Thursday, January 31, 2008

Punishing & Redeeming Narcissists

As I've pointed out before, therapy doesn't modify the behavior of psychopaths and other narcissists. In fact, the evidence indicates that it just makes them worse.

I find that quite understandable. Psychopaths and other narcissists are like people from another planet: they are operaing on alien premises, not normal human premises. (See "Narcissists Are from Pluto" in the book.) So, you can't use the same kind of therapy on them as you use on other mentally ill people. It should, and obviously does, backfire. What you see as (normal, human) reasons for them to behave, they see as reasons to misbehave. In fact, therapy actually greatly increases the recidivism rate among the imprisoned population of psychopaths.

This is why I think all patients should be screened for malignant narcissism and/or psychopathy before treating them. They need a different kind of therapy.

Dr. Robert Hare came up with a simple regimen of positive and negative reinforcement. Reward them for being good; punish them for being bad. Relentlessly, as you do with a child too young to reason or moralize with.

I don't know, of course, but it seems to me that this may work. Because I do know that the only rein on a narcissist's behavior is what he or she thinks they can get away with.

If you keep at this therapy long enough, you have prevented the N from doing anything he needs to project on and abuse anybody else for. Yes, malignant narcissism is essentially a vicious cycle of misbehavior. The only conceivable solution is to break that cycle.

If you watch a narcissist like a hawk and whack him every time he steps over the line, he WILL behave. Eventually then, he no longer needs a whipping boy. He no longer sees himself as a person who abuses others. Because he doesn't do that anymore and hasn't for a very long time. That's redemption.

It's like getting off drugs or alcohol. If you quit drinking today, that's nothing. But if you stay clean for a long time, eventually your self-concept changes. You are no longer a drunk. That's redemption.

Now you have a vested interest in staying clean to preserve this improved status in your own regard. And it becomes much easier to do so, because your dismal opinion of yourself was what tempted you to drink, and it is now gone.

Like Hester Prynne in "The Scalet Letter." One day she realizes that she should hold her head up because she is no longer a woman who commits adultery. Redemption.

What accomplished redemption? Punishment. Swift and sure. It's an object lesson that becomes a deterrent to future misbehavior.

Punishing narcissists is not being mean to them. It may be the only thing that can help. And, as for their victims, it is simple justice, the right thing to do for their sake too.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Banality of Sounding Smart

In The Banality of Evil, I referred to a post by Norman Geras that lays out the learned appraisal of the people who participated in the crimes against humanity of Holocaust. I agreed with him in disagreeing with this appraisal.

Let us try to get our minds around this teaching: the perpetrators did these abnormal things but were not abnormal; they did these sadistic things but were not sadistic; they did these brutal things but were not brutal; they murdered people by the thousands just for being the wrong kind but had no murderous nature; they did these fiendish and monstrous things but were not evil monsters.

Geras ended by saying essentially the same thing:

To participate in the mass murder and the torture of other human beings is, ethically, not normal but monstrous. What better definition of an abnormally cruel person than that he or she presided over or participated in abnormal cruelties?

We get basically the same line from many experts on narcissists. They do unconscionable things but have a conscience. They do cruel things brutally but are not cruel and brutal. They attack whenever there would be no witnesses but are not malicious.

In short, the learned interpretation flies in the face of the plainest facts.

Not long ago, I read about a British psychologist sounding off over a parent who had tortured and murdered his own children. According to him, all of society was to blame and British parents in general are no better than this person and blah, blah, blah on social ills and, before you know it, he has morally equated an unkind word to your child now and then with torturing and murdering your child.

People are so used to getting this stuff from psychologists that almost no one thought anything of it. They just swallowed this nonsense.

But I say that when you go that far to deny that some people are just plain bad - so far that you come full circle into making EVERYONE ELSE equally bad, you should be seeing a psychologist instead of practicing psychology.

Why do experts do this? Why do they always seem to come up with some explanation that defies the obvious? An anonymous comment on that post shed some light on this tactic:

Wanted to point everyone to Joan Acocella's piece on poet Kahlil Gibran of "The Prophet" fame in the 1/7 'NYer Mag.' Of his seminal work, the article notes: "At times, [the narrator's] vagueness is such that you can't figure out what he means. If you look closely, though, you will see that much of the time he is saying something specific; namely, that everything is everything else. Freedom is slavery; waking is dreaming; belief is doubt; joy is pain; death is life. So, whatever you're dong, you needn't worry, because you're also doing the opposite. Such paradoxes, which Gibran had used for years to keep [his female patroness] out of bed, now became his favorite literary device. They appeal not only by ther seeming correction of conventional wisdom but also by their hypnotic power, their negation of rational processes."

Right, just call everything whatever it most ain’t. That sounds so cool, you know, enabling you pass off blather as eloquence by just calling anything its opposite in abstract terms. People will then think you're insightful. They won't know what the hell you're talking about, but they'll be sure it's insightful ;-)

Here's a graphic example, via The London Telegraph: Shark pictures show amazing killing display.

What does an "expert" make of it?

Mr Fellows added: “When children see a shark eat a seal they feel sorry for the seal, but it’s like a lion catching a zebra - it’s a natural phenomenon. …It is just one of those moments that makes you appreciate a beautiful creation.

How does one make "a beautiful creation" out of a horrifying act of destruction? Getting thing EXACTLY BACKWARDS is no accident! (Unless that expert's brain is crammed into his skull upside down and backwards.)

Sympathy for the seal is a natural phenomenon too, you unnatural idiot. Why does your mind twist that sympathy into denying that the shark's act is natural?

And it isn't a "phenomenon." It's voluntary behavior on the part of that shark.

Those children are being human, and their humanity is showing in their humaneness. Why do you imply that only children feel that sympathy? thus implying that it is childish to feel that sympathy for the victim? Newsflash, normal adults naturally feel the same sympathy.

You are the one there is something wrong with. You have an empathy deficit, sir. You feel nothing for the victim.

But what should we expect from the expert who lures those sharks to the baby seals in order to get rich on these photographs?

These experts aren't killing baby seals, by TRAPPING them, for profit, are they?

No wonder the unfeeling brutes twist feeling sorry for the victim into some kind of sin against the shark.

And your idea of “beauty,” sir, is downright bizarre. You obviously can't tell the difference between beauty and horror or raw power.

In other words, it's always the same old banal trick of calling a thing whatever it most ain't. Watch for it. We get a load of it all the time from experts. The ones we can trust are the ones who don't do that.

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Monday, January 28, 2008

The Banality of Evil

Here is an interesting post that touches on a question we examine here - the nature of people who do atrocious things to others, people who otherwise pass for normal. It is one of several recent posts commemorating Holocaust Memorial Day, by Norman Geras, Professor in the Department of Government at the University of Manchester.

He comments on Hanna Arndt's popularization of the phrase "the banality of evil." In a civil way, he points out that the evil she was talking about (the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazi Adolph Eichmann) cannot possibly be described as "banal" (commonplace or trivial). He is certain she didn't even mean that, but rather meant that evildoers like Eichmann himself are banal.

Clear thinking to unconfuse sloppy thinking. Imagine the mental virus that has infected countless minds with the notion that even such horrific evil is merely (ho-hum) "banal."

Arendt's main thought was not in fact the banality of the evil, but rather the banality of the perpetrators of it. With reference to Eichmann, she spoke of the 'ludicrousness of the man'; she said that, like most others implicated in the crimes, he was 'neither perverted nor sadistic… [but] terribly and terrifyingly normal', and without 'any diabolical or demonic profundity'; what characterized him was 'sheer thoughtlessness' - or, as she put it in another piece ('Thinking and Moral Considerations: A Lecture', Social Research 38, 1971), 'extraordinary shallowness' and a 'quite authentic inability to think'.

Oh, so Eichmann's problem was just that he was stupid? Why am I not surprized to hear an "intellectual" say that? So, he was normal, commonplace, and stupid. Not perverted. Not sadistic. Just normal, commonplace, and stupid.

In other words, no different than the common masses = what the clerical are fond of calling "the laity" (low ones) or the "vulgar."

Geras doesn't buy it. You'll have to read this excellent post yourself, because I'll just comment on a few of the highlights.

He then shows how this idea has spread to become the learned consensus, citing other authorities who say the same thing, "that, by and large, the perpetrators of the Nazi genocide were 'normal' people, ordinary human beings... Not only were they not devils or monsters psychologically speaking; for the most part they were not even abnormally sadistic or inherently brutal, or killers 'by nature', and so forth," that they represented "an ordinary cross section of people, most of whom would have passed successfully through any standard set of psychological screening tests."

Let us try to get our minds around this teaching: the perpetrators did these abnormal things but were not abnormal; they did these sadistic things but were not sadistic; they did these brutal things but were not brutal; they murdered people by the thousands just for being the wrong kind but had no murderous nature; they did these fiendish and monstrous things but were not evil monsters.

Notice the same theme in what they say about malignant narcissists?

Then Geras sums up "the bad news we have to come to terms with" about people who do such things, in a quote of Elie Weisel:

Yes, it is possible to defile life and creation and feel no remorse. To tend one's garden and water one's flowers but two steps away from barbed wire... To go on vacation, be enthralled by the beauty of a landscape, make children laugh - and still fulfil regularly, day in and day out, the duties of [a] killer.

I made the same point just a few days ago in Do Narcisssists Have a Conscience?

Geras responds to this modern thesis:

[It] seems to me to understate the amount of sheer sadism and cruelty there in fact was in the implementation of that horror. Correspondingly, the accent put by both of those theses on social and administrative structures in easing the path of human conscience towards barbarity gives insufficient weight to - where it does not altogether deny - those human-natural impulses of cruelty, the actual enjoyment of the misfortunes of others, regularly unleashed when the usual restraining circumstances allow them to be.

Exactly. The devil comes out of some people when the usual restraints disappear. These people - the perpetrators of the Holocaust - didn't suddenly change. I have seen people pull this with my own two eyes. They didn't change; their true colors just suddenly showed. They always were chameleons. When the Devil came to town one day, he changed the rules (just like Hitler did) so that being good no longer paid and being bad did. They adapted, instantly, literally overnight as their angel-faced masks came off. How low did they go? They proved there is no bottom to how low they could go.

People like this are all around us. They look like the rest of us. But that doesn't make them normal, let alone people of goodwill.

I also have a wider theoretical misgiving about the emphasis on perpetrator normality: this is that it runs the risk of permitting the sociology and psychology which is involved in trying to understand what happened to displace the ethical perspective.

Then he shows how these authorities contradict themselves, claiming to attribute responsibility for their deeds to the perpetrators while, in effect, relieving them of it.

I believe that all the talk, in the relevant literature, of the normality of the perpetrators carries a danger of encouraging us to think: well, because of these psychological pressures, these social mechanisms or administrative structures, those patterns of internal rationalization and so on, what the perpetrators did is 'understandable'. But isn't there a sense in which, as Primo Levi wrote, one must refuse to understand? Or one must say: each and all of the factors - social, psychological or whatever - that tempted or pressured you, they are understandable; still, you made a choice or choices which you should not have made and which others did not make - you crossed the line.

Normality has an ethical meaning as well as social and psychological meanings. To participate in the mass murder and the torture of other human beings is, ethically, not normal but monstrous. What better definition of an abnormally cruel person than that he or she presided over or participated in abnormal cruelties?

Amen. Read the rest.

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Worry, Worry, Worry

Malignant narcissists deal with the dirty, rotten things they do by denying how inferior it makes them to people with integrity. They do this by manufacturing delusions of its opposite - superiority.

They do this because they are emotional children, and this is the way little children handle unwanted truth. To counter it, they just let fly a yell that says the opposite. And they think that by yelling the opposite louder and more often than the truth, they make their lie the truth.

So, a malignant narcissist's delusions of superiority are a childish way of compensating for their repressed sense of moral inferiority. The lower they stoop, the grander they pretend to be.

But of course, they have no real substance to support their delusions of superiority, so they cheat. That is, instead of showing us how they are superior, they just show us how everybody else is inferior.

This is, of course, the mentality of the rapist, who must tear others down off that pedestal to feel superior to them.

This is why narcissists malign you and treat you like dirt. It's an act, a way of PRETENDING that you are the evil one and you are dirt compared to them. All children love to play Pretend.

In denying you these things, they are denying you human treatment. And, of course, failing to treat others like human beings is dehumanizing them. Which is why You Are an Object in a narcissist's eyes and are treated like one.

But they also despise mere human beings, thinking they're gods.

Both these brands of inhumanity are inhumanity. Are inhuman.

Narcissists often whine that regarding them as acting in malice is mean and nasty and dehumanizes them. But that's a non sequitur.

Even more ridiculous is their assertion that they are human because they have hurtable feelings.

Well, I'm sorry, but they can't have it both ways. They can't be a god, beneath whose feet all human beings are dirt, and be human at the same time.

Carrying ridiculousness to the utmost extreme, the notion that they are human because they have hurtable feelings would be hilarious if it weren't so pathetic.

Being human isn't having feelings for ONESELF, duh!

A dog has something closer to humanity than that. So, what level are down to here? The level of birds, maybe? They have feelings for themselves. But, yes, even birds have feelings for others. They have feelings for their offspring and sometimes apparently for their mates. So, we are down to the level of a cold-blooded animal. Even cold-blooded animals have feelings for themselves!

Does that make them human?

Newsflash: Humanity is having humane feelings for all living souls and having human feelings for human beings. Another way of putting it: Humanity is relating humanely to animals and humanly to human beings.

Some folks choose to have it and some don't.

It is worrying that narcissists don't. Very worrying. Very, very worrying. Something for worry warts to worry themselves to distraction about. And to worry everyone else on the planet about (like a pack of wolves worrying its prey).

So, I think it's about time worrisome academia started worrying itself and everyone else about THAT instead of so much worrying about the truth hurting a brutal abuser's tender, tender feelings.

Again, I point out that thus enabling them by relieving them of THEIR responsibility does not help narcissists one bit. Academia is doing nothing to encourage them to rejoin the human race.

They think they're so smart while making this egregious error in logic: If hurting others makes you feel good, you like hurting others. If you like hurting others, you hurt them out of malice. Facing facts about the malice in the heart of a narcissist is just that, period. It doesn't hurt them. It doesn't persecute them. It doesn't mean that no one should try to help them. It isn't hating them. It's just being honest. Not clueless. Not born yesterday.

Like as we are about tigers - we know that they would love to eat us and don't pretend that they don't. It would be crazy to pretend that they don't.

Academia has a very, very worrying empathy deficit for these predators' victims.

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Friday, January 25, 2008

The Credibility of Authority

There are good clinicians and researchers out there, but academia is a dead weight hindering the progress of psychology.

They have political and social agendas: 'People are inherently good,' they say. 'Just give them a hug, a puppy dog, and a musical instrument and they're all going to be okay.' "

That isn't science. That's like a religious doctrine.

Therefore, no matter what, they just won't know the truth about psychopaths and other narcissists. And they won't let you know it, either.

The new clericalism of academia rivals that of the magisterium. Academics will try to tell you that, though you have lived with a narcissist for 20 years, observing his or her behavior every day, you know nothing about NPD.

That's absurd.

In fact, chances are that, if you have lived or worked with a malignant narcissist for a long time, you know more about NPD than many, if not most, of the so-called "authorities" do.

Why? Because your knowledge is based on facts, established by first-hand observation. Frequently repeated observations. A billion of them. But the so-called "authorities" have no respect for this kind of knowledge. Their inability to appropriately judge its value destroys their own credibility.

What's more, if you are a narcissist, chances are that you know more about NPD than most of the so-called "authorities" do. But they don't respect your knowledge of yourself, either. According to them, narcissists like Sam Vaknin know nothing about NPD? Give me a break. Insofar as he wishes to, Vaknin knows exactly what goes on in his head. And academia's failure to appreciate the true value of such knowledge again destroys its own credibility.

Of course, everyone's credibility must be assessed, but I'm beginning to wonder whether academia has any idea how to estimate credibility. They seem to think it equals the three little letters "P", "h" and "D." As though it is some power bestowed on one like a priestly mantle or surplice.

And where do they get all this superior information that makes them scoff at the experience of us lesser beings? From books. Book learning, almost all of which is pure thought, conjecture, not science. AND and from asking a handful of these pathological liars in treatment questions about themselves.

It ain't smart to pretend that they don't see what's wrong with that.

Since the 1980's they have been nailed for relying on the self-reports of psychopaths and other narcissists - pathological liars by definition - but they refuse to clean up their act.

Animal behaviorists and anthropologists have much more complete and reliable data to base their theories on than psychologists do. They study their subjects in the wild, but psychologists are too lazy to get out of the clinic. (See below.)

Plus, academia is notorious for slavery to groupthink, largely because academics are notoriously intolerant of free thinking. And so, for a long time the psychiatric "authorities" claimed with one voice that homosexuality is a mental illness. When the politically correct wind shifted, the weathervane minds all came about and decided that it is not a mental illness but that smoking cigarettes is.

That's credibility?

Is this credibility?

One issue in the diagnostic assessment bias literature is errors in applying the diagnostic criteria (Rabinowitz & Efron, 1997). In one demonstration of this bias, Morey and Ochoa (1989) asked 291 psychiatrists and psychologists to complete a symptom checklist for a client whom they had diagnosed with a personality disorder. When the checklists were later correlated with the DSM criteria, nearly three of four clinicians had made mistakes in applying the diagnostic criteria. Kappa coefficients of agreement between clinicians' checklists and the DSM criteria varied from 0.09 to .59, indicating a poor-to-modest level of agreement (Babbe, 1998). These results demonstrate the pervasiveness of errors in applying diagnostic criteria.

Errors in applying the DSM criteria were also reported by Davis, Blashfield, and McElroy (1993). They asked 42 psychologists and 17 psychiatrists to read and diagnose case reports containing different combinations of the DSM-III-R criteria for Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD; APA, 1987). They found that 94% of the clinicians made mistakes applying the diagnostic criteria, and nearly one out of four clinicians made a diagnosis of NPD even if fewer than half the DSM criteria were met.

Rubinson, Asnis, Harkavy, and Freidman (1988) found clinicians making more mistakes of omission than of commission in applying the DSM criteria. Researchers sent 113 questionnaires to a random sample of clinicians asking them what criteria they used to make a diagnosis of Major Depression. The 54 questionnaires returned indicated that clinicians' most often erred by failing to use all the diagnostic criteria in their diagnostic decision making.

— Jerry McLaughlin, "Reducing diagnostic bias," 01-07-02, Journal of Mental Health Counseling

In the 1970's a TV movie about a character with Multiple Personality Disorder was a big hit. Guess what happened? There was a dramatic increase in the diagnosis of MPD in the United States. Only in the United States. Is that credibility? Is any of this credibility?

As that article says, this is precisely why health insurance providers won't pay for mental health care, and I don't blame them. No court on the planet would force an insurance company to pay for that.

Confusing psychopathy with antisocial behavior is credibility?

Traditionally, affective and interpersonal traits such as egocentricity, deceit, shallow affect, manipulativeness, selfishness, and lack of empathy, guilt or remorse, have played a central role in the conceptualization and diagnosis of psychopathy (Cleckley; Hare 1993; in press); Widiger and Corbitt). In 1980 this tradition was broken with the publication of DSM-III. Psychopathy- renamed antisocial personality disorder- was now defined by persistent violations of social norms, including lying, stealing, truancy, inconsistent work behavior and traffic arrests.

Yeah, so Lee Harvey Oswald is just a narcissist until the day he assassinates President Kennedy: then he becomes a psychopath: psychopathy (a disease) = assassinating President Kennedy (an act). Absurd.

And, I'm sorry, but the average person knows the difference between your average street criminal and your sick-o, like the serial killer, rapist, child molester, or other psychopath. Why can't the so-called "authorities" tell the difference?

How can we take such "authorities" seriously?

Incredibly, not until 2004 was the first actual population survey conducted by one of the National Institutes of Health, giving us the first LEGITIMATE estimate of the prevalence of personality disorders in the United States.

That's credibility?

What kind of junk science estimates the prevalence of personality disorder in the GENERAL POPULATION without surveying the GENERAL POPULATION? These clowns just used the statistics they gathered from people who showed up in clinics for treatment. No wonder the 2004 survey showed that they were off by about 200%.

It doubled the DSM estimate of 6–9%, estimating that 15% of Americans meet the diagnostic criteria for at least one of seven personality disorders — not counting borderline, schizotypal, and narcissistic disorders.

Since Grant conducted the study among a randomly selected population-based sample, the prevalence rates from her study diverged from those presented in the DSM-IV-TR in some cases.

For instance, according to the DSM-IV-TR, dependent personality disorder is "among the most frequently reported personality disorders encountered in mental health clinics," the study report pointed out. However, Grant's study found it to be the least common in the population.

In addition, the DSM-IV-TR estimates that the prevalence of avoidant personality disorder in the general population is between 0.5 percent and 1 percent, yet Grant found it to be 2.36 percent.

Grant explained that prevalence estimates of various personality disorders in the DSM are based on relatively small, clinical studies of patients who are receiving mental health services on an inpatient or outpatient basis.

"You can run into problems if you rely solely on clinical samples," she said. "If you want to know the true prevalence of a certain disorder, you have to get out of the clinic."

Psychiatric News September 3, 2004
Volume 39 Number 17

Duh! Grant was putting it diplomatically. I won't: Real scientists would never have produced estimates from such shoddy "research" as that which her work corrected. Indeed, no college science major would dare hand in research based on such invalid statistics as that.

You find mediocrity everywhere, but it seems to me that this doesn't even measure up to that. Pyschopaths and other narcissists are predators who go through life hurting other people. It's time academia in this field stopped being so callous about that.

Not that they have no sympathy - but look where it all goes!!! Disgusting. Absolutely disgusting. And that doesn't help their patients any more than it helps their pateints' victims.

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Do narcissists have a conscience?

Believe it or not, I have been so buried in the Australian Open and my Pro Shop that I had trouble thinking of a topic for my next post here. But someone just gave me a good idea.

Do narcissists have a conscience?

Sam Vaknin:

No. Conscience is predicated on empathy. One puts oneself in other people's "shoes" and feels the way they do. Without empathy, there can be no love or conscience. Indeed, the narcissist has neither. To him, people are sillhuettes, penumbral projections on the walls of his inflated sense of self, figments of his fantasies. How can one regret anything if one is a solipsist (i.e., recognizes only his reality and no one else's)?

A caveat: as I've said before, what he says about narcissists generally rings true to me. (What he says about others though is a different matter. His perceptions of others are being filtered at a bias through the disease.) And here he's talking about narcissists.

Now, I could pick a nit, but I think I would have to be intentionally misunderstanding him as saying more than he means to say here.

That nit? Well, you must always be careful when you make blanket statements about narcissists (or anyone for that matter). In other words, an objection can be raised if you declare that narcissists have no...
  • empathy
  • conscience
  • shame
  • feelings
  • and so forth.
These things are not organs that can be cut out. They are mental processes that the human brain is wired for.

But ALL people have great power to exert voluntary control to suppress or repress (to unconscious levels) any of these mental states. In other words, ALL people can make themselves lose self-awareness so that, for all practical purposes, they have no conscience, no empathy, no feelings, and so on.

Doubt it? Remember the countless proofs of this throughout history, beginning with throwing Christians to the lions in ancient Rome and ending with hacking people to pieces in Rwanda. Was empathy or conscience in evidence among the perpetrators and bystanders?

No, they had it turned off like a light switch.

In all such mass evildoing, masses of people killed their consciences and had none. More correctly, we could say that they replaced it it with an an unconscience instead - one that makes people able to charge a starving Jew a diamond ring for a loaf of bread at the fence around the Warsaw Ghetto during the Holocaust.

Don't try to tell me that anyone with any conscience, empathy, or human feelings did that. And yet countless Poles went to Mass and Communion in the morning and then went out to the ghetto and did that. Without a twinge of conscience.

Yet this same person might feel very guilty a moment later for cursing over stubbing his toe.

Go figure. The way people mess with their minds is bizarre.

Clearly, these mental states of absence of conscience, empathy, shame and feelings are HABITS of MIND under conscious control. If you never use the wiring for them, those parts of the brain don't develop as much gray matter (connections). Which is why the brains of psychopaths actually look a bit different: they lack development in some areas like unused muscles do. And they show greater development in other areas.

That just shows what parts of the brain they're using the most, period.

Instead of using the emotional parts of the brain to process things that cause normal people to use them (and thus have an emotional response to something) they have a HABIT of using nonemotional parts of the brain to think about the matter. That's why narcissists and psychopaths are so cold-blooded and brutal.

In narcissists, this is the default mode. They are in it about everything all the time. Since early childhood. It's a habitual state of mind. They have chosen it.

They say they don't experience the full range of feelings other people seem to experience. But pardon me for not feeling sorry them, because this is no accident. It is no brain malfunction. It is the consequence of repressing their feelings all their lives, feelings which they view as "weakness" and despise.

Therefore, it takes some conscious effort for them to dig deep and get in touch with their buried feelings. I suppose it actually takes effort for them to empathize (when they want to put themselves in your shoes to see how various things would feel so they can hit you where it hurts most = be sadistic).

So, for all practical purposes, a narcissist has no conscience - except at rare and unwanted moments of self-awareness, when something happens to cause a sense of conscience to rise from its shallow grave and haunt the conscious centers of mind.

He will immediately repress it again though, immediately rebury that corpus delicti.

It's like his abysmal self-esteem: he keeps that buried too, under a delusion of its opposite.

Nonetheless, the twisted are so twisted that I don't blame anyone for making a blanket statement such as that narcissists have no conscience. For all practical purposes that is true. And quibbling that it is false on the technicality that a narcissist may, in spite of him- or her-self, experience the vague, phantom pain of a conscience for 5 seconds once or twice a year - THAT'S taking the deceitful position on the matter.

I don't blame anyone for saying that narcissists have no feelings (for anyone but themselves), no empathy, and no conscience without qualifying it every single time with that knotty caveat. You'd never get anything said about narcissism if you had to interrupt yourself at every point to explain how everything about a narcissist is a thoroughly twisted, compensatory complex. That's what they get for being so complex.

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Sunday, January 20, 2008


While surfing the Web I came across an ad you've probably seen by now - an ad for people looking "to have an affair." Call me old-fashioned, but I was a bit shocked at this ad looking for married people who want to cheat on their spouse.

I mean, it's one thing to do that, and it's another to be so shameless about it that you are anti-shameless!

What are such people trying to prove? That they are shameless, of course. Which is why they call the corresponding virtue modesty = being discreet about things you ought to hide or be ashamed of. That ain't just a virtue: like wearing clothes, it's common sense. It's best not to show off what you should keep hid.

It reminded me of something I discovered through various experiences (some bizarre) that may be useful to you.

It arises out of the following question: Since normal people play the same mental games narcissists do, unknowing what they know, deluding themselves, and reasoning backwards, how can you tell when you are dealing with a pathological personality?

I'll never forget the moment I realized the significant difference between people you should just shake your head at and those you should be wary of.

It was a little thing, a man I had known for years in my place of work, a man I had previously liked and considered a friend. But the moment resonated. I found myself stunned and gaping at him, as if seeing him for the first time, while that little voice in my head said, "He's shameless! Things have gotten so bad 'around here,' and he is so spineless that he's gone all the way to shameless!"

Reeking of false pity for "the old guy" he said he "didn't want to get into trouble," this viper said, "I don't want to sound, but ..." and then proceeded to BE what he claimed he didn't even wish to SEEM like.

But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was that his act stunk. It was so transparent that there was nothing to see through anymore. The guy was as naked as Adam and Eve but too shameless to put a fig leaf on it like they did.

That alarm proved to be well-founded. The man was capable of anything and had been a troublemaker who liked to come between others all along.

But what I first noticed was his shamelessness. Like the Emperor in His New Clothes, this guy just expected me to refrain from calling him on this bullshit. In other words, this guy didn't care that I saw him naked: he just got in my face with it to make me pretend I didn't. (On the twisted premise that a thing ain't wrong if you don't get caught and called on it.)

Note how similar this is to a narcissist's pathological lying, when they tell you something they know you know isn't true. They don't want to make you believe it - they just want to cram this lie down your throat = make you accept it in silence as though it's true (to avoid conflict).

At that moment I sensed that a crucial moral boundary had been passed and that the man was depraved. The future proved it. To my shock, he proved capable of things I'd never have believed of him.

Since then, this tenet to watch out for the bad sign of shamelessness has always proved true in my experience.

Give me the man or woman who, caught with their pants down, is ashamed. Beware the man or woman who, caught with their pants down, flashes you the moon.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Anatomy of Self-Delusion

People often act naive, as though intellectual dishonesty is rare. (An innocent act to portray themselves as never having dreamed of being intellectually dishonest themselves?) They get incredulous when you try to tell them that narcissists and psychopaths are insincere and just showing you whatever face draws from you the reaction they want. Similarly, people often snort at the idea that narcissists can delude themselves to such a bizarre degree as they do.

I have stumbled on a detailed, documented example of that very thing. (See below.)

By way of introduction, I want to say that we all experience the temptation to play this mentally dishonest game now and then, so we can tell exactly what is going on in this example. This self-deluded person goes through stunning mental gymnastics to make-believe known lies. It is therefore a valuable look into the mind of someone deluding himself.

He begins knowing the truth. In a matter of hours, he ends suggesting that "we just stick to that line" and say nothing more, because "we can make this thought the truth" just by repeating it one billion times to shout down the facts.

This is exactly what narcissists do, and it shouldn't be so hard to believe, because people who don't have NPD do it too.

And we all know that, don't we? If we are honest with ourselves, we know that.

In this closed group (of like-minded people in this forum), our self-deluder fearlessly thinks with lies. But would he have done this if he had known that hundreds of thousands of people all over the Web would now be reading what he said? (Hugely popular blogs have linked to it.)

Surely not! This is what I mean when I say that people playact on a stage, as though they ARE the charcater they portray and as though the fiction is real ... till the house lights come up and they see an audience of outsiders looking on. An audience of outsiders who have nothing to gain from deluding themselves.

Then suddenly your little actors look like people who just discovered they are naked.

Shakespeare showed this very well in Hamlet. At the end when Fortinbras and his troops arrive, the playactors suddenly check back into their senses and stop calling Hamlet the traitor. We saw the same thing when American forces came upon the Death Camps in WWII. Suddenly the people living around them dropped the "I-see-nothing, I-hear-nothing, I-know-nothing" act. Simply because the stench alone prevented any honest person from buying it, and innocent outsiders will naturally be honest.

This is why the bystandares are so impossible. So long as they are in agreement with the majority, to hell with the truth. Only outsiders arriving to see what they are doing can shame them back into reality.

IMPORTANT: The cause this man is deluding himself about is beside the point here. (I don't associate myself with the one political comment at the top.) It could be anything. In other words, instead of being a follower of Ron Paul, this self-deluder could just as well be deluding himself about any other idol (false image) - either another candidate, or a religion/cult, or a political party (often "believed in" like a religion or cult), or any cause celebre, or any old Hollywood movie star, or the neighborhood narcissist.

Once people are invested in ANY belief, their pride usually kills their honesty, and they become obdurately resistant to knowing an unwanted truth about it.

Why? I suppose because then they would have admit they were wrong before. And they'd rather die and go to hell than do that. So they just falsify reality instead.

This phenomenon isn't rare. For example, tune-in to C-SPAN's Washington Journal program, and almost every day you will hear a caller who has warped his or her perceptions to the point that they claim that our press is "right wing." Even accusing C-SPAN of extremist conservative bias. Yes, pinch yourself, but that's what they say on whatever planet these folks are living on.

So, self-delusion is common. People should quit acting naive about it. Anyone who has lived with a malignant narcissist knows that they live 100% of the time in fantasy of their creation. And they delude themselves the same way the guy in this example does.

So, for example, if any awareness of a narcissist's neediness should surface to consciousness on him or her, they immediately delude themselves into believing that their victim is the needy one. This is exactly how narcissists become Projection Machines: whatever they are in the very act of doing to you they also are accusing you of doing to them.

All it takes is mental gymnastics.

This is a great example of such mental gymnastics in a series of posts in a forum:

A Story Told in Pictures
of "How the Human Mind Adapts to Believing in Lies"

The posts are screen shots of those posts so that just deleting the original posts won't destroy the evidence. Because there are many screen shots of posts, the page takes a long time to load over a dial-up connection, so be patient. I think it is worth the wait to see the mental contortions this guy goes through to twist things and warp reality.

Note for foreign readers: The candidate referred to, Ron Paul, is a second-tier candidate seeking the Republican Party's nomination for president. He has very little in common with other Republican candidates, being what we often call a "libertarian" and an isolationist vehemently against the war. Polls show his support as less than 10%. The newsletters referred to have recently come to light and contain many things contrary to the image Paul projects. But I repeat, Ron Paul is beside the point here. The point is this step-by-step process people go through to delude themselves - not just about this issue, but about anything.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Comments on the last post

Comments on the last post got OT. The first was OK. But it drew a second that answered some accusations in the sidebar on linked-to pages. So, after publishing the first, it was only fair to publish the defense as well.

But then, of course, one leads to another and way OT into a hot-button geopolitical issue. To keep this blog on track, I therefore have disabled further comments on that post.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008


As you can see, I call the victim of abuse the "victim." And I don't blame the victim. Narcissistic abuse is predation. The target is not someone the narcissist has anything against. To the contrary, the targeted victim is always someone who deserves the EXACT OPPOSITE of abuse. There is no provocation. The trigger is simply the sight of a vulnerable target of opportunity. In short, this is malicious predation.

Therefore, as imperfect as the victim may be, the victim's faults and failings are irrelevant. The victim is 100% innocent, and the narcissist is 100% to blame.

That's why you call the victim a "victim," because he or she has been victimized.

I have shown how the old "martyr complex" has nothing to do with narcissistic abuse.

But let's balance the emphasis. You were a victim yesterday. If you are reading this blog you have probably faced that fact.

Do you like being a victim? Then stop being a victim. Not in every case, but in most cases, you can.

It's usually a step-by-step process. Maybe today you change the locks on your doors. Tomorrow you find a different job. And so on. Let not a day pass but what you do something to escape victimhood.

You are sad. You are angry. These feelings are not character flaws or sins. They are natural reactions that Nature has instilled us with to MOTIVATE us. So, don't repress these feelings. Let them motivate you. (Don't let these emotions do your thinking for you though.)

If you repress these feelings, that sadness and anger will turn inward to depression, a state in which you feel helpless and doomed to victimhood. Don't go there.

This is why it is so important not to let the holier-than-thou crowd beat you down into docile submission with their condemnation of everything you might do to protect yourself, fight back, get away, or take back what the narcissist stole. By doing so they are morally bludgeoning you down into a state of victimhood. Tell them to take a flying you-know-what at the you-know-what.

You cannot make your life better until you stop being a victim.

Only then will you be able to learn the lessons victimization teaches, so that you are never again easy prey.

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The Guilt of Narcissist Sympathizers

By making excuses for them, narcissist sympathisers leave narcissists no incentive to change. In other words, narcissist sympathisers enable narcissists. They actually serve as a temptation to narcissists.

By making it seem evil for the victim to FEEL anything or to do anything but bend over for the abuse, narcissist sympathisers re-victimize the victim, help the narcissist succeed with his or her travesty, and create the perfect world for the wicked to prosper.

Shame on them. May these angel-faces get the reputation they deserve.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What does facing the facts about narcissists teach us?

What does facing the facts about narcissists teach us?

It teaches us to quit trying, quit enabling, quit blaming ourselves, quit making excuses for them. They act out of malice that envies everything in others, even self respect.

It also teaches us not to let the holier-than-thous load a guilt trip on us for abandonning the nacissist or holding him or her accountable for damage done. It's just sanctimony. Which is phony.

Narcissist sympathizers are a huge part of the problem. As Sam Vaknin says, they are his "proxies." Blow them off. Misplaced love or sympathy or loyalty is vice, not a virtue. And it's also stupid.

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Narcissist Sympathsizer's IQ Test

I, for one, am sick of the insult to our intelligence in narcissist sympathizers trying to hand people the line that the poor, poor narcissist doesn't mean to hurt anyone, that they don't know what they are doing, that it just sort of happens, that they think they are behaving normally.

Your brain must be dead if you think that people who abuse ONLY ON THE SLY - behaving like angels when there are witnesses - don't know exactly what they're doing.

To the bullet-headed narcissist sympathizers, I say, "Try real, real hard to understand. Bend a brain cell or two. Repeat to yourself 100 times that "He abuses only in the dark. When other people are watching, he acts like he's full of loving kindness even toward the very one he abuses in the dark."

Maybe if you repeat that simple fact to yourself 100 times, it will sink in. Think. Think real, real hard what it means. Really work at lifting that mental weight. Come on, you can do it. If you try real, real hard you will understand what this simple fact means.

Circumcize your crusty brain, because the average ten-year-old knows that if you hide what you are doing, you know what you are doing and that it's wrong.

Especially when you go to great lengths putting on a phony show of being the exact opposite type of person.

Get a clue: that ain't mental illness; that's just diabolical.

What's more, even the average ten year-old is smart enough to know that if you can control yourself when there are witnesses, you can control yourself when there aren't.

Too complex? Read my lips: that ain't mental illness; that's just sneakiness to get away with wrongdoing.

Sorry, but if you narcissist sympathizers can't see that, no one can enlighten you.

What's more, narcissists are sadistic. The well-known narcissist Sam Vaknin himself often says this. And anyone abused by a narcissist knows it.

Sadism is proof positive of the intent to cause pain.

It is also proof positive of the ability to empathize when the narcissist or psychopath wants to. Unfortuanately, the only time they choose to empathize is when calculating what to do to cause maximum pain. You know - the empathy of professional torturer, used only to feel out what type of treatment will wound most deeply.

The courts know this all this too. Psychopaths (who are all narcissists) and other narcissists flunk with flying colors all the insanity tests. Which is why NPD and psychopathy are no defense and are considered character disorders, not personality disorders.

And the mental health establishment has no credibility on the question, since they call cigarette smoking a mental illness and called homosexuality a mental illness till the day the politically correct wind shifted. How can anyone respect the judgement of a herd like that?

While I won't argue that NPD isn't a mental illness, I see that, if it is, it is far more likely the fruit of thoroughly depraved character, not the cause.

If you must twist your brain into a bowlful of tangled spaghetti to "rationalize" irrational and predatory behavior, you are going to end up with a damaged mind. But it's an EFFECT, not a cause, of vicious behavior.

But, go ahead, narcissist sympathizers. Insult your own intelligence all you want: it's a free country. Just don't expect anything but what you have coming for insulting mine or anyone else's.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

Light posting for a few days

Last week I had a psychedelic computer monitor that needed replacing. (You'd be surprized how odd things look when there is no green.) I no sooner got it replaced when I got slammed by a nasty respiratory virus. You'll probably notice that posting is light, and that's just because I'm a bit under the weather. Nonetheless I should keep up with publishing your comments every few hours.

The dog always barks at the sounds made by Microsoft Office. He hates it. But after a minute or so, I'm wondering why he hasn't gotten over me opening that program yet - then I hear it. Thunder. It's thundering and lightning out there. In January. In Wisconsin. Yeah! No wonder the furnace is hardly running.

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Saturday, January 05, 2008

Narcissist Sympathizers

This post is inspired by this comment, which ends thus:

...I'm thinking in particular of one couple, my "best fried" of 20 years and her husband, who chose to remain friends with my narcissistic ex and to lie to me about it even after being told about the abuse and even after telling me that they believed everything I said about the abuse that occurred.

My "friend" gave a long speech about how she and her husband accept all of their friends, regardless of their flaws, and chose to be there for my ex because when a friend asks for their help, they provide it. I can't begin to convey the holier-than-thou tone that permeated that speech, but it struck me that the line between holier-than-thou and grandiose, if there is a line at all, is very, very slim.

I hear you. I note how this slick-talking "friend" transubstantiates deeds into mere "flaws." And I ask these "friends," Since when is it good to be friendly with bad people? Since when is winking at their wrongdoing a virtue?

Perhaps someone can quote chapter and verse in the comments, because holier-than-thous really deserve to have their religion's true teachings show what frauds their twisting of religious doctrine makes them. In the New Testament, in Revelations, I believe, in one of the letters to the churches, some holier-than-thou Christians are read the riot act for that very same pretense.

The author unloads both barrels at them with this truth: "Good people are not lukewarm toward evil" it says.

Cowards are.

Loving good is hating evil. And vice versa. Love is an attraction; hate a repulsion. But that is too simple for complex people to understand.

Now I am not saying that we must reject everyone not perfect, for then we would reject everyone, including ourselves. But decent people need no instruction. There is a point at which behavior becomes predatory and malicious - a point at which one is morally obligated to separate themselves from that person.

You thus take away a bad actor's safety in numbers. You show disapproval. You discourage others from behaving the same way. You comfort the victim by showing him or her that the pain caused them by the bad guy matters to you.

Is any of that evil?

It's just a way of discouraging the harm the bad guy is doing others by showing that you want nothing to do with someone who hurts others like that.

Where is the sin in that, pray tell? Sounds like fine, upstanding conduct to me.

Jesus of Nazareth spoke of this when he said that "indecent conduct" is a special case and justification for divorce even. At the time, the terms "indecent" or "lewd" conduct simply meant "lowdown" or "despicable" conduct of any sort.

And that statement of his, qualifying his disapproval of divorce, is just common sense.

Why? Let's say you are married to a Mafia boss. Is it right for you live in his big fancy house, being waited on by his hired staff? Is it right for you to PROFIT from the crimes he commits and ther damage he does to people?

To the contrary: it is immoral for you not to divorce him when you find out what he is.

The same people who make a virtue of "accepting" abusive narcissists, relentlessly persecute anyone for any hint of racism or sexism. THAT they won't tolerate. They wouldn't DREAM of tolerating anything politically incorrect like that.

But though they know and believe that the narcissist has brutally abused you, they see no reason to show any disapproval of that.

Hmmm. Whom do they think they're fooling?

They make nothing of that narcissist's abuse of you. They countenance it.

If instead they rejected the narcissist, they would be doing the one small thing they could to get on the right side, the victim's side.

But they abandon the victim and smile in the abuser's face.

Not so holy as they pretend.

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

The Obtuseness of Narcissist Sympathizers

On the obtuseness of many therapists (but not all) and of your typical holier-than-thou narcissist sympathizer who puts the victim under a fault-finding microscope and somehow has just nothing to say about the narcissist's offense:

Please let the facts sink in. Going around your whole life telling people that your mother, father, brother, sister, wife, husband, or co-worker is crazy (among other things) isn't nothing. Why are you unable to appreciate how despicable and damaging that is?

Why do you make nothing of it? See no damage done? See no claim for reparations?

What is the matter with you?

I think I know how to enable you to understand. Give me the contact information for all your family members and associates, and I will go around for just one week telling them that you are crazy (among other things).

Will that help you get it?

Your lack of empathy rivals the narcissist's.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Narcissistic Grandiosity

The label of "narcissist" often gets thrown around out of envy. So, it's important to clarify what grandiosity is.

I borrow the excellent example Joanna Ashumun uses: Back in his younger days (when his name was Cassius Clay), Muhammed Ali said, "I am the greatest. I am the prettiest." That wasn't grandiosity, because he was the greatest and the prettiest. By far.

But if Sonny Liston or any other boxer had said those things, it would have been grandiosity.

(Note, Mohamed Ali was obviously and hilariously spoofing grandiosity with that act.)

Therefore, if someone says, "I am the boss and you will do as I say," and he IS the boss, that isn't grandiosity.

Grandiosity is a lie and nine times out of ten an ironic one.

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The Angel Face of Cunning and Deceit

Don't misss this comment by Sonicido for an excellent example of how cunning and deceitful narcissists are.

Nothing is as it appears to be with narcissists. They have been acting out frauds for so long that they are experts at it.

As time goes on, you discover that more and more of what you believed about events and situations in the past was all staged.

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Nipping Narcissism in the Bud

My last post shows why I think it's so important not to be obtuse to the NATURE of the things narcissists do to people (and any living thing at their mercy).

It's unnatural. If you think about it, you can see that it's worse than what many street criminals do. For, many street criminals don't do what they do just to hurt others. What they do is wrong and unjustified but not unnatural.

For example, take someone down and out who robs a liquor store for cash. He is very nervous. The owner makes a sudden move that makes him think he is going for an alarm or a gun. He kills the owner.

Wrong. But he didn't kill the owner just to kill the owner. He didn't leave him to slowly bleed to death, either. He didn't rob the liquor store just to trash the place. He did what he did for reasons that we can understand.

He didn't rob his best friend's liquor store, either, just because that friend was "stupid" enough to trust him.

Dante, for example, was in line with the theologians of his day, when he put the souls of the twisted in the lowest pit of Hell, because their acts were both cruel and treacherous, betraying sacred trusts, the trust of people with every good reason to trust them.

Such are unconscionable acts. In other words, conscience cannot accommodate them.

Therefore, I think it is crucial to reach a budding narcissist at an early age. before they pass that point of no turning back.

I have seen cases of parents who make light of their child torturing an animal or bullying another child at school or flying at a brother or sister with windmilling fists. That parent just did not want to know that something was seriously amiss with that child. Instead of dealing with the problem appropriately, they just "had a talk with" him or her.

They said, "S/he is just a kid," as if the age of the doer determines the blackness of the deed. It doesn't.

They said, "All kids do stuff like that." Wrong. Most kids don't do stuff like that.

When children are not yet ready to deal with their actions on a moral level, you must let simple punishment do the "talking." It deters. It keeps them from crossing the line before they are mature enough to morally regulate their behavior.

I think it can nip a budding narcissist in the bud and give him or her a chance to grow up into a normal, mentally healthy adult.

That is no guarantee, of course, but I sure like that kid's chances better this way. Don't you?

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

No Turning Back

You keep trying to get through to your narcissist. You just can't accept it that you can't reach them. Stubbornly, you keep trying.

That's partly because you don't know half of what they've done to you behind your back.

When you finally give up, your only regret is that you feel like an utter fool for having fled into denial where you kept trying for so long. You see that you should have known they are a hopeless case.

This is because a narcissist's past has a hold on them, a hold much stronger than you can ever get. To understand, just put yourself in their shoes.

Imagine that you're a malignant narcissist. You have gone around telling people terrible lies about others, even about the members of your own immediate family. You say your sister or brother is violent and has often beaten you. You say that he or she pushes drugs or embezzles or whatever.

Then this family member, trying to reach you while you are in deep depression, somehow gets you in for counseling. You think you want to change. To turn your life around. Wouldn't it be wonderful! Your family loves you and that love is a very powerful pull on you.

But what's the next thing you think?

You think what will happen when people you've told those lies to see you with this brother or sister, getting alone just fine.

How are you going to explain that? Here is someone you say tried to kill you, and you're on friendly terms with him or her? Here is someone that sleazy, and you socialize with him or her?

What will people think?

What are you going to say when people ask you if that brother or sister is still beating you? Or if they ask you whether he or she is still pushing drugs? Or if they ask you how he or she has managed to stay out of jail?

What are you going to do? Are you going to stay clean and admit that it was all a lie? Can you even BE clean without repairing the damage you did to that family member's good name?

You're going to continue living the old lie, aren't you? In other words, you're not going to change. Theoretically you could. But you can't. Not really. There are things people can do that you just do not repent.

Like Macbeth, you pass a point beyond which there is no turning back.

Even the secret things that no one else will ever know stand as a demon at the escape hatch. For, to change, you'd have to know what you did and see these despicable deeds for what they are. You'd have to stop repressing awareness of them. Because you can't change if you disown what you are changing FROM.

That is, you'd have to see YOURSELF when you look in a mirror. Could you? And know how cruelly you had exploited and treated others all your life? Know that you had tortured that innocent animal just for kicks? Know that you had eviscerated that young man who made the mistake of loving you? Know that you had abused and psychologically injured your own children by denying them love? Know that you had destroyed someone's career and ruined their life or perhaps even driven them to suicide that way?

People who did NOTHING to you! People who trusted you! People who loved you! You did things like this to FRIENDS!

The spirit in which such things are done is unmistakable. These are the kinds of things malignant narcissists do = not the normal bad things normal people do.

If you had done such things would you ever be able to fess up? I don't think so. You're not going to do that, are you? You're going to stay nice and safe there beyond the Looking Glass.

This is why the prognosis for NPD is so poor. Narcissists have become what they are to cope with what they have done. It's adaptive. It keeps them from killing themselves.

But don't take my word for it, or anyone's. Keep trying to get through to your narcissist. Just do face facts. But keep trying till you give up.

It is much better to feel like a fool who banged their head against a brick wall than to know you gave up while you had one bit of hope.

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