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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At 12:35 AM, Blogger Jay said...

My memories of my relationship with my "N" grandfather have proven to have had a negative impact on my own mental stability.
Ten years of sexual abuse and a lifetime of emotional abuse and they call you a survivor, but you are not really.

My grandfather always had a nice Cadillac. No food in the house, worn out shoes, on the children and debt. However, he always was a sharp dresser, despite the financial status of the family. Have you ever seen a family of six crammed into a Cadillac on a hot southern August day? It is interesting. The a/c went out and my grandfather said, "A Cadillac does not look good with its windows rolled down." He then locked all the windows, to prevent us from rolling them down. What a classic statement.
My Grandmother,94, died recently and after 73 years of marriage I thought he might show some remorse or grief, when I told him she was dead. "Who is going to take care of me?", he said. She was my Grandmother for 33 years and i was hysterical and all he cared about was who was going to cook for him. When my 14 year old dog died I showed more emotion.
And it is just etc, etc, etc, classic behavior of an ,"N" his entire life is that way.

At 4:04 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...

Wow, that was deja vu: "Now who is gonna take care of me?"

And we're supposed to forgive somebody like that? It would be a sin to forgive somebody like that.

I bet your dog would have shown more emotion over you, as well.

At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever say anything you didn't really mean? "You expect her to serve you" he flatly accused. "Um, well, yes I do." The ladies at work and I had been lamenting, about the welfare mama's dumping their kids on us, demanding meals, after we'd worked all day. "In our day...", that is we didn't dump on our parents, we took care of our own children, made our own meals, and 'served' our parents as well.

Their's were often nieces as well as daughters. Mine was a next door neighbor. She was studying to become a Christian minister specializing in women's issues. She'd knocked on my door telling me, "I'm here to serve you, what can I do for you". So what came out of my mouth wasn't exactly what I'd meant to say. When I was a young single mother, I won't be bothering an older woman, the young took care of the elders.

When my neighbor wasn't studying she was often in pursuit of crack cocaine. That's why she'd been moaching off me for 9 months, food, spare change, watch the baby? Except for the Christian classes (when she was off drugs)she didn't work, welfare, yet I was supposed to provide her dinner. Yes, I thought she should "serve" me, make me a meal instead of inviting herself to my meals. (and ya know, she actually did so, at a later time).

He was of course "trying and convicting" me in his head of his perceived concept of "good & bad". He'd often judged her, found her lacking as well. She may have had one MNP trait, while he had all 20.

At 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS: about "What do you want her to serve you?", what I forgot to say is what I wanted from her was that she stop opening her door when she heard me put my key in mine; to stop interuppting when I was reading a book, to "chat" about her men and other problems. That she'd stop prancing around, with her Christian music blasting at midnight on Sunday, when I had to go to the work in the morning. And I wanted him to not go away mad, just go away. : >


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