Thursday, August 31, 2006

Understanding Narcissistic Personality Disorder

As I say at the top on the main site, my purpose is to contribute what I can to the formal understanding of Narcissistic Personality Disorder and to help those attacked by a narcissist understand why and what is going on.

I feel that most of what's written on NPD isn't clear enough to the average person. Professionals naturally use jargon. But the average person may not already know what terms like "defense mechanisms" or "projection" or "idealization and devaluing" mean. Technical terms like these carry baggage - their ramifications and an understanding of the underlying mentality in them. The average reader hasn't the necessary background to grasp all that in the mere technical term. What's more, these terms are abstractions. Fuzzy.

There's nothing wrong with professionals writing this way. They are professionals writing for professionals. So, if they didn't write this way, they'd bore each other to death explaining everything their readers already know.

So, I use my training in Plain English writing principles to translate the information to plain English for the average person. I do explain and illustrate the abstractions with concrete examples the reader can imagine, or "picture." Doing so drives the message home so it sinks in with clear understanding.

Understanding is everything in the game a narcissist plays with you. Without it, you are lost in the paradoxes.

For example, some narcissists dote on their children, and some altogether ignore their children. Yet they all suffer from the same mental illness. To understand how this can be, you need to understand that it's all about attention and that there is a difference between critical attention and other kinds.

Again, for example, the jabberbox narcissist I referred to yesterday seems to be the opposite of the guy who portrays himself as "a man of few words" and holes up somewhere, denying you the grace of his presence. It seems impossible that they could be suffering from the same mental illness, but they are. Underneath they are doing the same thing: denying unworthy you of their attention. To realize that, you need to understand that it's all about attention, that a narcissist must have it all and can't let you have any. The jabberbox can command all of your attention while denying you any by never letting you get a word in edgewise. The ghost can't command all of everybody's attention, but he can set himself apart as if too good for everybody else and deny them any of his attention. So these two narcissists are just pursuing the same end by different means and with differing success. The means they choose depend on their situation in the Pathological Space.

As I mentioned the other day, there is too much evidence that many have missed the boat on NPD. Some are even professionals. Somehow, it hasn't sunk in that NPD isn't just having a big head, that it's LOW self esteem in denial, self HATRED in denial, caused by ignominious DEFEAT, not aggrandizement.

Result? People saying such things as that Americans are narcissistic. Sorry, but Americans are the only people who CAN'T be narcissistic. Because America has no nation to envy, no nation to tear down off that pedestal. It is the most powerful nation in the world by far. Knowing that isn't grandiosity: thinking you're powerful when you're weak (like France) - THAT'S grandiosity.

Similarly, some people class movie stars, politicians, and star athletes as narcissistic. In the case of actors, the profession may attract many people suffering from NPD, because they are excellent actors, having been practicing non-step since early childhood. But fame and fortune don't cause NPD. They just tend to go to your head and make you a jerk.

Frankly, I worry when I see even professionals making this mistake. I'm not saying they all do, but some do.

I saw a teaching video online (can't find it now) in which actors played the parts of patients with various personality disorders, while they visited a psychiatrist. Unfortunately, the training psychology students ware getting in it leaves much to be desired. The patient with NPD was just a snobby debutante . . . till, only once in the video, near the end, she did do something (an unnatural reaction) that was a red flag of NPD. Result? A lot of snobby but harmless debutantes get labeled as narcissistic, while the "regular guy" who must kill his bag limit of fish, fowl, or other "fair game" every single day (he uses canine hounds to hunt birds and human hounds to hunt human prey) isn't recognized as a flaming malignant narcissist.

Worse, that snobby debutante is silly, which promotes an unserious view of NPD.

I really do wonder whether professionals take NPD seriously enough. It isn't just obnoxious. People with NPD are predators. That sets them apart from the rest of the human race. For example, NPD is the usual diagnosis for your typical pedophile priest (though most are after teenage boys, so the term "pedophile" is a bit of a misnomer). Not harmless! Stalin, Hitler, Saddam Hussein? NPD. Not harmless. As I showed the other day, Lee Harvey Oswald sure looks like one too. Not harmless.

In fact, the more it's studied, the more any clear distinction between NPD and the psychopathy of the serial killer evaporates. Many authorities now view them as different expressions of the same underlying pathology, which causes misanthropy (hatred of humankind) and makes them view others the way a wolf views sheep. Not harmless.

You show me a person suffering from NPD, and I will show you a trail of pain and destruction in their wake stretching all the way to early childhood.

Those are the ones I care about. The people and animals they attack for no reason whatsoever. (I'm not talking about all hunting here - I'm talking about wanton need to destroy and torturing pets and other animals.)

People narcissists victimize need to know what hit them. Society needs AWARENESS of this disease among us, so that people who behave this way no longer pass for normal and are no longer to free to (a) abuse to their heart's content so long as they never lay a hand on anyone and (b) commit character assassination to their heart's content so long as they whisper to one listener at a time, leaving no willing witness to finger the assassin.

Because, my knowledge and experience has convinced me that the only rein on a narcissist's behavior is what he or she thinks they can get away with.

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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

The pleasures of a conversation with a narcissist

One way narcissists play the Teeter Totter Game is to deny you the credit you deserve for anything. They withhold it.

You will notice this constantly in conversation with those narcissists who avoid paying attention to you by monopolizing a conversation (as opposed to those who avoid paying attention to you by never gracing you with their presence so that you can talk with them). Conversation with such a 90-mile-an-hour mouth is always a contest. The narcissist is contrary and contradicts every thing you say, butting in to do so and going to absurd lengths to find some exception to take to whatever you say. You feel like a soccer or hockey player trying to score a goal against the defense determined never to let you make a point.

The narcissist won't even let you complete a sentence.

That's a form of withholding. A refusal to listen, to pay attention to you.

To do this, a narcissist picks at absurd little details to object to. the object is to deny you any credit for ever being correct about anything.

For example . . .

PERSON remarks that Republicans buying the votes of the wealthy with promises of handouts is no different than Democrats buying the votes of the poor with promises of handouts. And that both manage the law to keep their constitueancies dependent on their handouts, thus securing the existence of that special-interest voting block into the future.

NARC can't allow PERSON to make a point. PERSON must get no credit for ever being right about anything. NARC has gotta have it all. So, NARC just flatly denies the truth of this without stating a reason. She just stubbornly shakes her head and says, "No" like a three-year-old would.

Now, for the sake of example, this NARC happens to be a liberal, a lifelong Democrat (though it could easily be the other way around). She insists that there IS a difference. Democrats are acting for principled reasons and have never written the law so that people on wellfare didn't dare take a job: only Republicans do such diabolical things to manage a voting block.

PERSON states the facts of welfare law before the Republican majority took over in Congress, but NARC just keeps stubbornly shaking her head. PERSON demands a REASON for NARC's contrary opinion. Finally NARC gives in and says that her reason for insisting that Democrats don't do that is that they aren't that smart.

Then those "evil" Republicans are? A typical example of a narcissist's mouth getting ahead of her brain: she left-handedly praised the wrong side.

Plus, how's that for a self-flattering reason? These world-famous, powerful people aren't as smart as she is, eh?

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So much for that bright idea . . .

It sure looks like people don't order from that reseller. I expected that, without a choice, everyone would go with Share-It. But when I switched over, sales of everything came to a screeching halt. I don't know why. So I switched back to 2CheckOut. That means I was able to reduce the price for What makes Narcissists Tick.

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Friday, August 25, 2006

Web War - Part 2

A commenter recently gave an example of something Sam Vaknin says that could indeed hurt the victims of narcissists. I quote:

At Vaknin's message board, he has written a description of the women who are targeted by narcissists. Among other "qualities," she should be submissive and not demanding, Neither "submissive" nor "not demanding" describe me.. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. What really struck me was how Vaknin stroked his own ego by stating that she should be "inferior to the narcissist." Any whole, emotionally healthy person is, in my opinion, superior to the narcissist. Remember, after we get away or are devalued and discarded (whatever it takes), we'll move on to healthier and happier pursuits. The narcissist, on the other hand, will always be seeking, grooming, trying to attract narcissist supply. Like a jungle animal, always in search of food, the narcissist will never know what it feels like to rest or what it feels like to be at peace with oneself. I don't call that superiority.

Exactly. Now here, people warning against swallowing everything he says whole are dead right!

If you are the spouse of a narcissist, that's the last thing you should hear. It adds to the abuse. It reinforces the devaluing judgement of you, telling you AGAIN (and this time with the voice of authority) that something's wrong with YOU, that you are inferior.

Now, perhaps if he'd taken the time to time to explain that a narcissist will target prey from a lower socio-economic class or people who are meek and easily hurt, it wouldn't be so bad. But he simply says that you are targeted because you're inferior to the narcissist.


I can't say that I think he's making this error on purpose. He IS a narcissist, so what else can we expect?

Notice how differently I describe the same thing on this website and blog. I put it this way: the narcissist targets "easy prey." I do explain that he targets the vulnerable, whom he REGARDS as inferior. And I go further in citing examples of easy prey to show that vulnerability is his trigger, not inferiority. They are not just the poor and the meek; they are also children, the dying (who are in great need of expressions of your love for them), BENEFACTORS, and altruists. This longer list of examples shows clearly that he is targeting the vulnerable, the least suspecting, those most easily deeply hurt, those who won't hit back, those who have every reason to expect love instead of abuse from him and who will therefore be pierced through by the narcisisst's shocking viciousness. In short, ANY species of easy prey will do.

Why is my account so different from Vaknin's? Because I'm not a narcissist, so my vision isn't clouded like his is. Does that mean people shouldn't read what he writes? No! I recommend reading it. I link to it. I just say, Read him, and everyone including me, with your brain on. Okay?

Which reminds me of one of my gripes about the way this disease is studied. Psychiatrists and other authorities need to hear the accounts of those victimized by narcissists. They're hearing one side of the story -- the narcissist's, a patholigical liar's. Only when they get both sides will they have any idea how reliable the narcissists' self reports on the couch are.

Similarly, he describes narcissists as usually highly intelligent. Baloney. I have known stupid narcissists. But stupid ones generally stay below society's radar, because they can't dominate a workplace, a whole neighborhood, or a nation like an intelligent one can. Does that mean they're harmless? No! Child abuse and domestic abuse are never "harmless." Ruining careers by slander and calumny is illegal and serious offense. Driving people to needing psychiatric care themselves is a serious offense.

No one is infallible on this subject. And the irony of regarding a narcissist himself as the infallible authority on it defies belief. We all must critically examine everything we read on NPD to see if it squares with logic and observation.

Here's a rule of thumb you can detect from the examples above: For the most part, when Vaknin talks about narcissism, what he says rings true to me. The moment he starts talking about OTHERS though, look out. In other words, his introspective writing can be very enlightening and helpful. But when he is making any sort of value judgement that compares the narcissist to others, look out. Hence, he views the narcissist as highly intelligent (compared to other people). Hence the narcissist seeks victims among "the inferior." I recently gave an example of how far off he (a European) goes in his talk about Americans. It seems that whenever he talks about OTHERS, the narcissist in him comes out.

But what else should we expect? If he didn't do this, he wouldn't BE a narcissist.
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Thursday, August 24, 2006

How a narcissist fools the whole world

People are often skeptical about how a narcissist can fool the world with his angel-faced acting job. Yet this skepticism has selective memory. People fool the whole world all the time.

How often, for example, have people of a parish been shocked to learn that their beloved priest molests little boys? How often have the neighbors of a man been shocked to learn that this fine, upstanding, churchgoing citizen is a serial killer? Ratcheting things down a mile, wasn't everybody shocked to learn what President Clinton (who couldn't speak three consecutive sentences without getting the buzzword "family" in) was doing in the dark? Or President Kennedy? (Nixon was no surprise.)

So, the skepticism is unwarranted. Part of the reason the world is so easily fooled is because of its willingness to be fooled. But that's a big subject I won't get into. Another part of the reason is that people judge in conformity with the rest of the herd, and a herd judges by appearances.

Which can be deceiving. Here is an an example. I know little about this guy, so I have no idea whether he's a narcissist, but he sure fooled the world exactly the way a narcisist does.

Gunter Grass is Germany's greatest living author. A Nobel laureate. A champion of the European Left, which makes him far left by American standards -- a socialist and proud of it, a thinly veiled apologist for the Soviet Union who regards the United States as practically a fascist state as presidents Reagan and Bush II as little better than Hitler. You know -- that far left. Which doesn't put him out of the mainstream in Germany. In fact, it makes him standard intellectual fare.

Typical of the Left, he has always been outspoken on the moral attack, publishing open letters in which he points the accusing finger at those tainted by connection to the Right, especially of course, former Nazis. His life has been a crusade against them, publically demanding that they publically confess and never forget their sins under the Third Reich.

For decades, the German people have considered him a moral arbiter and have called him "the conscience of Germany."

Now every action in his behavior was like a chisel stroke in sculpting an image of himself. What does that image make him look like? Disregard any negative feelings you have toward socialists, because in HIS world socialists are the good guys.

Now for the truth of what's behind that mask he's worn for more than 60 years. It isn't just different: it's the antithesis of his image in every detail. In other words, it's no accident that he was so fond of pointing the accusing finger at others for any association they had with the Nazis.

The Truth: (Long but fascinating.)
An open letter to Gunter Grass Part 1
An open letter to Gunter Grass Part 2 (A Nation Betrayed)

Astonishing, isn't it? He got away with it for 60 years! He should NEVER have fooled anyone! That damned finger-pointing is a sign. In fact, it's the original Hebrew meaning of the word "satan." People who go around doing that are NOT good. Duh! when will people notice that condemning others is NOT an act of goodwill.

All narcissists do the same thing, and they all get away with it.

They gob the make-up on thickest over their zits. Are they a child abuser? Then they carve out an image of themselves as exceptionaly concerned about the wellfare of children. They act extremly upset whenever they hear about any harm coming to a child. They are quick to accuse others of mistreating children and falsely accuse others of child abuse.

And it works like a charm on the world, because (a) people judge by politically correct appearances and (b) people love to believe their juicy false accusations and condemnations of whomever the narcissist is projecting on.

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Narcissists projecting their very narcissism

My last post leads to something else worth noting. Sam Vaknin's writings take a 180-degree turn from truth when he writes about OTHERS. Specifically, in his anti-American rants he is being a narcissistic European projecting his sin off onto the victim of European envy, Americans. So, when he is writing about narcissism itself, he can be honest. But when he is writing about others, he will do what a narcissist always does to others -- denigrate and project.

It's even inaccurate to characterize Americans as being non-malignantly narcissistic. I think it's fair to say that we can be inconsiderate, but we just don't fit the bill in any other way. In fact, the accusations are ironic, and we are most attacked for our self confidence and self reliance -- virtues, not vices. You don't make these virtues into vices by name-calling them "arrogance" and selfishness." By doing that, you just make yourself a liar.

Why hasn't our dominant position in the world made us fat-headed? I think that's simply because nationalism is rooted in breed -- the belief that your KIND is inherently superior to other kinds. We are no breed, and never were. So we can't get ridiculous ideas like that. We are a bunch of mongrels. We are a creature of our Constitution, not our ethnic origins.

And you don't make our patriotism into "nationalism" by just calling it that. If you don't know the difference between patriotism and nationalism, read this fine essay by George Orwell.

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A common and poisonous misconception about narcissism

I was just Googling to find a certain website I remembered visiting before and noticed a result titled something like "Is narcissism a Jewish cultural trait?"

THAT pushed my button. I hate that.

First, where anybody even gets that idea is beyond me. I know very few Jews, but I was once caught amid hundreds of Israelis and American Jews aboard a threatened flight from Paris to Rome ultimately bound for Tel Aviv. I was amazed at the way these people responded to the gratutuitous abuse the French baggage handlers (obviously mad at the TARGETS of terrorism, not the terrorists, for making their job difficult that day) dished out to them. I was in awe of their dignified humility. Backbones of steel and yet so humble they lowered their eyes while being screamed at and just took it. So, where anybody gets "narcissism" out of THAT, I don't know. (Try haughty FRENCH culture, instead.)

This reminded me of these idiots going around accusing Americans and American culture of being narcissistic. They have completely missed the boat on malignant narcissism. In fact, they could not be more wrong. There's nothing inherently superior in us as a people, but because of our position in the world and our history we could not possibly be narcissistic. In fact we are the LAST people on the planet you could accuse of that. Why are we free of this character flaw? Because we have no nation to envy!

How does such an egregious error occur?

It's due to a common misconception about pathological narcissism, one I have even seen in published writing by psychiatrists on the subject. For some reason, an essential fact about narcissism has failed to sink in. They think narcissism is just having high self esteem or anything (e.g., great self confidence) they can view as having a big head.


Pathological narcissism just comes off as that. It is NOT inflated self esteem: it is deflated self esteem in denial. It is NOT self love: it is self hatred in denial.

It is NOT caused by fame, fortune, greatness or any other kind of aggrandizement: it is caused by the opposite = SHAME. It is not caused by triumph: it is caused by ignominious defeat. It is not caused by being exalted: it is caused by being brought low.

It is caused by battered self esteem. It is caused by making a person hate themselves at a very early age so that they never develop a proper relationship with themselves (their true selves) and identify with their IMAGE instead, which they spend their whole life glorifying at other people's expense.

So, there are two kinds of narcissism: one is pathological, one is not. The latter is natural and even healthy when one isn't overdosed on it. Here, we are always talking about the pathological kind, malignant narcissism. NPD.

Example: Take someone who is not a narcissist and make him very famous, a star, either a Hollywood star or a superstar athlete. The whole world adores him and flatters him. He lets it go to his head and becomes obnoxiously narcissistic, thinking he's just God's gift to the world.

Obnoxious and overdosed with narcissism as as he is, he isn't a malignant narcissist. The proof? He doesn't go around tearing other people "down off that pedestal." In other words, he isn't a predator. He loves his family. He wouldn't dream of abusing his children. He doesn't have to tear others down to make himself feel good. So, he isn't a serial slanderer and a serial bully. Good things happening to others doesn't make him miserable. He needn't inflict pain on others to kill a pain inside him.

So, there is a world of difference between him and a malignant narcisist. They are not even the same species.

You can easily test this many ways.

For example, praise somebody else in front of him. He may well try to upstage that other person, but a real malignant narcissist will do something else: he will immediately attack that praised person and begin a campaign of character assassination against him or her. Big difference, eh? The first guy just has a fat head, the other guy is malignant.

Another way to test the difference is to tug at his heartstrings when he is being an inconsiderate rude jerk. His heartstrings may be brittle, but he has heartstrings. You can reach them. So he will soften. A real malignant narcissist will do the opposite. He will demonstrate extravagant callousness and spurn your appeal with savage contempt. If you don't heed the warning in his first snarl and stop tugging at his heartstrings, he will fly into a rage at you for doing so.

Again, big difference. The one guy is just an ass, the other guy is malignant.

That's why I made that crack about French culture. Who's trying to tear another people "down off that pedestal?" Americans? or the French? Who has suffered ignominious defeat? America? or France? Who has suffered a great fall from imperial world domination? America? or France?

Indeed, cultrual narcissism throughout the world is expressed most openly as -- guess what? Anti-Americanism. Narcissistic envy of the most visible target for it = "that shining City on a Hill" -- America.

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Monday, August 21, 2006

Remember the day when you found out about NPD?

I'm posting this as an immediate reaction to the most recent comment offered here, though many comments have had the same impact. They remind me of my own astonishment when I "discovered NPD." I too had always been conditioned and trained to think that making anything of the irrational, impossible, and abusive behavior of certain people was "overreacting." I had long accepted that.

I'll never forget the day I discovered that my instincts had been correct -- that it wasn't just a normal person's idiosyncracies and that there was nothing wrong with me for not being able to just take it.

In fact some of the things this person had recently done were so bizarre, seeing was NOT believing it.

Then suddenly, I discovered NPD and saw that seeing was believing, that there ARE people who do that, and that they are crazy and dangerous. I spent the whole day, and long hours into the night, on the web reading about NPD. One description after another wowed me, because it was a perfect description of the way this N in my life behaved. It was like the writer had been there and was telling about HER.

You couldn't just exaggerate a normal person's behavior into NPD, because it's too bizarre and too contrary to the way normal people behave. Normal people react one way to a particular thing, and narcissists react another. There's no mistaking that.

I often think of how many people like us are still out there clueless and NEED to know about NPD.

I wonder if the authorities in the field realize what a stunning and SAVING revelation it is to those of us who suffer the collateral damage of this disease. And I wonder if they realize how much pain and psychological injury narcissists inflict and how many trashed lives, good names, and careers lie in the wreckage that is the wake of a narcisist's path through life.


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Saturday, August 19, 2006

Great Comments

Again I must say that the comments posted here are really good. People add their two cents to note another aspect of something. They give an example. They give their own impressions. It all helps us understand. And understanding NPD is the key to avoiding or escaping victimization by somebody else's disease.

Though each narcissist has his or her own strategy, optimized for their particular situation in life, at bottom they're all the same. So much the same that they could be clones. That would be evident if they all had the same situation in life.

Ironically, they are each convinced that they're unique, special.

It seems to me that they are machines. You can't get them to behave the way you want them to, because they aren't programmed to. But if you know what they're programmed to do, you can control them like you control a software program -- just by pushing the their buttons.

Wanna see a smile? Flatter them. Wanna see a temper tantrum? Depart from their script by acting like their equal. Wanna see a rage? Try to appease one of their fits. Like I said, it's like pushing buttons.

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Saturday, August 12, 2006

How a Narcissist Reacts to a Disaster in Your Life

Into virtually every life comes disaster. Bankruptcy, serious illness, divorce, getting laid-off or fired, failure of any sort -- you name it, whether through your own fault or not.

How will a narcissist in your life react to the situation?

Add it up: You mean nothing to him or her. You are just an object to exploit for their aggrandizement. They have no human feelings for you (despite the occasional put-on) whatsoever. And now you are more vulnerable than ever.

Now you are down, so expect a kick. Expect the abuse to escalate. Expect them to behave so cruelly and brutally that nobody who doesn't see it would believe it.

From what I've observed and heard, I dare say that this is the mistake everyone abused by someone in their immediate family makes: they expect the narcissist to react to a crisis the way a normal human being would. Your plight would tug on a normal person's heartstrings, even if you were an adversary. So, he or she would let up on you under those circumstances. Yes, even adversaries will let up on you, because they see you are no threat to them under the circumstances.

But a narcissist reacts the opposite way a normal human person does.

In this, narcissists are only following the same perverse pattern they always do: instead of being appeased by efforts to appease them, they react with a rage; instead of being drawn to what evokes sympathy, they abominate it and react with contempt; instead of being grateful for favors you've done them, they react with hatred (for this proof that they are not God Almighty in your helping them). In short, they react backwards to everything. So, why should we be surprised when a narcissist exploits some catastrophe in our lives to malign and abuse us with shocking inhumanity?

The victims of narcissists get blind-sided by this because narcissists are from the planet Pluto. They are NOT acting on normal human premises. So, it's not about your plight: it's all about THEIR ego. So, they see this as NOTHING BUT an opportunity to vaunt themselves on you, period. In other words, they aren't acting on normal human premises; they are acting on narcissistic premises. Those are the premises of PREDATORS. They react to vulnerability the way any predator does = by salivating.

If possible, they will make a big show to the rest of the world of being your savior, while behind closed doors they are beating the you-know-what out of you and trying to drive you to suicide -- just because they know you're trapped in the situation.

As I've often said before, I'm convinced that the only reign on their conduct is what they think they can get away with. And that changes from day to day.

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Thursday, August 10, 2006

Narcissism in Wonderland

One of my favorite websites on narcissism is by Joanna Ashmun. In fact, hers is what inspired me to do one.

Here's what she writes about the way a narcissist edits reality on the fly.

The most telling thing that narcissists do is contradict themselves. They will do this virtually in the same sentence, without even stopping to take a breath. It can be trivial (e.g., about what they want for lunch) or it can be serious (e.g., about whether or not they love you). When you ask them which one they mean, they'll deny ever saying the first one, though it may literally have been only seconds since they said it -- really, how could you think they'd ever have said that? You need to have your head examined! They will contradict FACTS. They will lie to you about things that you did together. They will misquote you to yourself. If you disagree with them, they'll say you're lying, making stuff up, or are crazy. [At this point, if you're like me, you sort of panic and want to talk to anyone who will listen about what is going on: this is a healthy reaction; it's a reality check ("who's the crazy one here?"); that you're confused by the narcissist's contrariness, that you turn to another person to help you keep your bearings, that you know something is seriously wrong and worry that it might be you are all signs that you are not a narcissist]. NOTE: Normal people can behave irrationally under emotional stress -- be confused, deny things they know, get sort of paranoid, want to be babied when they're in pain. But normal people recover pretty much within an hour or two or a day or two, and, with normal people, your expressions of love and concern for their welfare will be taken to heart. They will be stabilized by your emotional and moral support. Not so with narcissists -- the surest way I know of to get a crushing blow to your heart is to tell a narcissist you love her or him. They will respond with a nasty power move, such as telling you to do things entirely their way or else be banished from them for ever.

Because their lying is so bizarre, and unlike normal lying (by people who actually want you to believe what they're saying), the pathological lying of a narcissist is one of the biggest complaints about them.

They don't want you believe their lies: they just want you ACT (for them) as though their lies are true. In other words, they don't want you to do anything contradictory to their fantasy, for that could trigger AWARENESS that its a fantasy. They must keep all knowledge of unwanted truth repressed, and they don't want you doing anything that triggers memory of it.

As for what you think though, they couldn't care less. You are just an object to them, a chess piece. Caring what you think makes no more sense to them than caring what a chess piece "thinks" would make to us.
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Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Narcissus is the Creator of the Universe

In my last post I touched on something that reminded me of one of the weirdest things about narcissists. It's something I had always noticed about one before I knew there was such a thing as a narcissist. It is a little telltale sign in their behavior that doesn't seem like much, but it is huge, because it indicates that something is dreadfully wrong.

A narcissist is the author of a novel, not an inhabitant of the world the rest of us share.

So, like I said, narcissists don't accept reality. They doctor it on the fly. They actually edit it as it's occuring. So, for example, if you're trying to get through to a narcissist and he doesn't like what you just said, he alters it in his mind, so that you said something else.

This is when their pathological lying gets as intolerable as it is bizarre. Though he slapped your face two seconds ago, he is now deying that to your face, saying that you are crazy and imagining things. Yes, YOU, not him.

In other words, narcissists are composing a work of fiction, though they don't invent it from scratch like a novelist does: they just alter what's happening on the fly as it comes in through their eyes and ears.

And they try to make you behave as though their fiction is true.

[Why? Because they are desperate to prevent you from doing anything to threaten their delusions by challenging them in any way. If they say the sky is purple and you act like it's blue, the knowledge that it IS blue might surface to consciousness on them. Thay can't allow that. They repress knowledge of the truth, and they can't have you saying or doing anything to trigger their brain into recalling something want to unknow.]

This is where some of their off-the-wall remarks come from -- from the fantasy about the current moment going on in their heads.

In doing this, they are mentally just little children playing "pretend." As a little child's mind forms, he becomes so delighted in the omnipotence of the magical things it can do to the world he percieves, that he is reckless with it for a few years (until the Age of Reason). He draws no clear distinction between reality and fantasy and prefers the latter.

For example, while pretending to drive a big truck like his Daddy, the child really thinks he is a grown man driving a big truck! We all indulged in such childhood delusions. That's perfectly normal in children discovering and experimenting with that marvellous, powerful, magical organ known as the human mind. Some children's play-acting goes so far that they stubbornly insist that others not contradict their version of the world. We see this, for example, when a child continuously acts-out a script in which he has an imaginary friend and insists that his parents acknowledge that friend's existence.

Normal children grow out of this phase; narcissists don't.

Not that adults CAN'T go into this state: Interestingly, actors who act out a part by pretending to actually be the character they portray -- pretending also that the story is real -- can lose themselves in a character they have playing for too long. Directors actually watch actors for signs of this happening to make sure they get psychological counseling if that starts to happen.

I knew a narcissist so lost in his own little world that he would often take up a conversation with you in the middle. From what he said, you could tell that this conversation had started in his head and that in it you had said something he was now responding to as though you really said it!

Think of the attitude such a person has about the world. They view as something they control, don't they?

That's a mental virus. It screws up their thinking in a million ways. And the fact that they have some wires crossed becomes evident in a million ways.

For, if the world is something they control, then nothing should happen in it without their foreknowledge and allowance, right?

If anything does happen that surprises them and is unacceptable to them, it would challenge their precious delusion that they can control the world exactly like God does.

They mustn't allow that to happen! If it did, all their pretty delusions would come tumbling down.

No kidding. If you are observant, you will notice that no narcissist ever acts like anything surprises them or is unaccpetable to them. When something does surprise them or is unacceptable to them, they MUST pretend that it isn't. Because, they MUST continue to believe that, like God, they create the world, willing what they will to happen in it and allowing what they please to happen in it.

Normal people have no such delusions, so they sometimes find things that happen unacceptable. By that I don't mean that normal people refuse to accept that these things have happened (though they may run a long course of denial before accepting it): I mean that they cannot accept them without a radical re-think of their world view. This isn't common, but it does happen quite often in war and great disasters. We have an example of this during the trial of Joan of Arc. She admitted that, on hearing that all above the age of seven in a French town holding out against the English were to be put to the sword, she had asked how God could allow such a thing to happen. Indeed, many survivors of World War II and the Holocaust became atheists. That's just an extreme example to show that even firmly held beliefs can be shaken by unaccpetable realities.

But never in a narcissist. A narcissist cannot accept that he doesn't control what happens. He doesn't dare accept that. For that would mean that he cannot just edit reality to suit himself. So, he MUST avoid ever admitting that something surprises him or is unacceptable to him. That's how he maintains his pretense that he controls the world. And you will therefore never hear a narcissist finding reality unaccpetable.

Was it a gross injustice? He will blow it off with something like, "Well, they can just do that." Was it something that shouldn't have happened? He will never say that the home team shouldn't have lost that game. In short, he will never allow himself to ACT as though anything has happened that he would have prevented if he could. Why? Because he MUST think/pretend that he can prevent anything, so he must never act as though anything happens against his will. A ramification of that is that he must never act as though anything can happen without his foreknowledge.

So, if you know a narcisisst, you know someone who never acts as though he didn't know a thing was going to happen before it did.

In fact, I have known narcissists to claim foreknowledge of things they couldn't possibly have known ahead of time except through a crystal ball. For example, every time there was an attempted field goal on TV, one narcissist I knew had to predict its outcome before the ball reached the goal line. He just had to. He couldn't wait to see what happened and just let it happen: he had to ACT and FEEL like he controled the event.

It was hilarious to hear him changing his call as the ball flew. His favorite trick was to watch for the official's arms to move either sideways or upward and then instantly blurt "Good" or "No good" as though we couldn't tell he was just reading the official, not prophesying.

That event just could not happen without him controlling it, you see. And every single time he told us that he had known whether the attempt would be good or bad.

Narcissists just can't take surprises. They just can't take not knowing why something happened, either. It drives them crazy. They just can't admit they don't why something happened. They have to convince themselves that they do know why it happened and that it happened as it should have... THEIR universe.

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Monday, August 07, 2006

Narcissists and Children

Here is something Sam Vaknin writes that rings true to me:

Narcissists like children only as unlimited sources of Narcissistic Supply. Put simply: children unconditionally admire the father-narcissist, they succumb to his every wish, submit to his every command, and are temptingly malleable. All other aspects of child-rearing are considered by him repulsive: the noises, the smells, the invasion of his space, the nuisances, the dangers, the long term commitments and, above all, the diversion of attention and admiration from the narcissist to his offspring. The narcissist envies his successful offspring as he would any other competitor for adulation and attention.

I KNOW it's true. Well, sort of: a narcissistic father ACTS as though he really IS as grand and impressive as little children think their Daddy is. He really gets off on that, a dose of Narcissistic Supply only children can give.

On the flip-side of that coin, he ACTS as though child-raising is repulsive to him. But why? Vaknin wanders around in abstractions, never explaining this. That's understandable, since he's a narcissist, and it explains why people often don't comprehend what he says. My guess is that you have to have lived with a narcissist for a long time to follow Vaknin in some of this stuff.

So, let's dispense with the abstractions and look at WHY narcissists abuse children. People don't believe what they can't make sense of.

So, why does a narcissistic father ACT as though he considers children beneath his notice and child-rearing beneath his dignity?

Because acting that way makes him feel grand. This act is just a superiority act. It makes children out to be something for the narcissist to stick his nose up at. As always, he ACTS as though this is true because, in his Magical Thinking Machine, ACTING as though something is true MAKES it true.

Acting is just pretending, you see.

But of course acting/pretending something is true doesn't make it true -- except in his childlike imagination.

Children do the same thing -- they get lost in fantasy.

So, his treatment of children is just one of the thousand ways his grandiosity expresses itself. He must treat children as beneath his notice. That's how he makes himself feel way above them, like God Almighty compared to them.

Moreover, what is a narcissist? A child. What do all children crave? Attention.

You know that, don't you? Every time you get on the phone, your kids act up because your attention is off THEM and on whomever you're talking with. So, they do something to get your attention and rectify the situation, don't they? That's children for you.

His children compete with the narcissist for attention in the home. So, this overgrown narcissistic Baby Birdie resents the other baby birdies for doing what he does = sticking their heads up high and stretching their gaping mouths wide for Mother Birdie's attention. He must have it ALL. They must get none.

So, a narcissistic father doesn't like his competitors for Mother's attention. And he will lash out at them for demanding any of his (= God Almighty's) infinitely valuable attention. After all, why should God Almighty take notice of beings insignificant compared to him?

When children demand or try to hijack his attention, they're are failing to act out his script -- in which they are as insignificant as a fly on the wall compared to grandiose HIM. (He doesn't accept reality: he alters it constantly on the fly by living in a world of make-believe, much like a child with an imaginary friend.)

Every narcissist ALWAYS attacks anyone not following his script = for NOT behaving as though His Highness should treat them like dirt.

He must be an ONLY child in that home.

Also, children's feelings are easily hurt. The greater the hurt, the more it shows, and the grander the image of himself that reflects from the mirrors of their faces.

In other words, abusing a little child is a bigger high for a narcissist than than abusing more formidable prey, like a spouse. He can easily produce a devastated look on that child's face. In it he seems more awesome than he would seem in the merely wounded look on his wife's face. So, he would rather target his child than his wife with an insult . . . for the despicable reason that it will hurt the child more.

Because the more damage his attack causes, the more powerful he seems in his childish mind.

Just like any bully, right? Which is why bullies pick on somebody smaller than them.

But of course this thinking is absurd. Picking on children isn't grand. It's as contemptible and lowdown as one can get. Normal people couldn't bring themselves to stoop to such subhuman behavior.

To think this makes him grand, a narcissist must deliberately think absurdly, like a little child thinks. Indeed, a narcissist is, above all, an adult who obdurately refuses to stop thinking like a pre-school-age child. Why? In order that he can delude himself with all this play-acting.

In fact, his attitude toward children is an example of why narcissists target emotionally vulnerable people. Like all predators, they go for easy prey.

And "he" could well be a "she."

On the main site I give an example of how shockingly mean a narcissist will be to his own children (especially when they demand his attention, trying to force him to treat them as though they are NOT beneath his notice) in How To Make a Narcissist.
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Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Web War

Okay. I don’t want to land on either side on this Sam-Vaknin debate, because I’m not.

Vaknin’s writings are voluminous. I have read much but not nearly all, so I have but impressions. For the most part, what he says about narcissism rings true to me, because it squares with my experience with narcissists. What other narcissists write often doesn't square with that experience, but Vaknin’s writing almost always does. Other narcissists often set off my lie detector, but Vaknin virtually never does -- on the subject of NPD, that is. In fact, unlike other narcissists, he doesn’t try to make you feel sorry for narcissists. That’s a big plus in my book.

So I don't wish to discredit what he writes about NPD. I'm not qualified to sit in judgment of his credibility on this, and I have no desire to sit in judgment of it. Still, I don't mind saying that what he writes about NPD generally rings true to me.

I don't say this because I think Mr. Vaknin is an honest man. Narcissists are pathological liars because of the way they relate to the world around them. That means you can't believe them about what day of the week it is. They will claim that the earth is flat, the sky is purple, or that 2 + 2 = 5 to support their delusions about what is going on. They will lie to you about what they just said to you two seconds ago. They will lie to you about what you just said to them two seconds ago. And every two seconds they will alter their lie about what is going on so bewilderingly as to make you feel like Alice in Wonderland. And they throw their lie in your face, expecting YOU to behave as though it's true. If you refuse, they will try to cram it down your throat. In fact, narcissists often lie for no reason whatsoever except their pathological fear of Truth itself.

Knowing this, I always approach Mr. Vaknin's writing with a healthy dose of skepticism. But on NPD he's generally telling the truth as far as I can tell. My disagreements with him on that are few and when I disagree, I feel that he is just mistaken, not dishonest. Frankly, I'm amazed at that and have often wondered why on earth he'd tell the truth about NPD. Indeed, I can't believe that a narcissist is ever telling the truth unless he has a damned, good, self-serving reason to!

But, fortunately, on NPD he does. And readily admits it. He isn't explaining NPD out of the kindness of his heart. He's doing it to get ATTENTION, the narcissist's pain-killing drug. I mean, just Google “narcissism” and see all the attention he’s seeking and getting!

Somehow, he has made himself the foremost authority on NPD. He is even treated as a legitimate authority on the subject by psychiatrists. He admits that he thus achieves "guru status," which is nirvana to a narcissist. In fact, he has a cult following.

If what he said about NPD didn't square with what top psychiatrists know and with the experience of people like me, what he says would be attacked. And he knows it. So, to achieve and maintain his status and following, he must tell the truth about NPD, and I think that's why he does -- or at least tries to as much as possible.

BUT he is a narcissist. Duh!

Let’s substitute the name of some other predator for “narcissist” and see if people are making sense.

Let’s say tigers can talk. One tiger talks to us and tells us all about tigers, informing us that they view us as good to eat -- nothing more. They have this hunger that only eating us can fulfill. A tiger can resist the temptation, but you know what will eventually happen. We are are a tiger’s next meal, that’s all. They don’t relate to us. He explains what goes on in the mind of a tiger to make it a man-eater.


What astounding revelations these are! We are exceedingly grateful for this information!

So, what? Are we going to run up and hug that tiger?

Yikes, and they say sheep are stupid. But no sheep would ever run up and hug a wolf for explaining why wolves eat sheep.

Why would that tiger do this?

Look at what he’s getting from it. He is the star of the show! He has people crowded around, hanging on his every word. My, what an avalanche of ATTENTION he’s getting.

Vaknin has found a harmless (even helpful) way to get ATTENTION. Great! Good for him! I wish every narcissist would discover such a non-abusive way to get the attention they crave.

But his audience is mostly American, and how does he really feel about Americans? He doesn't hide it. Just click a few links and find out. Here's a taste of how he flew off the handle at one who ticked him off about the copyrights to an interview:

I hate Americans in general and their pusillanimous litigious minds in particular (as does most of the world).

It’s amazing how few people bother to drink responsibly: It’s all a matter of public record. First, see Vaknin’s curriculum vitae. Note that one doesn’t “graduate” from “a few semesters” in a school. He's often called "doctor" as though he's a medical doctor, but look again. The PhD he claims is in philosophy, with a major in “Philosophy of Physics,” a subject I never heard of, probably because physics is pure science, the antithesis of philosophy. People with doctoral degrees outside of medicine are called "doctor" only by their students and in other professional settings where they are practicing in that field as a profession.

What's more, you can see that Pacific Western University offers no such PhD program. You can see from this Wikipedia entry on PWU that it is an unaccredited diploma mill. As for being "Certified in Psychological Counseling Techniques by Brainbench," click the links on his Curriculum Vitae page and see that the transcript that appears has no name on it. As for Brainbench, just click the link and what it calls itself: an "employee/employment testing service" for "predicting employee success," not as an educational institution. Click through the myriad links to the Certification for Psychological Counseling Techniques, for this $49.95 product, you'll see the disclaimer:

Our Health Sciences certifications provide you the opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge of both health science and the laboratory and laboratory and patient techniques used to practice it. These certifications verify your knowledge of the concepts and subjects tested. Brainbench certification does not imply that the individual has the skills necessary to perform a specific procedure or treatment, or is licensed or authorized to practice any health care profession under any applicable laws.

Click the Learning link to find that their "teaching" includes nothing but the test (which you can retake as often as you want and which is presumably open-book), additional "practice tests," and access to a "Learning Center with specific content to help you improve your skills" -- no instructors, no practice or internships, no coursework, just a bunch of links.

And then the Jerusalem Post details here (the June 14, 1996 edition in “Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Three Stock Manipulators" by Evelyn Gordon) why Vaknin did time in prison.

Vaknin doesn’t hide any of this. People just don’t look at it. Do look, and judge for yourself what it means.

As far as I know, he abuses no one. I mean, he wears a warning sign, so whose fault is it if people snuggle up to him? (I don't understand the attraction.) You can learn from his writing without becoming a fan who goes around the Web singing his praises like he's some sort of Messiah.

What's called for is a sense of measure. Many narcissists seek negative attention in lieu of the other kind, and it's not unheard of for a narcissist to use his own narcissism as a claim to fame. Nonetheless, Vaknin's writing on NPD does GOOD. Much good. And that should go to his credit. Can't we give credit where credit is due without forgetting that he IS a narcissist? I can.
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