Effects of Brainwashing on Narcissistic Victims and Survivors
Those who have suffered narcissistic abuse find healing on their own very difficult. Whether they realize it or not, the hardest thing to overcome is the brainwashing that has been done to them.
Victims are conditioned to think a certain way by narcissists who want to control them. Narcissists don’t learn and practice brainwashing, manipulation, and control techniques, as most of us would have to in order to effectively use them. It comes naturally to their pathologically depraved minds. They simply know how to do it with little or no deliberation. Since their very survival depends on capturing vulnerable hosts to feed off of, it is a skill that must be second nature to them.
If you have read and listened to everything NPD, understand what you are dealing with, but cannot get passed it or overcome the pain, it is because of the brainwashing that has been done to you. Your mind will always default to the way in which it was conditioned. This state of mind does not have to become a permanent way of thinking, but if you do not get someone to help you deprogram what has been subliminally put in there, you will find this challenge insurmountable.
If you think you are immune to mind control, think again. Anyone, given the right circumstances may be subject to it. If you have had any prolonged exposure to someone with narcissistic personality disorder, I can guarantee you that you are suffering its effects.
The article below briefly explains how brainwashing in abusive relationships occurs. It is based on a report that has come to be known as “Biderman’s Chart of Coercion. To learn more about brainwashing I suggest you do your own research.
Being in an abusive relationship often feels like torture. Sometimes that’s because your partner’s behavior feels like the torture techniques used by mortal enemies instead.
Brainwashing is defined in the Psychology Dictionary as that which “manipulates and modifies a person’s emotions, attitudes, and beliefs.” It reduces a person’s ability to mentally defend themselves and makes it easier for another person to control them.
Brainwashing is one example of how abuse in relationships parallels torture. Brainwashing makes it easier to control a targeted person. And it makes it harder for the person to see their way free of the relationship.
Abusive people often are able to throw the targets of their abuse into a trance that makes it difficult for them to think clearly. Targets of abuse can begin to take on the opinions of the abusive person and lose themselves.
A man or woman who is peppered with their partner’s opinion, given little or no time to recover, and kept busy responding to demands may not have much mental energy left over. They may be inundated with the partner’s version of events to the point where it is difficult to hold on to their own perspective. The anxiety that can be produced by being the target of abuse also makes it difficult to think clearly.
In 1956, Albert Biderman studied how prisoner of war camp personnel got U.S. prisoners of the Korean War to give them tactical information, collaborate with propaganda, and agree with false confessions. Biderman stated that inflicting physical pain was not necessary to “induce compliance,” but psychological manipulations were extremely effective for that purpose. His report included what has come to be known as “Biderman’s Chart of Coercion.”
Biderman’s chart has been used by many to describe the elements that contribute to brainwashing in various situations, including partner abuse. The tactics included in his chart can be linked to other ways people abuse their partners.
In his Chart of Coercion, Biderman summarized the mechanisms for brainwashing:
- Monopolization of perception (fixes attention on immediate predicament; eliminates “undesirable” stimuli)
- Induced debilitation; exhaustion
- Occasional indulgences (provides motivation for compliance; hinders adjustment to deprivation)
- Demonstrating superiority
- Enforcing trivial demands
Not all eight elements need to be present in order for brainwashing to occur. Each element can have some power to distort reality, interfere with perception, reduce a person’s self-confidence, and garner compliance.
In a prisoner of war camp, the prisoner and jailer are enemies. Servicemen and –women are commonly trained to deal with brainwashing tactics in case they are captured by enemy forces.
In a romantic relationship, the partners are supposed to be on the same side. It is reasonable to expect love, understanding, and compassion from your partner, and to want to offer that to them also. The relationship, unfortunately, creates a vulnerability to the coercive brainwashing of a malicious or self-centered partner. It is unexpected. It can sneak up on you.
Ann Silvers, MA is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, relationship coach, and author with 30 years’ experience helping people improve their communication and relationship skills. She has published many products that she developed while working with women and men as couples and individuals, including her book, Abuse OF Men BY Women: It Happens, It Hurts, and It’s Time to Get Real About It. Find out more at http;//www.annsilvers.com.