While looking for links to resources for the abused, I sutmbled across an interesting article entitled Conceptual Clarity: The difference between moral and strategic behavior in understanding the perpetrator of domestic violence (a 4-page PDF document) by David J.H. Garvin, the Program Director of Alternatives to Domestic Agression, a program of Catholic Relief Services in Michigan.
You can see the article here or here.
It isn't about NPD per se, but the points he makes apply 100% to abusers suffering from Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
Frankly, I bet his ideas are politically incorrect enough that only the Catholic Relief Services would tolerate them. They understand that some people are just, well . . . BAD.
I noticed the failure to grasp this in the comments at The Happy Feminist. Some of those commenters just didn't get it. They acted like NPD is just a kind of quirkiness. I suppose this stems from the idiotic notion that it's okay not to tell people you love them if that's hard for you -- they must assume that you do and that poor, poor you just finds it hard to say so. Baloney, if you can't say you love someone, you don't love them. Period. When they are your own children, the only sensible thing for them to assume is that you are a pathetic excuse for a human being, incapable of love.
Good people are NOT incapable of love. Only a heart of malice is.
Dante remarked at the same inability of humanism, or pure philosophy, to grasp the fact that some folks need no motive other than pure, unadulterated malice to do what they do. He shows this by telling of how Virgil was completely perplexed by the Harpies at the Gates of Nether Hell. It took a man of religion to to show him that "They just did that because they hate everybody, not because they had any sane reason for doing such a thing."
Garvin points out, much more aptly than I have, that abusers do what they for RESULTS. Period. They disregard the morality of what they do. He puts their attitude this way: "I want what I want, and I want it now." No other consideration is worthy of weight in their choices. To hell with whether getting it is right or wrong. To hell with the consequences to you. (Just like a three-year-old.)
For example, one may believe the answer is an anger control problem. Saying that a batterer has an anger control problem is like saying Lucciano Pavorotti needs vocal lessons. Batterers use their anger instrumentally and strategically. If a situation calls for the effective use of anger, the batter will summon his anger to do the job. The batterer may, just as effectively use his sorrow, sadness or shame to also be an effective and coercive means to establish maintain or regain control. Simply stated, battering is purposeful, instrumental and strategic behavior designed to bring about a result.
It is my opinion that battering is 100% premeditated. Consider that there are two “types” of premeditation. One that would meet the legal definition of premeditation and the other, a logical and cognitive and behavioral understanding. In the case of the former one could posit that your reading of this article was to gain a better understanding into the dynamics of the batterer and that you are reading this article, not “by accident”. The second understanding of premeditation entails an understanding of “patterned behavior.” Patterned behavior is that which we have done with enough frequency, that we have now become proficient at it and no longer necessitates the focus and attention, which it once did. An example of this could be as simple as tying ones shoes.
I have tried to say the same thing, but I didn't achieve this degree of clarity. From early childhood, narcissists learn that certain behaviors get them what they want. It takes no Einstein: a two-year-old learns that throwing a fit will get him what he wants! Narcissists and other bullies CHOOSE to never grow beyond that and consider other aspects of the choices they make -- like...
Will it hurt that person for me to do this?
Will it be moral for me to do this?
What might the future consequences be if I anger this person by doing this?
Will it be good for the company's business?
Will it be good for my child's mental health?
None of that matters to these grown brats!
Their choices are as simple as can be: Will doing this get me what I
want right now? If so, then I'll do it. No matter what.
In other words, their choices are binary decisions, like a computer's. It takes no thinking at all for them to make such a decision. That's why they are so impulsive and machinelike. That's why their behaviors are such knee-jerk reactions.
In everything you or I do, we consider maybe three or four or even more things before making the decision of how to react to a stimulus -- even in the space of the few seconds we have to respond to another person in conversation. But narcissists have only one thing to consider: Will it get me what I want right now? or not?
So, they aren't as smart as they seem: they're just experienced manipulators making binary decisions like a computer does.
And most of their behaviors are pure habit or conditioned reflex, like tying your shoes. Which means they have practiced a certain type of reaction so much that they automatically react that way to a certain type of thing, without needing to think at all about it anymore. For example, tell them to stop treating treating you like dirt. They long ago learned that to get you to shut up they should whine, "WAAH! Get off my back!" So, when you tell them to quit treating you like dirt, it's automatic, like pushing the buttons on a Chatty Cathy doll.
But that's only because this blowback-in-your-face reaction works: it crams your words back down your throat. So, it has become a habit for the narcissist to do that, like tying his shoes. Not an accident. Not something he can't control. Just a damned habit.
Garvin also attacks the common fallacy of citing an abuser's childhood and other "factors" as excuses or causes for what he does. I have noticed this too. In every list of risk factors for domestic violence, you have two kinds of items: legitimate ones that indicate how near to crossing that line the abuser may be and illegitimate ones that merely indicate the ability or opportunity to overpower someone.
Both get smushed together in people's heads as CAUSES of domestic violence. Sorry, but access to guns does not cause domestic homicide any more that access to cars causes reckless homicide by driving while intoxicated. If we muddle such things as fuzzy CAUSES, then just being a man is a cause of violence, so we should view all men with suspicion. Or just being bigger than whomever you're mad at is a cause, so we should view the large with suspicion. Or just living in the same town or state is a CAUSE. All these "FACTORS" aren't factors at all. And we could list a million of them, so why do people with Big-Brother type agendas always list only a certain few of their favorites?
Garvin also shows why having a personality disorder is no excuse. Here's the paper. If you left-click that link, it will open in your browser. If you right-click it, you can choose "Save target as..." in the popup menu to download it.