Monday, January 02, 2006

Dissociation

A narcissist's "self absorption" is absorption in a false self. An external entity. His false image. This accounts for the strangest thing of all about malignant narcissists: they are as out of touch with themselves as they are with the rest of the world!

All people can get out of touch with themselves and lose track of how they feel. This comes from being too intensely focused too much of the time. Especially with sedentary work. In this state, the brain learns to filter out sensation. One of the benefits of Eastern practices like Yoga and Tai Chi is that it helps us get back in touch with ourselves.

What goes on in a narcissist is essentially the same thing, I suppose, but to a bizarre degree.

How bizarre? Well, I'm afraid you'd have to see it to believe it, but here goes.

One narcissist I knew was so dissociated from himself that he never knew when he was ill. Subconsciously he must have known, because he lost his appetite and went to bed. But his wife had to tell him he had a cold or the flue. He could never answer the simple question Where does it hurt? If asked, "Does it hurt here?" he would answer, "I don't think so." He felt nothing short of extreme pain. By old age, he had made his brain so numb he didn't even feel that. Rough handling by his caretaker had dislocated his shoulder. On seeing this, the person who discovered his injury was astonished that he was sitting there as if in no pain. He said it didn't hurt. Or at least he didn't think it hurt. (No abused little child wants to know his mommy hurt him.) When told that a dislocated shoulder made big, strong football players lie on the ground writhing in agony, he reconsidered. Within minutes, he began complaining that it hurt. But he never did seem to feel severe pain.

Another narcissist I know of was as hypertensive as a shrew. Astronomical blood pressure had enlarged her heart. The doctor asked how long she had felt it beating against her rib cage. "What?" "You must have felt it beating against your rib cage. How long have you felt that happening?" It is almost certain that her heart had been throbbing against her ribs, 24-7 for well over a year. Yet she had never been aware of that.

How do narcissists get so far out of touch with themselves? I suspect they do it simply by keeping focused on something all the time. They fill the gaps between daily work and appearances before mirrors with distractions. One thing I've noticed about narcissists is that they must always be busy, busy, busy. And when there's nothing to do, they bury their nose in a book or newspaper, or they glue themselves to a TV -- anything to avoid a moment of quiet reflection. Blaring radios, sleep, TV, aimless busywork, useless reading — anything to keep burying that repressed corpus delicti (their true self) so it doesn't surface to consciousness in a moment of self awareness.

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4 Comments:

At 3:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so true that narcissists have to keep busy, busy, busy. But only doing particular things. One stay-at-home narcissist dad I know spends hours in front of the computer while leaving his 9 year old son to fend for himself and waits to do the (minimal) amount of housework until right before his wife gets home. He'll even fix food for himself to eat and not fix anything for his kid who is in the next room. (I don't actually know what he does on the computer, except I do know that he logs on as hidden or invisible or something and watches family and friends log in and out of instant messaging services while not ever communicating with them. Creepy.)

Until I figured out he was a narcissist, I wondered why he didn't spend any time doing the things he had obligated himself to do when he convinced his wife he should stay at home. I mean, the story he tells is that he is an attentive father and a devoted housekeeper. One might think he would put some effort into at least making it appear to be true. But somehow that isn't how it works . . .

 
At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep a narcissist I know must always have that paper in his face or the TV going. Always on the phone as well.

 
At 3:56 AM, Blogger Nevermore said...

I don’t usually disagree with your observations, but in some of these I must say that, as a male, I will ignore or disregard physical ailments because I don't like to admitt that I am weakened physically in some way. I don't know, maybe it is a left over from when we had to defend the tribe, and a show of sickness was a boost to the enemy. What ever the case I don’t like to be sick, so when I am I choose to ignore it. But, the last thing you pointed out is something that is unavoidable with a true narcissist. That is, being perpetually distracted from self. The narcs that I know right now, when there is any down time, are always nose deep in a game called “Soduko”, or some such thing. I may have spelled it wrong but it’s a game of numbers. They sit there for hours and race each other without speaking a word just to see who is faster. If it’s not that it is constant babbling about what ever pops into their heads, no thread or sense, just rambling about anything they say they know more about than anyone else. I can take about 2 minutes of this, and then I gotta move along. Ever try disagreeing with a narc? I bet you have, but it is so predictable it becomes nearly sinful, if only because of the cheap thrill one gets from pushing a button pushers buttons so easily. Happy New Year.

 
At 8:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

>
One thing I've noticed about narcissists is that they must always be busy, busy, busy.
>

My Nmother was not only always working, she was extremely bossy/managerial and had to have everyone around her engaged in some activity (each person in a different task), at her direction.

 

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