Understanding the self-absorbed, demeaning, manipulative, controlling, and competitive narcissist and how to stop being a do-gooder and losing yourself…aligned with the Biblical Cain and Abel story

“Things get worse before they get better, but this is a worse that feels too big.” ~Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

No doubt you have either heard or experienced a version of the above quote at one time or another. It is called the process of chemicalization. Emmet Fox explains it this way:

It seems as though everything begins to go wrong at once. This may be disconcerting, but it is really a good sign. Suppose your whole world seems to rock on its foundation. Hold on steadily, and let it rock, and when the rocking is over, the picture will have reassembled itself into something much nearer to your heart’s desire.”

4th_July_explosion_1Put another way, chemicalization occurs when negative or old ways of thinking collide with truth or right thinking, sparking an agitated reaction much like the combustion of two diverse chemicals. Think Fourth of July. Boom.

 

 

Although this process of healing and changing feels negative, it is a cleansing action with a positive outcome insists Catherine Ponder in her book, The Dynamics of Healing (1972).Something higher and better always results from the experience.”

Take this example. One Sunday prior to church services, I read a prayer on love from  Iyanla VanZant’s book, In the Meantime: Finding Yourself and the Love You Want (Simon & Schuster, 1998).

She wrote: “I want to hear love and speak love and be filled with Your love today, so I can love others like You love them.”

After reading those words, I announced to the Universe that I wanted to be love that day. I dashed off to church certain that my life would fill with all of my favorite things. Wrong.

The entire day was filled to overflowing with feelings of inadequacy and failure. I was angry, wanting to forsake the whole experiment. The heck with being love, I decided. I guess I didn’t have it in me. Cain had pounded it into my head all my life that I was inferior. Must be so.

Then I recalled the process  of chemicalization. The Pauli Exclusion Principle states that no two fermions can occupy the same state. If I wanted to be love, I had to let go of everything that was unlike love–all those feelings of inferiority that were hanging on or still creeping under the door.

As you know one of Cain’s favorite ploys is to keep the Enabler in doubt about her own value. If she tries to think she is worthy, he reacts with rage and punishes or bullies her. He dehumanizes and objectifies her so he can remain in the limelight. He has no self, so he belittles and demeans her to make her think she is disposable at any time.

Growing up I developed a pleasing personality to keep Cain’s abuse at bay. Anger is a healthy response to being objectified. Yet, we did a dance of submission and superiority which created rightful anger in me. Until I looked at it through the eyes of chemicalization.

The process involves four steps:

Saturation:  You start your journey into new thinking. An author’s prayer touched me, and I wanted to give and receive love.

Commotion:  This is the stirring up period when things feel worse but they are getting better. My day did not automatically become filled with love because all the old emotions of inferiority rose to the surface to be released. They were all lies. They had to go. Love is truth. The two could not coincide.  I couldn’t genuinely be love and hold on to the belief that I was inferior and devalued.

Quietness: This is an adjustment phase when the old has been released and the new idea surfaces. You know something profound changed within you. You might feel the need to withdraw and not talk until the truth of your being is fully integrated. You feel vulnerable but know that you are on the right track.

Fulfillment:  This is a continuation of your quiet period but now life looks good. Your mind is no longer in utter confusion or filled with emptiness inflicted by Cain’s harassment.

You stop falling for his charm and exploitations. You stop trying to make the relationship with Cain work. Life is satisfying and fulfilling. When he acts entitled, you walk away. His response to life is not your responsibility. It never was. And you know it.

The process of chemicalization changed you at depth. Cain can no longer cajole, coerce or threaten you. In fact, you wonder what you ever saw  in him. Why you wanted to emulate him or saw him as powerful. Why you ever wanted to stay with him or listen to his obsessive lies and shallow conversations.

Being the instrument of a cainist is no longer good enough for you. He is a solipsist and always will be. But you are free to love and be loved by those who see your good-heartedness.

You are free to love and be love.

 

 

“Enter, stranger, but take heed
Of what awaits the sin of greed”

~J. K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

church kindergartedA widespread criticism at the self-absorbed, cainistic church I attended was the lack of closeness among members due to its large size. One day a layperson developed a small group program to juxtapose attendees. Administration recognized the value in this idea, expanded and rewrote the program to fit the needs of the church and launched it as a new, fresh church initiative. Now attendees could connect with others in over thirty small groups of varied interests. It was exactly what the congregation needed.

The church involved the creator of the idea just enough to give him credit for his proposal and to make him think he was part of the chosen few, but from the outside it looked like he was utilized for all the obligatory record keeping and paperwork and not much more. He never achieved status equal to the powers to be, nor could he claim the small group idea as his own because it had been redrafted to further Cain’s career and notoriety. Like Abel’s blood, Cain’s cryptic needs cried out from the ground.

I started a small outreach group because the church had  only two community missions: (1) A large Christmas project with an adjacent school; and (2) a “Souper Bowl” Sunday when churchgoers donated a can of soup or $1 to give to the needy on Super Bowl weekend. The latter had continued at the church only because it was the passion of a former employee, and although she no longer attended services there, she maintained the project by showing up each year with a truck to transport the canned goods to a local food bank.

One of the first activities launched by my outreach group was to spend an afternoon at a poverty-stricken school just before Thanksgiving, helping young kids decorate sugar cookies to resemble turkeys. Not only did the kids have a great time, but also the teachers appreciated us as they had no time for specialized crafts. It was a win-win for all.

However, our group’s greatest achievements was when we filled forty-two gift boxes to send to U.S. soldiers, fighting in Iraq, loading them with everything from long distance telephone cards to per-packaged beef jerky, from writing paper and stamps to crossword puzzle books, from beauty products to candy and nuts, from tooth brushes and tooth paste to razors and so much more. As word traveled throughout the congregation about our project, attendees swamped us with items for the boxes. We were thrilled even as the church administration pretended to ignore the event.

Can you imagine doing something that important at your church and having the entire church administration ignore it? Cainists do that, along with their followers who are blinded by their desperate need to be part of the elite group. Just follow his lead, they think. Otherwise, they might be ostracized from sitting at his right hand.

It was unforgivable what happened next. Giving to those in need should never be an uphill battle in a church, yet, from start to finish, the cainistic minister and his chosen followers created roadblocks. In the Biblical story God looked with favor on Abel and his offering, but Cain was upset when his brother did well. The cainistic minister was always upset if others skated into the limelight and stole his glory. He would not help our group succeed because he was not center stage. Small groups that received acknowledgement took place in outside agencies and institutions not at his church. Instead of working with us, he tried to discourage us by making everything doubly hard.

First, I sent him an email, asking permission to use an available room at the church to fill the gift boxes. He ignored the email. I waited several weeks and asked again. Finally, he answered by redirecting me to the operations manager, who was a staunch disciple, a puppet who did everything Cain told him to do. Like Cain he dragged his feet for weeks but finally told me to complete a requisition form to request the room, implying that use of the room was “iffy” based on whether there would be space available on that particular Saturday afternoon. It seemed bizarre that he would not know the availability of a room on a specific date. In truth, nothing moved forward without the approval of Cain. The operation manager was a lame duck until Cain decided what would happen.

I waited more and heard nothing. This kind of treatment was familiar due to a subversive attitude that the minister and the elite chosen were the church. Whenever I had an idea, those in authority would wait me out, hoping I would forget the request and move on. If the idea didn’t advance Cain directly, it was devalued or ignored. This time I was persistent and followed-up a third time.

Finally, the operations manager said we could use a large room that was divided by an accordion-like door, but there were strict instructions that we were to stay on one side of the room only and not open the divider. There was no explanation about why this was the case, which was mysterious because no one was using the other half of the room. It was just more of Cain’s control issues, always micromanaging, particularly when he was not the focal point or in charge. We could use the room only if we did exactly as he ordered.

I notified all thirty-three small group leaders, asking if their group would like to take part in the activity and/or make donations for the gift boxes. Many expressed how much they had always wanted this kind of activity at the church. Many asked if we could do more of it. I found out later that more would be done, but not with the credit, recognition or help of our group.

We were cramped for space as the congregation dropped off items and goods all afternoon. When one group member heard that the cainistic minister had ordered us to use only part of the area for our undertaking, she marched to the middle of the room and without a word, slid open the divider, giving us twice the space. We spread out and went to work. Cain’s arbitrary, ludicrous dictate that we use only half the room for no other reason than he dictated it was a clear-cut example of the destructive, power-hungry antics of a Cain.

We packaged the boxes as instructed for mail delivery to Iraq. Each mailer required  triplicate forms attached to the boxes, addressed in a strict, correct style defined by the United States Postal Service. At the end of the day, we were exhausted but had forty-two gift boxes signed, sealed and ready for delivery to Iraq.

My co-leader, who was not privy to the self-absorbed underpinnings of this cainistic church, called me at home that evening, praising my management skills, stating that he was certain that when the church learned of our successful project, they would want to air it on the local news. I knew that would not happen. Every month one specific  group leader was recognized at our monthly celebration meetings for their ingenuity in developing their particular small group. The church videotaped the group in action, then showed the video at the monthly meetings. Almost every group was acknowledged except ours before the cainistic minister was pressured out and the groups dissolved. No one showed up to videotape our activity that day. We were invisible. We didn’t exist.

Although the effort was a huge success, we ran into a big snag: We needed postage to mail all those gift boxes to the U.S. soldiers stationed in Iraq. We spread the word, asking for donations. Predictably, the church administration was non-responsive. We received some money from small group leaders but fell short by two-hundred dollars. Incredibly, my co-leader’s boss, who attended a different church of a different religion, heard about our circumstances and paid the necessary postage. Someone outside the church had a heart and contributed the needed funds to mail the boxes to the soldiers.

The story does not end there. Our gift boxes were not only ignored but the idea of performing community outreach was pirated and kicked off as an ongoing church event. Cainists are thieves, lifting any idea that will make them stand out. First Cain stole the idea to create small groups, and then he stole the idea of church outreach when he caught on that the congregation liked the idea.

However, Cain solicited a different small group leader–one with whom he had trekked to Europe on an organized church trip–to execute the new outreach programs at the church. I overheard her praise him and his wife and knew instantly that she was his latest source of cainistic supply–feeding his insatiable need for praise and attention.

This other group leader worked with various community agencies to develop and supervise monthly volunteer activities through the church, such as, filling emergency food boxes (sounds familiar), serving food at shelters, and sorting and organizing clothing for homeless people. Our group idea was good enough to steal but not good enough to acknowledge or give us credit. When it comes to cainism, there truly is no honor among thieves.They will take from anyone at any time if it benefits and glorifies them.

I am glad those outreach volunteer activities continue at that church today but under the direction of a different lead minister.

 

 

“Stay away from lazy parasites, who perch on you just to satisfy their needs, they do not come to alleviate your burdens, hence, their mission is to distract, detract and extract, and make you live in abject poverty,” writes Nigerian author Michael Bassey Johnson (Goodreads Website)

 

Enablers are often in the helping professions—doctors, nurses, teachers, social workers and other careers that require an unselfish concern for others. But when cainists show up in these avocations, it’s like a blow to the back of the knees.

This winter I required in-home nursing care after three consecutive surgeries, an abdominal wound that took five months to heal (still 2 cm to go) and hospitalization on Christmas day due to congestive heart failure. In-home nursing care was arranged to pack and unpack the wound every other day and check vitals and my heart.

My first nurse, an Enabler, was warm, caring, and competent. She listened attentively, cared deeply for her patients, and I trusted her with my whole heart. Then…along came the cainist. From the start,  this second nurse lacked the comfy, caring touch expected from someone in the nursing profession. But because I didn’t anticipate a cainist in the nursing field, I was ill-prepared for the inattentive, negligent treatment I received. Plus I was recuperating with limited energy to fight battles. Unfortunately, when a cainist walks in, life burns with emotional poverty and upset.

The care I received lacked professional ethics most of the time. But then the entire life of a cainist lacks integrity. He is a phony parasite who takes but can’t give. Veiled and devious, cainistic behavior takes a long time to understand. To protect yourself, Enablers must watch for the following characteristics regardless of the profession:

  1. Cainists Are Crafty Manipulators.  While the competent nurse with 18 years experience drove over 900 miles one week to visit sick patients, the cainistic nurse somehow wrangled her hometown area shortly after she was hired…to sidestep all that driving. Unfortunately, I lived in her town, stuck with her. Cainists are expert manipulators who get what they want when they want it by any means possible. And they will step on anyone to get their desires. There is no such word as “fairness” in their vocabulary.
  2. Cainists are Lazy. They always look for the easy way. I asked the nurse to obtain a medical test from the hospital via her computer, but she hunched her shoulders, saying she couldn’t do it. Looked more like I don’t know how and don’t care to learn to me. Sure enough. Later, I learned that the hospital hook-up was available for all in-home nurses, but the cainist wasn’t interested in putting forth any extra effort to help a patient.  Additionally, checking my feet and legs for edema was the biggest joke of all. Initially, she removed my slippers to look at my feet, but eventually she waited for me to do it. Apparently, bending down was literally and figuratively beneath her. Generally speaking, cainists are too arrogant, too important, to do mundane work. Then she would weave an elaborate story, everything from relatives vacationing in another state to a medical story about another patient, as she poked the top of my foot with her finger over and over in the same spot while staring out the glass slider door. I thought:

How can she possibly assess whether I have edema in my feet and legs while looking outside? And how can she count pulse rate while she’s talking?

On many occasions she would say I had no edema when it was blatantly clear that my feet were swollen and my ankles were bulbous. It was confusing to live in Cain’s fantasy world until I realized that she wasn’t checking edema at all. She was using a sneaky tactic –talking about other things to divert my attention while totally ignoring my health problems. It was her perpetual scam as you will notice throughout this blog.

Additionally, it was vitally important to pack my wound correctly or it would close up, trapping blood, causing infection. The competent nurse packed the wound in less than a minute, quickly like they had done in the hospital. The cainistic nurse took five minutes or longer which was grueling as she poked and probed and stabbed the wound with a harsh, hard touch until the nerves in my abdomen exploded in pain, as well as triggering nausea. Yet, the packing kept falling out. One time I caught her using the wooden end of the Q-tip instead of the soft cotton end to push the packing into the wound. I believe she thought it would stay in better, never caring about the pain it caused me or the risk of infection. She was definitely not practicing within the scope of competence. How I dreaded those visits.

Nor did she care enough about her patient to ask for outside help from her supervisor or a doctor when I complained about the discomfort. When I was on my last nerve, I Goggled “how to pack a wound,” watched a video on YouTube, and through my subtle suggestions guided her on what to do  to reduce my pain. (This is another example of laziness and lack of empathy as I was the one who had to do the research because she was not motivated (lack of empathy) to make changes on her own).

When I started packing the wound myself, I asked the doctor to slash her visits to once a week. Apparently, that was an insult to her pretentious self because after that, she basically did nothing but take a blood pressure reading and measure the wound which she got wrong most of the time. One time she had used the inches side of the ruler instead of the centimeter side so the measurement was way off. She talked constantly about needing and shopping for reading glasses but never wore any. One time she said she found some cute ones, but I don’t think she bought them because she never wore them.

Nurses, like doctors, take a vow to do no harm but simply learning ethical codes does not make a cainistic nurse principled. Cainists are imposters going through the motions, hoping no one notices their hoax and scam. A nurse’s code of ethics also demands no exploitation. Yet, that is one of Cain’s strongest tools to get what he wants. And what better place to exploit than among the frail, ill and elderly. I was paying for services and getting very little except for a feeling that my caregiver cared more about her own power and needs than about my needs and care. 

In the last six weeks, she pared down my visits to a blood pressure check, watching me change my own abdominal wound and then using the rest of her time to finish her computer work while regaling me with stories about her day. It felt like passive-aggressive revenge on her part. It was as if she were non-verbally saying,  If you cut my services, I’ll cut yours. She was in control, regardless if it cheated her patient.

3. Cainists Talk Only About Themselves. If I had sciatica, she had it too. If arthritis bothered my hands, she woke up with her hands hurting that morning, too. If she didn’t have it, then one of her other patients had it, and I would hear about the problems of a client I didn’t know. I reached the point where I shared very little because in a typical cainistic bait-and-switch, the topic of conversation (and attention) always shifted to her.

For instance, one day I had hives all over my face from a reaction to a medication. She looked at my face, nodded and started talking about how she couldn’t find a certain flavored yogurt that she liked, that she would have to look at a different store…no, she had already looked for it at that store…blah blah, blah. After babbling on about yogurt, she changed the course of the conversation to avoid dealing with the hives. If problems didn’t exist, she didn’t have to do anything.

4. Cainists Are Pathological Liars Who Lack Empathy.  Author Barbara Oakley in her book Cold-Blooded Kindness,  points out that cainists have deficits in the right side of the brain–the side that allows for empathy (p 268).

“Psychopaths have a glib ability to lie that is somehow part and parcel of their strangely different neurological make-up,” writes Oakley.

If my blood pressure was high, the cainistic nurse would take it several times to try to get a lower reading for her records, no doubt, a self-protection game. If something happened to me, like a stroke or heart attack, she would be off the hook, referring to her screened documentation. One day all the BP readings she took were high, so she used lower numbers I had obtained in the morning from my wrist monitor. She did not care if the records were true or untrue. Cainists seek self-interest over substance.

5. Cainists Are Arrogant, Know-it-alls. When I asked her if anyone at the agency had ever shown her how to pack a wound, she informed me in a rather defensive, haughty tone that she had worked in a doctor’s office for ten years and saw many wounds packed. From experience I knew there was a gigantic difference between the first nurse who had wound experience and the cainistic nurse who had watched a wound being packed.

Later I found out that she was not a nurse, but an assistant, when she worked at the doctor’s office, and she had not worked there for almost a decade. A cainist has no curiosity to learn things on her own–they know it all. It would have capsized her illusions of grandiosity to ask for help. She was an RN. End of topic. I’ve often wondered if the nursing agency had ever checked her credentials to verify if she truly had a nursing degree. Whenever I would tell others about my experiences with her, the frequent question was, “Is she an RN?”

I always wondered why an agency would hire someone with no wound experience, then give her a patient who had a serious (8 cm down from 10 cm) abdominal wound?  I don’t know, but if she were a true cainist, she probably lied to the hiring board to nail the job, stating she had wound experience when she didn’t. And I was the unfortunate guinea pig.

6. Cainists Don’t Remember Because They Don’t Listen. We remember things that interest us, and Cain’s interest is in himself. Listening to others takes too much energy unless the topic of conversation is about him. He’s interested in himself. The nurse had a horrible memory, but no doubt it was because she didn’t listen. One day I told her I had had an agonizing gout attack on Tuesday morning of that week. When I quit talking, she said nothing about the gout, then asked if I had fallen recently?

When I said, “No, but I was afraid I might Tuesday,” she responded, “Why, what happened Tuesday?” Obviously, she had not listened to my story about waking up on Tuesday morning unable to walk due to a severe gout in my left foot. She made no further reference to the gout nor did she look at my foot that day which is 100% derelict. This also points to her deficit in empathy.

7. Cainists Light Up Like a Christmas Tree Gluttons for Attention.  Every time she visited, she acted deeply depressed. I was battling many health issues and spending time with a depressed nurse was demoralizing. In retrospect, I think it was just another strategy not to ask too much of her.

Then one day my former cleaning woman–who talked to much and worked too little– was at the house when the cainistic nurse visited. Cainists fake being wondrous, considerate, and helpful. She perked up brighter than a 500 watt bulb with a new audience. It was amazing to see her display energy and charisma, morphing into someone I had never seen before. I was dumbfounded over her  sudden magnetism. She kept drawing the cleaning woman into the conversation, which I found highly unprofessional, but like an addict with a fresh reservoir, she wanted to be viewed as friendly, supportive and outgoing while pulling out all the stops to garner brand new attention. Who was this masked woman, I wondered?

8. Cainists Think They’re Above the Law and Do What They Please. The competent nurse was the supervisor of the cainistic nurse. When the competent nurse resigned, my nurse acted like she didn’t have to do the routine vital checks. In fact, she didn’t have to do much of anything. The week I suffered a gout attack in my foot, she never looked at the foot. Another time I needed blood drawn. She cancelled two appointments due to personal reason, and when she returned to work, she pretended she didn’t remember that I needed a blood draw (even though we had previously scheduled it three times). When I realized she wasn’t waiting for a convenient time to do it but was trying to ignore and forget it, I reminded  her. Cainists think they can do whatever they want to do regardless of laws or ethics. She didn’t care that my doctor wanted a blood draw.

9. Cainists are Thieves.  They rarely have an original idea and because they are lazy, they steal ideas from others and pass them off as their own without giving credit where credit is due. The day I terminated, the cainistic nurse didn’t care enough to take the time to measure and check my wound one last time for her final report. She asked if I had changed the wound yet, and when I said no, she said, “We don’t have to if you don’t want to.” She made no attempt to do so. However, she kept asking me what the doctor had said at my last appointment, so I knew she planned to use his stats and comments for her documentation. She asked if he measured the width of the wound, and when I said “no,” she dropped the subject. I’m sure she filled in the width from her previous visit because she didn’t measure it for the termination visit.

10. Cainists Won’t Support You Because of  Their Jealousy. One of my cleaning women was steeped in passive-aggressive anger (see earlier post written about this), and eventually I got a new cleaning person who is excellent. She wants to please and takes great pride in her work. The cainistic nurse knew how much trouble I had had with the previous cleaning person so I shared my good news about my new, efficient one. It fell on deaf ears. She absolutely didn’t respond. Not one word. It was like she was deaf (something she did to me much of the time). That’s because cainists are jealous of other people’s good luck. They don’t want others to be happy. They want you to be as miserable as they are. Their jealousy (and exploitation) destroy almost every relationship eventually.

11. Cainists Push Emotional Buttons to Feel Powerful. The day I terminated, she suddenly asked me, “Do you have heart failure?” in a tone that acted as if she were interested. Mind you, she had stopped listening to my heart and lungs after her supervisor resigned weeks beforehand, nor did she do it for the last visit for the termination report. Yet, now she was interested?

When I answered affirmatively, she looked it up on her computer and with great amazement said, “Oh, yes, you have chronic systolic heart failure.” (I suspected she knew and precisely why she had quit listening to my heart and lungs for fear she would find a problem and, as usual, never wanted to deal with problems). Think about how corrupt that behavior is?

I knew I had a leaky mitrol valve called mitrol regurgitation, but wanted to know if systolic heart failure was something apart from the mitrol value problem? She said it was a problem with the systolic heart value. I had never heard of a systolic heart valve but must admit it instilled deep fear in me, thinking I had problems with two of my heart values. I wondered why I had not been informed of this by physicians.

Hours later, when I caught myself wallowing in fear, I thought: Wait a minute. Cainists always try to push your emotional buttons. They like to scare others which gives them power over people. I researched it, finding no such separate systolic heart value. What it means is that the left side of the heart does not pump blood efficiently due to various complications one of them being my condition of mitrol regurgitation.

I don’t know if she was trying to frighten me into keeping nursing services because I was the third patient who had terminated that day,  or if she was just too lazy to look it up and had no qualms about spewing the wrong information. I suspect the latter. Either way, cainists will always find a way to gain power over you, usually by pushing your emotional buttons to upset  you. I was terminating her sermons, so she was leaving me in fear. Who does that? Cainists do that.

12. Cainists Are Inconsistent. They are frauds with no real values. They say one thing and do another because they balance life with what’s best for them not what’s best for others. This nurse would say she’d call on a certain day or evening, then wouldn’t call. These set ups were frustrating to say the least and grew worse over time. It felt like a sneaky way to have me think about her constantly. The week before I terminated, she said she would call on the day of my doctor visit (Tuesday) to make sure he didn’t cancel. Then she would either see me Wed or Friday, but not Thursday because she had that day off. She didn’t call Tuesday. She didn’t call Wednesday. She called Thursday the day she said she would not call.

I terminated her care last week. I often wonder who is receiving her miserly self-absorbed (lack of) care now.

Cainists are everywhere in every profession. You don’t expect to find them in the helping professions, but there they are when you least need them. What’s so troubling is that your best interest will not be at heart because cainists are all about themselves. When you find them in the helping  professions–an area where you need empathy, consistency, and truth–you find the opposite.

Every nurse and every patient should be outraged by cainists who fail to promote the honorableness and integrity of their profession.  Cainists are incapable of being an ethical professional, and you must look out for yourself. Trust your intuition. Hopefully the above-mentioned characteristics will help you identify a parasitic cainist and avoid the harm they inflict–especially if you are ill.

If you have something to share about this post, please leave a message in the Comment section below. I love to hear from my readers. Thank you.

 

 

 

 

 

“When a person is solely focused on the pursuit of their own interests, they have all the potential to be unempathic.” —Zero Degrees of Empathy by Simon Baron-Cohen Read the rest of this entry »

1426470_554136038004702_621961254_nDuring a recent book group meeting, we discussed the extremes in personalities and behavior between two sisters, Anna and Maria, portrayed in the book The Island by author Victoria Hislop. The sisters were as different as night and day; Anna, beautiful and selfish; Maria, obedient and compassionate. One group member remarked that one family would never find two siblings with such diverse scruples and values raised in the same household.

Knowing about the current neuroscience of cainism, I totally disagree. For the record, the infamous, serial killer Ted Bundy had four siblings, whom he spent much of his time babysitting. All of which leaves me wondering how they might have been emotionally terrorized by him. They were sitting pigeons for his low-to-no levels of empathy, manipulation and lack of conscience and remorse.

In the book, The Island, the younger daughter, Maria, remained a caring daughter to her kind, generous father after the girls’ mother was sent to a leper colony in Greece and later died. But the oldest daughter, Anna was contrary and self-absorbed throughout her childhood and grew into a cold, deceitful woman. These sisters grew up in the same household, raised by the same doting father, yet, their personalities were the difference between evil and sainthood.

Over the last two decades, neuroscience and genetics have shown that on some level cainists are born the way they are. They possess low levels of empathy, if they feel anything at all. Cainists don’t respond to normal childhood experiences in a normal way. At the same time, Enablers are born with an excessive empathy gene, indomitable hope and helpfulness. The difference? She is able to learn from experiences and manage her behaviors. She needs to scale down her compassion if it prevents her from enjoying a life of her own.

For instance, Maria, refused to marry someone she loved deeply because it would take her far from her father who she felt needed her, especially after the death of his wife by leprosy. Most Enablers automatically understand that depth of compassion. A cainist would never give up his own life for the benefit of another. He might arrange it to “look” that way, but it will always be under his terms and conditions, and it simply doesn’t matter if it is the best for the person in need.

In the opposite direction, the older sister, Anna, rarely found time to visit her loving father. It was an inconvenience. She seemed to give him little thought, engaged in an extramarital affair, focused on her own pleasure. Although The Island was a fictional, historical novel, it delineated the Cain and Enabler Complex precisely. The uncaring cainist (Anna) and the overly compassionate Enabler (Maria.)

When a parent has a cainistic child whose brain is neurologically deficient at birth, it can be extremely hard to ascertain whether he’s experiencing normal jealousy over the birth of a new baby brother or sister, but within time the difference is evident; his jealousy and anger fail to dissipate. In fact, he will be angry with all siblings born into the family just because they exist, robbing him of precious parental attention. He will show the same reaction over and over, and hang on to his anger forever. Nothing changes.

As parents try to teach this cainistic child how to nurture and respond with love to his sibling(s), there is a total emotional disconnect based on the neurological defects. He doesn’t “get it.” He doesn’t learn and he doesn’t change. He’s constantly angry and irritated. He might come through under pressure, but he’ll do it with no more emotion than if he were counting jelly beans in a jar. And only if authority is nearby, watching, all the while resenting the forced lesson.

In a recent blog radio show, counselor Jennifer Young at the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction Public Psychopathy Education, explained: “These disorders are indicative of little to no conscience, little to no empathy, little to no emotional depth or insight, and little to no sustaining change. Those parts of the brain are broken. Clearly people without empathy cause dramatic, intense mounts of harm to other people.”

Think about how a normal sibling feels, growing up with a hurtful cainistic sibling. There will never be any depth of caring from this cainistic sibling. Whatever Cain does is based solely on what he wants in the moment, and he will manipulate and control his environment to get it, including all his siblings. For example, he might agree to play Monopoly if his sibling sets up the board game (time consuming job), but when they are finished with the game, he says, “You got it out, you have to put it away.” He’s constantly in control. Nothing will be for the best interest of the sibling over Cain’s interest.

He’s rarely ever cooperative unless it is to look good in front of others and thereby gain something for himself. He loves a doting audience who he has conned into thinking he is kind and cooperative. If the sibling asks or demands that his needs are met, Cain reacts with hostility. If the sibling gets his needs met, Cain makes sure someone pays, most likely in a passive-aggressive way to hide the abuse.

Cainism is not a brain disorder where one can go back and do inner child work or regression therapy and change the personality. It is what it is. Cainists lack the whole emotional range that normal people have at their fingertips, especially the Enabler who is hard-wired with excessive empathy traits. There are no warm fuzzies hidden in Cain’s heart that you will somehow extract by a magic formula, such as, saying the right thing or doing the right thing.

The Institute for Relational Harm Reduction Public Psychopathy Education points out that our conscience and our empathy are how we connect with others in the world, how our species has survived all these centuries. Look how people came together after the tragedy of 9/11 to help others in need. As Sandra Brown, M.A. stated during the same blog radio show with Jennifer Young: “Empathy is our humanity. Impulse control is generated from the ability to be empathetic.” Cainists simply don’t have the full emotional spectrum with which to relate.

During Cain’s childhood, it’s a matter of what doesn’t develop in the personality under normal circumstances. His brain is broken. He doesn’t experience normal empathy or compassion. Take this example. A sibling falls and breaks his leg. The only emotion a cainist feels about the incident is that the broken leg robs him of parental time and attention. His emotions consist of jealousy and anger that he’s not center stage. He resents his sibling for existing and doubly so for breaking a leg and needing more parental time. There are no normal feelings of care and concern for his sibling during this difficult time.

You can imagine how this coldness impacts siblings who grow up with Cain. Often they blame themselves (that’s what children do) as if something is wrong with them that their cainistic sibling won’t love them. That is totally wasted effort. That’s why parents need to educate themselves about cainism and then teach other siblings the difference about emotional abilities and reactions and give the normal siblings a strong background in self-worth by praising and noticing their empathetic qualities. Too often parents are afraid of Cain’s anger, dropping the lessons of compassion because they rile Cain, making him impossible to live with.

Unfortunately, this cold, uncaring and selfish behavior of cainism is pervasive and enduring throughout his life which means it affects how the cainist thinks, feels, reacts, and behaves when he turns fifty, sixty, seventy, or eighty-years old. His behavior won’t change because his dysfunctional brain is incapable of learning lessons or connecting with emotions. He will learn what kinds of control methods work or don’t work to get what he wants, but there is no compassion or caring attached to what he learns. He controls his environment to meet his whims at the expense of others.

If parents, themselves, are insecure and looking for their children’s love, they may give in to Cain’s every desire erroneously thinking it will be an exchange for love. But due to his broken brain, Cain is incapable of real love. It won’t happen. He can’t feel things. Some parents spend their entire lifetime trying to get a cainist child to love them and subsequently they allow a terrorist to develop and control the entire family.

So, while a parent is teaching the same lesson to a Cain and an Enabler within the same family under the same roof, there are two very different emotional responses and outcomes. “One of the perils of having a huge heart is that it breaks almost daily.But this is a sad fact with which I have learned to live.” (Harriet in The Invention of Beauty). That quote is something the Enabler knows daily. And one the cainist will never understand.

The diverse characters in the book, The Island, reminded me that cainists are born and incapable of change. So whether it is your parent, sibling, mate or child, stop hoping for change that will never come. It’s a game you can’t win. Instead learn how to deal directly with his manipulations to prevent destruction of the entire family. If it’s an adult relationship, run in the opposite direction as if your shoes are on fire.

recoveryIf you’ve been in a cainistic relationship, you have learned the meaning (probably many times over) behind William Shakespeare’s quote, “Expectation is the root of all heartache.”

Expecting and then receiving empathy, sympathy, support and love from Cain is like donning a pair of cement shoes, jumping into the Hudson River, and waiting for his help when the Enabler starts to sink. He only has thoughts for himself. The Enabler experiences his selfishness time and again, but each time she hopes for a different response only to be disappointed again.

That’s because she is a highly cooperative person with an overly forgiving personality that puts her at high risk for emotional injury by uncaring people, especially cainists who have no shame about continued exploitation as long as they get their needs met.

She doesn’t think like he thinks. She has no desire to make him jumps through hoops of fire like he treats her. Then, she actually forgets how much she’s been hurt by his cruelty and insensitivity from incident to incident and, thereby, gives him second, fourth and fiftieth chances. Due to her trusting nature, she’s wounded over and over. She becomes his scapegoat, and he counts on that. She’s simply far too nice for him.

Then a double whammy occurs when the Enabler finally sees the light, leaves the cainistic relationship, and expects her friends to support her in the aftermath, only to get smacked across the face with a cold, arrogant lecture or exaggerated optimism intended to set her straight and let her know how wrong she is. Didn’t she get enough of that judgment from Cain? Why would she ever continue to accept it from friends during her recovery? The question then becomes: Are they friends?

After being triggered by one of Cain’s ploys to “look good,” I tried to discuss it with a friend. Instead of empathy and understanding, I was told I should be more positive, that I had written positive articles in the past for others and “You seem to be the only one who can’t follow your own advice.” Wow. Bam!

Frankly, I was stunned. Bitter, harsh comments are indicative of a person’s inability to empathize. Telling an Enabler she is wrong about the abuse, after she has been told she is wrong for years, is similar to telling a battered woman to buck up, be more positive, and just forget it. Seriously?

Immediately, I realized this person didn’t understand the Cain and Enabler relationship although I had explained it on several occasions. It is a complicated relationship so I gave her the benefit of the doubt, but I’m still baffled why a person who calls herself a friend would automatically take Cain’s side when I tried to share my upset? Her criticism was really no different than all the criticism I’ve taken from Cain for years. One of his main ploys is to take the opposite point of view so he can look right and make the Enabler look wrong…again. But why would a friend do that?

Because she had arbitrarily decided that my recovery was finished, and from here on, my emotions should never again be triggered by anything Cain did. “I just wanted you to look at it another way,” she said, as if she were the expert. The amusing part is that that I was looking at it in a new way. Instead of forgiving it, and thinking I had to go back to it, I had changed. I no longer had to look at it through rose colored glasses and say Oh, that’s OK. Walk on me again. No I was remembering to keep me safe.

The image on the top left of this post portrays the reality of recovery. It’s not a straight line by any means determined by a set number of hours, days, weeks, months or years. Only someone with a low level of understanding could ever think he or she understands the length of recovery for another person? It’s up to every Enabler and determined by the depth of her trauma–how long she was used and abused like an object, and how many times she’s willing to return to it. Being used like an object is an extremely demeaning event. It basically says: You are not a human being. You are in this world to serve my needs, and you should never argue about it.

If the Enabler grew up in a cainistic household, it may take a long time to believe in her truth again–that she is an excessively compassionate, caring person who was used (and put down) for the sole purpose of elevating the self-esteem of a selfish person. And she will continue to be exploited however or whenever Cain sees fit which can be quite infuriating indeed.

Interestingly, an Enabler should never forget the abuse because that is what will keep her from returning to it again. She does not want to live with it every day, but she never wants to forget it. It’s the old saying–never forget history or you’re doomed to repeat it.

The Enabler, like the cainist, is hard-wired with specific personality traits. Cain’s traits are negative and self-absorbed, people unable to feel empathy, while the Enabler’s traits are warm, loving and excessively empathetic. These are not traits changed through six easy steps; they are innate personality traits that one has for a lifetime. For the most part the Enabler is a very loving person who forgets and forgives too quickly and too easily. She has forgiven Cain one too many times already.

That’s because Cain’s mistreatment is concealed, cunning and circuitous, and he goes to great lengths to hide his abuse in public. She always needs to remember the harm so she will not return to it. Each time he contacts her, she must recall all the manipulations of other times where she was drawn in only to be hurt by his low levels of empathy and impulse control.

In the last decade neuroscience has shown that the Enabler’s genetic traits include excessive empathy with high levels of tolerance and a highly cooperative nature. Although her personality traits are excessively positive, they put her at risk for cainists who use and abuse. Sandra Brown, M.A. author of Women Who Love Psychopaths: Inside the Relationships of inevitable Harm With Psychopaths, Sociopaths & Narcissists labels them “super traits.”

Cain continually runs “tests” to see how much empathy the Enabler has–before, during and after the relationship. He’s looking for high empathy people who will fill his selfish needs, or if the relationship is over, if he can worm his way back in again. If the empathy response is low, he moves on to someone else because he’s looking for people he can manipulate and who will accept his unacceptable behavior. He plays the empathy card, and if she shows high levels of empathy, he’s sure she will put up with his shenanigans and hopefully give him whatever he wants when he wants it or be intimidated by his anger if she utters that horrible two letter word: no.

Moreover, he targets the Enabler based on her excessive empathy, compassion, helpfulness and high tolerance for bad behavior because these are the areas where he is deficient or wants to gain something. He has no empathy and needs a cover, especially when he has to present himself in public.

It’s extremely difficult for the Enabler not to be helpful. But as Sandra Brown, M.A. points out, at the end of the relationship, Enablers often don’t recognize themselves. Where she was once empathetic, giving, helpful, warm and loving, she is depleted and destroyed by Cain’s constant needs and abuses.

Normal relationships do not cause this level of depletion in another person, points out Sandra Brown and Jennifer Young at the Institute for Relational Harm Reduction and Public Pathology Education, but Cain takes the Enabler down to bare bones by abusing her goodness at every turn. If she tries to get up and feel good about herself, he takes her down again and again. By keeping her down, he thinks he elevates himself. Superiority is the only way he feels good about himself, and he’s incapable of caring whether others feel bad about themselves. He only knows he has more power when they do. Imagine the jealousy he feels over the fact that the Enabler has super traits. That’s just one reason he works so hard to put her down. He must be superior, not her.

Eventually, the Enabler is in the clutches of compassion fatigue and has nothing more to give. Every Enabler who stays in a Cain and Enabler relationship too long understands that statement. Some women have taken four to five years to recover from this devastating relationship.

Those who fail to understand the Cain and Enabler relationship erroneously think that if something bothers you, then you merely change it. But the personality is innate, and the Enabler was born with these excessive, positive traits. Compassion is who she is. She can learn to change her behavior and reactions eventually, but this takes hard work and often much time. It doesn’t happen the minute she steps out of the Cain and Enabler relationship.

In fact, the trauma she suffers during this chaotic and complex relationship actually qualifies her for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) therapy. She can’t sleep or concentrate. She’s always looking for ways to protect herself against harm. She might seem paranoid (although clinically she’s not) because she has been hurt so many times behind her back, and she doesn’t know who she can trust anymore.

Many women literally can’t function when they first leave the relationship because their thought vacillates between believing in someone and distrusting what is said and done. Functional MRI’s now show that she suffers brain changes as a result of the constant emotional trauma and abuse. It takes time to feel safe and to trust that she won’t be manipulated back into a damaging relationship yet again.

The first step for the Enabler is to acknowledge that she has these positive traits. She is not all the negative labels Cain has foisted on her to take her down to the gutter. She must remind herself of this truth every day. Friends who put her down are either extremely insensitive or a cainistic friend she hadn’t identified yet.

Next, she needs to reign in these positive traits and filter where she directs them. She has to stop giving all her
compassion and empathy to Cain. He’s a compulsive liar, and she must accept that. He’s a fraud, and he’s been using her like an object to make himself look good, then putting her down so she won’t think she’s good enough. What a clever but mean trick.

Reigning in her excess compassion is very difficult for the Enabler. It’s her innate desire to be helpful. She feels like a bad person if she doesn’t act on her compassion. She suffers unnecessarily when she refuses to give what he wants. He calls her selfish, and she feels selfish when, in fact, it is Cain who is the excessively selfish one. She has a natural tendency to give more than her share and she gives until she’s a rag doll laying in a heap on the floor.

Finally, she must watch what people say and do and determine if they are trustworthy. Cainists are not. That’s the hardcore truth. The sooner she accepts that fact, the sooner she will get on to a healthier lifestyle. Cainists will use and abuse and walk away in anger when she has nothing more to give him. He’s all about looking good to others and getting what he wants with no boundaries whatsoever. Imagine how the abuse toward the Enabler increases when there is no one around to monitor him, when he doesn’t have someone looking over his shoulder to keep him in line? Shiver. Behind closed doors there are no boundaries and the Enabler is at high risk for whatever he wants to dish out.

She’s afraid if she refuses to give to him, she’ll lose her compassion, but that’s impossible because it’s her innate personality. It’s who she is. Once she heals from this relationship, she will once again be the warm, compassionate giver she was born to be.

Instead, she needs to re-direct her compassion to other areas. Find a cause she is passionate about–helping abused children or animals, painting, traveling, dancing–whatever makes her heart sing–and direct her empathy toward those outlets and not at the cainist who will only use her up and spit her out and move on when she’s depleted. Interestingly, Brown points out that many Enablers are in the helping profession such as doctors, nurses, social workers, counselors, and others who “give” for a living. They are capable, competent women who are emotionally beaten until they don’t recognize themselves any more.

The Cain and Enabler relationship is very complex. She must start to filter out who she will and won’t trust. The next time an alleged friend criticizes her for not having it all together about this unhealthy relationship, maybe it’s time to put that friend on her list of former friends?

Once the Enabler leaves the cainistic relationship, she might need to leave other relationships as well, especially if they continue to support Cain and his behaviors. It’s a grieving process, but if friends are not willing (or able) to empathize with what she’s been through, if they are not willing to support her in her recovery however long that takes, if they are not interested in understanding the devastation she’s been through, she might have to move on without them. She removed herself from one abusive relationship. It makes no sense to keep other abusive relationships in her life. She must weed them out so there is no pollution of criticism in the new life she needs to create. She must replace critical, harsh friendships with positive ones who value her assets and care enough to support her recovery.What she does not need is more criticism from those who call themselves friends.

It’s similar to the drug-addicted lifestyle. Those who come clean can’t hang on to the old friends and remain “sober.” She must watch what people say and do, and then decide if they are for her or against her? She’s been through horrendous criticism with Cain. Now she needs friends who will be kind and gentle and support her. She needs friends who will praise and appreciate her excessive positive traits, and stand beside her during her continued recovery.

If she doesn’t want to throw out the baby with the bathwater, there is another option.
The Enabler might need to realize that she can’t discuss all things with all friends. Some people live with rigid values; they see only black and white and all must abide by their views. Alienated from their own emotions, they are unable to support the Enabler in hers.

If she is certain she can find some aspects of the friendship that bring reward, she might continue with it by setting boundaries and refusing to talk about the Cain and Enabler relationship with certain friends. Perhaps she attends movies or discusses books, sports or crafts, but she never discusses the Cain and Enabler relationship in any form with friends who live in a black and white world.

It might be risky, and it definitely won’t be as intimate as some friendships where the Enabler feels free to discuss whatever is on her heart. But only she can decide whether to save or walk away from a former relationship. Some relationships might be saved even if they aren’t one-hundred percent intimate.

If it brings expectations of heartache, it might be time for a change.

handcuffs

“She didn’t like to be alone. Even more, she didn’t like being with people.” ― Elizabeth Strout, from the novel Olive Kitteridge

Dependency is the cainist’s bugaboo. He lives in a fantasy world where he’s  special to a fault and the Enabler has no value. Yet, he’s dependent on the her to obtain admiration and attention, to pilfer her thoughts and ideas, and to use her as a model or prototype on how to act in public. A sympathetic Enabler has saved a haughty cainist from the gallows more than once. He knows this and loathes it.

His selfishness wears thin over time. One study showed that cainists became unpopular after 7 weeks or after approximately 2.5 hours of contact time. [i] However, that doesn’t stop him from exploiting, devaluing and discarding the Enabler when she is no further use to him.

A cainist will use an Enabler to put him through college, then ditch her when he lands a lucrative job. One cainist, who had trouble keeping a job, remains with an Enabler because she brings home the paycheck, then boasts to everyone that he only has to work part-time and loves it.

There’s little, if any, loyalty from him. Once he’s convinced that he’s too exceptional to remain with a minion, he quickly, and often abruptly, moves on. In romantic affairs, he usually lands someone new before he leaves the previous Enabler because he hates being alone. He’s like a vulture, picking at a carcass for the last remnants, then ditching it when there’s no meat left on the bones.


[1] Why Are Narcissists so Charming at First Sight? Decoding the

Narcissism–Popularity Link at Zero Acquaintance

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