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

Posts tagged ‘Cain’

Expectation is the root of all heartache.

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.

Cruel Cainism

Horrible-Bosses1Cruel cainism includes sadism (taking delight in inflicting intentional cruelty) and paranoia (distrustful, suspicious, illusions of persecution). These cainists are not only self-absorbed but deliberately cruel and lack moral principles. They believe they’re above the law and can do whatever they please. In 1964 social psychologist Erich Fromm labeled this behavior “malignant narcissism” and called it “the quintessence of evil.” I have coined it cruel cainism.

The Biblical Cain felt entitled and justified in projecting his hatred on Abel and showed no remorse for his evil actions even when it resulted in murder. In fact, his paranoia skyrocketed after killing Abel, fearing others would take revenge and harm him. It was all about him. The modern-day cainist, male or female, is similar. And because they feel no empathy for others and subsequently little remorse for their cold actions, they lack motivation to change.

A Cruel Cainistic Boss

In the early 1990’s I wrote a booklet about emotional child abuse and sent it to all State governmental social service agencies with the hope of selling it in bulk. Simultaneously, I returned my name to the State’s hiring register for a social worker position because editors were working off their inventories and the writing profession was at a standstill.

I landed an interview with a supervisor I’ll call Charles, in a small town, population under 2,000. If anyone came close to having an “evil eye”— that stare of envy and hatred that inflicts a message of injury or harm— it was his gaze. His mean, beady eyes literally sent chills down my spine. All too soon I found Charles’s devious deeds matched his stare.

First, he held up my booklet on emotional child abuse and asked if I were the author. I had mailed one to every county but never thought about this particular supervisor having one. When I said “Yes,” he maintained piercing knife-like eye contact that looked straight through me. “Do you know what I usually do with stuff like this?” Of course, I had no idea. With one sweep of his arm across his desk, my booklet landed in his waste basket. His action stunned me. I saw no point in his rudeness since I had never met him. Of course, I didn’t know then that he was a cruel cainist. I didn’t even understand cainism.

Driving ninety miles back home in the August sunshine, I actually shivered, thinking of the spitefulness that pierced through his pupils like fiery daggers. “Some people respond to the emotionless stare of the psychopath with considerate discomfort, almost as if they feel like potential prey in the presence of a predator,” writes Dr. Robert D. Hare, Ph. D. in his book Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of the Psychopaths Among Us (1999). When friends and family asked about the interview, I answered, “I won’t get that job. That man did not like me.”

I believe cainists can spot a trusting, easy to fleece casualty within seconds. As Martha Stout writes in her book The Sociopath Next Door (2006, “…a person who has no conscience can instantly recognize someone who is decent and trusting.”  He called the next Tuesday and asked me to start work the following Monday–six days to find adequate house in a small town about which I knew absolutely nothing. I also owned my own home ninety miles away which I needed to deal with, too.

That was my second red flag which I missed. He was making the rules. He was in control. And because he was charitable enough to give me a job, he felt entitled to make things difficult. I had not yet started to work for him and already I felt oppressed, controlled, pressured and humiliated. However, I had made an agreement with myself that I would take the first position offered because I was desperate for income. So I accepted the job, hoping my impressions of his hostility were wrong. Unfortunately, they were spot on.

For instance, Charles was so pitifully unprofessional, he gossiped about, and ridiculed other supervisors, especially an overweight woman, behind their backs during our staff meetings. My co-worker, who had a serious drinking problem, would disappear for hours and no one knew where he went. When it was time for him to co-lead a group meeting with me for our unemployed clients, he was AWOL and the responsibility for leading the group fell on me alone. Charles acted oblivious to all of it. I was an object to be used to take care of Charles’s problem with this other employee.

I desperately wanted out of that hostile work environment so after completing my six month probation period, I applied for a transfer to my hometown where I had family and some friends. Charles had given me a glowing review, actually telling me, “You’re almost perfect.” He was shocked when the transfer was accepted as he thought I couldn’t leave his county for a year. He went into a cainistic rage, torturing me every day of my last month there. Those thirty days seemed endless to me.

Unlikely as it might seem, one of my new bosses, who I’ll call Willie, was best friends with Charles, the cruel cainist who I mistakenly thought I had left behind. The two of them talked every morning on the telephone, plotting Charles’s revenge while Willie conspired to carry out the cruelty. How could this possibly happen?

A former co-worker from the first agency called and warned me: “Watch your back. I hear them plotting against you, and it’s not good.” He had that right. It was like walking in a mine field every day with constant harassment and deception. Willie would conveniently forget to notify me of staff meetings, then berate me when I failed to show up. He crossed boundaries constantly; Co-workers told me he filed through my desk drawers while I was in the field making home visits to clients.

What’s almost too ironic to consider is that he also did poorly at supervising a male employee who drank too much. This worker sat in a bar several days a week, drowning his sorrows while his clients received too much money because he failed to cut checks based on an indefinite State-mandated austerity program. In the meantime, Willie ignored all this and rifled through my desk drawers hoping to nail me for something when I was doing everything by the book. Charles and Willie were cold-blooded cainists out for the kill simply because I had transferred and made Charles fanatically angry.

When I stood up against Willie’s bullying and walked out of a staff meeting, he wrote me up for insubordination. He docked my pay and suspended me from work on two occasions. It was a living hell every day. I gained sixty pounds in a year and suffered unbearable anxiety, insomnia, and increased health issues. I walked off the job after three years of abuse. Cain won. That was my first lesson in understanding that one should never underestimate the destruction of a cruel cainist.

 

Cain Is A Bore and Drama His Game

bored-boredThere is something missing on the inside of Cain that prevents him from feeling. “They don’t feel much in their relationships unless something intense is going on,” points out Dr. Gina Simmons Ph.D. co-director of Schneider Family Services and a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for twenty-five years, currently located in San Diego county.

The Enabler wants the relationship to stay calm and stable while Cain itches to stir things up so he can feel something, anything. Says Simmons, “They have to keep raising the bar of intensity to feel. What is more intense than anger?”

Other times they simply don’t like the way their day is going so they stir the emotional pot to shake things up. They might be bored or uncomfortable but lacking introspection, they aren’t motivated to think about what problem is inside them. Instead, they push others’ hot buttons to relieve the monotony. People, then, are merely objects to release their agitation or emotional discomfort. They push an emotional button and stand back to watch another person become hysterical.

No doubt that is the reason rules of performance changed frequently at the cainistic church. I called it the “Church of Drama” because just when you thought you could breath and relax, something changed. Cain loved to mix things up, keeping everything certain off-balance which gave him power and influence. I’ll never forget how he clung doggedly to his ruling about how ushers had to remain standing until after the first song was sung on Sunday morning. This required us to stand throughout the introduction, announcements, a prayer and a song, all of which lasted no less than ten minutes.

I suffered severe back and nerve pain due to degenerative arthritis of which Cain was aware. Standing for long periods provoked intense throbbing and numbness in my back, feet and legs. I don’t know if he even remembered this fact about me (cainists are often offensive simply because they don’t remember much about anyone except themselves), or if this new rule was yet another sneaky way to punish me for a crime I didn’t know I had committed.

Whatever was going on, I was hearing lots of complaints from congregants that they couldn’t see around the ushers who stood in front of them for so long. I shared this information which meant I was speaking against his rules. Cain abruptly called a mandatory volunteer meeting scheduled for nine the following Saturday morning. There would be no sleeping in for volunteers that weekend.

After much discussion at the meeting, the majority decided to drop the new decree and let the ushers sit after the service began. But within three months, the rule to have ushers stand for a lengthy period was reinstated. This is typical. Cain might go along at the moment but he always returns to his old ways as soon as possible. No one will tell him what to do.

Something more happened at that mandatory meeting that revealed the lengths to which Cain would go to punish and control. When we moved into our new church, personnel provided coffee and baked goods at volunteer meetings. That was thoughtful; it reflected gratitude for our service. During the mandatory Saturday morning meeting, I chose coffee and a big muffin. As Cain led the meeting, he kept staring at my muffin, watching me eat every bite. It was spooky and uncomfortable. By then I had learned how to predict some of his behavior and guessed that there would never be big muffins at volunteer meetings again. That’s precisely what happened. He was scrutinizing what I liked so he could eliminate it. It was punishment for speaking against one of his dictates.

Every time someone turns against Cain, even if it is in the best interest of the majority—in this case church attendees who were complaining they couldn’t see around ushers—punishment will follow. Can you imagine wasting that much time watching people just to control them in petty ways? But that is exactly what a cainist does. It was one more way to push emotional buttons and show me who was in charge. One more way to stir things up so he could feel something. I had wised up by then. I never said a word about big muffins. It’s wise to pick your battles with a cainist, and I wanted to stop the drama. Cain often gets what he wants simply because Enablers get worn down and stop fighting to have their needs met.

Not only does he grow bored with himself but others grow bored with him, too. He regales people with the same stories again and again, especially if he doesn’t like something. For example, one Enabler had moved on months ago when a restaurant shut down, but her cainistic husband was still carping that the food in the contemporary restaurant wasn’t as good as the former one. He won’t let anything go. In most instances, you can learn everything you need to know about a cainist in less than a month. After that, he’s dull, repetitive and tedious.

The Ongoing Process of Overvaluation and Devaluation

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Cainists go into adulthood expecting everyone to take care of them in the same way their parents treated them—adored, admired, praised and applauded for everything he thinks or does regardless of merit. He is special, the sun who sees the planets revolving around him, and he comes alive when the attention is solely on him. In adulthood, the Enabler, now this person who must be his all-compassing parent, must speak positively about him at all times, spread his ideas as gospel, and immerse him with compliments both privately and in public.

If she contradicts, questions or resists him, however gently, he’s enraged. His abrupt anger and later devaluation of the Enabler hinges on basically three actions or in-actions: (1) Not seeing how special he is, (2) Exposing a truth that he wants hidden, or (3) Questioning his authority. Once angered by what he perceives as disloyalty, he abuses, humiliates and diminishes her in a myriad of ways.

He might exaggerate her faults and makes fun of her in front of others. Out of the blue she might be accused of being stupid, pathetic, weak, and wrong. Or tell her and others that she lacks ambition, vision, understanding and insight. By now, he has discovered her Achilles heel and strips her of power by attacking her weakness to harm her or deprive her in whatever way he can. He withholds what he thinks she wants and needs, or dumps an overabundance of what he knows she doesn’t want. A common frustration tactic is to argue with everything she says to prove she’s wrong and he’s right. She can’t win ever. And these hotbed accusations are acted out with high-intensity anger and disgust. Indeed, he spins into an unparalleled bully, doling out fury and humiliation like an errant fire cracker.

As a source of attention and admiration, the Enabler becomes Cain’s ally overvalued by him. Missing that, she morphs into the enemy and instantly devalued by him. He will criticize her not only for considering a thought of her own that is in opposition to his, but now he also blames her for his bad choices. I recall one such person making a dim-witted comment, then pretending I had made the remark, not her. She laughed over the comment, calling me a “dumb blonde.” I was stunned the way she twisted the situation to remove the mistake from her palette and blame me. When I pointed out that she had made the remark, she quickly turned her attention to another matter as if the incident never happened. One should never underestimate how a pathological person can turn the tables to make the Enabler look wrong so he can look perfect and then refuse to deal with the truth when it’s pointed out to him.

Once an Enabler has goofed up, it takes an exceptional idea or action on her part to change or elevate Cain’s image of her again. Now she is in the devaluation phase. She could be ostracized for months. In fact, she will need to adore, applaud, idolize, even worship him for whatever time limit he sets down, before he acknowledges or accepts her into the fold again. And probably never into his inner circle of close confidants. He blames her, and she blames herself. It works well for him until the Enabler says enough already.

Initially, I could do nothing wrong in the cainistic church. The minister would seek me out, sit alongside me at meetings, listen to my opinions, and repeat them from the pulpit as if my ideas were his ideas (steal them). But the first time I disagreed with the inconsistencies at the church—and there were as many as flies at a picnic—I was devalued faster than a car driven off the lot. From there, I could do absolutely nothing right and was bad-mouthed as insubordinate, unhelpful, and disloyal.

Being approved, then disapproved takes a heavy toll on a person’s emotions especially a perceptive people-pleaser in a church where one hopes to feel safe. Once I stepped over the invisible imaginary line, I was either at the height of bliss or the cavern of torment, banking on his approval or disapproval of me. And that is how he treated everyone, depending on whether they agreed or disagreed with him.

When someone failed to do his bidding, he often used the “silent treatment” to punish violators. Depending on my offense, there were days or weeks or months when he rushed past me, eyes fixed straight ahead, pretending he didn’t see me. One time I stopped him midway through his sprint out the sanctuary and said “Can we move past this?” Whenever Cain or the church staff refused to deal with an issue, they habitually answered, “We just want to move past this,” inferring that they didn’t want to remain stuck in negativity. The real meaning behind the words was that they wanted to overlook the issue and get off the hook without retribution.

Of course, different rules applied when Cain devalued someone. Now, he wanted to clutch his resentments close to his heart, needing “time” to process his emotions. Truthfully, I wondered if he had ever read the story of the Prodigal son—a parable demonstrating how the father received the return of his wayward son with open arms because his love, like God’s love, never changed. This cainistic charlatan preached that we were to demonstrate God’s infinite ability to forgive on a daily basis, but he couldn’t forgive. He drew more pleasure from setting people aside or punishing them for their slip-ups than forgiving them. His arrogant, self-absorbed cainistic personality was in opposition to the homilies he preached.

In fact, a cainist in the ministry will eventually grow disillusioned with the idea of God and devalue Him like he idolizes, then devalues every relationship in his life. But he continues the pretense because being a man or woman of God affords him authority and superstar power with his parishioners. The church is his source of cainistic supply, bulking up his insatiable ego. Even when he engages in misogynous behavior, worshipers are reluctant to confront him based on his position of authority. They comply because they are afraid to do otherwise. He’s the alpha and omega. He’s Billy Goat Gruff to the trembling trolls terrified to cross the bridge to truth. It’s the Cain and Enabler Complex on a mass scale rather than the one-on-one connection.

Cain Needs A Scapegoat

1_123125_2093564_2208788_2213739_090317_sci_narcissism2tn.jpg.CROP.original-originalCainists couldn’t survive without a scapegoat—someone or something on whom he dumps his faults and inadequacies. Without a scapegoat, he would need to accept responsibility for his behavior, and that won’t ever happen. As mentioned before, it’s vitally important that Cain views himself as the good guy dressed in white and the Enabler as the bad seed dressed in black. Scapegoating, then, is equal to the funny line, “The devil made me do it” used in the seventies by the late comedian and actor Clerow Wilson, Jr., known professionally as Flip Wilson. The line became a national catch phrase to deny accountability. By all means scapegoating is anything but funny. It’s painful.

Projection and scapegoating, although unfair, let cainists disassociate from feelings of failure and shame. He’s brilliant, an Einstein. The Enabler is dumb, a sucker. He kicks off a smear campaign to make her look appalling or slothful so he can look awesome and ambitious. He’ll suck up to authority even though he holds intense rage toward all authority to project a false image to hide his real feelings. And when he maligns someone, he cleverly merges humor into his projection to make it seem palatable or publicly acceptable.

Cain’s scapegoats include everything from loved ones to business associates, from his car to the weather—anything that shifts the blame beyond himself. For example, when condo resident, Angela, scratched the paint off the wall with her fingernail and accused the contractor, Mason, of applying only one coat of paint, he adamantly denied it, blaming the problem on defective paint. In other words, the subnormal paint was the scapegoat for his inaction.

It’s sad that families and organizations throw cherished members under the bus, but it’s done all the time in dysfunctional systems, such as, alcoholic homes and cainistic families and organizations. It might take the Enabler years to understand that she was set up to deflect Cain’s inauthentic, deceitful behavior so he can look better than Jesus Christ himself. In fact, some Enablers go to their graves feeling like complete failures when they did nothing wrong. According to psychiatrist M. Scott Peck, scapegoating is “the genesis of human evil.”

The insatiable envy of a cainist

handcuffsAlthough similar, there are clear differences between the emotional states of envy and jealousy. Aristotle defined envy as “the pain caused by the good fortune of others.” Thomas Moore called it “the longing to live someone else’s life while spurning one’s own life.” Those two quotes describe Cain’s envy precisely. He will become spitefully envious if the Enabler has an idea more important than his. Or for that matter if her idea is valued at all. Likewise, he lives for praise but takes potshots at anyone who steals his thunder.

That’s exactly what happened in the church I attended. When a new minister joined the ranks, he preached an exceptional first sermon. Attendees were raving about it and praising him. No one outperforms or outshines Cain—ever. He’s insanely envious if the congregation loves or venerates any staff member. For the next year this new cleric sat in the front pew every Sunday listening to Cain’s sermons before he was given another opportunity to preach again, and only then because Cain went on a vacation.

My Prince Who Rode in On The Horse with No Name

Blue_and_Red_Horse_by_MightySquirrelThe line “cause there ain’t no one to give you no pain,” from the song, A Horse With No Name certainly captures the relationship I had with a man who possessed cainistic traits. He would disappear for days, weeks, sometimes months after we enjoyed good times, returning only after the warm, positive embers died down.

Deep affection terrified him, and he eclipsed his fear with physical unavailability. If I expressed my own needs and feelings, he tossed out the title of a popular song by Mac Davis, Baby, Baby Don’t Get Hooked On Me. My relationship with this cainist was the yin and the yang of interpersonal closeness and emotional distance. It was the up and down bouncy movement of horseback riding from start to finish.

When he returned later, it was on his terms only. Whenever I confronted him about these long absences, he grew upset–“I don’t want to be tied down,” he would spat. He always had a disclaimer—“Maybe some day but not now”—which reserved my hope. He used threats of abandonment to have his relationship or no relationship.

People who engage healthy relationships would have walked out of that relationship quicker than corn can pop, but I capitulated which is typical of the Cain and Enabler Complex. Conditioned to become invisible and selfless, the Enabler ignores her own needs and feelings to prevent criticism, rejection, confrontation and abandonment from a cainist who is in it for himself.

For instance, I was taught in childhood that my invisibility during Cain’s presence might buy me attention and some conditional love after he was gone; I was repeating that dysfunction in my adult relationships to reduce Cain’s negative reaction and to keep my man. I lived on hope.

Enablers don’t make waves. They sacrifice their boundaries and apologize for being too much trouble or for creating an atmosphere of negativity when Cain is displeased. They become selfless and re-frame it into a virtue. They choose a lonely, empty life of self-sacrifice and wistful thinking in exchange for a hopeful five minutes of love.

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