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Curing narcissism
December 21, 2005
10:36 pm
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bigzig
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I've read a lot about what comprises a narcissistic personality. How does one go about overcoming it?

December 21, 2005
11:06 pm
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Anonymous
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Hi Bigzig,

This info is from "The Emotionally Abusive Relationship" By Beverly Engle.

I'll hit the major bullet points for now, but if you want more elaboration, just say the word.

How does one go about overcoming it you asked...

-Catch yourself in the act when you begin to criticize your partner.

-Instead of talking about yourself as often, start listening-really listening-to your partner when he or she is talking.

-Admit your need for people, especially your need for your parnter and children.

-Instead of focusing on you own needs, try to focus on the needs of others, particulary those of your partner and/or children.

-Ask your partner to tell you the ways that you have been abusive or hurtufl and really listen when she does.

-Apologize to your partner for the ways you have treated her in the past, show her you mean to make significant change in your behavior.

-Start appreciating the good things in your life, especially those that your partner brings.

-Begin to appreciate the simple beauty of life. Slow down, take long walks, and appreciate nature.

If I'm not being too personal here friend, I'm curious to know if you're seeking the info for yourself or a partner or friend?

December 21, 2005
11:32 pm
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helpplease
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i used to date a narcissist and i used to ask myself this question all the time. everything i've read says there is no curing a narcissist. the best thing to do is to leave. and, that's what yours truly did.

December 22, 2005
5:04 am
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snowlover
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Wow.....great information Young & Restless. My BF is narcissist. It took my counselor to point that out to me. As I was reading the things he would need to do to try to overcome it I realized that i dont think I could ever see him doing even ONE of those things. Now Im wondering if Im wasting my time doing all this work on myself.

helpplease.....how did he react when he knew you were really done and it was over? Ive read that when that happens they try even harder to reel you back in. I know my BF does that everytime I try to leave.

Any insight into narcisssim anyone has would be greatly appreciated right now.

December 22, 2005
12:15 pm
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garfield9547
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Something interesting on the spouse/partner of a N

Question:

What kind of a spouse/mate/partner is likely to be attracted to a narcissist?

Answer:

The Victims

On the face of it, there is no (emotional) partner or mate, who typically "binds" with a narcissist. They come in all shapes and sizes. The initial phases of attraction, infatuation and falling in love are pretty normal. The narcissist puts on his best face – the other party is blinded by budding love. A natural selection process occurs only much later, as the relationship develops and is put to the test.

Living with a narcissist can be exhilarating, is always onerous, often harrowing. Surviving a relationship with a narcissist indicates, therefore, the parameters of the personality of the survivor. She (or, more rarely, he) is moulded by the relationship into The Typical Narcissistic Mate/Partner/Spouse.

First and foremost, the narcissist's partner must have a deficient or a distorted grasp of her self and of reality. Otherwise, she (or he) is bound to abandon the narcissist's ship early on. The cognitive distortion is likely to consist of belittling and demeaning herself – while aggrandising and adoring the narcissist.

The partner is, thus, placing herself in the position of the eternal victim: undeserving, punishable, a scapegoat. Sometimes, it is very important to the partner to appear moral, sacrificial and victimised. At other times, she is not even aware of this predicament. The narcissist is perceived by the partner to be a person in the position to demand these sacrifices from her because he is superior in many ways (intellectually, emotionally, morally, professionally, or financially).

The status of professional victim sits well with the partner's tendency to punish herself, namely: with her masochistic streak. The tormented life with the narcissist is just what she deserves.

In this respect, the partner is the mirror image of the narcissist. By maintaining a symbiotic relationship with him, by being totally dependent upon her source of masochistic supply (which the narcissist most reliably constitutes and most amply provides) – the partner enhances certain traits and encourages certain behaviours, which are at the very core of narcissism.

The narcissist is never whole without an adoring, submissive, available, self-denigrating partner. His very sense of superiority, indeed his False Self, depends on it. His sadistic Superego switches its attentions from the narcissist (in whom it often provokes suicidal ideation) to the partner, thus finally obtaining an alternative source of sadistic satisfaction.

It is through self-denial that the partner survives. She denies her wishes, hopes, dreams, aspirations, sexual, psychological and material needs, choices, preferences, values, and much else besides. She perceives her needs as threatening because they might engender the wrath of the narcissist's God-like supreme figure.

The narcissist is rendered in her eyes even more superior through and because of this self-denial. Self-denial undertaken to facilitate and ease the life of a "great man" is more palatable. The "greater" the man (=the narcissist), the easier it is for the partner to ignore her own self, to dwindle, to degenerate, to turn into an appendix of the narcissist and, finally, to become nothing but an extension, to merge with the narcissist to the point of oblivion and of merely dim memories of herself.

The two collaborate in this macabre dance. The narcissist is formed by his partner inasmuch as he forms her. Submission breeds superiority and masochism breeds sadism. The relationships are characterised by emergentism: roles are allocated almost from the start and any deviation meets with an aggressive, even violent reaction.

The predominant state of the partner's mind is utter confusion. Even the most basic relationships – with husband, children, or parents – remain bafflingly obscured by the giant shadow cast by the intensive interaction with the narcissist. A suspension of judgement is part and parcel of a suspension of individuality, which is both a prerequisite to and the result of living with a narcissist. The partner no longer knows what is true and right and what is wrong and forbidden.

The narcissist recreates for the partner the sort of emotional ambience that led to his own formation in the first place: capriciousness, fickleness, arbitrariness, emotional (and physical or sexual) abandonment. The world becomes hostile, and ominous and the partner has only one thing left to cling to: the narcissist.

And cling she does. If there is anything which can safely be said about those who emotionally team up with narcissists, it is that they are overtly and overly dependent.

The partner doesn't know what to do – and this is only too natural in the mayhem that is the relationship with the narcissist. But the typical partner also does not know what she wants and, to a large extent, who she is and what she wants to become.

These unanswered questions hamper the partner's ability to gauge reality. Her primordial sin is that she fell in love with an image, not with a real person. It is the voiding of the image that is mourned when the relationship ends.

The break-up of a relationship with a narcissist is, therefore, very emotionally charged. It is the culmination of a long chain of humiliations and of subjugation. It is the rebellion of the functioning and healthy parts of the partner's personality against the tyranny of the narcissist.

The partner is likely to have totally misread and misinterpreted the whole interaction (I hesitate to call it a relationship). This lack of proper interface with reality might be (erroneously) labelled "pathological".

Why is it that the partner seeks to prolong her pain? What is the source and purpose of this masochistic streak? Upon the break-up of the relationship, the partner (but not the narcissist, who usually refuses to provide closure) engage in a tortuous and drawn out post mortem.

But the question who did what to whom (and even why) is irrelevant. What is relevant is to stop mourning oneself, start smiling again and love in a less subservient, hopeless, and pain-inflicting manner.

The Abuse

Abuse is an integral, inseparable part of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The narcissist idealises and then DEVALUES and discards the object of his initial idealisation. This abrupt, heartless devaluation IS abuse. ALL narcissists idealise and then devalue. This is THE core narcissistic behaviour. The narcissist exploits, lies, insults, demeans, ignores (the "silent treatment"), manipulates, controls. All these are forms of abuse.

There are a million ways to abuse. To love too much is to abuse. It is tantamount to treating someone as one's extension, an object, or an instrument of gratification. To be over-protective, not to respect privacy, to be brutally honest, with a morbid sense of humour, or consistently tactless – is to abuse. To expect too much, to denigrate, to ignore – are all modes of abuse. There is physical abuse, verbal abuse, psychological abuse, sexual abuse. The list is long.

Narcissists are masters of abusing surreptitiously ("ambient abuse"). They are "stealth abusers". You have to actually live with one in order to witness the abuse.

Garfield

December 22, 2005
2:15 pm
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snowlover
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Garfield.....where did this information come from? I feel like someone has been inside my relationship and taking notes. I would love to read additional info from wherever you found this.

Thank you sooooo much for posting!!!

December 22, 2005
3:51 pm
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garfield9547
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Snowlover

I got this from the Sam Vaknin Site on yahoo. I used to be a member of the narcissistic site for a long time. There is a lot of interesting information.

Ellie's story was one of my favourites also projection a glimpse of hell and devalue and disgard VERY interesting.

Garfield

December 22, 2005
4:10 pm
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garfield9547
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Snowlover

Sorry, not yahoo, but msn.com. Go to groups and chat (under people) there is a forum called narcissitic personality disorder. Here is the one on devalue and disgard.

For anyone who has ever been enmeshed with another human being suffering a Cluster B Personality Disorder, it occurs to me that the suffering is greatest between the time we are devalued until we are indeed, thankfully, discarded.

For those fortunate enough to not know the meaning of a Cluster B Personality Disorder, it may be better to stop reading now. If you insist, then I will explain the characteristics of these people. A Personality Disordered human being has a pattern of behavior that is other than the norm; that is ingrained, and rigidly part of the individual’s personality. The Personality Disorders in the Cluster B family include the Histrionic, the Borderline, the Narcissist and the Antisocial individual. These are the dramatic and seductive people that we know. These are the people who can make the most rational person believe the most irrational things.

At first, it is paradise. They are exciting and sexy. They are adventurous. They seem to make us feel more attractive, more important and more brilliant than we ever even dared to believe. We have no idea that it is all part of a dance repeated by these people over and over again. We are idealized. We are the most perfect ideal of our own self- image. These people have done the work of the makeup artist. We are seeing ourselves in reflection, but in perfect form. How could we not fall in love?

The idealization phase is heaven. Nothing could be better. It is a little bit heady in experience. We feel off-balance. We feel higher than we have ever flown before, but with a sense of danger. We are losing ourselves. It feels too good to be true. It feels to good to be true because it is.

One day, for no reason that we can identify, something ugly happens. We find ourselves ignored, or deeply insulted, or the object of rage. There seems no reason for this. It hurts like the stab of a knife to the soul. We try to make amends for this unseen thing we did to become less wonderful to our partner. In the back of our minds, I think we know that it is the beginning of something very different. We know, deep down inside that our partner is idealizing something or someone else. But we believe that it is a flash in the pan. They will surely see that what they have with us is so good, so pure and so real, that whatever is momentarily attractive will pass. We all become enamored with moments outside of our primary relationship. For most people, for people with solid boundaries, it passes like a movie and we return to real life without ever acting upon our fantasies. We assume that our partner will do the same. It lingers longer than we like, but things do get better. Life does not return to its previous perfection, but flickers of our dream return. We decide to be more attractive, more talented and more attentive so that we can insure that it doesn’t happen again.

But we have been devalued. We may be valued again, but never idealized. We do not understand because there is no reason why we should. So begins our loss of our own identity to try to recapture the love. We are living between devalue and discard. This is the common thread that binds the diagnosis to the patient with a Cluster B disorder. These people lack a developed sense of “self” and so they borrow ours. In doing so, they become less enchanted with the image. We are now tainted with the horror they avoid. They see the phantom, distorted image of their own inner world. This, they cannot bear. We have lost our luster in binding to this partner. He or she must find a new specimen. They need fresh humanity that does not bear the mark of their own tortured soul.

We cannot understand at first. We have our psychic wounds, but we can tolerate and even enjoy our own company. Imagine what it must be like to consider one’s own company to be either nothing at all or something vile. It must be terrifying. From this point of view, it is understandable that this human must try to do everything and anything possible not to look in the mirror. They run away. They project the vile parts of themselves onto us. For some time, we accept the burden. We see they are in pain. We love them and so we take it on, hoping to ease the burden and help them feel better.

Time after time, we take on their pain. It is confusing to us that this seems to make them hate us so much more. It makes no sense to a person with an identity of one’s own. They look at us and see themselves. They rage and run; they insult and beg; they find fault and ridicule. We love them. In the confusion, we become traumatized and distraught. We fall into an abyss. We cannot see ourselves any longer. We have reached the ultimate irony. For the Narcissist, the Borderline, the Histrionic, and the Antisocial, to not be able to see one’s self is a great victory. For us, it is the ultimate loss.

When we reach this point, it is hard for us to know that we really do still have the upper hand. We believe that we are powerless and the disordered partner has all of the power. The disordered partner believes this as well. We become an annoyance to them, a reminder of their own true nature. The partner leaves us at the side of the road, presumably to die, and moves on to the fresh target.

As hurtful as any rejection is, our ultimate salvation is this discard. We mourn the loss and re-evaluate our priorities. We begin to acknowledge ourselves again. We have the gift of ourselves. When no one else is around, we are keeping company with a human being with a soul, our own soul. Gradually we take ourselves to work, to the store, to school. We rebuild bridges and construct new roads. We create ways to take our complete self to interact once again with others. We begin to heal.

Healing from the dagger of a Cluster B partner is a slippery journey. As we regain ourselves, we have not yet completely closed our heart to this person whom we loved. We are loving people by our nature. We have experienced the end to romantic love before and with healing from this wound. With the passage of time, we often find that a loving friendship or at least a fond spirit remains between our former romantic partner and ourselves. The disordered partner sees our new energy and thirsts for it once again. From our past experience with non-disordered partners, we welcome the overture.

It is quite surprising and disappointing when the disordered partner uses up our newly-acquired energy for life in short order and leaves again by the side of the road. Again, we must recover on our own. This dance can repeat itself many times. Each time is shorter and, thankfully, less painful. We learn to protect ourselves from the disordered, from the predator that he/she is.

In the end, the final discard belongs to us. We set the limit. We end the dance. They have no limits and are unable to do this. The abyss between devaluation by our partner and the ultimate discard by our choice is bridged when we realize that there is no going back in any way. No friendship, no enmity, there can be nothing at all.

With gratitude to our member Mommybunny for contributing this page.

Graphics by Marsha's Graphics: Graphics - Marsha's Graphics

December 22, 2005
4:24 pm
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Im almost speechless. I think this is maybe too painful to absorb. This is me, this is him,this is our life. I see the pattern, I see the abuse, I recognize all of it. What i dont see is the end. i want to, but Ive lost myself in this, in him.

Its only been within the last couple weeks Ive learned he is a narcissist. But until reading all of this today I didnt understand how deep all of this is. Im overwhelmed, and terrified I will never escape from this.

December 22, 2005
4:29 pm
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garfield9547
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Snowlover

When I discovered all of this I went into shock. I can clearly remember I had a session with my therapist the Tuesday, discovered all this the Wednesday and for the first time had to make an emergency appointment the Thursday.

It was healing for me to put a name to all my questions.

Take it easy on yourself. Healing comes step by step.

Garfield

December 22, 2005
4:29 pm
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Marlex
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Wow...that was such a revelation to me. I have never really thought about relationships being so bad that you can lose yourself and lose your self-respect. Now I understand the "dance" the co-dependent cycle.

Thank you so much....This site has helped me so much that I will clearly see all the signs of co-dependency... Mainly I want to learn not to be so TRUSTING and know when I am falling for one of these people and move on QUICKLY.

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

December 22, 2005
8:41 pm
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helpplease
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this is great stuff. thanks for posting.

December 22, 2005
8:57 pm
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zinnia
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I think the one who is attracted to a narcissist is the child of a narcissist.

The child of a narcissist may have become addicted to the process of pleasing an impossible personality, because the narcissist demands to be pleased, and only the child is desperate enough to try.

The narcissist may have driven away all friends except his/her child, and so the child is used to being the "rare one" who is uniquely able to "please", even if the narcissist is never pleased but always punishing.

The child learns to value being punished, learns to fear the abandonment by others that she/he sees happen to the narcissist parent.

How to overcome this upbringing, and avoid partnering with a narcissist?

A very very long self-healing, somehow finding a "normal" surrogate family as an adult.

Not easy to do, because the question then arises: how can others accept and nurture a person who always seems to choose a partner with the "wrong" traits, or who seems to instinctively reinforce the "wrong" traits in those around him/her?

December 22, 2005
10:02 pm
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Hey Guys,

I wonder if Bigzig was possibly coming to the understanding that he/she might suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Strong Narcissistic Tendencies.

I hope he/she will feel comfortable sharing with us on the subject.

BIG, if you're listening this site is about support and not judging. If you'd like to talk, we are here to listen. And who knows, your experience and insight just might help someone else.

Hi Guys,

From the same book (LOVE IT!) there is a quiz designed to help you deterine if you suffere from NPD.

1. Do you feel that you are special of that you have special talents or gifts that others don't posess?

2. Do you feel you are entitled to special treatment or recognition?

3. Do you secretly feel you are better than most people?

4. Do you become easily bored with people when they talk about themselves?

5. Do you tend to think that your feelings or opinions are more important than others?

6. Does it hurt you deeply if your talents, accomplishments, or physical attributes are not recognized and apprecited?

7. Do you feel deeply insulted if you are ignored or not acknowledged?

8. Have you been accused of being oerly self-focused or self-centered?

9. Have you been accused of being conceited or of being egotistical?

10. Do you often fly off the handle or become enraged at the slightest provocation and often without really knowing why?

11. Do you lose respect for others when you discover they areless intelligent, successful, powerful, or together emotionally than you had first thought?

12. Do you have difficulty identifying or empathizing with others, especially with their pain?

13. Do you find that you are often envious of what others have accomplished or accumulated?

14. Do you tend to focus more on what you don't have than what you do have?

15. Do you frequently feel that your efforts and accomplishments are being ignored, minimized, or that you are being passed over for special recognition?

16. Are you able to walk away from a relationship fairly easilly once someone has insulted or hurt you?

17. Is one of your major goals in life to become successful, famous, wealthy, or to find "perfect love? Do you feel like a failure or feel depressed because you haven't reached youyr goal?

18. Do you feel like you don't really need other people all that much, that you are fairly self-sufficient?

19. Are most of your friendships based on a mutual interest, or on the fact that you both have a strong desire to become successful, famous, or wealthy?

20. Do your relationships tend to be short-lived? Are you close to someone for a while but find that over time they no longer serve a function in your life?

If you answered more than five questions with a "yes" especially if they were questions 10-20, you may suffer from NPD.

Zinnia, thanks for your insightful post. So many things make sense to me because of it. It's like you turned on a light switch for me.

December 22, 2005
10:45 pm
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Narcissism, as a character trait is something that w are all born with....we outgrow it to some extent. We discover that we are not the only perosn in the universe, that our own needs are not the most important thing, and so on.

For people with fully blown Narcissistic personality disorder, there is not thought to be any "cure," for two reasons. First, "Personality "disorders" are thought to be stable and persistent. Next, people with NPD actually like the way they are and see nothing to be cured of.

Apparently, the occasional narcissist will experience something like insight or conscience, and something CAN be done with them. Sam Vaknin is a case in point. Those people are still never "cured" per se" but their maipulative energy may mello, turn to depression. They can modify their behavior.

garfield9547:

I quite like the writings of Sam Vaknin--he has been very helpful to me.

Remember that Dr. Vaknin is a self -described narcissist, and his descriptons of many things, but particulalry victims of narcissists, is suspect.

Whenever we talk about the victims of abusive persons, it is essential to remember that a victim is NOT to blame for their experience--a victim is someone who got hit by a truck, that's all.

This bit (from the Vaknin site also I believ)is particularly offensive, and also just not true:

"The status of professional victim sits well with the partner's tendency to punish herself, namely: with her masochistic streak. The tormented life with the narcissist is just what she deserves."

December 23, 2005
1:16 am
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Worried dad

My mother is a professional victim. For 36 years she complained on a daily basis. She hated my dad and we as children had to hear this EVERYDAY. This is emotional abuse from her side.
Why did she not make the choice and divorce him years ago?

Because then she would have nothing to complain about and her life would be a void.

I had to break contact with her in order to survive emotionally. This was the hardest thing I had ever done.
You say the victim is not to blame - I agree. They marry there mothers and do what is natural. Except the abuse for far to long.
But you get people that does not want to heal, they get stuck.

I have spent toooooo many years to try and 'rescue' my mother. Now she has to do it herself. The enabling was not good for her anyway.

Garfield

December 24, 2005
2:35 am
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Garfield,

I cannot but disagree. I am a child of A Narcissist mother. I read Vaknin's book and I know for sure that I was an Inverted Narcissist when I was 10 years old. I am not now, not for long time already.

My treats as Inverted Narcissist, like low self esteem and giving my partners a chance – trying to fix them by making sure that I do everything perfectly, so in turn they become better as well, caused that I lost my IN characteristics. I was choosing partners below my level, sadly, and despite trying very hard to lift them, I had to leave.

When I met my beloved, brilliant and charming Narcissist, despite of loosing all those traits, I felt right at home and we connected instantly, I mean; in one instant. Of course it took me long time to discover why he behaves the way he does and who he is. That in turn made me face my demons, those I had no idea about.

If I met this man earlier in my life, I would have no chance to dispose of my narcissistic' characteristics, and no chance to understand what is going on, no chance to heal, no chance to get out. I would have no defensive mechanisms of any sort, going straight from one Narcissist to another, from my mother to him. By now, I would have no self, no soul, I would be him. Possibly my only defense would be complaining. Possibly my life would be complaining, nothing else. I am sure I wouldn't be able to leave him, no matter what, just like his partner is not able to leave him; and I don't know if his partner is IN as well, possibly not.

December 24, 2005
3:41 am
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Boy, this is a great thread. I have read and reread Sam's V's site ~ hours and hours of reading and thinking.

I am coming to terms with the idea that there is a part of me that wants to please the unpleasable (mother) person. Peace at any price, rising to take the bait, keeping him my focus, jumping through flaming hoops, bait and switch, what's wrong with me, and on and on.

The truth is I am somewhere inside afraid of my ability to take care of myself, protect and provide for myself. I want someone to help give me structure and direction, because I have never really known what I want to be, do, or become. I have flailed around for years trying, or being too afraid to risk trying, struggling with pride and low self-worth.

Ironically, a narcissist draws up and out of me a stronger self. I stand up to him, fight his logic, become more myself. I am made stronger by fighting, or by learning how not to react or take it personally. Amazingly, I grow quite a lot as an adult, in a recreated scenario akin to the one I grew up in with Mom and Dad.

I believe that having someone believe in me and draw me up gently and skillfully really helps a lot too, and I have friends who are like that with me now. But the dance is the place of growing strength. Enough to take myself seriously, my needs, my wants, my wishes, my desires, my life. If that then leads to leaving him when I have learned my lesson, so be it. But I will get that damn lesson first. Because I refuse to repeat this mess with a new and different person.

LL

December 24, 2005
7:46 pm
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zinnia
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There are some serious problems with how people get labeled as narcissists, and what "we" all are supposed to do about genuine Narcissistic Personality Disorder.
(I put "we" in quotes on the assumption few of us are willing to label ourselves as NPD. It is the labeling process and its consequences that interests me in this post)

First of all, if we are quick to label people who are conscious of having special gifts as "narcissisists", what do we do about the perfectly healthy person who has an actual IQ over 150? What do we do about the exceptionally talented artist or musician? Not all of these people have narcissistic personalities. But in order to be healthy, they must acknowledge their own gifts and they must seek out a social network that will allow them to flourish.

Secondly, if the true NPD individual in fact has an inherited physio-psychiatric disorder, then how can we justify taking a judgemental or punitive apoproach towards that individual, as seems to be frequently expressed?

I have to say that, IMO, there is a lot of overlap between NPD traits and normal variations in character and behavior, and we are in danger of pathologizing almost anybody who doesn't fall within an ever narrower band of "average".

True NPD, full-blown, is nothing like a normal egotist or a normally self-involved person. There is a disconnect with reality that comes across very distinctly.

Highly intelligent people do, in fact, find a lot of stuff "boring" and do look for satisfaction in ways that are different from average. The questions in the post above that relate to labeling need to be carefuly examined.

They are accurate. If you read them carefully, you can see that they speak more of a kind of self-disconnect than of actual giftedness or uniqueness, but they are dangerous because nowadays they are applied willy-nilly to anyone who does not conform to some extremely shallow social conventions, and that subtle thread of a truly disconnected ego can be overlooked. Nowadays, there does not seem to be a counter-balance of appreciation for actual intelligence, and with the modern tendency of public school teachers to set themselves up as psychiatric diagnosticians, this is very frightening.

And the concern for the mis-labeled aside, what of the accurately labeled? Lock them up and throw away the key?

In fact, there are teaching methods available to enable an NPD to "learn" normalcy.

The NPD cannot help the fact that he/she is incapable of reading facial expression instinctively, any more than a stroke victim is resonsible for being unable to experience a familiar "feeling" when looking at the face of a relative. The relatives of a stroke victim can learn that if they say their name, their loved one does in fact remember and recognize them, but the wiring in the brain that "maps" faces is broken, that's all. Similarly with NPD, if the diagnosis is real, then the individual can learn "appropriate" behavior, through actual exercises such as those often used in acting classes.

An NPD may not acknowledge the disorder, but the parents of NPD children can give their children the training and social network that will enable them to live rich and fulfilling lives and to bring pleasure to others, too.

I have seen so much criticism of the "theatrical" aspects of NPD, but be honest, where would Society be, without "theatre"? It is part of natural human ability to heal and to absorb imperfect individuals that we always have some form of theatre, and civilized countries have always allowed for the personalities who would provide us with "theatre".

December 24, 2005
9:35 pm
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Worried_Dad
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Well, Zinnia,

I really hope that you are being sincere here....if so...

The reason that "most of us" are unwilling to label ourselves as having NPD is that most of us do not have it. You do want to remember that only 1.0% of the population is thought to have true NPD, and that the causes of it are mysterious. It is an actual disorder that causes a lot of trouble in the world. Its diagnosis is also not something that just anyone can do.

I am not aware of anyone who labels people who are "merely" gifted or have high IQs as having NPD, and NPD is not particularly associated with high IQ. The problems with narcissists is not that they acknowledge their own gifts--it is that they claim to have gifts, knowledge, and abilities that they do not actually possess. There is a big difference between a narcissistic personality and a healthy ego.

As far as the judgmental or punitive approach taken towards NPD....that judgment is about the destructive consequences of their behavior... I don't think anyone suggests "punishing" narcissists except when they have behaved in destructive ways. Are you suggesting that we should avoid criticizing the destructive behavior of people with NPD "just because" their condition may have a partial genetic basis? Why then shouldn't we do the same for psychopaths?
Can you imagine if serial killers were able to plead "not guilty by reason of being a psychopath?"

Yes, there is a range of personality traits, a spectrum between healthy and non-healthy personalities, and yes, we do have to be careful not to pathologize nonpathological traits. But the conditions for a true diagnosis are pretty exacting--I would guess that it is an under-diagnosed, not an over diagnosed disorder.

Yes, NPDs are capable of "learning." But these people are not usually diagnosed in childhood, when intervention might be helpful. One major problem of NPD is that the condition is ego-syntonic. They LIKE the way they are and do not "want" to "be normal." And such "normalcy training" is actually currently available and administered in a mass scale--in families, in schools, in churches--and most people learn just fine how to be decent, "normal," people. The problem with NPDs is not that they "don't know how" to behave in a kindly fashion--the problem is that they don’t feel motivated to do so from within.

Your idea that NPDs cannot read normal facial expressions is false. Narcissists can be very sensitive to subtle emotional cues and be masters at manipulation.

And that is the real problem of NPD--not the grandiose, "theatrical" aspects of their personality. It is their lack of empathy that makes them hard to live with or work with. It is the fact that they frequently have a sadistic streak that frightens and offends people.

I haven't heard anyone suggest that with NPDs we should just "lock them up and throw away the key." Unless they commit crimes of course.

December 25, 2005
1:49 am
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Matteo
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zinnia,

Why parents of NDP would "give their children the training and social network that will enable them to live rich and fulfilling lives and to bring pleasure to others"? They are those who create Narcissists in the first place! Those parents don’t want their children to grow and thrive as they should; they want their children as they want them to be, to fulfill their own needs and expectations, not their children’s’!

You don't have to have full blown NPD to be a Narcissist; those cases are extremely rare. Most of Narcissists are more less fully functioning in the society. My Mother was, still is, so is my Love.

They are both better connected to the reality than most of us. They are not objective about themselves, though. They think they are greater than most of us, and that they are entitled to what they want, no matter if it is fair or ethical to others or not. Nobody is as good as them, and others get criticized a lot; there is an air of superiority around them. They don't appreciate and acknowledge other people's accomplishments, brilliance, success; same goes for other people kindness altruism, heroism, whatever; if they do it, it will be only because and if those people admire them.

They both hate children and pets, because children, alike pets get lots of attention and admiration; moreover, children get away with their narcissistic behaviour, which is normal when one is a child, but not an adult. They envy the freedom to be unpredictable, as children are. They will be jealous of younger and good looking people. Even if someone is better looking than them, they will find something to criticize them. They will envy and fiercely compete even with their own children.

They play head games with others. They enjoy people’s responses because of their charm and sex appeal affect on others, and even more - surprised and shocked reactions when they take them away, just for the fun of it.

They are clingy and needy and cannot spend long time not being in a relationship. They feel lost and empty without having someone around attending their needs; if there is no one close, they will feed on admiration from acquaintances, many of them, changing often, and providing lots of admiration for them; who by the way get nothing, literally nothing in return. They will restlessly look for a close relationship which will fulfill their needs.

At the same time they have a blind spot. If someone in close relationship admires them constantly, or at least appears to do so, they might be used very easily; their prey might become their predator, and they never might be able to recognize it, for as long as they are being kept satisfied and have an illusion that they are in charge.

They are both very intuitive and extremely sensitive to other people's reactions, to their facial expressions as well, but they lack empathy big time. You can do for them whatever they will need in time of their need, but don’t expect the same when you need them to do anything for you. They cannot be bothered, even if it is something very small.

They both will be the sweetest people in the world when they need you and your attention to their needs; the next thing you see is that they discard you the moment their needs are fulfilled by you or someone else – doesn’t matter. They will overnight become cold and distant and will be surprised what the hell you want from them. And they will find something wrong in you so they can blame you for their behaviour, because of course they are perfect, if not always, most of the times.

Why not call them for who they are?

December 25, 2005
2:58 am
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Wow,

What well stated arguments, and positions of merit. I am duly impressed! I learned a few things I didn't know about narcissists here reading these last three responses.

My narcissist could listen really well, to the degree you would swear there was caring. And maybe there was. But when push came to shove, and I needed some emotional support, he wasn't there. He would say he was going to show up and almost never did. He would say yes to your face and mean no the whole time, and even told me that he had been doing that since he was a kid to keep out of trouble. He still didn't feel motivated to change the behavior in any way, as it was still working for him somehow. He always had some logical reason/ excuse that I couldn't counter. Something like traffic, etc.

He was terrribly sensitive to any shift in my liking toward him. He could see it was affecting me badly. This still did not lead to change on his part (other than timing his manipulative moves). It was working for him. I couldn't see at the time that this was his sole motive. I presumed empathy that simply wasn't there. He could not communicate with me, not really. Ever evasive, elusive, complicated, indirect, shadowy. Implied his being very important to other people's ability to work or function, a control position.

I would swear I was someone important to him, but then he would act like I was the only one involved. I was always twisted into being the one to blame, at fault, no matter how convoluted.

The marker for me, was his almost complete inability to own responsibility for his behavior or actions as being harmful to me, and originating with him, with he himself being culpable for anything.

He was trying to be good. He didn't mean to. Childish responses. No apology, restitution, amends, responsibility, ownership. Definitely that unpredictable thing... wanting to be unable to put a finger on, to make me puzzle him out, to be inconsistent, again a child-like attention span.

The discard is what really gets you. That they see themselves in us (reflected) as they borrow our personality, views, opinions, thoughts as their own and then can't stand to see that they came from outside themselves (not the originator).

Fascinating stuff. Truth is though, I am becoming more interested now in why I fell for it. What suspension of disbelief did I have to enter into to allow someone to do such a number, and still keep playing with him. There is a definite similarity to the head game that "certain fringe religious groups" use to indoctrinate. And the response to him was very similar also. A shutting down of critical thinking. Fantasy thinking. Survival mode. Not knowing what was going to happen next...unpredicatability again. Fear of mistepping.

Anyway, hope my ramblings were of some interest. I enjoy yours WD and Matteo. Matteo, your mother and mine sound rather similar, and I know a lot of your understanding of narcissism comes directly from your personal experiences. I hear that, and know that, because I have similar experiences, with an alcoholic mother who had N tendencies at least.

WD, I think you clearly have a book in you waiting to come out on this topic. Very erudite writing. I have a small crush on you for some reason. You have that truthful crusader / champion/ protector/ righteous / kind / good thing going on. Savior stuff. I mean, I already have the Savior. It is just appealing to me, and may be the misplaced hunger I have for Him that I put on mortal men that is part and parcel of why I fall victim to N's. But it is still just admiration on my part, for the most part, no matter who it is directed at. I have a need to admire? How odd.

LL

December 25, 2005
3:41 am
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Lass,

I appreciate you checking in on the subject at hand.

I do not judge people for being victimized by metal illness, but I do reserve the right to criticize and condemn abusive behavior.

I am naturally hotheaded myself and can easily become shrill, rude, insentitive, or downright insulting. My experiences with and my learnings about abuse and domestic violence have awakened my conscience enough that I bite my tongue a lot. But I still dont bite it hard enough to suit myself. It is hard to be calm and neutral when talking about violence.

I think it is natural to develop "crushes" on people who have qualitites or behaviors that we admire. I get crushes on people here all the time. I think that the more we recognize the innate beauty and dignity of human beings, the more and more "crushes" we have. Probably the Dalai Lama walks around in a giddy state of love half the time.

Everyone falls victims to N's. THey have learned to manipulate the innate trust and capacity for love and empathy that most normal people have in abundance. It is a cheap trick. Don't blame yourself. Just protect yourself.

Human beings were made to live together. If we try, we can enjoy the experience. We can make heaven on earth. Or we can make it a living hell. Jesus taught those things. I think he was right.

Yes, there is a book coming. I posted my draft of the introduction a few days ago.

December 25, 2005
5:03 am
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Matteo

I do not get you. Do you say that getting into contact with a N helped you te heal?
Do you say that you got knowledge over the years and then went on to marry your mother, just with allot more knowledge and that you accept them and can live with it?

Please reply

Garfield

December 25, 2005
11:04 am
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Maybe I'm being too simplistic here. However, didn't Young & Restless hit the nail squarely on the head with her posts (the second post on this thread and one later on) about recognizing and changing your own narcissistic tendencies? (Note the emphasis is on your own tendencies.) What more can you do than change your own behavior, and to talk to somebody else whose behavior might be affecting you and hope they will recognize and change their own behavior?

Sorry, I get easily bored with psychological theories that purport to explain why we do what we do (which is weird because my original major at college was psychology). Understanding why you act as you do can come, and sometimes only comes, after you accomplish the change.

I'm not saying that trying to understand the causes of behavior isn't useful; it can help you cope with somebody else's behavior or formulate your own game plan for change. But I haven't found it to be essential, and have often found it to be a distraction from taking action.

Habits tend to become addictive if they're not healthy. NPD, I propose, is more of a habit than a disorder, and all habits can be broken, but it's up to the person themself to break it. If your mate chooses to not break it, maybe your only healthy recourse is to leave them. It's sad, I know, but true.

Young and Restless, your posts, which I alluded to above, are excellent! I see myself in too many of the points. I've added it to my recovery file.

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