Although I had encountered a few psychopaths in my life, it was not until I worked for one that I truly began to understand my earlier encounters with other psychopaths. While I diligently worked to under her command, she plotted to destroy my career for fun and because she was threatened by my experience, education and integrity. The most dastardly part of her covert smear campaign against me was to spread the rumor to every manager in the facility that I was a snob and that I thought my work was beneath me. She shared my career path development worksheet with the other managers as evidence of her false assertion (Never mind that doing so was a violation of privacy laws). Although this was far from the truth, it was the perfect psychological trigger for the Branch Manager and all of the yes men and women he had collected and appointed to run the departments under him. Because he worked his way through the ranks with only a High School education, he only supported an promoted others that also had little education and created an anti-education domain within the agency where those who entered the ranks at the bottom with advanced degrees were put on an “educated blacklist” and never promoted and only given work to do when they needed something for which to take credit. The first time I met the Branch Manager I asked him why he was going around telling people that I thought my work was beneath me. Since we had never met, I was curious as to how he would know anything about me, much less my deepest most inner feelings. His response, “It has come to our attention that you aspire to supervisory lever work.” Apparently I am not allowed to have aspirations.
Reviews by my psychopathic boss were and exercise in surviving psychological torture. She would deftly steer any conversation during the part of the reviews that we were supposed to be talking about my career path to a treatise about all of her contributions to the agency. When I would gently attempt to steer the conversation back to my career development, she would begin her assault of all the many tiny things I had done wrong, most of which were completely made up and all of which were extraordinarily petty and meaningless. When I asked of the priorities in my work I was told to figure it out myself but if I guessed wrong that was entirely my fault. Any attempt I made toward reality and defending my humanity were met with a cold and dark shark stare. Along with the stare, her lip would begin to tremble as if she was doing everything in her power not to explode with rage and kill me on the spot. The most utterly gaslighting part of the experience was that, although my reviews would have me “on target” and meeting expectations, absolutely every comment in the reviews were negative. Then she would insist that my reviews were both meaningless and efforts to assist in my development.
Crazy making does not even begin to describe the experience. The personality of my psychopathic boss was so traumatizing and communication with her was so difficult and draining, that I began doing research to try to find out how to better communicate with her. My communication with others up to that point and at the age of 40, had always been successful and easy for me. What I found was that the difficulty communicating with her was all her manipulation and that my every attempt to improve communication with her was just an indication to her of my weakness. Before I was moved from under her “supervision,” the stress I suffered under her psychological torture caused a great deal of physical symptoms. I cried all the time. I was in constant physical pain and had a heightened fight or flight response. At the worst part of it, I could not even properly swallow my food and lost a lot of weight.
One of her tactics to get me not to trust my peers was to bring me into her office on a regular basis and tell me there had been an “anonymous complaint” made about me. These “complaints” became increasingly bizarre and frequent. They ranged from complaints about my clothing to someone saying I said something I never said. At first, my response was not to trust my peers but then I realized that she was making them all up. Because we were not intimately involved, she was never able to successfully remove me from my support network. Nevertheless, the damage she caused was significant.
In one of her most elaborate rouses, I was brought into a conference room for a meeting and there were managers from the facility as well as HQ and security personnel. Mind you, there was nobody to represent me except me. I was told that I needed to keep my mouth shut about my complaints and the experiences I was having or I would be investigated for saying that I “wanted to see my boss dead.” Of course, I never said any such thing and I wondered if it was common practice to warn an employee that they would be investigated if they didn’t shut up. Their hubris was so great that they even backed it up in a follow up e-mail which CCd the Branch Chief. Later in an affidavit, he denied any knowledge of the meeting yet my boss stated in her affidavit that he was there and the CCd e-mail was further proof.
Imagine the actual work folks could be doing if not for the games. I am thankful every day that my constant begging to be removed from under her finally paid off and saved me from further pain and destruction. But I had to go to the top. I went through the entire chain of command being blamed for being a victim, until I got to the top. I received no response but was moved within 3 days of my communication. I was quite detailed in my descriptions of my soul destroying experiences under my psychopathic boss.