I’ll be writing on gas lighting in the near future, but until this – this is an incredibly detailed article about how narcissistic sociopaths use particular techniques to manipulate people and distort reality.
Observation has taught me many things. Having seen several of these relationships played out, and having been abused in one, I’ve noticed that there are several people in the lives of every sociopath I’ve met. Although many would argue that only the “supply” or current victim is actually important, I would propose that all five contribute to sociopathic success.
1. The supply
A narcissistic sociopath functions because he or she gets their needs met by another person. Often they live vicariously through that person. Usually they’re like a leech, sucking their supply of their blood, sweat and tears – their hope and their passion – their emotions – and sometimes their money, too. Usually the supply changes every so often, the NS throwing the first supply away like yesterday’s garbage.
2. The non-supply
This person often a spouse, sometimes a parent. Sometimes this was the NS’s first supply; he moved on and kept the first one around. Other times, they genuinely have no idea what sort of monster he is. Some sociopaths are very adept at displaying emotion, and so they may “pass” for a very long time before a spouse catches on. They may know that “something” is wrong, but often have no idea what is wrong. They are often aware of a relationship with a supply, but would never guess the depth of that relationship.
Often the non-supply is a person who has had most of the life sucked out of them, either through being the first supply or just the weariness of living with a narcissist. Willing or unwilling, they enable the NS to live a normal-seeming life. Their gift to the sociopath is credibility.
3. Support or secondary supply
Call them followers, adoring fans, cult members … I call them support supply. These folks may be the main supply’s family, friends, co-workers, church members and leaders, OR it can be the NS’s comrades. There are two types of support supply – above and below.
Since the NS often will not occupy the VERY top position in a company or church, but will defer power to another for their own selfish gain, CEO’s and senior pastors are often secondary supply. Like the non-supply, they contribute great levels of credibility to the sociopath, giving him the ability to tell everyone how he was placed into his position of authority, is trusted, is acclaimed and esteemed by those above him.
Because the NS is charming and charismatic, they naturally attract followers and hangers-on. The NS gets a continuing stream of enablement and affirmation from these people. They are validated by them. Anyone in the naysayer group will be attacked by the primary or secondary supply.
These people are able to see clearly through the NS’s veneer of benevolence to see that something is seriously WRONG here. They speak up about it, only to be told (usually by the support supply) that there’s nothing wrong with the sociopath. If anything is wrong, it’s with THEM.
It’s interesting to note that much of the time, at least in groups or public settings, the sociopath will not defend themselves, and may even make a big deal about the support supply not doing so. “No defense is necessary,”, they say, because in their mind they are so right and right will, of course, prevail over wrong. However because the supply and support supply operate from those core needs of acceptance versus rejection, they will actively work to reject the naysayer and win the NS’s affection.
It may become so unpleasant for a naysayer to remain part of a social group (church, workplace, even family) that they simply and quietly leave.
Sociopaths discard their supply and seek a new victim when the supply gets the gumption to question them. Although sometimes the former supply ends up in the silent category below, they usually become a naysayer and they seek to warn others of the dangers of the sociopath.
This is usually a shocking experience for the supply on many levels, but the realization that most people just don’t see what they now see is really terrifying. They can expect to be ostracized by the support supply, which can wreak absolute havoc in their social relationships. Because some support supply is usually leadership, they can also expect to not be taken seriously by those leaders when they voice complaints about the sociopath.
5. The silent majority
Even in large social groups like extended families, neighborhoods, corporations and businesses, not everyone is directly involved with the sociopath’s games and direct sphere of influence. They see the problem but say nothing – either because their personality prohibits it, or they fear being outcast as a naysayer. This is how we have situations of child abuse that span generations, how wives are battered for years, how wolves are accepted in the flock of churches for a long time – because people who see just refuse to get involved.
Narcissistic sociopaths use a well-baited hook to catch their victims. In spite of not being able to truly feel themselves, they are very well versed in the feelings of other people. They pick up on perceived needs, like acceptance and affirmation, very well. One might even say that they operate with a keen sense of discernment.
Do you need hope? They offer hope. Is your desire to be in leadership? They’ll promise you position. Are you seeking love? They will promise you love. Is it security you seek? Whatever that core “need” is – that missing piece in your relationship to God – the NS will see it and use it as a lure for you. Once you’re hooked – like a fish on a line, or perhaps more accurately, like an addict with a supply of drugs – the NS has you, at least for a while.
Always remember that the NS needs a supply just like a fisherman needs a fish. Their seeming benevolence is just a veneer covering layers of malevolence. Only a few people even see them for who they truly are.
Be watchful for a person who is charming and disarming, often quite charismatic and seemingly selfless. They don’t seem like narcissists at first because their stated desire is to serve you, advance you, meet your needs. They’re going to help, they’re filling a deep need within you.
Of course their true desire is to use you – just like the fisherman who catches the fish cooks it and eats it, too.
I’ve been pondering lately – what does wholeness in Christ really look like?
It’s unfortunate that many people don’t find that wholeness (in and out of the context of sociopathic abuse – just in general, people don’t)… And more unfortunate that people recovering from this type of abuse often either end up back with their abuser, with another abuser, embittered or left just a shell of their former selves.
When you’ve been abused by a sociopath, the concept of wholeness becomes rather skewed. There’s a subtle (and often not so subtle) undercurrent in every sociopathic relationship that fulfillment comes only through relationship with the sociopath. Often there’s some abuse of the term “covenant” tied in with the abuse.
Even after the abuse has ended and the relationship is no more, we are left playing the (un)game of “Real or Not Real” because our perceptions become so skewed. I believe that when there’s swirling chaos in the minds and unsurety in the thoughts, there’s only one way to settle it – what does the Word of God say?
I believe our answer can be found in Colossians 2:
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.
8 Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. 9 For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.
10 So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
We must look at this verse as past, present, and future for us.
In the past, our roots did not go deeply in Christ and our lives were not built on Him. Our faith in Him was not strong.
Some will read that and agree. Others – especially people abused in a religious setting – will probably be angry with me. I was certainly angry when I was confronted with it. But it’s the truth.
Sociopathic abusers, just like satan in the Garden, seek to place themselves in the place of worship and trust – even over God. Of course at first it’s subtle, and in that religious setting it seems like you’re “following your leader as they follow Christ”, and that this is good fruit, desirable to eat, it will make one wise …
I understand Adam and the woman so much more, having been through this experience.
In a sociopathic relationship, what happens is that we get captured by empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from everywhere BUT Christ. We settle for the fullness of a human, rather than the fullness of Christ.
But isn’t God amazing – He has provided the ultimate anti-sociopath remedy: SO YOU ARE COMPLETE THROUGH YOUR UNION IN CHRIST.
Anyone who is fully rested in that completeness of their union with Christ – that total oneness with Him – is immune from sociopathic abuse. The narcissistic sociopath in particular is looking for “supply” – and so those areas of your heart in which you are not complete are his target. He wants to complete you. He wants to get into those tiny fractures and fill them with himself.
If you are complete in Christ, there is nothing in you that he wants.
Sociopaths don’t target other sociopaths to be their supply. Like a leech or other parasite, they feed off the very emotions that they fake well but are incapable of feeling.
If you’ve been a target – there’s good news, in spite of what someone may have tried to convince you otherwise… You are not a sociopath.