How Ns Erode Your Identity

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#1 Mar 30 - 8AM
Anonymous (not verified)
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How Ns Erode Your Identity

by Laura K.

Another N-survivor recently pointed me to a book called, Stalking the Soul: Emotional Abuse and the Erosion of Identity written by Marie-France Hirigoyen, from which I offer some excerpts below.

Hirigoyen is a Victimologist. When I saw this neologism I first thought, oh brother another "ism." But Victimology is a legitimate and important branch of psychology and criminology that is widely recognized and respected. Hirigoyen recommends that anyone dealing with survivors study victimology. She specifically mentions lawyers. "A degree in victimology can be of particular interest to professionals in the field of helping victims: emergency-trained doctors, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and lawyers." (Hirigoyen p. 9)

Excerpts from Stalking the Soul by Marie-France Hirigoyen*

* It is effectively possible to destabilize or even destroy someone with seemingly harmless words and hints, inferences, and unspoken suggestions; usually those close to the situation will not intervene. A narcissistic abuser grows in stature at he expense of the other; he also avoids any inner or spiritual conflict by shifting responsibility for what is wrong onto the other person. If the other is responsible for the problem, wrong doing, guilt, and suffering don't exist. This defines emotional abuse. (p. 5)

* In order to satisfy their insatiable need for admiration and approval, these individuals must degrade others to acquire first self-esteem, and then power. Because they are not concerned with relationships, they show no compassion or respect for others. To respect a person is to value their humanity and acknowledge the suffering we can inflict upon them. (pp. 5-6)

* Psychiatric illness does not cause abusiveness. It arises from dispassionate rationality combined with an incapacity to respect others as human beings. (p. 7)

* Whether the subject is serial killing or pervasive abusiveness, the matter remains one of predatory behavior: an act consisting in the appropriation of another person's life. (p. 7)

* ...predators first paralyze their victims in order to prevent any possible counter attack. The lack of defense mechanisms keeps the victims from understanding what is happening to them. (p. 8)

* There are fairly innocuous manipulative tricks that leave behind traces of bitterness or shame at having been duped, but there are much more serious manipulations that affect a victim's core identity and become a matter of life or death. Emotional abusers directly endanger their victims; indirectly, they lead those around them to lose sight of their moral guideposts and to believe that freewheeling behaviors at the expense of others are the norm. (pp. 8-9)

* Even if a victim's reactions to emotional abuse contribute to a sustained, even seemingly equal, relationship with the aggressor, one must not forget that this person suffers from a situation for which he or she is not responsible. (p. 9)

* There are individuals whose road through life is strewn with people they have wounded or irreparably damaged. This doesn't prevent them from fooling most people and from seeming to be totally adjusted social beings. (p. 14)

* The most intimate other will become the subject of the greatest abuse because too much closeness can terrify the aggressor. A narcissistic individual imposes control on his partner in order to hold her back, while simultaneously fearing her closeness and invasiveness. In order to maintain complete power over her, she must be kept in a dependent or even proprietary relationship. The partner mired in doubt and guilt cannot react. (p. 15)

* The unspoken message is "I don't love you," but it remains indirect and hidden so the other won't leave. The partner must stay put and be permanently frustrated; she must be prevented from thinking on her own and becoming aware of the process. (p. 15)

* The narcissistic abuser introduces the element of control to paralyze his partner by putting her in a situation of uncertainty. Keeping her within limits and at a safe distance avoids commitment to a relationship he fears. By stifling and subjecting her, he forces her to submit to what he most dreads and must avoid at all costs: invasiveness by another person. (p. 16)

* He wants her to be financially independent but submissive at the same time; if not, he agonizes and rejects her...When she talks at dinner, he rolls his eyes. At first she says to herself, "What I just said must be idiotic!" and then she begins to progressively censor herself. (p. 18)

* It would be simpler if [the aggressor] were an absolute monster, but he was once a tender lover. [The victim believes he now] acts like this because he is not well. She believes: He can change, She will therefore change him. (p. 19)

* An individual with idealistic ideas about marriage carries on an apparently normal relationship with his partner until the day he has to choose between this relationship and a new one. Abuse will grow in proportion to yesterday's idealism. It is impossible to accept responsibility for a failure of this kind. The partner is held responsible when love is withdrawn because she has committed an unnamed fault. The denial of love is acted upon although verbally denied. (p. 21)

* Recognizing this manipulative behavior leaves the victim in a state of terrible anxiety she cannot get rid of alone. At this stage, victims experience shame as well as anger: shame at not being loved, shame at having accepted humiliation, and shame that what they have submitted to and undergone. (p. 21)

* He very skillfully provides a mirror for [the victim's] insecurities...He knows she doubts. (p. 23)

* He attacks with small, unsettling jabs, preferably in public, where it's difficult for her to react. When she tries to talk about it later, he coldly says that she bears grudges and makes mountains out of molehills. (p. 23)

* [He] never raises his voice; he only displays an icy hostility that he subsequently denies if the matter is brought up. [p. 25]

* An abuser needs to turn his previous partner into a scapegoat and project everything bad onto her in order to idealize the new love object and establish the relationship. Any obstacle standing in the way must be destroyed. For love to exist, there must be hate somewhere. The new relationship is founded on hatred of the previous partner. (pp. 29-30)

* [The victim believes] that if [he] rejects her, it's because she's "not good enough" to live up to his expectations. On the contrary, with abusive individuals, love must be split off and surrounded by hate. (p. 30)

* The goal of abusive conduct is to destabilize the other person and make them doubt themselves and others. Anything goes in order to achieve this end: lies, improbabilities, innuendos. (p. 31)

The Seduction

* [A]n emotionally abusive relationship goes through two phases: (1) identity erosion, and (2) open violence....The first phase , which psychoanalyst P.C. Racamier has termed "brainwashing," can take place over several years. It builds progressively through a seduction process at he beginning of the relationship. The victim is destabilized and gradually loses self-confidence during this initial phase. (p. 89)

* The seductive process consists not only in overpoweringly winning over the person, but also corrupting and suborning her. The manipulator bypasses reality, operating secretly and by surprise. He attacks underhandedly, gaining the admiration of another person, who is dazzled by him and sends back to him a positive image. (p. 89)

* Narcissistic seduction confuses and erodes the boundaries of one's own identity and that of another individual. This is not the world of transference -- for example, when a lover's idealization, in order to sustain passion, refuses to acknowledge any shortcomings in the beloved--but a world of incorporation where the objective is to destroy. The other person's presence is considered threatening, not complimentary. (p. 90)

* The period of influence consists in leading someone, with out argument, to think, make decisions, and behave other than she would spontaneously on her own. During the "seductive stalking" period, the targeted person is unable to freely consent a priori because her sensibilities and vulnerabilities are influenced and manipulated. As in any manipulative process, the victim must first be made to believe she is free, even when she is insidiously deprived of the freedom to act. There can be no question of a discussion between equals; the abuser must subtly impose himself while preventing the other from becoming aware of the process and from discussing or resisting it. (p. 90)

* The victim's ability to defend herself is withdrawn, and her judgment is negated, thereby eliminating any possibility of rebellion. (p. 90)

* The victim is caught in a spiderweb, held captive at an other's disposal, bound psychologically, and anesthetized. She is completely unconscious of what's happened. (p. 91)

* Little by little, victims see their resistance and potential to oppose eaten away. They lose all critical ability. Prevented from reacting, literally "shattered," they are made accomplices to their own oppression. This has nothing whatsoever to do with consent.

Jul 5 - 7AM
imabloke's picture

Good post... So true..

When read this about 'uncertainy' my 'guts' went - if you know what i mean. Mine created this uncertainty.. and i was thinking it was my fault. I did feel i was becoming a person i thought she (ex) wanted me to be. I felt i was losing my identity. It was very subtle. I feel a right prat that i let it happen that's why i'm on this site – now i know i'm not alone - we all did it. It is brainwashing. My ex is a lawyer and uses these skills with her job. Fortunately i was with her for 2.5 years it was only during the last 6 months of our relationship that the DD got steady worse as she primed her next relationship (if you can call that) with her boss.
Jul 4 - 3PM
wholeagain's picture


I always said that if a man ever hit me, even once, I'd be gone because I know that if he did it once he'd probably do it again. All the while I was being cut down, a bit at a time, to almost nothing. Never saw it until one awful event ripped my blinders off, and even then I only could process what was happening because someone else was involved and I was able to see it through their eyes. True what she says that it would almost be simpler if the aggressor was an absolute monster...I would have gotten out much sooner. It is so hard to try to explain this to anyone who hasn't been there. From the outside it would have looked like I had all the freedom in the world to move.
Jul 5 - 8AM (Reply to #37)
Scoop's picture


It is impossible to explane to someone who hasnt been through this abuse, how do you explane to some one that i was pertrfide of him although he never raised his voise to me ..untill me did start shouting and turned violent of cause , which of cause again was all my fault .... my mum was talking about a soap opra she loves and in it was a story of a victum of domestic violence . my mum said why dosnt she just leave , who would stick with a person who did that to you .. but what my mum doesnt know that only we know is the time leading up to the violence , his slow insidious abuse that goes under the radar at first but esclated as the masks slips .. it is a sick thing xx
Jul 4 - 3PM (Reply to #36)
Steph's picture

i totally agree. I was

i totally agree. I was married to a man for 7 years ( didn't know he was a psychopath until coming here). Anyways, I was very young and that relationship was very physically abusive. I left him. When I met this new one (N) - I thought that since he wasn't hitting me, he is great. Something wasn't right with him, but I thought it was me. I thought my expectations were too high, my perceptions were wrong, I was over reacting. He was emotionally abusive, mostly covert/passive aggressive. I could always see things "through his eyes" like you said. And the nice and fun moments in between totally throw you off! It was turning physical though. Anyways, getting over the physically abusive relationship was easier for me because I knew what had happened. There was no questioning if he had or hadn't hit me. With ambient abuse, you can't always pinpoint it, and you question your perceptions - true crazymaking.
Jul 4 - 3PM
Susan32's picture

Know thyself

Valuable post. It's terrible--now in retrospect--that a teacher would make it his goal to erode a student's identity. That's victimization, NOT education. The nerve.
Jul 4 - 3PM
NoNarcingZone's picture

Identity Erosion

Wow! Very informative. Good post! ----------------------------------------------- A gamester, the greater master he is in his art, the worse man he is. Francis Bacon (1561-1626)

"Soldier, don't confuse your rank with MY authority!"

Jul 4 - 2PM
Steph's picture

This is a great read:)

This is a great read:) Thanks for reposting it:)
Jul 4 - 1PM
Scoop's picture

This is a great read ...xx

This is a great read ...xx
Mar 21 - 1PM
seancunningham's picture

Erotic or Neurotic

The N I was involved thought he was seductive and clever. Being an N, he was a legend in his own mind. He was short, thin, kinda homely and quite insecure. I thought he'd make a good mate as he didn't seem like the type that would cheat. Boy, was I wrong. He loved the internet chatrooms way too much. He told me stories how everyone was interested in him. How could they be?? He looked like a headache---personified. Then he slowly tried transferring his homely, awkward insecure qualities onto me. I wasn't having it. I knew it was time to go. I think he needed to hone those seduction skills a little better. He was about as seductive as a head cold. Maybe he should have attended Seduction 102. He needed more training. He shouldn't have let the mask was WAY too early in the game. He was SOOO furious that I left before he did. I won.
Mar 21 - 12PM
narcnarcwhosthere (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

the objective is to destroy us

mine acutally said that to me..many times..'i am going to destroy you'..i'm sure that was his objective from the moment he met me, because from the day i married him he began to take me apart bit by bit..taking thin slices out of me daily and relishing eating me alive. he's had many victims during his 60 year reign of terror here on earth, and he eventually abandoned the rest of them..but not me...during drunken drugged out rages he's said so.. 'i'm going to completely destroy you. i won't rest until i do'... i know that to this day he's enraged that my pets and i have food to eat..he's enraged i have a worn out car to drive..his hatred for me knows no limits...and it's really is..because there is no reason for it..he just picked me out of a destroy....
Mar 20 - 10PM
cynthia (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

what NC has reveled to ME

So true starve him and he will go away. He doesnt call which is great. There are no calls asking whats wrong, what did I do, NOTHING like that, if you want the truth of what they are just go NC and watch what happens..... they run away because are on to them so the coward sociopath cant face the truth so they leave us, ew they may come back 4-5 months latter thinking we might be missing them, well not in my case I dont miss anything about mine, what would I miss? THe pain, treated like a whore, involved in triangle with he and his GF , no thanks Nc tells me more than anything they are true sociopaths and why woulod I want to stay in contact with a sociopath? I wouldnt even borrow a cup of sugar from my neighbor if I knew he were a sociopath. Strange I am not mad or angry, I just look at him as sick
Mar 20 - 4AM
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

How Narcissists Erode Your Identity

READ TOP POST ~~~~~~~~~ The world is a dangerous place, not only because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. - Albert Einstein Visit My Info. Website for Abuse Victims
Dec 13 - 2PM
Carolyn's picture

They don't allow closeness

They don't allow closeness because they are fear based. they don't have a range of normal positive emotions and use their ability to manipulate and control to trigger negative emotions in others. they couple this with fear of abandonment and fear of the world around them controlling them. the whole thing is a night mare to deal with. If the Surgeon General of the US is recognizing personality disorders as the major health problem in the country you know it is serious. They destabilize their families, businesses, in general everyone around them and there are 12.6 million of them who negatively impact 40 million people!
Dec 11 - 4PM
baddream's picture

Walking on eggshells

"The narcissistic abuser introduces the element of control to paralyze his partner by putting her in a situation of uncertainty." This is the one mine used the most. He would never validate the relationship, my worth to him, commit, and I never knew when the next d&d was coming. He said "I love you", one day, and the next day refused to answer his telephone. I found myself with an incredible amount of anxiety, waiting for the next shoe to drop, knowing that was calling the gf as soon as I was out of earshot, indirectly dropping hints so I would realize she was still in his life. I stayed with him, despite his oscillating treatment, lack of commitment, lies, and emotional abuse. By denying the truth to myself, I lost myself. As this excellent article said, we lose our identity when all our behaviors are merely conditioned responses to his manipulations. We bear little or no resemblance to our former selves. The N realizes this also, and once we are stripped of our souls we become his object, to be used, and abused over and over again if we allow. Think about it-- life with the N means being trained to act like a robot. He pushes the on/off button when he needs/devalues us. It is our job to give supply on demand. Like the "Stepford Wives", we have been lobotomized and stripped of our former selves to perform this function.
Dec 11 - 6PM (Reply to #24)
Amazed's picture


Wow, you bring up a GREAT point, and just realized that this is precisely what happened to me. You are right. They create that uncertainty, that sense of never knowing what was going to happen next. They do this astutely to gain control of your mind, your emotions, your identity. They change you. Into someone that doesn't even resemble the soul of who you are. (You are so good Baddream in your rendition and descirption of this,,thank you!!) They strip you of this identity, until you feel you have a new identity in them. Then begins the constant fear. I would wake up, thinking, oh my,,I hope I haven't done something to hurt our relationship. I had this anxiety as you put, it, all the time. You are right,,was constantly walking on eggshells. I have never really heard this term. Now I understand it. Wow. The Narc,, he knows,,, he knows,,,this is the effect he has on you. I hope everyone gets that. They KNOW the negative, deleterious effect they have you you. Like the article says, they SEE this happening in their victims. I have seen the effect of a Narc control on select others at the workplace (my N worked with me too) And their WHOLE DEMEANOR AND APPEARANCE CHANGES WHEN THEY ARE AROUND HIM. It is like they even change in appearance when they are around him, and their tone of voice becomes peculiar, like softer, or has a slight intentional intonation that dentoes that they are "keying into his though patterns" and what I would call under trance. When I was with him, I though all this was true love, but it is just supply to them.
Dec 11 - 11PM (Reply to #25)
baddream's picture


Amazing what they took from us, right? The past 6 months have been revealing and enlightening. As time passes I understand how he did it and what he did to me. It is horrendous and unbelievable. If someone who had not gone through this read some of our posts, they might "understand" on an intellectual level but I do not think could comprehend the full scope. I am very relieved and starting to feel quite happy that this part of my life is in the past and closing. Who know, perhaps sometime in the future I will feel free and joyful. You should be happy you are away from the creepy narc and in a place where you can free yourself from the horrible anxiety and panic that comes along with a relationship with a pathological narc. As the each day passes I get stronger and more in control.
Dec 9 - 8PM
Amazed's picture

This is the song of my life

This is my life, the perfect tale of the abuser, who scapegoats, who tries to diminish and demolish me, when all I ever did, was to befriend him, help him through troubled times, and ultimately acquiese to his "demands" I now find myself the target. The "scapegoat" of "the hatred" of someone who desires to take me down and ruin me, directly and indirectly, all because I supported him. What a jerk he is. Thank you SO MUCH for this post!! You have shown me the light!
Dec 9 - 3PM
Qing Yuan
Qing Yuan's picture

I try to react to the taunts and protect my opinions

* Little by little, victims see their resistance and potential to oppose eaten away. They lose all critical ability. Prevented from reacting, literally "shattered," they are made accomplices to their own oppression. This has nothing whatsoever to do with consent. This resonates with me.. I felt like I was a averagely intelligent woman. I have worked hard to educate myself after leaving school with no qualifications. I feel that I am a success in that much. The last N relationship I had was not so bad because by in large he had a great father and was actually really good at listening. He was probably over indulged as a child. But this person comes from a family of abuse and sadness... Anger and sadness which have become something of a tool to cripple others in the same way.. I have never l known fear and bullying like this... and somehow it feels like over time I have become unable to connect my thoughts together or make sense of the ideals I used to have. How can that be? I try to react to the taunts and protect my opinions or my ideals, protect the passions I hold dear. I try to withstand his derogatory notions of me and others, alas I find myself unable to speak.. he has somehow literally silenced my speaking, one word at a time. And I have no idea how he has done this? I say affirmations each day, to bring the power back into my body but it I feel as if the very energy I am made off is escaping everywhere around me...
Dec 9 - 10AM
4joys4's picture

Good article. The objective

Good article. The objective is to destroy. Yes, I am finally seeing this now. It has taken me months and months to really get it. My reality and ways of doing things like decision making were usurped by his manipulations. NOW I see how exactly he did this. But it was all so hidden from me in the early years. All I did know was that my confidence in myself was diminishing. I doubted myself and became confused. Then one day, it was like a crack in dry soil. Water gushed up and out. I awoke, with anger! I still didnt know the hows and whys but my soul said "No more!" And thats when he abandoned me.
Dec 9 - 2PM (Reply to #17)
betteroff's picture

me too

my soul also said no more....and that is when he abandoned me as well. My one friend said I was going to die in that house with him---and there was not any physical violence just emotional abuse unlike any other. My looks, my health and my soul were dying. I am glad I got out.
Dec 10 - 4PM (Reply to #20)
4joys4's picture


I'm glad for you!
Dec 9 - 4PM (Reply to #19)
Monica's picture

I had a friend tell me that this was killing me....

And she was right. My relationship with my N, the way he treated me, used me, brainwashed me, controlled me, lied to me, made my brain go into a tailspin that would not stop spinning without alcohol and drugs...he was killing me, literally. I actually wanted to die (since he wouldn't die). I let go of him, told him no more (as my soul was dying because of him and my body was not far behind). And that is when he, too, abandoned me. Mine was emotional abuse, too. No real physical abuse. I am glad I got out, too. But I have months and months of recovery yet ahead of me.
Dec 9 - 2PM (Reply to #18)
quietude (not verified)
Anonymous's picture


That is a good way to put really is a slow death of our spirit, souls, everything that resembled the strong person we were. The good news is that can all be turned around! Unfortunately for the N, they can never change...
Aug 1 - 5PM
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

what narcs do to victims

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Jul 16 - 8PM
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

how come I feel like the loser?

SEE TOP POST! ~~~~~~~~~~~~ Articles & information for abuse victims - Updated Daily Online Coaching for Victims of Narcissists/ Psychopaths
Jun 15 - 7PM
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

how an N erodes your identity

~~~~~~~~~~~~ Free articles & information for abuse victims: Effective Coaching for Victims of Pathologicals
Mar 30 - 2PM
Mariline's picture

Psychiatric illness does not

Psychiatric illness does not cause abusiveness. It arises from dispassionate rationality combined with an incapacity to respect others as human beings. (p. 7) YESSSSSSSSSS!!!! Remember: Safe People are people who draw you closer to who you were meant to be spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically. They encourage you to be your most loving, growing self. (Emotional Abusers- Heartless Bitches International)
Dec 9 - 8AM (Reply to #2)
Barbara (not verified)
Anonymous's picture

how Narcs erode your identity

read the TOP POST ~~~~~~~~~ The truth will set you free... but first it will piss you off - Gloria Steinem Visit My Abuse Website
Dec 9 - 4PM (Reply to #3)
Ellen's picture

I need to read this book again

Hi, I have this book and i really need to read it again. I am in denial quite a lot but just reading the post showed me what a little fly i have been. Wow it is so cleverly done. This will never happen to me again.
Dec 10 - 11AM (Reply to #4)
Clover18's picture

Stalking the Soul

Stalking the Soul was one of the very first books I read about abuse and sociopaths/narcs. In fact, I think it was me that told Laura K about the book. I wrote a review of it for Amazon: ------------------------- "This book is My Guardian, My Witness, My Protector. I picked up a highlighter pen and started highlighting things in it that described my own nightmare situation. By the end of the book, I had highlighted, not just whole pages but whole CHAPTERS of it. It ought to be required reading (and they should be able to demonstrate an understanding of it) for ANYONE involved with the consequences of emotional abuse: doctors, lawyers, police, refuge workers, counsellors, etc., even friends and family of the broken people like me who have been targeted by the inhuman robots who try to destroy us. Many months before I read this book, when my tormentor was still cruelly abusing me, I told him that I felt like he was trying to murder my soul. That is EXACTLY WHAT HE WAS TRYING TO DO. After being so unsure as to whether people really believed me when I finally admitted what he had put me through for years, this book has validated me. It has virtually SAVED my life, not just changed it." ------------------------- There is a line in the book which states,"...with hatred in his eyes...he said...that I was worthless and useless and that I should just commit suicide". That is exactly what he said (repeatedly) to me until I was so emotionally battered I almost did commit suicide. My evil exNH wanted to murder me but without physically getting blood on his own hands, therefore he wanted to me to murder myself so that he could continue to blame me and it would confirm that I was as crazy as he claimed. Eighteen months ago I told my GP that I felt like I was "dying inside". She replied, "You are. You ARE dying. He is killing you. And if you don't detach from him, you WILL die. One way or another, he will destroy you". It does make me wonder how many suicides are caused by narcs but nobody realises the true causes?