Friday, December 21, 2007

The Dependent Mindset of a Narcissist

Doubtless, in my last post, you noticed the similarity in the attitude of your typical narcissist and the attitude of the dependent people I mentioned in the examples.

Hopefully your politics button wasn't pushed by those examples to make you resist the known truth and...

(a) go deaf to my assertion that these are not bad people REFUSING to lift a finger for themselves and help their neighbor.

(b) fail to see that the people in those examples came from different races, difference socio-economic status, and different cultures.

So, you can't blame it on culture or poverty or anything else you'd like to club your political opponents with: it's just the way people are. Dependency causes it.

The problem is that dependent people become childlike/childish. They view themselves as here to be taken care of. They feel that they have a claim on other people's lives.

Like children do. Unfortunately, this is right and natural in children but not in grownups.

It explains one of the phenomena that people who live with narcissists put up with every day. An example is worth a thousand words.

John comes into the kitchen ten minutes after five and sees that Mary is washing windows. He fools around to get her attention. He horns around, kinda like an annoying hornet.

If he gets really desperate, he might stoop to the humiliating act of asking, "When are we gonna eat?"

"When I get done with this."

He goes and lays down. After about ten minutes, he returns. Horning around again. "What time is it?"

"Look at the clock (stupid)."

This goes on and on. (It used to drive my mother crazy.) He never will admit that God Almighty is hungry and wants something to eat. That would screw up his God-Almighty act! He shouldn't have to ask. Mother Mary is here to take care of him and see to all this infant's needs without him having to utterly degrade his godhead by asking for anything.

Kinda like the Queen of England. I bet she never has to tell anyone that she's hungry and that it's past time for her lunch. Does she?

Same with King John here.

Mamma Mary is here to see to all his needs. I mean that exactly: that's WHAT SHE IS HERE FOR in that child's mind.

So, nothing else should take precedence, even for a moment. She is to attend to him (like the servants wait in attendance on the Queen) to anticipate his every need and fulfill his desires without his ever having to ask for anything.

Indeed! Think how it would degrade the King to have to ASK for anything! Or to fetch something to eat for himself. (See the case of Lee Harvey Oswald in the book.) Oh, horrible! Horrible! Your narcissist just cannot bring himself to do it. He would rather die.

No exaggeration. He would rather die than do anything to screw up up is King act.

I hope the screaming irony isn't lost on you: this is the mindset of children.

Children view themselves as here to be taken care of by others. It's their mindset - that is, a system of assumptions that forms a framework for the mind, limiting the ideas one can get.

That child or that narcissist CANNOT GET THE IDEA to lend a hand and help Mom with the windows. He can't get the idea to go to the refrigerator and find something for himself. He can't get the idea to say, "You are busy. How about if I go out and get some take-home for supper?"

The stupid, stupid, stupid narcissist cannot even GET any of those bright ideas.

Simply because in his world Mamma Mary is there to take care of him. She is to pay constant attention to him so that she can detect the moment he feels hungry. (Whenever Mamma fails to detect that, Baby bawls in anger at her for it.) Since taking care of him is what she exists for, she must drop everything and rush to fix him supper.

And she isn't doing that, so he feels deprived of SOMETHING HE IS OWED. Just like those people in the examples, who believed that they were OWED that vacation in prime-time, that salvation by Uncle Sam, and those handouts from their fellow Americans.

What magic magical thinking can do. One minute you are incurring a debt or being given a gift or privilege. The next minute, your benefactor is the debtor in your eyes. Read more on The Denial of Remorse and Gratitude (by Nancy McWilliams, Ph.D. and Stanley Lependorf, Ph.D.)here.

A sure sign of this mindset is the inappropriate anger when these grandiose expectations are not met. "Waah!" You don't think they're important! "Waah!"

Though you are moving heaven and earth to bring aid to them in an area to which there is no land or sea access and virtually no dry ground for air access...even bringing troops home from a foreign war to help them. "Waah!" You don't CARE about them! Waah!"

Not adult behavior.

Yes, afterward, adults would have plenty of angry things to say about the bad planning and bureaucratic failures, but they wouldn't be caught dead screaming accusations as ridiculous as that.

When people make excuses for malignant narcissists, I don't buy them. This is because you cannot get a malignant narcissist to cut it out. You cannot reason with him. You cannot make him grow up. The harder you try, the more vehemently he flies in your face with his Infant/King (take your pick) act.

So, it is willful, even if in adult narcissists this behavior has become such a habit that they are doing it off-handedly without consciously trying to put you down.

Nonetheless, there is comfort for the victims in knowing that adult narcissists ARE programmed to do this. It isn't always calculated to devalue you. Remember that. It isn't you. They do the same thing to anyone in your position.

They just can't be grownups. That would end the Game of Pretend, and they'd rather die than check out of their fantasy.

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At 9:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sometimes wonder if a word more like personality disordered or just plain disordered would also work because what you're describing sounds very histrionic(the need for others to do all their business). Or might you suppose that histrionic was just a feminine version of narcissism? Or perhaps histrionics have others do their bidding out of a sense of helplessness rather than a sense of entitlement.

Cluster B disorders just seem to run together in a swirl of coping mechanisms that all come back to moments of childhood and unlearned lessons in life.

Perhaps this is all too academic but I'm curious if you've ever studied histrionic disorder and can compare notes to this narcissistic trait you're discussing.

At 9:18 AM, Blogger eclypz - owner - said...

And how much of this dependency is learned? "That's what a man is supposed to do for his wife. He is there to take care of her because she is his wife."

I dated one woman in particular who insisted that's just how it's supposed to work. A husband should be there for his wife and take care of her needs. Now you may say, well that's true, but there's a line to be drawn.

That's just it though. What line would we be talking about here? Everyone has a different level of dependence and independence and interdependence, no?

If in the mind of my partner her current crisis is more important than what I'm doing and I don't stop to help then who am I to say she is wrong for being upset that I didn't step in?

Ultimately it felt like she was looking for me to be a father to her, and yet she couldn't stand the idea of a patriarchal framework, so it had to be "The father she never had but who would succumb to her every tantrum (aka she could control)".

I couldn't live like that so I left. But I wrestled for a long time with the idea: Is it wrong for her to want someone to take care of all her needs any more than it is right for me to want her to grow up and realize two adults in a relationship don't act like this?

I loved her dearly but could never get past whether her narcissism stemmed from her lack of awareness of how relationships should be as opposed to a disordered person who was using the archaic relationship of the man as all provider of everything, to manipulate the outcome to suit her whims.

But at some point I got to the awareness that there is no right and wrong, just what makes us happy. She didn't make me happy and I would have never been able to keep her happy.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

"I sometimes wonder if a word more like personality disordered or just plain disordered would also work because what you're describing sounds very histrionic(the need for others to do all their business)."

I wonder the same thing. And for the same reasons.

Also, the more I learn about how the APA invents these 'diseases' and the profits for the drug companies and clinicians in that, the more I wonder.

Sam Vaknin has a piece with an opinion that all these disorders stem from narcissism and may just be various ways the disorder manifests itself. His argument made sense to me, though I have not spent much time looking into these other disorders myself.

Histrionic disorder isn't the only one that is practically indistinguishable from NPD. Just try to distinguish between psychopathy and NPD, or between borderine PD and the others.

In many particulars, it is just a different interpretation of the same behavior.

That's a farce: Interpret a set of behaviors one way and name it this disease; and then get another disease by just interpreting the same set of behaviors another way.

At 9:10 PM, Blogger eclypz - owner - said...

True, if we define narcissism as malignant self-absorption then all personality disorders share a root in narcissism.

Humans tend to want to categorize and define everything. It's how we makes sense of the world and when we define something we gain a certain sense of control, albeit an arguably illusory one. If you can't control it at least give it a name then we can file it away.

In the case of something like NPD versus BPD though I think you'll find an odd interplay between the two. Then again there are psychologists who believe many people with one type of disorder can also have other types.

I think a high functioning Borderline is almost indistinguishable from a Narcissist and I'd like to see some discussion on this.

Borderline - "I hate you, don't leave me!!!"

Narcissist - "Don't worry, you'll be back."


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