Other Let's talk about indoctrination and brainwashing.

Also, it doesn't feel like it's the adult part of my brain that is struggling with this stuff.

It feels like a very young part of my brain - a toddler - that's clinging to the "nice" part of the narcissistic abuse with a vengance and refuses to let go.

I think the arguments I use to counter the brainwashing need to be kind of "dumbed down" to a 2 year old's level... Well not dumbed down, but you know what I mean... Simplified... Something that makes sense to a really little kid... Trying to argue with my brain about it on an adult level just has no effect at all.
 
I think you have a few cognitive distortions to break through.

I also wonder, if logical responses/counter messages aren't working because you are actually dealing with a younger part? A part that doesn't understand words and needs more tactile things? I know this abuse happened to you as an adult, but maybe it is a younger part that is believing all this. Might be worth a try to try something tactile even if you don't believe this?
I find that hugging myself or speaking out loud helps sooth younger parts.
 
I think the arguments I use to counter the brainwashing need to be kind of "dumbed down" to a 2 year old's level... Well not dumbed down, but you know what I mean... Simplified... Something that makes sense to a really little kid...
Yes! Some words that a 2yo can understand are DANGER and BAD! Whenever they start in on feeling like the guy was the love of your life use those very direct words. You are the adult and you know what’s best for all of your parts.
 
How on earth do you start undoing brainwashing?
Rose and Moving gave some good tips, but I also want to say that this is a process. It's not something that has easily identifiable steps, but if there were steps, the first step is to cut off contact with him and to refuse to say anything that justifies his treatment toward you. That's step one. Step two, would then be to start untangling the amount of nonsense framework he laid down in your mind. It takes a while for brainwashing to happen, so it takes a while to dissolve it all, but it does get easier.

Even now I get tripped up by feelings of loyalty and disgust etc. reflecting what they used to as a child. But I refuse to justify what my traffickers and instructors did to me. I refuse to say that it was OK, or to condone it. And then, I have to start to slowly put my fingers under all those tracks that they laid down in my brain, and prise them up and out. It will take a long time, but it is possible.

And I did do a lot of this on my own, so you don't necessarily require a therapist for this part of the process. I did attend a deprogramming institute here, at Romeo Dallaire, and that definitely helped providing me the tools to disengage with some of this stuff. You have to learn about trauma, about how what they did was wrong, about how those beliefs are wrong, about how we should actually be communicating as human beings and getting our needs met, what our actual human rights really are.

Then, in adulthood, I had clinicians in and out who were adequate/mediocre and I assume you could also access something to this effect, but they really didn't have the skills to deprogram me. So as an adult I continued the process on my own using that foundation from RD. But that really is what it boils down to. To recognize that you were a victim, that there is a linear causality to the things that happened to you.

They happened in a sequence, it wasn't just boom whew, there you are, doing/believing all this shit.
 
This might not apply to you, but it might be worth considering. I don't think people on the narcissist spectrum establish relationships at random. They're looking for people they can work with. Some time back, one of my friends here on the forum told me I'd been "raised to be food for narcissists". When I thought about it, I could see the sense to it. There was a lot of that dynamic going on in my family of origin and my main role in the family was to be "wrong". Which is a world view that a narcissist can definitely work with. I've come to believe that they tend not to waste their time and effort on people who are too difficult. They seek out relationships with people who they believe can and will meet their needs. (Just like anyone else does. It's the needs that are different.)

So, thinking about that "part" that is kind of stuck on the old relationship, is there anything about the relationship that seems familiar? We grow up thinking our lives are "normal" whatever they are. Sometimes we repeat old patterns hoping we'll finally get them right and then things will be ok.

I think an important thing to remember is, by definition, you CAN'T get it "right", no matter how hard you try. That's hard to accept, but it's true. Maybe it's especially hard for a child to understand that.

What's his relationship like with other people who've been in his life long term? Does he have any loyal, life long friends? Family? What are his relationships like with the people he works with? A narcissist doesn't treat everyone the same, they have different needs met by different people. They're always a narcissist though. And the reason they don't "get over it" is that they don't see a problem with THEM, any problems are with someone else.
 
I found Daniel Shaw’s books on Traumatic Narcissism helpful.
Thanks for the recommendation. I bought it as an audiobook and am listening to it atm.

This might not apply to you, but it might be worth considering. I don't think people on the narcissist spectrum establish relationships at random. They're looking for people they can work with. Some time back, one of my friends here on the forum told me I'd been "raised to be food for narcissists". When I thought about it, I could see the sense to it. There was a lot of that dynamic going on in my family of origin and my main role in the family was to be "wrong". Which is a world view that a narcissist can definitely work with. I've come to believe that they tend not to waste their time and effort on people who are too difficult. They seek out relationships with people who they believe can and will meet their needs. (Just like anyone else does. It's the needs that are different.)
I agree with this to some degree, but in other ways I do not. I think it's shaky ground, because it basically is equivalent to victim blaming. We don't tell people who were raped that they should've been better able to spot the rapist, been able to set better boundaries or that they wouldn't have been the rapist's target if they'd had better self-esteem. And I think that's something that tends to get done to victims of narcissist perps. It used to be thought that only meek, co-dependent people with low self-esteem got victimised by narcissists, but newer data is showing that's not the case. Narcissists often also like to seek out "trophy wife" type partners - people that are successful, doing well, are admired, etc - so some narcissists actually target people who are at the top of their game, confident, comfortable, etc, while other narcissists seek out the meek/ low-self-confidence types, or maybe narcissists seek out both types, depending on the situation and depending on what their aims are.

So yes, I think it's worth doing some self-inspection and looking at how one's own dynamics contributed to not spotting the narcissist straight away, but I don't think it's applicable or helpful to do it in the kind of victim blaming sense I described above.

In my case, I don't think it's a coincidence that this only happened to me at the end of my 30s. In younger years, I was careful to the point of hypervigilance, not to get involved with destructive people. But once I'd completed trauma therapy, I had started feeling more confident in my mid 30s and was being less hypervigilant because I figured I'd be able to deal with whatever outcome arose. I'd have never, ever, ever gotten into this type of relationship when I was younger. My functioning then was totally fear-based, so I'd simply not have taken the risk. Later in life, when I was doing well, feeling confident and able to take more (calculated, vetted) risks - that's when I allowed this f*ckhead into my life. I booted him out as soon as I realised what was going on - so there was no needy, co-dependent behaviour there in terms of staying in a harmful relationship... But the problem is that even though I got him the hell out of my life as soon as things got weird and destructive, it was already too late to have averted the damage he'd done, especially to my subconscious, and I've been trying to cope with the fallout ever since.
 
Even now I get tripped up by feelings of loyalty and disgust etc. reflecting what they used to as a child. But I refuse to justify what my traffickers and instructors did to me. I refuse to say that it was OK, or to condone it. And then, I have to start to slowly put my fingers under all those tracks that they laid down in my brain, and prise them up and out. It will take a long time, but it is possible.
This is my issue (*heavy sigh*). The absolute devotion. Still. It’s no longer absolute, but there’s still heavy serves of devotion.

The cognitive dissonance that our brain learns to live with, long after we’ve extracted ourselves, that somehow: x is totally abhorrent, but what we were doing was so completely different and enlightened…all the while knowing it isn’t different at all, and yet still not being able to easily distinguish…or something.

There was a lot of dogma with my experience, which one of my parts will never be able to ‘un’learn. And to that extent, I think I’ve abandoned the concept of deprogramming. There isn’t a faulty chip in my brain that can be extracted.

Maybe it’s something else, akin to Post Traumatic Growth. Like, post-brainwashing growth. Relighting neural pathways that got shut down or something. Idk. Just, it will never be gone - the trick seems to be gradually letting go of how much it dictates your life now?
 
I didn't intend to be blaming anyone in that comment. I'm not convinced that "blame" is very useful.

I DO think it's useful to look at contributing factor, even if the victim is doing some of the contributing. Maybe especially if they are. We can control our own behavior, after all. Even using the example of rape, I don't think you can reasonably expect someone who wants to be a rapist not to rape someone. Absolutely rape is wrong. They will be totally responsible for the rape, for sure. The fact is, they won't CARE. They got what they wanted and that's all that matters to them. Same with a narcissist. All they care about is what THEY want and what THEY think they need. You can blame them till the cows come home. It won't change anything. Trying to understand what they're looking for has more potential to help, I think.

So, I'm not saying it was my FAULT I was raised to be "food for narcissists", just that it's a thing and tends to make one a target. I don't think of myself as "weak and co-dependent". I have a suspicion my ex thought that some level of co-dependence was possible, though. He made the mistake of making me angry. He should have tried making me feel sorry for him, it would have worked better. When he tried to scare me it made me mad & that was the end. Narcissists aren't perfect, they just think they are.
 
And to that extent, I think I’ve abandoned the concept of deprogramming.
I feel you. When I use the phrase I tend to refer to the very serious after effects of my brainwashing which resulted in a lot of violence and destruction. To that end I was successfully "deprogrammed" (my phone said reprogrammed and that's probably also true) but the idea that I will ever be 100% free from their shit? Nah, that'll probably never happen. So I get you.
 
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