Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Wonders Never Cease

By the way, I no sooner posted that there is no way to win the game a narcissist plays than than I won a round!

Wonders never cease. Perhaps there is a way.

Strategy is my thing, in case you couldn't tell.

So, I shall keep you posted if I discover one.

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

I was going to add another comment to the narcissist vs. psychopath string, but it actually fits here as well.

Strategy for dealing with these people is probably the best reason to split rather than lump categories. As Nancy McWilliams points out in her book Psychoanalytic Diagnosis, the internal motivations of narcissists and psychpaths are different enough that you need to treat them differently, because an approach that might be appropriate for one can totally backfire when used on another.

An example from your blog is that informing psychopaths of the appropriate behavior just gives them additional tools to fool people, whereas a narcissist might be concerned enough about their image to attempt to behave in the "right" way. The approach with psychopaths has to be tailored more to making them see the advantage TO THEM of not manipulating or using people. It is a different strategy.

By the way, I wish you could meet my mother. You would be hard pressed to say she doesn't have a conscience. But she did indeed repeatedly 'lash out viciously at a little child,' but not so much 'to devastate him or her,' but to make that child stop reminding her of her inadequacies. Unfair, illogical, immature, unempathic, deeply hurtful, and damaging to the relationship. Sadistic? I'm not sure she was even aware enough of the effect on me to qualify as sadistic. I still come back to it as a lack of empathy.

At 6:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The only strategy that never failed me was to quit when the other 'player' makes the first move. If anyone comes on real friendly at first, then suddenly acts all aloof, I just think , 'Forget it.' and move on.
Usually the give-away of their game-playing is when they then turn around and become sickeningly obseqious, with no apology or explanation for why they were behaving like a dick in the first place.

At 2:00 PM, Anonymous gh said...

6:18 Exactly! And when you don't then welcome them back with open arms when everyone can *clearly* see that they are being so sickeningly obsequious, well! What kind of person are you that you could be so cold to someone so tender and kind....

At 4:50 AM, Anonymous Solaris said...

Dandelion, my mother is kinda the same; a right old bleeding heart - for everyone EXCEPT her own kids.
She always had more to do with other people's kids than her own. "Why can't you be like XYZ?" was a favourite quip of hers. I always wished when I was a kid that I could live elsewhere so that she'd love me like she did the kids next door.
But then I read somewhere that a narcissist has such fierce self-hatred, that she can't help but feel disgusted and contemptuous of anyone dumb enough to stick around her - even her own kids, who really have no choice.

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous Dandelion said...

After giving it some more thought, I have to amend my comment regarding the sadistic component (of N-mom lashing out at me).

First, a little perspective. My mother does seem to be mellowing a bit in her old age. She apparently has become somewhat aware that her behavior might have something to do with the fact that I don't want to see her more often, and therefore has been paying more attention to it (her own behavior). Because she's showing a little vulnerability, my anger is starting to fade, and other emotions are surfacing. In particular, pity and (unjustified) guilt for pushing her away.

I think my statement that her outbursts weren't really sadistic was at least partly influenced by my feeling sorry for her and wanting to give her a break. While I still believe lack of empathy is the major issue, there was indeed also a component of her wanting to hurt, although she would never admit that. I remember wondering some years back (when I was angrier at her and was more constantly analyzing her behavior) why she chose to say things in the most hurtful way possible. If, as she claimed, she was just passing on information about how she felt, why did she have to say it with those words and that tone, which maximized the emotional impact and precluded respectful discussion that could have led to resolution? I even had a name for what she did: emotional gouging.

Whenever I brought up that she was saying stuff in an unnecessarily hurtful way, she of course didn't know what I was talking about, and was surprised that I would have taken it that way. Then she would do it again when she was upset.

So yes, there is an element of sadism in the narcissist, of wanting to sting the other person. But I've come to believe that it's there incidentally, and not the main purpose of the outburst. They want to sting you so that you'll leave them alone, or because they're after a certain reaction (see for example 11-15-06 blog). The fact that you are hurt by their actions is not only immaterial to them, but doesn't even register (i.e. a lack of empathy).

At 4:35 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Could this be what you mean?

They inflict maximum pain on you. That is sadism.

But they don't do it in the way we imagine a sadist does. They do it like a drug addict does.

They do it because hurting you gives them a hit of their drug to make them feel good. Maximum hurt = maximum feel good.

That is no excuse. It is still sadism. But they do it to feel good, not to hurt you.

Like you eat steak to get the pleasant feeling of eating it, not because you like to eat steak.

Splitting that hair makes no REAL difference: you like to eat steak and they like to hurt you.

But the differnce in nuance shows us that, like us, they don't love evil and don't do it for its own sake. They do it because doing it makes them feel good. Like a drug.

Is that close to what you're getting at?

At 8:18 PM, Anonymous Dandelion said...

Well, maybe some of it is semantics. I wouldn't call it sadism unless there was actually an awareness of inflicting hurt on the perpretator's part.

As for the relationship between "hurting someone" and "feeling good," I don't think the link for N's is as direct as you present (although it fits for P's). N's don't feel better BECAUSE they hurt you, they feel better because they had some effect on your behavior, e.g. they made you back off. My mother chose the most hurtful ways to say things not because she thought they were hurtful (would not be consistent with loving mother self-image), but because they had the most effect.

Sure, if you're on the receiving end, you may not feel a distinction whether the person who's hurting you is an N who is unaware/in denial or a P who doesn't care and is toying with you or flexing his control purposely.

But I still see value in trying to understand the inner motivations (which ARE different for N's and P's in some key respects), because sometimes you can make use of that to make things go your way (or at least protect yourself better). Understanding and responding to inner motivations appropriately can lead to REAL effects, which makes them (the internal motivations) REAL also.

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous gh said...

That makes sense -- it's not that they enjoy the hurting itself per se (in fact, even feel shame for it at times), but they enjoy the consequences that result when they hurt you. You become timid, maybe cower a little because you don't want to get hurt again, and suddenly that makes them feel powerful. Like everything else, its all about the effect on them; they barely even notice the effect on you!

At 12:53 AM, Anonymous Solaris said...

Kathy you have a point. Their abusiveness is really an addiction, and like all addictions, it's shameful. But what can she do? If she doesn't numb her own hurt by lashing out at you, Dandelion, her own hurt which she can't cope with will surface and threaten to engulf her.

There's really no winning. Someone has to get hurt - and a narcissist would much rather that the hurt party be you.

At 4:13 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

Though I acknowledged a difference in nuance for better understanding, I don't think splitting that hair is legitimate.

If you say that the N doesn't like hurting you, that they just like the pleasant sensation they get from hurting you - to the point that they hurt you as much as possible to increase that pleasant feeling, you are not aqcuiting them of sadism.

I might as well say that I don't like eating steak: I just like the pleasant sensation I get from it.

That's a contradiction: If I like the pleasant sensation I get from eating steak, then I like eating steak, and cannot deny it. The error of logic is making a distinction where there is none. By the same token, Ns like hurting you. Of course they deny it.

Addicts are responsible for what they do. We can understand the great temptation, but that doesn't relieve them of responsibility.

Indeed, they control themselves admirably when witnesses are around, so they can control themselves all the time.

I did not mean to make excuses for Ns. I just meant to aid our understanding of the forces at work on them.

If an addict commits a crime to get his drug, he is not innocent just because his addiction greatly tempted him.

Also, I don't agree that they attack to back you off. That may occassionally be a motive if you are trying to get through to them. But most attacks are completely unprovoked. They are attacks launched just because they spot vulnerable prey when the coast is clear.

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous gh said...

I hear what you are saying Kathy. I might like steak because I enjoy the flavor. Maybe you can't really taste the steak but like it because you enjoy the content feeling it gives you in your tummy. But in the end we both like steak.

So perhaps a psychopath and a narcissist enjoy hurting you for different reasons -- maybe the narcissist is oblivious to your pain just as in my hypothetical you might be oblivious to the flavor of the steak, but at the end of the day they like hurting you.

At 9:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think maybe we are wrong in thinking they have now empathy. I think they have empathy honed by evil and they use it to calculate where best to place the dagger.

I think that is why everything they do seems to be so backwards, they are like us but they love evil and everything in us that is emotionally good they have turned to the use of committing evil. They get high off the power they have to exact pain in others and so confuse them to the point of diabling them from understanding how not to be victimized again.

Beware the sympathy card!


At 2:06 AM, Anonymous Solaris said...

I hear you Pam. You could call it anti-empathy, isn't it? But in the real world, it's just called it cruelty.
Nobody should have a smirk on their face if they're in the vicinity of someone who's hurting - no matter what kind of relationship they have!!
But a narcissist will not only smirk at the hurt, they'll CAUSE it. I just can't call it anything other than sadism, no matter how I try.

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

All I know is that I must have been living under a rock, or in some kind of a dream world for the 2 years I dated Mr. "N." It's been almost 5 months, and I'm still hurting.

I read so much regarding these so called "N's", and I'm not too sure that that is making me feel better or worse. I guess it's because I was played the fool for so long.

He was on an online dating service while he was with me, but I never knew it until the end, which by the way I ended soon after. And, that is just the tip of the iceberg!

I just couldn't stand the bad feelings I was having nor the doubts, and all those wonderful red flags so to speak.

I wouldn't do this to an animal, and I wouldn't wish it on my worse enemy. I can only hope that what goes around, comes around. Lets face the facts though, that type never hurts, and I doubt that their spirits are ever broken.

Everytime I hear the song "My Immortal" by Evanescence, I think of him. I'm hoping that someday soon, I can rise above this and remain whole.

The "no contact" strategy is the best. I even changed my phone #'s. The next card I receive, I will not open. I'll just simply address it "return to sender."

At 6:02 PM, Blogger Mitsi said...

Wow! I am reeling from the shock of my N husband leaving me sitting with my 5 year old son in our apt. with no phone, money, car, etc. Just disappeared into the night without a backward glance b/c he once again said he was leaving. I took advice I read and stood up to him to "call his bluff". He just left when no-one was looking. I haven't seen or heard from him for 2 days. No-one knows where he is. It doesn't surprise me, knowing NPD as up close and personal as I do. But I've been faltering on the sympathy edge until I read the smirking thing...that just happened a few days ago. I was in agony and very upset, and he smirked and laughed in my face.
It's also helpful to my healing to read that they dont enjoy hurting us, but is addicted to causing a reaction. I usually backed down, and thought "Ok, just be more patient". The minute I started standing up for myself (about 4 weeks ago) everything was a battlefield. The cruelty got worse. I was no longer a supply source, so he picked a fight with me, I called his bluff, and he's gone. I wish it didn't hurt so much. My brain is rational and informed, but my heart mourns for the loss of hope, and the person who never really existed in the first place.

At 6:56 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

I sometimes think that if you show a narcissist's life as a path and show the wide swath of destruction and pain in his wake, people would be so shocked they'd want to hang him or her.

Being played for a fool really hurts. But remember that almost everyone who hasn't learned the hard way would have been fooled too.

Finding out how little you meant hurts too. But that isn't a measure of YOUR worth.

At 10:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy, can I relate to what you wrote. Especially about the smirking, and faltering on the sympathy. Lived that, and I don't miss it at all.

Didn't you ever notice that when you caught him on his bad behavior, that's when he didn't like it, and he walked? Same with my "N".

Sometimes you just come to a point where enough is enough. Being alone is hard, but having your sanity is better, and much more healthier. Good luck to you. Good luck to all of us!


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