Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Narcissistic personality development and what you are to a narcissist

Everything a narcissist says or does in interacting with others is for effect. He is just posing before a mirror (your face) to admire his image in it. That's what he's relating to, not you.

Make sure that sinks in. An image helps greatly to bring home the importance of this fact about narcissists. There is a Website that publishes the account of a survivor of a relationship with a narcissist. The home page elegantly depicts what you are to a narcissist in a simple graphic. It is a picture of a human being with a mirror instead of a face. That's you. That's all you are to a narcissist.

Even if that narcissist is your mother, that's all you are to her.

That's a traumatic fact to face. So traumatic that having to face it about her own mother or father is probably what made her a narcissist.

She's a damaged person, a person whose person-ality development was arrested at a very early age (before the age of three or four) by such a trauma. So, she's incapable of viewing others any other way.

The next time you get a chance to observe an infant or toddler, do. Notice how they relate to others. Notice, for example, than an infant in his mother's arms will just, out-of-the-blue, whack her in the face. We think nothing of that because the infant doesn't know any better. He doesn't know it will hurt her. To him, she's just an object, like a chair or something.

The problem with narcissists and psychopaths is that they never get past this stage. That is why they view others as objects and have no empathy. Though we have no memory of these early years, if you think back to your earliest memories, you do sometimes get a hint of what the world and the people in it were to you back then.

This is because we are born with a mind that is a blank slate. During our first years, the framework of the human mind is being acquired, integrated and established. This is when we develop our concept of self, when we begin to view ourselves as a discreet entity, a person, and develop a person-ality. This is also when we eventually discover that others are not just objects that we control by smiling or bawling, but persons in their own right. This is also when we discover that we are not the center of the universe, around which everything revolves.

Narcissists may grow up with a mind that works well enough to be a rocket scientist, but they never develop a normal human personality (which is why NPD is categorized as a personality disorder). In other words, they never develop a normal human mentality.

Whether this is by choice or not is practically a moot point, because this is a survival tactic.

The insidious thing about NPD is that, at an early age, narcissists realize that they are different. And they try to hide that. They become experts at passing for normal. They mimic the normal human reactions they see in others. At a funeral, for example, even as children they look around to see how others are behaving and mimic grief. A keen observer will notice the signs that it's put on. Yet we never wish to think so badly of people, so we often blow off our instincts about insincerity in them. Often narcissists put on an empathy-act too thick, so that you do a double-take because it seems like sarcasm or parody. But they are serious and just over-acting, because to them it is melodrama, not motivated by real human emotion.

So, though narcissists pass for normal, they are not. They are nowhere near normal.

P.S. I lost the URL to that Website mentioned above, so if anybody knows it, please post it in a comment.

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At 1:06 PM, Anonymous SpecialK said...

Kathy, as usual, you hit this one right out of the park! What I can't understand though (hopefuly I never will) is how they are the most well-mannered (initially) individuals you will ever meet. I mean every N that I have ever sized up will thank you profusively, say excuse me; give you undivided attention; compliment (a.k.a flattery) you beyond what is merited, and offer to help out the in the most unsuspecting way. It seems like to me this is a lot of work for a NUT. However, true to their script, they mimic manners in ways that normal people do not. This is how they engage you and spin you into their web. Then when they show you the other side (and believe me it's only a matter of time) you are left confused beyond words. Once more, don't even try to disparage them to someone who is enamored by them they won't believe you for a million dollars (unless they show themselves to them). In making an observation of the headlines with persons such Dutch boy in Aruba (I strongly suspect he is but won't disparage him here) one of the first things I heard about him was how POLITE he was. These are very dangerous people, hopefully parents can do a better job at raising their children to better observers of character rather than falling for indviduals off the cuff.

At 4:00 PM, Blogger Kathy K said...

I wish I didn't know so much about them. I could have lived without the experience. But I agree: they go to so much trouble to carve out a false image of themelves -- one that is the very opposite of what they really are. I figure they go to so much trouble because because they are desperate for prey. They need attention, and they need somebody to put down, desperately. Otherwise, why would anyone go to that much trouble?

At 4:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

exactly right. My mother, who is a n is overly polite to strangers. They believe anything she tells them and they believe her to be the sweetest old lady in the world. What they don't know is how she is in the confines of her home, around her family. Totally like night and day. If there is a family friend or stranger that walks in she is all smiles and sweetness though. Sad really believe me


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