Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Narcissist: A Piece of Work

One thing that most people don't realize about narcissists is that their fits aren't the product of a short fuse and the inability to control themselves.

To the contrary, their fits are a device to manipulate you. And before you say, "Naw, they aren't smart enough to do that," consider the average three-year-old.

Uh-huh. See? If the average three-year-old is smart enough to notice that her bawling, screaming, and antics get on your nerves like a finger nail screeching on a blackboard, a grown narcissist is able to see when his actions have the same effect on you. That three-year-old has been learning since she was an infant that her screaming really bothers you and that you'll do anything to make it stop.

That's control power. And even a three-year-old knows how to use it.

She knows just how to make your whole world a living hell by doing nothing but being as obnoxious as she can be. She knows you'll do anything to get her to stop that uproar.

Many, if not most, children will try throwing temper tantrums to get their way. If you give in to this tactic, you soon have a little monster on your hands. The same is true with a narcissist. Every time you give in to it, you reward his bad behavior.

Think back and recall the first time you noticed that a spoiled brat isn't expressing true emotion but is just putting on an act to manipulate you. I often use the example of the kid in the grocery store. He points at a candy bar and looks at Mom, his sweet bright eyes gleaming. She is reaching for some other product and says, "No, you-"

She never gets the second word out before the whole store is filled with his screaming uproar. In other words, he was one step ahead of her and ready to do that.

Everyone in the store stops dead in their tracks, wondering who is killing that kid. In fact, some do probably think someone is beating that child.

Mid-"WAAAAAAAH!" the brat's mother has already taken a quick glance around to see who's staring at her and grabs that candy bar, handing it to him.

So, mid-"WAAAAH!" the brat has switched masks again, his sweet little bright eyes gleaming over his candy bar.

That's all your narcissist is doing when he gets obnoxious. He knows he's being obnoxious. He's trying to be as obnoxious as he can be.

Because he knows that, rather than fight with that obnoxious foghorn in his face, you'll just let the brat have his way.

He isn't above that. He isn't above acting crazy. He isn't above such extreme childishness. He is shameless.

He has no self respect. So, he can stoop to tactics that would make you or I disgust ourselves.

Because he is still a mental child. So, he has a one-track mind: he must have what he wants and right now.

He thinks like a child, simplistically, that power and grandeur consist in having your way with people.

Think of the irony. He he debases and disgraces himself in the very act of this grandiosity! Acting crazy is anti-grand. Acting-obnoxious and childish is anti-grand. And if you have no control over yourself, you are impotent, so how can you imagine that you control anyone else?

The narcissist is shameless and yet so proud!

Whew, what piece of work.

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At 9:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

so my "ignoring him" is a good thing to do. until he definitely crosses a line blatantly or does something truly big time disrespectful - basically something that other people would see and agree with me that it is unacceptable- ignoring him is good. i suppose that could lead to him escalating his attempts- but as long as i conduct myself gracefully, then i am being in charge of me and if he "makes a mistake", causes a social blunder or really hurts someone else- then he is responsible for his choice and his conduct. see- it is about boundaries and responsibility. i take care of my yard and he takes care of (or neglects) his and we just separate ourselves out from them as much as we possibly can.especially mentally and emotionally. that's not being anything but sensible. jt

At 12:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In my experience, they will also raise the trump each time they don't get the desired response. I have seen the level of craziness and preceived threat raised to the level of holding a can of gasoline with the lighter in hand in an attempt at making me believe he would burn the house down. This is terrorism and I know it was not his intent to really burn the house down but it could have happened by accident in the heat of this drama. This action called for the police and the suffering of legal consequences and that is what he got. Since then he is not so ready to go to those lengths to terrorise. They can learn but it takes a long time.

At 3:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

dsAfter mourning and during my healing process I allowed myself to experience feeling angry, sad, empty, regretful, inadequate, worthless, a total burn out. now i don't regard myself as only an abuse survivor but this awful experience with this N. turned out to be a major step in my life. Why did i tolerate this ? Why did I feel that there was something familiar in this relationship ? Why did I want to relive this kind of predicament , Why was i trying so hard to make things right when obviously it was pointless ? Why did I want to understand him ,it to make sense and to save him ? Why was I so eager to have his love ? Why was i so attracted to his dark, mysterious side and vulnerability ?

Now that I have worked on these things with my therapist and that I realised that I had to find myself and to build myself and not just try to avoid narcissists. I can still feel his poison inside of me, but I deal with it better now. I just feel pity for them. They are so out of touch with reality even humanity. What a curse ! To be forced to pretend all the time whereas they feel so small and so inadequate and worthless and empty.Being stuck in early childhood with no possibility of an evolution, what a predicament.I don't believe their illness is just an option they chose. Imagine if they were aware of it ! How awful! No wonder they are in denial. Their lives being just a lie, an imitation of human life ! F.J

At 4:37 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

FJ, why do you say they are "forced" to be the way they are? What is it about them that makes you conclude this?

I ask this question because I suspect that you are chosing to believe that only because you prefer to believe that, not because you can point to anything that substantiates that belief.

Now, you may think that you are being kind and sympathetic to the narcissist by saying this, but reconsider. You are saying that he has less free will than an animal. You are saying that he is just a machine with buttons that get pushed. That denigrates him to the status of a thing. I think it's safe to say that he himself would (justly) take offense at that appraisal. It places you far above him, doesn't it?

On the other hand, if you have read much of this site, you have seen me give many examples of narcissists choosing to be good - like whenever there are witnesses present or whenever they are trying to fool someone into marrying them. They only get bad when they are in a situation when they can get away with it.

So, how do you square that fact with your belief that they can't control themselves? They do control themselves! 80-95% of the time!

Notice what you have done. You have denied yourself ANY excuse. And you have given the narcissist EVERY excuse. Double standard.

And notice the logical contradiction: right after you say that their conduct is no "option" that they choose, you contradict that statement with "No wonder they are in denial. Their lives being just a lie, an imitation of human life!"

Denial is a willful act. Lying is a willful act.

Logic works. When something you believe doesn't pass the test of logic, it isn't true.

The questions you ask about why you put up with abuse are important ones. They HAVE answers. But you seem unconcerned with the answers, just viewing the questions themselves as nothing but an indictment placing the blame for his conduct on yourself. Break the spell he put on you to confuse you into believing that.

You are not responsible for other people's behavior. You need a lower estimate of your power: you have the power to control only your own behavior, not anyone else's.

Your putting up with abuse does not CAUSE him to abuse you. It just TEMPTS him by marking you as easy prey.

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, if I used ' must' it is because from my reading on NPD, I have gathered that they " build a functionning narcissistic defense mechanism " because as a child they coud not build their own selves, were 'owned' instead of loved , even those raised in the so called "good families" where they were brought up as little kings but where they were repressed to show their true feelings or emotions ( true self).
i have never read articles by professionnals saying that they actually 'choose ' to be narcissists but if you can suggest me some readings on that I would be most interested.knowing three narcissists among my relatives in three generations, when you look at their story,it makes sense.Of course, a different individual may develop another psychosis, have a big depression, commit suicide but talking about choice... since you refer to it as an illness i don't know,cose you can't choose to have an illness, can you ? anyway i have not a personnal theory and i am not a psychologist and if NPD is what a psychiatrist calls " a white psychosis or psychosis without the symptoms" they are responsible of their evil actions, verbal and emotionnal abuse, so if the question of responsibility is the issue well, we must consider the cause and separately their every act since not only are they conscious of what they do but they enjoy it to the full.

As for narcissists choosing to be good, it is only "acting as if they were good" part of the show, the manipulation,building their reputation and deluding themselves too.To me, Refraining from acting evil ( strategy ) does not mean that they can be even part time good, so if they trully wanted they could be full time good.DECEPTION:They send contradictory signals because it is just the best way to drive somebody crazy.They are destroying machines whose goal is to drive their prey to zero self esteem and kill them symbolically as a being, metaphorically, emotionnaly and psychologically ( if not physically ( can lead you to suicide without any guilt)

I think they choose you for positive things they can't have, like human or moral values and since they can't have those things because of their emotionnal void , they destroy them and leave you dry like suck up by a vampire.

After what he has done to me, if the poor thing took offense at what i could say about him, I would not feel bad about it ANYMORE !

"It places you far above him..."

Well, it is your interpretation and it was not at all the point i was trying to make.I was talking about a pathology, not a question of who is above who. I am no judge.Nobody's perfect.

It took me months to answer those questions with my therapist and the reason why i mentioned them was that working on this has been crucial to me and the healing process ( the answers would have been too long and personnal )but it is only the beginning.From what ihave read, it took years to get over it!!! F.J

At 4:58 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

We disagree because some of some fundamental differences.

First, I trust facts and logic. You trust authority figures. You regard the absence of an authority figure's imprimatur as a valid argument against an opinion based on fact and logic. Appeal to authority figures is commonly used as a fallacious argument against facts and logic so as to dodge answering them with any contrary facts and logic. This argument doesn't refute the facts and logic at all, because truth is not determined by belief. In fact, authority figures are eventually found to be wrong at least as often as they prove to be right.

Another basic difference is that you believe goodness and badness are inherent qualities of people. Hence, according to you, some people can do no good. Me? I say "Good is what good does. And bad is what bad does." We make ourselves good or bad by what we do. Doing good is being good. Doing bad is being bad. A narcissist can be good by doing good. And if he turns his life around, so that on the whole he is doing more good than bad, he will become, generally, a good person.

He is TEMPTED always. But temptation doesn't make him bad. We cannot pride ourselves in not being so tempted. That much sympathy narcissists deserve. They are tempted. But I am sure they can resist temptation, like any addict can if they really want to.

When I pointed out that you placed him below you by saying that he is essentially a machine with no control of itself, that was not a mere interpretation. That's a fact.

But good for you in not feeling bad about offending him anymore. And good for you in finding the answers to those questions. On that we wholeheartedly agree.


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