Friday, December 07, 2007

Examples of narcissistic behavior

Examples of narcissistic behavior best reveal what is going on in your relationship with a narcissist. I see them as having value in primarily two ways.

First, many people look up "narcissism" on the Web because they have heard something about it that makes them wonder if it explains the peculiar behavior of a certain person in their life. Examples can answer that question for them. Not always, but when an example resonates with their own experience, they see it objectively from the perspective of a disinterested party and view it fairly, lighting up and thinking, "Yeah! Yeah, this guy I know does the same weird thing to me and others every chance he gets!"

Examples are nice and safe, because we view them from a distance as something that a narcissist did to someone else. Then we can dare to see the stupid mind game being played, to see that it is narcissism-in-action and nothing any normal person would even think of doing. Hence an example is worth ten thousand words, because it dispells any doubt that the jerk you know is indeed a narcissist trying to put down others by playing the same stupid game – always a variation of the Teeter-Totter Game.

Examples help others in another way. They know for sure that they are dealing with a malignant narcissist but think they shouldn't be bothered by what the narcissist does. They automatically blame themselves for their feelings as though feelings are character flaws instead of simple, emotional sensations stimulated by the subliminal suggestion in the way you are being treated.

This is as though the narcissist is punching you once or twice a day, and your reaction is to think nothing except that there is something wrong with you feeling the pain. Crazy but true. This is the way the victim is trained to react.

Result? Your reaction to narcissistic abuse facilitates it! Your reaction is to do nothing but try to improve your character to get rid of this flaw (of sensitivity) in it by getting rid of that sensitivity, getting rid of those feelings.

First, you can't. You can only bury them in the subconscious to delude yourself and have those subconscious feelings manipulate you like a puppet master. And, second, I'm sorry, but that is narcissistic.

That's the way narcissists think: they think that feelings are weakness, beneath a grand being like them. They make sure they feel none. (The ONLY time they acknowledge and explore feelings is when devising some way to really hurt feelings = the empathy of the sadist, who achieves mental cruelty to others by imagining how various things he might do would make him feel if they were done to him.)

But when reading the examples of what a narcissist does to someone else, it is safe to empathise with the victim. In other words, by considering examples, you are safe from the slander of being regarded as a bad person for feeling anger and other feelings. So, pondering examples (instead of their own mistreatment) often helps the victim to see why the narcissist's put-downs bother him, why they make him feel the way they make him feel.

I know that, in my own experience, getting in touch with my feelings was the turning point. I started to explore my feelings, asking myself just exactly how this stuff was making me feel. I mean that I dug deep until I could put my finger on exactly HOW a thing made me feel. Did it make me feel violated in some way? Did it make me feel like two cents waiting for change? And so on. And then I zeroed in on why what the narc did made me feel that way.

Guess what? I discovered that all my feelings were perfectly natural and that I was just being normal and human for feeling that way. I also saw that the narcissist was deliberately working to make me feel that way.

Needless to say, that changed everything. I was no longer easy prey.

Examples can help you see your way to such a self examination of the depths of your soul. They can therefore help you out of the cycle of abuse. Some cherished myths may have to fall by the wayside, but if you have the moral courage to know what you know, you won't mind ditching the load.

I have given up on examples helping in a third way – helping the professionals who study and treat this disease to get a better handle on it. They think the victims have nothing to tell them.

But that is narcissistic too. Breathtakingly arrogant. As if credibility is a PhD. As if the book-learning of some diviner divining in a white paper for sale is superior evidence to the first-hand experience of one who can tell you what narcissists actually say and do behind closed doors.

I myself am constantly amazed at the common denominators that ring through in the examples commenters on this blog give. Rarely do you come across one that could be made up. To the contrary, almost always you know that nobody would make up such a story, that a made-up story would be different, that this is what a real narcissist has done to them. And it is always a stunning revelation of what must be going on in that narcissist's twisted mind.

Never the same as what would be going on in a normal person's mind.

Of course clinicians cannot interview the victims of the narcissists they are treating. But that doesn't mean that they, and researchers, shouldn't be gathering all the anecdotal evidence they can harvest from the victims of narcissists in general. Until they get down off that high horse and start listening to someone besides the pathological liar on their couch, they will continue to blow it with narcissists and psychopaths.

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At 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes Kathy, good to read this. It's so important I think also, these examples are told and taken very serious by professionals and everyone else.
There must be thousands and thousands of examples that are never told. And you know why.
The most important reason for me still, is; they donn't believe you. They think you must have done something bad yourself to cause certain reactions and blowing these up also to justify yourself.
It's so painfull and frustrating, you soon stop telling cause you soon feel it's working against you.
I understand this now; the stories are so over the top. No normal person can believe someone can act this way without a good reason, so this good reason must be you.
People need a reason and cann't understand with narcissists there is no reason, no bad thing you did.
And when you would tell them that a possible reason is that you were showing love and care, this will make no sence at all offcourse!
They'll think you are crazy and narcisstic yourself!
A second reason not to tell, is that it's painfull just to tell the stories. It's not easy to handle this pain, especialy in the beginning. And when you are not heard or believed it dubbels this pain then.
And a third reason in the earlier stages I know myself, is fear. Traumatic fear of your abuser. Fear of people, no trust anymore. Behind every nice face and sweet talker can be an abuser. You donn't trust your instincts anymore for a long time. They've been fooled so smartly..
And offcourse there comes shame. You feel it when people ridicul your stories and feelings. Your own shame later, for going this far down betraying yourself.
It's all reasons against the victims to be heard and the narcissists to get away with it.
This is reality still. And our sociëty and culture (included church-morality)is no help for victims either as you mentioned before. But it's almost perfect for narcissists.
It's important that this reality of narcissists and their victims becomes widely know.
They must be exposed in full daylight seen by as many people as possible.
A blog like yours should be 'must read' stuff to all psychiatrists and professionals who deal with this stuff.
With many examples to read. As many as possible, so they are overwhelming in their concistancy and cann't be denied or disbelieved anymore.
Keep up the good work and thank you again for it.

greetings, Gerard

At 2:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oke, to contribute I'll ad another example.
I have to say I grew up with a narcisstic mother and I believe this is the main reason I didn't reject these people later in life.
I even think in a way I was attracted to them and they to me.
I was 'used' to this behaviour. I didn't see the abnormality of it but sure felt the pain.
I guess many victims share this background. It started very early and only became worse.

An example.
When I was about 8 years of age, some afternoon I guess I did something naughty, cann't remember what.
What I clearly remember is my mother yelling at me; 'I wished you were never born!' and telling me that she was going to call people to take me away and bring me to an institution far away from home.
She took the phone and called.
I rememder I couldn't understand she did this. It had to be some kind of joke so I didn't take it this serious. But after the call she told me they were going to take me away at 10 in the morning the following day. I started worrying and asking her what was going on. She kept saying they were going to take me away.
Through the evening I kept asking her and she gave me the same anwser all the time. With this pain and fear she send me to bed.
You can imaging I didn't sleep much this night and was up much earlier than normal. I said nothing. I didn't dare and she looked around and at me showing no sign of any emotion or clue what was going to happen. At last I dared to ask and she just -with no expression at all- said;'At ten they are coming to get you' and kept on going as usely, ignoring me completely.
I started to panic and cry, every minute walking to the frontwindow looking if they were allready coming. At about 10 o'clock my panic was complete, begging her not to send me away. Ten o'clock passed, no car showed up, she said they were maybe late. I was in total dispair.
Then suddenly about 10.30 she said; 'let this be a lesson for you' and left me totaly devastated, confused and in pain on my own. Life went on as usual.
I never forgot and till this day never forgave her.
And never will, although she's gone now.

There is no excusse or justfication for this kind of behaviour to an 8 year old child. No reason also. And that makes it so narcisstic.
It was all about a sick sence of power and enjoying the fruit of it: seeing someone crumble under your spell, a child.
How sick can you get.

greetings, Gerard

At 3:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

if i may say gerard-with respect and sympathy for you- you are right:it was about a sense of power-an overblown sense of it.she knew exactly what she was doing to you-especially an 8 year old child. it was willful purposeful and very cruel. i personally dont think you should forgive that incident. i think it would be wrong for any of us to excuse what she did. it was horribly ornery. she could have made her point so much less drastically. even IF she was treated that badly when SHE was a child-it could explain it perhaps-but does not excuse it-and only means that THOSE people were WRONG too. what she did was bad. (it was terrible ornery cruel mean wrong and bad bad bad).thankyou so much for telling us. i care so much. thankyou. respectfully,jt

At 3:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

this has put me into thought. i guess my in-laws really did a number on their kids. i guess i always have been aware of wanting to help with the healing and to model a healthier way of living (for my H). sure he copied some stuff (alien actor...) but was damaged enough (abused and self inflicted thought processes-hmmm-)and maybe it was naive and maybe even arrogant of me (naaahhh) to think i could have enough effect to accomplish this. it LOOKED good for a while. but you know what ? the abuse (their abuse) got passed on. on to me (!!!!!) onto our children, onto my nieces and nephews. we all are aware of it. if we (all of us) recognize and ACKNOWLEDGE this abuse and resolve to purposefully not repeat it- only then maybe we can make a difference. a while back when my mom challenged me to make things better in the marriage i blurted "mom he was damaged before i ever got him. i cant fix that. i wasnt even there." its just too late. he's too far gone. the road back to kansas melted away. i tried to make new roads for him. he refuses to follow or even step on any of them. i cant make him. he is unhealthy and doesnt want to learn how to do any thing about it. even if its because he is not capable--he still is not willing. i didnt know how to do a lot either--but i tried to learn ! i KNOW it isnt easy !!! he is resolving to stay how he is. i dont want to be there.
the pain you (gerard) describe so well i have and am currently really experiencing. it does help to have people share their words. again-thankyou. jt

At 3:14 PM, Blogger Kathy said...


Common denominator: my father used to do something similar. He often said that if we didn't live up to expectations that he and Mom would give us away to the Indians. Or the Gypsies. But usually it was the Indians.

First, of course, that's bigoted. I think he knew but one Indian his whole life. Second, he told us our mother felt the same way. In other words, he undermined our confidence in our mother. (This is a patented tactic of child sex abusers.) She wasn't blameless, but she did have red lines, and I don't recall if she ever was present to hear him say this to us.

He had to be more careful than your mother, or he would have been booted out the door, so he had to say something like this to his 3, 4, and 5 year old children with a laugh. As though it was just a joke.

It ain't funny to a child that age. I still remember the scene of him saying this to us once. I still remember how it always made me feel. I know what it did to me inside.

There is no way to make children feel more insecure than by an assault on their sense of security like this. And at that early age, children need secuity as much as they need the air they breathe.

By the time you were 8, you were less likely to take such threats seriously, so your mother worked hard to make them seem genuine. She went way over the boundaries of human decency and sadism. I'm sure the only reason my father didn't is because he would have been dumped on the street without a mother and two little girls to vaunt himself on if he went too far.

At 3:26 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

PS, anyone who sympathizes with people who do that is out to lunch. I'd never be caught dead sympathizing with someone who does that to little children. Sympathy for malignant narcissists is inappropriate. Because what they do is done in pure malice. No excuse for that. No excuse EVER for sticking it to a child. Ever. In our guts we know this. We loathe this behavior. We know our gut instincts are right and that all the holier-than-thou preaching to feel sorry for the narcissist is off the wall.

When they treat children like this behind closed doors and then walk out on the street acting like a saint, that ain't disease - that's just plain diabolical.

At 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Gerard,
I felt so bad when I read what your "mother" did to you as a child. So cruel, so devastating. So similar to hurtful feelings I had as a child-victim -- the pain and then the confusion. Thank you for the way you expressed the experience. It helped me put what happened to me in a context, a sad but true fact of life. It helped me own that feeling in my own heart.

At 1:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

People, Kathy, realy thank you for your compassion. It means a lot to me. Years in this donn't matter.
Telling this and bringing up all the other things that happened is painfull. I was crying reading it back and reading your sweet reactions. Thank you.
I know now I did nothing wrong realy. I didn't molest my sister or killed the dog or something.
I never knew why I deserved this treatment. Never understood.
Went through live like someone who should be ashamed most of the time.
At last things became clear. Thank God! I've 'lost' people I had to lose.
It took me some very tuff years. But now it's much better.
I'm able to tell these stories like they where, with no fear, beareble pain and no doubt anymore about who was wrong.
Hold on everyone. Stick with the good guys.

greetings, Gerard

At 11:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

thankyou gerard. im almost crying. i think its relief. sorrow -and relief. thankyou. jt

At 5:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in somewhat of shock. First, finding this blog has been an eye-opening experience. Reading this blog and the comments by others here has been like a balm to the confusion I remember feeling most of my life about my own "narcississtic" mother and then the subsequent male companions I've allowed in my life to treat me the same way.

There is hope, my friends. Long ago, I put my mother and others like her in a compartment that made them specimens to observe, discuss and move away from. I have long felt that "nars" have no soul for how can they do the things they do to others and lack shame and/or empathy?

Thanks for what you are sharing here. I will continue to visit for I never seem to be far from having a "nar" around. I live for the day that I recognize the red flags I get when I first meet one and turn away sooner rather than later.

At 3:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to echo the comments of many others on the blog. It's really an eye-opener and a huge relief to find this blog. I'm recovering from a narcissist/co-narcissistic mother, that is, a mother who manipulated me to suit her martyr complex as if I were the narcissist. The other 50% of the time, she was viciously criticizing me and expressing her disappointment like a classic narcissist. Rather confusing really.

- V

At 3:17 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I started to laugh when I read the story about the child being told that they had never been born, and then I felt like crying. Do not take my laughter in the wrong way. It was laughter of shock, realization, and understanding. When I was younger, I had this occur. It was right before Christmas, and I was unloading the car with my parent one night. I don't even remember what we had been talking about, doing, or what I had done to provoke it, but my parent said, "I wish that you had never been born." To a ten year old who is very sensitive to begin with, I was devastated. It felt as if a knife had been shoved through my chest and into my heart. Who in the name of God who say this to their child?
My other favorite example is the old trick that would happen when my parent would get upset over something. "I am going to take .... pills, and I don't care what they do to me." My sister, being the more perceptive one, would laugh. I, on the other hand, have gullible tattooed across my forehead. I would wake up continually during the night, have nightmares and worry until dawn that I would wake up in the morning and find mommy dead. The next morning when I would see her cooking breakfast or whatever, I would feel this gushing relief that she was still alive and the tremendous shame and guilt I felt over whatever I had done(I usually didn't have a clue later on) would bring me to apologize and make things right again. As an adult, I tried to confront my parent with this story to help her understand that something wasn't right and that she needed to get help. Our conversation had started out very rational, and then turned into the Twilight Zone as I made her more and more upset. She looked at me point blank, without a single drop of doubt and stated, "Lots of people say that to their children." I was dumbfounded. The complete irrationality of this answer hit me like a freight train. I finally saw that she had no clue what I had been trying to tell her, why I was saying it, and that I was trying to help her. She had no idea. That is when I began to understand many things from my own past that didn't make sense wiht her, and that the worst thing was that all the things I had shared with her over the years, maybe half of it had been heard. The rest had gone in one ear and out the other.
That hurt the most, and it still does. She doesn't remember things that she did, and some of the most important things that I told her. I am so thankful that I had and still have my dad and stepmom as a counterbalancing force. The effect that a parent with this has on their children is devastating. I see behaviors that my sister and I learned growing up and that had to be unlearned. The hateful things that will she will do at times to draw a wedge between me and my sibling at times horrify me, and then at others I see this kind, generous, and wonderful person that I know is in there.
I keep thinking of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: the two are there, but they cannot coexist with one another. I never know when a past "offense" that I have committed will haunt me days, months or sometimes even years later. I get a request for an apology for something that I don't even remember doing. I get so mad at her sometimes that I am furious, but at the same time am trying to remember that she is my mother, and has a problem.
I also hate having nightmares still at times that she will kill someone else or herself in a car accident with her road rage, or some other event. I will rid myself of these feelings that I am not a good person at times, and having to keep constantly asking others for reassurance that I have not offended them, that I am a good person, or explaining everything in detail so that I am sure there won't be any misunderstandings. I did this so much as a child that it is ingrained, and it will stop eventually.
I have learned one sad fact: the best way for me to deal with her right now is to stay away. Only on a limited basis can I interact with her, or she otherwise drags me back into a huge play that she rewrites on a daily basis. I have also learned that this is a liberating fact. I think about her less and less, which means the constant worry that if I am not there to keep the world stable for mom that she will fall apart is going slowly away. She gave me that job as a child, but it is not mine. She has to be responsible for her own actions, self, and consequences.
I think that children of people with bipolar and narcissism have to be some of the best codependents in the world. I, at least, kept the world "calm" (if you can call it that) by watching every word I said, facial expressions, choices, and on and on to keep her on an even keel. It could be as simple as someone cutting her off in the Wal-Mart health and beauty aid aisle, or me saying something like "calm down" to set off a tirade.
That is no way for a child to live, no matter how many wonderful things the parent did. I was so thankful for the friends and family who opened my eyes to the control and manipulation that was being pervaded upon me, and am helping me to break finally free of it. I would love to have a healthy relationship with my mother, but am learning that it will never be the way that I wish it could be.

At 11:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi My name is Karen and I have been married for 32 years and in those 32 years I really thought I was loosing my mind. I dont like to consider myself a victim, but after finally going to a marriage consulor she advised me that all my feelings and actions are derived from living with someone who is narcissistic. So I have been going on all the web sites to read anything I can. I have been told im useless, retarded, stupid have gone through his two affairs and now im seeing the light. Why do I keep staying in this relationship? can someone answer that question.

Could use a friend.

At 4:22 PM, Blogger Kathy said...

Because you think you need it.

Think what you are getting out of it. Then ask yourself whether you need that.

The result will be sweeping foreign thoughts out of your head that someone else planted there and replacing them with your own.


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