Sunday, April 23, 2006

What a narcissist does those he or she slanders.

One of the tricks of the dramatic fiction-writing trade is to know, and focus on, a particular aspect of human nature. It is this: Every person's most precious possession is the image of him- or her-self that each carries around inside. Fact: People will do ANYTHING to preserve and protect it. Fact: Nobody can bear to have that be the image of an evil person.

This is why character assassination is the fate worse than death. That's why it's called "destroying" a person. This is why it drives people to murder and suicide. Even criminals who have committed violent crimes treasure a self concept of themselves as essentially good inside. And many, perhaps even most, are.

Storytellers exploit this by creating a situation in which the hero's self-concept is threatened. That's automatic maximum motivation. For example, Hamlet's self concept is that of an honorable man. So Shakespeare has his father's brother come along and seduce his mother, murder his father the king, and then stain the throne of Denmark with an incestuous marriage to his mother in order to keep the throne from going to Prince Hamlet as it should.

What are people going to think of Hamlet if he goes along with this? If he just looks the other way at the murder of his own father? What is Hamlet going to think of himself? But it's a Catch-22, because everyone else is sucking up to the usurper, so they dishonestly view Hamlet as crazy for suspecting the usurper and will condemn him as evil for doing justice. So, Hamlet is damned as a bad person either way. If you put a character like Hamlet in a predicament like this, you have yourself a whopper of a story with it's own engine roaring and ready to go.

Since before recorded history, there have been stories of ghosts. According to legend, not just anyone who dies could become a ghost. A ghost was someone who could not rest in peace. He could not accept what had happened to him. Usually that's because he was murdered in some diabolical way, either as Hamlet's father was or as Jesus of Nazareth was -- by being framed and executed for crimes he never committed. He died a criminal.

Put yourself in his shoes. Could you tolerate that? No. Nobody can. Nobody can tolerate the whole world believing they're evil when they're not, especially when the person who has falsely accused them is the evil one and comes out smelling like a rose. That turns the whole world upside down, making good evil and evil good. It is an INTOLERABLE state of affairs! Human nature cannot abide it.

Indeed, even the blessed spirits in Heaven are said to be unable to stand it. For, that's precisely what started the mythical war in Heaven between St. Michael the Archangel and Lucifer, who later became known as Satan (which means the "accuser" or "character assassin").

That's the reasoning upon which is founded the belief that Jesus will return. The early Christians expected him to return to Jerusalem any day, with an army of angels.

Do you think that he would have been in a good mood?

They didn't. What do you think Pontius Pilate, the Sanhedron, and the people of Jerusalem would have done? Yes, the "innocent" bystanders of Jerusalem -- who mobbed Jesus one day as a saint and went along with his character assassination and murder the next by crying "Crucify him!"

Who did they think they were fooling? Me? I'd know I hadn't fooled him, and I be scared shitless of anybody I did that to. So, what would you do if someone you had done that to returned returned with great power? Tremble, eh?

That's why the traditional representations of the Second Coming are of it as "a day of wrath, a dreadful day." In this upside down world Jesus is the bad guy and the Sanhedrin and the people of Jerusalem are the good guys. Like St. Michael the Archangel, he is going to turn the world right-side up again by giving the real bad guys the reputation they deserve.

You needn't be a Christian to get the import of this story. The narcissist plays the part of the Sanhedrin (which was indeed narcissistic and envious of Jesus). The people of Jerusalem play the part of everyone who listens to his slander and calumny of you, even though it flies in face of the facts of your known conduct, gobbling it up just because it's juicy and because condemning others makes them feel righteous. If, say, this happens in the workplace, Pontius Pilate plays the part of the boss.

There is nothing worse you can do to a human being.

So, if this has happened to you, your feelings are natural. Don't make it worse by feeling guilty about them and trying to bury them. You cannot accept it. But you can accept your feelings. So do. You just hunger and thirst for justice. What's so bad about that?

If you bide your time, maybe someday you'll get it. But unfortunately, you probably won't, because there's very little true justice in this world. That place has been diseased and corrupted by the malignant influence of the narcissist. So just leave it, and kick its dust from your feet as unfit habitation for decent people.

Indeed, would you rather trade places with them? He owns them. He doesn't own you.

And there is karma. That's why I referred to that Clint Eastwood movie yesterday. I think it was High Plains Drifter. In a cloud (of dust) he descends upon a Jerusalem named "Hell" one day and agrees to help them defend against the "return" of somebody they did that to.

Boy! does he give it to 'em good!

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Saturday, April 22, 2006

Be yourself, not what the narcissist tries to make you.

I use quotations on my tennis Website, which is huge. So I was scrounging around the Web for more today when I found one for readers of this blog. When you live or work with with a narcissist, he or she is trying to make you what they say you are. By Projective Identification.

So, these words by Ralph Waldo Emerson are relevant:

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

For, that narcissist will try to make himself your whole world.

And, behind your back, he will paint his lying portrait of you in the eyes of everyone you know. He will do it insidiously, prefacing slander with "I don't want to sound, but...." or "I don't want to seem, but...." to deny that he's doing what he is, in fact, doing = vandalizing your image. He will perfume his rotten offering of calumny with the incense of "concern" or pity for you, just enough to cover the stink and come out smelling like a rose. He will make light of this weighty matter of character assassination.

He is an expert at it, because he has been practicing it, and living by it, since he was seven, eight, or nine years old. By the time others realize that he may not be credible, they are embarrassed about having played the fool.

But that doesn't wise them up. To the contrary! Like everyone suckered by a con artist, they refuse to face facts. They're too proud to admit that they fell for such garbage.

Why? Because they had to unknow everything they knew firsthand about you in order to believe the narcissist's lies, which obliterate every one of your virtues, replacing it with the blemish of one of his vices. As a result, the accusations are preposterous -- a joke -- and anyone who knows you should see that.

But way too many people eagerly gobble up slander about others, no matter how preposterous it is. Because it gives them a warm, fuzzy self-righteous feeling inside. At somone else's reputation's expense. To fall for slander and calumny, all they have to do is unknow whatever facts they know about you and your past conduct that would disprove the slander.

It's amazing how fast people can erase their their memory of anything they don't want to know. So, though they've known you for years, suddenly overnight they don't know you at all. You might as well be a stranger. Then anything anyone says about you could be true, as far as they know.

They know that in believing the narcissist's slander they acted in ill will and did you wrong. Bob Dylan was wrong when he sang that people do whatever they want and then just repent as though that's a "get-out-of-jail-free" card. People never repent unless they absolutely have to. They would rather die than repent. They prefer to unknow what they did and that it was wrong.

So, when the narcissist's lies about you get so outrageous that nobody in their right mind should believe them, people prefer to let him him keep cramming them down their throats to admitting that he's a sick-in-the-head character assassin that they were fools to EVER believe.

That makes them firmly believe the known lies, as if in a willful and wanton effort to make them be true. No matter how preposterous and unbelievable they become. And to protect their own reputations, they want everyone else to believe them too, so they start slandering you themselves. At that point, they're virtual conspirators of his. You'll never be able to do anything right in their eyes.

Painful. But that's the unvarnished truth about the human race. Taboo to acknowledge, but I just did anyway.

Kick the dirt of that corrupted community from your feet. Someday, in a cloud of dust, Clint Eastwood will come riding into Hell and punish that town, but till then justice delayed is justice denied. Meanwhile, remember that truth is determined by reality, not a vote. And remember Emerson's words:

To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.

It's also a matter of survival, as Prince Hamlet, who was in the same predicament put it:

To be, or not to be, that is the question.

Choose to BE. Otherwise YOU cease to exist, replaced by a figment of the narcissist's imagination.
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Monday, April 17, 2006

A Dumping Ground for the Toxic Waste of Narcisisstic Pathology

More from Narcissistic Pathology of Everyday Life by Nancy McWilliams and Stanley Lependorf:

The repeated experience of being pathologized is typical not only for the children but also for the spouses and other intimates of narcissistic people.

They cite the example of what happens to child who seeks the narcissist's attention. I have a slightly different take on it than they, because in my experience narcissists are seldom really "busy." They go to great lengths to seem busy though. They busy themselves hectically with unproductive busy-ness. I think they do it to distract themselves, to keep their minds occupied and thus ward off unwanted thoughts that might occur in a moment of quiet reflection. Busy, busy, busy as they are though, despite the reputation for being hard-working that they manage to carve out for themselves, those I have known were all remarkably lazy.

A narcissist will deny a child attention just to do it. She is a child who has never learned to share. Attention is her her pain killer, so it might as well be heroin, because she must it all: she can't spare any, even for her child. Note how incongruous that behavior is with the role of a parent, especially a mother. The children of narcissists don't really have a parent.

The narcissists I have known actually act as though it would kill them to give you any attention. Deep down inside they seem to feel that it would! I don't think they're faking that. I think they really feel that way. Insist on any attention from them and they act like you're tearing off their right arm.

Notice that this is just another in a long list of narcissistic behaviors I've mentioned that is normal only in a little child. We see it when a child refuses to share a toy. She must have it all to herself. One should think it would kill her to share it with her sister. She really feels that way, because her personality is at the emotional developmental stage of a three-year-old, where having to share that toy would be a CATASTROPHE!

Funny, in children. NOT, in adults.

So never -- not for one minute -- forget that in a narcissist you have a little child dressed up like a grown-up.  That's the mentality you're dealing with.  Telling a narcissist to "grow up" will do as much good as telling a three-year-old to grow up = no good at all. They can't grow up. They're a case of arrested child development.

Williams and Lependorf point out that a negligent narcissistic mother who witholds attention from her child defends herself against the guilt she incurs in that through denial, substituting a fiction for the truth with a fantasy of being the exact opposite -- the model parent. She will put on an Academy Award Act of being the model parent and have the whole world convinced that she is.

It's kind of a shame that so many people are fooled by narcissists. We all instinctively know that people who put on a show of anything are trying to look or sound or seem a certain way. And there can be but one good reason for that -- to look or sound or seem different than they really are.

But, while we're still naive, we prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt. I no longer do. Whenever I see anyone putting on a goody-two-shoes act a little too thick, I know they're just gobbing make-up on to hide a big zit. So, if they're acting exceptionally kind, I know that they're mean. If they're acting honester than Honest Abe, I know they're a liar. If they're acting religious, I know they're a hypocrite who has no faith to lose. But I had to learn this lesson the hard way, as most people do.

Little children need the affectionate attention of their parents like they need the air they breathe. The narcissistic parent is inadequate, because he or she is too weak and needy to spare any for their child. How does mother react to her child's need for attention?

A real mother tells the child she is busy at the moment. A narcissist tells the child he wants too much attention, that he is immature, too demanding, or whatever. And with those magic words -- presto-chango! -- the inadequate person in this exchange has somehow become the child, not his lousy excuse for a mother.

That's what the children of a narcissist are -- a dumping ground for the pathology of the narcissist. They grow up thinking that they're the one who's inadequate, that they're the one something is wrong with.

The repeated experience of being pathologized is typical not only for the children but also for the spouses and other intimates of narcissistic people. A woman who, for instance, expresses hurt when her husband defensively criticizes her, may be glibly accused of "oversensitivity." An employee who tries to convey his distress to a hypercritical boss may be told he is "overreacting." People generally feel quite helpless in the face of such defensive operations, which shift the focus of attention from the defects (as unconsciously perceived) of the narcissistic party to the alleged neuroses of the target person. Narcissistically motivated people who possess psychoanalytic insight are particularly skilled at this tactic.

Naive objects of such processes frequently don't know what has hit them.... A woman in treatment with one of us reports that when she broaches a marital problem to her spouse, a psychiatrist, she is labeled a masochist and told to work on her "martyr problem." She came to therapy convinced of her severe character pathology, and she is not without masochism, but she is hardly the picture of pathology her husband has painted. This propensity for fault-finding, or critically "interpreting" to deflect attention from felt imperfections in the self, seems to us a process very close to projective identification, in that the object of the narcissistic attack ends up affectively owning a sense of badness .... It is thus destructive to both the object and the initiator of the criticizing defense, since anyone except possibly the most sociopathic of narcissists would accumulate unconscious guilt, and defenses against it, over misusing another person.

Ah, they keep that corpus delicti buried by shoveling more shit on you. That's what all that hectic busy-ness is for, too -- to keep their mind on distracting trivia so that subconscious guilt doesn't surface to consciousness on them.
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Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Denial of Remorse and Gratitude

Narcissistic Pathology of Everyday Life: The Denial of Remorse and Gratitude is an excellent article. Unfortunately for most people though, it's a bit scholarly, assuming professsional familiarity with theory and jargon. Nonetheless, it's worth the effort to plough through and ponder the examples given. They are right on.

The authors, Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D. and Stanley Lependorf, Ph.D. introduce it by saying:

...we shall start with the premise that the organizing task of the various narcissistic defenses is the preservation of what has usually been called the grandiose self, and then go on to portray in concrete terms what kinds of activities that preservation effort entails. In particular, we shall focus on the apparent inability of the person who needs to protect an internal sense of grandiosity either to apologize (i.e., to express genuine remorse) or to thank (i.e., to express genuine gratitude). We shall then depict a number of defensive maneuvers that a narcissistically motivated person may use in lieu of expressing remorse or gratitude, and comment on the typical effects that these operations have on the objects in such a person's world.

By "objects" they mean "other people" like you and I, who get treated like objects. If you are still with them after the introduction, you'll be glad, because they give many excellent examples of everyday narcissistic behavior. You'll think, "Aha! I'm not the one who's crazy. My demon isn't the only one who pulls that down-putting little stunt. They all do!"

Here are a few examples.

Paradoxically, for all that the textbook narcissistic character is reputed to manifest exhibitionism, we have noticed that most narcissistically motivated people rarely boast. Rather, they "drop" information in the form of a matter-of-fact report, ostensibly ordinary to the conveyer, that appears to be intended to elicit admiration without asking for it.

Right on. Narcissists think you should divine and fulfill their needs without their having to ask you to. Asking you for something would be paying attention to you, and they can't do that. They need all available attention and cannot spare any. Besides, even if they could spare any of their drug, they CANNOT express a need. It would kill them to. A God isn't "needy," you know.

You are his footservant, who is to stand by in awe watching for when he could use his footstool and hop-to in order to supply it without him having to ask for it. Indeed, without him having to even look at you.  The merest hint of a gesture from him is your command. And he shouldn't have to thank you for his footstool either. Like a mideval king, he is is so grand he shows his majesty by spurning you (literally kicking you aside) once you have provided your service for him.

They give several everyday examples of this ridiculous behavior in narcissists. One strikingly familiar to one I have witnessed a daily replay of for many years. Follows my version of the "Stalking-Her-in-the-Kitchen" Game.:

He is but a ghost "around there." The only time he appears is when it's time to belly-up to the feeding trough. Then he comes home from driving around or crawls up from the basement or rolls out of bed. He comes into the kitchen every few minutes and does nothing but look at his wife. From behind her back if at all possible. Obviously just to see what she's doing. No one can talk to him or even just face him: the minute you try he flees -- er, I mean, the ghost goes away again. Then returns a few minutes later. Again. And again. And again.

She goes on a slow boil. Determined to make him say what he wants. But she loses this battle every single day. It would kill him to admit that God is hungry and would like her to fix supper. What an insufferable indignity it would be to make God do that! She is here to know, love, and serve Him even though he never speaks to her or shows his face to her.

One thing I like about this article is that its authors nail narcissism as a CHARACTER disorder. That means that narcissists choose to do wrong, to hurt others. You can say they're crazy but not insane. They are repsonsible for their behavior, unlike those with unsound minds.

They prove that every day. They prove that by targeting the VULNERABLE to serve as their prey and by targeting them as TARGETS OF OPPORTUNITY = targeting those one has no reason to hurt and whom it's unnatural to want to hurt. They prove that by acting like angels whenever the coast isn't clear and by suddenly turning to Mr. Hyde the moment they can get away with an attack. And they prove that by sneaking around and lying and covering up the bad things they do.

The insane don't know that what they're doing is wrong. And people who don't know that what they're doing wrong don't do those three things I just listed in the paragraph above. What's more, people who can't control their behavior don't do those three things, either.

In other words, narcissists know that what they're doing is wrong, and they CAN control themselves = they are responsible for their behavior. Legally and morally. That's why, unlike other "personality" disorders, NPD is no defense in a court of law.
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