What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate

August 16, 2010

The following article was written by Dr Tara J. Palmatier, PsyD.
You can find her website here at Shrink4Men:

10 Reasons Why You Can’t Communicate with A Borderline

Emotionally abusive narcissistic and/or borderline women are masters of spin control and pile driving their “reality” home through brute verbal force and emotional reasoning. If you’re involved with a NPD and/or BPD woman, you know these invective communication strategies firsthand.

This kind of woman clings to her belief system no matter how many times she’s confronted with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary. In fact, the more wrong she is, the greater the fake outrage and histrionics she displays.

The next time you challenge your BPD/NPD partner’s points of view, lies, distortions, unilateral pronouncements or unfounded accusations, notice how she responds. Your discussion probably turns into a one-sided argument replete with vitriolic theatrics and threats very quickly.

Here are some common communication control tactics of emotionally abusive narcissistic and/or borderline woman:

1. The Big Bamboozle. Here’s how it works: Emotionally abusive woman  begin a conversation/attack with one topic. When you present facts that contradict her beliefs, she bamboozles you by going on off-topic tangents, changing the subject or making a brand new accusation. While you’re still defending your original point and why it’s valid, she blows you off (because you’re making sense) and distracts you by jumping to another topic that’s completely out of left field.

2. SHUT UP! When you try to explain your feelings or point of view, this kind of woman may explicitly tell you to, “Shut up!” Narcissists, borderlines and bullies not only “can’t handle the truth,” they go to great lengths to deny and obliterate it.

Your wife or girlfriend probably uses other tactics when you challenge her like walking out of the room, giving you the silent treatment or simply refusing to listen to you. In both cases, this is the adult control freak’s version of, “La, la, la, la, la, I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” They believe if they ignore or stop you from speaking the truth that it doesn’t exist like a small child who closes their eyes to “make you go away.”

3. Name-Calling.
This is the last resort of bullies, such as NPD/BPD women. Because they can’t intelligently defend their position or their behaviors, they resort to emotionally-based personal attacks. It’s another distraction technique that sidetracks you from the original point of contention by disorienting you and putting you on the defensive.

Calling your boyfriend or husband names doesn’t prove your point; it’s merely an ad hominem attack. Here’s the logic: “Okay! Fine! Maybe the world is round, but you’re a bleeping, bleepity, bleep bleep! So there! That’s why I don’t have to listen to you. The world is flat!” You have two choices when presented with this kind of “logic;” sink to their level or walk away with dignity and sanity.

4. Projection. NPD/BPD women accuse their targets of things that they themselves are actually guilty of. This is a primitive defense mechanism. It’s the grown up version of the maddening childhood taunt, “I know you are, but what am I?” “But you’re the one who just…” “I know you are, but what am I?“

5. Splitting. This is another very primitive defense mechanism. NPD/BPD women see people and the world in all-or-nothing, good vs. evil, black-and-white terms. They have no capacity for context or nuance. Either you see things her way or you must be crushed into the ground. You can’t respectfully agree to disagree with this kind of woman. Any criticism, difference of opinion or challenge to her “authority” is seen as a threat and will be treated as such in that you will be devalued and demonized.

6. Smear Campaigns. First, they split, then they smear. It’s not enough for NPD/BPD women to disagree with and despise you. Everyone else is the world, including your own family and friends, must hate you and see how wrong you are, too. These women go after you by attacking your ethics, integrity, sexuality and manufacture the most ridiculous nonsense in order to destroy your reputation. Unfortunately, the bigger the lie, the more gullible people tend to believe it.

7. Gaslighting. Women with these issues both deny things they’ve said and done and accuse you of the very same transgressions they committed. They also twist a grain of truth into a huge distortion until you begin to doubt your own sanity and look like the crazy person when you try to defend yourself.

8. Increasing the Volume; Not the Logic. The more wrong an emotionally abusive NPD/BPD woman is, the louder and/or more resolute she gets. Her level of fake outrage, vindictiveness or emotional withdrawal is in direct proportion to how accurate you are. She will either talk over and shout at you, repeating the same simplistic, emotionally-charged statements over and over until she drowns out all reason or give you the silent treatment until you submit and apologize for your “offense.”

9. Blame and Shame. NPD/BPD women blame others for everything that is wrong and never consider how they contribute to and often cause the issues and their own unhappiness. They shift responsibility to make you seem bad and crazy in an effort to shame you into submission.

10. Playing the Victim. When NPD/BPD women are called out for their bad behaviors and dishonesty, they then play the victim. They claim they’re being unfairly attacked for “standing up for the truth” and having the “courage” to speak out. This kind of woman frequently defends her indefensible behaviors by saying she was swept away by her emotions or passion and offers such chestnuts as, “I did what my heart told me to do.” Nonsense. These women are known to have temper tantrums when their bad behaviors are exposed and lash out with a verbal attack or pout in cold silence.

At heart, an emotionally abusive woman is a bully who will try to steamroll anyone who disagrees with her. It’s not just about controlling her reality, but controlling everyone else’s reality, too. When you allow a narcissistic and/or borderline woman to determine reality, you’re letting one of the inmates control the asylum. So the next time you’re on the verge of being sucked in by one of the above tactics, calmly look your wife or girlfriend in the eye, quietly say “No” and walk away.

(Clearly Dr. Tara is not a big fan of BPs, but she’s right- BPs are dirty fighters. To be fair, this is a BP at their worst. Like everybody else, BPs have good days and bad days. But unlike other people, a bad day is really really bad. When times are good, BPs are lovely people. But when they start to get insecure about a relationship, things can get ugly. Conflicts can easily get out of hand for someone who can’t regulate their emotions.)

17 Responses to “What We Have Here is a Failure to Communicate”

  1. evewitch said

    Not to pick nits with the author, but this applies to BP men, too.

    • savorydish said

      Absolutely. Even shrinks are biased.

      • evewitch said

        Seems like this one is more biased than most. I started reading some of the other stuff on that website & had to stop because it was very triggering. Apparently we are all just sociopaths. BS! I have real feelings and real empathy/sympathy. The feelings are not always appropriate or rational, but they are real. The empathy is harder… (I am a diagnosed BP married to an undiagnosed BP.)

      • savorydish said

        Bear in mind, we all bring our personal experiences and biases to this topic. Dr. Tara is no exception. Her observations might be harsh but they are real. The reality is we (BPs and non BPs) have all used these tactics at one time or another. But I’m sure you would agree that BPs have a greater need for them. That being said, I appreciate your POV on this. It would be interesting to note the difference between male and female BPs. I’m also glad you brought up triggers, because that can make talking about BPD difficult for BPs. But at least we are talking about it. And that’s a good thing. Because the more people know about this disorder, the less stigma there will be. Look forward to more of your insights.

  2. Pollywannaquack said

    I find it very hard to believe this is an actual therapist. Her entire site is so hateful and obviously geared toward an audience of “men who have been burned” as a way to generate money. aint capitalism great?! The fact that she claims to be a female and claims to be a therapist, validates their feelings of “the world is against all men” and with any luck they will open their wallets to allow the feeding to continue. Bravo “doctor” (?) A quick check on the APA.org website proves she has no affiliation with them (though she claims to be a member) Obviously a disturbed woman who gets a thrill out of having an audience of men to play to…I think someone didn’t get asked to the prom?!

    • savorydish said

      Does discrediting the therapist make her observations any less true? Her website is called shrink4men. Obviously she is targeting men. What’s wrong with helping men who have been “burned”? Instead of reading that article as an attack on all women, we should read it to become more aware of defense mechanisms and dirty fighting tactics. Tactics used by men and women. If the shoe fits, wear it. If not, life goes on.

  3. polly wanna QUACK said

    I think the really troubling aspect of the blog is her claim of being a therapist. She claims to be a member of the APA, but it seems this is not the case. Her credibility is shakey, I may be off base, but I still cannot believe any reputable therapist would use terms such as “crazy asshole or crazy bitch” I don’t think these are widely used terms in the world of therapy. It smacks of hate mongering for monetary profit, it is disturbing. Anyone can put on a facade and figure out a way to gain an audience, then ask for donations

    • savorydish said

      Regardless of what Dr. Tara’s credentials may or may not have, her observations on abusive communicators are spot on. Would you have cared about her credentials, if the article was about BP men? No offense, but discrediting a source of criticism is also a defense-mechanism. One that prevents some people from examining themselves.

  4. polly wanna QUACK said

    The irony here is that I live with a PD spouse, I never know what is coming down the pike one day to the next…we live on eggshells…that said, when I read such inflaming commentary such as tara p’s, I have to pause and look at what is said through an objective eye. It would be easy for me to jump on the bandwagon and say “yeah! that is on spot! Damn bitches” I think it is dangerous when someone is posing as a professional and ranting in the manner tp is. There are people who are looking for direction and will buy into her ideaology believing she is trained and qualified to make such comments. If that is her/his personal opinion, that is fine, but don’t try to paint an opinion as “research” That is where the danger lies, her credibiity is not verified, as a matter of fact, by claiming to belong to the APA when you are not, this is a strong indicator of fraud and deception. The target audience is vulnerable and raw due to their trauma, this makes them ripe for taking advantage of. What better way than to come across as the person validating all their woes?

    • savorydish said

      I agree her style is inflammatory, but it still does not invalidate the content of her article. As a spouse of a PD, you should be familiar with all these tactics.

  5. pam said

    i can only say this observation is spot on for my possible BP husband, all the things listed here are evident in his behavior and to a large extent.

    she certainly could have made these observations gender free and saved herself. If she is professional, she better start writing about how to deal with things too. Not small ‘walk awa’ advice. But serious ones which help in coping with such a behavior and what might it take to help the BP too.

    • savorydish said

      You’re right BPD can afflict both sexes.I can see how this would seem like woman bashing. But I think in this case she is specifically targeting women with BP. I still think this is useful for both males and females in a relationship with BP. Unfortunately in most cases, the only coping solution is for the BP to get therapy. You can’t communicate with someone who doesn’t play by the rules.

  6. […] A BP in denial will push you away until you are no longer an emotional threat (distancing). No matter how loving your relationship might have been, this will all change once the BP has devalued your love for the sake of detaching themselves from you. The BP has cast themselves as the victim and you as the villain. A BP in denial will resort to all sorts of tricks to avoid the truth about themselves. […]

  7. empatheticskeptic said

    Let’s put it this way, Savory Dish. Even a stopped clock is correct twice a day. However, psychologists who adhere to best practice do not engage in diagnosis by proxy nor do they use inflammatory rhetoric as a means of attracting business. The men who frequent her site, might just benefit more from face to face IC with someone who helps them focus on their personal issues….since the only individual’s behavior that any of us can control is our own.

  8. empatheticskeptic said

    I don’t address loaded or disingenuous questions. If you would be so kind as to elaborate upon whom or what you are referring as “both sides,” I may respond.

  9. savorydish said

    And I don’t entertain hostile people. So come back when you’re feeling less prickly and hypersensitive.

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