Saturday, March 24, 2007

Narcissistic Personality Disorder: Self-Inflicted Illness?

The research of Dr. Robert Hare and others finds loads of evidence that psychopaths often come from "wonderful homes." This has forced me to rethink some things.

I used to think that the conventional notion is true - that narcissists are the products of narcissistic abuse in childhood, usually by one or more narcissistic parents.

The scenario does often happen to be the case, but does that mean that the narcissistic parent(s) CAUSED the child's NPD? Maybe not. Maybe the parent(s) just set a bad example that the child saw the advantage in and chose to follow.

And if that's the only effect of a narcissistic parent, we have to rethink the general consensus. A child can get a bad example from other places too - from a teacher at school, from a neighbor or relative. Even from other, older, children.

So we should expect to see narcissists coming from good homes as well as bad ones. True, more of them will have had at least one narcissistic parent, but not all of them by any means.

I do question Hare's finding though too. Why? Because I know that a home infected with a narcissist usually appears "wonderful" to those on the outside. Narcissists are expert at creating this illusion and devote a tremendous amount of energy to doing so. That idyllic little green house on Maple Street - that "wonderful home" - is seen for what it is, Hell, only from within.

The inmates themselves rarely admit the truth about it. In fact, they often are denial of it. They survive by living in a house divided, putting the narcissist at a distance where he can make them feel wretched and like just dying only occasionally, with a semblance of normalcy prevailing only when he isn't around. That home - the one with the narcissist not around - is the one they own. But it ain't exactly happy either, not with the footsteps of that ghost in the attic.

So, I wonder if Hare's research might have failed to uncover the truth.

A little ambivalent about the question, aren't I?

Yet, I am haunted by the feeling he's probably right. Maybe we are too quick to seek explanations for the inexplicable. Maybe we trump up things that happened in that narcissist's childhood into the "cause" when they really only showed the child a way to cheat your way through life.

The more I think about this, the more I think this may be the case. At least sometimes. We naturally try to come up with rational explanations for how narcissists got the irrational way they are. Moreover, those most in the know are most tempted to find these "explanations" = excuses.

They are the brothers and sisters of narcissists. Also the non-narcissistic parent of a narcissist.

The last thing these people wish to believe is that their beloved sibling or child just chose "the road less travelled" through life = to be evil.

In fact, no one wants to believe that. Everyone will ask, "But why would anyone do that?" Yet, think twice: We should turn that question around and ask, "Why wouldn't anyone do that?"

If you think about it, you are an idiot not to choose the evil way of life. Why play by the rules when you can cheat with impunity? At the expense of all the rest of us saps who play by the rules? Yes, why play on a level playing field, when you can can have this enormous unfair advantage?

Why BE good, when you can just LOOK good instead? Then you can look good without the effort and adverse consequences of being good. Something for nothing.

Then you can win every contest for superiority by cheating. Without having to earn it. That is, don't bother making the effort to BE superior in any way, just SEEM superior by treating others like dirt. Something for nothing.

By chosing the cheater's way of life, you can aggrandize yourself to no end, just by stealing the credit and respect that rightly belongs to others. Something for nothing.

So, what idiot wouldn't choose the evil way of life? It gets you a whole lot of something for nothing.

Answer: only people who are honest with themselves and therefore derive no satisfaction out of the hollow vanities gotten through cheating.

This choice is made by a child, or a still childish youth, who doesn't think ahead very well. By the time that kid realizes that the evil way of life follows you as a past that you must forever flee from, there's that demon at the door, discouraging any choice to turn their life around.

That isn't the inability to turn their life around: it's a virtually certain choice to stay on that runaway freight-train ride, because, like Macbeth, they are so steeped in blood already that it would be very unpleasant to change course. They'd have to admit some things they don't want to know. And they know how to blithely keep unknowing them.

At bottom, that's what a narcissist is, an inveterate cheater in the game of life. She just obdurately refuses to grow up and know that.

She is a Peter Pan, refusing to leave Never Never Land = the Land of Pretend. She clings to a child's mentality: withhold that toy from your little brother or sister to pretend that he doesn't deserve to share anything with you; throw a temper tantrum to make Mommy give you that candy bar; cross your arms and stick your nose up in the air refusing to look at that other child to pretend you're too grand to notice her. That's a narcissist for you - forever a spoiled 3-to-6 year old pretending that she's grand and that you are here to serve her needs.

Because little children often get overlooked and have delicate egos, they have an excuse for acting this way - to some extent and until they reach the age when they should grow out of it. But I see no excuse whatsoever for a 40-year-old narcissist to be acting this way.

She deliberately lies to herself, living in fantasy, never having reached the Age of Reason to accept reality and logic. She just unknows that she sucks. She just unknows that what she does doesn't make her grand - to the contrary, it makes her a lowdown and dirty, rotten snake.

There's but one way to be that mixed up - to the point that you don't know up from down. Yes, if you view lowdown, contemptible, mean and callous bevahior that DEBASES you as doing the very opposite - as AGGANDIZING you - you don't know up from down, my dear. Come on, a smart monkey is smarter than that.

So, the only way to get things that upside-down and backwards is to force your thinking into torturous twists of logic. In other words, you must do it deliberately.

To view everything backwards, the narcissist deliberately and willfully twists her thinking. She deliberately adulterates everything. If it were an accident, she wouldn't be so unfailingly and perfectly ironic. In other words, her thinking isn't just off course logically: it's always exactly 180 degrees off course.

She obdurately flies in the face of logic and reality to remain in denial of the true character of what she's doing.

In short, she f-s her own mind. How does she then expect it to work right?

So, should we be surprised and sympathize with her now that she finds it difficult to stop what she's doing? I say, no.

For example, if you smoke cigarettes, you abuse your lungs and may get lung cancer and it's YOUR OWN FAULT. Yes, it is very hard to quit such an addiction, but you are responsible for it. Not the Fates.

If you break into someone's home, you may get shot. That's a consequence of your own actions. I don't feel sorry for you. Your wound is YOUR FAULT.

By the same token, if you abuse your mind for 20, 30, 40 years and then find it all but impossible stop thinking backwards, you made your mind what it is; you made yourself crazy; and it's YOUR OWN FAULT.

Sorry, I don't feel sorry for you. You have treated your precious mind like a garbage dump and are suffering the consequences.

And, besides, this idiotic notion that narcissists can't control themselves is manifestly false: they control themselves marvellously whenever there are witnesses present.

Mentally ill people who really can't control themselves and aren't to blame for their condition DON'T DO THAT.

It's amazing how dense some people can be in failing to realize what that means.


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22 Comments:

At 12:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exactly! I've found it odd that early stages of Alzheimers seems to mimic NPD. With my mother (since I know her very well, pre and post Alzh) it isn't that Alzh is mimicking anything--it's just making her forget to be careful to keep her NPD hidden from outsiders.

There are supposedly links between certain behaviors and brain function--use it or lose it, in essence. Ns work hard not to exercise their brains, not to stretch themselves to see what they are really capable of doing. They just tell the same lies over and over and expect wishing to make it true. Maybe for those with NPD, dementia is just another step down that self-chosen road into their own personal alternate universe.

 
At 12:43 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

I have seen exactly the same thing. I know that, in this person's advanced age, he was just fogetting himself, forgetting to keep Mr. Hyde hid from outsiders.

I also saw the effects of "losing what you don't use." By the time he hit his 70's he couldn't think his way out of a brown paper bag. He was completely off somewhere in his own little world. He couldn't pay attention to what you were saying if his life depended on it.

One curious thing is that he had abused language and the meaning of words (thinking they mean whatever you want them to at the moment) so recklessly that he couldn't get through a five-word sentence without coming up at a loss for some common name for something, like "letter" or "bottle" or "chair" and just sputtering.

All of this was nothing new - just a gradually worsening condition over the last 30 years or so of his life.

It wasn't Alzheimer's in his case, I'm quite sure. I know little about Alzheimer's, but I bet that sometimes the obvious dementia that slowly comes upon narcissists in old age is sometimes mistaken for it.

 
At 1:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you Kathy for your thoughts on this. My view is that it is genetic. I know quite a few N's and it runs in our families at both sides. (husband and me) My personal belief is that narcissism comes from the opposite gender parent. I have seen this when an N is the oldest child. So if the female is N, her father is as well. I have read somewhere that the female N gene is stronger, from mother to son, which might explain why there are more male N's inflicted. My N sister in law's son shows already very strong traits at the age of 7. Too early to tell but he has always been a different child, hurts animals and is sadistic. The non N's in the same families are usually very nice and caring people from what I have seen. Why could there otherwise be such discrepancy? It must be genes. My humble thinking. Catherine

 
At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that all 'mental illness' is multifaceted and highly subjective in diagnosis. We'll never find and easy answer for why.

I believe part of it is genetic and I believe part of it is choice. In my son, I saw a young, overly self-sensitive child, with a strong conscience, and an over awareness of appearances. At a certain age, he began acting against that conscience (somewhat because of a hereditary chemical embalance) to the point of silencing tha conscience that emerges as anger and rage. He was as a teenager abused by young adults but he is only now beginning to see how it was abuse as he regarded these people as his friends beyond all reason. I think all of us who are abused will naturally identify with the abuser as a means of survival (If we become like that which we fear, we may no longer have anything to fear). Some will deal with their abuse and seek to become better people and others will settle for a lifetime of acting against their own goodness and twisting their thinking by putting that evil in the place of good. All who have been abused will either choose truth and face the demons planted within by that abuse or live in denial behind a pretend reality.

There are many things that can halt the emotional maturation process and abuse is only one of them.

Pam

 
At 2:21 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

If it's genetic, there must be definite ratios of inheritance. There are none in the evidence.

The proponents of this idea are overstating a mere hypothesis, not a theory with solid evidence to back it.

The fact that some children in the family turn out not narcissistic can be argued either way, so it bears no weight till some facts emerge to show how it should be interpreted.

The great wrong here is a the fundamental scientific principle of controlling variables before you go around claiming that X is the cause of Y. The pseudoscience of psychology is notorious for acting like it never heard of this principle.

And that is precisely what is wrong with the assertion that genes cause NPD: there are many variables in these families, not just the genotype of the narcissistic parent. The abuse of that narcissistic parent is a far more likely cause or influence. So, where's the evidence that any gene is involved?

This doesn't mean that inheritance definitely is not the cause: it just means that there is no good reason to think so at this time. There is also no postulated mechanism for a gene, or set of genes, controlling anything like intellectual gymnastics as complex as those of a narcissist's twisted thinking.

These genes manufacture proteins, period. There is very, very little hard-wired into the human brain. And as for transmitter substances and brain development differences, the more likely explanation for them is that they are a result of the thinking patterns, not the cause of them. (Dr. Hare says this for psychopaths too.)

So, while your guess may be right, it isn't the most likely explanation. (Be aware of the attention those who postulate such radical theories get by it.) What is more likely is that genetics may have some influence on likelihood of NPD. In any case, the science isn't there to make any such claim. It may be someday, but not now.

 
At 3:00 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

PS

Too pressed for time and forgot to mention: "Why could there otherwise be such discrepancy?"

Are you saying that nothing but genes could explain this? It would take a lot of explaining how genes could manage that. But it takes no explaining to see how a simple choice between right and wrong, good and evil can account for it. Children make that choice every day. They aren't machines with no free will. They are just immature and inexperienced.

This is why holding them accountable is so important. If they hurt an animal, they should find the consequences for that extremely unrewarding. Otherwise that child has gotten nothing but a high out it. Now, tommorrow what choice will he make?

 
At 5:47 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is another take on NPD...the children. What happens when you leave and do not want the NPD's abuses, put downs, control, and manipulation to be placed on your children and the NPD is claiming parental rights. Truth be told they don't care about the children anymore than they care about you. But since NPD's are on their best behavior when people are watching, it hard to prove what goes on when witnesses are not aroung.

 
At 8:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It wasn't that long ago that schizophrenia was blamed upon the mother and psychology typed those mothers as 'the schizophrenic mother'. Now it is known that the problem is chemical, most likely a lack of dopamine and that the condition is inherited.

The problem I have with blaming it all on abuse is that I don't see how any of us could have parents who abuse in such a lock-step way as to create such specific behaviors in people. Life is not that uniform. Genetically, my son is so much like my dad and the likeness between them is spooky, even to them. I have to say again, that I can't picture my grandparents abusing my dad. I have also beat myself up wondering if I were a narcissist and going over every incident trying to find what I did wrong with my son. Also, my oldest son is fine. With my youngest, there was just always something different about him. However, if he hadn't gotten involved with those young adults who abused him, I don't think he would have developed problems to the extent that he has. He also has what they call a mild bipolar,Cyclothmia, that is cyclical. In the spring, he tends toward hypo-mania and then toward depression in winter. This part of the disease is definitely genetic and he has shown signs of it since he was very young. When he is hypo-manic, his narcissism is worse. I think that having a chemical imbalance from a young age has in part shaped his personality. It also made him much harder to discipline and I think our family compensated for him in ways that also probably kept him from maturing. Then came the abuse at 16, then the psychotropics that have since been proven wrong for adolescents and made his chemical problem much worse, and then his subsequent abuse of drugs and alchohol. This is why I think it is much more complicated than a one-size-fits-all answer.

My son has been doing better but now we are experiencing what we've come to call "March Madness". His hypo-mania is so predictable that we all prepare for it and know that in March he changes. During these times, his narcissism is unbearable and the progress he has made in the last two years has seemed to disappear. It prevents him from having a normal life, from experiencing true independence that marks adulthood. Anyway, I want to cry for him and for all of us. You know, we need answers and true help. Fault finding and blaming the parents doesn't help anyone. My husband and I aren't perfect parents but we have been honest about our short-comings and our whole family has tried all that we know to do. It is really up to my son but often, I also feel that is like asking a man with two broken legs to walk himself to the emergency room.

I think I've figured it out and made peace with it and then the walls come crashing down and I'm no further ahead than I was before. I can't tell you the nightmare of being in an echo chamber of my son terrorizing and abusing me and the rest of the family in the very same way that my dad did. Just as my son is built like my dad, is musically talented like my dad, has blue eyes like my dad, he has also inherited the propensity for this disease from my dad.

One thing to remember also is that there is no blood test for any mental illness and though we may know people with similar symptoms, we may not be fighting the same illness at all. What causes the like symptoms in one person may have a totally different underlying cause in another.

Pam

 
At 9:33 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

It is way too easy to blame the parents. That seems to happen every time - as with autism and psychopathy. Many things, especially complex things like this, can happen more than one way. For obvious reasons, autism is much more likely to occur in children born blind. But that isn't the usual cause of autism. Having an abusive N parent probably does greatly increase the odds of a child going that way. But that doesn't mean that's the only scenario. Though there's no evidence of a direct genetic cause, it is likely that genetics have an influence, at least in some cases. And you can never disregard the obvious factor of choice. Some kids overcome the pain and temptation of childood abuse to become fine people. They deserve credit for that - it wasn't just their fate: it was a great hurdle they overcame.

 
At 12:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There really are too many possibilities and combinations of factors. And I think it is human nature to try to figure things out in order to control and alter to our advantage and to fix. We are trying so hard to understand, either as a way of fixing them or learning how to adapt ourselves to them. I don't know if I'm just getting too tired or just resigning to it all, but the more I read and the less time i spend with him, the less fired up i feel. I have been obsessed with figuring this out to the point where i have to question "why?!" I CAN'T CHANGE HIM. jt

 
At 12:13 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

almost everything that gets said here makes so much sense. but this is almost the only place where it does. in real life(i mean in my physical life here at home and in our circles where we live) i feel so stumped. if anyone else in my life read stuff here they would think i'm the one that has gone to some extreme. i bet even our kids would get a little weirded out. but i'm also coming to a knowledge that he can't love me and am learning how to accept that where i know our kids would find that too painful and the rest of "our people" wouldn't get or believe that and would try to explain that away. jt

 
At 12:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can definitely add to the train that thinking can get twisted too far in a certain direction and i can tell you for certain that my N has a definite and very strong twist to his thinking, that it has been there a LONG time and as he ages it is having a definite effect (or Affect?) on him. and it is very hard to untwist especially because he keeps torquing it in "the wrong" and unhealthy direction. he doesn't let other people get close to him so people we know can't attest to witnessing it in him but i can tell you that it really is happening. jt

 
At 1:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

he has always been negative and critical and hard on himself in his language. as i said he doesn't let others close but he will sometimes say someone has mentioned it. but after a while it's almost like he "puts that on me" and then maybe feels a little better. like there- that's done now. this last summer when his hostility was SO apparent and he did purge some of it by more directly directing it at me- which when we were younger would have scared me and put me in tears- i got to see the on off switch, jeckyl/hyde thing people have described. it actually was almost fascinating- like the story of the daughter and dad fighting in the garage but stopping when they came out into the sunlight only to start up when they went back in...anyway he used to call himself a monster like it was a confession but like i was supposed to talk him out of thinking so even though you could tell he was still gonna think so. now even when he is being jovial and drawing laughs from people i hear how negative and defeatist his comments really are. he has never remembered people's names (because they really are insignificant to him after all!!) and he has never known any pop culture people or events. he doesn't hear or absorb things (unless his mental sorting system must automatically dump it as insignificant to him because everyone else seems impressed). and- creepy enough Kathy -he is starting to struggle for common words sometimes when he is talking- like he loses track somewhere and doesn't want to use a word that everyone else would commonly use, but can't think of a substitute to replace it with. i really am losing him!!! whatever is causing this breakdown of these people- or this turning away or this phenomenon- we do have to keep sharing our stories and observations. people with alcoholics people with Alzheimers patients people with autistic family members- all people who have experiences with a loved one drifting away from being able to communicate with us in a normal way-all need other people to talk to about it.sometimes he will say of himself that he's not okay. sometimes he asks me how i am so he can say how he is. i will say fine or good. he'll say something pitying himself. i won't react. but it seems like a cross between a cry for help and a dumping on me. this is turning into a game too. i sense a trap for me- but it also goes in line with them 'knowing' something is wrong with them. but if i know it then he can get away with it because hey now he can shrug it off. ugh. it's pretty weird isn't it? jt

 
At 10:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember reading somewhere that a diagnosis of NPD will generally not be made until a person is in their 20s and beyond. Not because younger people don't display lack of empathy or grandiosity or any of the rest, but because those things can be a normal part of (particularly adolescent) development and are eventually outgrown by "healthy" people.

My thought is this: kids can develop some narcissistic defenses when they are young as a response to childhood traumas -- sometimes abusive parenting, sometimes difficulties that arise outside of the home. Refusing to feel empathy for others and portraying themselves in a falsely "perfect" light helps to protect their tender self-esteem from whatever external assault. (And perhaps, to the extent there is a genetic or biological component it's in that some children are born with a particularly sensitve temperament, more vulnerable to the external assault than others and therefore more likely to adopt the defenses.)

What may be understandable self-protection for a child, however, becomes a character disorder in adulthood because as we grow beyond childhood we each become fully responsible for our own behavior. Heatlhy adults learn to recognize not only that other people can hurt them, but that they can hurt other people. Some people learn this and make a conscious choice not to hurt others -- sometimes we screw up despite that choice, but then we feel and show remorse and make what reparation we can for the injuries we inflict. Because we value others' feelings on par with our own.

Narcissists, however, make a conscious choice to make only their own feelings a priority. Sometimes they intentionally inflict pain because they enjoy the power they have to do so. Sometimes they inflict pain "unintentionally" simply because they can't be bothered to consider the consequences their actions have on others -- and don't really care about those conseequences when they do consider them. In either case, they feel no remorse and never genuinely apologize. (Kathy, I know you had linked to a great article on this at one point -- the inability of the narcissist to express either gratitude or remorse.) You can't, of course, express a genuine apology if the pain you've caused another means nothing to you.

Pam -- don't beat yourself up about your son. There are indeed links between manic and narcissistic behavior -- people in a manic state can display a great deal of narcissism, but this is distinct from NPD b/c, as you describe, the narcissistic tendencies subside when the person cycles out of the mania. (Not a doc, just read alot of this stuff when trying to figure out what was going on with my N!) I've read some interesting stuff online about light/dark therapy for bipolar disorders -- since it sounds alot like your son's shifts are seasonal (when natural light/dark patterns are shifting) this might be something worth looking into. (Again, not a doc; just someone who surfs the net too much... )

Anonymous at 5:47, I really hear what you are saying and it is so painful! Chances are, the N is even that much more perfect when he is alone with the children, too -- for now. B/c you are the current target and what could be more rewarding than turning the children against you. It's awful, and I have definitely been there. The only comfort I can offer is what friends who've had parents that did that have told me: it may sway the kids for a short time, while they enjoy the thrill of being bought with expensive gifts and fancy outings, but eventually the kids see it for what it is and come around.

I'm glad you are all here -- it helps me so much to share everyone's stories and know that I am truly not alone!

GH

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

Twisted is the operative word. Twisted perceptions of themselve and others, twisted thinking, twisted actions. Twisting, twisting, twisting, until they eventually, completely lose contact with the real person they were intended to be.

I want my son back, the bright, creative, near genious little boy that is near to destroying himself today. We've been in a nightmare for ten years and I just want to wake up... I want to wake up and see the man that my son should have grown to be and the monster that has consumed him gone.

Pam

 
At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

pam, i cry for you my friend. you know how we talk about not being able to cry-we can cry for each other. i hear your pain and i care. love jt

 
At 6:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks, jt. I just spent the afternoon with the monster that has eaten my son and right now, I'm just relieved that he went home.

He gets so insanely jeleous and can be well, there is no other word for it, an ass. I held together all afternoon and then cleaned my housed from top to bottom as I vented to my husband.

I do want my son back but as for the monster that he's trapped inside of well, I don't think I can even say outloud what I sometimes think. I just can't bear watching him hurt people any more. I used to love the Spring and now I dread its coming.

There is a movie called, "My son, Johnnie" and it is about a woman with a son who is normal and well adjusted and another one who is endless trouble and she never really has a good explanation why. That is our situation too. My oldest son was driven away by my youngest son's insane jeleousy and violent rages. He was gone for eight years and just moved home last Fall. I'm really afraid the youngest is going to try and drive him away again and there is nothing he won't do to accomplish that if that is what he sets his mind to. None of us know what to do about him. My husband and I even considered disappearing to get away from him and then he got a girl pregnant and we have remained for the baby and her sakes. We love them all but it is so hard sometimes...

Pam

 
At 4:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Kathy,

You say the 'road less travelled' = evil.
This reminds me of Scott Peck's book 'The Road Less Travelled', the title taken from a line in Robert Frost's poem 'The Road Not Taken'.
In Scott Peck's book, the road less travelled is the difficult path of choosing good over evil, not the other way around.
I think Scott Peck's views are well worth reading, in both this book and its sequel, 'The People of the Lie', which I have mentioned before. In case anyone is put off the by the Christian bias in his books, I can say that, as an atheist, I don't find it a problem.
I, personally, think that lots and lots of people take the easy path. To paraphrase Fromm (I think it was Fromm): great evil happens when good men look the other way.

 
At 9:48 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

That doesn't contradict what I was saying. You and he are talking about the "bad" + the "ugly". I wasn't taking the ugly into account, because they aren't relevant to what I was saying.

Few are good, and few are bad. The majority are ugly = politically correct.

They are the ones bad guys like Hitler and Stalin manipulate by the million. According to Dante, even the damned despise them and won't let them into Hell.

They are the ones who do things like blame the victim and make a virtue out of looking the other way in the name of peace and love while people are destroyed that they just won't lift a finger to save. Like bystanders.

So I don't disagree with that assessment. But I just was focused on narcissists. They are downright diabolical. They are predators. Not the same thing as the merely ugly.

 
At 1:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Based on my mother, I would say narcissists could also come from homes where they were continually spoiled, doted on, always made the center of attention, and never given boundaries (perhaps at the expense of other siblings). They see this special treatment as their reality, perhaps thinking that they are more special than all others and so deserve this special treatment. The wake up call comes when they are in the real world and treated like everyone else, or worse, they experience real failures. These experiences contradict their perceived perfect reality and it is then that the Narcissistic reflexes kick in - extreme control/manipulation of their environment, wanting things to appear perfect from the outside even when they're not to keep the charade going, being neurotically disappointed when they realize their children are not perfect (afterall, they were perfect when they were younger, that's what warranted the special treatment, so why can't their own kids be perfect, too?), lying, ignoring reality, thinking normal boundaries do not apply to them. It also explains the bragging, envy, competitiveness. Does anyone else know of a narcissist who came from this type of environment?

 
At 1:54 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

anonymous,

One narcissist refuses to take her child to the doctor, in order to hoard all attention to herself. Another narcissist makes her child sick so she can take him to the doctor and get attention. Same disease, opposite symptoms. You can't judge by superficial symptoms.

I'm not sure, but my gut instinct is that you are talking about a case of same symptoms, different disease.

Where's the "malignance" in the malignant narcissim you describe? I see narcissisim as a character trait, but I am not sure this would lead one to predatory disdain of empathy and the need to tear other people down. I see no cause of extraordinary envy here = envy any greater than you find in many normal people. Malignant narcissists hate you having what you have. They hate you being more honorable. They have to make you lower than them.

Denigrating others like that isn't the same thing as elevating oneself. I don't see the abjectly low self esteem of the malignant narcissist here - that which makes him or her want to drage everyone lower than them in that gutter. In the person you describe, i see inflated self esteem, inflated self esteem that is real, not a put on like the malignant narcissist's pretense of high self esteem.

Narcissism, yes. Malignant narcissism? Not sure. THE most common misconception is that malignant narcissism is just having a big head. It would be wonderful if that's all it was! No problem. Such people aren't dangerous, they are just a pain in the neck.

The malignance of a true malignant narcissist just seems to go right over everybody's head.

So, I'd have to see cases like that produce true malignant narcissism and I haven't, at least not yet.

 
At 7:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What if the whole N case is much simpler? What if this is the case. Let's say that you are not particularly honest and quite lazy. People like to be around accomplished people so you make up all sorts of lies about your own qualities. You get attention, praise and people like you. And people that like you want to help you. Now you have created this whole fake world around you. As long as people don't challenge you, you keep a low N profile. Then somebody comes along that does challenge you in one way or another. Since lying and its cousin manipulating are totally normal to you, you employ all sorts of tactics to make that person back off.

I can see how a dishonest and lazy person could grow into a full-blown N.

Now, I am not saying that this is all that is to it! Trauma, genetics, who knows.

But I do like Ockham’s razor and I tend to think that dishonesty and laziness might be as much a part of N-ism as lack of empathy is.

 

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