Christine’s Chat Corner
A place where real questions get answered.
Christine Louis de Canonville is a psychotherapist who worked for many years with victims of narcissistic abuse. The questions discussed in her “Chat Corner” are real questions, they have come from the many victims that write to her on her blog daily.
Q. “Why, when anything goes wrong for my narcissistic partner, is it always my fault? I just don’t understand, and I’m sick of it”.
A. You must remember that to some degree, we all have our moments where we try to shift the blame, our shame-shifting is a human reaction to our uncomfortable feelings (i.e. fear, guilt, and shame, etc.). However, when we are talking about the narcissist in your life, there are many reasons why they blame you.
- Firstly, they will not take responsibility for any wrong-doing, because they are never culpable. This is one of the reasons they are so attracted to empaths as their victims. They know that when they do not take responsibility for their actions, that the empath will pick it up. It then becomes the empaths job (as victim) to plug the culpability gap. Furthermore, narcissists cannot tolerate their own failures, they always must deflect their blame outward (projection), therefore any wrong-doing becomes “your fault”.
- Secondly, it is the narcissist’s way of protecting their fragile ego against any external repercussions. So, even if they hurt you, they convince themselves that it is your fault, you are to blame. In their mind, no matter what happens, they rationalise that you should have known that whatever you said or did was really going to upset them, but you deliberately did it anyway. So, you must take ownership of the consequences of that actions…… you see, “You only have yourself to blame, so next time don’t upset me”.
If you have been chosen as the narcissist’s source of “narcissistic supply”, then they will expect perfection from you. If you fall short, then you can expect one of their famous “violent narcissistic rages” to rain down on you, and you will also become the scapegoat for any shameful feelings that you have caused them.
Narcissists cannot tolerate any failure in you, but neither can they tolerate failure in themselves either. Where most genuine people are likely to feel guilty if they do something wrong, the narcissist does not feel any guilt, but they may experience shame. Unfortunately, narcissists internalise any failure in themselves as shame. Unable to tolerate their feelings of shame, they externalise it by projecting onto others. However, should you have an adverse reaction to their exploitative behaviour and dare to confront them on placing the blame at your feet, this is likely to cause them to experience a “narcissistic injury” to their fragile ego. If this should happen, then you are likely to be at the receiving end of one of their immediate frightening and demeaning rages. This rage is designed to stop you in your tracks, and it also serves to control you into being more subservient in the future.
Narcissists thrive in their ability to blame, it is a recognisable abusive symptom of their narcissism, and they use it to their greatest advantage. Narcissists tend to choose their narcissist supply from those people with a high moral compass (empaths). It is not the nature of an empath to blame others, especially those they love, on the negative things that they do. Unfortunately, empaths tend to look at the world from their own world view, therefore, failing to see this deliberate abusive streak in their narcissist’s behaviour. At times, they can be a little naive, and tend to believe the lies they hear from their narcissist about how honest and responsible they are. They are already well hooked into the abusive relationship before they begin to see through the scam. However, should you (the empath) call them out on how they shift the blame onto you, they will only deny it. They are likely to make a mental note that you are gaining awareness on their Machiavellian behaviour, and step up their game, and you will most likely be punished for trying to challenge them.
The more frequent projections and blame-shifting conditions that is placed on the victim, the more likely they are to try to keep the peace. Once the blame and responsibility for what the narcissist has either done, or not done, is accepted by the victim, the way is paved for other manipulative behaviours to be introduced by the narcissist (i.e. the controlling behaviour, the isolation, the silent treatment, etc.). The victim will find themselves constantly apologising to others, and trying to cover up for their narcissist’s behaviour.
Many victims will have been subjected and conditioned to this form of abusive behaviour in childhood by another narcissistic personality in their environment (i.e. a parent, sibling, grandparent, teacher, etc.). Unbeknown to them, even as adults, they are conditioned to respond to other narcissists in the same way. Their auto-response is set on taking care and fixing others, and part of their duty is to shoulder the responsibility for the failures of others, becoming the consummate “pleaser”.
Narcissists can spot the “the empathic pleaser” from miles away. They are the perfect individual to cast their eye on, and initiate as their next victim.
- Narcissistic Female Intimate Partner Violence Against Men Is No Joke - February 28, 2023
- Narcissists and Positions of Power and Influence - February 6, 2023
- Why Is It So Blooming Hard Leaving a Narcissist? - December 9, 2022
Wonderfully explained article Christine, thank you.
I would love to have you read and record all of your articles, and your books of course, so that I can listen to you when I’m cooking, or out walking with headphones on, or commuting, or anytime really.
I know that you’re super busy, but can we add it to the wishlist please?
I’ve listened to all of your interviews multiple times, and love them.
Tell her you’re worried about her getting burned out and tell her it would be really helpful to go and see an experienced therapist – find one experienced & capable of dealing with a narcissist/narcissistic abuse. The therapist will very gently help her to unravel what is going on, then she will be empowered to decide how to proceed.
Get another therapist, one who understands narcissistic behaviour. A narcissist will project on you and completely deny it – he won’t be able to admit he said/did those hurtful things because it is at odds with his self image so his ego won’t allow him to. Anything that happens in his rage won’t be something he will acknowledge or apologise for – far easier to gaslight and say you are making it up. Get some help, far better if he’s truly willing to try to but get a therapist who can help, sounds like your existing one doesn’t have the experience and skill set for what you are dealing with
As the parent of an adult daughter married to a narcissist, I am beside myself as to what to do. The daughter does not realize she is the victim of emotional abuse and “covers” for the abusive husband. She does not know whether she is coming or going and takes on the responsibility for the entire family. She is worn out. The Mother in law is also a narcissist. The husband does not like us to be around as we will not satisfy his need to be recognized and stroked. We watch as he misuses our daughter but the daughter is defensive. How do we help our daughter? He is manipulative and he is turning the children against us. Our daughter knows we love her and the children but she is also loyal to her husband. The husband is suppose to be a christian but there is no fruit in his life. He does not lift a finger to help his wife and does not interact well with the children. Husband leaves all the responsibility for the children to the wife. He invades all conversations and makes every conversation about him. How do we help our daughter to see how she is victimized?
Yes, anybody can become filled with blind rage and say all kinds of nasty things they wouldn’t say under normal conditions. My mother did this – she would become so furious and her mouth spewed venom. My 32 year-old sister told her “God gave you a mouth and you have a responsibility to use it.” Surprisingly she learned to tame her words.
My husband will sometimes say very hurtful things to me. I have discussed some of these things with my therapist. My husband has seen the therapist on his own a few times and the last time he was in for a session she asked him about some of these things. She said he replied that he would not have said something like that and saying something like that does not sound like him. The therapist said he really seemed not to remember saying those hurtful things to me.
I did not make them up. When I have confronted my husband in the past he becomes very defensive and turns the situation around so that somehow I am the person at fault. This is why I asked the therapist to inquire about this with him. The last couples session I attended with him I felt so emotionally battered by the end I told the therapist I would not be part of another couples session until she understands him better and when to stop his remarks because they are inappropriate and disrespectful. Also, that he is willing to abide by some of the rules I put forth, to protect myself, for more respectful discussions. If he cannot maintain respect the therapist knows and supports that I will leave the session.
My question is: Can a narcissist actually become so angry or enraged in a situation that he will say mean and hurtful things to another person but not remember?
Thank you for the very easy to understand way in which you explain the Narc.
I left a 27 year marriage with an abusive narc. While I have some scars from it I am happy to say that my awareness of his odd/bad behavior from about year 10 made it possible for me to deflect a lot of his toxic vomit. Most of my marriage I spent in counseling (alone) to help me cope and finally after pursuing a MSW in my forties was I able to look at the narc with some amount of pity and see the broken creature he really is. When my children were grown, a week after my youngest left for collage, I left my home and served him with divorce papers. Holy crap! the last three years have been classic narc nuclear war. I was in no way prepared for the blame shifting, smear campaign that we waged on me. Anyway, that said I think I believe/hope I’ve seen the worst of it and can live the rest of my life somewhat free of him. Only time will tell. Thanks for listening.Best Regards, Liz
What you say here is almost too painful to read because it is so familiar. Our daughter escaped an abusive marriage almost 4 years ago. Some physical abuse but much more psychological. She believes after her own therapy with qualified professionals, and the many books we have read, that her ex is probably Narcissistic, maybe Borderline. Do these 2 personality disorders ever intersect? She has 2 young children and at least she was credible enough to win full custody, but the ex has much court mandated parenting time and the court required her to live within 10 miles of him so they can eventually “co-parent.” The slander he spews at her and in front of their children and others is horrific. He will never submit willingly to a full pyschological evaluation and family courts don’t typically require it. He manages to maintain a respectable persona publicly and professionally. But for our daughter it is a living hell wondering what his next harassment du jour will be. The family court criticized her for remaining silent too long and now post divorce criticize her for too many complaints regarding his harrasments and inappropriate parenting. This behavior is far more widespread in our culture than we ever could have imagined, yet very difficult to enlighten the general public. The courts in the U.S. don’t seem to care. And YES the reverse is true: men are often the victims instead…we know that very well through dear family friends. Maybe your book, Christine, will suggest some coping skills for this trap that is impossible to fully escape.
Good morning Christine,
Thank you for this insight. This is so true for me, I am the empath. I have confronted my husband, which in the past he would be come enraged and now he tries hard to stop himself but he will not admit he is wrong in anyway but will say he is sorry. I can see that he is challenged and has difficulty with talking intimately with me. I do my best to not take on his blame. However, I find myself stressed and feeling negative energy from him and in my home. What else can I do to effectively to prevent this?
Thank you Christine.
Uncanny timing that this should land in my inbox at a time when this blame shifting, scapegoating phenomena and my role as a people pleasing empath was explored in depth in therapy last week. I still can’t believe that for decades I absorbed this and actually believed I was at fault. I continuously tried harder and harder to not be that faulty wife incapable of doing anything right to the point that I became the one riddled with shame and devoid of any self-worth. But no matter how hard I tried there was always something I should of done, could of done, didn’t do or did do. I wouldn’t even know where to begin to explain how almost every single negative aspect of his life somehow landed in my lap (and still does post separation) using every known tactic – twisting, contorting, rewriting history, fabricating untruths, denial, etc, to the point where he is certifiably delusional. The horror of this is that they spin this deceitful web far and wide by sharing blame shifting stories with others so that friends and family rally around with supportive sympathy for them and condemnation for us victims.
I haven’t read this whole Q & A yet but I thought I’d give everyone a giggle at to how bad my Sociopath boyfriend was when it came to blaming.
I was in the passenger’s seat of my car and it was running when he got in to drive.
People kept flashing their lights at us and once we realized it was because OURS weren’t ON, he had a FIT!
“Why didn’t you turn the lights on!?”
Since when does the passenger control that part?
And of course, every time I brought it up to him or to other’s, he didn’t have a clue as to what I was talking about because he remembered none of it.
Which became another blame me because I made it up!
Christine, I love your book and it was the most helpful thing I have EVER read. Thank you!!!
I have a long history of Narcisstic abuse, in all its sad forms, from my Dad and Mom through 40 plus years of abuse from two husbands. I used to ask, “Do I have a sign on my forehead that says “I’m stupid! Use and abuse me!” that only creeps can read it? The answer was “yes” and your book explained all about that.
I was looking for the follow up book with practical ways to change my responses and still not change who I am at heart., Through your book, I can now more easily recognize ‘red flags’ and have begun finding ways to stop these people from using me, and begun taking charge of my life again. Problem is, I still attract them like flies and the only way to escape when I’m overwhelmed, is to shut myself off at home alone, pray, think, and rest. Then I can try again.
I have tried finding a Counselor, and or group, who can help, but am not having any luck. Most don’t understand what this kind of relationship does to the victim (Empath) so they can’t really help. Or they are Narcissistic themselves and immediately try to control and blame. RED FLAGS I try hard to avoid.
I am very grateful for this forum and send all the info I find that is helpful to my Sister who has had to become an advocate for her own daughter and 3 granddaughters. It also gives me someone who now understands me. That is a wonderful gift and blessing.
Keep up the good work Christine!!!! If I wasn’t on the other side of the “pond” I would love to visit with you. But these connections I have with you are welcome lifelines. I look forward to them!
If those of you in these kinds of relationships have not read, ‘The Three Faces of Evil’ please read it, it opened my eyes to the truth about so many things. God Bless You and Help You too!
The best thing I can think of for staying safe is to understand narcissistic behaviour. That you can do by reading as much as you can. There is plenty of information on the internet, and there are plenty of good books also on the subject. If you can spot a narcissist early in the relationship, you can avoid being hooked by them. That is the safest you can be.
Warmest regards, Christine
Everything you said in this informative read on Narcissistic Abuse was 100% correct. I bought your book awhile ago, and as it helped me greatly, just reading these few pages helped so much. I had a Narcissistic Mother ~ Sister ~ and Daughter, and it’s been absolute hell. Thank you for all of us that you help understand, and I wish all therapists had to take your workshop to be able to obtain their therapy schooling in this to become a therapist. But even those might not be able to completely understand, unless it happened to them.
There seems to be alot of these symptoms in people with adhd. Have you looked into these similarities,many people aren’t aware without being informed.
thank you for comfiirming this ….i have been blamed and ostracised for speaking out about a church member with these traits.
I have had to apologise just to keep the frienship of this lady and so as not to upset the Pastor further.
It felt v insincere, apologising when I still feel I did no wrong.
Do you think it is manipulative of me to be so insincere just to keep the peace…or is it a Christian thing to do….it is bothering me so much.
The drama around this lady causes me to walk on eggshells to ward off further abuse….the rest of the church only see a wonderful saintly chutch member….they havent seen the abuse as it is v well hidden.
What a dilemma!!
My EX WAS NEVER AT FAULT always Blaming me.now finally after 17 years of Abuse a top London Barrister is going to take her on.my Daughter so manipulated by her mother.my Ex & her mother told my Daughter l didnt want her from Birth & prevented me from going into the viewing room,it was planned from Day 1.her Extreme violent Behavior since 1996 & constant Lies has finally caught up with my Ex.40% of men suffer Domestic violence from their spouses.l was 1 of them.horrific story. she even accused me of raping & molesting my Daughter then aged 18 months total BS.l had a Break down through stress Depression & Anxiety.
Very well explained….so whats the best way to deal with these people ?Any helpful strategies?