Breaking Down Toxic Families: Household Types and Roles

Breaking apart the specific household types and roles of toxic families.

Source: Jordan Whitt on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.

I grew up in a toxic family. My days were filled with conflict, emotional turmoil, and anger. Overall, the toxic family I grew up in ruined my childhood.

I have not allowed the pain I suffered to turn me sour — I will not carry on these toxic behaviors. I had to learn to survive and adapt; I will never be like my family was.

I am a product of a toxic family, but I am not my toxic family.

Through my budding adulthood, I spent a lot of time away from my family. I wanted to explore what else was out there — without their influence. Through my time, I learned that my family wasn’t typical.

I devoted much of my studies to child development, which led me to study family relations. My courses based on families highlighted the dysfunctions present in my own; I was so embarrassed.

I learned that there were names for these toxic families through my courses. There has been established research conducted on toxic families. Toxic families are different, but specific characteristics can be identified. These characteristics are used to identify the types of toxic families.

Toxic Family Types

The parents are the leaders of the family. The reinforcement of the behaviors in the family lies in the parents’ control.

The parent’s actions or inaction within the family can set the stage for a toxic family to form. There have been five types of toxic families that have been recognized as presented by the

Chronic conflict family

There is always conflict, no matter what. My family specifically fell into this category. We were always labeled as the family with conflict. But it was true–there was always an argument brewing.

Pathological households

There are multiple mental health disorders and/or substance use from the parents in this household, specifically personality disorders or schizophrenia/bipolar.*

* Please note that not all households with parents who are bipolar or who have a personality disorder are inherently toxic. Many factors, such as support, treatment, treatment adherence, and many other factors, need to be considered.

The chaotic household

The kids are not looked after well, and there is little parent involvement or control. Essentially the children are free to do as they please without structure, guidance, or oversight. So this leaves the family in a chaotic state.

The dominant-submissive household

There is an imbalance of power within the family where there is a ‘dictator parent’. Everyone within this family is unhappy. Typically there is a large amount of conflict and negative emotions.

Emotionally distant families

This family does not prioritize love and affection for their children. So the children do not grow up knowing what love and affection should be. In fact, it teaches the children that their feelings and emotions should be repressed.

Throughout each family — no matter the type — there will be specific roles that each person plays.

Toxic family roles

Toxic families grow and morph into toxic relationships that we carry without throughout the rest of our lives. So let’s understand that all toxic families are different, but the roles will typically be the same.

The roles help people understand what their part is within that toxic family. Now, if you see yourself in one of the roles this does not mean anything on you; we all are trying to survive.

There are scientifically-backed roles and family types of toxic families within this article. I will be adding my input along the way. There are specific roles within toxic families that have been identified:

Hero or responsible child

Self-sufficient, responsible, perfectionist, and an overachiever. They seem to put together and seem to be the shining star. Still, they are carrying the burden of toxic behaviors from their parents.

Scapegoat or trouble maker

The scapegoat is the one who takes all of the blame in the family. The scapegoat child is the one who is deemed the source of the problems within the family. Underneath all of it, they are emotionally sensitive and are emotionally and psychologically hurt by their toxic parent’s behavior.

Lost child or dreamer

This child is withdrawn and stays with their nose in a book. They like to stay away from the family and spend lots of time in solitude. I resonated with this the most because I was the dreamer in my family. The environment I grew up in was so toxic that I needed to get away to feel safe.

Mascot or class clown

The mascot is the entertainer in the family that can lighten that mood at the drop of a hat. I learned to be the mascot to bring up everyone’s spirits. I learned how to be that tension breaker.

Enabler or caretaker

Typically the enabler is a spouse, but a child can assume this role. The enabler or caretaker will be passive and submissive in order to avoid conflict. Their behavior will allow for other toxic behavior to occur within the family.

The research conducted around toxic families is very informative. It reassures those living in a toxic family that they are not alone. Toxic families can take on so many different types and roles that the combinations are endless. If you recognized any of these types within your family — know there is help and hope.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

How Manipulation Works in Relationships

Unraveling the various structures of manipulation.

Source: Matt Paul Catalano on Unsplash

Manipulation is something that everyone has experienced. We all have encountered one person in our life who manipulates people as a way to get by.

Manipulation doesn’t have to be in a romantic relationship; it can be in any relationship.

Maybe a friend manipulates you to feel bad for them to avoid responsibility for their actions. Perhaps a romantic partner begins buying you gifts and is overly helpful — utterly different from who they usually are. Then the secret is out that they were caught in a lie and wanted to use this to get out of it.

Manipulation can happen in a wide array of different relationships and scenarios. But, at the root of it, manipulation is vile and reward-driven.

I’ve discussed manipulation with narcissists, but I wanted to branch that topic out and evaluate manipulation. I’ve discussed narcissism and manipulation, but there is much more to the surface level of manipulation.

So what is manipulation truly?

Power imbalance

When someone manipulates you, there is a power dynamic at play. The person manipulating you may exploit your weaknesses, target your insecurities, and cause you to become more dependent on them.

When they exploit your weaknesses, they are targeting your insecurities. By targeting your flaws and insecurities, they are looking to control you.

“A manipulator will actively lie to you, make excuses, blame you, or strategically share facts about them and withhold other truths. In doing this, they feel they are gaining power over you and gaining intellectual superiority.” (Manipulation: Symptoms to Look For WebMD)

Sometimes a power imbalance can look like one person having more decision power in the relationship. Or perhaps your friend’s opinions are more important than anyone else’s.

A power imbalance is created for one party to control the other. This puts the power off, making one partner more in control. It’s a damaging dynamic that can have lasting effects.

A power imbalance usually leaves the person manipulating to get the desired end goal that they want. This puts the manipulator’s wants and desires as being a top priority.

There should always be equal power in a relationship, no matter what. One person is not more important than the other. There should always be proper balance within a relationship. There has to be sacrifice and balance to have a healthy relationship.


The manipulator will use a large amount of guilt to get you to do what they want. Honestly, guilt seems to be the most common way people manipulate others.

Manipulation always seems to have a touch of guilt, which is the emotional factor. If you feel bad for someone, you may be more inclined to help this person. It’s easier for someone to manipulate you if you feel bad for this person.

The people in my life that have always manipulated me (my narcissist, to be exact) were out to make me feel bad for them. If I felt bad or guilty for my behavior, they were much more likely to impact my future behavior.

Guilt was a strong motivating factor to be compliant with what someone wanted. If I felt bad for my actions or pitied them, I would be much more likely to be there for the manipulator.

Motivating factors

At the root of it all, what causes someone to manipulate? There can be many reasons, but it’s from self-desire, as discussed earlier.

According to good therapy, there are a plethora of reasons why someone manipulates:

  • Poor communication
  • Avoiding connection
  • Fear
  • Defensiveness

Someone wants something from you, and they will manipulate you to get that. Manipulation doesn’t always need to be in the form of fraud, cheating, or destruction. Sometimes, it can be something as simple as not getting into trouble.

But regardless, the manipulation affects you — it sucks.

Most likely, the manipulator is insecure and sees manipulation as the only way to survive (for some people, that can be very true). Sometimes it’s easier for someone to lie and manipulate because telling the truth would be too hard. This isn’t an excuse but rather a reason why some people may manipulate.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

What Relationship OCD Can Look Like

Understanding relationship OCD.

Source: Natalia Sobolivska on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.

Anxiety around relationships is normal for everyone. But when someone with OCD has strong obsessions and compulsions towards their relationship(s), then there can be major problems that can drastically impact interpersonal relations.

Everyone’s felt jealous or unsure in a romantic relationship–it’s not uncommon. But usually, that anxiety can be dispelled by logic and reasoning.

For example, your partner has been coming home late from work the past few days and hasn’t said much to you. This is different from their usual behavior. Your anxiety is building, all these scenarios are running through your head–you are terrified.

So you talk with your partner — hoping that will alleviate your anxiety. When talking to your partner you find out that work has been far my stressful than normal, and the work has been piling up at the end of the day. Your partner expresses how exhausted they are at the end of the day, so they go straight to bed when they get home.

Through this, you gain perspective on what your partner is telling you — everything adds up. This would be the logic and reasoning behind their behavior. Typically this would suffice — there’s no issue growing or the worst happening. But someone with relationship OCD will be more inclined to pursue this anxiety far more.

What is relationship OCD?

Relationship OCD is an intense obsession that centers around the major relationships in someone’s life. Specifically, romantic relationships are the center of focus within relationship OCD.

Questioning your relationship with a long-term partner is normal at some point in a long-term relationship. Still, those with relationship OCD can take that much further and experience questioning and doubts consistently. The thoughts and obsessions around the relationship are time-consuming and cumbersome.

According to clinical psychologist, Dr. Owen Kelly, on verywellmind, relationship OCD can present in the following symptoms:

  • Needing constant reassurance from your partner
  • Experiencing persistent intrusive thoughts about your partner and/or your relationship
  • Thoughts about being with someone else over your current partner
  • Questioning your love and relationship with your partner
  • Exessive worry and concern for your partner’s well-being

These symptoms happen repeatedly over time and cause extreme distress to the sufferer.

How it affects relationships

Those who live with relationship OCD or OCD, in general, are more prone to intimacy issues, according to the United Brain Association.

The person in the relationship with OCD will be going through a heavy amount of anxiety–this relationship is nearly all they can think about it. This is all their brain will allow them to do; it’s devastating.

All the partners may see is the constant attacks and questioning they are receiving.

The fears and anxieties within the relationship bounce back and forth. Both partners can become worn down, and there can be a struggle. But when you fall into these times, it’s best to connect with a therapist.

Anxiety can boil over and become so unmanageable. Over time, that can really eat away in a relationship. Getting help — even if you don’t have OCD but are struggling with anything mentioned in this article — will help you.

Issues come up in any relationship — bumps are normal. If relationship OCD is taking over your world, or you are just having a lot of anxiety in relationships — seeing a mental health professional is the best option.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

Depression in Children: What Parents Need to Know

Knowing the signs and symptoms.

Source: Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.

Around 3.2 million children aged 12 to 17 have had at least one major depressive episode. With numbers like that, parents must know the essential signs of depression in children.

Psychiatric disorders in children may not present the same as they would in adults. Meaning, depression in adults will not look the same as depression in children.

Anxiety and depression can really go hand in hand, so it’s important to know the signs of both. Getting your child early intervention can be beneficial to their long-term growth.

I’ve dedicated much of my elective studies within my undergraduate and graduate degrees to focus on children’s psychology. Specifically, I studied the life span but had a specific interest in infant and adolescent development.

I worked as a psychometrist for a year, where I saw adults and children that would come in with depression — each person displayed their symptoms differently.

Children don’t have the ability to truly share how they feel, so we have to know the signs that can help us spot them.


Much like anxiety in children, there will be different signs that adults will experience.

So children will have their own unique symptoms that could point to depression. But it is essential to always bring your child to their doctor to receive a proper evaluation.

Depression can take a toll on development, and stunted social skills. This combination of issues may cause a child to be isolated from friends and family.

Children with depression may not be sullen, and inactive — compared to most adults with depression. In fact, I have seen children with depression be full of energy. The lesser-seen signs of depression in children are what need to be looked at as well:

  • Behavior issues at school
  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Irritable
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of interest in hobbies or activities

Some of these symptoms might not seem too off target. But behaviors that might get children into trouble can, like destructive behavior at school, could potentially be a sign of distress.

Children don’t have the knowledge or language abilities to express how they feel. In order to express themselves, children will act it — it’s all they know.

How does it happen?

There are many different reasons why a child may develop depression. Trauma, extreme stress, health conditions, grief, loss of family or close friends, bullying, abuse/neglect, and much more can all be reasons a child may develop depression.

There is also a genetic component to mental illness in general. Still, it is not a primary dictating factor in someone developing a mental illness. Mental illness occurs with a combination of genetics, environment, and their own unique temperament.

How to help

If depression in childhood is not effectively managed, it can increase the risk of suicide and cause interpersonal relationship issues.

If you are worried your child might have depression, it’s best to speak to their pediatrician. You can simply ask for your child to be screened for depression. Usually, the doctor’s office will provide questionnaires for you (and maybe your child, depending on their age) to fill out.

What you can start doing now is really taking the time to listen to your child. Don’t just assume about issues they may be having — listen and get to know them.

You need to be there as their support system.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

Breaking Down Exposure Therapy: Treatment for OCD

Exploring the most effective treatment for OCD.

Source: Wonderlane on Unsplash

Exposure therapy is commonly understood as a treatment for OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). OCD is a disorder rooted in obsessions and compulsions. These obsessions can usually form from an anxiety someone has relating to their obsession.

I have experienced OCD for many years. For me, I experience deep anxiety about my animal’s health. Growing up, I had a few animals pass unexpectedly. Due to those times, I was afraid of my animal’s health — I didn’t want them to die.

So I began obsessing about my animal’s health. This led me to worry excessively because I thought that would help prevent an unexpected death in the future.

Whenever my animals are sick or need to go to the doctor, my anxiety is through the roof. I might take some CBD or meditate to help ease my stress during that time.

In a way, that is how exposure therapy can work. But I learned to face my fear through asking questions, learnings and becoming informed. This is just a real-life example of exposure that has worked for me.

This by no means indicates how exposure therapy works. I want to present you with a real-world example of an issue that could be treated by exposure therapy.

Exposure therapy is actually far more detailed. But the idea is still the same. Being exposed to your anxieties can help you overcome that fear. Exposure is the best way to treat anxiety, as it targets the fear directly.

A deeper look into obsessions and compulsions

When we become afraid of something, we avoid it. If we prevent a problem, we are preventing it from ever being a stressor. Exposure therapy works by exposing someone to stimuli or situations that are anxiety-provoking.

Usually, when someone faces their obsessions or anxiety, they will use their compulsions to relieve their stress. For me, my compulsion was to watch my animals and overly check on them. I essentially became a helicopter pet mom worried about them dying in front of me.

Over time, there becomes a reliance on that compulsion to get rid of the negative feelings. There is a strong bond between obsession and compulsion — compulsions are the coping mechanisms that have to be completed in order to relieve the anxiety.

But what makes obsessions with OCD unique is the frequency of these obsessions. I have a panic attack nearly every day, worrying about my animal’s health. Learning to stay away from my compulsions has helped me move away from them. But I am nowhere near free.

Being faced with your phobias and fears challenges your belief about them. It’s terrifying because exposure to the upsetting stimuli, or whatever someone is trying to avoid, will make that person surge with anxiety.

Types of exposure therapy

Like other therapies out there, exposure therapy has different types. Treatment is not a one size fits all deal — everyone is unique.

The standard exposure therapy techniques are:

Graded exposure

Graded exposure is done by easing someone into facing their fear. If a child is afraid of dogs, slowly exposing the child to a dog safely will allow for more to occur each time.

One day the child might see a picture of the dog; the next time, the dog might be at the same park as the child. Slowly, reintroducing the dog or fear back into someone’s life slowly is how graded exposure works.

Systematic desensitization

Systematic desensitization is done by exposing someone to the stimuli that cause anxiety and giving the patient a relaxation tool instead.

Relaxation can commonly be from meditation. Where someone can steady their breathing. Someone is essentially replacing their fear response with a relaxing response.


When someone is completely exposed to the stimuli, causing the maximum amount of stress. This can help someone conquer their fear much quicker but traumatic.

In vivo exposure

Confronting your anxiety and fear in real life. This needs to be done under the guidance of a qualified mental health professional.

Imaginal exposure

This type of exposure is simply imagining stressful stimuli. Instead of facing fears in real life, there is only imagination. This may seem easy, but for some, this could be challenging.

Interoceptive exposure

This type of exposure therapy is aimed at bodily sensations (etc., racing heart) to detach anxiety from that sensation.

Virtual reality exposure

This form of exposure therapy takes a technological approach. Someone can do exposure therapy with the use of virtual reality software.

Overall, exposure therapy really covers a variety of ways. But please remember, exposure therapy needs to be done by a trained mental health professional — an app, VR game, or a rando on the internet is not a substitution for proper treatment.

Success rates

The success rate for exposure therapy is between 60–90% for those who complete treatment. With that in mind, it’s an effective treatment. But unfortunately, not everyone can afford treatment.

Money, work, and life stressors can get in the way of someone seeking treatment. Although it is an effective treatment, it’s not always accessible.

But the treatment itself can only go so far. Someone who goes through exposure therapy will need to give it their all and truly be a part of treatment.

Exposure therapy works if patients are 100% willing to be in treatment.

In the end, treatment is the best option for dealing with a mental illness. OCD is still a disorder that is being learned about. Moving away from the stereotypes of tropes associated with OCD in the media — there is a real disorder with real people.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

Understanding the Complexities of Emotional Abuse

Know the signs so you can spot emotional abuse.

Source: Stefano Pollio on Unsplash

Emotional abuse is a vastly misunderstood topic. In fact, emotional abuse is the most challenging form of abuse to spot, making it even more taboo.

When a victim of emotional abuse speaks out, there is usually a lack of understanding from those around them. Emotional abuse is a tricky experience to voice and works through. Victims of emotional abuse may be told they are too sensitive or overreacting.

I remember when I first tried to describe what I was experiencing. It always came out sounding as if I was a crybaby.

Oh, they hurt your feelings? Well, grow tougher skin!

When actually, the abuse is far more damaging and hurtful than that.

What is emotional abuse?

Emotional abuse is relatively self-explanatory on a surface level. But what you see on a surface level with emotional abuse is only the tip of the ice burg.

Emotional abuse is nonphysical, but belittling tactics, threats, insults, and many other behaviors aim to tear a person down, so they feel threatened, degraded, inferior, or shameful.

It’s abusive behavior directed at someone else that targets their emotions. The abuse targets someone’s thoughts, feelings, desires, and beliefs, aiming to tear them down emotionally.

Emotional abuse is something that can drag on secretly for years. If there are no bruises to hide to injuries to conceal, then what physical proof is there?

It’s hard for many people to believe in something unless they see physical proof, but even that can be difficult to achieve.

So how can someone show proof that they are being abused when there is no physical proof?

Well, the evidence lies within you — as cheesy as that sounds. The changes to your personality, lifestyle, and self-worth all take a considerable burden from the stress of emotional abuse.

What are the signs of emotional abuse?

The signs of emotional abuse are vast and expansive. Emotional abuse can happen in various ways, scenarios, and relationships. There may not be physical signs that something is wrong, but the behavior of the abuser is the second part of understanding emotional abuse.

All emotional abuse can look different, but typically though, there are some constant themes:

  • Gaslighting
  • Name-calling
  • Being overly critical
  • Isolating you from other family and friends
  • Conditional love

The abuser is always looking for your weaknesses. They know how to keep targeting those weaknesses because they want to keep you under their control.

The gaslighting and personal attacks are all meant to keep you where they want you. If they keep you quiet by belittling you in front of people, then they can effectively keep you silent.

Is emotional abuse really abuse?

Emotional abuse is 100% abuse.

If someone is toying with your feelings, your livelihood, or any part of your life to make themselves feel more powerful, then they are a monster.

Emotional abuse is a form of domestic violence.

Domestic violence is defined by a pattern of behaviors that one partner will use to maintain power and control over another partner in a relationship.

There has been a debate on whether emotional abuse is considered abuse. But, no matter what, emotional abuse is classified as abuse. Abuse doesn’t need to leave a scar or bruises — psychological torture is the scare victims bear.

Emotional abuse can occur in non-romantic relationships. Nearly all of the emotional abuse I endured was through non-romantic partners throughout my lifetime.

Emotional abuse can look different — there isn’t a set way. So it’s essential to know the themes that play out that have been discussed in this article.

If you resonated with anything mentioned in the article, and feel that you may be in an unsafe situation, then I suggest you visit:

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

What Your Anxious Child Wants You to Know

As explained by an adult who once was an anxious child.

Source: Treddy Chen on Unsplash

I have had anxiety since I was age 7. Growing up, I struggled to socialize or speak up. I was too quiet and afraid of nearly everything.

But that never stopped me from being labeled the happy child. And that’s all because I hid it well.

I didn’t know what was happening to me or how to stop it. I just thought this was how things were with everyone. As I got older though, I realized that was not the case. To appear normal to my friends, I began to hide my fears, which only worsened them.

When I turned 18 I started working in childcare. I worked with children of all ages. I learned how to recognize the children who had anxiety: because they were just like me.

I paid special attention to the anxious children in my class. I wanted to help them get socialized and go at the pace they were comfortable with. I remember being so scared as a child — I wanted to make sure those kids didn’t experience what I had.

I wanted my anxious kids to walk out of my class with a smile on their faces, not quiet and scared. It was easy for me to understand where they were coming from based on my own history with anxiety.

Now, here are the three things your anxious child wants you to know.

They want help

The first and most important thing is that your child wants you to know they need help.

They won’t know how to say it.

They don’t know how to express it.

They just need help.

I was so afraid, but I didn’t know why. You’re child most likely feels the same way.

I wanted people to care about me and ask–I wanted people to really want to know me. I didn’t feel safe sharing anything.

They are scared

Aside from wanting help, they are scared. They have no idea what is happening.

All they know is something isn’t right, and their friends don’t feel this way.

I worried about my dogs being healthy and safe to the point where all I could do was cry. Due to my intense worrying, I tried to speak up. I was terrified to express how I was feeling.

Many of the times when I would speak up, I would be promptly told to “Relax!” or “Calm down!”And over time, that just made my anxiety worse. There was something wrong with me, and I didn’t know why.

They need you

Your child with anxiety wants you to know that they are scared and need you.

I acted out a lot at home to get attention, which usually pushed me further into isolation. Special time with my important inner circle growing up was important. Whether it was an afternoon at Chuck E Cheese or an afternoon walk around the neighborhood — it helped.

I liked feeling that closeness — I needed to know that I was okay. I couldn’t express it or understand it, but that’s what I really needed.

They need you now–more than anything else in the whole entire world.

Their anxiety may push them towards dangerous alternatives, like drug use or self-harm.

Each child is different and unique. This is a perspective I am sharing about my own unique experience. But overall, the three points in this article are essential to remember.

I learned how to make my life work with anxiety growing up. It was difficult and challenging. I had a small social circle

Knowing the signs and symptoms of anxiety is essential to prevent your child from suffering alone with mental health issues.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

Narcissism and Manipulation: How Does It Work?

Exploring the types of manipulation and why a narcissist may manipulate you.

Source: Oscar Keys on Unsplash

The word narcissist is almost synonymous with the word ‘manipulation.’ There are many misinterpretations of narcissism, so it’s essential to know the signs of narcissists and their overused tactics.

Manipulation is the way a narcissist can hold power over you. A narcissist will pull many tricks to get what they want from you. There is no situation, big or small, that would stop a narcissist from manipulating you.

Even under the court’s eyes, my narcissist still chose to manipulate and lie to me.

Clearly, manipulation can look different across the board. Let’s start by exploring what the different types of manipulation are.

Types of manipulation

The various types of manipulation are not exclusive to narcissists. Manipulation can be used by anybody — so don’t be too fast to call someone a narcissist because you recognize their behavior in this article.

There are three distinct types of manipulation that someone can use:

Guilt induction

When a narcissist makes you feel guilty, either by playing on your emotions or insecurities, or they play the victim. Essentially, they will act in a way that plays on your heartstrings, causing you to feel guilty. And just like that, you feel guilty!


This type of manipulation is more hidden. The narcissist will do all they can to get on your good side. They want to show you that they are helpful and kind in order to use that kindness to get something from you. The narcissist in my life did this all the time when they needed something from it; the kindness never lasted.


This may be the most well-known type of manipulation. Deceit is flat out lying or hiding the truth from someone. The truth can be hidden from you by withholding information or lying altogether.

Manipulation can look so different that sometimes it can be hard to see. Suppose the manipulation is concealed in helpfulness (that later leads to deceit). In that case, it may be harder to spot without a closer look.

The narcissist in my life always used guilt induction when their back was against the wall. If you confronted them on their behavior, tried to speak up against their actions, I always had the guilt trip laid on me.

Feel bad for me! It’s all your fault I’m in this situation. — It’s essentially what they’re screaming at you.

Signs of manipulation

Are you left feeling drained, run-down, and overall crappy?

Do you feel like your reality is far different from the narcissist’s?

Does it feel like, over time, their true intentions are clearly shining through? But how can manipulation look?

With the three types of manipulation in mind, here is a list of what manipulation can look like:

  • Gaslighting
  • Belittling tactics
  • Passive aggression
  • Overfriendly and helpful when out of the norm for that person
  • Blaming you for problems in their life
  • Lying by omission

The list can go on and on, but the constant theme is to bother you and stress you out, ultimately to get what they need.

Over time I began to feel like I blended in with the furniture every time they were around. Then other times, the narcissist would be overly friendly with their actions — and quickly that would cycle into deceit and anger.

While through these challenging times I learned that my response only mattered when it was what the narcissist was looking for. It’s stressful to be around the narcissist.

Why do they manipulate you?

A narcissist’s actions are all driven by self-satisfaction. A narcissist wants every one of their needs and wants to be met — without consideration of other people. But there is some ulterior motive behind their actions when they manipulate you.

I once had my narcissist (attempt) to manipulate me into removing my name from the title of my car. They spent a few weeks bringing me coffees and being extra interested in what I had to say.

All the friendly behaviors were washed away when their end goal was clear. And when I refused to take my name off that car title, I was met with destruction — I experienced a smear campaign.

I’ve cycled through their game of manipulation, as they are constantly grabbing for something they want.

I’m stuck — left to figure out what they are going after this time.

Manipulation can take on many forms and happen in a variety of settings. So knowing the signs of manipulation and types of manipulation can help you spot it.

A narcissist will stop at no ends with manipulation — but you don’t have to let that affect you. Just know that their manipulation is worthless if it doesn’t bother you.

As originally posted in Medium and NewsBreak

Anxiety and Children: The Signs and Symptoms that Parents Need to Know

The lesser-known symptoms of anxiety that children experience.

Source: Caleb Woods on Unsplash

Disclaimer: Although I have personal and professional experience in the mental health field, I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is meant for educational and entertainment purposes only. The contents of this article are not meant to diagnose, treat or cure any disorder.

Since the age of 7, I have had anxiety. Growing up, I always felt the need to make sure things were okay. I noticed things I needed to worry about. I worried about them because I genuinely believed that no one else would worry and everything would be ruined.

There were things that I felt that I needed to worry about — or else who would?

As a child, I always worried about leaving the dryer on while we left the house. I remember going out to lunch, just down the street from where we lived, with my mom. I couldn’t focus on anything. I was so terrified that I would see firefighters racing up the road towards my house.

I was scared that my house would burn down because I did not choose to stay home to watch the dryer. I didn’t even do much laundry at that age; I just believed that bad things would happen.

But all of this really got me thinking. What were the signs and symptoms of anxiety in children that aren’t well known? What makes adult anxiety different from childhood anxiety.

Signs and symptoms of anxiety in children

Not all children can express how they feel. So if a child has a lot of anxiety, they may not share that with their parents. There are many different reasons why a child may not share their feelings:

  • they don’t know what anxiety is
  • they cannot express it through words
  • they are embarrassed

From a child’s perspective, they have no idea what they are feeling is abnormal. All the child knows is worry — and that needs to be stopped. But how can we tell that a child has anxiety? Anxiety can present in physical symptoms and other behavioral symptoms, such as:

  • trouble sleeping
  • fatigue
  • headaches
  • stomachaches

Anxiety in general is a broad topic that covers many different types of anxiety.

Types of anxiety

Anxiety is more of an umbrella term. There are three different types of stress that children will commonly have:

Separation anxiety

Separation anxiety occurs when a child is distraught and upset when separated from their primary caregiver. Separation anxiety from 6 months to 3 years of age is normal, but beyond that, it is unusual.

Social Anxiety

Social anxiety occurs within social situations and Teenagers are more likely to suffer from social anxiety throughout all the developmental age groups.

Specific phobia

A specific phobia is when someone experiences anxiety around a specific circumstance. Phobias can range from fear of dogs and germs to heights and flying. Phobias can develop for a number of reasons.

If you would like to learn more about childhood anxiety, I highly encourage you to visit Child Mind.

Over time, anxiety can cause children to become isolative, develop lowered self-esteem, and begin to avoid stressors. Children avoiding stressors to cope with their anxiety will cause further issues as they grow up.

Anxiety is something that can be helped. Promoting positive mental health behaviors can help protect children.

Knowing the signs of anxiety in children, and promoting positive mental health behaviors can help your children. Of course, if you have concerns or see signs of anxiety in your child, it’s best to see their doctor.

Keep your children close, and learn about who they are. Make sure that you leave an open room for dialogue.

As originally posted on Medium and NewsBreak

Intrusive and Dominant Behavior in Relationships Can Be a Sign of Narcissism, Research Suggests

photo credit: Nartan Büyükyıldız on Unsplash

Narcissists are trapped in their own world, they cannot see beyond their own delusion

The narcissist I had within my family always seemed to twist reality. It’s as though the memories we shared were far different from each other. No memory we both shared was viewed the same way.

Any interaction with the narcissist always left me confused, upset, and slighted. I never understood why they were always quick to cast blame or judgment on me. Or how the narcissist would lie to me, when I had screenshots, and evidence to disprove their claims

How does that make sense?

I would always wave this off as the narcissist being a liar. But how can someone lie so much and seem so adamant about their false reality? There has to be some line that shows the stark difference between lying and what is their truth.

And that’s when I realized that the narcissist is highly delusional. In their world, they truly believe the lies they are sharing. For a narcissist, their lies are not lies to them — their lies are their reality.

Narcissists are trapped in their own world, they cannot see beyond their own delusion.

Now please remember that not all narcissists are like this. And not all narcissists are evil. Narcissism is a real disorder that affects real people every day.

From healing wounds about a narcissist, I’ve found that I have to do what they fail to do: see outside myself.

So I began putting myself in the shoes of the narcissists that I had in my life — I began to see their reality.

This does not excuse, nor does this allow for further mistreatment — but rather, it gives us an idea of who they really are.

Understanding a narcissist’s viewpoint may help give you some answers, and help you find your peace with them.

Narcissism is a clinically diagnosed disorder

According to the DSM-5, narcissism is formally called: narcissistic personality disorder.

The key for a clinical diagnosis for narcissism — or any mental disorder — is consistent behavior patterns. Isolated incidents that happen infrequently (i.e., lying) are not enough to meet diagnostic criteria for narcissism.

For the complete diagnostic criteria for DSM-5 Revised criteriaplease click here.

I will be explaining the criteria step by step to help you understand how narcissism is clinically defined.

Below are the summarized versions of the DSM-5 Revised criteria:

Impairments in either identity or self-direction

This means that there are issues with someone’s functioning that are impacting daily life. This can include arrogant behavior, exaggerated achievements, preoccupation with fantasies of success, wealth, power, etc., lacking empathy, and the need for excessive admiration.

An issue with identity or self-direction can really stem from feeling insecure. Narcissists require the attention of others and need to be seen as the best. This runs back to a narcissist not truly knowing who they are.

Narcissists need the praise of others, so they constantly have to work to be the best and stay the best all the time.

A narcissist’s consistent behavior patterns, combine with their slew of negative symptoms can lead them to struggle within their life.

Impairments in interpersonal functioning such as empathy and intimacy

Interpersonal functioning, from a clinical standpoint, is based on how someone functions within their relationships. Relationships aren’t just romantic — they extend to any relationship. Relationships can include friends, neighbors, coworkers, and so on.

When reviewing interpersonal functioning, it is important to look at the stability of all relationships that a narcissist has over time. Are their relationships typically easygoing, or is there always an edge to their relationships?

For example, the narcissist in my life never had any real friends. Yes, we heard about the narcissist’s soccer friends, but we never saw any close friends. It seemed that any friends this narcissist had were kept at a distance.

When we review the inner workings of a narcissist’s friendships, we can begin to see the impact of their negative symptoms. Research has shown that a narcissist may be more likely to be vengeful, overly dominant in relationships, and even including intrusive behavior.

With vengeful, dominant, and intrusive behavior, there will be instability in all relationships. The negative symptoms associated with narcissism are often shown through their relationships.

Personality traits involving grandiosity and attention-seeking

Narcissists believe that they are the best thing that has ever walked the Earth. A narcissist’s self-worth is really tied to the praise they get from those around them.

With a lack of identity and a narcissist constantly having to work to be the best, they can burn some people along the way. But grandiose behavior doesn’t automatically come from someone thinking they are the best — it can stem from insecurity.

Remember, a narcissist is not void of feelings — everyone has feelings and can be close to a person. But narcissists can lose the people that they care about due to their behavior.

With grandiosity, there is an attention-seeking aspect that may be more noticeable. They want to be seen as the best to fulfill that insecurity they have about themselves.

Important diagnostic factors that need to be considered

The criteria discussed above must be stable and consistent throughout a person’s life, cannot be explained by another medical condition, or considered normal for their developmental stage or socio-cultural environment.

This is a quick story on what criteria a narcissist needs to meet. Just because someone was mean to you or rude to you does not qualify them as a narcissist.

Narcissism is a real disorder that has a daily impact on someone’s functioning.

A key point that isn’t discussed by the DSM-5 is the lack of awareness of one’s own functioning. Someone with narcissism doesn’t flat out know that their intentions are twisted. This is their reality, and that’s what they believe. No matter what someone says, this is what a narcissist will believe.

So this can fall under delusional behavior when you are faced with a narcissist.

How does this change things?

In terms of dealing with a narcissist, it isn’t going to change your situation much. But what it can do is help give you more understanding and give some explanation.

The next time you interact with a narcissist in your life, you can understand that their behavior is a pattern. A pattern is predictable, so you can more easily understand the narcissist.

Why fight someone who doesn’t see reality in the same way? If you do, you might want to bang your head against the wall — you’ll get the same outcome.

I want to explain this to other people who may be struggling with a narcissist in their life. I know it’s hard. Wanting to get a narcissist to understand the pain they have caused — but they won’t see eye to eye with you.

A narcissist will never see what you see.

Much like someone with active visual hallucinations, you cannot tell them that something isn’t right in front of them — even though you can’t see it.

To a narcissist, their lies are true. Why spend any time telling the narcissist that their truth isn’t reality? It’s what’s real for them, and it’s what they believe.

Suppose you can’t make sense of a situation with a narcissist, where it seems that they are making stuff up or lying to you. Remember that you are not wrong; you are dealing with someone who is not fully in touch with reality.

No amount of proof, evidence, or logic will prevail over their lies.

When I realized this, my relationship with the narcissist changed. I didn’t need to disprove their lies — I didn’t need to do anything.

If a narcissist’s lies are truly what they believe, then you cannot argue with that.

As hard as it is, you will need to accept that this is how it will be with a narcissist.



Disclaimer: I am not a licensed mental health professional. The information contained in this article is for educational and entertainment purposes only. This information is not meant to diagnose anyone but rather to spread awareness and start a conversation. Thanks!



As Originally Posted on Medium and NewsBreak