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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At 9:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks again for a thoughtful and well written piece Kathi!
BTW, have you seen the film "Capote"? I think you would be blown away by the lead character's overwhelming malignant narcissism. GG

At 10:24 PM, Blogger Jay said...

I had my first mental breakdown at the age of 16, due to a narcissistic grandfather. I was sexually abused for eight years by him, my sister too, my mother sexually and physically abused, my uncle suffered the same fate and my grandmother was often beaten. Yet this man, the essence of evil, had the picture perfect family and deacon in the church and often people came to him for religious advice, very typical. Once, I was undressing my grandfather, it was part of the foreplay, and my mother walked into the room, she turned around and closed the door. After I reached the age of realizing what was going on in this family I asked my mother about that specific incident. She remembered it clearly, in tears and clearly devastated, she said," I am so sorry, I was so scared of him, always so scared, I did not know what to do, I am just always so scared of him." It was at this time I forgave my mom for not protecting me.
The past ten years have been hell for me. Bad relationships, raped, and mental illness. I first read this site several months ago and printed it and gave it to my therapist and told her this is exactly what happened to me. It has changed my life. I had bad relationships and was raped because I gave the impression to people I was weak, vulnerable, and easily manipulated. I am still learning and reprogramming my brain, but now in a new approach. Before it was always my insanity in question, which includes nearly all mental illness listed, not the influence of narcissistic abuse, until now. Thank-you so much for your help, until I started therapy armed with your information, I really thought I would perish.
Now onto the slander issue...

I had no idea my grandfather did this, I mean he depends on us for his daily needs he is 95. The night of my grandmother's funeral there were nine of his family members in the living room with him. He starts up with how he hated the casket and he had no say so in the choice, he also hated the burial dress, and he wanted her buried in the jewelry he bought her. I had already called my mother over to hear the conversation because none of it was true, he had no idea we where listening either. After his rant ended and he had made my mother and I look like shit I entered the living room, dragging my mother behind me and confronted my grandfather. Never have I felt so liberated, because my grandmother had planned her own funeral, casket, and burial clothes. My grandfather knew this already, but choose to slander us. In the end, I simply passed around the documents to all 9 family members, thus making him out to be the fool.
My grandfather is 95 and since he can not tell the truth we have had to tell any and all visitors that he is too ill for company. This came into effect after he told his brother I stole my grandmothers diamond ring. I had taped a voice-activated recorder under a chair close to his recliner, in order to further confront him on his lies. My mother had my grandmothers' diamond ring in a safe deposit box at the bank, so my grandfather would not pawn it. However, the police actually questioned me on the situation and my mother had to go to the bank with the police and show them the ring and the Will, which left all my grandmothers property to myself and my mother.
My grandfather's reply to all this was, "I use to think my wife and family was fine as silk, but now I know they are all bitches."
In closing, I am leaving in January. I love my parents, but there is a point when one must choose life or death, freedom or imprisonment. I choose life and freedom. I choose to leave all the ghosts behind here in NC.
Thank-You, for letting me vent in this long statement my email is if anyone ever needs to talk and much thanks to Kathy, you literally saved my life!

At 8:39 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...

It fills me with sorrow to hear what happened to you. It matters.

For what it's worth, certain aspects of what you say are probably typical, because I myself have seen and heard them before. Like the fear people have of the narcissist that makes them allow him to abuse others, even their loved ones, even children. They know how vicious he is, and they know he can turn the whole community like a pack of persecuting hounds on whomever he wants. And the character assassination of their own children -- especially the one they most abused. I've seen that before too.

I don't understand why we never hear any preaching against slander and listening to it. Against shunning and moral persecution and ganging up. Those are the narcissist's weapons, because he exploits the tendency of people to do this. It seems to me that it's a far bigger problem in the world than most of the stuff we hear so much preaching against.

Thank you, take care, and best wishes.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Not Available said...

And I as well offer you my best wishes, fellow traveller. What a nightmare. You deserve better and I fervently hope you attain your highest potential in light of your circumstances.
Kathi, I have to share what just now happened at an internet cafe I frequent, a place where one of the most malignant of narcissists who abused and used me also frequents.
Now, speaking of "bad breath", the demonic spirit which resides in the "possessed", this woman has such a terrible stink coming off her from within that one can smell joke...four feet around her. Long story short, she tried to hook me again into her chicanery and BS, and I merely walked away, repeating, "I want nothing to do with you."
"I want nothing to do with you."
Just kept on repeating it. "Iwant nothing to do with you."
And then, of course the whining and switching masks, JUST LIKE YOUR "GET OUT OF MY HOUSE" horror story.
"But I was your friend..." Wheeldly, wheedly, whiny whiny.
"I want nothing to do with you."

Well, didn't her mask just switch, like so:
"F you, you Fing psycho..." (to ME)...don't ever talk to me again, you F ing psycho bitch!!!"

Just as you described, Miss Thang. EXACTLY as you described it. Just switching from one mask to another. It was truly amazing. How can you control, or GIVE a care about what things people like THAT say about you behind your back? Fair minded and reasonable people can actually SMELL who the dangerous one really is. Kyrie Eleison...I hope I spelled that right.
Thank you for your work.

At 5:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of mine (sisters that aren't quite as evil, can be narcissist's too) even said that, "nobody likes to think they're bad". He even had his mother call me to explain what he couldn't find words for, he "didn't mean to harm me". Telling people I have a gun, or that I'm violent, are some of his lies and slander. Someone said, "Oh, I know him, he's a nice guy". Nice guys don't smash a woman's turtle's on the rocks. And a whole bunch of other things. He has all 20 of the personality traits.

His "not meaning to harm me" cost me my life. It's so broken now, it is beyond repair.

At 1:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathi, I only recently found your site. I am finding it to be very informative, insightful and relevant to certain experiences in my life that I hope I’ll never have to live through again.

Several years ago, I left a physically and emotionally abusive marriage to a man who was often controlling and had severe mood swings, only to have a couple of abusive narcissists enter into my life: the man who would become my next spouse, and my children's stepmother. These two people have done more to make my life miserable since my divorce than my first spouse did all the years we were married.

My second spouse, once he removed his charming mask, started having some very unrealistic expectations of my children and me and would become angry when his demands were not met. He would sometimes keep me up at night, lecturing me about my children and my "deficient" parenting skills (which he attributed to my previously being in an abusive marriage), as well as every other aspect of my life. The fact that he wasn't a parent and had very little understanding of me, my kids (who, by all accounts were very well-behaved and well-mannered) and what we'd lived through before meeting him, didn't dissuade him from judging, criticizing and blaming me for anything that he felt was not up to his standards. I did begin to see these behaviors of his as potential red flags, but this was all temporarily swept under the rug after a family crisis engulfed us, as I'll explain shortly.

As far as my children's stepmother goes, she played the charming act with them at first, and initially it worked. Though they liked her, my boys did notice from early on that she didn't like having any reminders of my existence around the house -- pets, any of the toys I had gotten them that were still at my ex's house, anything my ex- and I bought and shared together, etc. In the ensuing months, my children started reporting that she would sometimes make insulting remarks about me in their presence. My oldest son, somewhat put off by the way his stepfather sometimes behaved toward him, eventually started buying into her criticisms of me, and she quickly made herself available as a confidante to whom he could tell all his woes. It wasn't long afterward that she was able to persuade him to write a letter to the judge in our divorce case, falsely alleging that I was abusing him and his brother, and begging to be allowed to move in with their father and her. This, coupled with her hiring -- without my knowledge or consent -- a less-than-ethical therapist to start talking with both of my sons about moving in with her and their father, touched off a bitter custody battle that would go on for two years.

Blindsided by a sudden legal proceeding, where a decision on temporary custody was made without my even being present or without anyone ever contacting me to get my side of the situation, from day one I was cast as the "bad guy" in the court's eyes. I was guilty until proven innocent. I've got to hand it to them, my ex- and his wife (both of whom are police officers and understand better than the average person about how the courts work), really did a number on everyone. Once the kids were placed in their dad's home, my sons' stepmother, always on the ball, started asking them to call her "Mom." Their dad and she would also badmouth me to the kids constantly, and my oldest son in particular lapped it up and started acting like he hated me. It was as if my children’s' dad and stepmother wanted to turn the kids against me and completely erase me from their lives. I’ll never forget the time, when it was necessary to speak with this woman on the phone in the midst of all of this, that she had the gall to tell me that I should be thanking her for all she was doing … Why, if it wasn’t for her, my kids would be “out on the streets with no one to care for them.” My jaw dropped to the floor when I heard that one, and at that point I wanted to hit something. Lucky for her she didn’t say that to me in person! It took nearly two years, with the boys emotionally deteriorating so badly while in their father's and stepmother's care that the court couldn’t ignore it any longer, before the situation began to resolve, and things started turning in my favor.

During this crisis, my occasionally demanding second spouse became even more unrealistic and unreasonable. Instead of supporting and helping me through a very trying time, he withdrew emotionally at first, then later on physically, and spent most of the next two years viciously criticizing my handling of the situation from the sidelines. At one point he threatened to find a "replacement" for me if I didn't have the situation resolved within a certain time frame. In his words: He had a life to live, places to go, things to do, children he wanted to have, and he wasn't going to sit idly by and wait for me to resolve a situation that he felt should have been easily taken care of from the outset. (Never mind the fact that he married me knowing I had kids from a previous marriage and a less-than-amicable relationship with my ex-.) If I couldn't persuade the judge to permanently remove my ex- and his wife from my children's lives, he wanted no part of a future with me. I would have ended our relationship at that point, but I didn't feel I could handle the emotional and financial strain of a two ugly legal battles at once. I also didn't want my ex- to think that his and his wife's actions could cause a break-up of my marriage. So I held on, continued fighting for my sons' sake, and hoped that things would settle down between my husband and me once the custody battle was over.

After the custody situation was resolved (largely in my favor, by the way), my husband rejoined my sons and me, but it didn’t last long. He would not let go of his anger over the events of the past couple of years, and wouldn’t stop blaming the kids and me for it. When put my foot down and said I would no longer tolerate his criticism and blame, he launched into a weeks-long tirade, calling me a “mean, rude, shitty” person who “allows her children to be abused”, falsely accused me of cheating on him, and threatened to use our joint savings to hire a lawyer to throw me out of the house. When he finally had me to the point that I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown … he packed his things and left. I think that was his last big swipe at me. The breakup was devastating. I lost a lot of friends and extended family who had once been supportive, because of his bad-mouthing me after he left, but I consider myself fortunate that he’s out of my life for good and won’t bother me any more. And I truly feel sorry for whoever he sets his sights on next.

Unfortunately I still have to contend with my sons' stepmother on a limited basis. (The courts take physical abuse a lot more seriously than emotional abuse, and since there are no reports of her or my ex- ever hitting the kids, they still spend time there). From what my sons have said, their stepmother now pulls a “Jekyll and Hyde” act … acting nice to them in their dad’s presence, but then she acts rude and nasty to them whenever he’s not around. She continues to say mean things about me, mostly via thinly-veiled comments to her own kids along the lines of, “I’m a GOOD mom, unlike SOME people’s mothers.” My sons say the evil grin she shoots them when they turn her way after hearing things like that is truly chilling. The one saving grace is that my kids are now mature enough to understand what she’s doing is wrong, and they’re not likely to be manipulated by her again any time soon. I do have them both in therapy to help them deal with her and the way she acts … but it kind of ticks me off … because SHE’s the one that needs her head examined. (I wish the court had seen this side of her while the legal proceedings were still going on. The very things I was accused of are what my kids are constantly subjected to in that house. Talk about projection!)

I, too, have learned a lot of hard lessons in recent years, but now that I recognize NPD for what it is, I am confident that I will not allow another person like that into my life. Thank you so much for this wonderful site, and I look forward to your upcoming updates.

At 11:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had a breakup with a malignant narcissist. It was five years of hell. She constanly put me down, took temper tantrums and caused total chaos in my life. She had no empathy, remorse and was unable to say she was sorry for anything. She was self-centered, evil and cruel. She is now living with someone else which she set up prior to leaving me. I'm now trying to pick up the pieces and go on. I'm in therapy and hopefully will never allow myself to be treated like that again. She still calls me after 5 months - she wants to have dinner with me to tell her "side" of the story. I will not meet with her because it would only be subjecting myself to more lies and manipulation. I am truly sorry I ever met her. These websites have helped me so much to understand was this type of disorder truly is. It is extremely devastating. I only wish I was on to her much earlier. Thank you all for sharing your stories.

At 5:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your brilliant insight. I am a trained mental health therapist, yet I panic and feel out of control around a narcissitic relative. This sight is a gift...Much Thanks!


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