Saturday, September 23, 2006

Narcissists Are from Pluto

Do you ever feel like screaming something, because you've said it till you're blue in the face but somehow it has failed to sink in?

I sometimes feel like screaming that NARCISSISTS ARE PREDATORS ... PREDATORS ... PREDATORS -- GET IT? PREDATORS!

You know, like sexual predators, serial killers, child molesters, rapists, con artists: notice the common denominator. They all have a common mentality = they view human beings as PREY.

That makes them profoundly different from the rest of us. Not in every aspect of their personality, but in the most important one, their very membership in the human race. They don't consider themselves members of the human race. That's why they have no empathy.

Most people who comment here seem to get it, but elsewhere you can see that the word predator goes right through many people's brains like a neutron. It is common knowledge that narcissists are predators, like sociopaths.

That means something. Predation on one's own kind isn't natural. It's unnatural, perverse. It's an alien mentality.

So, duh -- it's stupid to expect them to respond the way normal people do to things.

This is a terrible mistake.

We see the catastrophic result in our penal system, and it's even worse in Europe where sentences are lighter and NPD is considered a legitimate defense (like insanity). When criminal predators turn 18 or come up for parole, they are released. Duh, then people wonder why they do it again. One might as well train a tiger to be nice and then think it's safe to let him out to prowl the streets.

What's with the people who decide to do that? Don't they have any idea what a PREDATOR is? Any idiot knows that, sooner or later, no matter how well you trained him, Tiger going to give in to the temptation and attack someone. Count on it. In fact, you're tempting him with bait by letting him roam the streets. Day after day, you're tempting him. You might as well wave a bottle of whiskey before an alcoholic. And not just once -- by every single day, twenty times a day. Sooner or later, he's gonna grab it.

Two recent comments similarly point up the danger of this same mistake when narcissists do present for counseling or psychiatric care: On professional diagnosis: How much of a chance does a professional have to diagnose a narcissist... and My N 'friend' who I have known basically from childhood.... The first points out why narcissists often go undetected by health-care professionals. It's quite understandable, but it's also a serious problem that the mental-health care profession must address. Why? Because the second comment shows the damage done when narcissists are treated by health care professionals as normal patients should be treated.

Hey, the first rule of medicine is Do no harm.

Everyone who walks in the door should be carefully screened for narcissism/sociopathy before deciding upon a treatment -- to prevent possibly worsening a predator's behavior and making it more dangerous to others.

Why is treatment that's right for non-narcissists wrong for narcissists? Because Narcissists Are from Pluto. You can't expect treatment based on normal human premises to evoke the right response from an alien being functioning on alien premises -- predatory premises. It ain't gonna work. It's gonna backfire, every single time.

Here's a simple example of why: Show someone a photo of a sweet and pretty little child. It will evoke warm feelings from a normal human being, even if he's a hardened criminal. But if you show that photo to a narcissist or sociopath, all he or she sees is prey = lunch. Bottom Line: Same stimulus, opposite reactions.

So, professionals need to be absolutely certain whether each patient they see is a predator or not. Only then can they treat appropriately.

Otherwise, narcissists who may not yet be much of a threat to others can learn to become one. For, the only rein on a narcissist's conduct is what he thinks he can get away with. When desperate enough, if he thinks he can get away with it, he will do ANYTHING.

Yes, I know it's politically incorrect to be caught regarding anyone mentally ill as "different" from the rest of us. You will be accused of accusing the narcissist/soiopath of "otherness." You will be viewed as making them "alien beings."

But, I'm sorry, they ARE. And it isn't a sin to know that. Because knowing the truth is never a sin. What's more, YOU don't make them aliens, THEY make themselves aliens.

This is just another example of how the half-baked moralizing of people wanting to look holier-than-thou does more harm than good. As if what's right and wrong is carved in stone somewhere. Sorry, morality isn't a no-brainer that you can practice by rote.

We don't need the useless moralizing. In fact, if we face the fact that narcissists/sociopaths have set themselves apart from the human race, viewing human beings with inhumanity as prey who exist to feed them, then perhaps we will find a cure.

Indeed, it seems to me that the cure for narcissism would be in persuading the narcissist to quit identifying with his false image and identify with the real him, that hurt little child deep in the dungeon inside, the HUMAN BEING that the demon who took over his house ate.

In other words, persude him to rejoin the human race.

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At 3:18 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have been reading alot of your stuff and finally can contribute. i am almost certain my husband's oddness is due to this affliction.only when its insidious effects started showing up more apparently on our children did i start to really investigate the subject. i always knew right from the beginning there was something off w him.of course it has gotten worse lately.we are in our mid 40s married 23 years,parents health fading. according to H his childhood sucked. but i wasnt there.why do i have to pay for it. im so angry that i am where i am.our marriage has been slowly dying for what seems forever, but im starting to get why it doesnt seem to matter to him. he has gotten progressively more self absorbed.doesn't have a clue why or how we are all suffering. probably cuz he's so wrapped up in his own pain.doesn't see that we can tell. wait knows we can tell, but wears it like a badge cuz now he's special but still so mysterious because no one else can know just how tortured HE really is because HE is still SO unique. he has become such a game player. except to me he looiks like a jerk and a fool.our children are struggling to make sense out of what they are witnessing. they struggle to understand why im pulling back from the relationship but im not walking away. they have been jerked back and forth emotionally and can't tell if he loves them or not. i think they are still hopeful. but i don't like them getting played too. i think they need some explanations but how can i tell them what i think wo sounding like im putting down their father or wo breaking their heart?! i wish all of us could just get away from the hurt and confusion but it sounds like the damage has already been done and it will never really go away.i go back to feeling angry and stifled,frustrated,fired up then exhausted. i feel like my head is going to pop. but what bugs me most is when i recognize that i am sometimes just depressed by it all.

At 8:20 PM, Blogger Kathy K said...

You may be in one of those moments where you must set aside your anger and think. First, there are people experienced in such matters who can give you good advice and help you. Check out the links pages on the Main Site. If you are depressed, you can visit your doctor.

I think it is very important to discuss this with your children. Might it be possible to just open the discussion with them? One at a time? Just get THEM to tell you their feelings about their father. Make them feel safe to be frank. You may be surprised at the result. They may be feeling the same fear of discussing it with you.

Rest assured that, if he is an N, he will talk with them about you behind your back.

There is a taboo against coming between members of a family. All decent people are loathe to violate it by talking badly about a family member to other family members behind his or her back. The problem here is that the N isn't a member of this family. He doesn't function within it as one. His presence makes it dysfunctional. HE is coming between the rest of you.

That said, I know that sometimes members of a family will gripe no end about a narcissist. But everything you suggest that they do to change the situation so that the same old grievance doesn't keep happening day after day -- the moment you suggest a simple change to deal with the problem, it suddenly becomes "no problem."

I have no idea what you'd do about that. It seems to me that all you can do is walk away.

Try to do one thing, however small, to improve your situation every day. And do seek help from professionals who have helped others in a situation like yours. You don't have to go through this alone.

At 8:58 PM, Anonymous GH said...

"Indeed, it seems to me that the cure for narcissism would be in persuading the narcissist to quit identifying with his false image and identify with the real him, that hurt little child deep in the dungeon inside, the HUMAN BEING that the demon who took over his house ate."

This is both dead on and daneroous in one breath. Because I think you're right that this is precisely where the cure must lie. But it gets a bit sticky when we start convincing ourselves that the narcissist really can be persuaded -- I think they're all good at convincing us that they've turned over a new leaf, reformed, whatever. And we see that hurt little child and we feel for him and we truly want to believe. I don't know, maybe it's a little bit of their grandiosity rubbing off on us that we think that *we* will be the one to finally save them?

Or maybe it's just me. But darned if I don't keep finding myself in that vicious cycle of wanting to give it "one more try..."

At 2:13 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...

GH, You'll quit ;-)

You just haven't failed often enough yet.

Actually, I don't think a significant other could do the persuading. It would have to be a last resort in the N's eyes, the only way out, the only way to survive a crisis when alone.

Maybe a psychiatrist could get somewhere then this way, after everyone has abandonned the N, leaving him or her in the crisis.

A lamb can't persuade a wolf to become a vegetarian. But a wolf without any lambs to eat might consider it.

At 5:51 AM, Anonymous GH said...

Good point -- but I don't suppose the wolf would remain "persuaded" to stick to crudite as soon as the next lamb wandered by...

At 2:35 PM, Anonymous Dandelion said...

To the anonymous poster at the top:
I can identify with your situation. Same age, married for 22 years, the last 5 of which have been pretty much dead in terms of our emotional (and physical) connection. I think we lasted that long because I have always tended to be supportive and accomodating in my relations with others. The slide downhill started when, for a number of reasons, I stopped believing everything he said, and especially when I started challenging him about favoring our sons (both 12) over our daughter (15). In retrospect, it's mindboggling to realize that he only "loves" people for their ability to make him feel good.

I'm sticking it out until the kids are older, for a number of reasons: (1) his pathology is on the mild side--we are managing to work together to some degree in maintaining a home and raising the kids, (2) he pretty much leaves me alone, which is how I want it now that we have no emotional bond, and (3) I'm staying very much involved in the emotional and moral upbringing of our children, to provide them consistency, awareness, and a connection to reality. I agree this can be quite difficult to do without putting him down--I try generally to validate their feelings while not explicitly mentioning him at all, or off-handedly saying that he should or shouldn't have done that.

It's far from ideal, and some would disagree with the decision to stay. I have days where I feel hopeless and depressed. But I also have good days, where I feel strong and optimistic about how well my kids are progressing.

Sometimes I think they are also learning something of value (ultimately at my husband's expense)--an awareness of how full of BS some people are and how you can stand up for yourself and avoid getting sucked into their reality.

At 9:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dandelion i am the post at 3:18. thankyou for responding. It sounds like we are living the same life. I spend so much of my time trying to figure out answers to the "w" questions=why, what's wrong, what should i do, biggest one lately is what shouldn't i do. I feel like i'm playing bumper cars! kathy, your site is most helpful. i can relate to people's frustration, but i truly appreciate your compassionate and intelligent responses. You are a life ring in an angry sea.


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