Home > Abusive relationships, Borderline Personality Disorder, divorce, Marriage, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Psychology, relationships > Social Media Platforms, Narcissists, Borderlines and Histrionics: The Lure of Blogs, Facebook and MySpace

Social Media Platforms, Narcissists, Borderlines and Histrionics: The Lure of Blogs, Facebook and MySpace

Over the last few months, many Shrink4Men readers have posted comments about how much time their spouses, girlfriends and exes spend on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter personal blogs and other social media platforms like mommy and bridal websites. Their behavior goes far beyond the typical sharing of family photos or funny news links. These individuals create their own public-relations-spin-control-propaganda-I-am-the-center-of-the universe profiles, networks and feeds.

One recently divorced reader’s (Still Recovering) ex-wife became obsessed with her profile and “friends” on a popular bridal site, TheKnot, and then a newlywed site, TheNest. His ex maintained her elaborate profile post-divorce—including photos of him and their wedding—and communicated with her followers as if they were still married. After repeatedly requesting that she remove his photos, he publicly outed her regarding the divorce. His ex and her online friends erupted into a flame war in which they portrayed him as the abusive psycho rather than his ex-wife who was masquerading as a perennial bride-newlywed in order to maintain her status and feel special. Still Recovering suspects that his ex-wife may, in fact, be a narcissistic personality.

Other readers report that their wives, girlfriends and exes spend inordinate amounts of time every day fine tuning their profiles and posting updates in which they portray themselves as busy “super moms/super wives/super martyrs” who single-handedly run their households and take care of their children and husbands. One wonders how they do all of this while spending most of the day online.

What’s the connection between narcissism and social media?

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and MomLogic are innocuous enough for average users who want a fun and convenient way to connect and stay in touch with peers, friends and family. However, social websites are an endless source of attention, self-promotion, self-aggrandizement and a sophisticated weapon for many narcissists, histrionics, borderlines and other self-obsessed, abusive personality types.

University of Georgia researchers Laura Buffardi and W. Keith Campbell (2008) found that Facebook profiles can be used to gauge narcissism. Buffardi and Campbell observed that the number of friends and wall posts people collect and predilection for glamorous profile photos vs. snapshots is correlated to how narcissistic they are in their daily offline lives.

The Columbia Daily Tribune reports: “Facebook provides a rather accurate method of ego estimation because this quantity-over-quality online attitude mimics real-life behavior in which narcissists concern themselves only with how things appear to others. Facebook permits any narcissist with Internet access to assemble an army of pseudo friends, employ the help of a thesaurus in writing contemplative wall posts and upload only photos in which the subject’s nose looks almost proportionate. By controlling every aspect of one’s profile, a user can create a compelling identity similar to the one that person implements in reality, but better.”

Social media platforms seem to hold appeal for narcissists and other relationship-challenged individuals for the following reasons:

1. Ms. Popularity. It allows her to have superficial relationships with lots of people at once, which gives her the appearance of popularity and all of its trappings. For example, “Look at how many friends I have! See what an amazing person I am. Everyone wants to be my friend.” Amassing friends on social websites is akin to the philatelic childhood pastime of collecting baseball cards. It doesn’t really say anything about one’s character except that you have a lot of free time on your hands and/or are willing to “friend” or be “friended” by just about anyone in order to gain another illusory popularity point.

“Friendship on these sites focuses a great deal on collecting, managing, and ranking the people you know. Everything is designed to encourage users to gather as many friends as possible . . . This promotes a form of frantic friend procurement” (Rosen, 2007). Social websites aid and abet some narcissists and borderlines to relate to people as objects. Their “friends” are thumbnail images to be added, ranked and deleted according to their fluctuating valuation and devaluation like moving pieces on a checkerboard. “You didn’t validate me. You’re going to the bottom of my friends list!”

2. Avoiding intimacy. Many narcissists prefer the superficial online relationships social sites provide because it’s easier to avoid the possibility of exposure, disapproval, rejection and heartache that true intimacy and emotional vulnerability entail. “Friendship is a relationship which, broadly speaking, involves the sharing of mutual interests, reciprocity, trust, and the revelation of intimate details over time and within specific social (and cultural) contexts” (Rosen, 2007). Most people understand that their 200-plus contacts on Facebook or MySpace aren’t friends in the true sense of the word. However, most narcissists, histrionics and borderlines aren’t most people. They view these friendships as “real.” Instant, superficial relationships are their comfort zone. Facebook friends are props—just like boyfriends and husbands—who provide them with a false sense of normalcy.

Wendy Behary, author of Disarming the Narcissist, told ABCNews.com, “At the core of most people who are narcissistic, underneath they often feel inadequate, lonely [and] a sense of shame because they haven’t learned the skills to connect with someone in a real way. Facebook allows them to stay in hiding.”

Another recent study conducted at University of the Pacific found that “those who engaged in romantic communication over MySpace tend to have low levels of both emotional intelligence and self-esteem” (Dong, Uristra & Gundrum, 2008). These platforms allow individuals to mask their massive interpersonal deficits such as warmth, depth and a lack of empathy.

3. Easy to use, convenient and time efficient. Most narcissists and borderlines constantly complain about how “busy” they are without ever seeming to accomplish anything. However, based upon their prolific tweets, blog entries and Facebook updates, they have ample time to endlessly focus on their problems, grievances, personal valuations and devaluations and smear campaigns against those whom they believe have abandoned them or hurt them in some way.

Additionally, conducting a smear campaign the old-fashioned way—individual phone calls, face-to-face conversations—takes a lot of time and energy. Blogs, MySpace, Twitter and Facebook allow them to broadcast their lies, distortions, inflated “accomplishments” and messages of hate to the web with a simple click of the mouse. Modern technology at its best!

4. Me, myself and I. She gets to focus on her favorite subject: Herself. A personal profile page is all about the individual. The narcissist is the leading lady or star of her or his own universe. A social profile page is the perfect vehicle upon which to project her or his false self. Social websites are like interactive mirrors.

She can portray herself in the best possible light no matter how unfounded it is in reality. She can post her most recent wannabe supermodel/vixen mobile phone photos and obsess over which ones are the most flattering. She can post her most recent profound insights and her never-ending list of grievances of people who have wronged her. Her profile is all about her all the time.

5. Spin, baby, spin! Social media sites allow individuals total spin control. Buffardi states,”For people with narcissistic qualities, social networking sites are effective vehicles of self-promotion. Online, they can assemble armies of casual friends, choose the photos in which they look most attractive and, through quotes and comments about themselves, create a compelling personal narrative” (ABC News). They can create whatever illusion they like and collect “thumbs ups” from their friends, sycophants and, for those who use social media platforms to harass and stalk others, collect minions to mob their current target of blame.

Facebook, and its brethren, would seem to be a narcissist’s dream; these individuals want the world to think as highly of them as they think of themselves, and social networking sites allow a high degree of control over what information about a person gets presented to the public. This ranges from photos and quotes to ostensible measures of popularity, such as the number of connections a person has made” (Arstechnica).

6. Emotional terrorism. Many narcissists, borderlines, histrionics, antisocials and other abuse-prone types are gifted when it comes to knowing how to find your sore spots. They intuitively use social networking sites to lash out, attack and hurt others while portraying themselves as the injured party. Many conduct smear campaigns via their blogs and profile pages. “They tend to use their site to put other people down. Narcissists need to have power over others. They tend to be manipulative, using people for their own advantage” (AssociatedContent).

Many of these individuals also use these platforms to cyber stalk, cyber bully and cyber harass their targets. They use these platforms to keep track of who you’re chatting with, your activities, photos and whereabouts. Some go so far as to contact your contacts to trash you, to attack “that new skank you’re dating” or even contact the friends and colleagues of the new woman you’re dating to smear her. In the wrong hands, social media websites can be highly effective weapons.

These aren’t new behaviors for narcissists, borderlines, histrionics, sociopaths and other emotional terrorists. It’s the same old-same old. However, technology has increased their ability to simultaneously reach a wider audience in a highly controlled and efficient way. It’s like war. War has been around since humans were able to pick up rocks and throw them. However, with modern technology, we can now kill hundreds of thousands of people at once instead of one at a time with a spear. Technology also allows abusive emotional terrorists, bullies, narcissists, borderlines, histrionics and sociopaths the ability to do the same.

For example, a crazy ex no longer has to go through elaborate machinations to choreograph an “accidental” run in with you, herself and a new boyfriend. She can post photos of herself with victim du jour and Facebook sends out an alert to all of her “friends.” They’re the same old behaviors, but the method of delivery is more immediate and sophisticated.

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consultation Services:

Dr Tara J. Palmatier provides confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. Her practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Shrink4Men Services page for professional inquiries.


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  • Buffardi, L.E. & Campbell, W.K. “Narcissism and Social Networking Websites,” Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, Vol. 34, No. 10, 1303-1314 (2008).
  • Facebook takes narcissism to a new level. Columbia Tribune.
  • Facebook: Where narcissists connect? ABC News.
  • Rosen, C. “Virtual Friendship and the New Narcissism,” The New Atlantis, Number 17, Summer 2007, pp. 15-31.
  • Dong, Q., Urista, M. & Gundrum, D. “The Impact of Emotional Intelligence, Self-Esteem and Self-Image on Romantic Communication over MySpace,” CyberPsychology & Behavior, October 2008, 11(5): 577-578.
  • Facebook profiles out narcissists. LiveScience.
  • Social media is for narcissists. Mashable.
  • 5 Ways to spot a narcissist from their Facebook page. AssociatedContent.
  • Narcissists easy to spot on Facebook if you know how. arstechnica.

Photo credits:

  1. guy
    January 29, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    hi dr t. i remember mentioning the facebook agenda to you lsst year w./ my X narc. and again this is an excellent truthfull account of facebook etc… once she got on there she deleted her my space profile because moire of her “friends” and extended family were facebookers, once she got on there she was an out of control frieghttrain, i couldn’t compete and it was a great source of unwanted anxiety for me being in a relationship w/ her…i ended up last on her list because therw was a greater source of instant gratification, while i was questioning her motives with all these new found “guy friends” i will admit that i have recently gotten back on facebook but it was for the marketing of my business, unfortunatly in order to have a business profile one must have a personal profile. i keep that under control, while the narcs look to be “fans” of something they have no clue about. it has worked to promote my business however i am not into “self gratifying promotion” of myself, i’m too busy being a father to my son, taking care of my family and making a living to pay my bills… something that narcissist do not know how to do, most are in debt or have filed bankruptcy because they were too busy on facebook and not minding the store.

    all the best dr t.



    • shrink4men
      February 1, 2010 at 5:10 pm

      Hi guy,

      Technology is supposed to improve your life; not become the center of it. FB isn’t a bad thing in and of itself; it’s how you use it.

      Congrats on getting your life back,
      Dr T

  2. redevil
    January 29, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    This article is spot on ..I only came to terms with the BPD/NPD syndrome yesterday and even have posted a large insight on whats going on with my life in one of the other articles..

    The fb thing is so real cos my GF is so obsessed wit her status msgs..that everyday she has to google or find a new status msg portraying on whats happening or how shes feeling etc etc . I can see that she is craving so much of attention towards her from the outside world by showing 1,4 &5. She would never do 6, for now i could bet on that ..probably there are levels of BPD. There are so many times thats it out of my reach and i seem not to understand why would you want to portray something that you are not ..She has to look cool..d super chic etc to the rest of the world by telling she does this does that ..but in reality she does neither of it ..The pics , d snap shots , do i look preety in this one , that on ..take multiple shots of the same pose ..for fuck sake … only i know how i handle her , d rest of world knows shit ;) and if i counter with a smart comment on her previous post ..she will be like why did you say that ..Delete delete delete ..kaboom deleted !! ..Now if she comes up with a smart line , it will be heheheh , isnt it funny ..i was just joking …

    • shrink4men
      February 1, 2010 at 5:08 pm

      Hi redevil,

      Maybe you can break up with her on her “wall?”

      Seriously though, if your gf has the issues described here and elsewhere on this site, you have bigger problems than FB. What are you going to do?

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  3. Recovering Alpha
    January 28, 2010 at 10:01 pm

    Wow! My ex spent HOURS each day on Facebook, but I never linked that behavior directly to her difficult personality (BPD/NPD?) until reading this article and blog comments. Thanks AGAIN Dr T!

    Personally, I don’t have time to “do” a Facebook or similar. I don’t really want to either. I’d rather spend the time WITH SOMEONE TALKING AT LUNCH FACE-TO-FACE for example. I spend much of my professional work day on a computer (do computer simulations of electronic devices) so may be I’m slanted NOT to want to spend my personal time on a computer. Anyways, just my two cents on this “on-line” stuff … I

    • shrink4men
      February 1, 2010 at 5:05 pm

      I hear ‘ya. I update my Shrink4Men page when I have a new post, but that’s about it.

  4. JIM
    January 27, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    How about this ,her profile starts out like this ” Im just me ,I cant help who I am ,Im just me “,holy should have seen the potential for problems right there .After 6 months only she s gone ,how did I miss this u asked , blinded by a smooth operater I say

    • shrink4men
      February 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm

      Wow. I need to add that to my red flags when dating post. It basically translates to: Accept me and all of my abusive BS.


  5. Johnboy
    January 27, 2010 at 7:30 pm

    Hmmmm . . .

    Can we use xPDs to torture our enemies? I mean, would it not make sense to parachute them into places we need intel from or need to torment our enemies? :D

    • Holy Order of Garlic
      January 29, 2010 at 4:30 am

      ..or put them in one place and drop our enemies in? Make a great film.

      Wasn’t Kurt Russel in a movie called “Escape from New York?” some time ago? hmmm

      or should this one be called “Escape from Witch Mountain?”

      Kidding folks. Nothing against our good earth healers. It’s just a figure of speech. Have to laugh through the tension sometimes : )

      Other titles might be “Dazed and Confused II,” “Transformers: Revenge of the Crestfallen,” “The Five People You Meet in Hell,” and my personal fave “Fits of Fury” starring Bruce Leave.

      Glad to get that out of my system hehe

  6. JZ
    January 27, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    I think this is a well written post, but I don’t fully agree w/ some of its premises. While FB, MySpace etc. do provide fertile ground for narcissists, do keep in mind that there are folk who are merely responding to evolving technology and putting these things to good use in ways that are not necessarily unhealthy. For instance, in this day and age of high economic instability, these sites can be very useful for networking. You have your photos there and summaries of your interests, etc., it might open a door to a new or better job. Also, ppl who in real life are in some position of leadership or authority at one institition or another find these media useful for staying connected and building community among ppl they don’t have a chance to physically meet all the time, and this builds to the benefit of the institution or group they’re involved w/ (never mind the people w/in it).

    Yes, on FB or MySpace you have total control of what photos you put up and what you say about yourself, but isn’t that a reflection of real life anyway ? When we leave the house in the morning we choose whether to look like a total bum or to dress in a way that, at least at times and in many cases, we hope will allow others to have a better impression of us. That’s not necessarily narcissism, but just common practice and in many cases a means of survival (e.g., being able to keep your job). Likewise even a non-narcissist will take pains to make sure embarrassing, compromising or just plain bad-looking photos don’t end up on a FB page… that’s just human nature !

    Let’s not throw the baby out w/ the bathwater here. For every narcissist who misuses FB or MySpace to enhance their false self or destroy others, you’ll find plenty of mentally healthy individuals who are just making use of new technology to maintain connections and, in cases, enhance or better their lives. It might even help you get connected or stay in touch w/ a love interest… perhaps in cases where you and the love interest both have no other manageable way of staying in contact (by way of circumstances such as… getting out of an abusive relationship w/ a narcissist or other abuser and having to stay relatively discreet in the process).

    I guess the main thing I’m saying is that the social media 99% of the time just provide a reflection of real life, and however you manage things there is likely going to be consistent w/ how you manage the rest of your life anyway. People who are positive, friendly and open in their everyday lives will scarcely be different online.

    • shrink4men
      January 27, 2010 at 4:19 pm

      Hi JZ,

      Thanks for commenting and welcome to Shrink4Men. I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water. Here’s a quote from the above article:

      Facebook, MySpace and MomLogic are innocuous enough for average users who want a fun and convenient way to connect and stay in touch with peers, friends and family. However, social websites are an endless source of attention, self-promotion, self-aggrandizement and a sophisticated psychological weapon for narcissists, histrionics, borderlines, et al.”


      “Most people understand that their 200-plus contacts on Facebook or MySpace aren’t friends in the true sense of the word. However, narcissists, histrionics and borderlines aren’t most people. They view these friendships as “real.” Instant, superficial relationships are their comfort zone. Facebook friends are props—just like boyfriends and husbands—who provide them with a false sense of normalcy.”

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

  7. Alstott Fan
    January 27, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    “One recently divorced reader’s (Still Recovering) ex-NPD wife became obsessed with her profile and “friends” on a popular bridal site, TheKnot, and then a newlywed site, TheNest. His ex maintained her elaborate profile post-divorce—including photos of him and their wedding—and communicated with her followers as if they were still married. After repeatedly requesting that she remove his photos, he publicly outed her regarding the divorce.”

    This hits real close to home. When the STBX walked out she kept our wedding pic as her FB profile pic for over a month and a half. She also kept her status as “married” for just as long. She’s a daily user BTW. It was only after my friends and family who she was friends with started asking if we were back together that I knew this. I called her and talked to her and she finally took the pic down, even though she replaced it with a glamor shot of her from HS, and set her status to single. I’ve had her blocked since 2 weeks after she walked out since her new “man” felt the need to start posting how “hot you are, babe” and such crap.

    • Recovering Alpha
      January 28, 2010 at 11:54 pm

      My ex yelled at me “get out of my bed, get out of my bedroom, get out of my house!” so I moved out. Her awful behavior CHASED me out of a house I loved dearly and didn’t want to leave (I’ve just recently re-acquired that house through court proceedings end of divorce.) I have two incidents that popped up into memory while reading your blog:

      1. However I legally had access to that house and went back once with my older teenage sons to get some stuff (she was out of state for the weekend) since they had moved with me 100%. I was shocked to see ALL the wedding pictures still up (like 6 to 8) that she ALWAYS kept up no matter where we lived and the past 16 years of marriage. I never understood why until I read this site: it was her PROOF to the world that she was ‘normal’. That made sense when I realized her previous dating life was ALL miserable failures. Her relationship to me was the first longer term that didn’t (at least right away) end in dramatic catastrophe (ours eventually did too 16 years into marriage).

      2. When the ex and I were both in a court appointed family psychologist interview required by judge to find out why oldest two boys didn’t want to live with Mom, she repeatedly kept referring to me as “my husband” which I recall was driving me nuts! We weren’t husband/wife anymore. But I think in her mind that moniker was a link to ‘normalcy’ which she really didn’t want to give up (even though she’s the one who told me to get out and she petitioned and retained a lawyer etc).

      Just a few more pieces to fit into the slowly completing larger puzzle …

  8. Mr. E
    January 27, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Yikes, I hope my wife doesn’t see this post. I use a lot of social media… ;)

    My wife doesn’t post too much on Facebook, mostly she just watches what I post and finds excuses to be mad, or tells me about how she tells everyone to just check my Facebook to see how I’m doing, since I post “so much.” (Kind of like how she used to tell people, just after we got married, that I just talk and talk and talk at home…)

    Anyhow, she doesn’t really post to facebooks or any forums because she doesn’t believe the people on the other end are real.

  9. Jonathan
    January 27, 2010 at 8:05 am

    This article is right on–

    • George
      January 27, 2010 at 9:35 am

      My BPD soon to be ex-wife would surf the social networking websites for 8-12 hours per day. It’s all she would do all day and all night long. She was absolutely obsessed with it. It was a constant source of frustration in our household.

      I’m currently in the middle of a divorce from my soon to be ex-wife. I was wondering if you have any advice for someone when their BPD ex-wife links up with a very aggressive and litigious attorney. My soon to be ex-wife uses her attorney to file numerous declarations filled with accusations. It feels like harrassment. It also forces me to rack up the attorney fees just to defend myself. She especially gets spun up when I call her on her lies by pointing out some hard evidence which contradicts her accusation. She also gets spun up when I choose to defend myself when I am under attack. Lastly, after repeated attacks and accusations against me, she will try to pretend that she is the real victom here! It’s just crazy! Has anybody else encountered this? Do you have any good advice?


      • shrink4men
        January 27, 2010 at 4:27 pm

        Hi George,

        Purchase and read this book: SPLITTING: Protecting yourself While Divorcing a Borderline or a Narcissist (http://www.bpdcentral.com/bks/spy.php)


        Managing High Conflict People In Court

        Dr T

      • ExpatDad
        January 28, 2010 at 8:57 am

        Has anybody else encountered this? You bet! Along with all the taunts that she was going to get 90+% of my salary because of her great attorney etc. etc. The pages and pages of lies, distortions, attemtps to show herself to be the victim etc. when she was the one off having affairs were, simply put, staggering.
        In the end, it didn’t really make any difference, but it is important to defend yourself calmly. What I chose to do was this: analyse carefully all her lies and distortions, and bingo – I found out a huge number of inconsistencies (surprised?) – in my response I pointed out some of the most egregious of these, whilst noting that there were many other inconsistencies and countless other falsehoods – giving some broad indication of the areas/contexts (with particular attention to those most likely to affect custody or her financial claims), but stating that for the sake of procedural efficiency these would only be gone into in a later submission if the court deemed it desirable. My lawyer’s advice was that the judge would only be irritated to see an equally high stack of defence papers, and that this was a better strategy. Saved energy and fees as well, but the latter were still enormous.
        Also, since she moved out first, I managed to drop in the comment about her moving out “in connection with her extra-marital relationship” a few times. It felt good to make the point, even though I’m in a no-fault jurisdiction.
        Not sure what the Bar Association code of conduct is where you reside, but here there is a rule about “avoiding unnecessary damage to the opposing party”, so I am considering a formal complaint, but am already aware that she will likely hide behind her client (i.e. my ex) and anyway it’s the lawyers’ buddies’ club of course.
        My Ex also got even more incensed than was “normal” during the marriage by the gusto with which I defended myself, but I expect Dr. T. would agree that this meant, as in your case, that I was beginning my recovery, being strong enough to stand up to her nonsense, and the inevitable side effect was an escalation of her contempt – after all you and I are not supposed to do that, we’re supposed to roll over and cave in, especially with her “impressive” attorney giving us the treatment she would consider we only deserve.

  10. Amegioa
    January 27, 2010 at 2:34 am

    I stay away from the social websites. My last emotionally abusive gf wasn’t into technology. I work in IT but I never really was interested in the social webistes, but I created a ‘myspace’ page when we were broken up (one of the many times). After she found out a woman had emailed me from it, she demanded I delete it. Frankly I was more than happy to lol. The whole thing seemed silly and I couldn’t get into it. The lady who emailed me was a psycho too lol. So it was no big deal. Now, honestly, I think it would be a big turn off to me if a lady I was interested in was “into” those sites. They don’t seem to do much but cause problems; playgrounds for weird people :)

    Back when I had the page, The whole time I was creating my page I felt really awkward just talking about myself… so I actually kind of turned ‘my’ page in a page about my daughter and me. That in and of itself made the GF jealous, she didn’t seem to understand why I didn’t include her (even though we were broken up when I made it) and that the one picture I had added of her was at the bottom of the list (cause it was the last pic added, and only added cause a old high school buddy I had communicated with through the page had asked what the pyscho I had been talking about to him looked like lol).

    When she broke up with me one time and then called me wanting to get back together after not talking for 3 months… One thing that bugged her is she couldn’t understand why I hadn’t been calling her and trying to get us back together; if I cared. She couldn’t seem to understand… When someone breaks up with you, to chase them is stalking lol. Not only that, but I pointed out… “uh, you weren’t calling me either”. Talking to her was just mentally straining… She had these ideas that “if I loved her” I would do this, or wouldn’t do that… all the while her behavior was really bad. Like breaking up, and then being like “if you loved me you’d try and get us back together”… but I’d say “yeah, but if you loved me, you wouldn’t have broken us up in the first place”. And that would just go right over her head… She wouldn’t know how to respond to comments like that.

    She’d protray me to people as the emotionally abusive person cause “He’s always turning things around and making them my fault or my problem”. And she’d take my pointing out her extreme instabilities and that she needed help (done out of love, but granted sometimes out of frustation as well) as “trying to convince her that she’s crazy”. Oh she made me out to be a real bad guy. Which is demoralizing, but do you know what is even more demoralizing…. Everyone just believed her. I mean, they see the fringes of instability, but people, women, that she talks to just eat up the craziest stories and not see that she was causing it. She’d break up every couple of weeks, wouldn’t be able to point to any horrible behavior on my part, but manage to convience everyone that I was the source of all the instability!!!

    Anyways, I’m starting to babble lol… good article!

  11. tannen
    January 26, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    One more thing I’d like to ask. This cluster B behaviour seems to be endemic in society today or at least more evident, maybe it was always there. What are the possible causes of this?

    And, thinking long term here, how does one raise children so that they:

    a) avoid developing like this
    b) recognise this behaviour in other people and act wisely around it

    Some of the scenarios described here are truly terrifying, but they must have root causes. Any thoughts Dr. T, fellow readers?

    • Mr D
      January 27, 2010 at 4:43 am

      Hi Tannen. I’ve been seeing a psychologist recently to help deal with some of my wife’s BPD-type behavior. One of the concerns I expressed to him was the passing of these characteristics on to our children. He indicated that statistically some core trauma of childhood abuse – often sexual – is present in diagnosed BPD’s. Trauma, along with an invalidating, non-nurturing family environment can lead to the childlike behavior patterns of BPD. He told me that as long as I am able to nurture my kids and protect them as best I can from abuse, they shouldn’t develop these problems. My older kids (19 and 14) are turning out pretty good so I must be doing something right.

      For my younger kids, I think I’ve still got the nurturing part down and am now working on the protection part.

      This article over at mhsanctuary breaks it down pretty well:


      • tannen
        January 27, 2010 at 7:01 pm

        Mr. D, Dr. T,

        Fascinating insights, and thanks for the link, I’ll get to it soon. Dr. T, something else I forgot to ask: Are NPD/BPD/HPD are diagnosed as disorders rather than actual illnesses? Would that make them (in laymen’s terms) deeply ingrained LEARNED patterns of behaviour, not acutal physiological conditions, ie. bipolar disorder? If so, then might that mean that with much effort, humilty, couselling, prayer, etc. they could be managed, unlearned or overcome? That would mean that although they don’t believe so themselves the patient actually DOES have some control over their behaviour and can (if they admit to it) take responsibility for their actions and work through them. Really curious about this.

        • Mr. E
          January 27, 2010 at 7:12 pm

          “If so, then might that mean that with much effort, humilty, couselling, prayer, etc. they could be managed, unlearned or overcome?”

          My understanding is that, yes, with years of difficult work, they can kinda sorta learn to manage their behavior…

          …If, by some miracle, they’ll admit they might be wrong.

    • shrink4men
      January 27, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      I think a contributing factor is the child-centric way many people raise their kids. They make the children the focal point and, thus, the children grown up believing that the world revolves around them and that everything that they do is special and wonderful. Mom and dad do everything for them, including cleaning up their mistakes and messes.

      I worked in university counseling for several years and experienced the result of child-centric parenting and the self-esteem movement firsthand. It’s horrifying. Kids who become incensed when they don’t get an “A,” complain to the professor, then the dean and when that fails enlist mom or dad to get on the phone to demand a better grade because “Leeza has never received anything less than a B+!” Never mind that Leeza blew off a third of her classes and turned in mediocre, half-assed assignments.

      I also think there are a lot of kids raised by Cluster B single mothers and divorced mothers who learn dysfunctional and entitled behaviors from them because they’re the parent with whom they have the most exposure. They grow up thinking this behavior is normal because it’s what has been modeled for them. Not good.

      Dr T

      • Recovering Alpha
        January 28, 2010 at 11:33 pm

        Dr T

        Reading your blog https://shrink4men.wordpress.com/2010/01/26/social-media-platforms-narcissists-borderlines-and-histrionics-the-lure-of-blogs-facebook-and-myspace/#comment-5265 is very comforting to me; still trying to figure out why it makes me feel so comforted, probably because I’m (nearly 100%) single father of 4 boys and want to make sure they don’t get the BPD/NPD their Mom had — from her “child centric” (and I could write for HOURS on memories of that with her parents right up to them buying her a house after we split). I try to make sure they are part of my life not the center of it. At first we had some snags, but the benefits are starting to be seen! They do their OWN HOMEWORK WITHOUT ME PROMPTING THEM now. They were used to their Mom constantly riding herd on them about everything; a “wet-nurse” really. When they moved with me 100% when I split with ex, I told them, “Your grades and your future life are primarily YOUR responsibility. I’ll help you with your homework and anything else you ask regarding school work, but you are going to assume the task of getting things done.” At first their grades plummeted, but now they are doing their homework BEFORE I get home and when I walk in from work, ask “Dad, I need help with this” and so on. Truly deeply moving to me.

        I think when a parent “rides herd” on a kid for schoolwork they take away their self pride when the kid does well. I have to look back at my childhood. I NEVER remember — not ONCE — my parents getting on me to do my homework. I wanted a good grade so I did it. They — and I — both knew it was for MY best interest in the long run so it just seemed natural to think it odd for THEM to get after me.

        Maybe that’s not common anymore but I look back and realize it PUT THE RESPONSIBILITY ON ME AS A CHILD FOR MY OWN SUCCESS, which propelled me to be nearly always a top honors student.

        Just some thoughts on what you wrote above and how my sons seemed to be going down that path when parented (I was away at work and coaching I admit) by my ex.

        Anyways, thanks as always for your penetratingly CLEAR insights into all this. I can’t say how much what I’ve read on this site HAS DRAMATICALLY CHANGED MY LIFE!!!

        • shrink4men
          February 1, 2010 at 4:54 pm

          Hi Recovering Alpha,

          Kudos to you on getting your kids to take responsibility for their own academic success. That’s huge. Kids and adults both learn by making mistakes and dealing with the consequences.

          I think many parents who try to protect their children from the consequences of their bonehead choices, lack of academic motivation by negotiating their grades, etc., do their children an incredible disservice.

          All behaviors have consequences. If you safety-proof/negative consequence proof your child’s life, how will they ever learn? For those of you mommies out there poised to attack me for not liking children (which is totally inaccurate, btw), I’m not advocating letting kids stick their fingers in electrical sockets.

          If they make a poor choice or get into trouble, let them suffer the consequence. The best way to learn not to touch a hot stove after your parents have told you repeatedly not to touch it, is to touch it and get burned. Action-consequence.

          If your kid doesn’t do her homework or projects, don’t do them for her. Let her fail. There’s a difference between helping by explaining and showing how to do a math equation and doing it for her. If a child has to repeat a grade, it’s good incentive to start studying.

          I digress. Anyway, great news that you’re parenting style is bearing fruit. Learning to take responsibility for one’s self and owning up to your actions is a critical piece of developmental work that most Cluster B’s have never mastered.

          Dr T

      • infojunkie
        February 1, 2010 at 8:38 pm

        I would love to see more information on co-parenting children with NPD/BPD mothers in future articles. Thanks!

        • ExpatDad
          February 2, 2010 at 9:21 am

          Me too! It’s a minefield really… I’ve read some good advice advocating “parallel parenting” so that you can go to “low contact” instead of “no contact”, but the problem is some issues simply demand co-operation and co-working with someone who has very little experience of doing that in a calm, rational way. Or uses it as an instant way to get a financial-manipulation kick. I’ve already had irrational attacks about the one activity I am able to organise independently for the kids on the one regular weekday I always see them… The challenge in my jurisdiction is that the NPD Ex can use her blow-ups and acting out, and my calm attempts to rationally talk things out (by email) as “evidence” that we “can’t communicate effectively”, which is jumped on by the courts as being stressful for the children, leading to the inevitable “in the best interests of the children” judgment to limit their time with their father to the minimum. This is in itself of course irrational behaviour by the courts because even the bare minimum (usually one weekend per two weeks, either from Fri pm to Sun pm, or from Sat am to Sun pm) at least includes a Saturday afternoon, when many kids do a sporting activity of some sort. So co-operation etc. is still needed, i.e. the problem is not solved. It is of course the warped feminist agenda using illogical reasoning to achieve its aims. In my jurisdiction there is also unfortunately never a psychological evaluation of the parents… and also an overly child-centric view of parenting (“what the child says he/she wants is almost certainly what’s best for the child…”). I’ve also got the challenge of the NPD Ex spending the CS on all kinds of crappy junk and then sending the kids to school in ragged clothes that are too small… Yes I’ve been documenting a lot of this, and sending some (not all) of it to her, but that usually just causes her to act out/get extremely ugly, start a massive argument etc., and the risk is as above (i.e. arguments ->-> better for kids to be with their father less).

  12. tannen
    January 26, 2010 at 8:02 pm

    Dr. T. Great post! I’ve thought vaguely along the same lines about the FB (couldn’t be bothered with Myspace) mentality as I’ve looked through other people’s profiles. But you’ve described things analytically and concisely which crystallised what I’d wondered about earlier. In one case, my buddy described a certain woman as an “attention wh-re”. An unkind, but rouhgly accurate assessment, when I actually met her. She seem to be craving, nay, “lusting” after attention from both sexes. If one did not provide her the excitement and drama she “required”, they were of no use to her. I find folks like this very hard do be around.

    Question: In the studies, which sex was noted to have a higher incidence of this behaviour?

    You’re right, it’s so convenient to have such an array of sophisticated image management tools at their disposal. The possibilities for self-delusion and strategic character assassination are endless. Truly terrifying in some cases.

    By the way, I’ve learned something from every posting I’ve read here; sometimes a huge amount. Over time I’ve seen these behaviours in many women and either liked the attention but was suffocated by it later, or just avoided the women altogether. The prospect of getting drawn into a soap opera was enough to run the other way. Anyways thanks again for all your hard work here. I hope you can avoid or defeat any lawsuits/smear campaigns and general slander directed your way for telling the truth. I’ll be stopping by often.

    • shrink4men
      January 27, 2010 at 4:46 pm

      Hi Tannen,

      Thanks. I don’t know which gender exhibited more of these behaviors. I don’t believe the studies were designed to elicit that information. However, if you look up the research publications, you’ll be able to get a break down of the participants.

      I’m not sure what someone could sue me for, but then we’re a litigious society and most frivolous lawsuits are filed by individuals with Cluster B personality disorders. I don’t own anything valuable and have student loans, so anyone who wants a piece can get in line behind the federal government and my landlord.

      As for smear campaigns, there are plenty of angry borderline and narcissistic women and/ stay at home moms who are incensed by what I write. I see that as a byproduct of my information hitting too close to home, which triggers an angry defensive knee jerk reaction. I don’t respond to shaming and bullying or twisted attempts for pity (i.e., “I can’t help treating people like shit. I can’t help taking my crazy anger out on others. You’re supposed to feel sorry for me! There’s something wrong with you, Dr Tara!“) Therefore, I’m unlikely to stop publishing my work. Clearly, the comments on this site and my forum demonstrate a need for this information.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr T

  13. Ruth
    January 26, 2010 at 6:31 pm

    “Many conduct smear campaigns via their blogs and profile pages.”
    uh-oh, wonder if my blog that is set up to refute the lies in my NPD sister’s book (which is one big smear campaign against my family) could be considered a smear campaign.

    • TK
      February 1, 2010 at 8:23 am

      Wow, you use an awful lot of caps on your latest blog entry. If what you say there is true then I can see why you’d be that angry but it does kind of make you look a bit like a guest on Jerry Springer.

      On the blog topic, I agree that attention-seekers just LOVE sites like Facebook. So much free and easy validation!

  14. uburoi
    January 26, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    This is helpful as my ex BP1 is now roasting me on her personal blog on Vox saying I was un supportive with her emotionally when she was diagnosed with BP1(even though I was with her for 7.5 months before that) and that I was emotionally abusive (although she she never went into how that was possible) She also likes to state how her libido is raging and post provocative semi nudes of herself on her blog. The last day I saw her back in December, she posted that day on how she saw a friend she had not seen in a long time and that they had a “goood time” and that she needed to see them more in the future… She would place the “…’s as to be coy about who it was or how it was they had a “goood time” I imagine it was to just get to me which is why I stopped reading her blog. It is insidious and twisted.

    • Terry
      January 26, 2010 at 5:49 pm

      This is exactly my experience too Uburoi! Have a fight (what couple doesn’t?), and an immediate post goes up about how down she is and wishes she had a “friend”. 24 hours later, she has found her new “friend” and talking about what a “goooooood time” they are having. Who finds a “friend” in 24 hours? Normally, you need to pay for that kind of thing! But it is all about “hurting” me every step of the way, and she will deny it the whole time.

  15. NoSeRider
    January 26, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I wish you’d explain the ADHD part in that diagram?
    I’ve been accused of having ADHD, but not narcissism.

    However, I seem to be more ADD then ADHD. I lack hyperactivity.
    Although, I’m talking about myself….so now I’m confused.

    • shrink4men
      January 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm

      Hi NoSeRider,

      I think the ADHD circle is a dig at the short-attention span nature of Twitter, etc.

      The frenetic one to two sentence, abbreviated (e.g., OMG, WTF, LMAO) missives on these platforms isn’t really conducive to deep, meaningful communication. It’s usually whatever random thought or feeling bubbles to the surface.

  16. Vicarious
    January 26, 2010 at 4:39 am

    My ex’s entries are one subject ponies: long rambling streams of consciousness about whichever fool she’s using as a mirror at the moment.

  17. Terry
    January 26, 2010 at 4:26 am

    This post really hit home with me. More than just smear campaigns is the passive-aggressive comments and “secret” messages with impeccable timing written in such a way that if you ask her to stop bringing personal conflicts into a public forum, you are told “it’s not about you”. In fact, I could handle out and right smear campaign over this…it will drive you nuts. Kinda like the song, “Your So Vain”. IT IS ABOUT HIM!

    Talk to ME, not your 200+ FB and MySpace friends that you have never even met in your life.

  18. Kev.
    January 26, 2010 at 4:20 am

    “Facebook permits any narcissist with Internet access to… employ the help of a thesaurus in writing contemplative wall posts”

    Gods, I wish I could post some of my ex’s old Livejournal entries. This line just about made me spit my drink all over my new Mac.

    The ex definitely used LJ to start a smear campaign on me towards the end. I was the “horrible” boyfriend who “forgot” our anniversary (nevermind that she’d been raging at me for the entire week prior, and trying to sabotage any attempt I could make to have the day be special, through an elaborate set of double, triple, and quadruple binds). During the breakup she accused me (online) of making hang-up and obscene phone calls to her, and Gods know what else, after the relationship finally ended.

    I would also add that if you (as a non) are on social media sites, another way they can be used against you is via your own profile/blog/journal, etc. At one point, the ex forced me to write an elaborate post detailing all of the ways I was a bad person, and how I only “used” other people for my own gratification, and pleasure, and how I had been manipulating everyone into liking me for years, to boost my ego, when in reality I deserved no friendships whatsoever, as I was a moral degenerate.


    I still have the post archived (but locked down to “private”) just as a reminder: “Never Again”

    Some of my friends saw through it all, and later asked me about it. I just wish they had a bit sooner.

    • shrink4men
      January 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm

      Hi Kev,

      A new Mac? I’m jealous! Not really, but I will be in the market for one fairly soon.

      How did she force you to write that post? It’s like a scene from a movie where the murderer forces his victim by threatening torture to write a fake suicide note before killing him.

      These people are just vile. I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: If you’re currently involved with one of these emotional terrorists, get out and stay out or keep contact to a bare minimum.

      Dr T

      • Kev.
        January 27, 2010 at 6:10 pm

        By this point in the relationship, I’d been completely broken. She had convinced me that I was completely morally bankrupt and mentally incompetent. I only looked for friends (according to her) for my own gratification, and to have more sexual partners. Nobody “really” liked me (according to her), and I needed to come clean and confess my sins.

        This would appease her, and end the 3 week rage I was being subjected to. Of course, it did neither of these things.

        Afterwards, she demanded I get a barrage of blood tests to “prove” to her that I didn’t have any STD’s from the countless affairs she was alleging I was having. I finally gave in, and did this. She kept my test results.

        This wasn’t enough, either. I needed to next confess my sins against her to God, via a priest (nevermind that I’m on the atheistic end of the agnosticism spectrum – more proof of my moral bankruptcy). I never got around to that, as things finally ended.

        My “confession” on Livejournal (about how I mistreated, abused, and neglected her, and how I used others and only posted things to “get attention” or “get laid” was false, and coerced. Waterboard someone enough, and eventually they’ll sign whatever you ask of them. I just needed the pain and rages to stop. And by this point, she’d convinced me I was the horrible person she insisted I was.

        Later, people told me they had no idea wtf I was talking about in that post, and that the way I had described myself was not how they knew me at all. I started a smaller journal with a trusted circle of friends, and laid out the whole story. They’ve been very helpful and supportive.

        I think, ultimately, if I had gone to the priest as the next step, it wouldn’t have been enough, either. I don’t think it would have stopped, honestly, until I was dead. Either by her convincing me that I didn’t deserve to live, or by my own hand, for wanting the pain to stop.

        I’m not saying that to be overly dramatic, or anything. Just as an illustration of how bad things were, and how lost I felt.

        I’m enormously grateful for my second chance at life.

        • Johnboy
          January 27, 2010 at 7:27 pm

          Almost identical scenario for me . . .

  19. Holy Order of Garlic
    January 26, 2010 at 3:56 am

    Excellent post, but just try telling a narcissist they are using their “friends” or are a tad obsessed with posing and behaving like wankers! Danger zone. Here is another threshold crossing best not explored: have you ever noticed when you respond to an update or post on a narcissist’s Facebook page with anything but overt flattery or concurrence, a strange feeling arises, a feeling much like “stumbling into hostile territory.” The narcissit will quickly hack you down “in fun” or simply delete your post. Vigilance is their self-watch-word. It is even more frustrating for them if you post something with a dose of substance, even if you want to sincerely converse with intent to learn. Narcissists don’t like this either, unless the topic is something ABOUT THEM, or SOMETHING THEY ARE GOOD AT, OR WHAT SOEMBODY ELSE THINKS OF THEM. When I question my self obsessed acquaintances about their scantily clad photos and endless worship posts from their admirers, they usually say “it’s all just for fun.” Yet I have gagged with nausea on occasion as they condemn “all the perverts” and “innapropriate” men out there who victimize them and make THEIR lives a living hell. I suppose even negative attention is better than none, and often preferrable. Why should they limit their vampiric ego-feeding frenzy to only the faithful followers, when you can feed off “your enemies” as well? Social Cannabalism is alive and well and living on Facebook. Welcome to Zombie Planet, where the “future is a feeding frenzy.”

    • shrink4men
      January 27, 2010 at 5:48 pm

      Hi Holy Order of Garlic (is that a vampire reference?),

      Excellent point. Confronting or holding a narcissist or borderline accountable is a bit like pulling a pin on a grenade. However, if more people put them in their place, they’d be less likely to pull their usual stunts.

      Your observation re: their vigilance is spot on. It mimics their offline behavior. Narcs live in constant fear of exposure, criticism or appearing foolish or less than wonderful.

      I don’t spend too much time on FB or Twitter. Plus, I eliminated the NPDs and BPDs from my life long ago. My FB buddies (all 18 of them—1/2 of which are former or current work acquaintances and three old roommates) and I usually just swap interesting news links or funny videos or “Hey, I’m going to be in NYC next week. Are you around?” Other than that, I see FB updates as just one more thing I don’t have the time to do and rarely do because it just isn’t a priority.

      Dr T

      • Holy Order of Garlic
        January 28, 2010 at 8:12 pm

        Dr. T,

        On not becoming a monster:

        Vampires and Zombies…all the same to me. I use these analogies to depict these draining and injurious run ins with Narcs and BPD’s etc. Recalling these caricatures helps to keep it light and in memory. They also serve to remind me that I don’t want to become a monster myself : )

        What about Narcs in the workplace? I had a colleague who could not accept ANY criticism and this undermined the team’s emotional intelligence factor disastrously. While many conflict resolution techniques are good, they do not offer in depth tools for dealing with NPD or BPD folks. These folks will hide behind facades and undermine the roots of relationship at the most sinister level it seems. It often appears they are unconscious of their actions, which tells me they also suffer from B.A.D. (borderline amnesia disorder lol). These folks can fly into a delayed rage response a day after you “criticize” them (call them on their B.S.) and leave you absolutely dumbfounded.

        All that being said, it is no wonder we want to learn some spiritual kung fu and start sharpening wooden stakes. Problem is, if you name isn’t Van Helsing, it takes the fun out of life.

        And then there’s the more serious risk of becoming a monster yourself. These characters can “get you to feel for them” by pushing your buttons until you explode. Then they will sagely say “see, YOU are a bad person.” So the game goes on, and if unaware, one can start becoming a potty mouthed novice zombie ass yourself.

        So it seems we have 3 choices:

        1. Get trampled and drained
        2. Become a crazy, nutty,vampire yourself
        3. Wake up from the nightmare

        After exhausting all other options, I am embarrassed to say, I chose number 3. I got lost in another person’s dream. I tried to defend myself. I tried to reason with them. None of this worked. Attacking them doesn’t work either. It was only when I realized how caught in their psyche’s I actually was, could I begin to cut away the webs that kept me in a cycle of energy drainage and confusion.

        Nietzsche said ” Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he doesn’t become a monster himself.”

        Holy water is good, but better to wake up and break the spell altogether.

        Thanks for listening.

  20. Johnboy
    January 26, 2010 at 3:26 am

    Could you please stop writing about me? It makes me very paranoid. :D

    Another good article.

    Would love to see the objective methodology used by Buffardi in her analysis. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could take someone’s profile/web presence page and run it through some algorithm, returning a percentage of narcissistic, histrionic, borderline, etc. percentage? Maybe expressions, words, etc.

    • shrink4men
      January 26, 2010 at 4:40 am

      Hi Johnboy,

      Thanks! I’m not writing about you specifically, I swear.

      I believe one of my source articles describes the methodology. It’s either the Columbia Tribune, arstechnica or livescience.

      Kind Regards,
      Dr Tara

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