Thursday, November 09, 2006

Taking Warning Signs Seriously

In my last post, I mentioned a glaring sign of narcissism, or at least of some serious mental problem. It's one you can't miss. It jumps out at you.

But it doesn't happen every day. You may know a person casually for years without ever seeing them react to something in such an off-the-wall way.

Also, when we do observe such behavior in others, because it seems like something that couldn't really have happened, we tend to mentally turn our backs on it and act like it didn't happen.

That's a big mistake. At the very least, tuck the memory away for future reference. Don't just blow it off. You may think that some misunderstanding you're unaware of is possible that could explain it. Fine. In fact it's good to be skeptical and not jump to conclusions about people. Just don't blow off strange behavior.

The best mental health advice I ever saw (sorry I can't remember what website it's on) is to just stay away from mentally unhealthy people.

That's a bit simplistic, because we can't just abandon people we're bound to in some way. Besides, since we understand family members so well, there is no risk in closeness to one who may be mentally ill - unless they're a predator, like a narcissist. On the other hand, since a working relationship is so limited, there is also nothing to worry about in a strictly working relationship with someone like this - again, unless they're a predator.

But we sure don't need purely social friendships with people who may be mentally ill. We don't know them that well, often not nearly as well as we think we do. What goes on in their heads is a mystery to us. So, it's best to keep the relationship with that person cordial but at arm's length.

And, if you suspect that he or she is a predator, it's best to stay far away.


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At 7:28 AM, Anonymous Liz123 said...

It is good advice to tuck this behavior away in memory for future use.

It is often so shocking when we see Nar-like behavior out of the blue. Especially if it is someone we have known for awhile or thought we knew.

It is very easy to dismiss the behavior as an anomaly.

Smart though to get your antennae up with this kind. Rationalizing wont work either.

With a particular sibling of mine, I used to try to reason with him. No reasoning. It is like he is in a parallel universe where all the logic is skewed. Better to get the boundaries up and protect yourself.

At 8:43 AM, Blogger Fighter said...

What got me about my exN was that I had known him since I was quite young and not savvy about interpersonal behavior. Therefore, what should have slapped me in the face I perceived as "quirky."

By the time the explosion came (27 years later) I was kicking myself but I now realize I was conditioned by my Nparent and being too young and accepting of his behavior 27 years before.

As always Kathy, you rock!

At 11:04 AM, Blogger Kathy K said...

I hear you. When you are raised in household with a narcissistic parent and possibly a narcissistic sibling as well, you get conditioned that way. And you do kick yourself when you finally do see the light. It ain't normal, and it ain't okay, and nobody has to put up with it. When people act weird, it's probably because they are.

At 6:13 AM, Blogger Louise said...

I couldn't agree with the above statements more. Ignoring the warning signs is potentially dangerous, as it tells the N that you either don't see what they are up to, or that you are willing to ignore. Either way, you are setting yourself up to be a victim.

At 9:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you know the frustrating thing about this disorder is almost precisely this-that it all turns into a game. Sometimes when we draw our lines it's almost like bait for them to play further or deeper some how. Maybe- because this really isn't a fun game, it really is about survival- they feel like when we set boundaries, it looks like we are in control and if they don't trust us- if their survival looks like it is in our hands and not theirs- it's too unsettling. They must live in a world of fear!! Mine seems to be so lost sometimes and seems to look to me for the boundaries- cuz he's like a scared little kid- but as soon as he has them - he's reassured and knows what rules he can "break" again so he can feel in control again. It is tiring for me to get to reraise the lost little kid in him while others get to see an adult behaving like an adult.gosh it is so weird.

At 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is La Diabla...I had to borrow a laptop so I could check out what I've missed this last month and can't even find my own profile. LOL

How do we know if any of our parents', siblings', spouses' N-ism has rubbed off on us? I worry a lot about that. I've suffered from severe post-partum depression and grew up in an isolated, unloving household, only to move on to more of the same in marriage... Mostly I feel quite sane these days, but I know I worry tremendously about falling into depression again or losing my mind, name it. How does a regular person like me know the difference between residue, scars, from abuse and possible N-ism of our own? I don't want to be like them! But whenever I show certain "signs" of looking out for myself or being emotional, having my feelings hurt, being human, or getting angry, whatever, I start assuming in some bizarre frame of mind that I'm just like them! And how do I know I'm not??? I think my thinking is muddled and warped from years of trying to anticipate these people's every need, but when I start thinking that then I start thinking I'm just an N myself.

I'm sorry, I'm rambling. I don't have enough time to really formulate a coherent post. And this stuff has been weighing on me lately. :-(

Thanks in advance for any answers. I'll try to check back again as soon as I can.

At 2:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am surprised to have found this website. I recently got out of a relationship with a nar and I cannot tell you what a harrowing experience that five years has been. I feel as if I was in a relationship with a psychopath. I met his brother once who told me he had NPD. Then it didn't mean much but today, well I wouldn't had understood it anyway. What I am thankful for is that I stood up for myself. But even then, I can tell you that is very dangerous. He was very, very manipulative and when I would stand up for myself, he would make other people think I was crazy. Other people like police officers and judges. He literally zeroed in on peoples weaknesses and fed off of them like a parasite. It was sickening to witness. He was a pseudo intellect but he also was a handsome, charming seducer. Once I got him back and gave him a dose of his own medicine. He plotted to have me killed. this is a very serious illness. People are largely unaware of it. the most you can do for yourself if you are in a relationship with one is to get out. immediately. there is no fixing these people. they are very very shrewd and very very manipulative. You cant win. Even if you think youve won they will lie in wait. Because they are unprincipled and cannot see that they deserved the treatment.


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