Discover more from A Ghost in the Machine
On the DARVO tactics of narcissists, psychopaths, and Leftists
Suppose someone cuts in front of you in a long supermarket checkout line, so you say something about it. Maybe the offense was unintentional: the line-cutterwas distracted and didn’t notice the line, so she apologizes and goes to the back — though that’s rarely what happens. Usually, the line-cutter reacts indignantly, as if she’s really the victim and you’re really the villain.
Maybe she yells angrily at you and demands to know what your problem is and why you are making such a big deal out of things.
Or maybe she goes for sympathy by acting like a sad, pitiable little girl, rather than the grown woman that she is, thereby implying that you are somehow bullying her by holding her to basic standards of socially-acceptable conduct.
This “DARVO” (Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender) tactic amounts to guerilla moralizing. The guerilla moralist violates a very basic moral rule; you point out that violation; and she responds by trying to leverage your moral code, which she does not share, against you, by reframing your objection to her wrongdoing as a form of hurtful aggression towards her.
This crybully tactic works wickedly well when the person on the receiving end is psychologically unprepared for it. Most people expect that others will recognize the validity of basic moral norms (such as, the general rule that you don’t cut in line in front of others). Thus, most people expect that, once it is pointed out, the person who violated the moral rule will acknowledge the violation and change her behavior accordingly. When the opposite happens and the guilty party, rather than apologizing, launches a counterattack, it can be surprising and confusing. Of course, the tendency to cut in front of others in a supermarket checkout line is strongly correlated with the tendency to engage in bad-faith moral arguments, so you should not be surprised when a shameless line-cutter turns out to also be a crybully.
Narcissists and psychopaths use DARVO all the time, the same way that career criminals use predatory violence: as an effective tool for getting what they want from others. (Of course, most career criminals are also narcissists or psychopaths.) Narcissists and psychopaths spend their entire lives looking for ways to turn situations to their own advantage, without any regard for what’s right or wrong or for how their actions will affect others, so by the time they reach adulthood, they’ve been in countless conflicts where they were definitely in the wrong yet needed to bend the rulesto escape responsibility and exert control over others. Thus, they are highly practiced in the dark arts of pettifogging bullshittery to create confusion or, failing that, to wear the other person down to the point that he withdraws from the conflict. In hunter-gatherer societies, such people are conveniently killed in hunting accidents; in modern civilization, they just bounce from self-created disaster to self-created disaster, always leaving a trail of wreckage behind them for others to clean up.
For the guerilla moralist, the only categorical imperative is “Do what thou wilt!” Guerilla moralists are essentially tantrum-prone toddlers in adult bodies. Their bad-faith arguments are the equivalent of a two-year-old screaming “It’s not fair!” when he is deservedly told “No!” by his mother. The toddler’s notion of fairness is paper-thin and amounts to nothing more than, “Fairness means, I get what I want, when I want, no matter what.”
With all of that in mind, watch the video below, from’s Disaffected Podcast, showing overgrown toddlers masquerading as political activists and having hysterical tantrums at a recent Burlington, Vermont city council meeting:
Pure DARVO. Cry bullying. Gaslighting. Guerilla moralizing. A bunch of grown women (and a few feminized men) having temper tantrums like a bratty, tired toddler crying because his mother won’t buy him the candy bar he wants. “Fairness means, I get what I want, when I want, no matter what.” Or replace “fairness” with any other Conformmunist buzzword, such as “equity.” “Equity means, I get what I want, when I want, no matter what.” It means the same thing. Different jargon, same tantrum.
Of course, notice how they respond to someone who merely disagrees with them. If you tell them, “No, you should not get what you want in this instance,” the toddler wrath is directed full force at you. They slander you, shout you down, threaten you, and try to sic the authorities on you. Then they go scream and cry about how they are the victims. They get to say and do whatever they want, but the second you oppose them, you are the one who is malicious and hurtful.wrote an excellent essay about “civility” and the regime’s very selective concern about civility as a social good — i.e., where they say and do the most outrageous things to you, but the second you notice and express any anger about it, they suddenly become very concerned that we speak and act civilly towards each other; but as soon as you become civil again, they go on the attack. The entire post is excellent, but this paragraph is especially good:
People who warn against incivility in our public discourse are warning you against saying out loud that the things you see in the physical world don’t match the story you’re supposed to be consuming and accepting from political media. The message to be civil is a message to be passive, credulous, and manageable.
They are uncivil. They have no higher moral code than “Gimme what I want, or I’ll throw a tantrum!” They lie, cheat, and steal without compunction and then justify their crimes with absurd, bad-faith arguments. They viciously attack anyone who dares to call them out on it. You are not wrong for noticing what they are doing and feeling angry about it. You are not wrong for judging them harshly and ridiculing them. You are not wrong for being uncivil towards them.
A Ghost in the Machine is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support my work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
There are certainly men who cut in line too, but I have noticed that the overwhelming majority of line-cutters are woman. I’m curious to see if this pattern changes as transgenderism becomes more widespread.
Brian Regan has a funny bit about his experiences with line-cutters and their DARVO reactions to being called out on cutting in line:
Their willingness to bend the rules for themselves and their friends shows how little regard they actually have for the rules. Whenever Marxcissists talk about rules, it’s because they want, in the words of guerilla moralist Saul Alinsky, to “make the enemy live up to his own book of rules.” Of course, they do not follow that book of rules and have no intention of ever doing so. Your moral code is just a tool for them to use against you. These people are psychopaths.
Josh Slocum also wrote an excellent post about this incident and what it reveals about the state of American culture:
“Uncivil” by Chris Bray: