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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At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's the best thing about web sites like this one (and this one is the best I have ever found); the sense of sanity you gain when you learn that you are not overracting or crazy yourself. I will never forget the goosebumps I got over and over as I read about NPD the first time. I spent hours at it, too. I knew my family predator was all those things described as NPD, I just never knew until then that there was a name for it, that all those behaviors went together to form a personality disorder all its own. I felt the same amazement that others describe. All the words I read described the one I knew, right down to specific sentences spoken by him! At first, I thought I had a special NPD, the poster boy for the disorder description. But the more I read, the more I came to understand that they are all the same. A long time ago, especially when I was more vulnerable to my NDP, I learned to figure his next move, sometimes, I think, even before he could. Sort of the way a football team's defense "reads" the offense. They really are that predictable. I am grateful for this site because it helps me feel sane in an insane situation. I am also glad that Kathy doesn't mince words when it comes to others' reaction to the abuse you suffer at the hands of the narcissist. You must have taken him wrong, surely it didn't happen that way, why would he deliberately try to hurt you? And gosh, he's so very sorry. If you complain about something horrible the narcissist has done to you, everyone will play along with the NPD's routine of being the injured party. "Don't be so sensitive! The poor guy was just trying to help you. Now you've gone and hurt his feelings"!

At 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree -- this site is a gem -- thank you. Being around an N makes you question your sanity. When I found out about NPD a couple of years ago, I finally realized I wasn't the crazy one.

I'm a middle-aged man who was "friends" with an N for over 30 years, all the way back to high school. I use the term “friends” advisedly, because I realize now that Ns don't have friends. I wish I had known that 30 years ago.

This guy was best man at my wedding, but instead of dressing in black and white like everyone else, he showed up wearing a bright red cummerbund to call attention to himself. His own first marriage quickly failed because of his lies and adultery (the latter problem started on his own wedding night). Twenty years ago, his business was wrecked by his own bad judgment, deceit and tax evasion. Rather than accept his failure, he claimed a particular US Senator (whom he said he knew) had launched a personal vendetta against him. This same Senator also apparently “caused” my “friend” to be picked up on a DUI charge for which he did community service.

When he was really down on his luck 15 years ago, I agreed to lend him a lot of money. I just wanted to write him a check, but he insisted on signing a promissory note to show what an "honorable" man he was. Needless to say, he never repaid a dime, and I let it slide. (It’s interesting to note that he loaned his elderly father some money later on, and then complained bitterly for years that the old man had never paid him back.)

As he entered his 40s, his mother died, and all his bad traits got worse. He told everyone that he was friends with billionaires, celebrities, scientists, politicians, and even royalty. He tried to meet the Pope. He claimed expert knowledge on everything from software to oncology to oil exploration. He started phoning me 10+ times a day, sending multiple emails, without any reason other than to see how long it would take me to respond. If I didn’t get back to him within minutes, I was “not a real friend.” But, despite talking with me almost every day, this guy secretly got married to his second wife 5 years ago and never mentioned it. I had to find out about it from a mutual acquaintance, after the fact. My “friend” told me to “get over it,” but then complained that he was hurt that I didn’t buy him a wedding gift. Three years ago, perhaps sensing I was finally getting sick of his behavior, he abruptly stopped speaking to me on a ridiculous pretext. To my dismay, he now often hangs out at the coffee shop in the building where I work. He acts as if he doesn’t know who I am -- and I do the same.

This guy hasn't held a job in years, but today drives a $90k car. He rents a small condo, and surrounds himself with weird collections of junk he finds on eBay. Over the years, he got hugely fat and gray and went bald, but hires a colorist to dye what’s left of his hair "honey blonde." Other former friends of his who also loaned him money have called me to figure out how to collect from him -- I have no idea.

Why didn’t I cut him loose earlier? Not sure. He used to be fun, and funny, and when we were young, I think he still had a soul, somewhere, before he fell in love with the mirror. His life had so much promise back then. But, he burned every bridge he ever crossed, and hurt everyone he ever knew -- and, as I realize now, he enjoyed doing it. He and his life have been a complete waste -- and he doesn’t even know it.

At 3:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, based on the second comment here, a question -- is it typical/common for the NPD traits to emerge/worsen at a certain point in life?

At 10:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy, I found out about NDP in May after doing an internet such on emotional abusers and commitmentphobic people. I am totally angry and shocked that this disorder isn't well known. I can't imagine any reason for this. The only thing that comes to my mind is that if people really thought long and hard about this character disorder/personality disorder, whatever it is... then they might also start identifying many of the people who "run" the world as narcissists. That would lead to a complete melt down of our society as we know it.

I would like your opinion on how we protect society from N's For example, the N that I knew was a "boyfriend". Although I have come to terms that I can not change him, I wrestle with feelings of letting down society because I have not done anything to identify him as being ill. I would very much like to contact his family or friends anonymously and hint that he needs mental help. Unfortunately if I was found out, I just end up looking like the dramatic, psycho ex girlfriend. Besides emotional pain, this N is very capable of conning for all sorts of things. I think the longer he goes like this the more of a threat to society he becomes. I think about all the other people who will come after me. It makes me sad.

At 11:30 PM, Blogger Imshin said...

I actually knew about Narcissism, because I had learnt about it as a psychology student in university. A few months after becoming a target of my narcissistic boss, the word 'Narcissism' sort of floated into my mind and I started reading it up. I well remember the feeling of relief. Than I talked to a doctor friend of mine and she said something that made me doubt my 'prognosis', obviously out of ignorance of the subtle way, underhand way Narcissists operate.

Two more years of suffering followed, until things got so bad I knew if I didn't do something it was going to kill me. Then I got back to reading about NPD again, and it gave me the courage to move.

I'm in a new position now, in the same organization. Luckily, one or two people still remembered my abilities, from the time before the N actively deleted me, and they helped me move. I'm in a far less prestigious job, but it was worth it. I am so very happy.

It is great working with people who seem to enjoy my company and appreciate my work. It is wonderful being visible again.

I still look for manipulations everywhere, but how refreshing it is not to find them!

At 6:11 AM, Anonymous CoolAunt said...

Hi again, Kathy. Kathy here. hehe :)

I discovered NPD about four years ago, at the age of 38. The timing of discovery couldn't have been better for me because I was just on the verge of making no contact with my father. I was seeing a therapist/family counselor at the time for the specific purpose of doing whatever it would take to protect myself from further harm and insanity from him, to protect my personal boundaries and self-preservation.

One day while at work, my sister discovered Vaknin's site first, along with another mental health site that I don't recall now, and sent the links to me. I doubt either of us were very productive for the rest of that day as we read and consulted one another. According to our very non-professional diagnosis, our dad has NPD, histrionic personality disorder and paranoid personality disorder. And that's just the start! The man is and always has been impossible, crazy making, divisive, uncaring, unsupportive, emotionally manipulative, emotionally exhausting...I could go on but I won't.

Talking with my therapist about this, she said that it is very possible for a person to have more than one personality disorder. At her suggestion and with her guidance, along with my sister's input, including attending some of my sessions with me, I confronted my dad in a letter, since that's safer than face-to-face confrontation with someone who has, as far as I know, never been called on for his misbehavior. In the letter, I stated my boundaries, told him that I love him and don't want to be alienated from him but that he must respect me as an adult woman and respect my boundaries. I told him that I'd leave it up to him, that if he called or left a message or whatever, that I'd know that meant that he understood and agreed.

That's been almost four (or is it five?) years ago and I haven't heard from him yet. (Of five children, only the youngest still has a relationship with him. You'd think that would clue him in, but no.) The sad part is that I honestly can't say that I miss him. As one of my brothers put it, he's a dry well. When you're thirsty, you don't go to a dry well.

I'm rambling again.

That's my story about discovering NPD. It sounds much nicer than "the web of shit," as one of my brothers so aptly named having a relationship with our dad. Knowing about NPD or not, I would have confronted him, knowing that he'd choose abandoning me over respecting me. But I do find some validation in the knowing.


At 6:41 AM, Anonymous CoolAunt said...

Hi yet again, Kathy. :)

This doesn't really belong here, but it does work here in that it follows my comment about discovering NPD and my dad being totally whacked out, NPD included.

From your page on children of narcissists:

Yet another thing it is safe to say about the normal children of narcissists is that they have probably picked up bad habits in interacting with others. Outwardly, some of these bad habits appear narcissistic. Yet it is easy to tell the difference between a narcissist and a normal person. How? By simply asking him to stop it. The normal child of a narcissist will stop it. (A normal person who is not the child of a narcissist may not be so good about stopping it.) But a narcissist will do it all the more.

These behaviors persist through young adulthood. They gradually disappear after the child leaves home, as he gets used to normal people and how things work in the real world.

For example, the child of a narcissist may impolitely enter a room talking to interrupt the extant conversation. He hasn't been taught that this is bad manners. To the contrary, his (dominant) narcissistic parent did that twenty times a day. Also, he has found it so hard to get attention that he feels he must hijack it.

The difference between him and a narcissist, however, is easily demonstrated. If you ask him to stop it, he takes the message deeply to heart. In fact, you will find yourself trying to make him feel less bad about it. His behavior will change...

This describes three of five of us siblings to a tee! I'm the eldest, so it's safe to assume that as a teen and young adult, I had the worst manners and was the least civilized of us all. After all, I had only the N to learn from while my younger siblings had me and then the next in age and so on... to learn from. And we teach each other.

Anyway, being the eldest, I had probably learned the most rude behavior of us all. I knew that I was socially awkward, to say the very least, since childhood but knew nothing else. Yes, I was corrected often by others once I started getting out on my own. Yes, I felt a lot of shame, embarrassment, and remorse for offending and hurting others. Those strong, negative feelings helped me to learn, too. The same can be said of one brother and one sister so far. (One bro may never change as I believe his is N and I have confidence that the youngest sister will finish the positive changes that she's started when she doesn't spend so much time with Dad anymore.)

The three of us who have severed ties with dad and aren't N ourselves have completely different mannerisms (from his!), manners, expressions (facial, physical and verbal)...everything. We went from slates with nothing on them but the marks that an N put there for us, to wiping those slates and each of us filling our own slate with our late-to-be-formed selves. We're each a different person, unique from one another, yet each of us is pleasant to be around, funny, polite. even delightful sometimes.

Geez, come to think of it, no wonder N dad tried so hard to destroy us during our adult years before severing ties with him; how jealous he must be. Three of his five kids could have, for many years now, attracted all the narcissist supply we could stand, if that's what we'd wanted to do. And he, who desires that narcissist supply so much, is a natural human repellent.

Well, I hope you don't mind me rambling about my sibs and me. I really wanted you to see how your page about the children of narcissists so perfectly describes us.

One more note: Out of the five of us, me at 42 years old and the youngest at 28, only the middle sister is married. Spot on again. ;)

Be well!

At 7:15 PM, Anonymous Doug said...

Hello Everyone!
The day that I found out about NPD will stick in my mind forever.
The counselor that I'd chosen is affiliated with a local Christian church through the Wellspring organization. At the end of our first session he wrote on his business card 'narcissistic personality disorder' and wanted me to look up information on the web about this subject. His comment to me before I left was that it 'Should read like her life'.
A great weight was lifted off of my shoulders that day a year and a half ago. The pain and betrayal still makes my life hell but at least I now have the answers!!!!!!!!!!!

At 2:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could write several essays about the weirdness and abuse - but I couldn't contextualise any of it until I discovered this extraordinary disorder - talk about lights going on. It took a long time to digest and to accept I had to let go and move on. I particularly recall her favourite expression to some special kindness I'd shown her would be to react by saying "that's the worst possible thing you could do"

At 2:57 PM, Blogger puglette said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 7:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just stumbled onto your site after reading The Happy Feminist's posts about her NPD father, and have been obsessively reading comments, and posts on your journal, ever since that time. All of these people have said things that relate so well to what I went through: the pathological lying, the inability to deal with shame or admit responsibility (even over something simple like forgetting to take out the trash), projecting negative traits onto others, etc.

I discovered NPD about a month and a half ago, and it changed my life. I went out the night I discovered it and bought the book "Why is it always about you?", which I've found to be helpful.

It's a long story, but I lived with an N for a year and a summer, which was the worst time of my life. I was her "keeper" (in the way that my mentor recently phrased it) and I believe she suffers from NPD in addition to severe depression. We were best friends and moved in together. I thought before she was a bit of an attention hog, and didn't react to criticism in a rational way, but I never questioned these things too closely.

I made certain that she ate enough, took care of her when she was drunk (which was often), loaned her money, and listened to her, endlessly. When she started threatening to kill herself (while drunk, and then denying it while sober) I kept a suicide watch. I strongly believed that I had to do these things because she was my friend and needed my help.

She had dated a mutual friend of ours for a few months, who lived next door to us, and although they broke up in March 2005, she was still obsessing over him. She stalked him, harassed him at bars and parties, and while she still had a key to their house, would creep into bed with him at night. They had screaming fights in the parking lot, long email exchanges, and could never fully resolve their issues. She always insisted on discussing things as soon as possible, when she wanted to discuss them, which resulted in hell for the rest of us living there. I quickly learned that she would "have no recollection" of these behaviors in the morning, often citing alcohol as an excuse. You couldn't confront her on them.

And there was always a new crisis for me to comfort her over: anything from harsh words from this guy to pregnancy and a miscarriage (because he kept hooking up with her occasionally after they broke up.)

It's difficult to sum all of this up, and explain why I remained her friend and keeper for so long. I felt like I was the crazy one for letting everything affect me. I dumped a lot on my boyfriend, who was disgusted with me for not cutting her off. I myself became depressed, and was told by my therapist that it was all "environmental" and that I needed to remove the stressors around me. I didn't realize at the time that the biggest stressor was living two versions of reality so that I could remain best friends with my roommate. I had never heard of NPD before. I failed most of my classes that year, shirked on my commitments, and lost a lot of friendships. Many of my life goals will be far harder to achieve, if not impossible, because I met her and became friends with her.

I stayed so long partially because we all (all of our roommates and friends) expected things to get better. Toward the end of the time when I lived with her, I started gently hinting that perhaps because things continued to be bad (or worse), perhaps she should go to see a therapist. Soon after, she told me she had. When things weren't getting better, I decided to call her parents and tell them about some of the things she was doing (they were completely ignorant) and hope that they would use their financial control over her to get her some help. I knew from her that she had issues with her family, but suspected that she was exaggerating to get attention. Her parents came to confront her, but after 15 minutes of crying and accusing me of lying, she convinced them that nothing of this was true. By this point, she kept mentioning buying a handgun, in addition to making threats against her life and vague threats against the guy she had dated.

Later, when it took a meeting with a member of the Dean of Students Office at our university to tell her I was moving out, I found out privately that she was not on the records at the school's counseling services, and that she had been lying the whole time. During that meeting I confronted her on her lies, and she first called me a messed-up alcoholic and said that I was the one who had issues with my parents, not her. She then blamed me for "upsetting" her parents, saying that her mother had heart problems, her father looked older every time she saw him, and that they were talking about divorce. As all I'd ever done was try to help her, I wasn't expecting this. I vomited after the meeting was over.

To finish my story in a roundabout way, I decided to move out and gradually cut myself off from her after I found out about NPD. I finally moved out about three weeks ago, two weeks after the Dean of Students office told me to collect my valuables and keepsakes and live with friends until I could find a place to live.

I don't know exactly what makes me an easy target. But I do know that my life has been so much better now that I don't have to deal with her. Of course, she acts like nothing happened when I see her in public. I realize that there is no way to help her, but I still feel guilty, and responsible, in a way. Her mother called to beg me not to leave and to continue taking care of her, which I will not do.

Thank you for providing this information. It has been invaluable and therapeutic to me.

At 9:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It amazes me that after all these years of wondering what the heck was wrong with my sister, now that I have a name for it, all these things that happened in the past keep cropping up.
I have removed the photos of her (especially the ones of her and I together)from my home and put them away. But I forgot one in my bedroom that I noticed yesterday when dusting.
She gave it to me as part of a Christmas gift a few years ago. The frame says "I Love My Sister" but the photo in the frame is of her! She gave me a photo of herself, not one of the two of us.
My boyfriend at the time said later "Don't you find it a little odd that she gave you a picture of herself?"
I did, but I just brushed it off and said, "Well, that's the way she is, maybe it's like a little joke."
Now that I have found out so much about her and her reprehensible behavior, I'm not laughing anymore.
It's wierd - I'm so angry, but at the same time it's as if all the love I ever felt for her has evaporated, and there's just nothing left.
I just thank God I know what she is now.

At 12:16 AM, Blogger Pea33 said...

I just discovered NPD two days ago. One of the most relief filled moments of my life. My partner of 4 years and I explosively broke up a few days ago. I was searching for any kind of answer I could. Not just for this explosive break-up. For the entire 4 years. As I read, it was as if the author had been sitting in my living room for the past 4 years. It was almost eerie. I emailed excerpts from the "what makes a narcissist tick" site to my close friends and family (who have also been victimized by her). I feel vindicated. There is a name for it. I get it now. I can't fix her. I can't make her be nice to people. I can't make her happy for our friends who just got married. I can't make her feel empathy. I will never satisfy her insatiable need for all of the attention to be on her. I cannot make excuses for her anymore. I can't coax her into ceasing the negative smear campaign on all of the good, genuine, gentle, sincere people in my life. I am free. I get it now.


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