“How can you be so young and know so much about narcissism and psychopathy?” I’ve been met with this question frequently as an author in my twenties who writes about psychological abuse and covert emotional predators. The answer is, on the surface, simple: the child of a narcissistic parent becomes primed to meet more predators in adulthood. We tend to have porous boundaries, a high degree of empathy, resilience and intuition that gets used against us by toxic people. So we often go through a lifetime’s worth of experiences early on that give us hard-won wisdom and insights about toxic people at every point on the spectrum.
I’ve met toxic people across various contexts – from romantic to platonic to professional. From the familial to the foe. From the garden-variety narcissist to the eerie psychopath or sociopath (colloquial terms for those with antisocial traits and a lack of conscience).
I took my findings from childhood and supplemented my real-life experiences with an educational background in psychology and sociology in adulthood. I spent years communicating with and surveying survivors of covert emotional abuse about their experiences.
As a result, I learned not only to identify predators, but to study them, to find ways to counter their manipulative tactics and help other survivors like myself detach and heal.
Here are eleven things I learned about sociopaths, narcissists and toxic people by the age of twenty-seven – that I think everyone should know…
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