When healthy people feel upset about something, they may get angry. But toxic people don’t just get mad – they seethe – and wage a devious smear campaign.
One of the clearest indicators you’ve got a mentally unstable person on your hands is smear campaigning. Smear campaigners carefully and strategically use lies, exaggerations, suspicions and false accusations to try destroying your credibility. They hide behind a cloak of upstanding heroism and feigned innocence in an attempt to make as many people as possible think their efforts are based not on their vindictiveness, but on upstanding concern.
As a smeared person, what you are most likely “guilty” of is saying no to someone who is, in some way, failing to respect your boundaries, refusing to follow the same rules as everyone else, or someone who is spreading toxicity and manipulating. Someone entitled. Someone sneaky and vindictive. Someone who is hurting you or taking too much.
While standing up for yourself is the right thing to do, toxic people simply don’t believe you have any right to refuse their mistreatment, and they will set out to “punish” you for having any opinions that differ from theirs.
Virtually all smear campaigners can be counted on to have traits of “Cluster B” personality disorders. Narcissists and sociopaths are among the most virulent smear campaigners, and histrionic and borderline people may also opt to smear those who upset them. Not surprisingly, these four disorders are classified as the “dramatic and erratic” high-conflict personalities.
Narcissists can fly into a vindictive narcissistic rage if questioned instead of receiving compliance with their demands. Sociopaths often have anger management issues and are driven solely by their own wishes, without regard for the rights of others or for consequences. Histrionic people create drama and conflict wherever possible, and they require little to no incentive to do so. People with borderline personality disorder have difficulty controlling their emotional reactions, and may become intensely angered by what others interpret to be minor matters.
Regardless of the reason for the smearing, all smear campaigns work virtually the same way, following a very predictable pattern of the usual dirty tricks and underlying motives. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the anatomy of the smear campaign.
This is part 1 in a 5 part series on smear campaigns. For part 2, click here.
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