Thursday, November 15, 2007

When Narcs Attack

Professionals often say that narcissists "overreact" to the merest unintended slights and that they fly into a rage for the slightest reason. But this view seems anthropomorphic to me. I suspect it comes from forgetting that the narcissist on your couch is a pathological liar.

The truth is that narcissists attack for no reason. In fact, they are prompted to attack by anti-reasons.

Of course the narc on your couch says he did it in self defense! He whines that the victim said or did something to slight him or anger his tender, tender feelings. Were you born yesterday? Narcissist = pathological liar. So, why do you expect him to confess to you that he is a predator = one who attacks any vulnerable target of opportunity?

I would hate to admit how long it took me to discover this, but in my experience, what triggers a Narcissist Attack is nothing but a vulnerable target of opportunity.

Test narcissists. Parade bait before them when the coast looks clear so that the narc thinks later it will just be his word against the victim's. Then watch what happens.

You can push his Attack button by having the victim be very vulnerable, like say by showing great affection for the narcissist and giving a heartfelt plea for some in return. (Rather like a man I knew who asked a narcissist to marry him and got eviscerated for it.)

How does the narcissist react to what should evoke his love and affection? With a savage attack, that's how. Rather like any wild predator when you ring the dinner bell for it by giving it a swipe at a defenseless creature's soft underbelly.

Except that natural predators must be hungry at the time.

On second thought, I guess narcissists have to be hungry, too. But they always are. For, they have the kind of hunger that increases the more you feed it.

So much for the theory that narcissists are just too touchy. They ain't touchy at all.

Test that too. Indeed, try to provoke a narcissist. You can't. Go ahead, try.

The only way to get yourself a raging narcissist is to tempt it with defenseless bait when it thinks no one is watching.

Now that you have your narcissist raging, do one more thing. Have the victim rise up rage right back it its face.

Guess what happens? Presto chango! Rage off!

Instead of a raging narcissist, you now have a poor little meek and gentle angel who wouldn't hurt a fly and is heartbroken at the victim being so nasty.

Welcome to The Twilight Zone. I call this miraculous phenomenon "The Transfiguration."

I am not exaggerating. You witness the instantaneous substitution of one persona for its very antithesis in the blink of an eye. You don't know whether to pinch yourself or start throwing holy water at it. Because an Academy Award winner couldn't do that that fast.

It stuns you and gives you the creeps. Indeed, one facial expression doesn't melt into the other: the whole mask changes at once.

I call a narcissist's faces "masks" because when you see this happen you know that's what they are. You know that what's on the face is a lie. It's the Big Chill.

A stunning revelation. The narcissist's very face is a lie about what is really going on in the darkness behind that mask.

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At 6:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy, I am gaining so much from your site and the comments. I have felt very alone and afraid to speak out. I believe my spouse (recently separated) is a manipulative narcissist. I have felt such despair and guilt over the fights, but it always seemed to me that he would push my buttons, then sit back and say "look how angry you are, I don't feel any emotions. I am completely in control of my emotions" which only infuriated me. Often, I wasn't angry, but he would say I was, and then I would become angry! I begged him to stop putting a false mask on my face. What an obscene mess!

I am trying very hard to figure out what was him (what feelings, what thoughts), and what was me. But, there were so many things much worse than this at the end (he gaslighted me, he was sadistic and bullying), that I wonder if I'll ever recover. I feel used up and damaged. How do you accept that your spouse may have been trying to drive you insane, or push you to suicide? Emotional abuse can be deadly. I just want my spirit back - I want me back.

I've noticed some of his lies now (never suspected before) and it filled me with disgust and horror. I saw under the mask and it terrified me. It was a long marriage, but he was not who I thought, and I feel very sad, and even afraid. Mostly, I don't know how to find myself again, so I can be a strong mother for my child.

I am grateful for any help and advice - my biggest fear has been that no one would believe me, because he has fooled many people. They think he is charming and nice. How do I understand what were my mistakes, and forgive myself? How do I make amends? I can't communicate with him beyond minimum for co-parenting, because it quickly becomes toxic. But, everyone says "it takes two to tango", so how do I figure out what was my responsibility in a relationship with a malignant narcissist?

At 12:17 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

I don't know how you accept it that someone you loved tried to drive you crazy and to suicide. All I can say is that narcissists do that. It is something the victim rarely admits, because nobody would believe it.

From my own experience and from what I've learned from other who have had experience with narcissists, this uber-wickedness is not unusual. In fact, I'll wager that where the cause of a suicide is mysterious, there is probably a narcissist behind it.

So, don't feel like you are the only one this happens to.

Logic helps. Since Ns have no empathy for anyone, since you are but a character (in a story - not a person) to them, what is to stop them from doing this to you? You are just an object. Breaking you is nothing more than breaking a glass or a pencil. So, if doing so makes them feel good, they will. As offhandedly as a hungry great white shark would.

Don't let your ego make you deny that. The truth hurts, but it will set you free.

It stands to reason that if they think they can go this far, they will. Abuse always escalates, because it take more and more "stimulation" to give the N the high he gets from sticking it to someone.

You have many questions. I bet that over time you will decide that most aren't worth pursuing the answers to. Which ones lead to answers that you can profit by? Which ones lead to answers that can help you make the future better than the past?

Don't be concerned with blame-laying - measuring out just exactly what blame goes here and what goes there. That isn't problem-solving, and in many ways we are no more qualified to judge ourselves than we are to judge others. You weren't perfect. Your patience had limits. You had an ego too. And so on.

The main thing is that you are not a predator. He is. So it is ALL his fault. In other words, as imperfect as you are, you are 100% innocent of the abuse.

Ditch the politically correct idea that if you are anything less than a saint someone is partially justified in abusing you. The same clowns are fond of saying that, however, a woman may walk down the street naked and be 100% innocent of getting raped. So, let them ditch their ridiculous double-standard and try to be a little consistent with their pontifications.

You might find that setting aside some time daily to practice Yoga or Tai Chi (in the privacy of your home) is a big help in re-establishing a close connection with your self. It literally puts you in touch with yourself.

At 10:54 PM, Blogger sonicido said...

Well, I finally found a place to fellowship. Thank you. :)
I was married to an N for 20 years. During those years, I enabled him to the hilt and gave him 9 children to also abuse.
However, God is bigger than any old "N" and God decided He had enough of it and pushed me RIGHT OUT THE DOOR- Using the N's desperate last attempt to 'do me in'!! This surprised the N and myself.
When one leaves an N, it may not be a calculated move...looking back, it was as though I was as fleeing a volcanic blast-running blindly down a slope hoping to find distance far enough to escape the heat chasing close behind me; and chase it did-even now, 7 years later.

My mis-calculations lead me to immediate crashing on; falling over rocks and slamming my bones into holes that opened up from nowhere-tearing my flesh on obstacles in the path that had never been trodden on by anyone else-it was a new trail that I was blazing-but a trail that did lead to a calm and tranquil sea of relief and promise. Oh, thunder rolls behind me-but it is behind and overhead, though "N" slings lighting strikes at me-it doesn't matter-because I am not within the crater of disaster any longer. Although I am not completely removed from the atmosphere of N because of the children, I am, inspite of his rage and environmental upsets-I am totally free from his power over me. NEVER TO RETURN!
Because he refuses to leave me be,
I will spend the rest of my life doing 3 things for others:
1) Blowing an alarm to those unaware "Look at the signs!!!"

2) Guiding their steps that they may run a smoother path than I

3) Shine light upon their trails and traps. N's groom the trails smooth, which lead right to their traps-traps that the N skillfully sets in broad daylight but definitely lead the unaware to the darkness of the soul.

At 2:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is so nice (to put it mildly!) to find people who understand. to the anon- you sound like i did not so long ago. stay with this site and read the archives and main site. also use kathy's links (thanks girl!) just keep learning. its all a process- interesting at best, sorrowful and lonely at times- overwhelming- enlightening. but youre on a path. keep going forward. rest when you need to. but dont turn back. just a thought- "it takes two to tango"-- the tango is a very difficult dance that takes two people working very hard together to make it look good. its a thing of beauty. we(not us here but the general public) use the phrase as though to lay blame. strange how we do that. im not sure where the phrase is but some sympathetic listeners have referenced the uneven yoke to me. meaning i think that a good relationship is even, but in an unhealthy relationship the burden is lop sided and the row is crooked. those people almost felt like they were willing to "let me off the hook" for what ive had to go through. no matter what- we here will believe you. that is a relief that is scarce everywhere else at times, no doubt. try to use the fear as a motivator to learn more.
and glancing back at your post- maaaan- can i relate !!! jt

At 6:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy and others, Thank you for your very helpful thoughts. It helps more than I can say to have caring comments and acceptance of my experience. There really is nothing more lonely than to feel no one will believe or understand, because relationships are invisible.

But I had the horrible experience of feeling like my spouse was somehow more like a tarantula than a human at the end. I know how crazy that sounds. But he showed no feeling at all,except for sudden glimmers of cruelty, like a spider darting out and attacking. I am learning how to put my emotions of terror and rage into bearable proportions, because I need to. It would not be possible at all if he was still here - it was like being held hostage. I think he only left because he found a new (younger, prettier) host. I wonder if his demands (hunger) will be insatiable,now that he let loose the reins on himself?

Kathy is so right about the shame being unbearable (or nearly so), because I let him do things that showed I had no self respect. I was terrified of him leaving me, and my vulnerability seemed to turn him into a monster! So, I am having a hard time not feeling like I am responsible for his abuse,which does leave you with no self esteem whatever. But, I keep trying to rebuild myself and my life - just don't know if I will succeed or even care.

At 10:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the feelings you describe seem pretty common and im pretty sure we can all relate. there are so many layers to the healing that we have to go through in our healing process- or processes ! as i came to realize some of what happened because of finally having definition- which was enlightening and empowering AND disabling ! -i went through waves of emotions and thoughts and regrets. perhaps that is inevitable. perhaps its a natural part of it--as long as we don't stay and dwell there for too long. keep reading about narcissism and personality disorders. even though we have lived with them- and at first we get validation- it is still really hard to really get your head around HOW truly different these people are. the more education you get the more you will see that you really could not have done much differently until you did get the information and the sting of regret wont be quite so intense. some of our "mistakes" along the way were inevitable- meaning we probably just did the best we could with what we got. but through my readings i have been able to realize that i lived with him with and in good intentions- he did not. jt

At 10:49 PM, Blogger sonicido said...

Anon, what you said, "we probably just did the best we could with what we got..."
It took ME YEARS to realized that if I was deceived-would I have known it?
We GOT deception-straight up. Bottom line.
And because we were trusting-we did live with them with GOOD you said.

Once, a friend said, "Well, you had a choice-you married him-so you are partially to blame."
I opened fired both barrels and then blasted her with the cannon.
Later, she apologized and agreed. She was just coming from the stand of trying to blame herself for HER husband's deceptive behavior. She said if she hadn't been impatient and so ready to "find the one" she could have avoided him; I said, "Uh, huh, and you could have waited longer like others do, and ended up with a different N anyway because you were not prepared for one in the first place. Waiting isn't the answer my Dear-education is."

If anyone EVEN tries to go there with me, and they get toasted with my tongue.
Reason being, is because for years, I would crumble at those remarks. Now, since I've studied and I know what I know, NO ONE will EVER point a finger at me without getting it poked RIGHT BACK IN THEIR OWN EYEBALL.

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

Music to my ears, Sonicido :)

Something at a tangent. It has to do with your friend trying to blame herself for the way her husband acted.

You know, I think that's very common. Ironically though, in a way it's narcissistic. If we are to blame for what others do, we have control power over them and the situation. So, people are TEMPTED to blame themselves to support the delusion that they are not helpless.

This is another example of how always trying to be honest with yourself is good. It hurts, but it is better to face the fact that you are in a Catch-22 and that there is nothing you can do, because the other party doesn't want to get along. He wants to abuse.

So, even though we may be provoked to say or do things at times that we are, and should be ashamed of, they don't make us at all to blame for the abuser's predation on us.

These aren't real human relationships in which both parties are ususally affecting each other's behavior. This is predation, an unnatural interscouse in which the predator is manipulating us to draw exactly the reaction he gets. Nothing justifies or tempts predation. What trips the predator's trigger is nothing but vulnerability and a chance to get away with abuse.

We are totally powerless to do anything about the situation. In fact, narcissists target victims they already have over a barrel.

At 8:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kathy, I am beginning to understand (I'm the 6:59am/6:58am anon). Your last post here explains again very clearly something I am trying to wrap my mind around, that gets at what was happening. Yes, he (spouse of 20 yrs) was an abusive predator. Yes, he provoked anger and fear in me, because he wanted to feed on that (and maybe to cleanse himself; he prided himself on no emotions). I am responsible for what I did/said when provoked. But, it was an endless carnival ride in the funhouse, not a life or marriage. That tragedy is very hard to take, especially when you have a child. I feel grief, guilt and worry about how this must affect them.

I also feel some despair and hopelessness about "starting over". Doesn't really make sense after 20 yrs - I can't go back. He isolated me, drained me financially, and undermined me professionally too. I'll never have those years, that money, or those opportunities again.

I haven't found the key to my new life, but I am going to work on letting go of feeling responsible for his abuse. Thank you (to all) for your insights and compassion. It goes beyond kindness, because you know the true nature of the evil and pathology we are dealing with. As I read, I am only more astonished at its breadth and depth, and I recognize literally hundreds of signs in my own dealings with him. Ironically, my intuition was right so much of the time! Particularly about his bad intentions. But I was redirected to my own "faults" every time.

Logic worked against me, because I assumed he wanted to have a real relationship. Now I see it was parasitic for years. I could not get his attention; he seemed to use me as camoflauge, and relate to me as baggage. My confidence dropped year by year, as I was always "wrong." I am known for my high level of empathy, compassion, patience and sensitivity, so maybe I was a first rate target. It lasted for 20 yrs. Now, he treats me as nothing. But, I am trying to find hope and strength in my faith. Forgiveness seems to be key, or you never move on and forward? Thanks to everyone for sharing of your wisdom.

At 8:55 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

Forgive yourself. But I don't see how you can forgive the N. Does he even admit what he did? let alone that it was wrong? Has he made any amends? Has he even promised to stop doing it? Forgiving him would amount to "forgiving" an offense-in-progress.

If you "forgive" an offense in progress, you give the offender permission to continue offending.

Your money, your good name, and everything else he stole is damaging you NOW. He is responsible for those damages. By failing to make things right, he is holding you in the prison he trapped you in. How can you forgive him if he doesn't first let you out?

Resitution, reparations are necessary. Guarantees that he will stop it. Even religion (in the fine print) admits that there is no forgiving the unrepented sin.

Forgive yourself. I would just write the N off as dead to me.

At 8:55 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Funny to read Kathy's last comment about writing the narc off as dead. Good idea.

I recently told my youngest sister that is what I did to our narc mother a few years ago once I came to grips with what I was actually dealing with.

She said, "but she's our blood."

I told her that I chose who is around me and I chose for our mother to be not around not exist ...and I feel great. I feel free.

Now, if only I can learn to pick narcs out before they pick me and worm their way in use me. I am getting better but most of the time, I don't pay attention to the red flags until after I am in int.

At 9:37 AM, Blogger sonicido said...

Hi everyone :) We can all enjoy our Holiday Season (if we celebrate it) this year in knowing that each of us, on this site may be licking wounds, but they are healing, and that is awesome! We are in a MUCH better place than we were 10, 5, or even a year ago.
I will be thinking of each one of you this Season :)
I will pray that we all can take 2008 and use it to alert and educate ourselves and others in all that we have and are learning.

At 9:50 AM, Blogger sonicido said...

Hi Nevada ;)
GOOD FOR YOU. Do it to it.
"It" referring to the Narc.
Your younger sister may see you as "unfeeling" (the narc twist); she may see you as "unloving" (narc twist) and she may call you "mean", "bitter" and downright "hateful".

My husband and I have learned that to rid oneself of these parasites is indeed unpopular with peers. After all, most of the Narcs have won the devotion of our peers. But we also have learned that enabling them to continue abusing us, is irresponsible. Because we are enabling them to freely abuse those around us (our peers).
If our peers (including our children) ever wake up, they will not be able to accuse us of allowing the abuse.
THIS IS THE PLACE THAT WE MUST BE. Especially with tender relationships such as children, siblings, and parents.

Don't ever feel alone. YOU HAVE US! maybe some day we'll form a meet-up group ( for recovering narc victims.

To all:
I have also learned that part of healing is in: talking, talking, talking" this has cleansed my heart the same way gallons of water flushes our physical bodies. Our physical Systems need cleansing. So, our emotional systems are as complex as our physical with as many components. All of which can "hold onto" toxins that disable and weaken us.

Flush away brethren! :)
Thank GOD for this site.


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