpe December 28, 2014

I’m just going to say WOW! Reading all of this person’s responses, it’s like my narcissistic abusive ex was talking here. How they will lie, and twist things, (even pretend to be another person, something my ex has done to others including myself countless times) just to push a ridiculous form of credibility out there is just mind-blowing. And what always gets me, is that you all sound the same! It’s like you’re all reading from the same textbook! Anyway, I’m happy that you made this post. We all need to be reminded what these people are really like, and it can’t get any better than seeing it come from the lips of an actual narcissist! Well done!

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AD December 28, 2014

Hi Kim – that was rediculas in all sense of the word! Your kindness was taken for granted as most of these trolls do.

Word games are classic – hopefully one can understand simply language constructs are futile to fight over and if one needs to heal by acknowledge a victim to victory mentality…so be it. Bounderied are about responsibility…

I think you’ll always have people who feed off putting others down…next this troll will have his own website… Sadly these exploiters exist.

Keep watch and also, do your good work! People like you rock!

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inspiredbythedivine1 December 28, 2014

Wow. Beyond being a victim-blaming narcissist, this guy has sociopath written all over him. To go through the trouble of creating several accounts so he can reply to himself on your blog is a sign of a deeply disturbed, angry, dangerous person. In my opinion, and it is only that, my opinion, it serves to do more hurt than good to allow such “comments” to be posted. The one good thing it shows is the disturbed mind of a narcissistic sociopath at work, but my guess is that you, and your readers, are already very familiar with such minds. You are a healer. A listener. A compassionately empathic person who uses her own experiences to aid others in seeing the trauma they suffered from abusive narcissists was not their fault but that of their abusers. The one thing a narcissist who believes everything revolves around them hates the most is to be ignored. Ignore this fool. Delete every comment he made and block him from ever commenting again. Let him know you’re doing it. Then make his comments vanish as if they never were. He does not matter but for the pain he’s inflicted on others. Don’t allow him to incite more anger, doubt and hurt, not even the tiniest bit of it. It is better use of your time to put your efforts into healing and helping others develop defenses against boyish imps like this self-loving ape. To ignore the narcissist with utter impunity is to cut him to the quick and reinforce to him just how meaningless and insignificant his place is in the world of decent, caring human beings such as yourself. That’s my opinion. $Amen$ 🙂

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claremenzies December 28, 2014

It was really good to read this Kim, this Dave/Anonymous/troll sounds like the most of the doctors and therapists I’ve had the non-pleasure of meeting. Realizing that while what I call my “conditioning” and trauma have been the main reason I haven’t moved on it is a relief to see these kinds of people exposed by facts. Your blog is incredibly helpful in my journey for self and for the person I want to be.

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betternotbroken December 28, 2014

This is a daring exploration indeed. I too have been scrutinizing the aspect of “codependency” and I feel often people are bullied, belittled and “forced” into this role by the narcissist, his family and society who as a whole who expects you to make things work with someone intent on building chaos. I have just not be able to articulate my stance yet, this helped. People end up changing your personality and comic to believe you can control the uncontrollable and I am in the process of rejecting the label codependent I once may have been labeled with, but it seems the definition of codependent changes from person to person. Keep up the good work Kim, you help so many people, you are bound to attract people who want to take center stage.

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