What a Shame

Anyone who has been a target of malignant narcissist abuse has a long journey to health, both physically and emotionally. (The two are related.)

For those affected, no reading is complete without understanding the role of toxic shame.  Here’s a definition of what that is:

Toxic Shame is a neurotic, irrational feeling of worthlessness, humiliation, self loathing and paralyzing feeling that has been inflicted onto an individual through repeated, traumatic experiences often, but not always, rooted in childhood.

There is the shame our consciences feel as God intended – the healthy shame – when we engage in things that really are shameful. Mistreatment of others, lying, stealing—you get the picture. This is what prompts us to try to make right our wrongs and keeps us (hopefully) from repeating truly shameful behavior. There’s a remarkable lack of this kind of healthy shame anymore in our culture.

Toxic shame is what is meted out by  emotionally abusive people, both as a tool of manipulation and also as punishment by sociopaths who have NO sense of shame themselves and who are skilled at using others for their own ends.

When this occurs, targets begin to absorb this false thinking into their identity — something that can cripple the target and destroy their ability to recover a true sense of themselves. It is startling to realize how emotionally abusive  people use this tactic so effectively.

Looking at this topic from a Christian standpoint, you can easily see how the enemy of souls uses people like this to kill, steal and destroy. Satan is called the “accuser of the brethren.” Yes, indeed, and he works through his willing tools on this planet to do so.

Those who are close to a narcissist, especially in a family or partner relationship, display their fears, insecurities and weaknesses as we all do with those we trust. What is so evil about how narcs work is that these same insecurities, fears and weaknesses are the source of the toxic shame these narcs  heap on the target once the degrading and discarding points in the relationship begin.

So, for example, if a target has anxiety problems, that will not only be thrown in the face of the target as proof they are inferior or mentally ill or otherwise unhinged, and during the smear campaign phase, if the target manages to leave,  it will be spread abroad as widely as possible as proof of just how deranged and flawed the target is.  Your vulnerability when you trusted that person becomes the place to insert the knife by the narc. They were storing up that information for future use. I heard one target describe the mind of a narc as a “steel trap” that retained useful bits of info that was later used – out of context – as a weapon to try to destroy. That’s how they roll.

The gas-lighting they engage in furthers the belief  in the target’s mind that they must be the one who is crazy. Self-doubt washes over the head of the target like a tidal wave.  The sense of (false) shame becomes the most prominent feature in the life of the target. They must be a tremendously flawed person, they think. Depression and hopelessness follow.

Satan is a liar.  His servants who have been given over to prideful minds serve as powerful tools in the destruction of others.   The target is faced with not only combating the  lies thrown at them, but also facing the cold shoulders of those who willingly enabled the narc in his destruction campaign. It can be a formidable challenge to overcome this.

When fake spirituality  is added to the mix, and the abuse takes place by someone claiming to be a Christian, , the impact  on faith can be huge. The disassociation that targets utilize to survive gets read by them internally as loss of faith and all the guilt that goes with that follows. The ultimate goal of the spiritual power behind malignant narcs is ultimately that. The destruction of a person on every level, most importantly, faith in the Lord. Whatever image they portray to others, malignant narcissists are the embodiment of evil.  Secular counselors will call it a “personality disorder.” Be that as it may, it is spiritual at its core. The enemy of souls stalks the vulnerable and innocent through them. Without understanding the devices of the evil one, it is difficult to recover.

There are some good resources on this subject that are essential reading by those who have experienced this firsthand.

I highly recommend this book, “How to Kill a Narcissist.  Don’t  worry, the title refers to the killing of the lying myths narcissists hand out to targets. It is tremendously helpful in grasping what these abusive liars do. Once unmasked, the power they have wielded over targets using toxic shame becomes less and less.

For Facebook users. Shannon Thomas of Southlake Christian Counseling has been one of the most helpful sources of truth on this subject that I have encountered yet. Linking to her Facebook page will give you a constant stream of truth — all aimed at a hopeful outcome for those affected.

I want to conclude this post with a word of caution. Be very careful about those you see for counseling on these issues.  If a counselor does not have a handle on how these moral monsters work (malignant narcissists), you will not only NOT find help, you will also end up with additional burdens of false guilt that you in no way should carry.

We are told in Scripture to “understand the enemy’s devices” so as not to be outwitted.  (II Corinthians 2:11) Biblical counselors who want to apportion equal blame to those in these horrendous situations further victimize the target.  Malignant narcs who end up in counseling with targets (a rare thing) are skilled at pointing to reactions they have provoked by their extreme lies to prove to the counselor that they are not the problem. Foolish and incompetent counselors, particularly those of the “biblical counseling” variety, fall for this way too often. Snakes in the grass are known to provoke wild reactions with their venomous bites not witnessed by others. When the reaction of the snake bite victim becomes the focus of outrage and concern, the snake and its poison have succeeded. It really is that simple.

A few helpful points in these memes below.



13 thoughts on “What a Shame

  1. Denise says:

    The so-called apology (if you get one) goes, “Sorry you feel that way…I don’t know what you’re talking about….it wasn’t directed at you…there are more important things to worry about….”. This is followed by more lies. The narcissist will make sure they come out on top. Just run and don’t look back.

  2. Ingrid says:

    Yep. Deny, deflect, gaslight (I never said that, you imagine things, you’re over-sensitive, ask so and so, you are making things up! Classic), project—anything but take responsibility. An apology is, “I was wrong. I had no right. Will you forgive me.” Not, “I’m sorry if you were hurt” followed by copious excuse making to avoid taking responsibility. That’s IF you get a supposed apology at all. The most malignant variety will never come close to any kind of apology. They are never wrong.

  3. Anonymous says:

    This is a very good post. Unfortunately, Ingrid, you’re correct that many Christians are not in tune to the devices of the enemy. Unbelievers sometimes can peg these abusive people with far more accuracy than those within the church.

    It also helps to have people in your life who see the situation clearly, understand the dynamics of abuse, and can remind you that you’re not crazy.

  4. Anonymous says:

    One more thing, many believers can not distinguish between an abuser’s manipulative “nice behavior”/”fishing” tactics and true repentance. They will see any attempts by the abuser to be “nice” as “see, they are sorry, can’t you both reconcile?”. No. Those attempts at “nice behavior” are false, and are a “fishing” attempt by the abuser to get you back into their lives, without repentance, so they can keep abusing.

  5. runnermum says:

    I’m so grateful for the second chance I was granted after being the narc’s supply for 24 years… I would never have left him because I was made to believe, by him, that I won’t be able to survive without him.

    One thing that I can add that has almost brought me to my knees were the idea that I’m breaking a promise to God to stay married until death do us part – however God is a loving God and therefore I can’t be held accountable for the choices of a narc and how it impacts me.

    Thankfully he got a new supply and let me loose and only now – after the fact do I realise how he took an innocent 18 year old and moulded her into a Stepford Wife with no emotion or toughts of her own.

    And now when I finally get to know myself I realise that there is so much more to me and to be spiritual is not a stupid thing but actually something that can make you so strong and survive most of the things life and the narc can throw at you.

    Blogs like this help me to know that I’m on the right path.

    Thank you.

  6. Ingrid says:

    Runnermum, thank you for your comment. Abuse is a direct violation of the marriage vow to “Love, Honor and Cherish…” Fists leave bruises and broken bones, and narcissists who abuse emotionally and spiritually leave shattered spirits and minds. At no point is one more important than the other, because we are made up of both. I love the story of Abigail in the Bible, who directly defied her thuggish husband in caring for David and his troops. She did what was right, and God blessed her for it. It’s an interesting study in women doing what is right, regardless of what a thuggish spouse demands. Protecting ourselves and our children is basic, and thankfully, there is help in our times for those women who need to leave for their own protection. Leaving children without a mother, either by long-term emotional abuse or physical abuse, serves nobody but the author of destruction himself. We live on a planet broken by sin, and anybody who demands a woman stay in a “marriage” (in name only – such marriages are a mockery of the true thing) is part of an abusive system, and in churches who do this, they abuse in God’s name, which is so much worse. Thank you, again, for your comment. The only reason I write on the topic at this point in my life is because so very many people, women in particular, are dealing with this kind of abuse and don’t even recognize what is going on.

  7. Denise says:

    Runnermum’s comment is much appreciated. Leaving a spouse who is emotionally and spiritually abusive brings the shame that we’ve broken God’s law. In reality, the abuser has abandoned the marriage by crushing the spouse. This conditioning makes us easy prey for other narcs. A huge red flag is when you feel like you’re starting to disappear completely as a person. Everything you think, do, or feel is wrong or crazy. I first married at 18, and it took 17 years for me to realize that a marriage isn’t supposed to work that way. It’s very insidious, whether from a friend, spouse or church leader. Thankfully, I’m now blessed with a loving husband for nearly 20 years, and I’m getting better at recognizing this stuff.

  8. Ingrid says:

    I would add to your comment that these subjects were rarely talked about years ago. You could know something was terribly wrong, but identifying why it was that way depended on what you knew at the time. I can’t tell you the number of Christians who have told me that their pastors – maybe meaning well – turned counseling into a mutual problem in all cases. In some situations, it is. In others, there is a CLEAR pattern of abuse that the perpetrator is adept at blaming on the other party. IT is ironic that in many churches where the authority of the husband is emphasized constantly, when there is a serious problem of abuse, suddenly the woman is always responsible for “not submitting.” It’s never the HEAD of the home destroying his own home, bit by bit. I have thought that for many years. Denise, I am so glad you have found love and peace. I have been married for 22 years last June to a man who has shown me not only his own love, but the love of Jesus in its true form. Having also been through a dark situation years agl, I am eternally grateful.

Comments are closed.