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Maine man sentenced for ‘cult-like’ sexual misconduct

WABI CBS News, Maine/May 2, 2024

By Grace Bradley

Belfast, Maine — Wade Brayman, 65 of Liberty, has been sentenced to 20 years in prison after being found guilty of gross sexual misconduct and aggravated assault over a year ago.

Brayman received his sentence Thursday at Waldo County Judicial Center in Belfast.

The week-long trial occurred in March of 2023.

Brayman went through eight court-appointed attorneys, having only one defend him during the trial until he ultimately represented himself in court. He was his own defense during Thursday’s sentencing.

The judge called Brayman’s sexual abuse and means of control of his victim from 2011 to 2017 “cult-like”, as he used religion and other means of coercion to “brainwash” his victim into the cycle of abuse.

Brayman was also ordered to pay hundreds of dollars in victim fees and must undergo evaluation and treatment for sex offenders.

Brayman says he intends to appeal.

Representing himself, Brayman spent over two hours talking in front of the judge presenting his case, which included family, medical, and criminal history among other topics. Along with him, he brought multiple full-looking manila folders with various documents.

In his own defense, Brayman said the trial was a result of the victim trying to force him to leave his residence. He also referenced the “Me Too” movement, saying it was the reason behind many sexual assault cases.

The victim and their friends and family were at the courthouse Thursday. During the sentencing, the victim delivered an impact statement and said Brayman’s actions have left them traumatized.

Best friends of the victim say after a drawn-out trial, the sentence feels like justice was served.

Ashley Powell identified herself as a close family friend of the victim since childhood. She describes the week-long trial and subsequent year wait for sentencing as “miserable.”

“Waiting a year for sentencing was just a mind game, you know? As the judge said, Wade is a highly intelligent man. He knows how to manipulate things, and that’s how he chose his victims in most, in all of his crimes that he’s had against him,” Powell says. “The judge pretty much threw away the key, you know, he’s older, and if he ever gets out, he won’t be able to hurt anyone else again, and that’s what we were looking for.”

Another friend of the victim Christopher Clarke, sends a message to Brayman himself, saying, “I just want Wade to know that he has no bearing on her anymore, and he doesn’t control her life anymore, and that he’s going to rot at the heels of God.”

During the hearing, Brayman’s prior convictions were mentioned. Both prosecution and Brayman spoke of a 1994 charge of rape and battery of a child under 14 in Massachusetts, and a later 1996 aggravated felonious sexual assault of a child under 14 in New Hampshire.

In an attempt to clarify, Brayman told the court that both charges related to one child.

Powell said Brayman’s failure to register on the states’ sex offender registry speak to a wider problem: “Maine wasn’t aware of it, which means he was exposed to all of these families and all these children and they weren’t protected because New Hampshire and Massachusetts didn’t do their job.”

How to Recognize a Covert Narcissist

VeryWellMind/December 5, 2023

By Jodi Clarke, MA, LPC/MHSP

What Is a Covert Narcissist?

A covert narcissist is someone who craves admiration and importance, lacking empathy toward others but may act in a different way than an overt narcissist. They may exhibit symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) but often hide the more obvious signs of the condition. While it can be more difficult to recognize, covert narcissism can be just as destructive as more overt narcissistic behaviors.

Common narcissistic traits include having a strong sense of self-importance, experiencing fantasies about fame or glory, exaggerating self abilities, craving admiration, exploiting others, and lacking empathy.

In the field of psychology, behavior can be described as overt or covert. Overt behaviors are those that can be easily observed by others, such as those of the traditional narcissist described earlier. Covert behaviors, however, are those that are more subtle and a bit less obvious to others.

When considering the behavior of narcissists, it might be hard to imagine how someone could be a narcissist and be inhibited in their approach and behavior. A covert narcissist may be outwardly self-effacing or withdrawn in their approach, but the end goals are the same.

Causes of Covert Narcissism

The exact causes of covert narcissism are not entirely understood, but it is likely that a number of factors contribute. Experts suggest that narcissistic personality disorder is linked to factors including:

      • Genetics
      • Childhood abuse and trauma
      • Upbringing and relationships with caregivers
      • Personality and temperament2

One study found that people with narcissistic personality disorder are more likely to have grown up with parents who were highly focused on status and achievements.3 Because they were often made to feel superior to other children, the belief that they are special and more valuable than others may persist into adulthood.

What Triggers a Covert Narcissist?

It is not clear, however, why narcissistic behavior is sometimes displayed in covert rather than overt ways. Some situations that might trigger a covert narcissist include:

      • Being ignored
      • Feeling disrespected
      • Threats to their ego
      • Feelings of shame
      • Being around high-status people
      • Feeling less attractive or less educated than others
      • Having less of something than others
      • Not getting the attention they think they deserve
      • Jealousy
      • Lack of control


Covert narcissism is characterized by the same behaviors of overt narcissism that are displayed in less obvious, more subtle ways. The exact causes for this are not known, but genetics and early relationships may play a role.

Overt vs. Covert Narcissists

Covert narcissists are only different from overt (more obvious) narcissists in that they tend to be more introverted. The overt narcissist is easily identified because they tend to be loud, arrogant, insensitive to the needs of others, and always thirsty for compliments.1

Their behaviors can be easily observed by others and tend to show up as “big” in a room. Overt narcissists demonstrate more extroverted behaviors in their interactions with others.

Researcher and author Craig Malkin, PhD, suggests that the term “covert” can be misleading. In his work, he states that the term covert is often used to suggest that the covert narcissist is sneaky or that their striving for importance is not as significant as an overt (more extroverted) narcissist. In fact, he reports, the traits of the overt narcissist and the covert narcissist are the same.4
Malkin C. Rethinking Narcissism: The Secret to Recognizing and Coping With Narcissists. Harper Perennial; 2016.

Both overt and covert narcissists navigate the world with a sense of self-importance and fantasize about success and grandeur.

So do covert narcissists know what they are doing? While they may be aware on some level that their behaviors have a negative impact on other people, narcissists also tend to lack self-awareness and insight. Because they often believe they deserve the attention and accolades they seek, they may see nothing wrong with their behavior as long as it achieves the intended results.

Both overt and covert narcissists need to meet the same clinical criteria to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, whether they are extroverted or introverted. Both have deficits in their capacity to regulate their self-esteem.5

Covert narcissists can be difficult to recognize at the outset of a relationship. Many people have fallen victim to the manipulative behaviors of a covert narcissist without realizing what has happened until they are already in emotional pain.

It might be more accurate to suggest that the extroverted (overt) narcissist would be a lot easier to see coming than the introverted (covert) narcissist. In relationships, covert narcissists cause hurt due to a sense of a lack of partnership or reciprocity in the relationship.

What Are Signs of a Covert Narcissist?

How can you tell if someone is a narcissist? Although there are clinical criteria that need to be met in order for someone to be diagnosed with narcissistic personality disorder, there are some general traits and patterns to look for in everyday interactions if you suspect you might be dealing with a covert narcissist, such as poor empathy and disregard for others.

In addition to looking for the red flags of a narcissist, it is also important to be able to recognize the more subtle behaviors of a covert narcissist. Being aware of these traits can help empower you, helping you to recognize and better navigate potentially unhealthy relationships and interactions.

What are some common phrases used by covert narcissists?

Types of comments you might hear from a covert narcissist include:

      • “I’m too good for this. I shouldn’t have to tolerate these people.”
      • “I deserve all of the good things life has to offer.”
      • “Other people have it better than me and it isn’t fair. I deserve more because I am better than other people.”
      • “People never appreciate how special I am.”
      • “I can’t believe you did that. Don’t do that again. You should feel ashamed.”
      • “Remember when I helped you a few years ago? You owe me a favor.”
      • “I’m the best you’ll ever have. You’ll never find anyone else like me.”
      • “No one else would give you the time of day. You should be grateful I stick around.”
      • “I was just joking. I can’t believe you took that seriously.”

Passive Self-Importance

Where the more overt, extroverted narcissist will be obvious in their elevated sense of self and their arrogance when interacting with others, the covert narcissist may be less obvious.

The covert narcissist certainly craves importance, or narcissistic supply, and thirsts for admiration but it can look different to those around them. They might give back-handed compliments, or purposefully minimize their accomplishments or talents so that people will offer them reassurance of how talented they are.

The reality for both the overt and covert narcissist is that they have a fragile sense of self.

The overt narcissist will demand admiration and attention, where the covert narcissist will use softer tactics to meet those same goals. The covert narcissist will be much more likely to constantly seek reassurance about their talents, skills, and accomplishments, looking for others to feed that same need for self-importance.

Blaming and Shaming

Shaming is a tactic that narcissists may use to secure their sense of an elevated position in relation to others. The overt (extroverted) narcissist might be more obvious in their approach to gaining leverage, such as explicitly putting you down, being rude, criticizing you, and being sarcastic.6

The introverted, covert narcissist may have a more gentle approach to explain why something is your fault and they are not to blame. They might even pretend to be a victim of your behavior or engage in emotional abuse to put themselves in a position to receive reassurance and praise from you.7 Whether overt or covert, the goal is to make the other person feel small.

Creating Confusion

Although they are not always sneaky, some covert narcissists can take joy in creating confusion. They may not engage in blaming or shaming, but instead, causing people to question their perceptions and second-guess themselves.

This is another way to create leverage between them and another person. A covert narcissist needs to use tactics like this to elevate themselves and maintain power in the interaction. If they can get you to question your perceptions, it allows them the opportunity to manipulate and exploit you more.

Procrastination and Disregard

Because their need for self-importance reigns supreme, covert narcissists will do whatever they need to do in order to keep the focus on themselves. So, where an extroverted narcissist will blatantly push you aside or manipulate you to accomplish their goal, the covert narcissist is a professional at not acknowledging you at all.

It is not a coincidence that narcissists, in general, tend to gravitate toward interacting with caring and compassionate people. The covert narcissist recognizes those opportunities for manipulation as well.

They have no problem letting you know that you are not important.

Rather than explicitly telling you that you’re not important, they might stand you up on a date, wait until the last minute to respond to texts or emails, always show up late, or never make confirmed plans at all. There is no regard for your time or interests, leaving you feeling small, unimportant, and irrelevant.

Giving With a Goal

In general, narcissists are not givers. They find it difficult to put energy into anything that doesn’t serve them in some way.1 A covert narcissist might present themselves in a way that looks like they are giving, but their giving behavior always has the intent of getting something in return.

A simple, everyday example could be something like putting a tip in the jar at your local coffee shop. A covert narcissist would be much more likely to put their tip in the jar when they know the barista is looking, in order to help facilitate some kind of interaction that allows them to be praised for giving.
The intent of giving for a covert narcissist is always more about them and less about those to whom they are giving.

Emotional Neglect

Narcissists are inept at building and nurturing emotional bonds with others. The covert narcissist is no different. So, although they may appear kinder and less obnoxious than their extroverted counterpart, they are not emotionally accessible or responsive either.

You will likely not receive many compliments from a covert narcissist. They are always focused on staying elevated to maintain their sense of self-importance, so it is easy to understand how a covert narcissist would find it difficult to compliment you. There is usually little regard for your talents or abilities.

Just as with an overt narcissist, you will likely find yourself doing most of the heavy emotional lifting in a relationship with a covert narcissist. Although the covert narcissist is more likely to appear emotionally accessible, it tends to be a performance and is usually done with intent to exploit or eventually leave the other person feeling small through disregard, blaming, or shaming.

Since one of the hallmark traits of narcissistic personality disorder is lack of empathy, the covert narcissist is not going to be emotionally responsive to their partner in a healthy way.


Covert narcissists often behave in passive-aggressive ways. They disregard others while exaggerating their own importance. They also blame, shame, and ignore the feelings and needs of other people.

Examples of Covert Narcissist Behavior
To spot the signs of a covert narcissist, it can be helpful to look at how narcissistic traits may emerge in different settings.

In the workplace, covert narcissism may look like:

      • Treating colleagues with superiority and condescension
      • Creating a public image that is completely different than private behaviors
      • Making unreasonable demands on co-workers and subordinates
      • Belittling and blaming others for mistakes
      • Gossiping about others in the workplace
      • Expressing rage and then denying their anger

What Do Covert Narcissists Do in Relationships?

In other relationships, such as those with partners, parents, siblings, or other family members, covert narcissists might do any of the following:

      • Display a lack of empathy for the feelings, thoughts, and needs of others
      • Use guilt trips and shame to control others
      • Expect others to care for them or solve their problems
      • Gaslighting behaviors, such as being critical but making it sound like it is coming from a place of concern
      • Take advantage of other people’s vulnerabilities
      • Dismiss or deny other people’s feelings, emotions, or experiences
      • Respond to others with passive-aggressive behaviors

How to Deal With a Covert Narcissist

You may currently be in a personal relationship with a covert narcissist, whether it be a family member, co-worker, or significant other. Although you cannot control what a narcissist does, you can control how you behave and interact with them. There are steps that you can take to protect yourself from covert narcissistic abuse.

Avoid Taking It Personally

When dealing with a narcissist, whether covert or overt, their manipulative behavior can feel very personal. The lack of regard, sense of entitlement, patterns of manipulation, and deceptive behaviors can feel very personal when on the receiving end.

No matter how painful the behaviors might feel in the moment, it’s important to remember that they have nothing to do with you.

A narcissist behaves in negative ways because of something unhealthy within them—not because there is something unhealthy about you.

It is OK to look at the situation and the interactions in regard to how you contribute to them. However, it is very important when dealing with a narcissist that you let them “own” their part.

Narcissists want you to take it personally because that is how they maintain leverage. Remember, a narcissist feels small, so they have to make themselves “big” somehow.

Set Boundaries

Narcissists do not have healthy boundaries.8 Because covert narcissists lack empathy, have a strong sense of entitlement, and exploit others, boundaries are something that gets in the way of their goals. The more you can practice setting boundaries with a narcissist, the more consistently you are conveying to them that their tactics are not working.

Setting boundaries can be very difficult, particularly with a narcissist. Remember that boundaries are just a way for you to let someone else know what your values are. Consider what is important to you, what your values are, and work to create boundaries to support them.

Understanding why you are setting particular boundaries can help you have more confidence in establishing them and can keep you on track if someone attempts to violate or disregard your boundaries.

Advocate for Yourself

When interacting with a covert narcissist, it can be easy to lose your voice. Because the patterns of interaction are so manipulative, it may take time for you to realize that you’re not advocating for yourself.

Take time to tune back in with yourself, who you are, and what you are about. Take stock of your values, your goals, and your talents. Strengthening your relationship with yourself is key in being able to speak up during interactions with a narcissist.

When advocating for yourself, the narcissist gets a chance to meet the part of you that is aware and knowledgeable of their tactics, making it less appealing for them to keep trying those things with you.

Create a Healthy Distance

Being in a relationship with a covert narcissist can feel frustrating and overwhelming. There are times when it can be difficult to create distance between you and that person, such as with a family member or co-worker.

Limiting personal interactions, asking to be moved to a different location in your office, taking breaks at a different time, or simply cutting off contact might be what is necessary if you are being hurt by someone’s narcissism. The goal of creating distance is not to hurt the other person; the goal is to protect yourself and create space for you to heal.

When to Seek Help

If someone you know shows signs of covert narcissism that are creating distress or affecting areas of your life, encourage them to talk to their healthcare provider. A doctor or therapist can recommend treatments that can help address these symptoms and improve their ability to cope.

There are also resources available for people who are in a relationship with a covert or overt narcissist. Consider visiting the Narcissist Abuse Support organization to find information and resources.


Covert narcissism may be less apparent than overt narcissism, but this doesn’t mean it is any less harmful. If you know someone who is a covert narcissist, take steps to protect yourself and your emotional well-being. Learn to recognize the signs, don’t take their behavior personally, and create distance between you and that person to help establish clear boundaries.

You may also find it helpful to talk to a therapist about your experiences. A mental health professional can help you understand the behavior and develop coping skills that will help.

California Court Grants Restraining Order Based on Coercive Control

“The judge essentially said, ‘A marriage license does not give a person permission to subjugate their spouse,’” said Lisa Fontes of the landmark ruling against coercive control, a type of domestic violence.

Ms. Magazine/August 31, 2023

By Carrie N. Baker

In September 2020, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) signed Senate Bill 1141, one of the country’s first laws explicitly allowing courts to consider coercive control as domestic violence in family court matters. The law defined coercive control as “a pattern of behavior that unreasonably interferes with a person’s free will and personal liberty.” On Aug. 10, Vanessa A. Zecher—a judge of the Superior Court of Santa Clara County— entered a permanent restraining order against a man for coercive control domestic abuse.

“This case is one of the first cases in the United States where coercive control was considered domestic violence in the absence of physical abuse,” said Lisa Fontes, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, an expert on coercive control and author of the second book ever written on coercive control, Invisible Chains. “The judge essentially said, ‘A marriage license does not give a person permission to subjugate their spouse.’”

With campaigns for similar laws moving forward in several states, the case gives advocates concrete evidence of how coercive control laws are critical for freeing survivors from the grasp of abusive partners.

‘A Denial of Free Will in Almost All Aspects of Her Life’

The facts of the California case are shocking. The husband gave his wife pages of instructions and demands about how she had to behave. In her ruling, Zecher described how the husband used “written documents, edicts and pronouncements” to control his wife’s every move, “right down to the way she was supposed to wash the dishes.”

Zecher described the documents as “directives which literally control every aspect of the petitioner’s life from how she cooks and keeps the house, including the kitchen, to the times which things need to be done … and pre-empts her from engaging in any decision making in her own home.”

The husband required his wife to meet with him each evening at 8:30 p.m. to discuss whether she had met his demands. In the documents, the husband complained of his wife’s “transgressions,” “including waking up a few minutes later than ‘promised’ and getting breakfast on the table a few minutes later than ‘promised.’” The wife testified that her husband’s behavior was “demoralizing, demeaning, and exhausting.”

Zecher noted that the husband was a software engineer, and “as such he may write code to control how machines work,” but that the “same skill cannot be applied to human relationships without implicating domestic violence actions related to coercive control.”

Zecher ruled that the man’s behavior was coercive control domestic violence because it impeded his wife’s right to “freedom of thought, action and decision making.” The husband “engaged in a pattern of behavior which controlled and regulated [his wife’s] daily behavior, communications and economic resources” and “engaged in a pattern of domination, intimidation and deliberately impeding the rights” of his wife.

“When a human being has to worry about or consider an intimate partner’s reaction in every facet of their life, including whether the intimate partner approves of that action, then that human being really is not free in either decision making or movement,” Zecher said of the ruling. “This is where the line is crossed from micromanagement or an attempt to control external circumstances … to the control of another human being or coercive control.”

Zecher focused, in particular, on the husband’s threats of punishment. “Whether intended or not, the use of the words ‘punishment’ and ‘violations’ have no place in a spousal intimate relationship and the use of those words have the effect of creating a circumstance where the victim spouse is ’emotionally battered’ to the point where the lines are blurred between what the victim spouse really wants versus what the victim spouse believes will please the other spouse to avoid an argument or to avoid being placed in a financially desperate situation with a child.”

Fontes suggests that a judge referring to someone as “emotionally battered” in itself is groundbreaking, and may have implications for future rulings.

“That is not freedom of thought,” Judge Zecher continued. “The lack of freedom of thought leads to the lack of freedom of movement. Respondent’s actions amounted to a denial of petitioner’s free will in almost all aspects of her life.”

The judge entered a domestic violence restraining order against the husband and maintained sole legal and physical custody of the child with the wife. The father retained unsupervised visitation with the child, pending future court hearings.

The use of the words ‘punishment’ and ‘violations’ have no place in a spousal intimate relationship.

The Harms of Coercive Control

The wife’s attorney, Rebekah Frye, describes coercive control as a “slow, creeping, insidious form of abuse” that destroys a woman’s independence and self-esteem.

“Different from other forms of intimate partner violence,” she said, “coercive control seeks to eradicate the subordinate partner’s sense of self and operates to make the subordinate partner fully dependent upon the dominant partner through more subtle forms of abuse that leave no physical scars—though the emotional scars and loss of self of the subordinate partner often run much deeper and are more difficult to health than bones that are broken.”

In her trial brief, Frye explained that coercive control is the “micro-regulation of everyday life such as monitoring phone calls, dress, food consumption, and social activities.” Coercive control “erodes independent, autonomy, self-thought, confidence and self esteem in the victim.” Victims are “forced to follow ‘rules’ and ‘regulations’ that impose strict, unwavering demands of compliance—or else.” Frye described the husband’s hundreds of pages of detailed mandates and nightly meetings to enforce them as “militaristic,” leaving “no margin for flexibility or freedom to deviate from the imposed mandates.”

Particularly excruciating for the wife was how her husband required her to use force if their daughter was not immediately compliant with his rigid requirements for brushing her teeth, using the toilet, going to sleep and getting dressed. At one point, he blocked the mother from comforting her child by standing in the doorway of the child’s bedroom and refusing to let her pass.

Coercive control harms children as well, Frye argued. “We don’t want these kids growing up, thinking that this level of micromanagement and control and fear of punishment is normal. We have to break that cycle for these kids.”

Coercive control seeks to .. make the subordinate partner fully dependent upon the dominant partner through more subtle forms of abuse that leave no physical scars.

The Importance of Naming Coercive Control

Frye told Ms. that having laws that explicitly address coercive control helps judges see and understand this behavior as harmful. “I have been working on domestic violence cases for most of my career, about 28 years, and there’s always a component that had no label. It was called financial abuse. It was called emotional abuse, or psychological abuse or gaslighting. Now we have something that encompasses what it’s like. Having that label brings a difficult-to-prove element to the forefront of the minds of the judicial officers that we’re in front of, giving them something tangible.”

Frye said the law also helps survivors recover. “Adding coercive control to the statutory scheme gives people some hope. The legislature and the court are recognizing that it is not okay. It is empowering to have somebody recognize what you went through and validate that it was bad. It wasn’t normal. It’s not what should be happening in a relationship. It gives these women a way to start rebuilding their self-esteem.”

While several California courts have decided cases under California’s coercive control law, there has been only one published civil decision using the law so far: the case of Hatley v. Southard, decided on Aug. 1, 2023. In that case, a California appeals court decided that attempts to control, regulate and monitor a spouse’s finances, economic resources, movements and access to communications are abuse.

In the last three years, five states have passed coercive control laws: Hawaii, California, Washington, Connecticut and Colorado. Another 10 states and the District of Columbia have laws that cover coercively controlling behavior. These laws usually relate to protective orders and/or family law. Many more states are considering coercive control legislation, including Massachusetts, New York, Illinois, Maryland, Virginia, Vermont and New Jersey.

“I hope this case gives other victims hope that there is a pathway out,” said Frye. “I hope they will recognize that what they may think in their head or heart is normal—that they will realize it’s not. And then hopefully at some point in time, if they choose to leave, there will be a court, an attorney, a professional out there that will help them get out.”

Taylor Swift Might Have Embraced the Term, but What Exactly Is a ‘Covert Narcissist’?

How to know when you are being secretly manipulated.

Parade/February 6, 2023

By Renee Hanlon

Taylor Swift sings on Midnights, “Did you hear my covert narcissism I disguise as altruism like some kind of congressman?” But “covert narcissism” is much more than a catchy lyric—it’s important to fully understand and look out for in your relationships. So, what exactly is a covert narcissist?

While narcissism is oftentimes blatant and obvious, it can also be a little more hidden. Therefore, it can be very easy to be fooled and fall for a covert narcissist. So how do you know what type of person you are really dealing with? We’ll explain what a covert narcissist is and the traits that you can expect to see.

What Is a Covert Narcissist?

Where a narcissist is someone who has an inflated sense of self-importance and openly expresses their own superiority, a covert narcissist may feel the same, but they’re not as obvious about it. However, what all narcissists have in common is that they want to make themselves look good at the expense of others. There are many ways of doing that, even though some are more apparent than others.

A covert narcissist is someone with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) that is subtle and harder to detect. They are most interested in how other people view them. So, outwardly they appear caring but the kind “acts” are actually meant to inflate themself and manipulate others.

Tracy Malone, author and founder of Narcissist Abuse Support, tells Parade, “Covert narcissists are exceedingly difficult to recognize and even harder to expose because they have built a fake persona with everyone they know. Most that are unaware of the covert traits see a charming, helpful, caring, compassionate, and often enlightened individual.”

The typical pattern of a covert narcissist is to come on strong at the beginning of a relationship with love bombing. Victims will fall under their spell without ever truly knowing the real person. Then, it’s confusing when all of that attention changes.

“Until you are completely infatuated, the charming mask will be used both in public and in private; then they are free to act differently behind closed doors,” explains Malone.

Related: ‘Love Bombing’ Sounds Romantic, but Here’s Why It’s Actually a Red Flag

Traits of a Covert Narcissist

According to Paul Wink in the study “Two Faces of Narcissism” from the Institute of Personality Assessment and Research at the University of California, Berkeley,” “Covert narcissism is marked by largely unconscious feelings of grandeur and openly displayed lack of self-confidence and initiative, vague feelings of depression, and an absence of zest for work (narcissistic deficiency).” Wink goes on to say that “covertly narcissistic individuals appear to be hypersensitive, anxious, timid and insecure, but on close contact, surprise observers with their grandiose fantasies.”

According to Malone, here are some of the specific traits that a covert narcissist might have.
An over-inflated sense of self-importance and yet very sensitive to criticism
Charming, yet socially awkward
Tendency to hold grudges
Envies people who have what they think they deserve or are entitled to
May appear to have empathy
Tends to put themselves down, needing excessive admiration to validate themselves
An introverted personality with superficial relationships (no genuine friends—only admirers and people they can use for supply)
Takes advantage of others for personal gain in a passive-aggressive way
Resistance to change due to real but secret feelings of anxiety and depression
Has grandiose fantasies about their abilities but may really feel inadequate
Plays the victim in a relationship
Never content—a quiet rage simmering just below the surface
Pathological liar
Related: How to Deal With a Narcissist… When You Suddenly Realize You’re in a Relationship with One

Differences Between Covert Narcissists and Overt Narcissists

An overt narcissist’s actions are visible to others and easily detectable. Covert narcissists, on the other hand, have subtle traits. They use outward appearances of charm and love bombing to manipulate which is a passive-aggressive way to control. The narcissist who covertly works to destroy your sense of self is just as dangerous as the one who overtly belittles you.

Covert narcissists have been described by spouses as “worrying, anxious and moody, defensive, bitter, and not mature and contented,” whereas overt narcissists have been described as “aggressive, outspoken, show-off, egotistical, assertive and not modest.”

Malone tells Parade, “Covert narcissists have created many masks throughout their lives that they present to the world. Imagine a mask as a character, role, or false persona that they play. Masks of normalcy are routinely invoked to create the illusion to the world that they are normal and not disordered. The mask chosen for you is customized to your needs; they made themselves your dream illusion. The role was defined by your own imagination and carefully orchestrated to trap you.”

Related: ‘Love Bombing’ Sounds Romantic, but Here’s Why It’s Actually a Red Flag

Causes of Covert Narcissism

“This is a very broad question and subject, but the long and the short of it generally is childhood abuse and trauma,” says Malone. “It can stem from a narcissistic parent, sibling or family member. A person who is abused learns methods of self-preservation and unconsciously figures out the best way to cope. They will, at that moment in time, sway one way or the other. They will either become like their abuser or not. We are, in fact, products of our environment and tend to take on traits that we learn and are exposed to. Narcissism is one of these traits.”

Wink further elaborated, “Psychoanalysts have attributed narcissism to parental insensitivity, which results in the child’s defensive grandiosity. The presence of grandeur is accompanied by feelings of inferiority, which reflect the child’s natural and nondefensive response to faulty and insensitive parenting. Through the use of the defense mechanism of splitting, the narcissist manages to keep the two conflicting feelings about the self away from conscious awareness.”

Signs of a Covert Narcissist

“If you put a frog in a pot of cold water and steadily turn up the heat, the frog will adjust to the raising temperature and will boil to death,” describes Malone. “Narcissistic covert abuse is often compared to this analogy because it happens slowly. Once caught, the heat (abuse) gets turned up.”

A covert narcissist will use many sly tactics to make their victim feel alone and confused. This is done by using some common tactics like gaslighting and rewriting history to fit their own story. And, everything the covert narcissist does is well calculated, so that everyone else is unaware of his evil side.

Related: What Is Gaslighting? 11 Subtle Signs of Gaslighting To Look For in Your Relationship

Signs of a covert narcissist are hard to detect. However, as Malone explains, “[The signs] are unoriginal, often cowardly, and exceptionally low on the emotional intelligence scale. Most victims don’t notice these methods or understand their meaning. They don’t see the person as they really are until they leave. The strategies are stealthy and designed to confuse”.

Typically, the public side of the person is charming. However, in private, their true colors will begin to shine. Some of the weapons that a covert narcissist uses are important to watch out for and include:
giving you the silent treatment
ignoring you
playing the victim
name calling/verbal abuse
pretending to forget the promises that were made

How To Deal With a Covert Narcissist

As you begin to question what is happening in your relationship, it might be good to start writing out your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Keep track of what situations arise between the two of you and how they are resolved. You may begin to see a pattern of behavior with the narcissist that is not healthy.

If you’re able to put some space between you and the individual, that could help you figure out the next steps for yourself. “This is the time to begin to understand why you were a victim and why you were targeted in the first place. Finding yourself again and healing should be your goals. Do not jump into a new relationship; find a therapist or coach who is well-versed in NPD to get to the root of the problem”, says Malone.

According to Cleveland Clinic, it’s also important to note that NPD isn’t a personality flaw it is actually a mental illness. Because of this, learning everything that you can about it will help you to make some sense of what is going on. Depending on the relationship that you have with the narcissist, it may be necessary to seek family or couples therapy—as well as individual counseling.

What To Do if You Think You Are a Covert Narcissist
The best place to start is therapy. Cleveland Clinic suggests working on cognitive behavioral therapy as a way to work through what triggers your negative emotions. This will help you to learn how to better respond so that you don’t hurt the ones around you. A therapist can provide great help in working through your insecurities to build self-esteem and help you to recognize your self-worth.

What Is Gaslighting? 11 Subtle Signs of Gaslighting To Look For in Your Relationship

Plus, next steps to take.

Parade/December 22, 2022

By Maryn Liles

What is gaslighting in relationships, and how can you tell if you’re a  victim of this manipulative form of emotional abuse?

Knowing the signs of gaslighting—whether you suspect your partner is gaslighting you or not—is important, because often, they can be quite subtle and difficult to pinpoint until you know exactly what signs of gaslighting you’re looking for.

Parade spoke to three Gottman-certified relationship experts to ask what gaslighting is and what subtle signs of gaslighting we should be wary of in relationships.

What is gaslighting in relationships?
“Gaslighting is emotional abuse,” says Stacy Hubbard, a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and certified Gottman Therapist and Master Trainer. “[It’s] a tactic used by batterers to control their partner. In essence, it is an attempt to make the other person question and doubt their own sanity.”

Mike McNulty, PhD, Master Trainer for The Gottman Institute and Founder of The Chicago Relationship Center, adds, “It’s a very manipulative tactic that people use for their own gain. By making the other person feel and look crazy, the gaslighter manipulates the partner for their own personal gain or benefit.”

However, being able to distinguish between true gaslighting vs. a few negative behaviors or reactions from our partner is critical, says Vagdevi Meunier, Psy.D., a Master Trainer for the Gottman Institute and founder of the Austin-based Center for Relationships. “It is really important that we make a distinction between 1) gaslighting that is part of a larger picture of dominance, control, and “intimate terrorism” and words and, 2) behaviors from our partners that might be dismissing or discounting of our reality. One, or even several, acts of dismissing or discounting my perceptions or opinion may not necessarily be gaslighting,” she cautions.

“If it is true gaslighting then the behavior is a clear example of emotional and psychological abuse. One person is systematically and with harmful intent trying to make their partner go insane or seriously doubt their own grasp on reality,” Meunier says. “Gaslighting, in its original form, is usually a part of what we call characterological abuse based on Dr. Gottman’s research on domestic violence,” she explains—which you can read more about in Dr. Gottman’s book, When Men Batter Women.

Where did the word “gaslighting” come from?

“The term ‘gaslighting’ came from the 1944 movie where a husband deliberately and systematically manipulated reality to make his wife mistrust her own sanity and perceptions in order to drive her crazy so he could take over her estate,” explains Meunier. “There was clear and premeditated intent here to drive her over the edge. Today, that term is used much more loosely and is often used to denote when one person is making another person doubt their perceptions, knowledge, or opinions,” she adds.

Why is gaslighting in relationships so harmful?

“The key ingredient here is intent to control, manipulate and subjugate one’s intimate partner. If this is the case, then the perpetrator of gaslighting is acting sadistically—in other words, they are deliberately damaging someone’s psyche without any care for the consequences on the victim,” says Meunier. ” This is what makes true gaslighting harmful in relationships.”

McNulty adds, “Even when it is done on a one-time basis, gaslighting holds potential to destroy trust between partners. For example, out of desperation, a person may gaslight their partner to cover up an affair or some other major betrayal. A one-time incident of gaslighting can totally destroy trust in the relationship because the partner who discovers they were gaslit, may be shocked that perpetrator could do such a thing.” Ultimately, he explains, “They will not feel safe in the relationship, and this lack of safety makes it impossible for the relationship to continue.”

What’s more, “Gaslighting is often used in tandem with other types of emotional and/or physical abuse,” Hubbard warns. “The abuser is attempting to control the other person and gaslighting can often be one tactic, but likely it is in combination with other types of emotional abuse—such as isolating the victim, making sure they don’t have access to their own money, making sure they are cut off from family and friends, not allowing them to work. In this dynamic where gaslighting can be present, there is no partnership or equality.”

Related: Here Are the Four Horsemen Behaviors Coined by John Gottman That Will Ruin Your Marriage—Plus, How to Avoid Them

What motivates partners to gaslight their significant other?

“Sometimes partners who gaslight on a one-time basis or during a brief period in a relationship, find themselves caught up in a betrayal they never imagined would happen—like an affair or something financial,” says McNulty. “Such partners fear their partner will leave if they learn the truth, and do not know how to approach their partner to own the betrayal and recover from it,” he explains. However, “When gaslighting is a pattern, the partner who gaslights typically has a very narcissistic or antisocial personality,” McNulty adds.

“If gaslighting is part of a whole set of behaviors that are designed to control and dominate, then the motivation to gaslight comes from that larger purpose: to have power over another human being,” explains Meunier. “Among characterologically abusive partners, one motivation might be ‘hostile dependency’ (i.e. I am going to make you feel so crazy, weak or unworthy that you won’t leave me because you will begin to believe no one can love you the way I do). Another type of abusive partner might have anti-social, or what is often called ‘malignant narcissistic,’ traits (i.e. It is my way or the highway, and I don’t care who I have to destroy to have my way).”

Ultimately, “Gaslighting is part of a system of battery, which is an attempt to control one’s partner,” says Hubbard. And while “that effort to control may be out of fear of abandonment, or a deep need to keep their partner in their lives, they are going about in a hurtful and abusive manner.”

11 signs of gaslighting in relationships

Here are some of the key signs of gaslighting in relationships:
You constantly question your reality—even on small things, like where you left your keys or what time you said you’d be somewhere.
You feel like you have no control over how you live your life—like not being able to do the dishes or laundry the way you like because your partner insists that things must be done their way.
You get shot down or called names whenever you express an opinion your partner doesn’t like—often leading to an irrational argument designed to confuse you and steal your peace of mind.
You question your self-worth—because your partner is constantly putting you down or attacking your character.
You feel like your partner is toying with you or playing games—as if your partner gets satisfaction out of making you feel crazy or stupid.
You’re suspicious that your partner is betraying you—whether it’s by hiding their spending habits from you or actually having an affair.
You have no control over money—which is yet another way your gaslighting partner can manipulate you and control your behavior.
Your partner makes up flimsy excuses when confronted—giving you poor explanations that don’t make sense or can’t be verified.
You feel isolated from friends and family—because your partner enlists support from others to make you feel crazy and alone.
Your partner never answers your questions directly—in fact, they’ll often deflect your concern by turning the focus around and attacking you instead.
You feel like you’re being watched at all times—often having to justify where you were and who you were with.
Related: 13 Ways to Grow Stronger as a Couple—According to Relationship Expert Dr. John Gottman’s Advice

How to tell if your partner is gaslighting you—4 questions to ask yourself

Meunier suggests going beyond the specific signs of gaslighting in relationships and asking yourself these questions:
Across the whole relationship, does my partner systematically and regularly control, manipulate, and try to reduce my self-worth or autonomy?
Does the gaslighting become one of many ways in which I am made to feel I am stupid, crazy, or irrational and therefore not to be trusted or given rights within the relationship?
When my partner discounts, dismisses or mocks my perceptions and reality, does this go along with a host of other behaviors and incidents when my partner prevents me from making my own decisions, having authority over my own space, my children, my work, my money, or my friends and relatives?
When I am told my perceptions and opinions are wrong or dumb, does it make me feel small and unworthy, and do I feel like this in a lot of different ways in this relationship

Can relationships heal from gaslighting?

“If gaslighting is not a pattern, the partners may be able to recover the relationship through seeking treatment—intensive couples treatment that helps them to create transparency and restore a sense of safety in their relationship,” says McNulty. “In this case, if the gaslighting partner is able to own their betrayal, express sincere remorse, and help create transparency and restore safety in the relationship, the partners are poised to discover why their relationship was vulnerable to betrayal and to build a better relationship. This is healing for both partners.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that “what one person calls gaslighting can often be their partner’s argumentative nature, their air of superiority, or their judgmental tendency,” cautions Meuiner. “Many scientists, doctors, and other highly educated and skilled people have a hard time being humble in relationships or knowing how to have egalitarian relationships. They may not intend harm on purpose and are often surprised when their partners get angry and hurt by their remarks. In these situations, healing is indeed possible. When the person engaging in the gaslighting behavior is genuinely concerned about the impact they are having on the partner, willing to look at their own contribution to the problem, and are willing to learn healthier ways of communicating in intimate relationships, then healing is possible and they have a good chance of building a flourishing relationship with the help of a relationship counselor.”

However, “If gaslighting is a pattern, then the perpetrator has to be open to very intensive individual therapy. It will take years to treat the personality disorder that led to this disturbing pattern of behavior. In the meantime, the couple will also need intensive couples therapy. In addition, the therapy will need to be supported by external measures that help ensure safety, such as polygraph tests,” McNulty emphasizes, to protect the victim. However, “Perpetrators generally are not receptive to participate in this type of treatment.” That’s why “repair and recovery from the gaslighting is generally unworkable,” he says.

Meunier agrees: “If the gaslighting is part of characterological abuse, it is very difficult to imagine that healing is possible. It would take a huge awakening on the part of the perpetrator to realize their behavior has damaged another human being’s psychological well-being and that they want to learn healthy relationship and intimacy skills.” Bluntly stated: “This is highly unlikely,” she says.

How to stay safe, if you think you’re a victim of gaslighting:

“Gaslighting is often a tactic used by abusers who are characterologically violent,” says Hubbard. “With characterological violence, there is a clear victim and perpetrator—there is not admittance of wrongdoing on the abuser’s part and, in fact, they often blame their partner for making them explode into violence. This is an unsafe dynamic,” she warns.

However, “Leaving an abusive relationship is very dangerous. This is when a spike in violence can occur or the abuser can stalk and kill their victim if they leave—so we are always aware of the risks of leaving,” she warns. “A safety plan and a well-thought-out escape plan needs to be in place. Seek help if you are in this position, or even if you think you may be.”

Evan Rachel Wood Talks ‘Phoenix Rising,’ Alleged Abuser Marilyn Manson: ‘I Don’t Believe That He Will Stop Until He Is Stopped’

The first part of the two-part documentary mini-series directed by Amy Berg debuts on HBO Max on Tuesday night.

Billboard/March 15, 2022

By Gil Kaufman

Evan Rachel Wood appeared on The Daily Show on Monday night (March 14) to talk about the 16-year journey she took to confronting her alleged abuser and the reason she hopes her new two-part documentary, Phoenix Rising, could help other people who feel trapped in a cycle of abuse come forward and speak their truth.

“I don’t believe that he will stop until he is stopped,” she said of Marilyn Manson, her former fiancé, who she claims in the film methodically groomed her when she 18 and isolated her before allegedly subjecting the Westworld star to ritualistic abuse. “And sometimes the greatest act of love is stopping that person from hurting themselves or hurting anybody else.”

The nearly three-hour mini-series, directed and produced by acclaimed Oscar-nominated filmmaker Amy Berg (best known for her Catholic church sex abuse film Deliver Us From Evil and the sex abuse in Hollywood doc An Open Secret), premieres on HBO Max tonight (March 15). The first part chronicles Wood’s rise in Hollywood as a 13-year-old star-in-the-making and her chance meeting with Manson (born Brian Warner) at a party when she was 18. In the film she describes how that evening turned into a years-long relationship and engagement with the decades-older rocker that she claims included vicious sexual, physical and emotional abuse, including alleged anti-Semitic taunts and threats against the actress, who is Jewish; Manson has repeatedly denied the allegations and earlier this month sued Wood for defamation over the accusations, which the suit claimed is part of an “organized attack.”

Wood explained why she thinks it took 16 years for her to open up about her alleged abuse at the hands of Manson, who has also been accused of similar acts by a number of other women, which he has also denied. “You’re running, you’re trying to forget it happened, and then, of course, it catches up with you and I couldn’t run from it,” Wood said, explaining that she threw herself into therapy after years of vowing to “take it to my grave” over her fears about making her experience public. “I was that afraid of retaliation, I just did not feel safe and I felt very alone. I thought I was the only one.”

The latter sentiment is one she’s said is common among survivors of abuse, another reason she decided to share her story. After testifying in front of Congress for the Sexual Assault Survivors’ Bill of Rights in 2018, Wood said she thought she had said all there was to say, though at the time she did not publicly reveal her alleged abuser. But when people began emerging online with similar stories, with “very specific details,” she said she recognized as things you could not know unless you’d stood toe-to-toe with your abuser, she knew she had to break her silence.

“I knew it was real, and that’s when it changed,” she told Noah, adding that the film also tackles Manson’s own self-reported history of childhood trauma because, “I do believe in accountability and healing and reform and I think there is a time and a space for that.” Without going to the root of violence in the home, Wood said, we cannot see that “violence begets violence.”

“There are people who can stop the cycle and there are people, like Brian,” she said, naming Manson for the first and only time using his birth name more than half-way into the interview. “That don’t want help. And he’s had every opportunity. He’s had so many people try. And he has refused it every time.”

Wood also noted that the statute of limitations on sexual abuse was one-to-three years when she started advocating for the Phoenix Act in California — though she said it often takes 7-10 years to “process, understand and heal” from trauma — a time frame she described as “nothing” to a survivor still trying to come to terms with the physical, mental and emotional impact of abuse.

She pointed out that she spent a total of four years with “him” (presumably Manson), someone she called expert at “brainwashing” and isolation, comparing that time to being in a cult. “When you’re in it, you can’t see the forest through the trees, up is down, down is up. It’s you two against the world and it is a secret that nobody will ever be able to understand,” she said. “And you gotta to break free of that illusion, and it takes time.”

Former Playmate says Hugh Hefner’s mansion had ‘cult-like’ atmosphere: ‘He believed he owned these women’

Miki Garcia was a Playmate and head of promotions from 1973 to 1982

Independent, UK/January 25, 2022

By Clémence Michallon

A former Playmate has denounced the “cult-like atmosphere” she says Hugh Hefner cultivated around him.

Miki Garcia was a Playmate and head of promotions from 1973 to 1982. She’s one of the participants in Secrets of Playboy, a new documentary about Hefner and Playboy set to start airing on A&E.

The documentary series features several former members of Hefner’s entourage, reflecting and sharing their accounts of the culture they say Hefner created at the Playboy mansion starting in the Seventies.

“It was cult-like,” Garcia says at one point. “The women had been groomed and led to believe they were part of this family. And he really did believe he owned these women.”

She adds: “We had Playmates that overdosed. There were Playmates that committed suicide.”

Garcia says she thought about writing a book, because she thought “maybe all of this stuff would go away” if she did.

“Hefner even sent someone to buy me off,” she says. “When you get someone that powerful to be that fearful, anything could happen. Anything. I had a bodyguard. I was that afraid.”

Through a mix of interviews and archival footage, Secrets of Playboy , a 10-hour documentary series, will explore “how the Playboy machine was a powerful force that, at its worst, manipulated women in a toxic environment, silencing their voices, pitting them against one another, and opening the door to sexual predators”, according to A&E.

Ahead of the documentary’s release, the PLBY Group, the company behind the magazine and its related properties, issued an open letter seeking to separate the current Playboy magazine from Hefner, who died in 2017 aged 91.

“We want to reach out to you in light of the forthcoming A&E docuseries that we understand will recount allegations of abhorrent actions by Playboy founder Hugh Hefner and others,” the statement reads in part.

“First and foremost, we want to say: we trust and validate women and their stories, and we strongly support the individuals who have come forward to share their experiences. As a brand with sex positivity at its core, we believe safety, security and accountability are paramount, and anything less is inexcusable.”

It adds: “As you know, the Hefner family is no longer associated with Playboy, and today’s Playboy is not Hugh Hefner’s Playboy.”

“Please join us in doing the most important thing we can do right now — listen,” the statement goes on. “It is critically important that we listen as these women share their stories and that we continue to fight harassment and discrimination in all its forms, support healing and education, redefine tired and sexist definitions of beauty and advocate for inclusivity across gender, sexuality, race, age, ability, and zip codes.”

Secrets of Playboy started airing with a two-hour premiere on A&E on Monday (24 January) at 9pm ET/PT. The programme will also be available on demand and to stream on and on the A&E app. New episodes will keep airing on Mondays until the finale on 21 March.

52 Ways to Identify a Covert Narcissist

52 Ways to Identify a Covert Narcissist

How to take a closer look.

Psychology Today/July 7, 2020

By Julie Hall, reviewed by Kaja Perina

Key Points:

  • The covert narcissist fails to develop emotional empathy, self-awareness, or a stable sense of identity and self-esteem in childhood.
  • Covert narcissists avoid the spotlight and prefer passive-aggressive means of controlling others due to their fear being exposed and humiliated.
  • Tactics of a covert narcissist might include belittling, triangulation, and avoiding direct responsibility.

The flamboyance of overt narcissists can make them pretty easy to identify, but what about the covert narcissist in your life?

Recognizing covert personality traits requires looking beyond obvious appearances, past common assumptions and expectations. For this reason, covert narcissism is more difficult to spot, and it can take years to recognize it in someone you think you know well. But the good news is that once you become aware of the patterns and signs of covert narcissism, you aren’t likely to miss them again.

Covert Narcissism Checklist

The more covert form of pathological narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is not expressed the same way in every individual, but there are typical patterns that are very common. If you see many or most of these attitudes and behaviors in a person you know, you’re probably dealing with someone who suffers—and makes others suffer—with covert narcissism.Is passive-aggressiveCriticizes and judges from the sidelines

1. Is passive-aggressive
2. Criticizes and judges from the sidelines
3. Is condescending and superior
4. Is threatened by honesty and directness
5. Swings between idealizing and devaluing him-/herself and others
6. Denies and dismisses others’ feelings
7. Cultivates a public image sharply different from his/her private behavior
8. Identifies as a victim
9. Is cynical and sarcastic
10. Makes unreasonable demands
11. Turns your problems into his/her dramas
12. Belittles and blames
13. Exploits and/or attacks others’ vulnerability
14. Is reactive to questioning or criticism
15. Plays on sympathies
16. Fakes or exaggerates illness/injury for attention
17. Withholds and stonewalls
18. Gaslights
19. Avoids introspection and lacks self-awareness
20. Uses platitudes in place of genuine insight
21. Denies own anger
22. Focuses on unfairness
23. Is envious and vengeful
24. Prefers to remain behind the scenes
25. Gossips
26. Triangulates
27. Holds a grudge
28. Needs reassurance
29. Is inattentive or annoyed when others talk
30. Has double standards
31. Hates to lose
32. Fixates on others’ problems and misfortunes
33. Flatters and fawns to win favor
34. Displays rage and contempt in private
35. Resists decision-making
36. Does not sincerely apologize
37. Avoids direct responsibility
38. Has an exaggerated sense of entitlement
39 Is impressed by the overt narcissist’s appearance of confidence
40. Lacks emotional empathy
41. Focuses on appearance over substance
42. Rushes to (false) intimacy
43. Is anxious and hypervigilant
44. Displays false humility and humblebrags
45. Is prone to paranoia and conspiracy theories
46. Crosses normative boundaries and codes of conduct
47. Pokes, prods, and pries
48. Feels special through association
49. Feels above the rules
50. Uses guilt and shame to control and punish
51. Expects caretaking
52. Conducts smear campaigns

The Overt Versus the Covert Narcissist

Like the overt narcissist, the covert narcissist fails to develop emotional empathy, self-awareness, or a stable sense of identity and self-esteem in childhood. Both feel defective and cope with underlying insecurity and shame by repressing those feelings and adopting a grandiose persona, a delusion of superiority and entitlement that they constantly assert at the expense of those around them.

Although covert narcissists avoid the spotlight and prefer passive-aggressive means of controlling others, this is not necessarily because they are introverted as is often stated. Rather, they lack the brash confidence of overt narcissists and fear being exposed and humiliated if they draw public attention to themselves. Often this is because they have been conditioned not to compete with a domineering overt narcissist parent.

Recognizing the covert narcissist in your life is the first step to overcoming your self-defeating cycles of confusion, guilt, anger, self-blame, and emotional and physical trauma.

9 Ways Many Narcissists Behave Like Cult Leaders

How to recognize narcissists’ manipulative and cult-like tactics.

Psychology Today/March 17, 2021

By Dan Neuharth Ph.D., MFT

Key Points:

  • Individuals high in narcissism, like cult leaders, often inflate their own sense of importance and behave in ways that are destructive to others.
  • Similarities between narcissists and cult leaders include a tendency to lie and turn others against each other for their own ends, along with little tolerance for dissent.
  • To escape the negative influence of a narcissist, be mindful of what you share with them and set firm boundaries about how you will and won’t be treated.

The strategies many narcissists instinctively use to get their way in personal relationships can be strikingly similar to the coercive tactics used by destructive cult leaders to indoctrinate and control followers.

If you have a spouse, family member, friend, or boss who is narcissistic, ask yourself whether any of the following nine characteristics of destructive cults and cult leaders sound familiar.

1. Cult leaders act larger than life.

They claim to be innately good, possessing special wisdom, answerable to no one, with no one above them.

2. Cult members are expected to subjugate their own needs for the “good” of the leader or cause.

Members are told that what the cult wants them to do is for their own good, even if it is self-destructive.

3. An “us versus them” attitude prevails.

Outsiders are viewed as dangerous or as potential enemies. This turns members’ focus outward, distracting from problems within the cult. Viewing others as enemies can be used to justify extreme actions because of the “dangers” that outsiders pose.

4. Feelings are devalued, minimized, or manipulated.

Shame, guilt, coercion, and fear appeals keep members in line. Members are taught to discount their own intuition and healthy instincts in favor of the leader or cult’s teachings. Over time, members can lose touch with their healthy habits and innate values.

5. Questioning and dissent are not tolerated.

Having doubts about the leader or cult is considered shameful or sinful. Members are told that doubting or dissenting indicates that there is something wrong or bad with the member.

6. The ends justify the means.

The “rightness” of the leader and cult justifies behavior that violates most people’s standards for ethics and honesty. In the zealotry of the cult, anything goes.

7. Closeness to the cult and leader is rewarded, while independence is punished.

Temporary ostracism is used to punish behavior that doesn’t conform to group rules. Members fear being estranged from the group and losing the promised protection and benefits offered by the leader and group.

8. Lies are repeated so often they seem true.

The cult leader cannot be wrong and never needs to apologize.

9. Communication is coercive or deceptive.

Things are not always what they seem. This fosters confusion, leaving members vulnerable. When confused, members seek solace in the aura of certainty the leader seems to possess.

If you notice similarities between such cult-like techniques and your relationship with a narcissistic person, keep in mind:

  • Cults and narcissists use powerful forms of manipulation, but there is nothing magical about what they do. Understanding their methods can allow you to avoid being taken in.
  • If someone is narcissistic, be mindful of sharing personal information with that person, as it may be used against you.
  • In any adult relationship, you have the right to confront, prevent, or remove yourself from manipulation or coercive control at any time. You do not need to give a reason, and you do not need the other person’s permission.
  • In any adult relationship, you have the right to ask questions, make your own decisions, and honor your values and goals.
  • Nobody has the right to tell you what to think or how to feel.

Landmark coercive control sentence a warning to all abusers – charity

Irish Examiner/January 22, 2021

By Liz Dunphy and Brion Hoban

A landmark sentencing, in a case tried under relatively new domestic abuse legislation, is “a shot across the bows to all abusers,” a leading domestic abuse charity has said.

Daniel Kane, 52, was convicted of coercively controlling and repeatedly assaulting his former partner during a domestic reign of terror in which he sliced her skin with a pizza cutter, fractured multiple bones, attacked her after surgery, burned her foot and stamped on her head.

Kane was sentenced to 12-and-a-half years in prison, with two years suspended.

He is the first person to be convicted of coercive control by a jury following a trial.

The successive attacks and demeaning verbal and psychological abuse “sucked the life and soul of confidence” out of his victim and shattered her sense of self-worth.

She became “meek and submissive” and said in her victim impact statement that she “might be dead or in a vegetative state” if doctors and gardaí had not intervened to get her away from Kane.

But Kane’s sentence tells abusers “very clearly that they can no longer control, stalk, assault, isolate or degrade a woman with impunity,” Mary McDermott, CEO of domestic abuse charity, Safe Ireland, said.

“What was once secret and privatised, is now public. In Ireland, the coercion and assault of any human being is a crime.

“Living in a ‘lockdown time’ we are gaining ever greater understandings of these household traumas and imprisonment.

Women’s Aid, a frontline organisation that supported the victim in this case, also welcomed the sentencing.

Sarah Benson, chief executive of Women’s Aid said:

“It is a pattern of multiple manipulative behaviours used by one party to wear down, isolate and completely control another.

“Today’s sentencing sends out a strong signal to domestic abusers. Coercive control is a serious crime and it will be treated as such by the gardaí and the courts.”