Narcissists steal your words, your life stories, your interests, your style, and even your identity and personality. A researcher exposes the manipulation tactics of malignant “identity theft” and why it should never be ignored.
Imagine a narcissistic or psychopathic person looking right into a mirror every morning and asking, “Who should I be today?” Many survivors of narcissistic people note that they’d their “identities” stolen during these exploitative relationships. Whether it was a friendship, romantic relationship, and even within the context of family and the workplace, narcissistic and psychopathic individuals can “morph” right into a distorted version of you, adopting your traits, mannerisms, words, distinct sense of favor, and even your life stories in an try to gain praise and a spotlight they might not otherwise obtain. This can feel like an erosion and negation of the victim’s own identity. We’ve seen manipulative tactics like malignant mirroring discussed almost about the idealization phase of a relationship with the narcissist, but what does it appear like outside of it?
In the start, the narcissist traditionally mirrors you in malignant ways to like bomb you right into a relationship, friendship or business partnership; they pretend to be your soulmate, claiming to share the identical hobbies, interests, goals, and characteristics as you to get you to trust them. Yet the imitation doesn’t end there neither is malignant mirroring limited to romantic relationships or love bombing. It can escalate into stalker-like, pathological behavior across different contexts. This form of “mirroring” is vastly different from interactions where we naturally mirror others as a consequence of empathy, attraction, or trying to ascertain a social connection – it features a driving force of malicious envy, resentment, and attempting to sabotage others and even take over their lives. Note that the “identity theft” we discuss in this text refers specifically to the mirroring behaviors and motivations of narcissistic and psychopathic individuals and doesn’t seek advice from every other conditions. It should only be read within the context of emotional abuse and malicious intent.
Why Malignant Identity Theft Isn’t a Compliment
Thousands of survivors of narcissists have disclosed to me through the years that they feel deeply violated by the psychological identity theft they’ve experienced by narcissistic and psychopathic individuals. As survivors tell me, it could possibly feel like getting devoured by the manipulative individual – a one that seems to follow your every move, mimicking and mirroring whatever they see to make themselves appear more interesting and palatable to other people around them while wearing your personality. We’ve all heard the common saying that “imitation” is the very best type of flattery. Yet this can be a denial, invalidation and dismissal of the exploitative and abusive nature of identity theft. This is like telling the victim of a robbery, “You must be flattered they stole a few of your hard-earned savings from you! They want what you might have and now can pretend it’s their very own while benefiting from it! Now they’re off telling everyone that they worked hard for money they stole. Isn’t that a compliment?” Let’s be clear: It isn’t flattering to have someone take in your personality, steal your words, labor, work, life stories, goals, dreams or sense of favor to the extent narcissistic and psychopathic individuals do, especially after they should not supplying you with due credit or profiting off something they didn’t create.
Through psychological identity theft and erosion, manipulators and pathological con artists can attempt to siphon the identical attention from people they might not otherwise get by “becoming” you. They attempt to mimic talents and skills they don’t possess, embody the energy that makes you unique and special, pursue the hobbies and interests that they don’t have any real interest in and reap the advantages of a life they didn’t live and the labor or creativity they didn’t undertake. This is what makes identity theft such a disorienting and violating experience for thus many. Below, you can see examples of what this identity theft can appear like across various contexts. These examples highlight common scenarios based on 1000’s of survivor accounts.
Examples: Narcissistic Identity Theft – What Does It Look Like?
Jennifer was disturbed to search out out that her ex, Steven, had been going around repeating a traumatic life story from her childhood and using it as his own to garner sympathy from potential dating partners and friends. When she spoke to his family and friends, they told her that not only had he been repeating this life story, he looked as if it would have taken on Jennifer’s identity. Steven was suddenly pretending to be captivated with animal rights activism and jiu-jitsu, each passions Jennifer had that she had told Steven about during their relationship. Yet Steven never seemed all that inquisitive about these passions until he could pass them off as his own and pretend to be more fascinating, athletic, and compassionate to people he desired to impress. He had even begun regurgitating the identical jokes Jennifer had told him. Jennifer had also began going to high school to grow to be a dentist, a dream she had also talked to Steven about again and again and suddenly Steven was pretending he was applying to medical school, telling his family about his newfound passion for one particular field – dentistry.
Melissa began noticing that one in every of her co-workers, Brenda, would always bring up ideas she had disclosed to her during one-on-one conversations at staff meetings, taking credit for these ideas in front of others. Brenda had also adopted the best way Melissa spoke, going up to now as to regularly use the identical gestures, tone, and word-for-word phrases as her. She began dressing like Melissa and even began expressing interest in topics she had never had any prior interest nor expertise in that she knew Melissa was genuinely captivated with. Melissa was thoroughly creeped out by this behavior, especially when Brenda plagiarized a duplicate of her proposal before one other staff meeting and tried to pass it off as her own.
Linda felt disturbed by the antics of her next-door neighbor, Laura. Laura had seemed kind and nice to start with but was now infiltrating her life in invasive ways she didn’t feel comfortable with. She would repeatedly invite herself over to Linda’s house even when she wasn’t invited to play with Linda’s kids and even tried to flirt with Linda’s husband, going out of her approach to perform favors for him that he never asked for. It was almost like she was attempting to be a mother to Linda’s kids and her husband’s “latest” wife. Linda noticed that Laura began wearing the identical jewelry as her and even dyed her hair the identical color as Linda’s platinum blonde hair.
At first, Linda thought these “interesting” latest changes was only a coincidence. However, as time went by, she began to comprehend that Laura was not only stealing her sense of favor, she was starting to speak like Linda and even tackle her personality traits, hobbies, and interests. She had been telling their other neighbors Linda’s stories of vacations and travels that she herself never went on, pretending these stories were her own. She even began imitating her profession. Linda was a therapist and professor and suddenly Laura was acting like she was a mental health expert, despite the fact that she didn’t have a university degree let alone a profession like Linda’s. She desired to be Linda and take over her life.
What To Do About Psychological Identity Theft
Identity theft can enact a type of psychological violence on the victim that enablers of toxic people may not validate or understand. Survivors of narcissists have expressed to me that they feel abused and violated by such a malignant mimicry, and so they often should take time and space to get well from such a psychological violence and reclaim their identity and mental health after such an experience. If you’ve been the victim of psychological identity theft and erosion, it’s necessary to hunt support from a trained skilled who’s well-versed in narcissistic manipulation tactics and and empathic to your needs. You must reconnect to what makes you unique and special, and take the steps to reclaim ownership over what’s rightfully yours. You are the one who deserves to reap the advantages of your life, skills, and personality – not a distorted copy. Some enablers in society may gaslight you about this phenomenon, but it is necessary to withstand this gaslighting. Psychological identity theft isn’t normal nor should it’s encouraged. It is a blatant violation of privacy and of 1’s basic rights.
We shouldn’t be teaching people to mimic others or act prefer it is a compliment. Adopting the identical hobbies, passions and interests in an try to seem fascinating is an insult to the one who is genuinely inquisitive about them and has expert knowledge in these areas. Drawing inspiration and giving due credit to sources is one thing, plagiarizing is one other. Passing off the life stories of others as your individual is downright exploitative and violating. Sharing mutual dreams organically is different from suddenly pursuing a dream you never had simply to get “bragging” rights and one-up someone you’re envious of.
What Society Must Understand About Malignant Identity Theft
Psychological identity theft falls into the realm of emotional abuse, stalking and harassment. If someone is taking a look at your every move to mold their personality to yours, they try to use what makes you who you’re in addition to profit off your labor and natural talents, gifts, and abilities. And it’s not only the identity thieves that have to be held accountable: potential enablers must take motion as well. Friends and members of the family must pay attention to these disturbing patterns after they see them and call them out for what they’re. Bosses and colleagues must encourage more creativity, transparency, and originality, making it a rule to credit others when warranted fairly than allowing exploitative staff to bully, harass, stalk, and steal from their more talented and hard-working peers. They should never punish those that speak out about such blatantly abusive behavior while rewarding and praising those that don’t possess the skill sets nor talents to supply original work, lest they risk alienating the very those that have contributed the best work.
Most therapists and researchers who’re trauma-informed take these behaviors seriously as they know the effect such a behavior has on mental health. However, those that should not well-versed in these tactics must take special care to study them and watch out to not dismiss or invalidate such experiences. We are all unique in our own ways and these differences must be celebrated and recognized. For the narcissistic individuals who must copy in an effort to seem unique, they’ll travel from individual to individual trying to search out the proper “personality” to don as a mask to satisfy their agendas and fail to satisfy their goals long-term once exposed. For the “originals,” their lives will proceed to follow the trail of authenticity and thriving as they deserve. As one survivor told me, you’ll be able to attempt an analogous recipe, but the unique “sauce” can never be replicated.