A few items of intriguing synchronicity have occurred, which I think deserve bringing up to my favorite blog readers: you folks. 1) I am editing a new book for Immanion Press, and it’s on modern vampires and vampirism. I don’t want to give away anything in advance without checking with my boss and the author, so that will have to suffice. 2) I’ve recently corresponded with Michelle Belanger a few times, and am reading her Psychic Vampire Codex off and on. 3) Most recently, a LiveJournal “friend” posted something I intend to include in this post on allegedly how to protect yourself from “emotional vampires.”
He included a link to the original source, and I’ve clicked over to check it out. Has anyone ever heard of albernstein.com? It’s a website that consists of about half a dozen pages of poorly and inconsistently formatted checklists describing various types of “emotional vampires.” Narcissistic vampires, histrionic vampires, paranoid vampires, etc. The lists show a poor grasp of psychology and misuse of psychological labels, and one might surmise that the site was created by a victim of manipulation who sees himself (or herself) as someone doing a needed public service. But no.
The page on Narcissistic Vampires does not accurately describe narcissistic behavior. I was initially somewhat excited when I clicked through the link provided on LJ, because when I spotted the page titles I thought, “Wow, maybe someone with a solid psychological background has fine-tuned the narcissistic behavior used online to manipulate people,” because I myself have known a couple of scary-level narcissists and have been fooled. I’ve researched the disorder (and others) at some length, so that I can avoid this type of trap in the future. I think I can say with at least a layman’s authority that alberstein.com is dangerously misinformative.
However, I found some things of value in the list my LJ friend posted from the site. I’m going to include a cut here and dissect said list, clearly marking and modifying it with what I hope are more insightful comments. Please, by all means, add your own in comments.
First of all, let me say that some of the intimations below are patently ridiculous (e.g. “Vampires can’t operate in the light of day.”) These give people serious misconceptions. Also, in the post on LiveJournal, there was extensive debate in the comments regarding the use of the word “vampire,” with some people suggesting alternatives such as “leech.” Comments from psy-vamps et al are welcome in comments. I personally would use the word “bully.”
Original text is
struck where I do not agree, and my additions are in bold.
How to Protect Yourself
1. KNOW THEM, KNOW THEIR HISTORY, AND KNOW YOUR GOAL
The way to anticipate
vampiresbullies is by knowing how they’ve acted in the past. Chances are pretty good that they’ll do the same thing in the future. The big mistake you can make with vampiresbullies is assuming, without evidence, that though their record has been bad in the past, that they have learned their lesson, and will do better this time. When you deal with vampiresbullies, always ask yourself what you’re trying to accomplish and why. If you’re not sure, don’t do anything until you’ve thought about it carefully. The last two sentences = wtf? If we’re talking friends here, why on earth would you be asking yourself what you want to accomplish and why? Those very statements sound to me like a “vampiric,” dangerous person who should be avoided.
Also, if you know someone is an emotionally dangerous individual who uses people, why would you hang around them in the first place? If you find out after meeting someone who charms you that they have hurt others (which tends to be the time of New Relationship Energy during which people don’t want to believe their new friend is going to turn out to be a rotten apple), then a watchful eye is warranted and understanding their behavior patterns is valuable. In my opinion, the dangerous “big mistake” to make is assuming that just because the person has treated others badly (something we often witness ourselves), that they will not treat us the same way. Odds are, in time, we’ll be the recipient of their abuse and we’ll be kicking ourselves for fools.
Furthermore, the behavior of bullies sends weaker people into fits of obsequious agreement so that they can avoid becoming the next victim. If you always feel that agreeing with a particular someone is the safest way to respond, that is a red light, people! It often means that you are avoiding abuse, and it means that the person you’re afraid of is often a bully. If the bully starts treating you as her best friend, that is a serious sign to run like hell, or the emotional cost later will likely be substantial, when you finally reach the point where you have to say no and the bully must resort to coercion to get her way. The coercion will turn to or include mockery, passive aggressive attacks, and the manipulation of other people to add pressure to her campaign. You can’t win with a bully, because they haven’t invested anything in you that they aren’t already on the verge of losing, so they’ll sacrifice your entire friendship in an effort to gain the upper hand. (I’ve been on the wrong side of this one too many times, and it’s something I hope to avoid in the future.)
2. GET OUTSIDE VERIFICATION
VampiresBullies want you to listen to them alone. To control you, they’ll try to isolate you from your usual sources of information. Always check out what they say with a trusted friend, especially when you’d rather not. Vampires can’t operate in the light of day.Some of this is actually pretty good advice. It’s also well known. When you’re being emotionally manipulated and blackmailed into isolation, it’s pretty clear that the “jealous” person is attempting to prevent you from getting outside perspective on his or her behavior. This is a famous cult brainwashing technique, and it works because it annihilates your ability to think clearly. (In cults, it';s usually used in tandem with sleep deprivation and constant busy-work, which also serve to erode your clarity.) This is not the same, in my opinion, as someone who exhibits insecurity and fear of desertion, because I have those issues and I really don’t think I’m trying to hurt anyone or bully anyone. YMMV. And I’m working on those issues.
3. DO WHAT THEY DON’T
To prevail over Emotional
Vampiresbullies you must rush in where they fear to tread. Your greatest strengths lie in doing the things you can do that vampiresbullies can’t.
This makes no sense whatsoever, so I have no idea how to address this “point.”
4. PAY ATTENTION TO ACTIONS, NOT WORDS
vampiresbullies say is often very different from what they do. To avoid being drainedmanipulated, always focus on what they do.
This is true, and is common sense.
5. IDENTIFY HYPNOTIC STRATEGY
Vampires are consummate hypnotists. When you see through the smoke and mirrors, their illusions don’t work nearly so well.
This is stupid.
6. PICK YOUR BATTLES
To be an effective
vampirebully fighter, you have to be able to pick the important battles and ignore the rest. You also have to avoid fighting battles you can’t possibly win.
I think this translates into, “Don’t be drawn into pointless arguments.” Another important point is to avoid being sidetracked into defending an irrelevant position when the bully attempts to deflect the argument onto you. For instance, if you have asked a bully why he or she said something behind your back, a bully will often attempt to sidestep the issue by latching on to any incidental occurrence (for example, the credibility of a witness) and use that to tangent off into a whole other argument with you on the defensive. This puts the bully into familiar territory, i.e. the upper hand, so that he can gain control of the argument. If you allow yourself to be drawn in, you’ll never get the answer to the original issue because he’ll know how to trip you up, and will endlessly spin circles of trivial issues until you can';t even remember what you wanted to discuss. Again, this is the voice of experience.
7. LET CONTINGENCIES DO THE WORK
A contingency is an if-then situation. If someone does a particular thing, then certain consequences will follow. The only way Emotional
Vampiresbullies learn anything is by experiencing the consequences of their own behavior. If you’re ever tempted to rescue a vampirebully, think about what you’re teaching him or her about how the game of life is played.
In my experiences, bullies never learn anything from the consequences of their own behavior except to do more of what works, and less of what doesn’t.
8. CHOOSE YOUR WORDS AS CAREFULLY AS YOU PICK YOUR BATTLES
Vampiresbullies what you say, how you say it, and when you say it are all crucial to the outcomes you are likely to achieve.
At this point, this resembles a list of pointless actions than anything else.
9. IGNORE TANTRUMS
vampiresbullies don’t get their way, they throw tantrums. They can explode into all sorts of emotional outbursts whose only purpose is to get you to give in. Don’t.
They also use withdrawing from discussion, accusations, and my personal favorite, being super nice til your guard is down, then coming back (particularly when you are not there to respond, such as IM offlines) with accusations that your good fortune is at their direct and personal expense and you are just so nice to rub their faces in it. This is not to say that anyone who throws a tantrum or withdraws (etc) is a bully, but using these tactics often is a warning, particularly if they use them just when a solution is most probable. It’s as if they don’t want a solution, and oftentimes they don’t.
10. KNOW YOUR OWN LIMITS
Dealing with Emotional
Vampiresbullies requires a lot of effort. They may be worth it, they may not. Only you can decide. Sometimes it’s better to run away, or not get involved in the first place.
I’d say it’s probably best to not get involved. While some may learn from their mistakes, most don’t even want to.
This stupidity has been brought to you by a website that does more harm than good, albernstein.com.