The Herd

EJ is busy in the Emerald City this week running around doing house buying stuff after work. There’s a lot to arrange and do, ugh. I’m his “hero support,” texting him information that the realtor or mortgage person emails me and letting him know the information he needs to get to them or what task he needs to do.

I woke feeling drained and fuzzy-headed. I suspect the blustery, rainy, damp weather is not helping the infection I’ve struggled with for at least five weeks. Bleagh. I took cold medicine and cuddled with Luke on the couch for the morning.

Last week I found an interesting excerpt from a book called Narcissistic Predicaments – A Biblical Guide To Navigating The Schemes, Snares, And No-Win Situations Unique To Abusive Families With Renee’s permission, I am sharing the excerpt because I think that it’s important to understand this Narcissistic abuse. Because the abuse is so subtle and there are no bruises or broken bones, very few understand this type of abuse.

As I shared in a post a while back, this abuse is very subtle and damaging. I think that one of the most difficult aspects of this type of abuse is that the Narcissist is such a skilled liar and manipulator that she (or he) is able to keep the abuse hidden. Because she can appear to be very warm and loving to everyone except the victim she is devaluing and smearing, she wins supporters who help to further isolate and abuse the victim.

The following excerpt describes the “herd mentality” in narcissistic families. It sounds unbelievable, but I experienced this in my family whenever I didn’t submit to their demands. It really is true that if you anger one, you anger them all. They all will close ranks against the one who “rocked the boat,” and will shun and/or smear her if she doesn’t submit and rejoin the herd.

Narcissists refuse to accept boundaries. They don’t choose to see where they end and other people begin. Rather, they see others as extensions of themselves, attached to them as if joined at the hip. You only exist for their use and benefit. Outside of their world, you cease to exist. In their delusional minds, everything you say or do affects them, whether or not it actually has anything to do with them. You will notice that any independent decision you make in your own life is regarded as something you are doing to the narcissist, to spite him or upset him. Anything you say, any opinion you voice, is viewed as a direct challenge to him. It’s like you’re a part of his body that refuses to do what he wants it to. The narcissist believes that the entire world revolves around him- and you are part of that world.

Just as a single narcissistic abuser refuses to allow others their autonomy apart from him, the abusive narcissistic family does not see and accept each member as a separate individual. The uniqueness of each person and the differences between them are not celebrated. Instead, individuality and free thinking are perceived as threatening, and not allowed. Everyone is just part of one larger sick organism–kind of like a big, ugly, smoldering, rotten lump. This thing moves as one, thinks as one, acts as one. One part cannot separate itself from the lump and speak out on its own. All the parts have to agree with what the other parts say. Because they are not emotionally separate individuals, but merely enmeshed parts of one big whole.

Nobody in such a family thinks for themselves. There is one way of thinking, one collective decision-making process, one opinion for all of them. Anyone who breaks from the group mentality will become an outsider, quick to be shut up or shunned. If you want to be an insider and remain in the good graces of the big ugly lump of enmeshed parts, then you can have no mind of your own. You have no choice but to go along with the group and be of one mind with them. Being right or wrong doesn’t matter. The only thing that matters is being the same. 

The abusive family’s idea of togetherness is a totalitarian vision carried to the extreme. It’s one for all and all for one–a kind of weird Cold War regime where a select few people dictate what everyone else has to think, say, and do. And the secret family police keep an eye on everybody and keep them all in line,  reporting any signs of independent thinking and carrying out the necessary “dissuasion.” In their warped pathological perception, if you offend one of them, you offend them all. If you set a boundary or stand up and say something to one, it’s as if you said it to the whole tribe. If one is mad at you, they’re all mad at you. If one isn’t speaking to you, they’re all not speaking to you. And if one suddenly ups and decides that they are speaking to you again, then everybody is speaking to you again. The only wild card they never consider is whether you will want to speak to them again. They simply assume that you will passively go along with whatever the group decides. Just like all of them do.

Think of a herd of buffalo on the prairie. When they run, it’s as one. If they turn left or right, they all turn together. When they stop and graze, they all stop and graze at the same time. And it only takes one to start a stampede. As soon as one gets spooked and starts running, they will all run, blindly following the first one’s example, even though they have no idea why they’re running or what they’re running from. Think of lemmings, all following each other to their deaths off the cliff, never stopping for a second and saying, “Hey, wait a minute. Maybe this isn’t such a good idea after all! Maybe there’s a better way.”

The same herd mentality auto-pilots our abusive families. No one ever says “Hmmm…now, let’s see. How will my taking sides and shunning so-and-so help resolve this situation?” No one has the brains or the foresight to think, “Hey, wait a minute! If I go along with betraying someone who never did anything bad to me, then what? How might this come back and bite me in the future? If I change my mind later on and want to make up, how will I undo what I did? If, somewhere down the road, both of my feuding relatives mend fences, where will that leave me?”

Thinking, speaking and acting as one big dysfunctional lump of lemmings, and blindly following whoever puts on the most theatrical performance, our narcissistic relatives manage to make sure that a disagreement between just two people, which might eventually have been resolved had it stayed limited, turns into a huge feud involving the whole family and causing hard feelings for years to come. The chances of the original problem ever being resolved amicably drops exponentially with each additional person added to the mix. This results in rifts that can never be healed, and a family that will never be the same (which is probably a good thing!). In an act of collective suicide, the selfish troublemaker will influence the foolish herd to follow her right off the cliff, effectively killing the whole family structure. And they will ignorantly gloat in their smug self-righteousness all the way down, right up until the moment they hit the bottom.

2 Comments on “The Herd

  1. This is a really good piece of information and absolutely true. I still have to struggle with the pain sometimes of this kind of abuse. Thank you for sharing Teri. And hopefully you will soon feel better but this is a really nasty flu. My cough disappeared after 9 weeks at last. Just another month and you will be living near the Emerald City in the Enchanted Forest !!!! ❤


    • 9 weeks? At least you give me hope that there will be an end to it. This really is a terrible sickness. The damp weather isn’t helping.

      I was so unaware of what was happening when I was going through this abuse. It would have been helpful to have had information about it. So I like to occasionally share so others can understand.


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