Posts Tagged ‘projection’

Allowing the Narcissist to Determine your Worth: Don’t Do It

August 8, 2017 2 comments

Shrink4Men_Narcissistic behavior says more about the narcissist than their targetsRemember the childhood adage that was supposed to make us feel better when we were bullied? Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. Our parents tell us that when we’re kids, but it’s cold comfort at the time. Name-calling hurts when you’re a kid. It can also hurt as an adult.

There’s another childhood adage meant to make us feel better about being bullied, but directed at our tormentor. I’m rubber. You’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you. I don’t know about you, but it didn’t have much effect on the bullies in my childhood. Nevertheless, I carried it with me like a paper shield.

If we said either of these expressions now to a nasty colleague or an abusive narcissistic, psychopathic or borderline spouse or ex, they’d most likely think we’re our rocker. Even so, there’s wisdom in these simple, sing song childhood talismans. Sticks and Stones encourages emotional detachment from those who would hurt us. Rubber and Glue is a basic primer for returning cruel projections back to their rightful owner.


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Dr. Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD provides services to help individuals work through their relationship issues via telephone or Skype, particularly men and women who trying to break free of an abusive relationship, cope with the stress of an abusive relationship or heal from an abusive relationship. She combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit the Schedule a Session page for professional inquiries.

Are You Institutionalized? How Being Married to an Abusive Woman is Like Prison

August 9, 2011 Leave a comment

There’s a new article on that discusses the similarities between being in a relationship with an abusive, high-conflict woman and being institutionalized in a coercive system such as prison.

Here’s the link:

Are You “Institutionalized?” More Thoughts on Dating After Divorcing an Abusive, High-Conflict Spouse

Shrink4Men Coaching and Consulting 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.

DARVO: Deny, Attack and Reverse Victim and Offender

January 19, 2011 2 comments

There’s a new article on that discusses DARVO, a phenomenon that occurs in abusive relationships when a husband or boyfriend attempts to hold his abusive wife or abusive girlfriend accountable. Instead of holding herself accountable, the abusive woman denies her abusive behavior, blames her husband and then makes herself out to be the victim. The post also offers advice on how to protect yourself from it.

Here’s the link:

Presto, Change-o, DARVO: Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender

Kind Regards,

Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

10 Reasons You Can’t Communicate with a Narcissistic or Borderline Woman

September 17, 2009 318 comments

Foaming-at-the-mouthEmotionally abusive narcissistic and/or borderline women are masters of spin control and pile driving their “reality” home through brute verbal force and emotional reasoning. If you’re involved with a NPD and/or BPD woman, you know these invective communication strategies firsthand.

This kind of woman clings to her belief system no matter how many times she’s confronted with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. In fact, the more wrong she is, the greater the outrage and histrionics she displays.

The next time you challenge your BPD/NPD partner’s points of view, lies, distortions, unilateral pronouncements or unfounded accusations, notice how she responds. Your discussion probably turns into a one-sided argument replete with vitriolic theatrics and threats very quickly.

Here are some common communication control tactics of emotionally abusive narcissistic and/or borderline woman:

1. The Big Bamboozle. Here’s how it works: Emotionally abusive woman  begin a conversation/attack with one topic. When you present facts that contradict her beliefs, she bamboozles you by going on off-topic tangents, changing the subject or making a brand new accusation. While you’re still defending your original point and why it’s valid, she blows you off (because you’re making sense) and distracts you by jumping to another topic that’s completely out of left field.

mouth_tape2. SHUT UP! When you try to explain your feelings or point of view, this kind of woman may explicitly tell you to, “Shut up!” Narcissists, borderlines and bullies not only “can’t handle the truth,” they go to great lengths to deny and obliterate it.

Your wife or girlfriend probably uses other tactics when you challenge her like walking out of the room, giving you the silent treatment or simply refusing to listen to you. In both cases, this is the adult control freak’s version of, “La, la, la, la, la, I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” They believe if they ignore or stop you from speaking the truth that it doesn’t exist like a small child who closes their eyes to “make you go away.”

3. Name-Calling. This is the last resort of bullies, such as NPD/BPD women. Because they can’t intelligently defend their position or their behaviors, they resort to emotionally-based personal attacks. It’s another distraction technique that sidetracks you from the original point of contention by disorienting you and putting you on the defensive.

Calling your boyfriend or husband names doesn’t prove your point; it’s merely an ad hominem attack. Here’s the logic: “Okay! Fine! Maybe the world is round, but you’re a bleeping, bleepity, bleep bleep! So there! That’s why I don’t have to listen to you. The world is flat!” You have two choices when presented with this kind of “logic;” sink to their level or walk away with dignity and sanity.

4. Projection. NPD/BPD women accuse their targets of things that they themselves are actually guilty of. This is a primitive defense mechanism. It’s the grown up version of the maddening childhood taunt, “I know you are, but what am I?” “But you’re the one who just…” “I know you are, but what am I?

5. Splitting. This is another very primitive defense mechanism. NPD/BPD women see people and the world in all-or-nothing, good vs. evil, black-and-white terms. They have no capacity for context or nuance. Either you see things her way or you must be crushed into the ground. You can’t respectfully agree to disagree with this kind of woman. Any criticism, difference of opinion or challenge to her “authority” is seen as a threat and will be treated as such in that you will be devalued and demonized.

6. Smear Campaigns. First, they split, then they smear. It’s not enough for NPD/BPD women to disagree with and despise you. Everyone else is the world, including your own family and friends, must hate you and see how wrong you are, too. These women go after you by attacking your ethics, integrity, sexuality and manufacture the most ridiculous nonsense in order to destroy your reputation. Unfortunately, the bigger the lie, the more gullible people tend to believe it.

7. Gaslighting. Women with these issues both deny things they’ve said and done and accuse you of the very same transgressions they committed. They also twist a grain of truth into a huge distortion until you begin to doubt your own sanity and look like the crazy person when you try to defend yourself.

8. Increasing the Volume; Not the Logic. The more wrong an emotionally abusive NPD/BPD woman is, the louder and/or more resolute she gets. Her level of fake outrage, vindictiveness or emotional withdrawal is in direct proportion to how accurate you are. She will either talk over and shout at you, repeating the same simplistic, emotionally-charged statements over and over until she drowns out all reason or give you the silent treatment until you submit and apologize for your “offense.”

9. Blame and Shame. NPD/BPD women blame others for everything that is wrong and never consider how they contribute to and often cause the issues and their own unhappiness. They shift responsibility to make you seem bad and crazy in an effort to shame you into submission.

10. Playing the Victim. When NPD/BPD women are called out for their bad behaviors and dishonesty, they then play the victim. They claim they’re being unfairly attacked for “standing up for the truth” and having the “courage” to speak out. This kind of woman frequently defends her indefensible behaviors by saying she was swept away by her emotions or passion and offers such chestnuts as, “I did what my heart told me to do.” Nonsense. These women are known to have temper tantrums when their bad behaviors are exposed and lash out with a verbal attack or pout in cold silence.

At heart, an emotionally abusive woman is a bully who will try to steamroll anyone who disagrees with her. It’s not just about controlling her reality, but controlling everyone else’s reality, too. When you allow a narcissistic and/or borderline woman to determine reality, you’re letting one of the inmates control the asylum. So the next time you’re on the verge of being sucked in by one of the above tactics, calmly look your wife or girlfriend in the eye, quietly say “No” and walk away.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.


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Foaming at the mouth from Getty Images.

Mouth tape from Getty images.

Another 5 Coping Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissistic or Borderline Women

June 18, 2009 36 comments

Rope_LadderThis is part three of Coping Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissistic or Borderline Woman and 5 More Coping Strategies for Dealing with a Narcissistic or Borderline Woman. These strategies aren’t guaranteed to help you avoid an attack or “fix” your relationship. If a BPD/NPD woman is determined to raise hell, she’s going to do it. Even if these strategies aren’t effective every time she’s looking to hurt you or get a reaction out of you, they can help you become aware of what’s going on in the moment and not get sucked into another endless conflict.

These women want you to react to their hurtful behaviors, so they can feel righteous, indignant, hurt and justified. If you don’t react, that upsets them, too. Remember, ultimately, there is no winning with this kind of woman. You win by not giving her the reaction she wants, disengaging, and if you can do it, ending the relationship and recovering yourself. Maintaining this level of hyper-vigilance and behavioral maintenance would be emotionally, physically and psychologically exhausting and I urge you not to do so:

11. Just the facts, ma’am, i.e., hold her accountable. Some of these women may become violent if you hold them accountable for their behaviors. If your wife or girlfriend is the non-violent type, holding her accountable may give you a respite from the yelling, carping, kvetching, insults, accusations, etc. She won’t admit you’re right. She’ll never accept responsibility for her abusive behaviors, lies, and distortions. You won’t get the validation and vindication you long for, but it may make her blink and go speechless, if only for a short while.

Don’t yell. Don’t get in her face the way she gets in yours. Calmly and clearly bring it all back to the facts. Commit these phrases to memory: “That’s not true.” “I won’t admit that’s true no matter how angry you get.” “That’s not how I remember it. Here’s what happened. . .” She’ll probably continue to talk or shout over you, change her story as she goes along, deny it ever happened and/or call you a liar, but that still doesn’t change the facts of her behaviors and events.

12. Choose your battles. You can’t respond to everything she says, does or demands. You just can’t. There aren’t enough hours in the day. Figure out your bottom line. Make concessions on small issues to allow her to feel like she’s “winning” and stick to your guns on the big issues. This will help to preserve your sanity.

13. Contain any and all emotions. Whatever you do, DON’T ask these women to explain their feelings and DON’T express yours. Yes, women complain that men don’t express how they feel enough, but expressing your emotions to a woman like this is a trap. It will be held and used against you in the future if you tell her what you’re thinking and feeling.

BPD/NPD women can’t handle their own intense emotions much less the emotions of others. That’s why these women are human projection machines—engaging in what I like to call “emotional projectile vomiting.” Think of feelings like anxiety, fear, self-doubt, worthlessness, self-loathing, anger, etc., like a case of food poisoning. As the bile starts to rise in your throat, you vomit, sometimes violently, wipe your mouth, burp and then say, “oh, that feels better.”

These women do the same thing, but with their emotions and guess who’s the toilet. . . you. You become the receptacle for their emotional bile. After they deposit the contents of their highly disturbed psyche onto you (projection) or into you (projective identification) they feel better because you’re now carrying their toxicity for them.

Of course, this leaves you upset, which these women don’t understand. They feel better, so why don’t you? You’re upset because of something they did? What’s wrong with you? You’re making things up. You’re being too sensitive. If you don’t just take it and pretend you’re alright afterward, it may trigger another attack episode. Remember, these women are genuinely taken aback when you express displeasure with their abusive behavior (see #7).

So when she starts projecting, don’t discuss her feelings—because that’s a bottomless pit—and don’t tell her how bad she’s making you feel because she’ll interpret that as an attack on her, which will then compel her to attack you again (that’s in addition to her initial attack). Briefly acknowledge her upset feelings and then direct the focus to something else.

These women are too emotionally raw and vulnerable, no matter how shut down they appear to be at times. Discussing feelings with them will only trigger her to escalate the abuse and dump on you some more. Don’t ask her how she feels, but rather, what she thinks you and she should do about it, assess the feasibility and proceed from there.

14. At the risk of sounding like a Zen devotee, because I’m not, DETACH FROM THE OUTCOME. You can’t control her. You can’t make her change. All you can do is make choices for yourself, decide how much you can tolerate, set boundaries and decide when enough is enough and end the relationship, which leads me to. . .

15. LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.  Ordinarily, I’d encourage people to expect the best from others to create a positive self-fulfilling prophecy. However, expecting the best from women like this will only lead you to feel broadsided, perpetually disappointed, and hurt.

For all their crocodile tears and hyper-sensitivity, these women are emotional predators and bullies. If you stay in a relationship with one of these women, the best you can expect is more of the same. You may achieve some periods of “peace” if you can learn how not to trigger her 30% of the time (remember, she’s not responsible for her behavior; you’re responsible for her behavior and your behavior and all the other problems in the universe), how not to take her attacks personally (even though they’re extremely personal in nature), and how to maintain your boundaries through implementing behavioral consequences a small percentage of the time.

Again, these strategies are meant to be short-term coping skills, not long-term solutions. Next week, I’ll post the next 5 techniques, so please check back.

by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD

Private Consultation and Coaching

I provide confidential, fee-for-service, consultation/coaching services to help both men and women work through their relationship issues via telephone and/or Skype chat. My practice combines practical advice, support, reality testing and goal-oriented outcomes. Please visit Services and Products for professional inquiries.


If you find the information I provide free of charge helpful and valuable here on Shrink4Men, please consider making a donation via PayPal to help me maintain the site.

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Rope ladder on mydigitallife.