Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Narcissists are more like machines than geniuses.

I have mistaken a narcissist for a "wizard of human nature." At least, that's what I called him when I saw how masterfully he manipulated people. He could spot good faith, or one of the seven deadly sins, in someone a block away. Methodically, he avoided the former like the plague and lured his prey by tantalizing them with bait for the latter. He could inseminate almost anyone's head with any idea he wanted and make them think it was their own. I had to constantly pinch myself, and in the end I swore that he could have made some folks think they saw him fly a broom.

Even more scary, he could then make them think a contrary thing tomorrow and the first thing again the day after! In other words, he could mess with people's minds like their skulls were full of cottage cheese he was mushing up by hand. He literally drove some folks crazy, apparently just for the hell of it.

Narcissists, like psychopaths are frightfully manipulative. They often surprise you with how quickly they see through people. They are cynics.

But I now think they don't come by these qualities the way a normal person would.

Through experience with a phonies, a normal person may learn the hard way to detect a charade in any act put on a little too thick. Through disillusionment about the human race, a normal person may become a cynic. An intelligent person who becomes a student of human nature could depict it as well as William Shakespeare does. Theoretically he could use this knowledge to plot how to manipulate people.

But a narcissist doesn't acquire those skills this way.

Narcissists say and do everything for effect. So, for example, when a narcissist is talking to to you, she isn't saying what she thinks. She is saying what she thinks will draw the reaction she wants from you. She is absorbed in that reaction.

So, while you are thinking about the subject at hand and many other things, she is focused on one thing only - your facial expressions and other reactions to her. That's her reflected image, and like Narcissus, she is fixated on admiring it 100% of the time.

As a consequence, narcissists are extremely observant of people's reactions to things. And from a very young age. They learn by trial and error what kinds of behaviors by them elicit the kind of reaction they want from others.

This is exactly the way an infant learns to manipulate, as Mark Twain explains in this humorous piece on how children learn to throw temper tantrums to manipulate you:

I do not remember my first lie, it is too far back; but I remember my second one very well. I was nine days old at the time, and had noticed that if a pin was sticking in me and I advertised it in the usual fashion, I was lovingly petted and coddled and pitied in a most agreeable way and got a ration between meals besides. It was human nature to want to get these riches, and I fell. I lied about the pin — advertising one when there wasn't any. You would have done it; George Washington did it, anybody would have done it. During the first half of my life I never knew a child that was able to rise above that temptation and keep from telling that lie.

Now, if an infant can learn how to manipulate us with this trick, think what a six-year-old or an 18-year-old or a 30-year-old can.

You might call this formular behavior. By trial and error, they learn some rules. The rules go like this: To get a "y" kind of reaction, do an "x" kind of behavior or To get a "y" kind of reaction, say an "x" kind of thing.

They don't figure the formulas out, they simply DISCOVER them by noticing that a certain type of behavior always elicits a particular type of reaction from people. Then they acquire these stock behaviors as habits, simply because they pay very, very close attention to people's reaction to everything they say and do.

Normal people don't, so normal people never learn these formulas. What's more, normal people don't do everything soley for effect. They are considering the matter at hand. The morality of their behavior is usually a consideration. Future consequences are a consideration. The good of the other party is often a consideration. So, behavior is complicated in normal people, who weigh many factors in the choices they make.

Narcissists don't. All that matters is what they want to see reflected in your reaction right now. Nothing else is any consideration.

So, narcissists are more like machines than geniuses.
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42 Comments:

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Narcissists fully believe in their ability to control reality by manipulation. If they are unable to manipulate reality, then they will resort to lying believing that they can still yet control their reality through their words. To an old naricissist who has spent decades spinning their webs of manipulation and deceit, there is nothing more threatening than truth. In fact, there is no better way to disarm a narissist than with the truth. The second best way is to give them no reaction at all to their manipulations thereby, removing their ability to guage what you will do next. Depending upon their level of illness, this will either cause them to no longer have any need for you in their lives or they will seek revenge. Beware however, that they may also exclude you as a means of manipulation. Never ever accept anything that a narcissists says or does at face value.

 
At 6:26 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

Another excellent post. Both my mother and my husband indulge liberally in saying things for effect.

I've had a long-running discussion with my brother on whether or not my mother's manipulations are purposeful (his position) or learned behavior as described in the post (my position). She'll say things in an overly dramatic way and then pause to see the response. It feels like she's expecting a very specific type of reaction, like a stock-response that you might see on TV or the movies. It upsets her equilibrium when I don't respond accordingly, and she accuses me of wanting to make her look bad. Some of the things she's said to me are totally inappropriate if she actually knew who I was and what I cared about. It frustrates her to no end that I'm "difficult," i.e. that the behaviors that she's working so hard to learn don't have the expected effect on me. And then later on when I mention my observation of her emotional state (when she was being dramatic and trying to get a response), she has no idea what I mean (meaning she was never actually connected to the expressed feelings).

My husband says whatever it takes to drive his point home or to get out of something, even if it means taking leave of reality. His credibility with me is in the toilet, which is why I will eventually leave him.

 
At 9:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the way he used to look at me very deeply was what got me hooked. I didn't realize at the time that what he was really doing was: A. Watching to see if I was looking back at him (adoringly?). and B. studying me for future reference.

Maybe this was why I was always always so completely surprised, even after I had started to work out what a psycho he was, when I received his boot in my face five minutes later.

 
At 10:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you know though, it is wrong to just let bad behavior pass, with normal people or with Ns. Because by ignoring bad behavior we inadvertantly condone it (witnessing a mugging and not reacting, ignoring a bully so we don't get targeted, letting a child throw a fit in public cause "that's what kids do", excusing rape because "boys will be boys"...) I'm so tired of not reacting to my Ns digs. I quietly ignore him fooling myself into thinking he will eventually catch on and knock it off. I roll over and TAKE it by not fighting back. But oh my gosh- I would sound like a royal nag if I corrected him on all his infractions to normal everyday decency. My kids know I disapprove of his negativity, they see me model good behavior everywhere else, but with him I just shut down and don't react.Am I modeling good behavior or not? You and I know we can't change them. But why does it have to look like "we're letting them get away with it?!!!!" I feel so stuck it makes me weary. If I react (like a normal person would to another normal person) then I feed him (w. NS). If I don't react, I'm "condoning" his behavior and setting a bad example.(and also feeding his NS). You guys gotta help me find another way to think before I go nuts. Please. Thankyou.

 
At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment is remarkably reassuring today; this very wise poster pointed out just how ridiculous it all is, really.
I am tired just thinking about the lies and the games.
For me the main challenge has always been getting my ego, and desire for "revenge" out of the way for nature to take its uncompromising cours with career manipulators. The human propensity is to control, to guide and to make things happen, never quite trusting in natural law or the order of things to do a better job than we can. Look at what our fellow here helps us all to see so clearly.
These narcissists are SO SCREWED long-term, I believe unlike the old, smelly farts being cared for by embittered and lost kids into their abusive dotage because society and the victims know what kind of piss-ants they are dealing with and can choose morally and spiritually to let them rot and feel the effects of a lifetime of using people...we did NOT have this information twenty, thirty years...well, ever. Never in our history a.) has this pathology been so widespread and b.) has a collective had better resources available to deal with the chilling proliferation of aliens among us. I am quite serene at this point that narcissists will NOT have anywhere to hide for very much longer...this word is THE word on everyone's lips in da 06, and I will keep it going. In compassion likely, but still in the firm conviction that I want to prevent anyone anywhere from acting as stupidly as I did, under the premise that I was dealing with "normal people" or "troubled geniuses". The world ladies and gentlemen in polarizing as the earth herself balances her karma; we are never given more than we can handle. Give losers the boot, don't think twice about it, and save yourself. They have done their job so that you can do yours.
Thank you ANON for that concise comment. And thank you again, Kathy for your work has contributed enormously to the quality of my life. GG

 
At 3:08 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

I know what you mean. There is a lot I just ignore, because I don't have the energy to do the constant feedback or a power struggle. Sometimes that's the correct response, for example if all he was looking to do was to throw out a statement to provoke some chaos.

Other times I have made a simple, quiet statement of disagreement, like when defending somebody from his inappropriate put-downs, that has stopped him in his tracks. (Doesn't always stop him, but you can say "whatever" and walk away if he escalates. Don't get drawn into a power struggle, but also don't give in.)

You could also try a bantering, sarcastic/joking response, which is harder for me, but I've pulled it off a few times.

Try reading Patricia Evans' books on verbal abuse--a lot of practical tips for talking to narcissists (although she doesn't call them that).

 
At 9:10 PM, Anonymous GH said...

Anon at 10:02 -- I just had this discussion a couple of weeks ago. He recommended, for my sanity, both not reacting and not just letting it go. A simple, but unemotional "I don't appreciate your cruelty / disrespect / rudeness." And then walk away. You don't have to just swallow the abuse, but don't empoweer it either by reacting. This requires ALOT of discipline. Just don't let him rob you of your dignity.

 
At 9:14 PM, Anonymous GH said...

10:06 -- p.s. another firend suggested looking at him the way you would look at a small child, or like a doctor looking at a patient, or like a scientist looking at an experiment. Rob his tantrums of their emotional force. He's not a loved on with a pull on you, just an interesting specimen you are observing to learn more about NPD...

 
At 6:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy K, are people with NPD in constant pain on a conscious level? Do they actually feel constant mental anguish or is it more deep seated?

 
At 6:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy K, are people with NPD in constant pain on a conscious level? Do they actually feel constant mental anguish or is it more deep seated?

 
At 7:10 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

I think the awareness of pain is repressed to subconscious level.

 
At 7:33 AM, Anonymous GH said...

"I think the awareness of pain is repressed to subconscious level."

I would have to agree -- most of the time. I think consciousness of the pain/self-doubt bubbles to the surface from time to time and my best guess is that this is what trigers those famous narcissistic rages. So long as they are able to forget how bad they feel about themselves, they can cruise along in a reasonably pleasant -- often charismatic -- state of general self-absorption. Do anything that might remind them that they are not "all that," and the monster rages.

I think they are deeply convinced that they are far more worthless than anyone knows and, if you should happen to call attention to some slight imperfection, they react in terror that you might discover the full depths of their perceived worthlessness. They rage at you both to scare you away from noticing any other imperfection and to divert (project) attention onto what a hideous beast they will say you are.

 
At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. Sorry about the double post it said it couldn't post my message so I tried again.

 
At 9:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe they feel bad. I mean really bad, deep down inside. That's what's so scary about retaliating against them. I really don't want to obliterate my N (I mean I get the urge to sometimes!) But knowing that I actually really could scares me. I can't in good conscience be responsible for that. And besides I care about people more than that. It is scary to know that I have the power to destroy him back. God help me to never do that.

 
At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My music teacher once told me that he has a voice in his head saying, "You can't" "You're an idiot" "No-one is listening to you", etc. and he said after that assertion: "Now, what is THAT but Satan?"
It breaks my heart. The things I DID to him in great pain and fear took a full year to forgive myself for. However, isn't that just the rub? These people TALK about KNOWING what's wrong...but as Vaknin says, "knowing does not equal FEELING, and there can be no healing without insight" or something like it. Isn't it so frustrating...like, "dude! If you KNOW what's going on, WHY CAN'T YOU FIX IT AND START LISTENING TO PEOPLE AND KNOW THAT VOICE WANTS YOU DEAD???"
Exhausting. Kathy?
You are blessed and beloved. BTW, is that photograph of you a recent one? I am no stalker, just an avid reader and have no idea what your age range is...do you feel like sharing? You don't have to obviously :-) GG

 
At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My music teacher once told me that he has a voice in his head saying, "You can't" "You're an idiot" "No-one is listening to you", etc. and he said after that assertion: "Now, what is THAT but Satan?"
It breaks my heart. The things I DID to him in great pain and fear took a full year to forgive myself for. However, isn't that just the rub? These people TALK about KNOWING what's wrong...but as Vaknin says, "knowing does not equal FEELING, and there can be no healing without insight" or something like it. Isn't it so frustrating...like, "dude! If you KNOW what's going on, WHY CAN'T YOU FIX IT AND START LISTENING TO PEOPLE AND KNOW THAT VOICE WANTS YOU DEAD???"
Exhausting. Kathy?
You are blessed and beloved. BTW, is that photograph of you a recent one? I am no stalker, just an avid reader and have no idea what your age range is...do you feel like sharing? You don't have to obviously :-) GG

 
At 6:18 AM, Blogger Louise said...

Just saw the other night how a skilled (?) N will use a holiday to get their kicks...MIL is almost 80 and has a long history of alienating others in her family. Yet she is considered charming in her local community and volunteers with all the "right" groups.

I always felt a bit bad for my husband that he has had a phone call only relationship with his mother (and even less with his father; they divorced when my husband was quite small), but after this year with Lil Sis, I now understand his choice.

Within 5 minutes, his Thanksgiving was partially ruined by her comments about his job- even though I think my husband is doing a splendid job of providing for us all and we have a happy life together. But she groomed him to live among the Rockerfellers and Astors- that he chose ME, a "commoner", still rankles for her, even after 15 years.

It took me reminding him after he hung up the phone that our daughters (who have never met her) were having a wonderful day and we all loved and believed in him to get him to calm down and reset. I feel bad, because she is alone, but she has spent decades creating her life, and I see beyond doubt that this will be Sis's fate as well.

They ARE machines- and not only can't they stop themselves, but they go into overdrive when we are content and happy, especially during the holidays.

But that said, a very Happy holiday season to all of my friends here; this year I am thankful to have met you! :-)

 
At 5:03 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i spent the whole day putting up christmas decorations. My N had nothing to do with it til I was all done, then he 'had the genius to put them on timers' and you should hear how he shows off about the whole thing and how he did it! I wish it didn't hurt, but it does. Now everyone is in an elevated mood and he's on top of the world and I'm trying not to spill over in front of them. But I need you guys cuz you'll get it. I know he is offended cuz I took away his glory. (That is not why I put up lights- and he wasn't going to do it anyway) But I know when no one is around to witness it ,he's going to get angry saying he didn't know we were going to do it blah blah blah. Now my daughter who favors him catches on I'm not happy and is going to think it's me with the problem. I don't know whether I'm going to cry or lose my temper, but it is all so close to the surface I'm a little worried. How come it's his fault my heart breaks but it looks like I'm the one who has issues?

 
At 5:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose I should just be happy that the kids are enjoying their father and be happy that there are happy noises in our house. (Once upon a time that brought me joy- why do i feel like crying?) I just can't act happy when I'm not, This all feels like such a farce now that I see him so differently. I really do feel like the odd one out here right now. Now that is backwards.

 
At 2:42 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

Hang in there, Anonymous. I absolutely get it. It's hard sometimes for those feelings not to spill over. As for me, I have a very good poker face that I developed as a child--best not to let anyone see what I was feeling. There's a toll, of course, in terms of inner stress and anxiety, which has to be acknowledged and hopefully dealt with.

Ordinarily, the ideal thing is to confront the problem. Even though we know this has only limited success with N's, we should take it as far as we can.

Then there's a laundry list of ways to cope. I try to focus on the things in my life that give me deeper satisfaction: my kids' mental and emotional health, my career, and "the small things in life" (corny but true--for me that might be trying out a new recipe, or going to a movie by myself (easier when the kids are older)).

Other things that might help: emotional support / discussing this stuff with someone you trust; religion for some (although not me--I'm agnostic); exercise (supposed to get those stress chemicals out of your system).

Best of luck.

 
At 1:20 PM, Blogger j t said...

dandelion i swear youre just up this same path im on. i'm getting a blogger name (j t). You always help. (everyone else does too) My most time consuming, mind consuming task is trying to preserve my childrens self esteem and maintain their respect for me, which we all know is huge when we feel like we're goiung to lose our souls over these people. I feel like that part is turning into as much of a puzzle as my H is. I'm constantly debating what kind of example i may be setting for them. Does a self respecting person just stick around- does one not fight back or is it respectable to maintain composure- do i model a better way by behaving respectfully or do i look spineless- the questions are endless. (I do not feel helpless though- I have my sleeves rolled up and i'm poised and ready- but for what, I don't know). I get pretty tired sometimes. The kids can tell i'm preoccupied. I wonder if they wonder if they're losing me too ?!! What i don't like about myself is how sometimes i almost undermine respect (from them) for him. they could easily resent that cuz they still need to love him and would like to respect me. It's delicate. Ugh. ANYWAY- I'm also the posts at 10:06,9:17,5:03,and5:15. I'm not as timid as I once was and you guys are my lifeline. THANKS.

 
At 6:23 AM, Anonymous John Boy Walton said...

Kathy K, do people with NPD know what they are, or are they deluded enough to believe they are good people?

Thanks.

 
At 9:45 AM, Blogger j t said...

i know your question was directed to kathy and i am curious as well. sometimes i think they are confused and don't really know what they are doing and sometimes you can tell they know full well(sometimes that is creepy- maybe they can read the expression in our eyes or something but don't always interpret it right- they just can tell they got a reaction- kind of like pavlov's dog- that's what turns into the game- how we end up being their supply even when we don't want to?) i think what gets weird is how we are sooo aware of what is going on and they only sometimes are aware of how much we know. They "check out" once in a while- maybe cuz they get bored or distracted- then come back to us later. the whole time we know it- though they get to forget for a while. cat and mouse!? this is the trap- whoever sets it- us or them- it doesn't matter cuz we're hooked- OOOHHH! THAT'S where the questions come from: DO THEY DO IT ON PURPOSE AND CAN THEY HELP IT- it's sooo circular!!! and that's where we start getting "sick too". That's where we all need each others help- to coach each other through to keep ourselves healthy.

 
At 10:02 AM, Blogger j t said...

actually- they set the traps- on purpose- how could you "accidently" set a trap- sometimes knowing what they will catch- sometimes not, they don't care- they have traps other places too- they're just so sneaky we can't find them w/o looking crazy- we just have to get better at recognizing the traps then steer clear. Easier said with a person you can get some distance from. With an immediate family member it's more like walking through a mine field- ther's no way of knowing where the explosions are going to be- you either do nothing- stay still= don't live!- or- you make a move -then come here for repairs to your injuries.

 
At 10:14 AM, Blogger j t said...

in earlier posts i asked if they Ns get worse with age. then i compared escalating N supply seeking to a drug fix or a drinking binge because i was noticing more behaviors than before,curious about correlations between alcoholic families (mine's not but i guess has many similarities). i think what's scary sometimes is when we see them out "hunting" we wonder what triggered it and why it increased. THAT is something i could really use help understanding. Anyone???

 
At 2:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello,
What I think in terms of narcissists getting worse with age is that it probably does depend on whether or not they have a family, a stable group of "friends" per se or some other kind of social infra or exostructure to fall back on or "put up with them", or something. I am no expert, friend but what I am sensing (because don't forget we are extraordinary, kind and very sensitive people, we "victims") is that those who never marry, never maintain some semblance of an "island of stability" get much, much worse with age. Check it out: let's take the case of alcoholic and drug addcited narcissists, as my abusers are and were. Get better with age? Hardly. By the time fading full-grown babies reach late middle age they will have no friends, very few teeth and likely urinate outdoors...however, because their impossibly grandiose lapsing into hallucinatory fakeness in IMPREGNABLE, they will always have excuses while never noticing really that no-one talks to them anymore, employs them or believes a word they say.
It makes the world a better place when individuals like ourselves realize albeit through much pain and ange that OUR thoughts WILL always create our new realities AWAY from narcissistic people, when WE forgive ourselves for the darkness WE manifested telling them off, getting "even" or just puking the rage back onto them where it found us. If you watch the ownderful movie the Secret, you can appreciate that vibration is everything so there is nothing to fear about having to deal with these losers again even if the memories haunt you sometimes. You will no longer resonante to their "depravity" (not that we were depraved or anything), so Creation WILL NOT PUT YOU IN THE SAME PLACE AS THEM.
Sorry I digressed from my original point but I am so hopeful for all of you strong, capable and decent folks that you feel BETTER and less alone, FAST.

 
At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a bit of a Narcissist. I don't have rages around other people because that is wrong and abusive - but I do look in other people for a mirror type reaction.

I think this initial post is bang on - and think the person writing it has a keen sense of observation.

My Mother was depressed after giving birth to me and didn't ever pick me up. She didn't ever want children and did not hesitate to let me know that on a regular basis.

Therefore I think I look for the following in other people; approval, love, adoring, but mostly approval. Its a driven need that comes from deep within me - and I think that if I had gotten those things as an infant from my mother I wouldn't be looking for it from people in my adult life.

My father did love me and picked me up etc... so I'm not totally out of control. But I just wanted to present the other point of view. I'm sure that in the next few years of my adult life (I'm 32) I will heal completely - it may be when I have children and look at them with love and approval. But people who behave in this narcissist way are beginning the journey of loving themselves and use other people to come to the truth that they are indeed loveable - because they don't think that they are because of how they've been treated.

 
At 6:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a bit of a Narcissist. I don't have rages around other people because that is wrong and abusive - but I do look in other people for a mirror type reaction.

I think this initial post is bang on - and think the person writing it has a keen sense of observation.

My Mother was depressed after giving birth to me and didn't ever pick me up. She didn't ever want children and did not hesitate to let me know that on a regular basis.

Therefore I think I look for the following in other people; approval, love, adoring, but mostly approval. Its a driven need that comes from deep within me - and I think that if I had gotten those things as an infant from my mother I wouldn't be looking for it from people in my adult life.

My father did love me and picked me up etc... so I'm not totally out of control. But I just wanted to present the other point of view. I'm sure that in the next few years of my adult life (I'm 32) I will heal completely - it may be when I have children and look at them with love and approval. But people who behave in this narcissist way are beginning the journey of loving themselves and use other people to come to the truth that they are indeed loveable - because they don't think that they are because of how they've been treated.

 
At 8:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so please help me understand- if the N wants love, approval, all the things they didn't get- they find someone to be with- they are nice at first(is it an act?) - they learn how to act to get it- WHY do they sabotage it? why do they turn on you?- Why, after accomplishing some form of decency- do they acknowledge to others that the behavior is wrong- they acknowledge they don't do it in front of other people because it is wrong- THEY STILL DO IT?!!!!

 
At 9:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Responding to the THEY STILL DO IT comment:

First of all I'm not a psychologist - I'm a Narcissist.

I used to do what you have mentioned because - I'm testing my new love. The niceness is not an act. At least it dosn't feel like it. I am testing my new love by giving him an opportunity to show me that I am vile, unloveable, and unworthy and do not have his approval. As soon as I have that from him - I know that I am unlovable and then I try to be loveable at another time in another situation. I think the only thing that makes a narcissist stop this pattern is the knowledge that they are loveable - and that only comes with anyone by loving themselves.

I feel very badly for people who have to bear the brunt of a narcissist who is blindly trying to reconfirm that they are worthless - it must be awful on the other end.

They keep doing it because they cannot believe that you love them. They cannot believe that they are loveable. They have to get that other truth out of you for some sick reason thats very deep and almost out of control.

Everybody has problems - being a Narcissist is no excuse for hurting other people. I know when to disengage and leave people alone - I respect other people's boundries.

To respond to some of the other harsh posts, I am a good person. I volunteer and because of the emotional vacuum I grew up in I can handle a lot of humanitarian work that would make other people... lose it. Its other people's pain that made us like this - its just important not to pass along the pain.

 
At 5:41 AM, Anonymous gh said...

Anonymous N, what led you to conclude you are a narcissist? From your comments, it sounds to me that you have wounds typical to the pathology and some of the same emotional neediness. But your awareness and acknowledgment of weakness strike me as untypical of a genuine narcissist.

If you do not have a competent therapist to explore this with, I urge you to find one. Also, PLEASE do not have children in hopes that they will heal you. That is far too great a burden for a child. Little ones need moms and dads who, already able to love themselves, can properly make their babies the focus of attention babies need (for a time) to be. Have a kid and make him attend to your emotional needs instead of the other way around, you may well create a narcissist of just a sad little babe.

 
At 8:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i was thinking about this last night- is a N trying to confirm that they are a nice guy or unlovable- you can't have it both ways. why try so hard to convince everyone else you're so special then show how awful you can be ? Why the switcheroo ? I don't want to scare anyone off, it is just so odd that we just really are trying to understand. i'm not sure a psychologist can explain it any better than anyone else. Basically to explain it is just almost offering an excuse for it. We can not excuse your parents for not loving you- we cannot excuse you for not loving us. Quit lying to us if you don't love us- we're going to figure it out. Then everyone is hurting and nothing is better for it.

 
At 2:54 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

Interesting line of thought, regarding the need to confirm one's "badness." Could this be an delayed development issue? What kids of a certain age need from parents is not truly "unconditional" love, but appropriately disapproving reactions to bad behavior. If a kid doesn't know where a boundary is, he/she may behave in increasingly worse ways until the parent reacts. If a parent accepts all behavior or is inconsistent with setting boundaries, the N doesn't learn where the boundaries are or even how to determine them on his/her own once he/she is past the formative years and out in the world.

J t,
I've been giving some thought to one of your recurring questions, about what it teaches the kids when you let the N's bad behavior go. I think as long as you react normally to your kids and to the world in every other respect (e.g. setting appropriate boundaries), what they hopefully will take away is that there are some people who are different, and you have to have different rules for interacting with them.

They do notice that Dad often has his own rules (and breaks them himself), but that doesn't excuse them from not following your rules (but don't call them Mom's rules, call them the Household rules--if your house is anything like mine, my N doesn't involve himself very much in the running of the day-to-day household stuff and won't challenge them directly).

P.S.: My son once asked me, "How come Dad gets to ______ and I can't?" I said, "Because I'm not his mother." And that was the end of it.

 
At 7:32 AM, Anonymous GH said...

8:16 -- I sort of think the N is trying to confirm that s/he is lovable but is firmly convinced that s/he is not. S/he may be right, depending on how you want to define "love."

Kathy's talked alot about the tenderness we all seem to feel for the lost child buried inside the N. We can "love" them in the sense that we can, through the eyes of that lost child, understand that they hurt because they are hurting. They are "lovable" in the sense that perhaps we can, by appreciating their deep wounds, reach a place of qualified forgiveness, of restraining our instinctive urge to wish on them death and eternal damnation.

But I think they are truly "unlovable" in the sense of a mutual, vulnerable loving relationship. They will beat you (whether emotionally or physically) to defeat the constant echo of their imperfection that taunts them at the back of their minds. Trust can never develop unless you have a near-Christlike capacity for turning the other cheek. Until an N learns to truly love himself (and not merely his projected, false-self), a loving relationship is impossible.

I think it can be especially hard for Christians (and other people of faith too?) to forgive themselves for not being able to love an N because love is our greatest call. We forget that God does not expect us to have the same divine capacity for love and forgivness

 
At 10:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it is possible to love a narcissist with the love of Christ. That is to consider them a child of God as we all are, to care about their wellbeing, and to forgive them their flaws. It is in returning human love that develops in human relationships that I find hard. I can't love my dad as a daughter should because he has never been a dad to me. Generally, I feel nothing toward him. I used to feel guilty about it but I no longer do. It takes two to have a relationship and a true narcissist lives in a world of one. He relates all things to himself and anything that doesn't relate to himself and fill his need for admiration (which is what I have found the narcissits in my life to confuse as love)then the person who doesn't fill that need doesn't matter. They truly are oblivious to anyone needing anything from them. With my dad, I don't get too close and I'm careful not to be needed by him and I'm also careful not to need him but I care for his well-being and would never do him any harm.

My dad is near the end of his life now and I don't know how I'm going to feel when he passes. I don't know if the numbness toward him will continue or if regret at never truly having a parent child relationship with either of my parents will overwhelm me.

 
At 11:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"I think it is possible to love a narcissist with the love of Christ. That is to consider them a child of God as we all are, to care about their wellbeing, and to forgive them their flaws. It is in returning human love that develops in human relationships that I find hard. I can't love my dad as a daughter should because he has never been a dad to me. Generally, I feel nothing toward him. I used to feel guilty about it but I no longer do. It takes two to have a relationship and a true narcissist lives in a world of one. He relates all things to himself and anything that doesn't relate to himself and fill his need for admiration (which is what I have found the narcissits in my life to confuse as love)then the person who doesn't fill that need doesn't matter. They truly are oblivious to anyone needing anything from them. With my dad, I don't get too close and I'm careful not to be needed by him and I'm also careful not to need him but I care for his well-being and would never do him any harm."

Very, very well said New Friend. It really comes down to compassion in this day and age, this Shift of the Ages, this Return of the Christ Light (actually, a cosmic band of actual light we have entered as a planet and which will continue to illuminate both the darkness, and ourselves. It's science. I'm not being Hocusy-pocusy)...I cannot NOT have love for my Ns.
Note to the narcissistic person who posted here: you are cared about. Seriously, and I wish you from one human to the next all the best in living the fullest life you can, while being respectful of the autonomy of others.

 
At 11:29 PM, Blogger Michael said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 11:33 PM, Blogger Michael said...

Manipulation is only bad when you are aware of it.

 
At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if, we are meant to bless them, ugliness and all, but choose not to have anything to do with them because our purpose on this earth is to experience untold joy, unconditional love, which, I think we seem to agree, NP's are not capable of because they despise themselves.

Meaning, bless them, and move on praising God for sending them the miracle they need and for opening OUR eyes to the truth, the freeing truth that although we are all God's children and we have love and compassion for eachother, some people do not know who and what they are, we cannot change them, this they must choose for themselves, so we bless them and with gratitude, place them squarely in the hands of their creator, with love, and be ever so thankful that you and I are not like them (there but for the grace of God. . .)

For some, those with more Christlike patience, it may mean living with them and loving detachment, for others, it may mean moving on completely. We have to be true to who we are and being loving to ourselves is why we aren't like them, and it is what gives us the love, mercy, compassion and kindness we have as our treasures to give away.

When we come into contact with NP's who aren't filled with the knowledge of who they are and of the grand treasures our maker so abundantly bestows on us, the NP's cannot receive what we have to give, so is it wasted effort to deal with them at all????.

Sometimes I can't help but think that ignoring is the answer altogether (either while living with them or completely cutting them out of your life--kindly, but firmly ignoring) their Father or creator is who must correct them, if it can be called correction, we are not their parents. When they are left alone with themselves they will have to go within, till then they do without.

Another thought I've had is: We know goodness only because we know badness. It seems they enjoy inflicitng pain, chaos and confusion, perhaps they do not distinguish between good and bad, all attention whether what we would consider negative attention or positive regard may register the same with them.

My struggle is truly handing them over, with love. This is hard.

 
At 1:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is there any really authoritative book about NP's, written by a psychiatrist or the like?

I've read Patricia Evans' books, they are terrific and a big help, and while Vaknin is dead on in describing himself, he is not a psychiatrist.

Specifically, I need something to show lay people how the abusive behavior of my NP is evidence of NP not merely verbal abuse or domestic violence.

Thanks!

 
At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe manipulation to be the lowest and most vile form of lying. Lying manipulates facts but manipulation of another human being not only manipulates facts in an attempt to distort reality but also dehumanizes the target of manipulation. It is always wrong to manipulate another human being. To be proud of the ability to do so it completely disgusting.

One thing that is important to remember is that each person who suffers from NPD is an individual. No mental illness can be nailed down tight as a list of 'symptoms' that are true to every sufferer. Each narcissist will wear their disease somewhat differently. How the disease is able to harm also depends upon the relationship. A co-worker doesn't have the same power to harm as a parent or parents and the harm caused will have different consequences. I believe that those varying relationships also require different responses from us. It is imperative however, to protect oneself with good boundaries and by not expecting what a narcissist can't give: compassion and true love.

Good boundaries with a narcissist are not only self-protective but also loving as boundaries help us not to enable narcissists to abuse us. I compare it to not offering an alcoholic a beer.

 
At 9:55 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

@ anonymous 6:05,

"I believe manipulation to be the lowest and most vile form of lying. Lying manipulates facts but manipulation of another human being not only manipulates facts in an attempt to distort reality but also dehumanizes the target of manipulation. It is always wrong to manipulate another human being. To be proud of the ability to do so it completely disgusting."

Thank you for that. I was aware that it's disgusting to be proud of manipulating others, but in the rest, your perceptiveness in pentrating the soul of the matter with deep thinking taught me something I really appreciate.

I second what you say in the rest of your post as well. People who are but casual acquaintances or co-workers of an N never see the same person his or her children and other more vulnerable people must deal with. And they don't have the same things done to them. Not that there are no signs, but they are easy for non-victims to blow off. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries.

 

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