Monday, June 11, 2007

Acting for Your Own Good

Here is a bit more on your right to act for your good.

Even a criminal who is guilty of a crime cannot be forced to confess and thereby do himself harm. His right to self preservation, to a defense is THAT sacred. In the United States, our forefathers gave us this right, and specified the right to pursue happiness, because they detested the practice in Europe of denying these rights. To the point that the condemned had to kneel down in an act of begging their executioner to be executed by torture. The condemned had to offer himself up for torture (or he'd get it worse) and even had to PAY their executioner in this sick public ritual.

That is just wrong. I don't care how guilty the man was. That violated a Law of Nature. It's the Sin of Sodom (ask a theologian).

Again for example, anyone with an ounce of moral sense knows that you don't have to refrain from defending yourself just because someone else might get hurt if you do.

Frankly, it amazes me how devoid of moral sense many professionally pious prigs are.

They think you have no right to divorce your poor, poor abuser who would then be all alone and sad (sniff, sniff). It's the same with an abusive parent: shame on you if you break off relations with him or her. They think you must appear before your lifelong abuser regularly for more abuse, just because Mom or Dad is old now (= by definition "good" in thoughtless people's eyes). They think you have no right to defend yourself against character assassination by answering the accusations so as to show that they are projection. They think you have no right to lift a finger in your own defense or in the defense of other innocents.

In short, they think you must refrain from any negative reinforcement of abuse. Think what that means. You mustn't do anything that would tend to make your abuser stop it, or at least think twice before abusing you again. Whose side are they on?

In fact, they don't even stop at that: they make it a sin for you to even just get and stay away from your abuser. How sick is that?

They just slap the label "revenge" on anything you do to protect yourself and call you the "evil" one. In other words, they think you are to bend over for abuse. It's all they will allow you to do.

And if you disobey them, they will call YOU the sinner. And the kicker is what they DON'T SAY = any bad word about your abuser. Listen for one: you won't hear a single condemnatory word out of them about what HE has done.

They are a large part of the reason why narcissists get away with the things they do. They are his proxies, the audience he plays to. The self-righteous.

You have to have the backbone to stand up to them. For your own sake, or you will damage your relationship with yourself by betraying yourself to avoid their condemnation. You WILL soon hate yourself for doing so.

And that's what's wrong with a narcissist: deep down he actually hates himself. So, don't let him drag you down there into that abyss with him. Love yourself. You cannot love anyone else unless you do. And love is an action verb, not just a fleeting warm and fuzzy sentiment.

BUT, unless you get away from a narcissist - no contact - you will be confronted with the choice of fighting back or bending over for it every single day. Because a narcissist is a machine who will go just as far as you let him. If, for example, he knows he doesn't dare physically beat you, he will resort to mental cruelty. He will ALWAYS find a way to feed his addiction by taking a bite out of you.

So, you don't want to stay in the crucible that has you fighting back every time you turn around. Life is too short. But that doesn't mean that fighting back is wrong when something important like your self respect, career, or good name is on the line. Fight back and then get away so you never have to fight with the N again.

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At 11:55 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

I would like to read your thoughts on these questions:

Is there, or is there not, a milder form of the narcissist? A person who is not really in full-blown "personality disorder" mode, but is still very tricky to be near?

If the answer to that is yes, then do you think that being near such a person might be more dangerous for some people than for other people?

And if the answer to that is yes, then do you think it is possible - ever - to become strong enough to overcome the hazards of being near a narcissist? Or is it more like a food sensitivity, and if you're sensitive, then you just are, and you therefore have to use more caution than people who are not as sensitive?

What do you think about this?

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Kathy said...


I don't know, but it seems to me that a person either is, or is not, a malignant narcissist.

The underlying malignance is the main problem. It causes Ns to like hurting people. Doing so is like a drug, a pain killer they're addicted to.

Now, many people have narcissistic personality traits, which we may find offensive, but they are not malignant narcissists: that is, they are not predators, like real malignant narcissists are.

I'm no authority. But in my experience and from what I've read and heard, it seems to me that the only rein on a malignant narcissist's behavior is what they think they can get away with. If they think they can get away with murder, look out.

Also, in my experience, the only thing that makes Ns more dangerous to some people than others is the the target's vulnerability. Like all predators, narcissists target easy prey.

Like children. Putting a child before a malignant narcissist is like waving a bottle of booz before an alcoholic. That child is such prey (can't fight back) that it makes the predator's mouth water. The meek and lowly are also prime targets. Again, because they can't or won't fight back. Ns are bullies. Anyone disadvantaged is in danger. Employees. Virtually anyone who can't or won't fight back, for whatever reason.

That's just my opinion. All narcissism isn't the personality disorder of malignant narcisissm. When it's just a trait, it varies along a continuum of how off-putting it is. But what I have seen convinces me that in malignant narcissism a boundary has been crossed into malevolence. I have seen narcissists you'd never have dreamed were capable of blatantly vicious cruelty or physical violence suddenly become shockingly violent and vicious the moment the situation changed so that they could get away with it.

That isn't a change in the severity of the disease: it's only a change in the circumstances limiting what evil they can get away with. I suppose you must see something like that to believe it, but I have.

At 2:06 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

It's me again, putting in my two cents on the spectrum concept.

I find the black and white categorization of malignant vs. not difficult to reconcile with my N's.

I think they (my N-mom and my N-husband) go through the majority of their lives trying to do good because they get something out of feeling like they're good people (like the rest of us). Yes, they certainly go all out to get praise, but will also make an effort without necessarily having an audience.

The problem is consistency. They don't have an engrained inner compass that is sufficient to make them feel good about following it regardless of the results. So, whether they feel good (or bad) about doing something good (or bad)is very situational--depends on their mood and how they feel about the people involved at the time.

The malignancy/hostility can be very specific toward certain people on their s**t-list, like our daughter and I were with N-husband a few years back. The malignant characteristics came out full-blown: the attacks/ character assassinations, complete lack of empathy and consideration for us as people, and total denial of what he was doing.

There's no question in my mind that this was malignant narcissism, but the malignant part of it was primarily directed toward me and my daughter for a couple of years. If you took away those two years, I would say, sure, he's narcissistic and immature in many ways, but not really malicious.

Similarly with my N-mom. She would lash out as a way to regain control when she felt insecure, with no trace of empathy or subsequent acknowledgement/remorse for pain inflicted. The rest of the time, there was a general lack of awareness of other people's thoughts and feelings, but not in a malicious way.

The danger I see is in the inconsistency. A narcissist may be malignant only sometimes and only towards some people, which is why I think they end up fooling so many. But it's also why people can manage being around them if they learn how to play the strategic games we've talked about here (how to stay off the s**t-list while maintaining your self-respect).

At 6:39 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Dandelion, I think i see what you're saying. My first thought is a question: Are you sure you're not making a distinction where there is none? Mistaking malice for a sentiment rather than simple ill will = the intent to tear someone down. Which can be done "in cold blood."

But I'm not sure what I think yet myself, so I just throw that out there for us both to consider.

When I use the world "malice," I use it in the strict sense of intent to do harm to another for the sake of harming that other (not for some other reason such as self defense, an act of war, the execution of a judicial sentence, hunting for food, and so forth.)

I am not sure what I think yet, but my initial reaction is to ask whether you can say that someone who delberately harms another just to harm that other isn't malicious just because he has no personal animostity toward the victim. Psychopathic murderes, who prey on total strangers, are a good example of this. In fact, that's what's so chilling about what they do. They are so cool about it.

My own impression is that it's never really personal with a narcissist, any more than it would be with an animal you had caught in a corner. It might just be that when they are acting not simply to get an ego boost, but because they sense a threat from you their delusions, that the heat you characterize as malice enters into their behavior. But is it personal even then? Or are you just a naughty toy that they really are mad at?

As for them wanting to think they're good people, I have noticed that too. I think most of them do. I supposed that if an N becomes President for Life like Saddam Hussein or Adolf Hitler, their untouchability might make them fat-headed enough to drop the facade, stop rationaizing their behavior, and just laugh up their sleeve about the evil they're getting away with. But my guess is that most Ns aren't in that position and don't get to that point.

At 7:05 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

PS, Still thinking. Every N I have known did what he did to others out of a motive of pure pity for himself or herself. If you have seen this, it is easy to be drawn off the scent of malice.

The look of hurt feelings is a good mask for malice.

But think what they are doing. They are destroying your career with character assassination, deliberately. I don't care how much they whine that you don't deserve that nice reputation and how much they think they deserve to have theirs be better than yours: that "poor-little-hurt-me" act doesn't take the malice out of the deed.

They are NOT hurt by you getting any respect.

Another common mask is the mask of righteous anger. You somehow slighted them. Again, that makes it easy to be drawn of the scent of pure malice.

In my experience, whatever their excuse - what terrible thing you did to hurt them - is always a mystery.

I think it's all just more playing Pretend to hide the malice in it even from themselves and rationalize what they do.

At 7:13 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

PSS, however you define malice, one thing is for sure. You have pointed out that it isn't always the same. Sometimes there seems to be real anger. Probably stemming from fear of a threat to their delusions. But often they do it so casually that it almost seems that they do it by accident or sheer habit.

At 9:16 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

"Every N I have known did what he did to others out of a motive of pure pity for himself or herself. If you have seen this, it is easy to be drawn off the scent of malice.

The look of hurt feelings is a good mask for malice."

I feel a little ill. I've "forgotten" a lot of things, but the examples I can remember are examples of exactly what you're talking about here. So now I have another question.

Is there a difference between such an incident being an incident, and the person who did it being an actual Narcissist? Does a person who is not a Narcissist ever act like that? How do you know if you're dealing with a person who IS that vs. a person who DOES that? (Is there a difference?)

At 3:52 PM, Anonymous dandelion said...

What I'm referring to as malignant behavior on the part of my N's is in fact more than just angry outbursts. It does fall into the category of bullying, wanting to cut you down to size or put you in your place, ill will, wanting to sting, etc.

During the couple of years that N-husband was doing this, there were very few overt rages. Even though I talk about angry outbursts, it wasn't so much the external expression of anger as the snide, cutting remarks that seemed designed to convey how little I mattered. N-Mom's outbursts were definitely of the accusatory "you're so mean to me, I'm the poor victim" stripe.

I find these to be emotionally hostile responses, so I call them angry outbursts, which is maybe misleading.

I think the point that I was trying to make is that in my experience the hostility only comes out under certain circumstances, and is not a consistent state of mind in my N's. Therefore, it's difficult for me to call them malignant in an either-or sense, because I get no sense of ill will / emotional hostility from my N's when they're content with me / the world.

So, to me, it is indeed a matter of degree, in the sense of how often normal circumstances would trigger an irrationally hostile response (i.e. how easily they cross that boundary into malevolence). And my strategy for dealing with my N's involves doing what I reasonably can to prevent this cross-over, without compromising my integrity.

As for Stephanie's last question, normal people can get mad enough that they exhibit a desire to hurt and a lack of empathy, but when their brain chemistry and other physiological responses settle back down, they reflect and realize what they've done, and hopefully they're remorseful and try to make amends. At the very least they are able to recognize that they've been emotionally hurtful, which is something that entirely escapes the true N's.

At 6:55 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Yes, I see what you're saying. I know an N who describes herself as "impulsive." I can tell it's something about herself that worries and bothers her (she once came to within a breath of grabbing a kitchen knife in one of her rages), and that is the worst word she can make herself use about herself.

That hostility comes out impulsively. It is sudden and often out of the blue. They cross that line without compunction, rather like a little child who suddenly gets mad at a toy.

They have one-track minds set on WHAT THEY WANT. Period.

This means that no other thought crosses their mind. Consequences, morality, the harm to others - none of that gets one brain cell's worth of attention in the decision.

They just have no self control. They haven't normal inhibitions. Unless it's obvious that acting out at the moment would get them in big trouble. Again, like little children. They expect all the toys in their world to please them. And when some toy doesn't, they might just impulsively whack that naughty toy. Scary.

At 9:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

My narcissists therapist told me I was callous and dismissive and cruel because of my no contact. Go figure.

At 9:44 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Typical. Look at that - "callous and dismissive and cruel". Which donkey does that tail belong on?

There ought to be a law against being that stupid.

I don't see what's so hard to get: nobody has to sacrifice themselves to serve as a victim for others to abuse just because the poor poor abuser would feel bad if he lost his punching bag. Since a smart monkey knows better, I have no respect for people who are such thoughtless parrots they don't.

People like that therapist are half the problem.

At 8:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

my sentiments too. thankyou kathy.jt

At 9:19 PM, Anonymous Barbara said...

They just slap the label "revenge" on anything you do to protect yourself and call you the "evil" one. In other words, they think you are to bend over for abuse. It's all they will allow you to do

WOW!! If I had a dime for everytime I heard: 'she's a scorned woman' or 'she's stalking me' or 'she's obsessed with me' I'd be living in a high rise on Park Avenue. What the heck is it with these tired labels that anyone can actually BELIEVE them?


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