July 9, 2000
So, now I'm playing catch up. Last Tuesday I finally got to talked to my children for the first time in over two weeks. Last Sunday, I left church early because I was worried about them and I couldn't stop myself from crying. I came home, drew a few mandalas and then decided to distract myself by creating a fan site for that one person I had researched the month before. I tried to make it as classy as possible and stated that I had no intention of finding out, much less putting up, anything of a truly personal nature on it. I think that's unnecessary and silly. I do have a life of my own. I did add some sarcastic humor, though. *BEG* My best friend even helped.
I feel better now that I've updated this journal. I really need to go ahead and update the rest of this site (and some of my others, while I'm at it).
One of my husband's brothers and his wife called this week to make sure I was okay. It's nice to know they're on my side. Actually, they're on my childrens' side, which is even nicer to know.
July 15, 2000
I now have a court date for my final divorce hearing. It's August 16th. I almost can't believe that it's actually going to happen after all of this time.
Because of the slowness at work, I've decided to go back over some of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder websites. I only skimmed them the first time. I am going back over them with a finetooth comb now. I realized yesterday that I am a Narcissist enabler. It came as a big shock.
Before I had gone back over there, I had read an email I had sent someone else about someone from another time of my life. As I read, I realized that this person was also a Narcissist, but more importantly, since he disappeared before I wised up, I remembered what attracted me and realized that I'm a Narcissist enabler.
Someone asked the question to the INTJ list a few months back what was the Narcissist's hook to draw people into relationships. I think I know the real answer now.
It is their projected image of themselves.
I just realized that all my life, I have been expected and taught that I was to respect the fanatasies of others. Now, it didn't really set well with me, but it was violently reinforced. I can give several instances where I had more than enough of people living lies and blew up and told them in excruciating detail where they were being stupid. I have alienated a whole groups of people that way. But I was told time after time by almost all my older relatives that it was rude to "burst" someone's bubble and I have heard me tell myself that "there's no reason to destroy their fantasies".
Oh, there was a method to this madness. It kept me in line and them from having to face the truth. And looking back at some of my poetry, I realized this on a subconscious level. I have a lot of stuff dealing with protecting the facades of others and being in love with a fantasy and neglecting the reality. It all just clicked today in a way that I could actually work with it.
Anyway, I am going to study more this weekend and see if I can identify any other Narcissist enabling qualities I may have. Luckily, I'm the type of person who is very good about changing once I realize a definite fallacy in my own thinking.
I shared my thoughts with someone who is actually on a Narcissictic Personalit Disorder mailing list. She offered me a few of her own thoughts:
There is some interesting material on the Narcissism list where someone claimed a Narcissist enabler is sometimes just a repressed Narcissist, living through the N. I don't buy this but I think the N enabler has the N as his/her animus/anima, that little doll being you idolize and wish you were and seek in relationships to find and then meld with.
That might fit in with your admiration/respect for the image of the N even as you know it makes no sense because it doesn't match up with the N him/herself. Does this make any sense to you?
I don't think all enablers are like that, but I've seen my mother cater to other narcissists. It's almost sad in some ways and it's always a love-hate relationship. And it doesn't last for long - so maybe she's not much of an enabler - except with my brother.
I really do hope all N enablers aren't like that - it would be a great blow to my ego ;-). But seriously, I have been told that there is no possibility that I could turn out to be like my mother. To quote: "it's not in your nature."
Yes, I think what she said does make some sense. You are told constantly that you are suppose to be "this". A child especially does not have the capability to understand that maybe "this" isn't what is right for them. They may intuit it, but with no collaborating evidence it it is almost impossible not to incorporate the doll image as she called it into their psyche.
The person I was thinking about praised my doll image very well, because it fit into his image of himself. He wanted an intelligent and creative woman for a "soulmate". When reality intruded, he left. I was crushed and angry because I suspected all along that he would leave when I was no longer a challenge to win and I was stupid enough to fall for him anyway. But I have found some benefit to my realization already. I now don't blame myself for having a stupid heart, just a preconditioned one - if that makes sense - and the knowledge that I was actually following a pattern I hadn't identified makes me feel better because now I can go back and deactivate it from its roots like I have for some of the other self-destructive tendencies I developed as a child.
July 16, 2000
I've decided to include some excerpts here from the sites on Narcissistic Personality Disorder with my thought on them.
The legend of Narcissus is an asset of Western civilization. This Greek boy fell in love with his own reflection in a pond. Presumably, this amply sums up the nature of his namesakes: "Narcissists". The mythological Narcissus was punished by the nymph Echo. How apt. Narcissists are punished by echoes and reflections of their problematic personalities up to this very day.
They are said to be in love with themselves.
But this is a fallacy. Narcissus is not in love with HIMSELF. He is in love with his REFLECTION.
There is bound to be a major difference between "true" self and reflected-self.
Loving your true self sounds like a healthy, adaptive and functional quality - and, indeed, it is.
Loving your reflection has two major drawbacks: one is the dependence on the very existence and availability of a reflection to produce the emotion of self-love.
The other is the absence of a "compass", an "objective and realistic yardstick", by which to judge the authenticity of the reflection and to measure its isomorphic attributes. In other words, it is impossible to tell whether the reflection is true to reality - and, if so, to what extent.
This was when I realized my former friend was also a Narcissist. He loved the image of himself, which matched his reality very little. It was very important to him, though, to convince me (and others) that he was indeed this image. My mother falls in this category too, as does my soon-to-be exhusband.
It's very sad in a way, because these people are talented and have some good qualities, but they ignore these assets and worship their imagined ones.
But, like Shylock, a Narcissist possesses the in-bred desire to love and to be loved. If he cannot love himself - he has to love his reflection. But to love his reflection - it must be loveable. Thus, driven by the insatiable urge to love (which we all possess), the Narcissist is grossly preoccupied with projecting a loveable image of himself unto others. This image has to be compatible with his image in his own eyes ("Self Image").
My husband and all his "good" deeds. My friend as all his unrealistic dreams for making the world a better place. My mother and her delusions of being her children's "best friend".
I suppose it would come to no surprise that all these people believe themselves to be seers in many respect, even though my own flawed intuition proves itself right more often than their "insight" to the future. Frankly, I think it would be a trial to have prophetic abilities - there would such a great responsibility then. Actually, thinking over the scriptual prophets, it is a trial to have such power. None of these people lived easy lives. They were hated by the general populous than they were loved.
It seems a conflict of purpose for a Narcissist, but Shmuel (Sam) Vaknin, Ph.D., a self-professed Narcissist and the author of everything I've been quoting so far, adds this insight:
To a Narcissist, love is interchangeable with other emotions, such as awe, respect, admiration, or even mere attention. An image which would provoke these reactions in others - would be both "loveable and loved" to the Narcissist. It would satisfy his basic requirement: that it should give him something to love which would feel like self-love.
My own take: sometimes these other emotions, such as awe, are even more preferred because they do not require a mutual give and take between the Narcissist and the other person. It has been my experience that if given a choice between a true and loyal partner and the perceived esteem of the rest of the world - the partner will lose every time. As the Patty Smythe song says, "Sometimes love just ain't enough." (Vaknin goes on later to point out that a spouse almost always ends up as a secondary Narcissistic supply source.)
The more successful this image (or series of successive images) - the more the Narcissist becomes divorced from his true self and married to the image.
I use to think that if you gave someone lots of love that you could fill the gaps in their self-esteem. But they are not gaps, they are holes, and no amount of outside love in the world can fill them. When a Narcissist is married to their image, there is the impression that you are filling their needs at first, but then it becomes obvious that they need more and more and see your needs as being overbearing, even though they are the same needs they didn't mind filling in the first place. More of that reflection stuff, I guess. They can't be the flawed one, so you must be.
He is not tuned exclusively to his needs. On the contrary: he ignores them because many of them conflict with his omnipotent and omniscient image. He does not put himself first - he puts his Self last. He caters to the needs and wishes of everyone around him - because he craves their love and admiration. It is through their affective reactions that he acquires a sense of distinct self. In many ways he annuls himself - only to re-invent himself through the look of others. He is the person most insensitive to his true needs.
After living with at least three of them (including my brother), this actually makes sense. They want the admiration of others so much that they will even endanger their own health for it. The basic needs of the spirit and body are nothing compared to the need for fame and admiration.
The Narcissist consumes his mental energy incessantly in this process. He drains himself. This is why he has no energy to dedicate to others. This fact plus his inability to love human beings in their many dimensions and facets - transform him into a mental recluse. His soul is fortified and in the solace of this newly found fortification he guards its territory jealously and fiercely. He protects what he perceives to constitute his independence.
The idea of self-renewal is almost incomprehendable to most Narcissists in my experience. They will re-invent the image of themselves before they will actually indulged in the practice of good health habits and eliminating stress.
Why should people indulge the Narcissist, divert time and energy, give him attention, love and adulation? The Narcissist's answer is simple: because he is entitled to it. The Narcissist has an inflated sense of entitlement. He feels that he deserves whatever he succeeds to extract from others and much more. Actually, he feels betrayed, discriminated against and underprivileged because he always feels that he is not getting enough, that he should get more than he does. There is a discrepancy between his infinite certainty that his is a special status worthy of eternally recurrent praise and adoration, replete with special benefits and prerogatives - and the actual state of his affairs, however benign. This is the prima causa of the psychodynamics of the Narcissist's mind. To the Narcissist, this status of uniqueness is bestowed upon him not by virtue of his achievements, but merely because he exists. His mere existence is sufficiently unique to warrant the kind of treatment that he expects to get from the world. Herein lies a paradox, which haunts the Narcissist: he derives his sense of uniqueness from the very fact that he exists and he derives his sense of existence from his belief that he is unique.
Clinical data show that rarely is there any realistic basis for this notion of greatness and uniqueness.
This is so true that it's positively scary. My mother, brother, and husband cannot stand to hear that someone's life is actually more miserable than theirs. The universe has denied them of what is *rightfully* theirs and no one else's tragedies could possibly compare to this. I have never heard them say, "Wow! I can't imagine what that was like." It's always, "Well, that's nothing! You should hear what happened to me."
Frankly, it confuses me when people, whose childhoods were much worse than mine, tell me how awful I had it. Maybe the thought that it might have been worse makes them feel better.
Narcissists do hold high positions and, at times, are achievers with proven track records. Some of them are respected members of their communities, some of them even leaders. Mostly, they are dynamic and successful. Still, one thing separates them from persons of similar circumstance: the pomp.
They are ridiculously pompous and inflated personalities, bordering on the farcical and provoking resentment.
*chuckle* Got to promote that reputation, don't we? When I would share an email from my Narcissistic former friend, my close friends would always remarked that he sounded extremely grandiose and a few of them were confused of why I even bothered with him.
I don't know. I guess he was just playing by rules that I knew by heart. Mom's one of the most melodramatic people I know.
The Narcissist is forced to use other people in order to feel that he exists. It is through their eyes and through their behaviour that he obtains proof of his uniqueness and grandeur. He is a habitual "people-junkie". With time, he comes to regard those around him as mere instruments for his satisfaction, as two-dimensional cartoon figures with negligible lines in the script of his magnificent life. He becomes unscrupulous and suppresses all inconvenience that he might have felt in the past concerning his conduct. He seems never to be bothered by the constant use he makes of his milieu. He seems not to mind the consequences of his acts: the damage and the pains that he inflicts on others and even the social condemnation and sanctions that he often has to endure.
Noooooo! Don't tell me I have to add someone else to my list! I'm not just a Narcissistic enabler, I collect the damn people!
I guess I better explain....
Many years ago, I met a woman who my husband knew from work. In fact, her soon-to-be third husband was one of his coworkers. She talked me into joining a society that she belonged to, so I would have an opportunity to play and relax - at least that's what she told me at first. I went to some events in an effort to have some play time for myself. In fact, that's where A.B. Normal and I first met. Our "friend" drafted me into her sub-group.
The first two events were great, but then my "friend" began to exploit my talents for organizing and smoothing things over. She has a terrible temper and is very manipulative. So, instead of me relaxing and playing, which was the whole point to me going in the first place, I ended up second in command, under a tyrant. Once she had flattered us into a group, she exploited our talents for her own ego and began to treat us like tools, instead of people. After the last event I attended as a member of this sub-group (I attended one afterwards - it was fun, but I ended up sick), I told her that I had a family to take care of and that this was no longer contributing to my emotional health. Though, she was nice enough to my face, she called me a traitor to the rest of the group. Not that it made that much of the difference, most of them were ready to walk off anyway, but we did like being with each other and this woman was our main contact. So, when I went off, even though she took it badly, she reigned in her abusive tendencies for awhile - and everyone else decided to stick it out - using A.B. Normal to stay in contact with me. I guess they were hoping that this woman would finally take a hint and learn from her mistakes and then I would come back.
That was years ago, and for all practical purposes, the group has dissolved - though this woman never admits it. I tried to make friends with her again, but then I let her read the beginning of my novel and she trashed it. I was so stupid. All that time I put her actions down as blind jealousy - that's what my husband and A.B. Normal called it, but after I thought it over - I realized that it was really vengence that motivated her. Nevermind that she had three other groups disband under similar circumstances before I came. Nevermind that she could never get any adults to work with her on a regular basis. Had I just put aside all my other duties and attended to her needs, everything would have been all right.
Just like my husband said during our marriage counselling, "I don't have any problems. We just need to fix (Fribble) and then everything will be fine."
Anyway, it was because of her that I put aside my magnum opus and began working on a "practice" novel. I will get back to my orginal story one of these days, but right now I'm writing other pieces to flesh out my little universe.
A Narcissist does not suffer from a faulty sense of causation. He is able to accurately predict the outcomes of his actions and he knows that he might be forced to pay a dear price for his deeds. But he cannot help it.
I don't buy that "cannot help it" part. I think it's a lynch-pin lie to keep the other lies in place, because they do reign in their actions at times. But this does fit the woman I just described.
The Narcissist has to condition his human environment to refrain from expressing criticism and disapproval of him or of his actions and decisions. He has to teach people around him that these will provoke him into frightful fits of temper and rage attacks and turn him into a constantly cantankerous and irascible person. The disproportion of his reactions constitutes a punishment for their lack of consideration and their ignorance of his true psychological state. In a curious reversal of roles The Narcissist blames others for his behaviour, accuses them of provoking him and believes firmly that "they" should be penalized accordingly. There is no way to dissuade the Narcissist once he has embarked on one of his temper tantrums. Apologies - unless accompanied by verbal or other humiliation - are not enough. The fuel of his rage is consumed mainly by vitriolic verbal send-offs directed at the (often imaginary) perpetrator of the (oft imaginary) offence.
*THIS* is what I have been trying to explain to people for the past year and a half about my husband. My mother does this. The tyranical woman did this. My brother does this. I guess I should be very grateful that the former friend left when he did.
The Narcissist - wittingly or not - utilizes people to buttress his self-image and self-worth. As long and as much as they are instrumental in achieving these goals - he holds them in high regard, they are valuable to him. It is only through this lens that he regards them. This is a result of his inability to love humans: he lacks empathy, he thinks utility, and he reduces humans to mere instruments. If they cease to "function", if - no matter how inadvertently - they cause him to doubt this illusory, half-baked, self-esteem - they become the subject of a reign of terror. The Narcissist then proceeds to hurt these "insubordinate wretches". He belittles and humiliates them. He displays aggression and violence in myriad forms. His behaviour metamorphesizes, kaleidoscopically, from over-valuation of the useful other - to a severe under- and devaluation of same.
The Narcissist abhors, almost physiologically, others who are judged by him to be "useless".
These rapid alterations between absolute overvaluation to complete devaluation of others make the maintenance of long term interpersonal relationship all but impossible.
Unless they find someone who was trained from birth to cater to such nonsense. I was about to add a former boss to my list, but he believed that everyone could be of use to him in some shape and form - it was just his challenge to find out how. So, he's staying off the list.
I've been quoting most of this stuff from here and if you visit yourself, you can read about how a Narcissist comes into being in the first place. I'm just not posting it because I've already gone into enough detail for my purposes here. But I do recommend you check it out, if you believe you are also dealing with a Narcissistic Personality. It may help you to determine if you are right about them.
Dr. Vaknin ends this particular section with this observation:
The Narcissist is usually above treatment. He knows best. His superiority extends to his therapist in particular and to psychology in general. He would seek treatment only following a major crisis, which directly threatens his projected and perceived image. Colloquially, we would say that the Narcissist's "pride" has to be severely hurt to motivate him to admit his need for help. Even then, the therapy session bear the semblance of a battleground. The Narcissist is aloof and distanced, demonstrates his superiority in a myriad of ways, resents what he perceives to be an intrusion on his innermost sanctum. He is offended by any hint regarding defects or dysfunctions in his personality or in his behaviour. A Narcissist is a Narcissist is a Narcissist - even when asking for help with his world and worldview shattered.
Definitely fits what I have observed. Mom, my brother and husband all fall in this pit. Now, I like therapists. I find them very useful. I don't always agree with them, but I do respect their opinions.
In the next section, Dr. Vaknin describes my marriage pretty accurately (and my parents' marriage too):
The Narcissist employs one or more of the following mechanisms in a loving relationship (say, in a marriage) ("he"- read: "he or she"):
1. He "merges" with his spouse/mate and contains him/her as a symbol of the outside world.
My father and I are/were the liaisons to the outside world.
2. He exerts absolute dominion over the spouse (again in her symbolic capacity as The World). These two mechanisms come in lieu of the healthier form of relationship wherein the two members of the couple are a unity of two distinct entities. They maintain their distinctiveness while, at the same time, creating a new "being of togetherness".
Yep. Or at least they try to.
3. He replicates his ego in every possible manner and, at times, without "justification". He becomes addicted to publicity, displays graphomaniacal tendencies and ignores information, advice and criticism to the contrary. Merely observing his "replicated ego" provides the Narcissist with sensations of power, omnipotence and omnipresence, akin to the ones that the he experienced in his early childhood. The function of this never-ending replication process is to provide the individual with an "existential substitute", proof of the occupation of space and time - functions normally carried out by a healthy, well-developed ego through its interactions with the outside world ("reality principle").
4. In extreme cases ("Grandiosity Gap" - see further and in the FAQs section), the Narcissist resorts to hallucinations, even to psychotic micro-episodes. The latter sometimes occur during the treatment of patients with the Borderline or the Paranoid Personality Disorders. The Narcissist can also form hermetic social circles to share his delusions ("Pathologic Narcissistic Space" - q.v. in the continuation). The function of these social cohorts is to serve as a psychological entourage, "objectifying" the feeling of self-importance and the illusions of grandeur harboured by the sick individual.
Mom tries to do this, but has yet to succeed in it for more than a few years. Perhaps that is true for all Narcissists. I know my husband had a group like this in high school.
It is the failure of these mechanisms, which leads to an all-pervasive feeling of annulment and detachment.
IMHO, Narcissists are about the loneliest people you can meet.
A deserting spouse or a business failure, the magnitude of which assures that they cannot be suppressed, usually motivate the Narcissist to seek treatment. Therapy starts where self-illusions end but it takes a massive disintegration of the very fabric of the Narcissist's life and personality structure to bring about this concession of defeat.
And sometimes not even then...
The boundaries (and the very existence) of the Narcissist's ego are defined by and from the outside. In times of crisis, the ensuing inner experience of the Narcissist is that of a disintegrating self and a dissolution within the mass of people surrounding him.
This is a life threatening feeling. This existential conflict leads to the active seeking of solutions at any cost. Solutions - even much less than optimal - are sought and improvised with a vengeance. The Narcissist finds a spouse, exposes himself, seeks publicity, gets involved with any social circle willing to accommodate his need for "Narcissistic Supply" and to provide it.
This unmitigated sense of urgency to resolve his existential conflict - suspends all judgement.
The Narcissist is thus likely to misjudge the qualities and abilities of a prospective spouse, the quality of his own work, or his status within his social circles. He is liable to make indiscriminate use of all the psychological (defence) mechanisms available to him to justify this hot pursuit, foremost the mechanisms of rationalization and intellectualization.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry - this describes my brother to a T. My husband thought I could keep up with his sloppiness, even though I told him repeatedly that I was not the best housekeeper around. [Note to self: if a guy ignores my admissions of inadequecy in some area - RUN!]
Many Narcissists reject treatment even in the most dire circumstances. Feeling omnipotent, they seek the answers themselves and in themselves and then venture to "fix" and "maintain" themselves. They read, gather information, philosophize greatly. They do all this single-handedly and when they seek other people's counsel, they degrade them and treat them as sheer "human information sources".
Been on the receiving end of this more than once. Mom loves to read psychology books, but believes that mental health professionals are incompetent. She does the same with the rest of the medical community. Because of her refusal to follow her doctors' orders, her diabetes is now uncontrolable. Of course, this just proves her "uniqueness".
If my brother, husband, and former friend are anything to go by, Narcissists are the greatest "philosophizers" in existence.
The Narcissist constantly resides in a threshold condition, Aut Nihil, Aut Ceasre, all or nothing.
A most definite YES. [Another sign to make a run for the door. Maybe I should make myself a checklist.]
I'm just going to list the things I have to watch out for now. Dr. Vaknin gets a bit indepth in his stuff.
SUPERIORITY AND MYSTERY ARE ESSENTIAL COMPONENTS OF UNIQUENESS.
INTIMACY TRANSFORMS US ALL INTO UNIQUE BEINGS. IT, THEREFORE, NEGATES THE UNIQUENESS OF THOSE WHO SHOULD BE TRULY JUDGED TO BE UNIQUE (in their view) EVEN IN THE ABSENCE OF INTIMACY (and immediately).
The Narcissist does his damnedest to avoid intimacy. He constantly lies about every aspect of his life: his self, his history, his vocation and avocations, his emotions. This false information and the informative asymmetry in the relationship guarantee his informative lead, or "advantage". This is an active state of dis-intimization and dis-information, which cast a pall of cover up, separateness, asymmetry and mystery over the Narcissist's relationships. The Narcissist will lie even in therapy for which he is paying. In encounters with professionals of all kinds, he will use professional lingo to "belong" to this unique class of people and to the most unique group of all: the Renaissance Men. By demonstrating his control of several professional jargons he almost proves (to himself) that he is superhuman.
*cringe* This is going to be a fun thing to deactivate - my curiosity about complex people. I will just have to remind myself that I don't need to develop an emotional attachment to my subjects *wink!* Ugh. Actually, I'm not sure what to do about this. Maybe if I notice the other traits first, it will lose its fascination.
[Dammit! Looks like I'll have to add someone else here. I hate that. And no, you're not going to get an explanation for this one. Just take my word for it.]
The Narcissist's behaviour is experienced by his mate as frustrating and growth-cramping. To live with him is akin to living with a non-entity, with dead or dormant qualities, which are absent (in these forms) from the relationships of "normal" people. The partners of the Narcissist often describe a feeling of imprisonment and punishment.
I'll second this!
His attitude serves a paramount need: not to be hurt again. The Narcissist anticipates his abandonment and, paradoxically, by trying to avoid it, he precipitates it. Maybe he does that on purpose: after all, if he is the cause of his own abandonment - surely he is in control of his own destiny.
To be in control - this unconquerable drive - is the direct result of being deserted, neglected, avoided, or abused at an early stage in life. "Never again." - vows the Narcissist - "If anyone will do the leaving, it will be I, this time around."
To quote my husband, "Anyone who messes with me, gets paid back tenfold." I'll be damned if I ever go back to him. Heck! I would probably be dead within a few years if I did.
The Narcissist is an ontological beast. Devoid of empathy and incapable of intimacy with others - he is incapable of intimacy with himself. Lying so often, it has become a second nature. An alter (false) ego soon takes over the soul of the Narcissist. He begins to believe his own lies. He makes himself to be what he wants to be and not what he is. So, he measures life by events, difficulties, negative externalities and predictions and projections related to them. He prefers this "hardware" type of treating the world to the "softer" version of what he really feels. The Narcissist is so afraid of the pool of negative feelings inside him - that he would rather deny them and thus refrain from being intimate with himself. His predisposition would be to maintain asymmetric relationships, wherein he both maintains and displays his superiority. Even with his mate or spouse, he is forever striving to be the Guru, the Lecturer, the Teacher (even the Mystic), the Psychologist, the Experienced Elder. The Narcissist never talks - he lectures. He never moves - he poses. He is forever patronizing, condescending, forgiving, patiently teaching, or maintaining an air of a God descended from the Olympus to help the frail creatures that we are. This is the more benign form of Narcissism. In its more malignant variants, the Narcissist would be degrading, humiliating, sadistic, impatient, and full of rage and indignation. He would always be critical and torment all around him with endless, bitter cynicism and with displays of disgust and repulsion.
You mean not everyone acts like this??? (Just trying to lighten things up here.) Honestly, I've lived with the full spectrum. I would love nothing more than to find an equal companion. This other stuff gets pretty old after awhile.
There is no way out of the Narcissistic catch: the Narcissist despises, in equal measures, both the submissive and the independent, the strong (who constitute a threat) and the weak (who are, by definition, despicable).
In short, you just can't win with these people. Been there, done that, really need to burn the frigging t-shirt.
Dr. Vaknin also describes the overall sexual behavior of Narcissists. He breaks things down into three types of Sexual Communicators. It is much to my abhorance that I have to admit that I have dealt on one level or another with all three types. Some of them just didn't go as far as others. And my marriage fell into the one most preferred by Narcissists.
In fact the rest of this section (Chapter 2) on his site has been extremely painful to read, it matches my own experiences so closely. The therapist was right - I didn't have a chance. I wish I didn't feel so guilty about it, but I do to some extent. Intellectually, I suspect it's because I've been operating under the concept that it's my duty to fix the world for so long, that even redefining my own belief system still hasn't wiped all that out - yet. But I can't really blame myself for not understanding the real situation. I just need to make sure that I don't get into another relationship like it again.
Chapter 3 goes on about some other things that motivate a Narcissist. My husband lacked the overall ambition at first glance. Yet, I must admit that he did aspire to be better than his coworkers and an all-around repair genius to everyone else. He knows deep inside that he's not management material, so he perceives this as being a more menial thing - something for those who are past their prime. Anything he cannot do well in is considered beneath him.
He may indulge in smoking, drugs, unhealthy (or even medically forbidden) nutrition, a total lack of physical exercise. He may deteriorate to sickness for most of his life and treat himself only when and if it is absolutely inevitable. Another type of Narcissist may worship his body, cultivating it like a rare flower, feeding it a special diet, refraining from any hint of bodily malpractice. Such a Narcissist (the Somatic Narcissist) wastes hours inspecting himself in mirrors and applying a myriad of lotions, creams and medicines to his precious temple.
Or some bizarre combination of both. They may smoke and yet bike everywhere and almost starve themselves. They may ignore their doctor's advice and down herbal remedies and mineral supplements to the point of developing an intolerance to them. They may abstain from drinking alcohol and caffienated stuff, and tobacco, and eat junk food instead of nutritious meals.
The Narcissist engages in a host of self-defeating behaviours. He might, for instance, gamble and lose all his possessions, time and again. Paradoxically, this lands him in spots of economic uncertainty - which is what he dreads and loathes most. He might compulsively shop and collects totally unneeded gadgets or objects. These two behaviours together - gambling and compulsive shopping - lead him to great personal financial instability. He seems always to be in debts and harried - no matter how much money he makes. This is compounded by frequent changes of profession and by a lack of the pursuit of a stable career. It is rare for a Narcissist to be at the top of his profession - and to earn the money, which goes with such a professional status.
I ask you - how many hammers and screw drivers does a man need? My husband has - at home - FOUR complete sets of sockets and socket wrenches - 2 metric and 2 English (I know, it should be American, but that's how we refer to them here). I think I counted over a dozen screwdrivers in the garage once and I knew he had several at work and strewn around the place. He has a set of woodworking tools that would make most carpenters envious. He has more power tools than my parents and siblings combined. I had my own set of basic tools when we got married. He used them whenever he was doing something that might destroy the tool. Needless to say, most of them have been trashed.
We won't even start on the video collection....
Money is not the Narcissist's only compulsion. Many Narcissists are compulsively orderly and clean. They may be addicted to intellect and knowledge, to maximal utilization of time, to any strange outcome of an obsessive streak. They display compulsive ticks and more complex repetitive, ritualistic movements. They might even become criminally compulsive, kleptomaniacs, for instance.
The word "many" is key here. It doesn't fit with most of the Narcissists I know - in a broad sense at least. I wish it did. But I must admit that they all have some area in their life (usually their hobbies) which they are compulsive about. So compulsive that menial things like housework and, in some cases, personal hygiene are ignored because it interfere with their projects.
Narcissists are a very misleading lot. They are possessed of undeniable personal charm and, usually, of sparkling intellect. Other people tend to associate these traits with maturity, authority and responsibility.
Well, there's the real hook a Narcissist fishes with...
In the case of a Narcissist, this association is a grave mistake. The Dorian Grays of this world are eternal children, immature, irresponsible, morally inconsistent (and in certain areas of life - morally non-existent). They actively encourage the formation of expectations - only to disappoint. They lack many adult skills and tend to rely on people surrounding them to make up for these deficiencies. That those around them will obey and comply is taken for granted and as a birth right of the Narcissist. At times he socially isolates himself, exuding an air of superiority and expressing disdain or adopting patronizing attitudes. At times he verbally lashes those closest to him. Yet the Narcissist will forever and under all circumstances expect total allegiance, loyalty, and submissiveness.
My mother's emotional age is 6. My husband's is about 8. Sometimes I think my brother's is 4. My former friend, I would guess somewhere in the mid-teens, but I may be too generous on that one. The tyrant woman is 14.
Narcissists suffer from repetition complexes. Like certain mythological figures, they are doomed to repeat their mistakes and failures and the wrong behaviours which led to them.
Like the tyrant woman. Like my brother who believes that people should fall in love at first contact. Like my mother and her medication. Like my former friend and his hectic lifestyle. Ad nauseum...
All the above culminates in acts of explicit self-destruction. Narcissists engage in conscious - and unconscious - acts of violence and aggression aimed at abolishing their selves as well as at restricting their choices and their potentials.
This is sickeningly true. My greatest worry when we were first married was that my husband would end up killing himself. I was still worried about it when I left. My former friend caused me a great deal of worry because I saw the same thing in him. My mother endangers her health so much that I have just accepted that she will die from it sooner or later. My brother's driving makes mine look like Sunday driving and I'm a bit of a speed demon. My husband's driving is between that of my brother's and mine. The tyrant woman, well, it's amazing that she's still among the living.
Dr. Vaknin goes on to describe about Narcissistic criminals. Though, I don't think the Narcissists I know actually fall into that particular trap, many of them have come quite close - especially with the fraud part.
An offer of help is immediately interpreted as an observation that the Narcissist is not omnipotent and omniscient. He reacts with rage to such impudence and rarely asks for help, unless he finds himself in a critical condition. A Narcissist can roam the streets for hours and look for an address before conceding his inferiority by asking a passer-by. He will suffer physical pain, hunger and fear, rather than allaying these unpleasant conditions through the mediation of another. The mere ability to help is considered proof of superiority and the mere need of help - a despicable state of inferiority.
Just tell my mother that she needs counselling. I promise you an extremely violent reaction. Unless, of course she really wants to impress you, but don't count on that.
This is precisely why Narcissists appear, at times, to be outstanding altruists. They enjoy the sense of power, which goes with giving. They feel supreme when needed. They encourage dependence of any kind. They know - sometimes, intuitively - that help is the most addictive drug there is and that relying on someone dependable fast becomes an indispensable habit. They disguise their thirst for admiration, accolades and their propensity to play God. They will pretend that they are interested only in the well-being of the happy recipients of their unconditional giving. But this kind of representation is patently untrue and misleading.
No other kind of giving comes with more strings attached. The Narcissist gives only if and where he can take.
If you've read much of this journal, you already know the answer to this. My mother will only give in situations where she knows that other people will know what she did. My brother and husband are alternately overwhelmingly generous and unbelievably stingy. My former friend bragged of the things he did and sent other people.
If not applauded or adulated, he loses motivation, or cheats himself into believing that he is revered. Mostly, the Narcissist prefers to be feared or admired - rather than loved. He would describe himself as a "strong, no nonsense" man, who is able to successfully weather extraordinary losses and defeats and to recuperate. He expects other people to respect this image that he projects.
Yep. This was the guy I married. I think I'll save the rest of the site for later.
July 17, 2000
Reading some more on Dr. Vaknin's site, I have found that he is NOT a mental health professional, which is a relief because while reading his FAQs, I found that much of his advice is how to manipulate a Narcissist and stay in a relationship with them versus actually getting into a healthy relationship yourself. He suffers for Narcissistic Personality Disorder himself - a very rare case of a self-aware one, but one none the less. And while his site gives great insight into their behaviors and motivations - it will not give you straight forward advice on how to not get involved with such people if you were trained to be a Narcissist enabler. Obviously a conflict of interest.
Well, I hate to break it to Dr. Vaknin, but I do not want to accept that my role in life is to enable Narcissists. He speaks from his experience. I think I will try to learn from my own on how to break this unheathly trait. I have yet to find any real information on Narcissistic enablers - most of what I have found had been mere conjunctures. I already have some idea of the process I need to go through:
1. Identify the beliefs that contribute to enabling Narcissists.
2. Identify the self-statements that re-enforce these beliefs.
3. Relive those memories where these beliefs and statements where instilled or enforced and identify as many "anchors" as possible.
4. Identify my reactionary beliefs to the enabling beliefs.
5. Do number 3 for these reactionary beliefs.
6. Examine both sets of beliefs and see how they can be modified into healthy behaviors.
7. Create a new belief set and incorporate it into my own life.
I may review my Mythic Path work to see if I'm missing a step or two. I will continue to study Dr. Vaknin's site, so I may know my opposition better....
The Narcissist is, thus, often described by others as "robotic", "machine", "inhuman", "emotionless" and so on. People are deterred by his emotional absence. They are wary of him and keep their guards up at all times. Certain Narcissists are good at simulating emotional communication and can easily mislead people around them. Yet, their true colours are exposed when they lose interest in someone because he no longer serves a Narcissistic (or other) purpose. Then they no longer invest energy in what, to others, comes naturally: emotional communication. This is the essence of the Narcissist's exploitativeness. It is not the fact that he exploits people. To a known degree, we all exploit each other. But, the Narcissist abuses people. He misleads them into believing that they mean something to him, that they are special and dear to him, and that he cares about them. When they discover that it was all a charade, they are likely to respond much more forcefully than is usual.
The Narcissist's problem is exacerbated by being constantly abandoned. It is a vicious cycle: the Narcissist alienates people and they leave him. This, in turn, convinces him that he was always right in thinking that people are selfish and will always prefer their self-interest to his welfare.
Though, honestly, I think he repeats himself a bit. But he's very good at rephrasing things - I'll give him that. This bit, however, is something that I've suspected and it's nice to see it in print:
It would be correct to substitute one gender for another. Female Narcissists treat the men in their lives in a manner indistinguishable from the way male Narcissists treat "their" women. I believe that this is the case with same sex partners.
I find the next part does follow my husband's actions. One can only guess what he cooked up in his warped mind. I was very faithful to the bastard. I didn't even DREAM of another man for the first seven years, and even then I kept it to fictional characters. It wasn't until the last year I was with him that I began consider that I might be happier with someone else. He was the one whose eye began to wander when we were only married a few years.
The Narcissist tends to regard infidelity in absolute terms. The "other" must be better than he, or put differently: more special. Since the Narcissist is nothing but a reflection, a glint in the eyes of others, when cast aside, he feels totally discarded. His entirety is wrecked. His partner, in this single (real or imagined) act, is perceived by the Narcissist to have passed judgement upon him as a whole not upon this or that aspect of his personality and not in connection with the issue of compatibility.
This negation of his uniqueness makes it impossible for the Narcissist to proceed in a relationship contaminated by jealousy (if this is the form of aggression he chose). But there is nothing more dreadful to a Narcissist than the ending of a relationship, or abandonment.
Many Narcissists strike an unhealthy balance. By a behaviour pattern characterized by emotional (and physical or sexual) absenteeism, they drive the partner to find emotional and physical satisfaction outside the bond. This achieved, they feel vindicated - they are proven right in being jealous.
On the other hand they are thus able to accept the partner back and to forgive her. After all they argue - the infidelity was precipitated by their absence and was always under their control. They experience a kind of sadistic satisfaction that they possess such power over their partner. In provoking the partner to adopt a socially anomic behaviour they see proof of the unlimited control they have over her. They read into the scene of forgiveness and reconciliation the same interpretation: their magnanimity and how addicted their partner has become to their presence.
The more severe the infidelity - the more control through guilt is available to the Narcissist. His ability to manipulate his partner increases the more forgiving and magnanimous he is. He never forgets to mention to her (or, at least, to himself) how wonderful he is for sacrificing himself. Here he is - this assemblage of unique, unprecedented traits - willing to accept a disloyal, infidel, inconsiderate, disinterested, self centred, sadistic (and, entre nous, most ordinary) bitch back. True, he is likely to invest less in the relationship, to become non-committal, and, probably, to host hatred and rage. Still, she is the Narcissist's one and only. The more voluptuous, tumultuous, inane the relationship - the better it suits the Narcissist's self image.
"One and only"? Oh, joy. Does this mean I'll never be truly rid of him? If he saw anything, it was his imagination and he wanted it to happen. I brought up in our marriage counselling that I had begun to correspond with someone (a male) about my childhood. This person supposedly had very similar experiences, but I was worried about it developing into something else. When the counselor confronted my husband about how he felt about someone in another country knowing more about his wife than he did, he just shrugged and said, "If he understands her, then it's fine with me."
To say I was crushed would be an understatement. It was then I realized he didn't really give a damn about me. It wasn't until I left him that I realized that there was nothing I could have done that would had made him care about me.
Usually, the partner is the dependent or avoidant type and is inherently incapable of changing anything in her life. Such couples have no real, mutually agreed upon narrative or agenda, they are compatible mostly on the psychopathological level. They hold each other hostage and vie for the ransom.
Well, I have decided against following the scripts my parents gave me. I didn't like them in the first place and I've been trying to fight them ever since I've become aware of them. I may not had much of a choice when I was a child, but I'm a woman and mother now - I don't need to stay with these destructive traits. Tough cookies, world.
And for what it's worth, *I* thought we did have an agreed on agenda. We hammered a nice one out during our engagement. I'm talking about actually discussing possible ways of acheiving certain goals and specifics. *He* was the one who decided that it was all just a nice dream and if it happened - great. It took me totally by surprise when he first joined me in one of my personal therapy sessions and dismissed every goal I thought we had as a couple.
The dependent partner can determine for the Narcissist what is right and virtuous and what is wrong and evil as well as enhance and maintain his feeling of uniqueness (by wanting him). She, therefore, possesses the power to manipulate him. Sometimes she does so because years of emotional deprivation and humiliation by the Narcissist have made her hate him.
If I did do this, it was on a subconsious level - but I do hate him now.
The Narcissist likes to believe that he is the maker of the decision which type of relationship he will establish with whom. He doesn't even bother to be explicit about it. Sometimes people believe that they have a "contractual" (binding and long-term) relationship with the Narcissist - while the latter entertains an entirely different notion without informing them. These, naturally, are grounds for innumerable disappointments and misunderstandings.
Well, this explains where I got the idea I was married to someone who was willing to work on goals as a couple. It also negates, in my opinion, what he implied earlier about the spouse of the Narcissist being just as guilty about a lack of having no real, mutually agreed upon narrative or agenda. It is unrealistic to expect someone to be an expert lie-detector when dealing with an expert liar.
At the risk of sounding defensive here, he was just lucky that I had gotten pregnant with two children right off, went into clinical depression and believed in trying to make a marriage work. If any one of these elements had been missing, I probably would have left a lot sooner. Well, at least if one of the last two was missing. If we hadn't had children and his emotional needs were the only ones I had to care for, I probably wouldn't have realized what an infantile person he actually was until much later.
The Narcissist uses this language to describe his relationship with his partner. He says that he has a contract with his girlfriend/spouse. This contract has emotional articles and administrative-economic articles.
"She said that was going to do certain things with the children before they were born and she didn't do them." And when the lawyer asked what those things were, my husband couldn't give specifics. I can give specifics on the things he swore he would or wouldn't do and then did the opposite. A one way contract, I would say.
This next part is confusing to me:
The Narcissist, though highly amoral (and at times, immoral), holds himself, morally, in high regard. He describes contracts as "sacred" and feels averse to cancelling or violating them even if they expired or were invalidated by the behaviour of the other parties. The Narcissist engages in asymmetric moral judgements. When violated by the partner the violation of a contract is deemed either trivial or nothing less than earth-shattering. If a contract is violated by the Narcissist he is invariably tormented by his conscience to the extent of calling the contract (the relationship) off even if the partner judges the violation to be trivial or explicitly forgives the Narcissist.
I guess this only happens if he hasn't found another way to justify his actions.
The annulment or the termination of a contract represent rejection and abandonment, which the Narcissist fears most. The Narcissist would rather pretend that a contract is still valid than admit to the demise of a relationship. He never violates contracts because he is afraid of the reprisals and of the emotional consequences. But this is not to be confused with developed morals. If confronted with a better alternative - one which more efficiently caters to his needs (see the next chapters) - the Narcissist will annul or violate a contract without thinking twice.
Moreover, not all contracts were created equal in the Narcissistic twilight zone. It is the Narcissist who retains the power to decide which contracts are to be scrupulously fulfilled and which offhandedly ignored. The Narcissist determines which laws (=social contracts) to obey and which to break. And he expects society, his partners, his colleagues, his spouse, his children, his parents, his students, his teachers - in short: absolutely everyone - to abide by his rulebook. White collar Narcissist criminals, for instance, see nothing wrong with their behaviour. They regard themselves as law-abiding, god-fearing, community-members. Their acts are committed in a mental reserve, an enclave, a psychological no man's land, where no laws or contracts are binding upon them.
Definitely a common trait among all the Narcissists I know.
He is likely to be grateful to his partner for having selected him. He is also be likely to berate her for doing precisely this and to think that no other would have been (or will be) as foolish, blind, or ignorant as to commit the same mistake and choose him. The stupidity and blindness of his mate or spouse is substantiated by the very fact that she IS his mate or spouse. Only a stupid and blind person would have preferred the Narcissist, with his myriad deficiencies, over others.
This feeling of perchance occurrence is the true source of the asymmetry in his relationships. The partner, having made this incredible choice, having elected to live with the Narcissist (=to bear this cross) is worthy of special consideration. The partner represents an eventuality as rare as a supernova or the appearance of a comet. The partner warrants special treatment and the application of a special (double) standard. The partner can be infidel, not contribute in any way (emotionally, financially), be dependent, be abusively critical and display unforgivable behaviours - and, yet, be forgiven unconditionally.
So, the nicer, more considerate, and more loyal the companion is - the more despised she becomes. This fits. It also explains why the bastard would act all so sweetly sometimes when I did lose my temper and called him a complete jerk.
I guess this also explains his depression when I did start to show signs of recovery from the morass of my life.
Ironically, I wrote a small story one Christmas for the tyrant woman which hinted to her having these same traits. I have it on my main public site, but I'll repost it here for a breather.
The Wishing Stone and The Rainmaker's Stick|
Copyright © 1998
On an arid plain, there was a village with a wise woman who could call the rain. Every spring she brought long soaking rains to prepare the fields for plowing and gentle rains for the young plants. In the summer, she called rains during the heat of the day to keep their leafier crops from bolting. The village became quite rich and all payed their respects to the wise woman.
One day a young and foolish young woman married a handsome, but cruel, man. After months of abuse, she ran away and hid in a cave. That night, as she tried to sleep on the cave floor, she found a small stone. With a sigh, she tossed it out of the cave. When the moon light hit the stone, it shined brillantly. The young woman retrieved the stone and gazed on the only brightness her life currently had.
"I wish had something to eat," she said to herself. At that moment, a wonderous smell came to her nose. She followed it and found a beautiful table covered with food. As she ate the delicious food, she thought about the stone. This must be a wishing stone, she thought to herself. She contemplated what she wanted most and then made her wish.
"I wish I had a gentle husband." The stone flashed. She put it her pocket and went back home. The house was empty when she returned. The next week she searched for her husband, but no one knew what happened to him. After awhile, she met a kind, gentle man and soon they were married. It was nice at first, but after awhile she saw her new husband's gentleness as a sign of weakness. In her pride, she started to despised him and felt that no one respected her for marrying him.
One day she ran across the wishing stone in her jewelry box. She held up the stone and spoked to it.
"I wish to be as greatly respected as the Rainmaker. Give me the wise woman's rainstick and all will treat me as I deserve!" The stick appeared in her hand. She clucthed it to her chest and danced around the room.
"Stick, I want to show my power to all. Bring me a powerful storm and show the village I mean business!"
At that moment, the most frightening, powerful storm ever to hit the village came. The fields were flooded and roofs were being blown off. The young woman ordered the rainstick to stop, but once the stick creates a storm, it cannot be stopped until it is finished. She grabbed the wishing stone again.
"O Great Wishing Stone! I wish you did not have the power to grant such foolish wishes. Please undo my folly!"
The rain stopped and the rainstick went back to its place. The young woman reconsidered her foolish pride and again saw the strength in her husband's gentleness. She then took the wishing stone to the wise woman and confessed her deeds.
The wise woman spoke gently to her, "My daughter, you have learned a great lesson and in spite of all the chaos you created, you did something truly wise."
"What was that?" the young woman asked.
"You wished away the stone's power to grant foolish wishes. Someday you will be the wise woman of this village."
And one day, she was.
Well, outside of the wishful part that these people might learn
from their mistakes, I think it does typify Narcissistic behavior.
Some of the anger is passively-aggressively expressed. The frequency of sexual relations is adversely affected. Less sex, less talk, less touch. Sometimes the aggression erupts volcanically in the form of rage attacks. These are usually followed by panicky reactions intended to restore the balance and to reassure the Narcissist that he is not about to be deserted or rejected. Following such rage attacks, the Narcissist resorts to passiveness, tenderness, appeasing gestures, or to wimpish and infantile behaviour. The same behaviour is not expected (and in certain cases, not accepted) from the partner. She is allowed to explode without as much as apologizing.
Gee. If only I knew about the last part before, I might had been able to stay - NOT. I hate irrational and extreme behaviors. I don't believe that it's okay to be a jerk to someone as long as you make it up to them afterwards. Yes, you should apologize, but you should try not to be a jerk in the first place.
This "one-man-selecting-committee" and "chosen product" dyad is only one of the pairs of roles adopted by the Narcissist and his partner. There are also "the sick" and "the healthy", or "the doctor/psychologist" and "the patient", "the poor, underprivileged girl" and "the white knight in shining armour" dyads and so on. These roles are analysed in detail in later chapters. Suffice it to say, at this stage, that both roles - even the one willingly (or unwillingly) adopted by the partner - are facets of the Narcissist's personality. Through complex projective identification processes and other projective defence mechanisms the Narcissist fosters a dialogue between parts of his self, using others as mirrors and communication conduits. The relationship has a highly therapeutic value on the one hand. On the other hand it suffers from all the symptoms of a successful (or, worse, a not so successful) therapy: transference, counter-transference and the like.
If he fulfils the role of the "healthy" he attributes to his partner his own inability to form long-standing, emotion-infused couple relationships. This would be because she is "sick" (sexually hyperactive, "Nymphomaniac", frigid, unable to commit, to be intimate, unjust, moody, or traumatized by events in her past). The Narcissist, on the other hand, judges himself to be perfect in this respect: homely and striving to establish a "healthy" couple. He interprets the behaviour of his partner in a manner supportive of this theory and she displays emergent behaviour, which conforms with her role. Sometimes, the Narcissist invests less in such a relationship because he regards his mere existence - sane, strong, omniscient - to be a sufficient investment (gift, really), voiding the need to add "maintenance efforts" on top of it.
Mom's the sick one. My brother does his damnedest to find a woman more screwed up than he is and then brags how stable he is. My husband maintained that he was the stable one in our marriage and I was the screwed up one. My former friend saw me as his "beseiged princess".
I feel nauseated now.
To explicate his bizarre brand of behaviour he elaborates these roles, which mask the true state of things, that the Narcissist is very sick, regardless of the state of the mental health of his partner.
I discovered this the hard way, people. After our marriage counselling failed, I told myself that if I got myself healthy that then maybe my husband would find the strength to admit his own problems and seek help. Don't ask me where I got this stupid idea - I was desperate and on the verge of being suicidal.
Strangely enough, if what Vaknin says next is true - my husband picked the wrong type of woman to marry when he married me. I have always been mature for my age, even if I don't look it and I've always had some idea on what I wanted to achieve. Maybe this is why all the mental health professional who treated me while we were still together expressed total confusion on why the two of us ever got together in the first place.
My only conclusion is that my childhood conditioning and virginity mimicked what he thought was ideal for him. I have always been loyal to a fault. Despite my own introvert tendencies, I expressed my affection usually in verbal terms and in non-erotic physical contact. I was always trying to find our areas of similarity.
I was also going through a great deal of stress at the time. Maybe my sisters are correct, I married him because I was at a weak period of my life and I was lonely.
The Narcissist reduces all women to two types: the Monoandric and the Polyandric.
The Monoandric woman is psychologically mature. She is usually also of ripe chronological age and sexually sated. She prefers intimacy and companionship to sexual satisfaction. She is in possession of a mental blueprint, which dictates her short-term goals. She emphasizes compatibility and is predominantly verbal.
The Narcissist reacts with fear and repulsion (mixed with rage and the wish to frustrate) to the Monoandric woman. Consciously, though, he realizes that intimacy can be created only with this kind of woman.
The Polyandric woman is young (if not chronologically, then at heart). She is still sexually curious and varies her sexual partners. She is not adept at creating intimacy and emotional rapport. Because she is more interested in the accumulation of experiences - her life is not guided by a "master plan", or even by medium-term goals.
The Narcissist is aware of the transience of his relationship with the polyandric woman. So, he is attracted to her while being devoured by a fear of being abandoned by her.
The Narcissist will, almost always, find himself paired with a polyandric woman. She poses no threat of getting emotionally close to him (=being intimate). The incompatibility between them is so high and the probability of abandonment and rejection so palpable - that intimacy cannot be forged against such a background. Moreover, this consuming fear of being left behind leads to the reconstruction of the primordial Oedipal conflict and to a whole set of transference relations with the woman. This complex inevitably results in the very abandonment so feared. Serious psychological crises follow (Narcissistic trauma or injury).
The incompatibility part. There are a few areas that my estranged husband and I clashed because of. I was raised in a high-tech, white-collar, middle class family. He was raised in a very blue-collar, lower income family. I had a religious father. He didn't. My family believed in education and that one should work smarter, not harder. If you grew beyond your current job, then you should go and find something that suited your needs better. His family believed that stubborness and sweat was the way to go and that if you had a job, you shouldn't leave it because you might not find something else.
Another thing, outside of the ones I'm related to, all the Narcissists I have let in my life, I had done during periods of EXTREME emotional, and mental stress - and come to think of it, physical stress too. I became involved with four of these people during the past decade or so when I have been showing suicidal tendencies. Six months before I began to date my husband, I came very close to killing myself. I was doing my dishes and something inside said, "I wonder what it would feel like if I stabbed myself with this knife?" I shook it off, but for a few more weeks, that thought kept returning. I told myself it was morbid curiosity, until the day I heard myself ask mentally, "Why don't you put your hand down the garbage disposal?" Now, that got my attention real quick because when I was twelve I had reached into our garbage disposal without thinking while it was still running to retrieve a washrag. I knew then that it wasn't curiosity, because I knew exactly how that felt - not that I cut myself badly then. I then began to do meditation exercises to relax and release some of the stress I was under. And I made sure my knives were never out for long.
When I met the tyrant woman, I knew I was suicidal (and was keeping my knives out of sight again) because the base my husband was working at was closing and he just didn't seem to want to do any serious job hunting and I thought her suggestion to join her group was just what I needed to keep me sane.
My former friend came along while I was trying my best to save my marriage. The person I added to my list, but will not talk about, latched on to me this past December when I was definitely stressed out and to be honest, I actually thought he was a psychopath and told him so. I was insane by my own standards back then and I knew it. I missed my children so bad that it ate away at me. The only thing that kept me in the world of the living was the knowledge that if I did die, they would be in the care of their father and I couldn't do that to them.
On the one hand, there is nothing like children to threaten a Narcissist. They are the embodiment of commonness, a reminder of his own, dark, childhood, and an infringement upon his privileges. On the other hand, there is nothing like children to boost an habitually flagging ego. In short, nothing like children to create conflict in the tormented soul of the Narcissist.
No wonder my husband is about the only person in this universe who thinks my children are horrible. I would use only plastic knives in my home before I would let him have complete custody of them.
Even worse, the Narcissist is likely to be a misogynist. He regards women as a direct threat to his uniqueness, a potential for degradation. To him they are the conformity agents of society, the domesticating whips. Through homemaking, child rearing and the assumption of long term consumer credits (and mortgages) - they are likely to reduce the Narcissist to a Common Man, his horror. Women represent an invasion of the Narcissist's privacy, unmasking his defence mechanisms by "X-raying" his soul (the Narcissist attributes unearthly powers of penetration to women).
Yep. My brother is definitely a misgynist. I suspect my husband is too. But neither one wants to be considered "defective" because they don't have a spouse. Maybe I should try to convince my brother that he is too special to have a wife or girlfriend. My mom tried to do that with her own brother, but it didn't work. I don't understand her reasons for it, though, and I'm not sure I want to.
Come to think of it, Mom and tyrant woman don't really like other women either. Neither does my paternal grandmother who is a great deal like my mother. I have learned to get over my prejudice over my own sex - I mistrust women and men equally now *wink*. Actually, I've evened out the playing field more. Though under stress, in the absence of my close women friends who I trust above EVERYBODY, I will still trust a man more than a woman.
Maybe it is because of the centuries of women having a more defined role in society than men in general. Maybe women represent comformity to Narcissistic women also. My problem was just that the major feminine influence of my life was a Narcissist and untrustworthy, while the major male influence life, though not around as much, was usually good to his word.
A profile of the Narcissist's spouse emerges:
She must value the Narcissist's company sufficiently to sacrifice any independent expression of her personality. She must usually endure confinement in her own home. She either refrains from bringing children to the world altogether or sacrifices them to the Narcissist as instruments of his gratification. She must endure long spells of sexual abstinence or be sexually molested by the Narcissist.
Ouch! Hits the target, except maybe the last phrase, but the way things were going, it may had been only a matter of time. His biggest gripe during the custody hearing was what I wouldn't let him discipline the children as he saw fit. He would also glare at me when I told him that he was playing too rough with them. He wanted me to let him have his way with them, but I wouldn't stand for it.
This is a vicious circle. The value of such a partner is bound to be considered very low by the Narcissist. The Narcissist detests self-sacrifice and self-annulment. He scorns such behaviour and humiliates the people that exhibit it. He behaves similarly towards his partner until she leaves him and, thus, proves herself to be different. Then, of course, he wants her back.
I'm not going back. Not now. Not ever.
The Narcissist is looking for the kind of woman that he is able to drive to abandon him by sadistically berating and humiliating her (on what could be regarded as justified grounds).
In his internal dialogues, the Narcissist heavily emphasizes his problematic experience with the opposite sex.
A woman is an emotional object for him. It is an instant Narcissistic solution. As long as she is indiscriminately supportive, adoring and admiring she fulfils the role of the supplier of applause, which is a critical one in the makeup of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
We are on safe ground, therefore, when we say that a mentally stable and healthy woman will not wish - or be able to - live with a Narcissist. His lifestyle, his reactions, in short: his disturbance, prevent the development of a mature love, of real sharing, of empathy. The woman is turned into an object by the Gorgon look of the Narcissist. She is the subject of projections, projective identifications and a source of adulation.
But no one said she had to stay unstable. Some of us do wake up and ask, "What am I doing to myself?"
Moreover, the Narcissist is not inclined to live with such a woman. He needs dependence, superior-inferior relationships (teacher-student, guru-disciple, idol-admirer, therapist-patient, doctor-patient, father-daughter, adult-adolescent or young girl, etc.).
The Narcissist largely belongs in the past. He is a Victorian arch conservative, even if he is unaware of it. He and feminism are anathema. He feels ill at ease in today's modern world and he is seldom self-conscious enough to understand why. He pretends to be a liberal. But this conviction does not fit with his envy, an inseparable component of his Narcissistic personality. His conservatism and jealousy combine to yield extreme possessiveness and a powerful fear of abandonment. The latter can (and does) bring about self-defeating and self-destructive behaviours. These, in turn, encourage the partner to abandon the Narcissist. The Narcissist, thus, feels that he aided and abetted the process, that he facilitated his own abandonment.
This is soooo true! So, so true.
And they may even project themselves even further back to being a "mountain man" or a knight of old.
To restore the proper balance of power the Narcissist must frustrate women. He must re-acquire a position of power, judgement and decision making. Women are anti-Narcissistic agents. They are perceived by the Narcissist to have an all-pervading, all-penetrating "X-rays" look, the kind that might reflect the Narcissist's TRUE self. This is a real threat. These ominous supernatural capacities evoke strong emotional reactions chez-le-Narcissist.
I'm sorry. I mean, I do agree that they probably see it that way, but this strikes me as extremely funny. Maybe I've just reached my shock threshhold and have entered the realm of silliness.
The Narcissistic drive is often the winner. The Narcissist vows not to be like others. Being superhuman, the Narcissist needs no one and nothing and competes with none. He is special so he engages in nothing as ordinary, as bestial, as common as sex. He is strong and thus allows no one and no thing (read sex) to have the upper hand.
He realizes that he sounds incredible, or, worse, ridiculous, and so he vows to frustrate his adversaries (for instance, women). He will be unavailable when they want him. This fulfils a dual purpose: to prove to them how different, superior and invincible he is and to sadistically punish them and delight in their despair. The Narcissist rebels against their expectations (and the world's). It is through rebellion that he achieves his distinction. Actually, any kind of conformist or institutionalized success is likely to prove threatening because it entails the loss of uniqueness. A conformist, routine and common way to succeed is not "not unique, different, or special" and is, by definition, a direct challenge. Additionally, there will always be someone more successful (=more unique) than the Narcissist, dwarfing his uniqueness. A rebellion is different, it is rare, and there is no real competition. After all, there are no agreed criteria as to what constitutes a "successful rebellion". Rebellion, by its nature, is not comparable, it is unique, sui generis.
And thus explains why my husband would get amorous when I couldn't possibily induldge him and suddenly not interested when I could.
Well, I think that's enough for the moment. I'll wade through the FAQs tomorrow.
July 19, 2000
Reading the FAQs now. I found a good summary of a Narcissist Personality Disorder in therapy:
Still, IF (and 'tis a BIG IF) a person suffers from a Narcissistic Personality Disorder, therapy, in most cases, can only mitigate and ameliorate, but not cure.
Only Narcissists, who go through a severe life crisis, tend to consider the possibility of therapy at all. When they attend the therapeutic sessions, they, usually, bring all their rigid defense mechanisms to the fore. The therapy quickly becomes a tedious - and useless - affair to both therapist and patient.
Most Narcissists are very intelligent. They base their grandiose fantasies on this natural advantage. When faced with a reasoned analysis, which shows that they are the victims of NPD - most of them will accept and acknowledge the new information. But first they have to face it - and this is the difficult part: they all are deniers of reality.
Moreover, assimilating the information is a mere process of labeling. It has no psychodynamic effects. It does not affect the Narcissist's behaviour patterns and interactions with his human environment. These are the products of exceedingly rigid mental mechanisms in long action.
Narcissists are PATHOLOGICAL liars. This means that they are either unaware of their lies - or feel completely justified and at ease in lying to others. Later, they are bound to believe in their own lies and attain "retroactive veracity". Their very essence is a huge, contrived, lie: the FALSE Self, the grandiose FANTASIES, and the IDEALIZED objects.
Personality disorders are ADAPTIVE in nature. This means that they help to resolve mental conflicts and the anxiety, which, normally, accompanies them.
Narcissists will contemplate suicide (suicidal ideation) when they go through a Narcissistic crisis - but they are not more likely to go beyond the contemplation phase than others.
Narcissists are, in a way, sadists. They are likely to use verbal and psychological abuse and violence against those closest to them. Some of them will move from the abstract sphere of aggression (the emotion leading to violence and permeating it) to the physically concrete sphere of violence. However, I have seen no research proving that they are more prone to do so than any other group in the population.
The NPD is a newcomer to the zoo of mental disorders. It was not fully defined until the late 80s. The discussion, analysis and study of Narcissism are as old as psychology - but there is a great difference between being a "mere" Narcissist and having a NPD. So, no one has a clue as to how widespread this particular personality disorder is - or, even, how widespread personality disorders are (estimates range between 3 and 15% of the population. I think 5-7% would be a fair estimate).
Sam Vaknin - FAQ #2
I've decided that I am going to write my own book on how to overcome Narcissistic enabling. I think that one of the colossal lies in this world is that someone who finds themself in an abusive situation is too weak to overcome because if they were that smart/strong/healthy they wouldn't have ended up in that situation in the first place.
Hogwash. I believe that not only can people become smarter/stronger/healthier, but many end up in abusive situations due to plain and simple ignorance. It has never occurred to them that there is another way to live. Humans are highly adaptable creatures. It is ability to alter our environment and ourselves that makes us so successful as a species. To deny that ability to change is to give into the greatest lie of all time. But the ability means nothing without the desire. If you have no desire to change, nothing short of a major disaster is going to make you change - and even then it may only be a temporary thing unless you see the advantage of keeping the change.
FAQ 4 - Coping with a Narcissist:
The short answer is by abandoning him or by threatening to abandon him. The threat to abandon need not be explicit or conditional ("If you don't do or if you do something - I will desert you"). It is sufficient to confront the Narcissist, to insist, to shout back. The Narcissist is tamed by the very same weapons that he employs to subjugate others.
Mirror the Narcissists actions and repeat his words. If he threatens - threaten back and credibly try to use the same language and content. If he leaves the house - leave it as well, disappear on him. If he is suspicious - act suspicious. Be critical, denigrating, humiliating, go down to his level - because that is where he permanently is. Faced with his mirror image - the Narcissist will always recoil.
We must not forget: the Narcissist does all these things to foster and encourage abandonment. Reflected at him, the Narcissist will see the imminent, impending abandonment, which is the inevitable result of his actions and words. This sight will so terrify him - that it will induce an incredible alteration of his behaviour. He will instantly succumb and try to make amends, moving from one (cold and bitter, cynical and misanthropic, cruel and sadistic) pole to another (warm, even loving, the sort of fuzzy, engulfing emotion that we feel on a particularly good or successful day).
The other way is to abandon him and go about reconstructing your life. Very few people deserve the kind of investment that is an absolute prerequisite to living with a Narcissist. To cope with a Narcissist is a full time, energy and emotion-draining job, which reduces the persons around the Narcissist to insecure nervous wrecks. Who deserves such a sacrifice?
No one, to my mind, not even the most brilliant, charming, breathtaking, suave Narcissist. The glamour and trickery wear thin and underneath them a monster lurks which sucks the affect, distorts the cognition and irreversibly influences the lives of those around it to the worse.
I can see this working and I'm grateful that Vaknin posted this advice. I find some inherent flaws with the next part, though:
Trying to change them is a wrong strategy. The two viable strategies are either accepting them as they are or avoiding them altogether. If one accepts a narcissist as he is - one should cater to his needs. His needs are part of what he is. Would you have ignored a physical handicap? Would you not have assisted a quadriplegic? The Narcissist is an emotional invalid. He needs constant adulation. He cannot help it. So, if one chooses to accept him - it is a package deal, all his needs included.
Yes, it is true, but:
1) only if you have knowledge of what you are dealing with in the first place. If we are talking about a mere 6% or so of the total populous, it is unreasonable to expect people in general to have the knowledge and experience to make this decision reasonably.
2) and people can change. In fact, it has been stated that a Narcissist can and will change if circumstances force him to. It is not a matter of ability, but of desire.
Many of us forget, however, how powerful desires can be. We want to believe ourselves above them, which often makes us even more susceptible to their influence - like a sailor ignoring the current - and we end up caught in the eddies without a clue of how we got there. Then a real battle lies before us, for not only do we have to fight the natural consequences of our actions (or lack of), but we must also fight the forces that put us there in the first place.
FAQ #6 (I'm simplifying it here. Hit the link above to read the whole answer yourself.):
What kind of a spouse/mate/partner is likely to be attracted to a Narcissist?
On the face of it, there is no (emotional) partner or mate, who typically "binds" with a Narcissist. They come in all shapes and sizes. The initial phases of attraction, infatuation and falling in love are pretty normal. The Narcissist is putting on his best face the other party is blinded by budding love. A natural selection process occurs only much later, as the relationship develops and is put to the test.
First and foremost, the Narcissist's partner must have a deficient or a distorted grasp of his self and of reality. Otherwise, he (or she) is bound to abandon the Narcissist's precarious ship early on. The distortion is likely to belittle and demean the partner while aggrandizing and adoring the Narcissist. The partner is, thus, placing himself in the position of the eternal victim: undeserving, punishable, a scapegoat. Sometimes, it is very important to the partner to appear moral, sacrificial and victimized. At other times, he is not even aware of his predicament. The Narcissist is perceived by the partner to be a person in the position to demand these sacrifices from the partner, superior in many ways (intellectually, emotionally, morally, financially).
I'll admit a distorted sense of myself when my husband and I were dating. We also were only engaged three months and were very busy with our full time jobs (and in my case, college classes). The date made sense, since by coincidence, both our leases were up at the same time and it didn't make sense to pay two rents when we were going to be married anyway. Living together would not had solved anything. Not only was it against both our moral beliefs, but many of his traits didn't not become obvious until a few years later and by that time I had had two children within 14 months of each other and a major crisis on my side of the family which sunk me into clinical depression.
I also gave up my education and my career, though now he insists that was completely my idea. He took over my car, my tools, and a lot of my other possessions. He sacrificed my teeth and my general health.
It is possible that had I not be depressed, I may had seen the light sooner, but I was completely unaware of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I thought that with some patience and lots of love that everything would straighten itself out sooner or later - and why shouldn't I? That was what everyone else was telling me I was suppose to do. My therapist and counsellor hinted that the problem was deeper, but neither one gave me enough information to act upon.
In short, I was playing checkers when I should have been playing chess and I couldn't see the playing pieces clearly enough to know that was the problem. I will not allow myself be branded as "defective" person because of my ignorance. To quote my HS Chemistry teacher: "Never confuse ignorance with stupidity. Ignorance can be cured."
It is through self-denial that the partner survives. He denies his wishes, hopes, dreams, aspirations, sexual needs, psychological needs, material needs, everything, which might engender the wrath of the Narcissist God-like supreme figure. The Narcissist is rendered even more superior through and because of this self-denial. It is easy to explain self-denial undertaken to facilitate and ease the life of a Great Man. The Greater the Man (=the Narcissist), the easier it is for the partner to ignore his self, to dwindle, to degenerate, to turn into an appendix of the Narcissist and, finally, to become nothing but an extension, to merge with the Narcissist to the point of oblivion and of dim memories of one's self.
Again, I must wonder if I had not become clinically depressed, whether or not I would have let this still happen. I didn't let my mother get away with it anymore than I had to in order to avoid physical reprecussions. There is no denying that this was my husband's ultimate goal in our marriage. *smile* In our sessions with the counselor, my husband insisted that he was the one that wanted to discuss our problems, but that I didn't want to hear it. I kept pointing out that I did try to discuss things, but his idea of discussing a problem was to pronounce what he thought I should do, without any consideration to my reality - like a blind god from Olympus.
A suspension of judgement is part and parcel of a suspension of individuality, which is both a prerequisite to and the result of living with a Narcissist. The partner no longer knows what is true and right and what is wrong and forbidden. The Narcissist recreates for the partner the sort of emotional ambience that led to his formation in the first place: capriciousness, fickleness, arbitrariness, emotional (and physical or sexual) abandonment. The world becomes uncertain and frightening and the partner has only one sure thing to cling to: the Narcissist.
Yeah, right. Sure that's what my husband and mother and brother wanted, but I never sunk quite that far. I do have my limits. I clinged more to my religion than them, which they then tired to subtly seperate me from. I was accused about loving God more than them. Being too judgemental. Too narrow minded. (I still don't see that not believing in falling in love at first sight as being narrow-minded - no matter what my brother who can't have a stable relationship may think.)
If I had not fought for my children, my friends, my church activities, my internet connection - perhaps I may have reached this state in time.
And cling he does. If there is anything which can safely be said about those who emotionally team up with Narcissists, it is that they are overtly and overly dependent, even compulsively so.
I dare you to find someone, besides one of the narcissistic abusers I've hooked up with in a moment of weakness, who thinks I'm compulsively dependent. I think this is just a narcissistic attempt to defend the treatment they give their significant others.
Of course, it may be argued that I don't truly become emotionally dependent on the Narcissist. I am an introvert by nature and am often quite happy to be by myself. Still, even I need someone to talk to and commune with, though honestly I feel a deeper connection to the characters I create than with most people. (There are some exceptions.)
The partner doesn't know what to do - and this is only too natural in situations of conflict, as any relationship with a Narcissist is. But the typical partner also does not know what he wants and, to a large extent, who he is and what he wants to become. A lack of answers to these questions is serious.
I knew what I wanted from my life. I even had a rough outline for my goals and dates of when I wanted to acheive them by. I made these goals quite clear to my husband while we were engaged.
I was not expecting to get pregnant on my wedding night. I did not forsee the manager, who first convinced the plant to have me transferred from our national headquarters, would get promoted to a bigger plant and that I would have the man who most objected to my coming in to end up as my boss. I'm not clairvoyant, people. I can't see the future. I cannot plan for every contingency. I may have possessed these traits for a period, but it was a temporary condition - not a perennial character flaw.
I'm expected to accept that a Narcissist can't help himself and that by being married to one for almost a decade makes me some little pathetic weakling. Well, guess what? I'm not buying it, people. I am not going to fall into the trap of believing I'm hopelessly flawed. I may not be perfect, but I am going to try to be the best person I can.
They told the Wright brothers that man could never fly. Why should I listen to those who imply by their "absolute" statements that I cannot become an emotionally healthy human being?
I'm not saying that Vaknin is completely wrong - and I may be the exception that proves the rule. But I do know that even at my worst, I did not exhibit this degree of weakness. Though it had been severely repressed during my childhood, I have always had a fighting spirit. I do not crumble easily.
Or as my mother put it - I'm silently rebellious. *grin* She then went on to insist that despite my lack of outward rebellion, that I was probably the most rebellious of all her offspring. Many people describe me as silently stubborn. I do not shout, scream, throw tantrums, or make speeches 98% of the time. I work around people. I'm very good at it. People try to stop me from doing stuff and before they know it, I've achieved my goal anyway. As a former work associate said of me - if I can't go through a problem, I will either go around it, climb over it, or dig a tunnel under it, but I rarely let it stop me.
And, yes, I'm very good at unnerving people. This may be the trait that my husband felt mirrorred his own personality. This and my stubborness. The difference is that he does it on purpose and I try not to.
It is serious because it hampers the partner's ability to gauge reality, evaluate and appraise it for what it is. His primordial sin is that he fell in love with an image, not with a real person. It is the voiding of the image that is mourned when the relationships end.
I'll admit guilt to this, though I had actually mourned the loss of my husband's image some years before I left. That was when I started to go back to my writing and began to consider getting back into the workforce. He threw up a lot obstacles in my way and it's hard to get a good job in a college town when two of its major industries were pulling out.
FAQ #8 - The Narcissistic reaction to being classified as one.
Under normal circumstances, the Narcissist will deny that he is one (denial defense mechanism) and react with rage to any hint at being so classified. The Narcissist employs a host of intricate and interwoven defense mechanisms: rationalization, intellectualization, projection, projective identification, suppression and denial (to name but a few) - to sweep his Narcissism under the psychological carpet.
When at risk of getting in touch with the reality of being mentally disturbed (and, as a result, with his emotions) - the Narcissist displays the whole spectrum of emotional reactions usually associated with bereavement. At first he denies the facts, ignores them and distorts them to fit an alternative, coherent, non-Narcissistic, interpretation.
Then, he becomes enraged. Wrathful, he attacks the people and social institutions that are the constant reminders of his true state. Than he sinks into depression and sadness. This phase is, really, a transformation of the aggression that he harbors into self-destructive impulses. Horrified by the potential consequences of being aggressive towards the very sources of his Narcissistic supply - the Narcissist resorts to self-attack, or self-annihilation. Yet, if the evidence is hard and still coming, the Narcissist will accept himself as such and try to make the best of it. The Narcissist is a survivor and (while rigid in most parts of his personality) - very inventive and flexible when it comes to securing Narcissistic supply. The Narcissist could, for instance, channel this force positively - or defiantly caricature the main aspects of Narcissism so as to attract attention (albeit negative).
So, unless I'm willing to invest a lot of time, it would serve no purpose to tell the Narcissists in my life what they are.
But in most cases, the reflexes of avoidance will prevail. The Narcissist will feel disenchanted with the person or persons who presented him with proof of his Narcissism. He will disconnect - swiftly and cruelly - and part ways with them, often without as much as an explanation (same as he would when he envies someone).
This may explain my friend's sudden dissertion. He won't be back. *His* one and only was a woman from his late teens - early twenties. He missed her, even though she had married someone else, divorced and gone on to live her own life. Told me once that his body went through all sorts of stress whenever he would accidently run into her.
They had broken up in the first place because her abusive (according to him) family felt he was no good for her. I suspect there was truth on both sides. He told me how guilty he felt to know that she was be beaten at home for being with him - yet he did nothing to correct the situation. He didn't stop seeing her. He didn't help her to get out of the situation - though she may had not let him. But it sounded like he just let it happened and took it as an example of how much she loved him. Though I had never said anything, that had always bothered me. I protect what I love. I will even take a hit or two for someone else. Of course, I will make the offending party (NOT THE INTENDED VICTIM) pay in some way - usually in guilt.
I do hope that this woman has found happiness.
He will develop paranoid theories to explain why people, events, institutions and circumstances tend to confront him with his Narcissism and he will, bitterly and cynically, oppose them or avoid them. As anti-Narcissistic agents they would constitute no less than a threat to the very coherence and continuity of his personality and this probably serves to explain the ferocity, malice, obduracy, consistency and exaggeration which characterize his reactions. His reaction only seems disproportional from the outside. Faced with the potential collapse or dysfunctioning of his False Self - the Narcissist also faces the terrible consequences of being left alone and defenseless with his sadistic, maligned, self-destructive Superego.
This is my brother. You should hear him after he's lost another job.
BTW, according to my mother, the government is secretly pushing brown sodas on the unsuspecting public to create a nation of potential organ donors. Just thought I'd let you know ;-)
In his drive for Narcissistic Supply, would the Narcissist be callous enough to exploit the tragedy of others, if this exploitation were to secure a new supply source?
I'm going to answer this one - YES! Mom does this all the time. She tells people about other people's problem and expects you to express mounds of sympathy - first for the person and then for her for being so wonderful to stand by this poor individual during their time of need.
When I had major reconstructive oral surgery at 19, the sister just younger than me was having SEVERE headaches. Her CAT scan showed that she had an area of swelling in her head. Before I went back to college, Mom and I went to my old highschool to pick up my sister's assignments and ran into some of my old science teachers in the hall.
My mouth was wired shut, though Mom takes over conversations anyway, so I just stood there as she told them about my eleven hour surgery and how my oral surgeon joked about my head being so hard that if I fell head first, I'd do more damage to the ground. (This was true, BTW.) Of course, that wasn't the type of thing to generate a great deal of pity, so she quickly went on to describe my sister's "pitiful" state. I don't know if my sister appreciated being described in such a way, but at least Mom talking about her instead of me.
The only problem was - I had lost over 3 pints of blood during my surgery without a transfusion and as Mom went into emotionally charged detail about my sister's problem - the hall began to spin around me. I tried to get my mother's attention a few times, but she was too enrapt in describing the angst she was going through over my sister's condition. I looked around for a place to sit, but there wasn't anything nearby.
My teachers noticed my distress and began to look at my mother and back towards to me and back again, with panic in their eyes. While I was anticipating how ironic it would be if one of my mother's daughters actually fainted next to her, while she was milking sympathy for another daughter, one of my teachers finally managed to interrupt my mother and pointed out that I was looking almost gray.
One the way out, my mother scolded me for not telling her I was getting dizzy and then went on how I made her look bad. It was a good thing my mouth was wired shut. I don't think she would have appreciated the maniacal laughter I was thinking.
You can go here for Vaknin's answer.
His FAQ #12 does say something about getting better and leaving your Narcissist, but I don't completely agree with his suggestions. Sure I could be a total bitch to my husband, but I have to take account on how it will affect my children. And he realizes this and compensates by not talking to me about 95% of the time unless he knows the kids are around.
Another thing, Vaknin claims that Narcissists mellow with time. I have been told by professionals that they actually get worse. Everything I've read from other sites, say this also. The only hope for a Narcissist is for him to wake up and realize that the problem is him and not the rest of the world. I suspect some self-deception here, but that is only to be expected. It is a common human trait.
The Narcissist is not entirely responsible for his actions. Should we judge him, get angry at him, be upset by him? Above all, should we communicate our displeasure with him - to him?
The Narcissist knows to tell right from wrong. He is perfectly capable of anticipating the results of his actions and their influence on his human environment. The Narcissist is very perceptive and sensitive to the subtlest nuances. He has to be: the very integrity of his personality depends upon human input from the outside.
But the Narcissist does not care. Unable to empathize, he does not fully experience the outcomes of his deeds and decision. For him, humans are dispensable, rechargeable, reusable. They are there to fulfil a function: to supply him with Narcissistic supply (adoration, admiration, approval, affirmation, etc.) They do not have an existence apart from the carrying out of their duty.
True: it is the disposition of the Narcissist to treat humans in the inhuman way that he does. However, this propensity is absolutely controllable. The Narcissist has a choice - he just doesn't think anyone is worth making it.
This guy really needs to make up his mind. He said earlier that Narcissists couldn't help themselves and now he's saying basically what I said earlier about the desire to change. I suppose we could say that the Narcissist can't help it because he incapable of empathy and caring, but it sounds like we're splitting hairs to me.
It is a fact that the Narcissist can behave completely differently (under identical circumstances) - depending who is involved. He will not be enraged by the behaviour of an important person (=with a potential to supply him Narcissistically). But, he will become absolutely violent with his nearest and dearest under the same circumstances. This is because they are captives, they do not have to be won over, the Narcissistic supply coming from them side is taken for granted.
A point I made a few days back. Perhaps he is evolving in his understanding of his disorder. Heaven knows that my earlier journal entries state thoughts that I have since revised. If this is so with him, then I applaud his growth.
FAQ 15 is a good summary of personality disorders in general. I may need to make a seperate page for this site and quote from it.
FAQ 16 is an reply in regard to a woman's post about her boyfriend. Her words are not quoted, but Vaknin's response is interesting.
If you are dealing with a NPD, then by all means go and read the rest of the FAQs. I may even continue my review here later, but right now I'm bushed and I don't want to beat a dead horse. I'll just say that there are somethings I can collaborate with and others I disagree with. And I still think Vaknin contradicts himself on certain things, despite his insistance that the contradiction is only an apparent one.
But then again, I did test as an INTJ and INTJs tend to believe that BS is BS unless you give a clear example why not. And I don't believe that just because someone has internalized their motivations makes them any less capable of changing them. Must be that "J" thingy...
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