Friday, April 04, 2008

More on Whether Narcissists Are Happy

Continuing with this discussion about whether narcissists are happy and when their happiness leaves them.

For example, I know a narcissist who turned viciously on her sister and parents within weeks of moving away to college. She tried to get herself adopted by the wealthy people who owned a college bar and restaurant she worked at. She told the cadre of students who belonged to that place outrageous lies about her sister and parents. Lies to make them all feel sorry for her as abused by her family – when of course, she was the abuser.

She was undone by a twist of fate. Her sister transferred to the same university, and her father became ill and landed in the hospital there so that her mother came to live with her sister during that time. These sympathetic friends of the narcissist got to know the mother and sister, because they too often came to the restaurant to eat. Of course, they didn't fit the narcissist's description of Phem.

In an addition, an older cousin, who had come to visit their father and had always smelled a rat in this girl, noticed the odd manner in which these students were relating to the mother and sister, putting two and two together to realize that they had been told some of the narcissist's patented vicious lies about her family. So, he boldly clued them in about the narcissist.

That shock, plus the attempt to get herself declared legally independent of her parents so that she could get herself adopted by rich people, plus the fact that they saw her cruelly using and abusing a suffering Vietnam veteran who loved her, outraged the parasite's new hosts. They compared notes and drove her from their midst.

How outraged were they? So outraged that apparently one of them (upon having too much to drink at a party), in front of everyone, threatened her with violence if she ever showed her face in their midst again.

Normal people don't make normal people THAT mad.

What's more, by my count, this was that narcissist's third such upheaval in life already, at the ripe old age of 19! That is, three times the people around her rose up in mysterious collective hatred of her and drove her from her midst. One such group was her 8th grade class and the other was the other employees she worked summers with in her home town's Recreation Department.

She was so hated by her class that she could not pass between classes in the hall with her classmates, because they would all shoulder her, knocking her into the lockers. Now this sort of thing had never been heard of in that school, and fighting of any sort was very rare there. So, you get an idea of how revolting her classmates found her. Similarly, she scored off the bottom of the Richter Scale in a peer evaluation of the Recreation Department, much lower than any other employee had ever scored.

So, narcissists don't always succeed. Sometimes they are exposed for what they are.

But notice the situations in which exposure occurred. Her fellow employees had an opportunity to tell the truth about her in a peer evaluation form. Getting 100% zeros from them all shocked the director and the manager, who had no idea that everyone hated her. In the case of the 8th grade class, these were kids, unburdened by any fear of being morally condemned for comparing notes and complaining to each other about what she had done to them. In other words, in this environment, the victim didn't feel compelled to cover up the narcissist's crime for her by remaining silent about it. The same was true in the college crowd. Nobody was making sinners out of the victims for telling others what she was doing to people behind their backs.

Perhaps we should take the lesson these young people teach: Don't just pretend it didn't happen; that is rolling over and dying: get justice instead. (Don't treat God or karma as your servant, expecting the Lord of the Universe to avenge you. Lift a finger for yourself.) Expose the narcissist for what he or she is. It's your only defense, because it destroys the narcissist's credibility, thus restoring your good name by discrediting the narcissist's lies about you.

It also spares others pain by warning them about the narcissist.

Back to the story.

Here she was in college, having rejected her family and having been rejected by all her college friends. Absolutely alone. She got a puppy to wag its tail at her, but that apparantly doesn't satisfy a narcissist's need for flattering mirrors.

Years later, she told me that during this "desert" period of her life she had contemplated suicide.

I knew but bits and pieces of the story then, nothing that would justify such a drastic reaction to living alone, so I asked why. All she would say was that she wanted to kill herself "Because all I did was use people."

Over the years I gradually discovered and pieced together the whole story. My understanding is that when she was abandoned and alone, with no mirrors reflecting her flattering false image of herself, her delusions could not be maintained by these mirages. In fact, the last thing she saw in those mirrors was abhorrence of her - a reflection of her true self.

Not what a narcissist wants to see in her mirrors.

Alone with her true self, the fictional character broke down. Hence she lost the mirage in the mirror that covered the likeness of her true self = a despicable person cut off from the human race who just uses others.

What did she do? She suckered her family into taking her back! (They didn't know what she had done to them behind their backs, and she told them that her depraved college friends had hooked her on drugs and tried to drag her away from her family into the cesspool of their immorality.)

Presto-chango, embraced by her hoodwinked family, she got happy again. In fact, she says that thus "coming home" is the only thing that kept her from killing herself.

And so far she has lived happily ever after.

All she needed was mirrors to reflect a falsified image of herself that she can pretend is real, one that keeps her from seeing her true self.

This scenario sheds light on why narcissists often report going through periods when they contemplate suicide but very rarely ever kill themselves: instead they simply find people to fool. Problem solved.

This scenario is also consistent with what a narcissist like Sam Vaknin says, and it squares with my other observations about narcissists. So, I have a good deal of confidence in this explanation. Of course, whether you accept it or not, is up to you.

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At 12:00 PM, Blogger Katherine Gunn said...

Yeah. This squares with my own experience with my mother. Her sister and I (and her brother, when he'll even talk about) have begun comparing notes and discovered the lies that she has told about us all. Not huge unbelievable lies - subtle lies designed to create an image of someone that is false - with the only purpose that we can fathom - to keep us from trusting each other and talking and doing what we are doing now - learning the truth. I have not seen her for nearly 2 months (that is a big deal - she used to some twice a week. like clockwork) and I find I am still trying to evaluate her based on how a normal person would react - concerned that I am hurting her. I have been assured by her sister that she is probably only concerned about me in that I am an irritation by not behaving the way she wants. A friend made another point. Even if this is hurting her, so what? We need to distance ourselves from those who abuse us - no matter what they choose to do with it or how that affects them.

At 3:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow - great story. Too bad society doesn't react to narcissists the same way the student body did.

I'm sure that young narcissist only contemplated suicide because she figured the jig was up and she would no longer be able to get away with murder. Having a family full of suckers willing to take her back made her feel better because its showed her the possiblities of a a whole world full of suckers - something to live for.

I've seen a few narcissists get their comeuppance and I must say, they are resilient as cockroaches. They can spin a town stoning in their favour.

I definately enjoy exacting revenge on narcissists but sometimes it seems like an exercise in futility. They don't experience shame so what's the point. Even if they lost everything and were forced to live on the streets, they would screw over the other street people and crawl their way up the food chain. As long as there are people to feed on they will survive.

The only true justice is to toss them all in solitary.

At 9:47 AM, Anonymous dick said...

Perhaps we should take the lesson these young people teach: Don't just pretend it didn't happen; that is rolling over and dying: get justice instead. (Don't treat God or karma as your servant, expecting the Lord of the Universe to avenge you. Lift a finger for yourself.) Expose the narcissist for what he or she is. It's your only defense, because it destroys the narcissist's credibility, thus restoring your good name by discrediting the narcissist's lies about you.

Well, continuing with the Shakespearean motif of WMNT, "aye, there's the rub. . ."

What to do next? Although the introduction of WMNT does make the disclaimer that "you can get that from other books", from my perspective a good place to start is Chapter 11, "Distortion Campaigns: Lies Rumors and False Accusations" in the classic Stop Walking on Egg Shells (WOES) by Randi Kreger and Paul Mason.

Now, this book does deal with the twisted cousin once-removed, the equally dangerous Borderline (BPD). But the advice from my experience cuts both ways. Perhaps given that both the NPD and the BPD fall within the Cluster B psycho matrix in the DSM-IV.

Randi's advice drives home the fact that as soon as you do go on the offense, the psychotic is likely going to move to "twist" the facts along the lines of (Shakespeare again) "the lady doth protest to much!" For, why would one be moved to such public and legal displays of "proving their innocence" if one wasn't really guilty to begin with!

Fortunately, there are ways to do this in the public arena which square not only with your legal rights in the defense of defamation, but also with that which WMNT drives home constantly -- the natural human predilection to believe the worst about somebody, even somebody you intimately know! As for myself, I do not know how many times I have started a conversation with (now, largely, ex-)friends with Randi's classic line from WOES:

"I would like to talk with you for a few moments about some of my ex-wife's comments. I understand that they are cause for your moral outrage against me. They should be the cause for even more -- if they were, in fact, true."

This chapter ends with a warning: It will take virtually every penny of your resources to defend against these character assassination campaigns. That much, I can also attest to.

Remember that when you begin your civil action for invasion of privacy (public disclosure, false light) and/or defamation, the public announcement section of your local paper offers a ready-made and quite inexpensive outlet. Perhaps you have used it already when you got married? Use it again: announce your civil action along with the facts and circumstances of why you are suing the bitch. Consider the bracketed-off, highlighted, and graphically-enhanced announcement in your local paper for "ten dollars more" -- you'd be surprised how many people read these things!

Some folks might even call you up to ask what is going on. Usually it's just out of plain nosiness and gossip but utilize the opportunity: Give them an earfull! At the very least, they will be so confused after listening to you after the NPD's bullshit, they won't know who to believe anymore!

In short, utilize the NPD's own tactics against her: truly, a good offense is not only the best defense, but also, with these psychotics, it's the ONLY defense.

And, as for those who somehow believe that the "warning" of the Speech 101 narcissist is not the dead-on, absolute truth in life, permit me -- since our author is a practitioner of yoga -- to quote from a text written 2,500 years before the Jesus Christ mythology began:

"Men will ever speak of thine ignominy. To the man of repute, dishonor is veritably worse than death."

Bhagavad-Gita, II-34.

At 7:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This story mirrors my friend's daughter who went to a University and a month later decided she would move in with a 27 year old - she was told no by her parents so she told her grandparents she had been abused by her stepfather and by her mother and the house was not safe to go back to. Grandmama who is a Narcissist Extraordinaire enlisted the help of Uncle Lucky Bucks who paid the kids tuition and the parents became rotten abusers - despite the fact there was no proof - then we pull the bio father into the picture who didn't participate for 18 years (and who also beaucoups bucks) and the scenario was complete - and now the little flower has not only gotten a bachelors degree outta these people but a masters as well and a condo, breast implants and 2 SUV's - when one cut off the money supply she is now busily stalking her aunt....the parents after consulting an attorney, minister and anybody else and after 9 years - have given up and thank God every day this girl is nowhere near their son!

At 7:46 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a friend who I discovered is a full blown narcissist. It wasn't until I stumbled upon Joanna Ashmun's website where she discusses the traits of a narcissist that I figured it out.

I was engaged and my friend was in my wedding party, out of the blue, he announced that he was moving across the country as he had been offered a job and he wouldn't be able to attend my wedding. (I later discovered that the company didn't exist.)

My narcissist called me while I was on on vacation to say that he had run into my next door neighbor, and my neighbor had told him that a large section of our roof had blown off in a rain storm. We cut our trip short, rushed home, only to find that our roof was perfectly fine. I phoned him to say as much, and he said "I think Bob was trying to ruin your vacation." It made absolutely no sense, on one hand Bob is a nice guy and had been a good neighbor, and on the other why would my friend just make up a story like that?

I went back to school and was finishing up a degree, when he offered me a job where he worked as an assistant to the senior graphics editor-his assistant. Because he was constantly swamped at work, my friend's boss had cleared enough money in the company's budget to hire me. When it was time for me to go to HR to fill out the paperwork-you guessed it, there was no longer enough money in the budget. It was a faux job. I later discovered that my friend wasn't a senior graphics editor, was in no position to have an assistant, and actually held a much lower position in the company than he let on.

The final straw was when I was pregnant, he told me that he had signed up to participate in medical testing at our local university. The testing could be fatal, but he was doing it because he wanted to help people. I smelled a rat, called the university to confirm my suspicions that he was lying-no such test existed.

I put two and two together and realized that every time something good was happening in my life, he made up lies and false scenarios as a way of putting a damper on my bliss. A few phone calls and some detective work on the internet, unraveled a lot more of his lies. I thought to myself, how could I be so stupid? But now that I look back on it, when a friend says that they have cancer, you don't need to see medical reports because you're supposed to trust your friends. And generally, people don't normally lie about that kind of thing. But narcissists do because they have no moral compass, they lie so much about so many things, they contradict themselves because they can't remember everything they've lied about.

In the end, I just walked away. I stopped taking his phone calls, threw his letters in the trash, and deleted his emails. I should have exposed him for what he was- a backstabbing lying monster, but at the time I felt that it was better for me to just move on and not to waste any more time or energy on him.

At 10:01 AM, Blogger Kathy said...

The example you give is a good example of a case where you may decide that exposing the narcissist isn't worth the trouble.

True, exposing the N would warn other people about him, but your first duty is to yourself, and exposing a narcissist is a thankless job that often brings you nothing but grief as the N comes out smelling like a rose.

If others don't see that you have suffered material damage from the N, they may well wonder about YOUR motive.

Ns are practiced liars, glib, slick-talkers, expert at manipulating people. It only makes sense to ask yourself whether exposing the N is worth the trouble.

What I don't understand is people who have been materially damaged by an N. People who have had their life savings stolen, their career stolen to in effect steal the price of their college education. People who have been horribly calumniated and made a social outcast. I don't understand it when such people pretend that it was nothing and pretend that they can blow it off. They act like Maude, saying "God will get you for that!" and then just go to bed, refusing to lift a finger to help and defend themselves.

In this case, even when you have no power to obtain justice now, I think you should wait like Hamlet for the opportunity and then seize it the moment it arrives. Justice is not an evil thing. Correction: in Hell justice is viewed as an evil thing.

Everywhere else, justice is the greatest good.

But we all run into many narcissists on this journey of life, and it just isn't worth the trouble to fight every one. Reason and common sense should decide, not the immature platitudes and slogans of prime-time morality.

At 12:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For the few friends he had left at the time, I felt like it would be my word against his, and because he came off as a nice guy. In the time that I had known him, he would hook up with people, friends or dates, and something would happen and soon they would no longer be friends. He would make up a story about how they did something terrible to him, or that they were gossipers, etc, to get sympathy. One of the friendships dissolved when he was accused of making a pass at his friend's date. He insisted that it was a horrible lie, that he could never even think of doing such a thing. Now looking back, it probably was true.

But getting back to my point, the only people that he has managed to remain friends with, are a few people that live out of state. They have no daily contact with him, and are completely unaware of what he is capable of.

I also felt blind sided after discovering how many things that he had lied about- owning a house, sleeping with someone famous, his father being in jail,
vacations in places he had never been to, jobs at non-existent companies. I wanted to get this monster away from me. I didn't know who the hell this person was anymore. Now, I would probably speak up.

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am in agreement that you should if possible expose narcissists but it depends how much mental energy you have at hand. Usually one is worn out already having worked out all the emotional stuff about your narc. The really clever ones like my adoptive daughter wrap people round their finger like butter even those I thought knew me. Now most of my friends think I am loopy. I think the gathering of evidence quietly is paramount and if there is a chance then slip it in. But you gonna have to learn to beat narc at their own game. For me it is best to calm down and regroup.


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