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The Gray Rock Method of Dealing With Psychopaths — 190 Comments

  1. Pingback:The Smart Girl’s Guide to No Contact and Detaching From Toxic Relationships | Self-Care Haven

  2. This is so hard for me. It is as if something takes over my entire being and I don’t have time or ability to direct my thoughts to a rational place, and instead, I am overcome with a driving compulsion to make it known to them, that they aren’t fooling me. Perhaps it is due to feeling stripped of all my power, as a result of being tricked by P-1 and P-2. It’s like self preservation, or something to that affect, when I let them know they aren’t fooling me. Cognitively, I know it is the wrong approach, and in turn, I want it to stop, but I dont know how to control it. It feels like an impulsive compulsion, if such a thing exists. I do know that I am verbally impulsive, in general, but I continue to hold out hope, that I can in fact, resolve the need to let tricksters know that they aren’t fooling me.

    • Hi Shane, I hear you! When we feel so “stripped” of power, we grab at straws to get the power back. The trick is taking the REAL power back, which involves self-control and doesn’t really feel powerful at the time. The trouble with letting them know they haven’t tricked us is that they don’t care a whit about that. If they can keep us responding — playing into their game — then they HAVE tricked us! Silence and lack of any emotional response is the only thing they have no weapons against. You wouldn’t want to give weapons to your enemies, right? I’m so glad I finally got it through my thick skull that I was giving weapons to my enemy, and so I shut up. Those spaths are very persistent, though. It’s been 10 years and he still tries to contact me from time to time. But ‘”This phone number is no longer in service”! Good luck!

      • Thank you for that, LDMAH ! I’ve saved your post to my desktop (I hope you don’t mind). I can use it as an affirmation of sorts. A most profound way to view it. Cheers!

    • Shane, I’m going to throw this out there for contemplation: that compulsion to tell “those people” all about themselves is (for me) a frantic effort to make them understand that I “see” what they are and that they should feel some sense of guilt and Do Something to make amends.

      Once I gained acceptance that these people simply **do not care,** gray rock became a breeze to practice. When I type that they don’t care, there can be NO other interpretation. It’s not that they just need help to understand, or anything that complex. They literally DO NOT CARE. We have a difficult time trying to process this fact because we cannot imagine “not caring” about another person, or persons.

      On http://www.familyarrested.com, there is a gut-wrenching article about “Charity Lee” that thoroughly examines a psychopath’s level of wanton disregard and how deeply and completely cognitive dissonance can run.

      We just don’t exist in the same universe – thank Gawd!

      • Thank you, Truthspeak! I know this and accepted it long, ago, yet, for some reason, I still have this NEED to tell them that they are not fooling me. I have to devise an effective strategy to utilize when the situation presents itself. I will have a look at the link you’ve posted, and I truly appreciate it! x

        • Shane, I completely understand your NEED to “tell’ em” and I practiced that “need” until I almost went crazy, I kept trying to find WORDS to reach them…and of course, Truthy is absolutely RIGHT…they do NOT CARE…none, zip, nada, NO caring at all, in fact, when they hurt us and we let them know how badly they hurt us they go CHA-CHING!!!!! It is empowering to them to know that their bullets hit the mark and that we are bleeding profusely and in pain.

          In reading the drivel on line that they post…to sniff them out, I look for INCONSISTENCIES in their posting. It is the same with people who are not posting on line, but are in our lives. They may “confess” to having been hateful, etc in the past, but NOW they are reforming, and the previous victim of their attacks is now attacking them back (“unfairly” of course! LOL) and when confronted about their past behavior they will say “oh, it really wasn’t all that bad” I wasn’t a full fledged abuser, and besides I have repented and c hanged, and they will try for the PITY PLOY…you have it all wrong, you are abusing me now.

          Even when we do disengage, and tell them so…they come back and come back trying to suck us back into their conversations and manipulations…the MOST POWERFUL WEAPON WE HAVE AGAINST THEM IS NC (or failing that, Gray Rock) just do NOT feed them. No discussions about how they need to change or wise up, or what they ahve done or are doing JUST SILENCE.

          One time a friend of mine had a boy friend who was abusive and he hated me, and I treated him like a POTTED PLANT….if we were in the same room I did not acknowledge his presence any more than I would have a potted plant. I didn’t even let my body language acknowledge when he was talking to me. IT DROVE HIM CRAZY!!!! He was furious that I would not interact with him. She eventually got away from that jerk, but while she was interacting with him (he was also her land lord) I wasn’t going to let him drive me away from her, isolate her from her friends, and it made him furious, so he kept trying to get me to talk to him or even acknowledge he was talking to me. NOPE!!!!

          ANY attention, even negative attention, is still FOOD to them. It feeds them and makes them want MORE. NC or GRAY ROCK is very painful to them because they can’t manipulate us if we don’t respond.

          So yea, Shane we MUST MAKE OURSELVES go against our natural inclination to tell’em off….and with time and practice it will get easier. I promise.

          • Thank you, oxdrover! I do know you are right and I agree with everything you’ve stated, but I need to figure out how not act on the compulsion. It is incredibly powerful. I think it makes me feel like they haven’t taken anything from me, and perhaps that is why I do it. I know full well that they don’t care, but that never plays into it for me.

          • I like your example of being in the same room with someone toxic and simply ignoring them, to carry on with the conversation and interaction with the non-toxic people.

          • Jill, years ago, I was consulting with a holistic practitioner. I was full of anxiety, etc., and very sick. Well, this guy addressed this anxiety about other people in a very interesting manner.

            When confronted with toxic individuals, this guy suggested that I view them as a cardboard cutout, literally. He suggested that the cutouts had no features, or colors – just a gray bit of cardboard cut out in the shape of a person that had no personal connection to me, on any level.

            Now, this seemed as “far out” as “staying in the now,” and I had NO idea of how vital this practice would become. Gray rock is the only reasonable method of dealing with people that we have no option to avoid. In the workplace, or even in our own family structures, there will be toxic people around us for our entire lives. And, this doesn’t mean that we are obligated to be predated. We have the option of treating these people like they are simply rocks or cardboard cutouts – whatever works. But, giving them NOTHING of ourselves leaves them NOTHING to work with.

            Shunning, ignoring, gray rock, cardboard cutout…….whatever works, but they aren’t worthy or deserving of our attention or energy.

        • oh, crikey, I didnt intend to click submit. my curser slipped. Anyway, I am just thinking that, I do this in defense of other people, in addition to myself. For instance, I was at one time, utilizing a forum for Autism related things, and there were folks there, that were extremely manipulative and, although their manipulative tactics were directed towards someone else, I HAD TO let the perpetrator know that I saw through the BS.

          • Shane, OxD typed it spot-on.

            Even negative attention (I know what you are and what you’re doing) is still attention. If you get a chance to read the article about “Charity Lee,” on familyarrested.com, you’ll be able to clearly observe the psychopath’s manipulations as a means to re-murder, over and over. Even negative attention creates a physical response in “these people” that actually compares to s-exual arousal in its intensity. Yeah……sounds crazy, but it’s a world in which I have no place.

  3. Ah, thank you, Truthspeak. I think if I condition myself to think of the action I take, as still being a means of satisfaction for them, I may find success. I think this is the reason why LDMAH’s post feels like a plausible way for me to go about thinking of it, as well, and in turn, could help me refrain from blowing up the perps intention. I will try to put everyone’s suggestions into action. Or, at least keep them at the forefront of my mind…

    • Shane, believe me when I say I KNOW the compulsion to want to tell’em off! Call’em out!!!! But our REAL POWER over them to actually injure their nacissistic mind set is to IGNORE THEM.

      I[‘m sure you have seen on blogs (or maybe in real life too) people who will come back adn say “You’ve got it all wrong about me, I’m a pitiful needy person and you can’t kick me when I’m down.” LOL They are using the pity ploy on us to try to make us feel sorry for them. And in the past, I have fallen for the Pity ploy or the “tell’em off” tactic but NC and Gray rock are MUCH MORE EFFECTIVE in showing them YOUR POWER.

      “Shunning” is used as a powerful tool in some religious orders when a member fails to behave in an acceptable manner. In prison “solitary” confinement is the same tactic…it deprives the offender of all their entertainment of interaction with other people…and people are herd animals, we want contact with other people as part of our physical and mental make up. It is bred into our bones.

      So that’s the thing we must work on is using the tools that WORK against them. “Solitary” and “shunning” and refusal to allow them to manipulate us into more contact with them. You can do it Shane.

      So you know I think this whole “episode” has been a good learning experience for us all.

        • Shane, it’s also a good learning experience to “spot the tells.”

          Spotting the tells and refusing to engage is not being “mean” or a reflection of disrespect for ALL human beings. We are allowed to pick and choose those people that will be in our inner circle. If we understand that we don’t need another person’s approval and that we each have everything that we need, already in side us, we don’t have to allow ourselves to FEEL obligated to explain or defend ourselves – OR, to give any part of our own personal feelings or beliefs away.

          Now, it takes practice, but it does become easier and more effective. It’s not a act of vengeance, punishment, or malice. It’s simply a choice to protect ourselves from toxic people. 🙂

  4. You have to have a strong mind when doing that because they will try to get you to doubt yourself, with any information they may have gathered on you over the years.. They will package it in their most powerful delivery and send er a flying. Just let it fly on by without notice.

    • frontlinegirl, you are right, they will try to wiggle in on us but we just have to duck and keep on walking when they sling stuff at us. ANY action on our part with these people is going to give them ammunition.

  5. Ive been with my spath for a while, ( still not out) but have learned to cope with it by implementing a few of your techniques, and some of my own. Ive got my own little collection of Hodgepodge strategies that seem to work now. But Ive learned they are ever so inventive and are good at developing new ways to mess with you. One you know how they operate you can almost predict them.
    I have to thank Skyler and the people that have contributed to this site, as it has helped educate me on what I was dealing with. 🙂

  6. Pingback:The Gray Rock Method (or, the Grey Rock Method)* | A Cry For Justice

  7. The Danger Of Longterm Use Of This Method

    I recently discovered your work and must say I am quite impressed. Thank you for the thoughtful insights. I have been using what you call “the gray rock” method for most of my life. I was not consciously applying this method in as much as using it as fluidly as anyone does when they back on a bike–you just ride. While I agree that it is more of a tactic than a strategy, I unfortunately used it more liberally than I should have. Here is a brief synopsis:

    There is a large amount of psychopathy present in my family (my dad, a great deal in my mother and especially in her mother). I left home as a teenager and with the exception of the occasional call to psycho-granny, I went no contact for over 10 years. I was not aware of this at the time, but looking back all of the pretty girls I dated and fell in love with all had something in common, they all fell unusually high on the narc/spath spectrum. I suppose I missed the regular abuse from the family. These unhealthy attraction to empty narcs was in retrospect the first and perhaps most severe of the unintended consequence of using this method as a strategy rather than a temporary tactic. 

    Continuing on, I used this method effectively for a few decades with much success (or so I thought) –I used to regularly speak with my grandmother by phone and she being a narc squared would always enjoy the slandering of her children and others mixed in with a passive aggressive put down or comment towards me to feed off of my reactions (her supply). I instinctively knew to avoid issues that really mattered, and so I used decoys to pretend that certain things really bothered me while minimizing my reactions to everything else. This method may have worked if at the time I was fully aware of her malignant psychopathy, and I properly it, but I did not. 

    Eventually, my lack of appropriate emotional response (from her perspective) may have alerted her to the protection mechanism I was applying (it really is true, spaths lack insight and really don’t understand any values other than suppositions they make from others reactions –they are empty vessels). So, she turns up the volume, repeats the insults more often and more overtly. These benign issues became cancerous through the act of repetition itself as well as the extended duration I used Gray Rock. Eventually, I suffered a break and this had profound effects in my life. 

    Key Takeaway,
    Use the gray rock method sparingly and only if absolutely necessary.  Don’t use as a lifelong strategy –you might make the same mistake I made a rationalize that you can tame these unnameable spath beasts –you can’t. Certain animals should remain in the wild. 

  8. as a small point of interest, and perhaps in line with what thearrival has recently posted, i was here over a year ago posting about my intention to use gray rock with my spath, which in my case was elective not required.

    as a result, i ended up getting sucked back in to a highly abusive relationship, from which i only escaped earlier this year. i lost a lot materially and aged about ten years physically, but i did gain a lot of perspective. i am now in full NC and have accepted that there is no negotiating with terrorists.

    i appreciate sites like this, because it took me a while to accept the reality of who–what–i was dealing with, but education has been absolutely key to both leaving and staying away. i learned a LOT about myself and my own inner demons through him, and i am now much better equipped to spot these freaks in the wild. and i’ve finally learned to have somewhat better boundaries. i don’t give out so much personal information so quickly, and when someone starts “lovebombing” me (usually starts with showering me with undue compliments), i walk away without looking back. NEVER AGAIN.

  9. oh – sorry for the double posting – to be clear i’m not blaming gray rock for my getting sucked back in. i was in unrequired contact with my ex-spath, and it led me to great vulnerability to manipulation. i still didn’t understand at that point what i was dealing with. the article on communication (http://180rule.com/pearly-art-communication/) here is spot on with why.

    for people who have no choice, e.g. shared custody or other legal obligations, gray rock is the only viable method i know, but i agree with thearrival; if you have any choice in the matter whatever, your safest route is full No Contact.

    In my case, I moved after being forced to a DV shelter, changed my phone number, and any email he may send me gets deleted (not sent to trash-deleted before i ever see it). He is highly untechnical, rarely uses email, and is usually homeless (the pity ploy that hooked me initially to try to “rescue” him) so I’m not particularly concerned he will forge a new email address to try to contact me. If he does, i’ll have to change it, but that becomes much more complicated for me than changing my phone number as it involved such an enormous number of updates i may not even catch them all, so i’m avoiding it for now.

    the only good thing that came out of going back to him, is, it helped resolve my cognitive dissonance, and the final vicious discard gave me the impetus to completely cut him out of my life.

  10. Guys I think the Gray Rock should be used SPARINGLY and ONLY in instances where you are FORCED to have contact with these people, like when you have children with an Spath and the court orders visitation so you have to have a face to face with SPATH from time to time….NC I think is the ONLY permanent and safe method to use with the psychopaths and Narcissists, but if you are forced into contact with these people then Gray Rock is the only alternative way to deal with them.

    They will TRY to provoke you and if you use Gray Rock they don’t get the response they want, and they may well up the ante when you don’t respond like they want and expect.

    As a behavioral observer, and student of behavior, in animals as well as in humans. When a person or an animal has done X behavior and received a “reward” of any kind…and then they don’t get the reward, they will INCREASE THE BEHAVIOR for a while, all the while thinking they can EVENTUALLY get a response.

    This is exhibited in “break up violence” when an abuser is dumped by his/her love interest and ups the violence, maybe even killing the victim.

    NC, no response, no contact, is the best way to go IF AT ALL POSSIBLE because they get “no reward” by not being able to speak to you, to say anything to you, or get ANY response. Even a “fark you!” is a response and therefore a reward to them.

    Patrick Carnes book and Gavin DeBecker’s books point this out in great detail and the whys and wherefores so we need to keep on reading, studying, and realize that THESE PEOPLE NEVER CHANGE…AND THE ONLY WAY WE CAN PROTECT OURSELVES IS GET AWAY FROM THEM.

    Recently a friend of our family who has 7 kids with the P and the 3 youngest are forced by the court to visit him (though the older of the 3 at 14 yrs old despises her sperm donor, the court still forces her to go) The older 4 kids recognize him for what he is.

    Recently he applied to the court for custody of the youngest 3, and his older kids testified against him, and the JUDGE called him a “jerk” which made his ex wife and her attorney almost choke! LOL His mother is apparently just like him as well.

    The two youngest are still “bought” by him with gifts and so on, and may eventually recognize him for what he is, or may not, who knows, they are still very young.

    • Truthfully going full NC, while being very hard emotionally (especially while reeling from the discard), felt wonderful when it was done. I finally felt like I had control over my own life again. He had been stalking me after the discard the first time I refused to take his call, but not picking up wasn’t enough for my own mental health. I had to absolutely block him on every level. He’s even blocked on facebook, which I rarely use anyway.

      I bumped into my exspath outside a store a couple of months later. I refused eye contact, turned and walked away across the street while he followed me, screaming about why wouldn’t I talk to him. It took everything I had to ignore him and the ridiculous accusations (lies) he was leveling at me, but I managed to do it. I’m pretty sure he was with his boss, too. No matter how he tries to smear me, he’s the one who looks like the nutcase now, as it should be.

      I thought I’d be really upset, but after talking to some people, I realized it was a huge triumph. And it showed me very directly how much it was driving him crazy. It was and is the most empowering, healing thing I could do for my post-spath recovery.

      I know two other people who have not gone full NC. Both are hurting. One has the option and can’t bring herself to do it, just like I was last year. She is in hell on earth, literally, in pain and depression. She knows who and what he is, but can’t let go. The other is in a situation where she simply can’t go NC due to legitimate legal and business circumstances. She is struggling, but not as much. I sent her the link to this article and she liked it. Hopefully it will help, but I don’t envy either of them.

      I guess we have to go through what we have to go through. I knew very well I needed to stay away from him, but the nature of the trauma bond is very difficult to resist. And there’s an article on this site somewhere that they like to play on our strengths as well as our weaknesses. My ego combined with denial to convince me I could “handle” his manipulations and remain intact. And in the face of all evidence to the contrary, I wanted to believe he could love me or did on some level.

      I’m not advising this, because he literally almost killed me, but going back this last time was a curative experience. My denial was shattered by it. I had to accept the truth, or die. Now I know he cannot love. He only wants to destroy, especially anyone who seems to have something he does not (any kind of success, self-respect, integrity). I have never met anyone who just rolled over boundaries like he did, or turn the truth on its tail, accusing me of everything he was doing, telling me I was selfish because I wouldn’t give in to his every demand. At times I thought he was completely insane. Noone could possibly lack so much insight or perspective. Now I know he was simply attempting to manipulate me through the 180 tactic, among other things, and that I fed him so much ammunition using “I” statements. What an eye-opener!

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