Tuesday, September 19, 2006

More on dealing with anger or any painful emotion

From my point of view, one good thing about blogging is that it gives me a chance to hone a piece before placing it on the Main Site. Or to work out ideas in several posts before they come together in an article for the Main Site.

I also learn from the comments. One in particular stands out because it completely changed my mind. I had bought into the idea that narcissists have problem similar to autistic people. Someone posted to show me the difference. It's huge. These two problems are different in their very nature, though superficially they do resemble each other. Yes, both the autistic person and the malignant narcisisist filter information and have trouble relating. But underneath these two problems couldn't be more different. They are no more alike than malignant narcissism and the healthy, natural narcissism in us all or the big-headedness that comes with fame (i.e., situational narcissism) -- again things which superficially resemble each other but underneath are vastly different.

Usually though comments just bring up another aspect of something. That helps me to cover all bases.

Recently one made me see that I haven't bee clear enough about something. I had written that you can deal with your anger now or you can deal with it later, but sooner or later you have to go through it and deal with it.

Most of us have already heard how this is true with another strong emotion as well -- grief. Often we must put grief aside for awhile, especially grief for the loss of someone near and dear.

Just getting through the funeral often requires that. And when people are caught up in some other emergency at the time, they must set aside their grief to deal with the emergency. Think, for example, what would happen if people were unable to set aside their grief in the middle of a war or some natural disaster. It would paralyze them. Likewise, saving a business from failure can require setting grief aside for awhile. Our ability to do this is natural and adaptive.

We have a problem, however, when we never do get around to experiencing that grief. It becomes one of those "unresolved issues" in the subconscious, where it affects our behavior without our being consciously aware of that. The result is inexplicable and irrational behavior, motivated by a repressed emotion. That's why I call such a repressed emotion an "unseen puppetmaster."

The same is true of anger. There may be times when we must set it aside. For example, if we have difficulty "tempering" it with wisdom and a sense of of appropriate measure, we know we must set it aside and cool down or we will "lose our temper." Or perhaps we are in the middle of an emergency that requires a cool head.

Fine. But, like grief, sooner or later we have to let ourselves go through the pain of grief or anger or any painful emotion = deal with it.

Only then will it pass.

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At 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand all the emotions you describe above with one exception -- I struggle with why grief should affect N survivors so deeply.

When the N walked out of my life 3 years ago --I didn't feel grief -- in fact, I was elated. Perhaps having seen how he acted with others, the callous way he discarded people when he was done with them, I was already prepared, so it didn't really surprise me -- I guess I was subconsciously waiting (maybe hoping?) for it.

Of course, once he was gone I felt stupid and for having allowed myself to be deceived by him for so long. And I felt shame for having listened to his vile lies so passively. And I felt damn angry at him for the injuries he inflicted on me and others. And, truthfully, I felt a little scared that he might try to "get" me -- which he has, but only in his pathetically sneaky, ineffectual and cowardly way.

But grief? No way. What is there to grieve about at the end of a relationship with someone who is miserable, dishonest, cruel and manipulative? I can’t think of much. Maybe we grieve the lost opportunities that the N caused us -- that seems likely enough -- but reaching the end of a relationship with an N is pure relief.

At 1:25 PM, Anonymous GH said...

I certainly grieved the loss of who I thought he was before I learned who he really is...

At 5:35 PM, Blogger Kathy K said...

I hear you both. I have experienced it both ways (even for the same person).

My best guess is that it depends on what stage of the "wising up" process you're in at the time and on how fooled you were at the end. Perhaps it also depends on how intimate the relationship was. In many ways, blood runs thicker than water. Imagine losing a beloved brother, sister, parent or child this way. I bet it's usually worse than losing a lover.

One thing is always true though -- an N is a malign influence in your life, like a disease. You might not realize it at first, but over time you see that your whole outlook on life, and everything, just seems to go better. You even physically feel better.

At 5:28 AM, Blogger puglette said...

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At 7:57 AM, Blogger puglette said...

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At 10:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The grief in my case was OVERWHELMING...because it was not my Borderline psychopathic predator of an ex-boyfriend that was finally the problem; it was the horrific revelation that the entire community I deeply loved, respected and believed myself to be a valid part of was exactly the same as him. You think the world is a safe and predictable, honest and fair place, then to have the wool ripped in a bloody heap from your eyes completely in the span of six months quite literally almost killed me with sorrow, rage, and of course the embarassment of the steps I CHOSE to take to assert my identity post-traumand DURING the trauma. Uninterrupted grief.
However the great news is, is that I know now these jokers are going to be right where I left them while I shine. There will be no need to "get 'em", or discuss their nonsense. Their lives ARE their punishment, one they bring upon themselves every day. Still hurts like a bitch though.

At 11:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

KK, I would like to see your words describe the legitimate fear one feels when they wonder if their N will try to take it out on them for leaving them. I personally have developed what I would deem a mostly healthy "paranoia", however, there are days when I look back and think, that wasn't my gut intuitive reaction, that was straight out paranoid thinking....I want to trust myself and my judgement again and I am putting myself in senarios that help me develop the ability to trust and test myself and others. Its just this lingering paranoia....its very difficult to deal with.

My way of dealing with this N situation in my life is to maintain no contact and continue to educate myself in every way possible so to understand everything about this thoroughly. This site is one of the most thoughtful.
Thank You and everyone who comments here.

At 7:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any good resources you'd recommend on the spectrum of narcissism? The marriage counselor identified my spouse as having narcissistic tendencies but short of full blown NPD and that just makes it hharder for me to know what behavior to write off as a bunch of stupid narcissistic baby conduct and what I can/should take seriously.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...


Good question. Offhand I don't know of any, but be sure to check out the links page on the Main Site. By surfing you may find what you're looking for. If I come across anything in the next days, I'll post it.

As I understand it, a person either has NPD or not. I could be wrong, but that's my understanding.

Normal people can exhibit narcissistic behavior. That's because we all have a healthy narcissism = true self love. We all can suffer narcissistic injury. When we do, we are likely to exhibit narcissism in our reaction. For example, being put down by a malignant narcissist is likely to evoke that response in giving him or her a dose of their own medicine.

This differs from malignant narcissism though in that it is not predatory. It's legitimately defensive and protective. A normal person isn't made miserable by good things happening to others.

People suffering narcissitic injury at work, or through life circumstances (such as a business failure) may behave narcissistically as a reaction. But they still are normal, beacuse they aren't malignant predators, hostile to the happiness and well being of others. Big difference between that mere babyishness and true NPD.

Now I have also read that true NPD varies in severity, affecting some more severely than others. I am a bit skeptical about this, thinking it's just the N's life circumstances at the moment and how much they can get away with. I think this because I have seen cases, and heard of cases, where some change (such as the death of parent who had a rein on a narcissist) caused a huge escalation in the narcissist's violence and daring. Like somebody just took the leash off a mean dog. Whatver -- that's just my gut instinct, and I think most authorities would disagree with me.

Someone else may be able to supply a link to the information you seek as well.

At 3:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My experience with our vicious family narcissist makes me agree with Kathy about the illusion of differing levels of severity regarding NPD. The death of the major damage-controlling family member in our NPD's life (representing something to lose) really set him free, particularly when it came to the neglect and exploitation of his own children. He surprised even me.

Also, when he is first working on a new wife/victim (he's had a few), he focuses on that task so intently that he doesn't have enough time and smarts left over to visit the usual amount of horror on the rest of us. His being particularly attracted to women with large families to fool and suck in makes the job all-encompassing for him, at least for a while. To the gullible or those who haven't known him long enough, this makes him seem "not so bad" after all. But it really is an illusion. A very dangerous illusion.

Past that, the only thing that ever restrains him is his cowardice.

At 4:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never experienced more pain than in the stunning realization that my mother was indeed a NPD. My brother was actually diagnosed and that just made sense. I felt tremendous anger with him. Letting go of my mother was another story. More than anger there was intense grief. It was grief for what I thought was a relationship. It lasted almost 3 years. Steadily working on understanding the inner landscape of the the N's mind, I am increasingly more angry at her for the abuse that I endured as a child and the abuse I volunteered for as an adult. Grief masked the anger. For me it has been a long, slow process of feeling my feelings. But I also feel relief now that these two people are out of my life.

At 10:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just finally put an end to a relationship with a person who could easily be labeled as NPD. He was very smooth and when trouble started hitting with his constant get close, pull away tactics, I was in great distress to the point that I lost weight that I didn't have to lose. I am now very angry. I live only a couple of doors down from this person and every time I see him being overly friendly with all the neighbors, it makes me ill to my stomach. I gave and gave, but he didn't give me back even half. I was used for what I was able to give. I am now planning on moving, but will not discuss with any of my neighbors on when exactly or where. I don't want him to find me and I don't want to run into him at all ever. I even gave him another chance letting him know that only if he put God first in his life. The very next day he was agreeing to go out and get drunk with the guy that's always looking for a party around here. He is involved in a ministry and tries to conceal these things from important people. He has them fooled for now. I will hopefully have peace in leaving this place and avoiding him at all costs.


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