Tag Archives: NPD

For J

This is for my beloved sister J, who passed away on December 26 after a short struggle with cancer. I love you, J.

 

You have always been kind and tough and thoughtful and practical.

And you learned early how to deal with the family’s narcissists. Before it was popular, you knew a kind of no contact and lived it. Your own kind.

Distance did it. Physical distance. Mental distance.

I, much younger, didn’t really know you.

Not until much later. Not until now, really.

And then, we faced another narcissist. This time, together. Looked at our heritage.

But you handled that, too. Adroitly, as you always have. Even as you grew smaller and smaller and your world grew smaller and smaller.

The one who wasn’t “smart.”

The one who always knew but didn’t fuss. Just lived.

I’ve had a good long life, you said.

I wish it was longer.

I wish I didn’t have to say good-bye.

Is There a Narcissist in Your Life?

I am away for a few days and thought I would reblog this old post – actually, my very first one. Have a good weekend, everyone. 🙂

In the Net! - Stories of Life and Narcissistic Survival

Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of F... Dangerous Risk Adrenaline Suicide by Fear of Falling (Photo credit: epSos.de)

I’ve considered this blog for a while now. Thinking about it – mulling it over, noodling. And then I realized that the very reason that I’ve been holding back on starting it is the reason why I wanted to start writing it in the first place: fear.

We live with fear all the time. Fear of being alone. Fear of looking stupid. Fear of not being accepted. Fear of being dumped. Fear of being wrong. Extreme cases of fear get their own category; we call them phobias. Agoraphobia: fear of leaving safety. Acrophobia: fear of heights. Arachnophobia: fear of spiders, not to be confused with Arachibutyrophobia, which is a fear of having peanut butter stick to the roof of your mouth. We even have a name for a fear of the northern lights: auroraphobia. And by the way, not all…

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Narcissism’s Emotional Fallout

I’ve noticed from time to time a tendency on some of the narcissism blogs that I read, for people to get a little testy about the things said about narcissism, narcissists and their victims. I have experienced testy commentary a couple of times and in one case, an outright angry response to a comment that I made – an accusation that I didn’t understand narcissism, that I didn’t know what I was talking about, that I didn’t know what it is like to be a victim.

Initially, I was hurt by the remark. I took it personally.

Reading, writing and thinking about narcissism is an emotional and arduous task. It requires a great deal of work, very difficult work that takes time, effort and sometimes, money.

When I first separated from my ex-narcissist, I went for counselling. I was fortunate on several fronts. First, I had a health care account that allowed me to cover the cost of counselling. Secondly, I had an excellent counsellor. And last, but not least, I had very supportive people in my life.

I moved on. I started a new relationship with a man to whom I am now married. My life is good, better than it has ever been, in fact.

I also started this blog. Initially, it was only about narcissism, but as I recovered and grew,  I moved on to other subjects, too.

I still write about narcissism, obviously. I still read about narcissism. I still think about narcissism. A lot.

I have realized, too, that my recovery is not complete, and that it likely never will be. I am still processing many things about narcissism, and have also come to the realization that my mom was probably also a narcissist. That means that I may be an ACON, or an adult child of a narcissist(s).

This has opened an entire other door for me. One that I didn’t consciously know was there. It was a surprise, but also not a surprise.

I knew that something was wrong, but I thought it was always my fault. I spent a great deal of time trying to “fix” myself.

But what I know now is that I’m mostly okay. I have tendencies to behave in certain ways that I learned when I was a child. I am slowly getting that some of these “behaviours” are actually just reactions.

I am taking the time to slowly process a somewhat difficult childhood that lead to some rather shitty decisions on my part. I’m finally starting to really see that I am in charge now, that my decisions are my own and my responsibility.

My pronounced childhood stutter is almost entirely gone.

I don’t take testy commentary personally any more.

Dealing with and processing narcissism is work. And like any other work, it can be frustrating, boring and tiresome. But this work also demands a great deal of intense emotional investment. It’s draining and exhausting.

So, people who are deeply processing can make comments that come out of an emotional hole. They can sound waspish and bitter, or even ridiculous and idiotic. They may be grief-stricken or preachy. And, they may be making the same comment for the 3,405th time because they still can’t believe it and still have to say it. And that’s okay, too.

Repetition can be the mother of recovery.

And recovery is what many of us are here for, right?

How to Get a Narcissist to Love You

The title of this post arrived in my search terms about a year ago. This query also came up for Ursula over at An Upturned Soul; she posted a excellent response that you can read here.

Frankly, I considered responding but then dropped it because I felt very ambivalent. I wondered if it was a real question or if it was in fact a narcissist who was just trolling. If real, what would I say to someone who is looking for an answer to this? I felt a little depressed every time I thought about it – there’s some poor, desperate person out there who is  trying to save a marriage, an engagement, a friendship, a relationship of some sort. But Ursula encouraged me to try – to give my take on it.

This person – I’m going to call him or her “Terry,” has likely done at least a little research because he or she has learned that narcissists have been categorized as being unable to love.

But undaunted, Terry perseveres. There must be a way! There must be some hope out there! Some obscure research or study or enquiry that espouses an approach that claims to work! That does work! I’m going to find it! And proclaim it to the world! I will not give up! I will not be a cynic who gives up on someone!

I wanted to say: Dear Terry, have you ever heard of snake-oil salesmen? Of bridges for sale? Of swamps that can produce the elixir of youth? Of spaghetti that grows on trees? Are you one of those people that P.T. Barnum indelicately described as being born every minute? Wake up, grow up, throw up or do whatever other “up” you need to do to get your head out of your ass and understand that narcissists are completely incapable  of loving anyone, ever. Oy!

That’s what I wanted to say.

But then I thought about it. Why shouldn’t Terry have hope? Why not? If we human beings had allowed ourselves to be stopped by every obstacle that ever came our way, then we would be a very sorry lot. No antibiotics. No lunar landings. No dinosaurs. (Oops. That one was fiction.)

But that’s the point, though, isn’t it? It’s okay to have hope, as long as it’s realistic. Maybe some day, we will know enough about narcissistic brain function to effect a “cure,” whatever that means. Medication? Talk therapy? An operation? Better parenting? Maybe a combination of all of these? Who knows?

But then again … maybe we won’t find a solution. Hope is good thing to have, but it has to be balanced.

Fear and emotional desperation can tend to unhinge us, can make us behave in irrational, illogical ways. And that’s what the narcissist generates. It’s intentional. In this highly subjective situation, hope is, well, it’s hopeless.

There we are, emotionally sickened and dangling by one fingernail while we grasp at any vestige of possibility – what can I do to get him back, to get him to love me (again)? The interior disintegration is profound and swift. We are like addicts who will do anything … That’s why it’s important to separate ourselves, to go “no contact,” to endure the pain of withdrawal so that we can get our lives back. Because this drug is bad for us. Really, really bad. It has no redeeming qualities whatsoever. It just is what it is, and it does what it does, and you are nothing more than the gravel under its feet or the sky over its head.

So hope? Yes. After you have disengaged from the narcissist and re-established your life and maybe even had some counselling, because let’s face it, if you have been involved with a narcissist, there’s a reason for it.

A reason that you have buried, that you have ignored, that you have spun. You have to face yourself and your part in this.

Cautiously. Carefully. Deliberately.

I tried to get my ex-narcissist to love me, again.

I desperately wanted to get him back into that idealization phase, even though I didn’t know at the time that that’s what I was doing. I sometimes encouraged him to talk about love, because I wanted him to put me  and love together in his head.

Not that he really needed encouragement, because he loved to talk about hate love.

He ranted endlessly about how poorly he had been treated by every female who had ever crossed his path for more than five minutes. We were all “scorners of men” who were lying in wait and planning to trick, trap, or otherwise punish every male in creation.

We were Eve incarnate, juicy apple in hand, enticing patter at the ready. We were evil landlocked mermaids with nothing but the siren call of total male destruction in mind, day in and day out. We were impulsive Pandora, straining to free all those spites and careless of her husband’s warnings.

And then the cycling would start:

Women, yes. I love how you smell. I love your clothes. I love how you look on my arm. I love … I love … I hate you!!! I hate what you represent!!! I hate you because you are women, and you have more than me, and I hate you!!! I love you! I hate you! I want you! I don’t want you! I want what you have!

Yes! That’s it. I want what you have! Give it to me! Give it to me, pleeeese. If you don’t give it to me, I’m going to take it, and make you wish you never tried to stop me. And I’ll swallow it. And then you will be weak and I’ll be strong and then I can feel better. Yes. It’s okay now.

I love you.

(Cue lines and music from a romantic movie. I say this because that’s literally what would be going off in his head. He might even quote the movie and pass the quote off as his own.)

But, two minutes later or two days later or two hours later:

I hate you!

Terry, do you see how this works? Your narcissist may tell you that you’re loved. But the very mouthing of these words is nothing but a tool. It’s a tool to get whatever it is you have that your narcissist wants. It’s a tool to relieve whatever pressure has built up in this individual’s festering mind. It’s tool to keep you off-kilter, off-balance and off-off, so that you can easily be controlled. It’s not love. For the narcissist, it’s one of many other words that is a means to an end.

The narcissist doesn’t understand love, doesn’t really believe that it exists and is really rather amused that the rest of us could expend so much energy engaging in such theatre. It’s about as real as the starship Enterprise.

And eventually, if you trail after this dickhead long enough, there will be nothing left of you. Not even your smell.

And then you will be discarded. Because what’s the use of keeping an empty shell around? It’s just cluttering the place up.

So, do I have hope for my ex-narcissist? I do. I send him good wishes every time I think of him. He, and those he’s in contact with, need good wishes more than most. But will I ever answer an e-mail or phone call from him? Never. Will I ever see him again? Not if I can help it. He is permanently “no contact,” now and forever. I will never again place myself in that situation.

So dear Terry, separate yourself from your narcissist. Get help. Find your own life again. The life that you deserve. Your narcissist will never love you nor anyone else. She or he is simply not built that way.

Good luck. 🙂

What would you say to Terry?

Where Does Narcissism Come from? Part III

Two recent small studies have indicated that narcissists suffer from a lack of grey matter in the cerebral cortex; as one of them (Altered Brain Structure in Pathological Narcissism) says, there are “structural abnormalities in precisely that region of the brain which is involved in the processing and generation of compassion” (www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/1306/19101434.htm). The other study, which I found at psychcentral.com>News>Research News indicates a very similar result. In a nutshell, these studies, through magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, indicated that the brains of the narcissists studied are underdeveloped in the areas that control empathy, compassion and selflessness.

So, finally, there is scientific evidence that narcissists have a definitive problem with their brains. This is something that I have instinctively believed right from the beginning of my investigation into the causes and effects of narcissism.

It felt to me, and still feels, that to espouse the notion that narcissism is caused by poor parenting from the mother is totally simplistic and completely lacking in a recognition of the complexity of the human brain; it’s reductionist, to say the least. To say the worst, it just seems to be another attempt to arbitrarily throw responsibility for a societal problem onto the shoulders of women, again.

Yes, there are mothers who are responsible for having perpetrated the narcissistic wound in their children. But there are also fathers, other caretakers, and perhaps anyone else who came into contact with the child who later develops Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

However, I’m getting off-track a little here.

I see these two studies as having a couple of serious problems.

Firstly, there’s no way that the MRI can determine if the damage inflicted was the result of childhood experiential trauma to the tender developing brain or if the child was born with it.  The damage could also be a combination of both brain chemistry and  experience.

Secondly, the studies are both very small. Less than 50 partcipants. What can those small numbers tell us about anything? Well, as for most things in life, researchers have to start somewhere, and so it was that they started with two small groups. There other thing the small numbers tell me is that the researchers had trouble finding narcissists who would participate. In fact, in one of the studies, the participants were incarcerated.

Narcissists, by their very nature, can’t abide any kind of recognition that they might be less than perfect. To participate in a study where you might be confirmed as having a brain development issue – well, that’s just not on their radar.

To me, it’s perfectly understandable why the researchers turned to a, er, captive audience, so to speak. It must be frustrating to try to study a group that refuses to be studied, that in fact refuses to believe there’s anything wrong.

What would happen if, for instance, diabetics refused to be studied? If they refused to acknowledge that their pancreases aren’t functioning properly? I can easily see researchers turning to a prison population to try to get information.

However, I can also see something else, too: the probable, eventual dismissal of any attention to the issue from the society at large. This would be completely normal, really. What to do with a population that refuses to even recognize that there’s a life – threatening health problem?

Conversation on the matter would likely go something like this: Well, we’ve tried everything. If they won’t recognize the problem then there’s nothing we can do. We just have to let them go. It’s too bad when they go into shock, but that’s their own fault, isn’t it? Just wheel them out of the road when that happens. That’s all we can do.

Eventually, the only people who might care about those with diabetes would be those who have some sort of personal connection. Most others would likely just melt away. Research would become a niche area reserved for eccentrics. Really, there would be little reason for most people to remain involved.

Of course, this is not how we feel about diabetics. Behaving that way would be cruel and bordering on psychopathic, even if it were true that diabetics are unable to recognize their own illness.

Why is narcissism an exception, then?  It’s starting to take on the same proportions; it’s beginning to become a very serious, international mental health issue. We are suffering from it personally, economically, and politically. It is widespread and is spreading further. All any of us has to do is Google “narcissism” and look at the results. An awful lot of people have been victims of it: it infects our work lives, our home lives, and every level of government and finance. There are also serious concerns about what’s happening to our children and young adults in this atmosphere of helicopter parents and societal fear of failure.

But it’s not perceived as a problem. Or if it is, it’s someone else’s, or it’s the narcissist’s own. Just wheel them out of the road. Or more correctly, wheel the carnage they cause out of the road.

Yes, these scientists seem to be very alone and out in the weeds with their research, but in my opinion they should be supported and encouraged in every way possible. We need the information. Our world needs this information.

What is your opinion? Should narcissism research receive more support? Should we  begin treating narcissism as a serious mental health issue that society needs to work on?

What Makes Someone Chase a Narcissist?

Right now I’m working on Part III of “Where Does Narcissism Come From” but it’s not ready yet as I’m just now recovering from a nasty bout of flu. So, in the meantime, I’m recycling. Here’s an old post that continues to generate a lot of interest. Have a good weekend. 🙂

In the Net! - Stories of Life and Narcissistic Survival

This post has been prompted by ruleofstupid, who produces one of the best blogs at WordPress, in my humble opinion. If you haven’t dropped by for a visit, you really should. His social commentary, poetry and music are by turns thought-provoking, funny, witty and sad, but never ever boring. I’m really surprised that he hasn’t been Freshly Pressed yet. If you think that’s a message to the powers that be for them to do so, then you’re right. Get going, WordPress!

In any event, RoS commented on my last post that he wanted to read about the other side of this narcissist issue. What makes a perfectly sensible someone chase a narcissist instead of telling them to f**k off? Well, the first simple answer is that the people who are involved in narcissist-chasing don’t realize that that’s what they are doing. The second simple answer is that usually, narcissists are…

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Where Does Narcissism Come From? Part II

From what I experienced with my ex-husband, narcissism, and by that I mean the extreme narcissism that produces narcissistic personality disorder, is a result of a combination of personality and environmental factors.

Harry, my ex-narcissist, seems to me to have been born with a personality – in other words, the basic personality that was the result of his genetic inheritance – that left him unable to cope with much in the way of emotional upheaval. As a child, he was was probably much more emotional and sensitive than most people.

That was in the 1940s. And being an “emotional” boy would not have been an accepted trait during that time. He likely would have been castigated for any displays of emotion. “Boys don’t cry.” “Act like a man.” “Toughen up.” And so on.

Then, from what I’ve been able to piece together, the perfect confluence of long-term emotional upheaval began: his mother developed a drinking problem and was sent away by Harry’s father to get treatment. She was gone for a long period of time, possibly more than a year. Then, Harry’s father, distant to begin with, exposed Harry to a sort of uninvolved neglect. It could also be that at about this time, Harry became nascently aware that he’s gay – he was around ten.

As a result of these nurturing deficiencies, Harry became locked into childhood behaviour. He developed a love/hate relationship with women. He was in awe of his distant father. As he became older, he enacted repeatedly the wounding that he suffered from his parents, spreading it to others like a plague, hoping, on a subconscious level, to eliminate it from his life, or worse yet, dropping it on others so that they could feel the same way that he does. After all, it isn’t “fair” for others to feel better than he does.

Because he was a child when this occurred, with a child’s sense of understanding and logic, the narcissistic wounding was perceived through a child’s eyes. A childlike reaction resulted: in particular, narcissists react to criticism in very childlike ways. They are hypersensitive to any kind of perceived negativity that might be directed at them. One cliche certainly applies to narcissists and criticism: they can dish it out but they can’t take it. Eventually, the original wounding is forgotten and buried, and the narcissist can no longer make any kind of connection between event and  behaviour, if a connection had ever consciously been made in the first place.

Although Harry is a grown man physically, he relates to the world through the brain of a sensitive child who was damaged beyond repair. He has developed coping mechanisms and armour to protect himself from further injury. He has objectified others so that they can’t hurt him; since others are to be viewed with mistrust and suspicion, they become tools. Despite this, he is aware that others function better than he does, so he frequently copies them, masquerading what he interprets as “normal” behaviour. The fact that others seem to function better than him also causes frustration and rage. He thinks, “I’m doing what they’re doing. I’m saying what they’re saying. And I still can’t get it right.” He has completely lost himself in a confused morass of borrowed behaviours, opinions and habits, looking for the right fit, as if buying a new suit.

The sensitive child still lives within him, so there is a further impetus to over-react to criticism, or, he might perceive as criticism an action or comment that is completely innocuous. His bewilderment has continued to grow as he sees others handling criticism in a much healthier way, even as he sees them as objects of suspicion.

He doesn’t understand others or himself. He doesn’t understand life. He just emulates it. And he’s built such a ferocious, defensive fortress for himself, and has such mistrust of others, that he’s never going to admit that anything is wrong, let alone allow someone to help him.

He has wound up with no self of his own. He doesn’t know what he thinks or believes about anything. He might say that he believes or thinks this or that, but it’s only temporary. He will change his mind ten seconds later.

He is constantly on the hunt for some sort of satisfaction, idealizing, devaluing and discarding as he goes. He tries to soothe himself with the acquisition of things and money and people.

He doesn’t know love. He doesn’t know comfort. He doesn’t know empathy. He’s completely empty except for that infected, weeping wound and the fear and anger that it generates.

And the worst part is that he has come to the conclusion that everyone else operates in the same way. We’re all like him – without scruples, without principles, without truth.

There are times when I feel very sorry for Harry. He didn’t have the best childhood. He grew up during a time when it was expected that men be “tough.” A younger brother died in a tragic accident. He went on to face other life difficulties.

But then I stop to remember that there are many, many people who have it much, much worse than Harry, but who treat others with genuine courtesy and respect.

Is Harry, and are narcissists in general, more to be pitied than blamed? In many ways, they don’t know what they’re doing. Or should they be held to account, even if they don’t fully understand what that means? What do you think?

In my next installment on narcissism, I plan to look at the emerging theory that narcissism is the result of abnormal brain structure.