Understanding the Psychological Signals in my First Book
I didn’t want to overtly point out the obvious psychological signals exhibited by the characters in my new book, How To Sacrifice Your Lover, but I also wanted to make sure that you, as the reader, were ushered into understanding them. One of the biggest challenges I faced when writing this book was finding a technique and writing style that would convey the book’s meaning without actually giving away the book’s secrets. Many of the book’s secrets are revealed in the Epilogue.
But I also have to understand that people who read the book will have varying backgrounds with varying levels of experience dealing with psychological personality disorders. Some readers may have no experience with these things at all. Some may have family members or friends with these same kinds of conditions. Some readers might even be professional psychologists, looking for an amateur anecdotal account of what happens when these personalities collide.
So I leave it to the reader to choose how much you want to arm yourself with information and insight regarding these kinds of things.
If you would rather experience the book as it is intended, where the main character, Yuki, is behaving in his natural way, knowing very little about his own psychology, nor the psychology of those close to him, I would encourage you to stop reading this blog post right here (as it might spoil the experience for you).
But for those of you who would rather take an informed view of the book, rather than simply soak in its hidden meanings, continue reading.
Disclaimer: Note that I am not a licensed psychiatrist, psychologist, or therapist. I am just relaying personal experiences and perceptions.
Psychological Concepts Within
In a nutshell, this book is about what it is like to meet, stand across from, and stare into the eyes of a charismatic individual who suffers from Borderline Personality Disorder, and is an anecdotal observation of 3 big psychological topics (although it touches and observes many others).
1. Gaslighting is a term for a well-studied, documented, and academically accepted form of psychological abuse where one person gains power over another to such an extent that they are capable of rewriting their reality. You don’t have to be simple-minded to fall for this. Intelligent people are victims of gaslighting every day.
2. Borderline Personality Disorder is a very serious “Cluster B” personality disorder that manifests itself as a tornado of love, a tornado of destruction, impulsiveness, a bottomless pit of neediness (due to constant feelings of emptiness), self-harm (cutting behavior is common), occasional dissociation, and an intense attraction to psychopathic/sociopathic romantic relationships.
3. The Guru-Disciple relationship is a relationship between a master and a slave. The Guru is often a cult leader, political leader, business leader, or a powerful charismatic social character. A disciple is a person who works in the service of the leader, hoping to learn from the guru, achieve the guru’s success for themselves, or get closer to the guru.
The 3 of these things when put together make a volatile cocktail. Consider the BPD Guru. People with Borderline Personality Disorder are already natural gaslighters due to the extreme black-and-white nature of their emotional attachments, fear of abandonment, and deep need to keep others near to take care of their needs. They have an emotional intensity that can be unmatched when they meet new people making them natural gurus in social settings. The BPD Guru’s natural ability to quickly form intense bonds with people, and their natural need to groom others to be near and ready when their romantic relationships fail can create much chaos. Their loved ones often work tirelessly in their service to prove their love for them, but to the person with BPD, it is never enough, because a person with BPD although possibly being of good intentions, feels empty and alone inside at all times. The ones who love them become their disciples, slaves, pouring all their love into and emptying their pockets in the service of their guru who seems unable to be appeased at any cost. The BPD Guru is often obsessed with appearances, due to intense paranoia of real or imagined pending abandonment, and is unable to publicly confront their own faults for fear that they will lose favor and be abandoned by their friends, lovers, and peers, so any attempts to point out their bad behaviors result in ex-communication, vilification, or wrath. To continue to stay close to this person means that you have to be willing to accept their lies and half-truths. Out of necessity, BPD individuals learn to become naturally gifted liars in order to preserve their appearances of being perfect, and the people who care about them end up accepting their lies as truth in order to preserve the deep emotional investment they’ve made in them. In effect, it is natural that the BPD Guru is able to rewrite the realities of those who love them.
The term, “Gaslighting” has been thrown around loosely in social media and therefore in social circles. I think it is this way because people are uninformed and looking for a label to attach to the chaos in their relationships. A simple lie is not gaslighting, but it is one of many components that, when used together, create an environment where one person has intense control and influence over another person’s reality. My take on it is that it is a form of psychological abuse/manipulation that, when used to extremes, can result in the formation of a guru->disciple relationship. Once a guru wins a disciple, the guru has control over them and the disciple looks to the guru, alone, for truth and enlightenment, thereby giving the guru control over what the disciple perceives as reality.
You see this in political gaslighting and religious gaslighting, as dictators, cult leaders will employ gaslighting techniques to establish and keep themselves in power. But the same thing applies to relationship gaslighting. Regardless of whether it is political gaslighting (Donald Trump), religious gaslighting (Jonestown Massacre, Scientology, Branch Davidians), corporate (Theranos, Enron), financial gaslighting (Amway), relationship, or another kind of gaslighting, the process of creating a guru->disciple relationship is the same.
How a Guru-Disciple Relationship is formed
- Power Imbalance – There is a huge power imbalance, real or perceived. The guru has much charisma and social sway (or money, fame, political power, status), while the disciple wants to be in the guru’s favor.
- The Love Bomb – The guru dishes out a “love bomb” to incite euphoria in the disciple. This love bomb is extreme and addictive, especially considering the power imbalance perceived. It can be as simple as staring into someone’s eyes, or it could be a stack of cash, stock options, fancy cars, vacations, private jets. In religious cults, various psychological tricks are often employed to cause members of the congregation to feel like they’ve been touched by god or angels… although this is just a real, scientifically explainable phenomenon. Regardless of how the euphoria is invoked, the disciple gets a taste of the thing they seek.
- Working and Tasking – The love bomb stops and guru uses mostly-negative sentiment (“you need to do better”) peppered with positive-reinforcement to keep the relationship off-balance and confusing. By talking down to the disciple, the guru is establishing dominance, in effect saying “I am better than you! You need to work hard to get what I have!” The disciple looks up, the guru, looks down. The disciple is motivated by the euphoria felt during the initial “love bomb” phase, and is basically willing to do anything to get those feelings back. Confusion is a key weapon, because the more confused the disciple is, the more control over his/her perception of reality the guru will eventually possess. The aim is to keep the disciple constantly working in the service of the guru, looking to the guru for truth, information, knowledge, enlightenment, explanation, favorable treatment, and/or love.
- Information Control – The guru denies provable facts, yet the disciple agrees to accept the Guru’s reality. The disciple is now fully in the cult. The disciple will now reject any information that doesn’t come from the guru and isn’t favorable to the guru’s interest. The guru maintains control over sources of information, often with physical barriers (Jonestown was cut off from all external communication), or with the pure charisma of the guru alone. The guru tells the disciple that everyone else is a liar, and that the cult the disciple has joined is the only good one. Once a disciple is fully indoctrinated, the guru can focus on other disciples.
- Loyalty – If the disciple wants to leave the “cult”, they are first lured back in with positive reinforcement, weak promises, or in some cases, they will be threatened with humiliation or excommunication. Furthermore, the threat of excommunication means that if the disciple leaves, they will also potentially lose favor with people they are close to inside the cult, including the favor of the guru him/herself who the disciple may see as the most important person in their life.
There are 11 red flags to look out for that make all of this possible. Look for them when reading my book. These 11 red flags are my paraphrase of a Psychology Today article on the subject of Relationship Gaslighting.
- Withholding what is valuable to you
- Words without action / words not matching actions
- Controlling sources of information
- Denying provable realities / rewriting versions of events
- Making weak promises, unkept, upon completion of certain tasks
- Vilifying defectors
- Positive reinforcement used as confusion
- Using confusion as a weakening mechanism
- Aligning people against each other… “they’re all liars”
- Wearing down slowly with time
- Blatant lies
Reread the above list and imagine how you yourself might become a cult leader using all of the 11 concepts above together, in concert…. Then imagine that someone you love is using those exact same ideas to exert control over you in a relationship.
Borderline Personality Disorder
People with BPD can be intensely hyper-reactive to facial expressions and generally hyper-emotional. Stand in front of them and offer them love… they will beam it back at you 10x and make you love them more and more and more. This is a thing I called the “feedback loop” in my book and both Yuki and Inari appear to be addicted to the feelings they reflect upon each other. However, when you’re not in front of a BPD person, their attention is elsewhere. This hyper-emotional nature contributes to their impulsivity. Their impulses cause them to make promises that they quickly break. It might be as simple as “I’m coming over in 15 minutes” only to never show up at all, and stop answering the phone. Their impulses might trigger them to believe that you don’t love them at all despite your attempts to bluntly and blatantly declare it with both words and actions. They also might just be hyper-focused on whoever else is in front of them at the given moment and simply forget that they told you they’d call you back in 5 minutes. Their fears of abandonment will cause them to tirelessly work to groom other people to catch them should they fall, and when you’re not standing in front of them, they’re off grooming others to join their club/cult/harem. During these times, simple promises will be broken… you might feel like you don’t even exist. In my case, I was 100% convinced “Inari” was in love with me one minute, but then forgotten the next and it drove me completely up the wall. What she called “insomnia”, I allege, was actually her staying up all night talking on the phone with others she was grooming. In fact, it is a common pattern for people with BPD to disrespect their committed relationships, because they are tirelessly concerned with grooming their “friends” to serve them to varying degrees, and they feel a lesser need to groom a committed relationship or spouse.
People with BPD often invoke PTSD in the people they get close to, as the people who love them are often subjected to wild twists and turns in their relationships with them. This person may be or seem to be, a covert narcissist. There’s a lot of overlap in traits, but a couple of special traits really set them apart from a covert narcissist, principally: 1) Dissociation under stress, often resulting in “cutting” behavior, sex impulses, and drug addiction, or other bizarre random in-the-moment behaviors and 2) Hyperreactivity to facial expressions (aforementioned), sometimes to such an extent that they might even believe they have a 6th sense of being an “empath” capable of feeling the emotions of everyone in a room. This sense will often draw them to be close to sociopaths/psychopaths… emotionless people. This is a serious brain condition that causes much destruction to the people who love them. Thankfully there are some therapies that seem to help, but achieving a diagnosis typically takes more than a year.
It is difficult to dig up this part of my past. The events in this book were real and tirelessly documented in journals from the time that I obsessed over daily, simply due to the amount of social stress I was feeling. Whereas the actions and words and events were all thoroughly documented, I didn’t understand what it meant until very recently, summer 2021. So as I wrote this, the experiences of the book and an entire decade of my life following the end of the book were being rediscovered, twisted, reexamined, and reexperienced as something new, different, dark, and cruel… because although I had heard terms, like “gaslighting” and “borderline personality disorder”, I didn’t really pay attention to the definitions and I didn’t really know how to recognize any of the red flags or understand how they could damage me. And even if I understood what could happen, it wouldn’t have necessarily stopped me from diving headfirst towards the most charismatic, beautiful, charming, and sweet girl I ever met in my life. It would have taken me weeks or even months to observe all the red flags. Someone with BPD doesn’t exactly wear their diagnosis on a name tag.
If you asked her, NONE OF THIS HAPPENED. Inari very recently proclaimed “All that stuff you wrote about 10 years was absolute garbage! I don’t know where you came up with all that crap!” I worry all the time that people will choose to believe the charismatic guru, rather than the tireless author who put 8000+ hours of his life into carefully documenting and recreating the bizarre 90-day rollercoaster ride that it is to meet and stand across from and fall in love with a Borderline Personality.