Thursday, December 15, 2005

How I found out about NPD

Believe it or not, I found out about narcisssism on a television drama. It was years ago on an episode of Law & Order. The story was about prosecutors trying to convict a guy of murder.

Here's the storyline, though I no longer remember all the details:

This guy's gay lover was dead, and he claimed the lover committed suicide. (Don't get off on the wrong scent: the story has nothing to do with homosexuality.) He said the lover stabbed himself with a kitchen knife, in their kitchen, right before his eyes. Suspicious of course, law enforcement nevertheless concluded from the evidence that his story was true and that no charges should be brought.

But then he OFFERED them information that lead them to discover that a previous lover of his had similarly "committed suicide." Go figure!

The details are a bit foggy, but if I remember correctly, the way he tipped off the investigators was by revealing that he had lived elsewhere under a different name. Naturally the police checked out his record under that name and found that he had been tried and acquitted for murder of that other lover.

Lightning strikes twice? Nah.

So, they prosecuted him for the murder of this lover. But, of course, we and the invesitigators are plagued by a nagging question: This doesn't make sense. It was suicidal for him to volunteer that information about his former identity, so why on earth did he do it? He had to know that it would get him charged with murder!

This is the point in the show where I sat up straight in my chair thinking, "That's just like ___. There can't be two people in the world like that!"

No, the person I had in mind hadn't murdered anybody as far as I knew and wasn't gay. But her bizarre behavior struck you the same way -- as just out of this world, but from the same planet as this guy's on the TV show. I couldn't even put my finger on what was the same about his behavior and hers, but I instinctively recognized it as the same -- basically backwards, flying in the face of human nature.

In fact, wanting to know why on earth he'd draw suspicion on himself is the only thing that made me stay up late to watch the show.

He was so smart and cunning a liar that he was beating the wrap again!

But finally one of the prosecutors had an attack of the Aha! Syndrome and realized what kind of person she was dealing with -- right there in courtroom while she had him on the witness stand. Boom -- it dawned on her that he was a narcissist.

Now she knew he wasn't acting on normal human premises, but rather on narcissistic ones. So, she knew exactly how to push his buttons to get him to spill his guts.

End of story. It turns out that he wasn't so smart after all -- just so weird that everything he did blind-sided everybody.

What had happened? Actually, he had not murdered his most recent lover. He had just abused that lover to drive him to suicide.

In despair, that lover plotted revenge. He knew about the previous lover and logically concluded that, with that skeleton in the closet, he could frame his abusive lover by making his suicide look like murder. So, he told acquantainces that he was going to leave and that he feared this guy might try to kill him rather than let him go. Then, when he killed himself, he deliberately did it in a way that made it look like murder. He called the guy into the kitchen and taunted him that this was his way of "winning" for once ... and then stabbed himself.

That enraged the narcissist. HE had to "win." And by "win" I mean "win" = triumph, rise as victor over his dead lover -- not just luck out by default because no charges were brought. It was the narcissist's way of grinding his heel into his abused lover's chest one last time to prove that he was powerless and that the narcissist was God Almighty. He had to prove that nothing this worm could do would affect God Almighty. Even if he had to pursue the worm beyond the grave to have the last word in this matter.

Narcissists cannot help it: they must always win. So, this one had to win by beating the wrap. In other words, he wanted to face trial for murder, because he needed to defeat his dead lover's purpose by lying his head off (as usual) to fool everybody with his angel-face and get himself acquitted. How crazy is that? But that's exactly the way a narcissist thinks.

So, when no charges were brought, he tipped off the investigators about his former identity to insure that a murder charge would be brought -- just so he could quash his dead lover's dying taunts and thereby WIN.

The end of the story? Yes he was acquitted in this case. But on the witness stand he had given new evidence against himself for the murder of his previous lover -- which he was indeed guilty of -- and would be re-tried and convicted for it.

The next day, I looked up narcisissmm on the Internet and was astounded at what I found. The malignant woman with an angel-face who bewildered me wasn't unique at all. She was one of a kind of people like this who are all too common. A kind of people who feed on the rest of us like vampires and who are so predictable they are practically machinelike in their behavior.

If you are recently reeling from this discovery, another Website I recommend for getting a good, non-technical explanation is Joanna Ashmunn's How to Recognise a Narcissist. It too is written by a writer who has had to deal with narcissists = someone with your point of view.

Not that you shouldn't also get information from professionals and even perhaps read the accounts of narcissists who tell about narcissism on the Internet. But, especially at first, you need to see that you're not the only one this has happened to, and you need a reality check from someone who's actually been there and felt the pain and seen what unbelievable things these angel-faces do behind closed doors. Then what the professionals say will be easier to understand and learn from.

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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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Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Talking with a Narcissist

I can't be sure of this, but I've found it in two narcississts I knew well: They were terrible at recognizing faces and remembering names. Embarrasingly bad. But both were good at hiding it, so you had to know them well and get lucky to catch them unable to fake it often enough to realize this about them.

The impression I got from both these people is that their mind was going a-mile-a-minute while interracting with you, that they couldn't pay attention to what you were saying because they were too busy thinking of what they were going to say next. Then they'd blurt it before you were even finished, as though unaware that you were in the middle of a sentence. Needless to say, they were always getting what you said screwed up.

This makes sense if you remember that you are just a mirror they're posing before in an interraction. They aren't interested in you or anything you have to say. They are interested only in the image of themselves being reflected by your behavior. You yourself -- your face, your voice, what you say -- gets filtered out like the picture on the wall behind you or background noise out on the street.

If they meet you again tommorrow, they won't recognize you, let alone remember your name. That's how self-absorbed they are.


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Friday, December 09, 2005

Narcissistic Self Absorption

A malignant narcissist is fixated 100% of the time on his image. To the exclusion of virtually all other sensation — sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings. In other words, he is absorbed in/by his image. In that state, his brain filters out (tunes out) all other information. This is a habitual, more or less permanent state of consciousness. The result is that a narcissist misses an astonishing amount of what's right before his eyes.

For example, a narcissist often fails to notice even a drastic change in the weather outside. My most memorable observation of this occurred while I was getting hectically blabbed at by a narcissistic woman who thought I should be interested in every mundane thing she had to do that day. A few errands and a trip to the grocery store. Oh, she was so busy, busy, busy and these household chores were so demanding. Especially on this gloomy day in the rain. My jaw dropped, because we were standing next to a bank of huge windows, showing that the sky had cleared a couple hours ago and that the sun was brilliantly shining.

Narcissists get so self-absorbed that they filter out (as background "noise") an astounding amount of what they see, hear, touch, taste, and feel. The result is that they live in a kind of hypnotic, autistic state.

Since the narcissist identifies with his image, his absorption in it is self absorption. It's like absorption in a book or a computer or television screen. People with good power of concentration can become absorbed in thought. In fact, to some degree, we are always absorbed in whatever we are paying attention to. Our ability to become absorbed enables us to focus, or concentrate. Great tennis players, for example, report being so absorbed in the approaching ball, that it actually seems to grow larger, filling their field of view. The result is — whack — a beautifully heavy shot right off dead-center on the strings.

Our brains accomplish this focus by filtering out 99% of the information they receive and diverting it to areas in unconscious zones. There, it does not distract us. For example, that's what your brain is doing right now with the sensation of your butt pressing down on the chair you're sitting in. Right? You were unaware of that sensation, till I mentioned it. Then it instantly leapt to consciousness. That's because the brain is a relational database that immediately retrieved that information, calling it to consciousness when it was referenced.

So, a narcissist's absorption is just an extreme degree of the same thing. When you are talking with him, he isn't paying attention to what you're saying. He's absorbed in the image of him your behavior is reflecting.

The narcissists I have known well really seem to find it hard to pay attention to what you're saying, even if they want to.

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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The Intelligence of Narcissists and Whom They Target

Like all predators, narcissists target the vulnerable.

Many things can make a person vulnerable. Being smaller than the narcissist. Having less power in the company. Having dangerous enemies. Having a bad reputation. Being defenseless in any way. Being gentle. Being too moral to get as down-and-dirty as the narcissist does. Loving the narcisist makes you very vulnerable. Being the narcissist's benefactor also makes you vulnerable. (That's because we love those we sacrifice for, because to do otherwise would be to devalue ourselves. We also have good reason to expect goodwill from those who owe us gratitude, so we are trusting -- totally blind-sided by their malice.)

A narcissist targets the small, defenseless, or gentle because he can have the most powerful effect on them. It's more fun to bash something small to smithereens than it is to just dent something big. So your narcissist gets the strongest power rush from abusing the small, defenseless, and gentle.

Hence, for example, he feels best when viciously snarling at his tender four-year-old daughter, because that eviscerates her, whereas it would only wound his wife.

If you carry this anti-logic to its conclusion, he makes himself God almighty by stomping an ant. Right?

Wrong. A baby can stomp an ant. Even a puppy can stomp an ant. Demolishing an ant requires no great power. But destroying a city does. Yet every bully on the planet cheats by destroying something small and then thumping his chest as if that proves him mighty.

Sun Tzu, in his ancient treatise On the Art of War, notices the same thing about bullies:

To lift an autumn hair is no sign of great strength; to see the sun and moon is no sign of sharp sight;to hear the noise of thunder is no sign of a quick ear.

Yet every narcissistic bully makes the same egregious error of logic. That blasts to smithereens the myth that narcissists are exceptionally intelligent. To the contrary, only a moron makes such an egregious error in logic.

Yet, a minute later, while he's filling out his tax return, the moron is suddenly intelligent enough to do it right.

Therefore his moronhood of a moment ago was just willful stupidity, wasn't it? And who is stupider than somebody who thinks it smart to be stupid?
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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Needing a Narcissist

I am not completely sure of this, and I can't cite statistics, but it seems that those abused by narcissists have a common problem -- a compelling NEED for that person. A feeling that you just cannot live without them.

Yet, when the narcissist is gone -- poof -- they immediately find that they didn't really need him or her. There is no grief or missing that person. The pain is wholly from the damage to the victim's self esteem -- not from the loss of a loved one.

And yet, renewed contact with the narcissist can start it all over again.

How does this happen? I don't really know. But I do know that narcissists go to great lengths to make you utterly dependent on them. In fact, this is one reason why they prey on their own children so heavily -- because children are the most dependent people in the world. Any kind of dependence is sought: financial dependence, dependence for moral support, and especially emotional dependence.

Instead of berating yourself for why you're loathe to divorce this spouse, parent, sibling, or friend, just ask yourself some hard questions. What are YOU getting out of the relationship? AND, do you NEED that?

It goes without saying that if the narcissist has come between you and others to isolate you (so that you have no one else to turn to for human companionship and support) re-establish those relationships pronto. Narcissists, like any predator, always try to cut their prey out of the herd. Don't let them succeed.

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NPD? A Male Disease? An Adult Disease?

Another thing that warps our picture of NPD is double standards that are the fruit of stereotypes and sloppy thinking:

  • Women are nicer than men and therefore less likely to be narcissists.
  • What's okay for men to do is wrong for women to do.
  • All old people are nice and deserve a pass to treat young people without repsect.
  • Physically hitting someone is worse than verbally abusing them or destroying their life through slander and calumny.
  • Children are all innocent and, by nature, good.

So, another thing that invalidates current statistics is mental-health-care workers applying double standards of both age and sex.

An example of such a double-standard is this: if we see an action photo of an angry male coach with his mouth wide open and his face contorted, we think nothing of it. He doesn't strik us as ugly. Yet, if we see a photo of a female coach with but an intense look on her face, we find the image off-putting. She strikes us as ugly.

These internal reactions are so conditioned by society, that even if you are aware of the double-standard, you can hardly help but be affected by it. Therefore, we think nothing of this behavior in our male hero, but she strikes us as a bitch.

Again for example, personality traits regarded as distinguishing a man as worthy of admiration as a good, tough businessman are regarded as distinguishing a woman as a bitch. That's just a fact, and mental heath-care workers are taking few (if any) precautions to avoid applying such sexual double-standards in diagnosis.

Which cuts the legs out from under the widespread belief that NPD is far more prevalent in men than women. In my own slice of the world, the ratio is 50-50. And in my own understanding of the disease I see no reason why men should be any more prone to it than women.

But I can think of many reasons why male narcissists are exposed as narcissists more frequently than female narcissists are. Put another way, I see many reasons why female narcissists get away with it more often. Could it be then that women are under-represented in the statistics?

It sure could be! In fact, because of this we must presume that women are greatly under-represented in the statistics. And you can't just chalk this up to the fact that men are more likely to use their fists than their mouths. For, the only narcissist I have observed physical violence in is an extremely violent woman — who had everyone but those who had seen her with her mask off thinking she was a regular Mother Theresa.

And anyone who thinks male narcissists are worse because they're more prone to physical violence is dead wrong. If anything, that makes them less dangerous than female narcissists. The law deals with physical attacks. It does almost nothing to protect us from non-physical attack. Indeed, the non-physical violence the woman I referred to above did was by far more damaging and sadistic than any beating she gave someone.
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Sunday, December 04, 2005

Projective Identification, the Narcissist's Script, and the Suicidal Nature of Lying to Oneself

Here's an anecdote that illustrates both projective identification and how narcissists, as pathological liars who lie to themselves, are their own worst enemies.

First the necessary background. A certain narcissistic woman has a badly enlarged heart (on one side) due to extremely high blood pressure that went untreated for years. I suspect that heart failure for this reason is common in middle-aged narcissists, because of their habitual state of internal agitation. Even narcissists who may not look nervous are wound up tighter than a drum inside, as those who know them well realize.

Surely some of this anxiety is due to their track record through life. There's always worry that they will be exposed for what they are or that somebody they destroyed or abused will get revenge. But I think a large part of narcissists' anxiety is terror of a moment of self-awareness, terror of reality intruding on their fantasy life, which they compose like the author of a work of fiction -- terror of the truth surfacing to consciousness on them, terror of being left alone with themselves so that (in the absence of distractions) a moment of self-awareness is bound to happen. I also think their constant state of agitation is partly due to their arrested personality development. They have the personality of a little child, and little children are very excitable. Of course, little children's hearts can take that.

In any case, the last thing this narcissist ought to be doing is shovelling snow. But she doesn't like that version of the world. So she just edits it in her mind. She has revealed this through bizarre remarks to her sister.

For example, bragging to her sister about her high level of "good" cholesterol (the kind that "scrubs" out arteries to keep them clear of blockages), she has twice claimed it's so high that 'she'll never get heart disease.' Both times her dumbfounded sister replied, "But you HAVE heart disease." The narcissist had forgotten!

Also, she was of course treating two very different forms of heart disease as if they are one. It's true that she probably won't get one kind, but she does already have the other kind. She makes this intellectual error willfully, for she is a college graduate with a degree in biology who has taught Biology.

Where's the projective identification? She often announces that she has done things she shouldn't do with her heart condition. Her sister says she has long suspected that the narcissist tempts fate to prove to herself that she doesn't really have a damaged heart. When she announces these things to her sister, she wants her sister to play along and help act out her fantasy. THAT'S projective identification.

Naturally, no decent person is going to do that in this case. For, to play along would be to encourage that the narcissist do something that is very dangerous and likely to cause a massive heart attack. So, when the narcissist recently announced that she had shoveled snow (instead of using her snow-blower) and that 'it didn't hurt her,' it would have been immoral for her sister to humor her. Her sister had to say, "You shouldn't do that."

The sister knew full well that her words would go in one ear and out the other, so she didn't say anything further or try to persuade the narcissist to quit doing such things. In fact, she says that trying to persuade the narcissist NOT to shovel snow would be a sure way to insure that she keeps doing it. So, all the sister did was give a voice to the truth -- refuse to act out the narcissist's fantasy for her, simply by saying that one sentence: "You shouldn't do that."

The reaction was exactly the reaction I have always observed whenever you don't follow a narcissist's script in the work of fiction they're play-acting. You are an object, like a toy or tool. You are not working properly if you don't manipulate properly. So they get mad. They need to control what you say. As far as they're concerned, you are a ventriloquist's dummy.

The narcissist accused her sister of trying to boss her around and protested that she had a right to do what she wanted. See the twisting here? The narcissist is the one trying to force somebody into doing what she wants. But she perverts it to fully ass-backwards and accuses the very victim of her control tactics of being the controller.

That's how everything you do bounces off a narcissist's thick forehead -- backwards. THERE IS NO WAY TO GET THROUGH TO THEM. IRRATIONALITY IS IMPREGNABLE, AND PERVERSITY IS INVINCIBLE.

Her sister says she replied that, yes, the narcissist had every right to do as she chose and that she knew the narcissist wouldn't listen to her. "But," she added, "I'm not going to subscribe to your myth. What kind of person would I be if you tell me you shovelled snow and I don't say, 'You shouldn't do that'?"

The reaction? Typical again. The other actor on the stage isn't cooperating by saying the right lines, so the narcissist doesn't like this version of the world. She actually said that she 'didn't like this conversation' and then did what she always does when that happens -- she checked out by 'ending it.' You either follow their script, or narcissists pick up all of their marbles and go home.

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Friday, December 02, 2005

The Consequences of Pathological Lying

Many people apparantly think that if you just believe your own lies, then they aren't lies!

Is this like that stupid question about a tree falling in a forest without anybody to see or hear it? In that case, some intellectual asks, "Did it fall?"

Yes, numbskull.

And if you believe your own lies, you're not innocent: you're just a double liar.

It takes little thought to see how a head full of lies is not a good thing. The brain is like a computer: garbage in, garbage out. Narcissists recklessly abuse their minds with garbage.

For one thing, a narcissist's need to think nasty lies about the good makes him unknowing of who his friends are and whom to trust. For another thing, his past could catch up with him at any moment, but he's got himself believing he's so special that he can get away with anything forever. So, he gets reckless, living as though his life is lived on a beach, instead of in a jungle where he has made many angry enemies. Also, he loses track of his various and changing versions of things, tripping himself up and confusing himself.

Moreover, you can't habitually force thinking to take tortuous, anti-logical pathways without damaging the brain's ability to think straight. I've known old narcissists. And I think that, as they age, the mind muddles.

Since much of his lying is through abuse of words, over time words melt together and lose their meaning to him. This becomes evident in his speech. For example, you might notice that his vocabulary becomes so limited he calls anything that comes in an envelope a "letter." No big deal? To the contrary, that's a very big deal, because words are what we think with!

He thus sabotages his mind so that, though he isn't senile and has no trace of Alheimer's, (a) he can't think his way out of a paper bag and (b) he cannot speak a five-word sentence without getting stuck at a loss for some common noun or verb that his brain can't come up with.

This is why narcissists really need to get real and stop abusing their minds. Peter Pan must leave Never Never Land and reach the Age of Reason. For his own sake.

Friends don't lie to friends. People who lie to themselves are their own worst enemies.


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