Saturday, October 28, 2006

Why and How the Invalidation Game Works

For the Aggressor
By Patricia Lefave, labeled, D.D.(P)

The first thing the passive partner in this relationship needs to know is that this style of ‘relating’ has nothing at all to do with reason, logic, resolution or reality.
It is a game played for power over the other, and a game played to maintain a dysfunctional status quo. It is a psychological game played for its own sake.
If you know this, you will be able to stop looking for resolution from inside the game, get out of it, and detach emotionally from whichever domination type is trying to keep you engaged within it. The topic is all but irrelevant.

The point is for the domination type to keep him or herself deluded that a contest exists between the aggressor and his target which he/she must ‘win’ at least psychologically. So that ‘winning’ position is obtained by starting out with the idea that the dominating one is always right (despite any and all evidence to the contrary) and then simply maintaining that position no matter what the effects of doing so costs everyone else. There is a sort of perverted power as a result of this kind of irrationality, which is real. The person who indulges in it is not restrained or bothered by a conscience or guilt, so feels free to do or say anything that helps him or her dominate.

To break this bond in a co-dependent relationship you must know that, and understand how your protagonist ‘reasons.’ A narcissist ‘reasons’ that he or she is the only one who really matters and that is the premise upon which his thinking and actions are based. So if you ask questions like, “But why would he lie?” looking for a reasonable answer, you don’t yet understand him and you have missed the point entirely. He lies for the same reason he does everything else; to preserve his image of himself as the only legitimate reality, and to gain, defend and keep his power to do so. Period. No one is as real to him as he is to himself. The irony of that is he is not real to himself at all but only an imaginary character within his own fantasy about himself and others. Nevertheless, he believes totally in his own fantasy version of life and defends it any way he can.

The most necessary psychological tools needed to defend his position are: the 180, vague abstract communications, heaps of platitudes used as communication stoppers, refusals to resolve or talk at all, denial of the situation’s existence, wearing you down so you will give up, and good old fashioned lies used to cover up for himself and misdirect others. Anyone could do this to anyone , it’s just that most people don’t and of those who do, they are only willing to go to a certain point, and then a conscience kicks in. True narcissists however, never feel any need to confess, admit error or wrongdoing, accept responsibility, tell the truth, or stop the destructive process. In fact, they usually take great pride in their manipulation, since that is what motivates them in the first place.

Instead of confession, they usually blame the victim, or blame those ‘others’ who have believed the narcissist for being ‘stupid enough’ to have believed him. If you are paying attention the anti-logic of the narcissist rather than defending yourself or looking for ‘reason’ in what he does, you will soon notice that no matter WHAT the victim says or does, the narcissist will find the fault in the victim and not himself. That is the primal essence of his game. He is not stupid not confused. He knows exactly what it is he is doing and all he cares about is seeing to it that no one else figures it out. He denies the losses to others are caused by his behavior at the same time; he is secretly enjoying watching the outcome. The secret effect he is having is what gives him the power rush. Now keeping all of this in mind, this is how and why the narcissist’s invalidation game works.

Let’s say as an example that the vic has just discovered that the Narci has stolen 500 dollars from her and she is confronting him.

N: I don’t know what you are talking about.
V: I am talking about the 500 dollars you told me was a loan you told me you needed to pay your rent and that you said you would return within a month.
N: I never said that.
V: You stood right here and said you needed rent money.
N: We ALL need to pay rent. (Looks amused)
V: You bought a pile of CDs with that money. I need that money myself. I cannot afford to buy CDs so why should I be helping you to do it?
N: I used my own money for the CDs, not yours. Besides, you don’t need anything.
V: My needs are just as real as yours are.
N: No they aren’t. You are so dull you don’t even care about music. You don’t do anything so what do you need money for? Besides as I already told you, it was not you money I used to buy them. It was my own.
V: If you afford to buy all those CDs then you could have used the money to pay your own rent. You didn’t have to use mine. You lied to me.
N: How dare you call ME a liar! You don’t even have any evidence that you gave me any money so be careful what you call me. Who do you think you are that you can call me a liar? You are not perfect either you know? A lot of people have told me they think you are nothing but a bitch!
V: I am calling you a liar because you ARE a liar.
N: Get off my case or I am going to tell everyone I know to watch out for you. I think you’ve got mental problems do you know that? I think you probably need a good diagnosis and some medication for you extreme emotional reactions. You are just not normal! The world isn’t perfect. Get used to it honey, just like the rest of us have to do.
V: You always turn everything and make your own problem my problem.
N: I do no such thing. This is YOUR problem and you need to get over it.
Etc. etc.

If you are paying close attention to this exchange, the only goal the narcissist has is to stay exactly where he already is without budging an inch. His manipulations and everything he does is designed to invalidate his victim’s point of view for seeing him just as he really is. Nothing else matters to him. He matters to himself. That fact is the beginning and the end of his relationship with others, he gets what he can and when he can’t get anything more, he’s done and he moves on. He has no real relationships thought they often look good on the surface. It is really all a show, tricks, and a smoke screen if necessary to get, and keep, his own needs met. It is all about domination and control.
If needed, he will do his best to engage others in his attack on his victim and many others will be sucked into his con game believing him to be sincere and honest. After all, why would he lie? He would have no reason to do so.

Reason has nothing whatever to do with this. He simply regards other whom he manipulates in the pursuit and maintenance of his of his power with the same disdain with which he regards his victim. They are all ‘inferiors’ to him in his own grandiose opinion, and as such, they deserve what they get from him.

The narcissist always justifies himself by blaming his victims for his behavior. It is like drawing a magic circle around him; an infinite loop of anti logic which he protects and maintains by externalizing all his own traits. What he does with his own problems is a psychological trick he performs upon himself. He denies they exist and deludes himself that they belong to the other. He is the con man who falls for his own con.

If you understand that, you won’t get hooked into his games as easily and even if you do, you will be more likely to spot the game early on. Then, you will stop trying to ‘reason’ with the unreasonable. The only way to ‘win’ this game is to refuse to play it; or at least, refuse to play it on the aggressor’s terms.

If psychiatry becomes involved in this, as often as not, it accepts Narci’s version of events which is often supported by a group the narcissist has successfully manipulated. At that point, the complaints of the victim are often heard by psychiatry and most others as ‘symptoms’ supposedly proving the narcissist correct. Frequently it is the narcissist who is consoled by others as if he were a long suffering martyr, after psychiatry has jumped on the group consensus band wagon, invalidating the victim and excusing the aggressor.

Once this reality reversal has been made and the victim has been officially invalidated by the psychiatrist by being psychiatrically labeled, the narcissist has achieved a permanent ‘win’ for himself and can get the full rush of power to which he is as addicted as anyone could be to drugs or alcohol. He has proved to himself, once again that domination is the name of the game in life for him and the only way to go which allows him to feel good about himself by being in control of everyone else.

The victim then gets to play the same game all over again but it is now with his or her new professional protagonist who has stepped in to replace the original one: The Psychiatrist. With the official diagnosis in place, the psychiatrist can now only hear the details of the victims experience as the symptoms of ‘disease process.’

How Do We Stop This?

We must expose the game itself, and keep doing so, in detail, every time we see it happening, in our own cases and in the cases of all others who are sucked into this horrifying paradoxical trap after us. If enough victims of it expose it often enough, for long enough, without backing off or allowing ourselves to be intimidated into silence, the ‘game’ will become so obvious and the denial of it so absurd, that even those unmoved by the overwhelming evidence of it and committed to the endless denial of it, will have no choice but to accept the reality of it. To continue to deny it will make them look crazy and since being, or even appearing to be, ‘crazy’ is usually their greatest fear, THAT is what is most likely to motivate them to give up the game of reality reversal and get real.


Anonymous said...

I wish most people knew or cared about experience as a woman and mother is that you just deal with it and don't play the victim.

Patricia, L. said...

The way we need to deal with it is by facing the reality of it so that people WILL care. A large part of this is the fact that there is a communication problem since the same WORDS are often used by the aggressor who tells his victim, "You need to stop playing the victim." When the aggressor uses the same words, he means, "She is only pretending to BE a vicitm but "really" I have done nothing. So the group involved agrees with the aggressor and repeats the same instruction to the victim, unaware of the true meaning from the victim's point of view. People who have not been victimized in this sort of way rarely understand what is actually going on in the relationship.That lack of understanding leaves the victim alone in isolation and at the aggressor's mercy more often than not.

littletiger said...

Thank you for posting this. It is very liberating and well thought out. Please keep writing as your insights are useful and healing.

Alma said...

This is very close to me right now in trying to understand why, now ex boyfriend, started this behavior with me. Never being with a person like this before, I was always analyzing the craziness behind it. I can say that as soon as it ended, a certain piece and freedom came back to me, as well as my self-worth and self-esteem. I haven't been able to find enough articles on this so thank you.

Patricia said...

You might look here also for more information on this topic.