Narcopaths fear abandonment and exposure – and they also understand that both are distinct possibilities. Their defence against this is the discard and smear campaign.
Prior to any discard, and as preparation / insurance policy in anticipation of it, narcopaths will have started a campaign designed to undermine the credibility of their victim. How subtle and manipulative this is will depend on the narc and context, but it can range from crass and overt bitching to a very cunning, hands-off and manipulative one executed by their Flying Monkeys.
It serves several purposes:
- To make them feel better – lots of negative narcissistic supply
- To claim victimhood – an ongoing theme
- To control the narrative – because this is a very high-risk period.
Danger of Exposure
On the point of controlling the narrative, bear in mind that the narcopath’s biggest fear is exposure – having to face the reality of their false self. The discard phase of the relationship is high risk:
- They have fallen foul of the poor behaviour of the split itself, particularly the triangulation;
- Their quarry is deeply wounded, hurt and angry;
- As the dust settles, their ex becomes increasingly aware of the abuse that went on, and are likely to have evidence to prove it;
- The lack of closure further upsets them, making them unpredictable.
Given these high risks and the potentially volatile and revengeful behaviour of their discarded exes, it is vital that the narcopath mitigates the risk of being exposed as a matter of urgency. Consequently, they will do all they can to:
- Isolate the ex from anyone who may listen and be influential;
- Undermine the ex’s credibility – so if they do say anything, they won’t be believed;
- Muddy waters in order to reinforce a “they’re both just as bad as each other” mentality amongst peers;
- Push them into complete shutdown – up to and including suicide.
A discarded ex should expect to be smeared with
- Friends – sources of narcissistic supply must be secured
- Family – ditto
- Any joint kids – laying the foundations for Parental Alienation
- Their new supply – to whom discards will be portrayed as crazy and abusive
- Police – because they derive narcissistic supply from crazy-making with anyone who will respond
- Judiciary – a divorce may be coming up, and their sense of entitlement informs them that they deserve it all.
Consistent with their standard tactics, victims are generally billed as two things:
- Crazy – because this undermines the credibility of anything that the victim might say. Grains of truth are fed into to support this pretence, which is why there will have been a string of prior crazy-making instances specifically designed to give this impression. Buttons pushed in private designed to provoke a public explosive reaction with a calm abuser looking on. Compelling stuff to the uninformed. It will often happen around key dates – so, for example, if the couple are due to meet with the extended family of the victim, expect the run-up to the occasion to be increasingly stressful for the victim. In this way, the victim is primed to be explosive, and triggered by a straw that breaks the camel’s back at the event if it all goes to the narc’s plan. The fall-back is that others sense they are walking on eggshells if nothing else.
- Abusive – a typical example of projection, whereby the Narc will accuse their victim of precisely what it is they are guilty of themselves – abuse. It’s a three-pronged strategy – get in with the propaganda way first in order to win first-move advantage; muddy the waters so that if any accusations are lost in the fog; and claim the victim narrative.
Remedy for Victims
Countering the Smear Campaign is very difficult. Some tips – easy to write – much more difficult to accept, let alone put into action:
- Rise above it – don’t dispute it, narcs have already anticipated this and have the antidote. By rising above it, you are disengaging with the narc and depriving them of narcissistic supply. You are oozing decorum. You are refusing to enter the ring of what will inevitably be a messy scrap. You will show to your peers that you are better than that. Just understand that the bitching that your narc is up to will undoubtedly influence in the short term, but it will sink them in the long.
- Act the inverse of what the Narc is trying to present. Understand that their angles is going to be crazy and abusive – so present calm, rational and kind.
- Win the Hearts and Minds – be proactive with peers and work at it. Be yourself. Don’t bitch. Be decent. Allow people to know that you’re hurting, but that you are putting a brave face on it. Make sure that you are presenting someone who is concerned about things beyond yourself – the impact that the discard is having on the kids, families, friends etc.
- Be Prepared to Lose Friends – lots of them. If a prior friend isn’t supportive you, then be prepared to let them go. Friendship should endure more – if they’re not prepared to be back you, best not to beat yourself up about it. Save your angst, and your energy, for more important battles.
Debunking the Narcissist’s Smear Campaign | Zari Ballard
Narcissists and smear campaigns: Why they do it | Narc Wise
5 Ways Narcissists Smear Others | PsychCentral
How to Overcome a Narcissist’s Smear Campaign | Thought Catalogue