He made me do it

A single mother has been incarcerated indefinitely under the Mental Health Act after stabbing a pensioner in the face with a yellow plastic knuckle duster as she walked home. 34 year old Denise Macintosh told police the illegal weapon was for personal defence, as she claimed to being stalked by a previous assault victim.

A year before, Ms Macintosh had gouged open the cheek of an unconscious party-goer while drawing on his face with a biro, and shared photos of the hilarious wounding with her friends on WhatsApp. “He deserved it for unfriending me on Facebook,” said the delusional psychotic. “But I knew he’d get his own back one day, so I had to protect myself. Not my fault I was plastered and mistook that pensioner for a stalker. He shouldn’t have been out walking his dog at that time.”

The incident was the culmination of years of lies and sniping the unmarried Ms Macintosh had cultivated. 44 year old Mark Baelish had once drunkenly asked her out a decade before. After she declined, Denise thought Mark was obsessed with her peroxide beauty and preening wit, so was shocked when he appeared to ignore her, even when she got off with guys in front of him. Shock soon turned to anger, hatred and the desire for revenge.

Imagining she was an object of ridicule, Denise blamed Mr Baelish for other slights she felt. “I tell everyone how horrible he is, spreading gossip, stalking me, creeping everyone out, and it was working,” she boasted. “I’m way cooler and everyone loves my awesomeness, especially when I get drunk and show off my tits.”

The object of her loathing, Mark sighed with relief when he heard the outcome of the court case. “We have mutual acquaintances, so I’ve tried to be polite when I’ve ran into her,” he said. “But she’s basically a demented narcissistic mega-slag. I just thought she’d eventually start acting normal. I really didn’t imagine she’d keep on getting worse.”

It is an established psychological quirk of human nature that a bad act is justified by further denigrating the object of abuse. This creates a cycle of hatred that progressively intensifies. In Denise’s case, the more she lied the more paranoid she became, causing her to become more abusive, then lying to justify the abuse, and so on.

The situation was exacerbated by pliable friends egging her vitriol on in a misguided show of support. Historically, this acceptance by the pack gives the abuser free rein to publicly assault, torture or murder their victims. This can be seen in incidents of mass genocide, or witch-burning in small villages.

The reverse psychological nuance is also true, as acts of kindness create an affection for the person we help. This is known as the Benjamin Franklin effect, being first observed by him when trying to turn a political adversary into a supporter. He achieved this by asking the adversary to loan him a book, the favour creating a bond between them.

Unfortunately, due to the narcissism that social media encourages, minor slights are rapidly blown out of proportion by neurotic gossip into abuse and bullying, and the thinnest skins are the most vicious in drawing blood.

“I’m still hoping someone will kill him for me,” cackled Denise. “I’d blow them if they did.”

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