Thursday, July 30, 2009
These articles were written as client handouts. You may click on each article title for the full article.
Joseph M Carver, Ph.D.
The Controllers, Abusers, Manipulators, and Users in Relationships
Joseph M. Carver, Ph.D., Psychologist
Who are these people? In romantic relationships they are controlling, abusive, manipulative partners who can ruin not only the relationship, but our self-esteem, finances, and reputation. As a parent, they can put the “D” in Dysfunctional Family and be the parent that abuses, neglects, ignores, or psychologically damages their children. As a friend they may be irresponsible, selfish, unreliable, dishonest, and often create significant problems in our life. As a neighbor, they spread rumors, create disharmony in the neighborhood, and steal our lawnmower. As a family member, they maintain themselves as the center of attention and keep the family in an uproar or they may be the 45 year/old brother who has never worked and remains dependent on the family for his support. They may be the brother or sister who verbally bullies and intimidates others with their temper tantrums. As a coworker they are manipulative, unethical, dishonest, and willing to damage co-workers to achieve their employment goals. On the street they are the criminals, con-artists, and people-users who purposefully damage others then quickly move on to avoid detection.
In over three decades of experience of dealing with victims, it’s clear that the majority of emotional victims I see in clinical practice are actually victims of an individual with a “Personality Disorder”. The “Personality Disorder” has been around for many years. For several centuries, professionals working with all types of people recognized that some individuals clearly thought and acted differently – without “normal” feelings, attitudes, behaviors, and interactions. In 1835 Dr. Pritchard suggested the term “moral insanity” to reflect the fact that these individuals were not insane by the standards of the day, yet had significant differences in their behavior, attitudes, ethics, morality, emotional expressions, and reactions to situations. Despite their significant differences when compared to others in their culture, the individual exhibited little emotional or social distress.
Personality Disorders are individuals who have a long history of personality, behavior, emotional, and relationship difficulties. This group is said to have a “personality disorder” – an enduring pattern of inner experience (mood, attitude, beliefs, values, etc.) and behavior (aggressiveness, instability, etc.) that is significantly different than those in their family or culture. These dysfunctional patterns are inflexible and intrusive into almost every aspect of the individual’s life. These patterns create significant problems in personal and emotional functioning and are often so severe that they lead to distress or impairment in all areas of their life. (Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition)
Personality Disorders are divided into three groups of “clusters”.
1) Cluster A personality disorders are individuals who have odd, eccentric behaviors. Paranoid, Schizoid, and Schizotypal Personalities fall into this cluster.
2) Cluster B are personalities that are highly dramatic, both emotionally and behaviorally. Antisocial, Borderline, Narcissistic, and Histrionic Personality are in this group.
3) Cluster C are personalities characterized by being anxious and fearful. Avoidant, Dependent, and Obsessive-Compulsive Personality fall into this cluster.
The Relationship Destroyers – Cluster B
In considering individuals who create the most damage to social and personal relationships, the abusers, manipulators, “players”, controllers, and losers are found in Cluster B. For this reason, this article will focus on the behaviors associated with Cluster B personality disorders.
In the general population, the largest number of personality disorders fall in the Cluster B group. The four personality disorders in Cluster B are:
1) Antisocial Personality - a pervasive pattern of disregard for the rights of others and rules of society. The Antisocial Personality ranges from individuals who are chronically irresponsible, unsupportive, con-artists to those who have total disregard for the rights of others and commit criminal acts with no remorse, including those involving the death of victims. In clinical practice, the Antisocial Personality has near-total selfishness and typically has a pattern of legal problems, lying and deception, physical assault and intimidation, no regard for the safety of others, unwillingness for meet normal standards for work/support/parenting, and no remorse.
2) Borderline Personality - a pervasive pattern of intense yet unstable relationships, mood, and self-perception. Impulse control is severely impaired. Common characteristics include panic fears of abandonment, unstable social relationships, unstable self-image, impulsive/self-damaging acts such as promiscuity/substance abuse/alcohol use, recurrent suicide thoughts/attempts, self-injury and self-mutilation, chronic feelings of emptiness, inappropriate yet intense anger, and fleeting paranoia.
3) Histrionic Personality - a pervasive pattern of excessive emotional display and attention-seeking. Individuals with this personality are excessively dramatic and are often viewed by the public as the “Queen of drama” type of individual. They are often sexually seductive and highly manipulative in relationships.
4) Narcissistic Personality - a pervasive preoccupation with admiration, entitlement, and egotism. Individuals with this personality exaggerate their accomplishments/talents, have a sense of entitlement, lack empathy or concern for others, are preoccupied with envy and jealousy, and have an arrogant attitude. Their sense of entitlement and inflated self-esteem are unrelated to real talent or accomplishments. They feel entitled to special attention, privileges, and consideration in social settings. This sense of entitlement also produces a feeling that they are entitled to punish those who do not provide their required respect, admiration, or attention.
When encountering the victims of emotional and physical abuse, the Personality Disorder individual is already present in their lives as a mother, father, sibling, spouse, partner, or relative. The majority of clients with difficulties related to their childhood find a Personality Disorder as a parent. For many, they have found themselves in a romantic relationship or marriage with a Personality Disorder. Others discover they are working with a Personality Disorder as a co-worker, supervisor, or supervisee. A smaller group finds they are victims of the severe behavior of a Personality Disorder and have been assaulted, robbed, traumatized, or manipulated.
Personality Disorders are present in 10 to 15 percent of the adult population with Cluster B accounting for approximately 9 percent based on research. At such a high percentage, it’s important that we learn to identify these individuals in our lives. A failure to identify them may create significant risk. While most of our contact with a Personality Disorder may be brief, the more involved they are in our lives, the higher the risk of emotional, social, and other damage. For this reason, it’s helpful to identify some of the characteristics of a personality disorder.
Mental health professionals have identified ten personality disorders, each with their own pattern of behaviors, emotionality, and symptoms. However, in my observation, all Cluster B Personality Disorders have core personality features that serve as the foundation for their specific personality disorder. Some of those core personality features are:
1) Self-Centered: We often hear the phrase “It’s All About Me”. When making decisions, a healthy person weighs the needs and concerns of others as well as their own. A Personality Disorder weighs only their needs and concerns. A Personality Disorder may use money to feed their family for their own purpose. A brother with a Personality Disorder may intimidate an elderly parent for money or manipulate a legal situation to eliminate siblings from an inheritance. In most situations, if we are contacted by a Personality Disorder, the contact is for THEIR purpose, not ours.
2) Refusal to Accept Personal Responsibility for Their Behavior: Individuals with a Personality Disorder almost never accept personal responsibility for their behavior. They blame others, uses excuses, claim misunderstandings, and then depict themselves as the victim in the situation. Those that are physically abusive actually blame the victims of their abuse for the assault. Victims often hear “This is your fault! Why did you make me angry?” This aspect of a Personality Disorder is very damaging when the Personality Disorder is a parent. They blame the children for their abusive, neglectful, or dysfunctional behavior. Children are told they are responsible for the temper tantrums, alcohol/substance abuse, unemployment, poverty, unhappiness, etc. of their parent. During a divorce, a Personality Disorder parent often blames the children.
3) Self-Justification: Individuals with a Personality Disorder don’t think, reason, feel, and behave normally. However, they typically justify ALL of their behaviors. Their justification often comes from their view that they have been victims of society or others and are therefore justified in their manipulative, controlling, criminal or abusive behaviors. A common justification in criminals is to blame the victim for the crime as when hearing “It’s his fault (the victim) that he got shot. He should have given me the money faster.” Healthy adults find it impossible to reason with a Personality Disorder, finding their justifications impossible to understand.
4) Entitlement: Individuals with a Personality Disorder have a tremendous sense of entitlement, a sense that they deserve respect, money, fame, power, authority, attention, etc. Some feel they are entitled to be the center of attention and when that doesn’t happen, they are entitled to create a scene or uproar to gain that attention. Entitlement also creates a justification to punish others in the Personality Disorder. If you violate one of their rules or demands, they feel entitled to punish you in some way.
5) Shallow Emotions: Healthy people are always amazed and astonished that a person with a Personality Disorder can quickly detach from a partner, move on, and exhibit very little in the way of remorse or distress. A Personality Disorder can find another partner following a breakup, often within days. These same individuals can also quickly detach from their family and children. They can become angry with their parents and not contact them for years. A Personality Disorder can abandon their children while blaming the spouse/partner for their lack of support and interest. Their ability to behave in this manner is related to their “Shallow Emotions”. The best way to think of Shallow Emotions is to have a great $300.00 automobile (192 euros). You have a limited investment in the automobile and when it’s running great you have no complaints. You take the effort to maintain maintenance on the vehicle as long as the costs are low. If it develops costly mechanical difficulties, it’s cheaper to dispose of it and get another $300.00 automobile that will run well. Also, if you move a large distance, you leave it behind because it’s more costly to transport it. A Personality Disorder has shallow emotions and often views those around them as $300.00 autos. Their emotional investment in others is minimal. If their partner is too troublesome, they quickly move on. If parents criticize their behavior, they end their relationship with them…until they need something.
6) Situational Morality: A Personality Disorder takes pride in being able to “do what I gotta do” to have their demands/needs met. They have few personal or social boundaries and in the severe cases, do not feel bound by laws of the land and quickly engage in criminal activity if needed. The motto of a Personality Disorder is “the end justifies the means”. Situational morality creates rather extreme behaviors and many Personality Disorders have no hesitation to harm themselves or others to meet their needs. Activities often seen as manipulative are tools of the trade for a Personality Disorder and include lying, dishonesty, conning behavior, intimidation, scheming, and acting. Many Personality Disorders are “social chameleons” and after evaluating a potential victim/partner, alter their presentation to be the most effective. Severe Personality Disorders have no hesitation about self-injury and will cut themselves, overdose, threaten suicide, or otherwise injure themselves with the goal of retaining their partner using guilt and obligation.
7) Narcissism and Ineffective Lives: A Personality Disorder has a strong influence on the life and lifestyle of the individual. Cluster B personality disorders often have two lives – their “real life” and the imaginary life they present to others that is full of excuses, half-truths, deceptions, cons, lies, fantasies, and stories prepared for a specific purpose. Physical abusers who were forcibly and legal removed from their children and spouse develop a story that the in-laws conspired with the police to separate them from the children they love so deeply. Jail time is often reinterpreted as “I took the blame for my friend so he could continue to work and support his family”. A major finding in a Personality Disorder is an ineffective life – reports of tremendous talent and potential but very little in the way of social or occupational success. It’s a life of excuses and deceptions. Narcissistic and Antisocial “losers” often promise romantic cruises that never take place or have a reason that their partner needs to place an automobile in his/her name. Their lives are often accompanied by financial irresponsibility, chronic unemployment, legal difficulties, and unstable living situations in the community. Their behavior often emotionally exhausts those around them – something the Personality Disorder explains with “My family and I have had a falling out.” We can be assured that no matter what “real life” situation is present in the life of the Personality Disorder, there will be a justification and excuse for it.
8) Social Disruption: There is never a calm, peaceful, and stable relationship with a Cluster B Personality Disorder! Their need to be the center of attention and control those around them assures a near-constant state of drama, turmoil, discord, and distress. An individual with a Personality Disorder creates drama and turmoil in almost every social situation. Holidays, family reunions, outings in the community, travel, and even grocery shopping are often turned into a social nightmare. The Personality Disorder also creates disruption in their family system. They are the focus of feuds, grudges, bad feelings, jealousy, and turmoil. If you have a member of your family that you hate to see arrive at a family reunion or holiday dinner – he or she probably has a Personality Disorder.
9) Manipulation As A Way of Life: To obtain our daily personal, social, and emotional needs a healthy individual has a variety of strategies to use including taking personal action, politely asking someone, making deals, being honest, etc. Healthy individuals also use manipulation as one of many social skills – buying someone a gift to cheer them up, making comments and giving hints that something in desired, etc. For the Personality Disorder, despite the many social strategies available, manipulation is their preferred method of obtaining their wants and needs. The manipulations of a Personality Disorder - when combined with shallow emotions, entitlement, and being self-centered – can be extreme. To obtain their goals, an Antisocial Personality may physically threaten, harass, intimidate, and assault those around them. Histrionic Personalities may create dramatic situations, threaten self-harm, or create social embarrassment. Narcissistic Personalities may send police and an ambulance to your home if you don’t answer their phone calls, using the excuse that they were concerned about you. Their real goal is to assure you that their phone calls MUST be answered or you will pay the consequences. Borderline Personalities may self-injure in your physical presence. In a relationship with a Personality Disorder we are constantly faced with a collection of schemes, situations, manipulations, and interactions that have a hidden agenda…their agenda.
10) The Talk and Behavior Gap: We know how people are by two samples of their personality – their talk and their behavior. A person who is honest has talk/conversation/promises that match their behavior almost 100%. If he/she borrows money and tells you they will repay you Friday, and then pays you Friday, you have an honest person. When we observe these matches frequently, then we can give more trust to that individual in the future. The wider the gap between what a person says/promises and what they do – the more they are considered dishonest, unreliable, irresponsible, etc. Due to the shallow emotions and situational morality often found in a Personality Disorder, the gap between talk and behavior can be very wide. A Personality Disorder can often assure their spouse that they love them while having an extramarital affair, borrow money with no intention of paying it back, promise anything with no intention of fulfilling that promise, and assure you of their friendship while spreading nasty rumors about you. A rule: Judge a person by their behavior more than their talk or promises.
11) Dysfunctional Parents: Individuals with a Personality Disorder are frequently parents. However, they are frequently dysfunctional parents. Personality Disorder parents often see their children as a burden to their personal goals, are often jealous of the attention their children receive, often feel competitive with their older children, and often attempt to obtain their personal goals through their children. Personality Disorder parents control their children through manipulation with little concern for how their parenting behavior will later influence the lives or the personality of the child. Personality Disorder parents are often hypercritical, leaving the child with the feeling that they are incompetent or unworthy. In extreme cases, Antisocial parents criminally neglect, abuse, or exploit their children – often teaching them to become criminals. Criminal parents often use their children to steal or carry drugs to avoid criminal charges as an adult, allowing the children to face the legal charges. Spouses with a Personality Disorder are often jealous of the attention their partner provides to children in the home, frequently targeting the child for verbal abuse in their jealousy. The narcissism and shallow emotions in a Personality Disorder parent leave the children feeling unloved, unwanted, unworthy, and unappreciated.
Unconscious or Calculated Behavior?
When we look at the emotions, attitudes and behaviors of an individual with a Personality Disorder we eventually begin to question: Are these characteristics calculated and purposeful or are they unconscious behaviors that are not under their control? In working with Personality Disorders, we see both. For example:
1) Attitudes: The majority of the attitudes we seen in Personality Disorders are very long-standing and have been present since their teen years. Blaming others is a classic personality disorder feature and after believing this for many years, people with a Personality Disorder may not truly feel they are responsible for their behavior – even their criminal behavior. They have rethought, reworked, and excused their behaviors to the point that they fail to see that they are the common denominator in all their difficulties. Convicted criminals, with crimes ranging from auto theft to homicide, all have a similar attitude – “Incarceration is unfair”. They don’t factor victims into their crimes in any way. For this reason, those with a Personality Disorder have very little understanding and insight into their attitudes that ruin relationships. Victims will assure you that trying to explain a normal, healthy position to an individual with a Personality Disorder is almost impossible.
2) Impaired Relationships: In a Personality Disorder, over many years the individual develops impaired ways of relating to others. These impaired ways of relating eventually become their only way of relating to others. Beginning in their childhood, as an adult they now only know how to relate to others with intimidation, threat, anger, manipulation, and dishonesty. This defective social style continues, even when those around them are socially skilled, concerned, accepting, and loving.
3) Situational Behavior: Justifying their behavior with these long-standing attitudes, individuals with a Personality Disorder can be very calculated, purposeful, and manipulative in their behavior toward others. Their decision making, coping strategies, and manipulations are often well-planned to meet their agenda. Financially, many will purposefully legally obligate you to pay for their debts. They may steal money from you, justifying that behavior with “I cut the grass for three years – I deserve it.” It is this combination of long-standing attitudes and calculated behavior that makes a Personality Disorder dangerous in any interpersonal relationship.
What Does This Mean For The Victims?
In a relationship with a Personality Disorder, several basic truths are present: These include:
1. The victim in a relationship with a Personality Disorder did not create the Personality Disorder. Many Personality Disorders blame the victim for their assaults, lies, bad behavior, deceptions, intimidations, etc. In truth, the Personality Disorder has those behaviors if the victim is present or absent. Victims don’t cause themselves to be assaulted – they are involved with an abusive and assaultive individual.
2. Changing the behavior of the victim does not change the behavior of the Personality Disorder. Many victims become superstitious and feel that they can control the behavior of the Personality Disorder in their life by changing their behavior. This is often a temporary fix, meaning only that you are now meeting the demands of the Personality Disorder. When the Personality Disorder feels justified, they return to their behavior with no concern for changes in the behavior of the victim. Loving sharks doesn’t protect us if we find ourselves dripping blood in a shark tank.
3. A Personality Disorder is a permanent, long-standing pattern. Time doesn’t change these personalities. If your mother or father had a personality disorder in your childhood, returning home after twenty years will find their old behavior alive and well.
4. Marrying, having a baby with, moving in with, etc. actually makes their dysfunctional behavior worse. The presence of stress exaggerates and amplifies our normal personality characteristics. Mentally healthy yet shy individuals become shyer under stress. The stress of additional responsibilities actually increases the bad behavior of a Personality Disorder.
5. When involved in any manner with a Personality Disorder – as their partner, parent, child, sibling, friend, etc. – we must not only recognize their behaviors but develop a strategy to protect ourselves. Many of our strategies must focus on protecting our emotional stability, our finances, and our other relationships. As a parent, if our adult son or daughter has a Personality Disorder, we must protect ourselves from their behaviors that might jeopardize our lifestyle and life. As the child of a parent with a Personality Disorder, we must often protect our immediate family and children from the bad behavior of our parent. It’s important to remember that with a Personality Disorder – THEIR survival and well-being is their priority – not the health or well-being of those around them.
As we go through life, we encounter a variety of individuals. We also develop a variety of relationships with others including family members, neighbors, fellow workers, friends, and familiar faces. Healthy relationships seem to be healthy in the same way – having characteristics of respect, concern for others, affection, cooperation, honesty, mutual goals, etc. A relationship with a Personality Disorder is totally different. That 9 or 10 percent of adults with a “Cluster B” Personality Disorder can create significant difficulties in our life. In brief contacts they are often troublesome - the uncle who is a con artist or the sister-in-law that nobody can tolerate at holiday dinners. When we bring them into our lives however, a Personality Disorder rapidly takes over and our life becomes centered on their needs, demands, and goals. To achieve their self-centered objectives, the Personality Disorder becomes the controller, abuser, manipulator and user in relationships. The early identification of individuals who create unhealthy relationships can save us from years of heartache as well as damage to our personality, self-esteem, finances, and lifestyle.
Specific techniques used by individuals with a Cluster B Personality Disorder can be found in another article entitled “Identifying Losers in Relationships”. I have also addressed the issues associated with remaining in an abusive or dysfunctional relationship in an article entitled “Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser”. Both articles are available on my website at www.drjoecarver.com or at www.counsellingresource.com
Joseph M Carver, Ph.D.
Saturday, July 18, 2009
NARCISSISTIC PERSONALITY DISORDER
by: Dr. Maria Hsia Chang, Professor, Political Science, University of Nevada, Reno
In psychology, personality disorders refer to individual traits that reflect ingrained,
inflexible, and maladaptive patterns of behavior that cause discomfort and impair a
person’s ability to function--including her relations with friends and family. At least ten distinct personality disorders have been identified, one of which is the narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) that the American Psychological Association (APA) classifies as a “cluster B” disorder. NPD is a highly complex psychological-behavioral syndrome that confounds and baffles those close to the afflicted. Once understood, however, one achieves clarity of vision. Socio-biologists maintain that narcissism is natural for both individuals and groups because self-love is an instinctive, natural-selection trait. That is why all children are narcissists. As individuals mature into adulthood, however, they become less narcissistic because their insecurity tends to diminish as a result of concrete achievements and successes. A certain degree of healthy self-love nevertheless continues into adulthood. It is when narcissism in adults is excessive that psychologists consider it to be a sign of immaturity or worse, a pathology--that of narcissistic personality disorder.
Although the phenomenon of excessive narcissism is as old as humanity, the formal
diagnosis of NPD was made by the APA only as recently as 1990. The following list of traits comes from the APA’s Diagnostic Statistical Manual IV:
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by 5 or more of the following:
• Has a grandiose sense of self-importance.
• Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love.
• Believes that she is “special” & unique & can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people or institutions.
• Requires excessive admiration.
• Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with her expectations.
• Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve her own ends.
• Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings & needs of others.
• Is often envious of others or believes that others are envious of her.
• Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.
In addition to the above, I’ve compiled the following, after having read, assimilated, and synthesized a great deal of the literature on this subject. Instead of the typical approach taken by the psychological literature on NPD--which describes the disorder as a syndrome of various attributes--what I attempt to do here is to uncover the central logic that accounts for the syndrome. In the following description of the NPD syndrome, I use the pronoun “she” to refer to the narcissist, for the sake of avoiding the cumbersome “he/she” and “ his/her.” The psychological literature, however, claims that male NPDs outnumber females. The literature also claims that the incidence of NPD is relatively rare, afflicting an estimated 1% of the population. Both of these claims, however, are not verified by my own personal experiences. The problem, as the psychological literature itself admits, is that the very nature of NPD prevents narcissists from admitting they have a problem and to seek professional help. As psychiatrist M. Scott Peck explains: “To receive treatment one must want it, at least on some level. And to want it one must consider oneself to be in need of it. One must, at least on some level, acknowledge his or her imperfection.”i
The few narcissists who do seek therapy, do so when their narcissism has led to a major life crisis, such as divorce, drug addiction, unemployment, and imprisonment. Even when NPDs seek counseling, they typically do not complete the course of psychotherapy. Instead, when the therapist confronts them with their pathological narcissism, the NPD would simply abandon treatment and flee. Given this, I have every reason to conclude that the statistics claimed in the literature are suspect. The simple truth, I believe, is that psychologists don’t really know how many NPDs there are in the population, nor do they really know that male NPDs outnumber females.
The NPD Syndrome
At the core of the NPD syndrome is the construction of a false self as a way to cope with the external world by compensating for the individual’s feelings of insecurity and uncertainty of identity.. Like its namesake, the mythic Narcissus who is in love with his reflection in water, the self that the narcissist loves is not her real self, but a false self that is grandiose, perfect, and superior. The particular basis of the grandiosity is what the narcissist loves herself for. That varies according to the individual, and may be physical beauty, intellect, talent, power, etc. As a consequence, psychologists divide narcissists into two types: the somatic and the cerebral. The former are those whose narcissism is focused on their bodies; the latter are those who have a grandiose conception that they have a superior intellect. I would add a third type: the spiritual narcissist. These are those who ooze with false piety, having a false conception of themselves as supremely virtuous. Regardless of the particular basis of grandiosity, the narcissist strives to maintain and protect that false self at all costs. In effect, the grandiose false self acts like the enter of a wheel, to which are affixed the spokes. The latter are the syndromatic attributes of NPD, which function to protect and maintain the grandiose false self. The constellation of attributes is not accidental because there is a functional reason for the various attributes. This is the underlying logic that accounts for the syndrome. Together with the APA’s DSM IV criteria, those “spokes” may constitute a particularly malignant form of narcissism. They include the following attributes:
• Using people—even supposed loved ones—as tools of self-aggrandisement to affirm and maintain the false self. The narcissist is hollow inside and derives her sense-of self from seeing her reflection in the eyes of others. The psychological literature calls this “mirroring”: the narcissist mainly uses other people as a mirror to reflect her grandiose self-conception. Like a vampire who must feed on others’ blood in order to live, the narcissist feeds on other people’s love, approval, admiration, and compliments. Once the source is sucked dry, the narcissist no longer has use of that person and will abruptly and mercilessly cast him/her aside.
• To lure people into her web, the successful narcissist puts on an attractive social mask. She can be charming, gracious, socially adept, even obsequious. She must also be a consummate actor, skilled at simulating the whole range of human emotions, especially those of love, compassion, and kindness. The more successful she is at simulation, the greater her circle of friends and acquaintances who function as her primary and secondary feeding sources.
• More than to lure people into her web, the narcissist’s charming social mask also conceals the false self from scrutiny. Concealment requires secrecy, evasion, dishonesty, and lying. In effect, the narcissist is a consummate pathological liar, i.e., she habitually lies, even about seemingly trivial, inconsequential matters.
• Using other people as her “bloodbank” requires that the narcissist be a human emotional radar. The successful narcissist is psychologically astute and shrewd so that she can “size up” everyone she encounters for their potential to be her blooddonor.
• Cynically using other people also requires that the narcissist be lacking in empathy.
Do not be fooled by her simulations at empathy. A good experiment is for you to withhold your approval and compliments. You will discover that, overnight, the narcissist has lost her kindness and even simple civility.
• The maintenance and protection of the false self also requires the narcissist to be constantly vigilant against being “attacked” by others. This is why the narcissist overreacts with rage and humiliation to any perceived criticism, no matter how minor or trivial the perceived criticism.
• As the saying goes, “the best defense is offense.” More than reacting with rage to criticisms, the narcissist attacks the critic. This is called scapegoating--projecting one’s own faults (what Carl Jung called our “shadow”) onto another person, and blaming the other for the narcissist’s own inadequacies. The narcissist is very skilled at this.
• The false self must be impervious, which requires the narcissist to resist self examination and introspection. Doing so would open the narcissist to reality-based assessment--a dangerous undertaking because the false self is, by definition, unreal. As a consequence, instead of the insecurities of normal human beings, the narcissist exhibits an impassive and uncritical acceptance of herself.
• The inability or unwillingness to be introspective, in turn, results in cognitive dissonance, cognitive gaps, and non sequiturs. Trying to engage a narcissist in serious dialogue--especially about herself or her beliefs and values--can be a disconcerting experience because nothing she says makes sense.
• Since the false self is superior and grandiose, it needs no one. The narcissist dreads becoming dependent on others, but asserts and clings to an exaggerated independence. Since her love of herself is all-consuming, she is incapable of love and emotional commitments to other people. This is why the narcissist reacts to sincere declarations of love (verbal or in the form of behavior, such as significant gifts) by emotionally distancing herself and, in some cases, outright abandonment--because she is unable to reciprocate that commitment.
• In effect, the narcissist’s grandiose self-conception makes her a god unto herself. Gods are not subject to the morality that governs lesser beings--“rules don’t apply to me.” The narcissist refuses to subscribe to society’s moral rules and ethical standards. Instead, morality is subjective: “Nobody can judge me.” One NPD I know exhibited this trait when she blithely received the Holy Eucharist (believed by Catholics to be the actual body of Christ) in Mass--although she is not Catholic! Another NPD, a former student of mine, responded with rage to my critique of his essay-exam, which garnered a respectable “B” grade, insisting that he was not subject to the grammatical rules of the English language.
• Lacking an abstract universal system of moral codes--and being cognitively impaired-the narcissist lives in a world of feelings and sensations: “What’s good is that which makes me feel good.” Narcissists tend to wallow in cheap “feel good” sentiments.
• Since the false self is grandiose and perfect, relationship problems are never the fault of the narcissist. She blames everyone, but herself.
• This also means that narcissists do not ever apologize or admit that they are wrong or at fault. Instead, they will always subtly, if not blatantly, turn things around to blame you.
• All of this means that narcissists do not, as a rule, seek therapy. In the few cases that do, it is because their problems have become so serious that they cannot be ignored (e.g., divorce, drug abuse, job loss, imprisonment). Even then, the narcissist resists therapy and is likely to blame the therapist (scapegoating!) and flee from treatment.
How to Deal With a Narcissist
• The first rule is: Give up on your fantasy that you have an authentic relationship with the narcissist. Sadly, the person you think you love/like never existed.
• The second rule is: Don’t be a bloodbank for the narcissist.
• The third rule is: Be emotionally detached.
• The fourth rule is: If you must interact with her, challenge the narcissist’s false conceptions of herself by insisting on reality-based assessment. Doing so, however, is guaranteed to alienate you from the narcissist--which is a good thing because the narcissist is incapable of genuine friendship and love. In the last analysis, you are better off without the narcissist.
• If, unfortunately, you must have her in your life because your survival depends on her, as in the case of a child needing the narcissistic mother’s care, the way to get along with her is to feed her fantasies by lavishing compliments on her, i.e., by letting yourself be her bloodbank.
Why Pathological Narcissism is a Spiritual Disorder
A fifth-century theologian who called himself Dionysius the Aereopagite once wrote in The Divine Names that, “The denial of the true Self is a declension from Truth.”ii In the last analysis, in constructing and clinging to their false selves, the entire persona of the NPD is a big lie. That being so, I have come to believe that NPD is not a psychological disorder at all, but a moral and spiritual disorder. Allow me to explain.
An intrinsic attribute of the NPD syndrome is deception--of oneself and of others--in the service of maintaining the grandiose false self. Philosopher René Descartes wrote that “willful deception evinces maliciousness and weakness.”iii A person does not deceive without thinking about and willing it. One does not lie unless one intends to hide the truth, which means that one knows that one is being deceptive. Nor can the NPD put together and maintain the elaborate and intricate NPD syndrome of attributes (e.g., using others for self-aggrandisement, attractive social mask, secrecy, evasion, lying, scapegoating, etc.) without conscious effort. Psychologists say that, in their quiet moments, NPDs know that they are not really as grandiose as they pretend.iv When NPDs cynically use others to “feed” their false self, they know it. When they overreact to perceived criticisms, they know what the truth is. When they lie to conceal their inadequacies, they have chosen to deceive. When they scapegoat others, they do so with deliberation. And when they refuse to apologize, they know they are in the wrong. All of which means that free will is fully engaged in this so-called “disorder.” In effect, the NPD is more than a mental sickness. Pathological narcissism is not some noxious virus or bacteria that overtakes a person. Whatever the early childhood experiences, free will is still operative here. Rather, NPD is a moral disorder, because it is immoral to lie and to use, exploit, blame, and hurt others. More than immoral, NPD is, at its foundation, a spiritual blight. Since the false self of the narcissist is extremely grandiose, she excludes herself from the moral norms that govern “lesser” beings: “rules don’t apply to me.” That makes NPDs their own gods. In so doing, they are in denial of the fundamentally flawed nature of all human beings. The malignant narcissist is more than immoral, she is evil. In his book, People of the Lie, Peck proposed to the psychological profession a new diagnostic category of the “evil personality disorder” (EPD) as a sub-type of NPD. As he put it, “The evil are ‘the people of the lie,’ deceiving others as they also build layer upon layer of self-deception.” And when the narcissist intentionally hurts another, she has crossed the line from being an NPD to being an EPD. In Peck’s words, “evil individuals will flee self-examination and guilt by blaming and attempting to destroy whatever or whoever highlights their deficiencies.”v
Except for atheists (who must be very grandiose because they claim to know a negative, i.e., that God does not exist),vi all of us--the religious as well as agnostics--believe in the existence of some supreme moral being or force in the universe. Recognizing that, most of us harken to these words of Descartes: “I have been so constituted as to be some kind of middle ground between God and nothing . . . . [A]s I am not the supreme being, I lack quite a few things.”vii Dionysius the Areopagite concluded that being self-centered is “inherently wrong” because we have “no right to be the centre of things” as only God is the rightful center of all things.viii
Not only is vanity and pride the first of the Seven Deadly Sins, I believe that narcissism is the root of all evil. Decrying the ills that he saw rampant in modern society--the relativization of all moral norms and the reduction of life to the immediate pursuit of material gain without regard to its general consequences--VaÇlav Havel observed that “Given its fatal incorrigibility, humanity will have to go through many more Rwandas and Chernobyls before it understands how unbelievably short-sighted a human being can be who has forgotten that he is not God.” It is the misdiagnosis of pathological narcissism as a “personality disorder” instead of a moral-spiritual condition which accounts for psychiatrists’ characterization of it as “one of the most . . . difficult-to-treat conditions in the lexicon of mental illness.”ix
Copyright® 2002. Last updated: January 3, 2004.
Sunday, July 12, 2009
Love itself is a form of “transformation” or that which brings one to a more spiritual and emotional state then any other type of emotion in us. Love is a part of who we are and also what we are capable of. It is love itself that represents parts of a whole. What I mean is that love is past present and future all wrapped up in all of us which is what allows us the ability to love and be loved. If one doesn’t understand love and accept our personal love for ourselves and others then how can one love another? Love always starts with you are an individual but it also ends with you. A child is born unknowing of love but is taught the art of love thought it’s caretaker. It started with the caretaker (past) then given to Child (present) and then returns to both caretaker and child (future) in time. That which started with one begets two but can be then three four etc. Love itself is enduringly and if it’s true healthy love it’s forever in a state of expansion and growth. How can anyone who has true love not be transformed or in some way brought to a higher level of consciousness?
Mother and Child
By: James Phillips
A mother’s love should be so deep and long lasting
A bond given by birth one a child the other a mother to this child
Two who shared the same flesh and the same heart beat for awhile
A child given by God to love and nourish with needs to meet
This is how all mothers start out to be for any child
But sometimes a mother so lost to herself and child
Finds herself not wanting this precious child
Defining this child to be what she needs
Destroying both child and this mother who
Could never meet the child's needs or desirers
So this mother trades this child for another love
Then forget this one so precious and dear this child should be
So that the child grows apart from her and her needs
Learning that this mother’s love was only for her self
and never for this precious child
Both God and child will leave this one to be
In a place so deep and cold this mother shall be
Place there by her hand and her own desirers
Who forsaken a child so precious and dear
For now this child will forget her
But not just the child today’s
Nay but for all the child’s tomorrows
Now this mother will spend all her ending days
Believing someday both child and mother again will be
Together and bonded as they were once before
But alas now she lies only to herself and not the child
For you see that child now has completed their own
autonomy and knows who this person really is
and that she was never that mother she pretended to be
Nor shall she ever be for all eternality
Lost to not only God and child but herself as
well she will need to pay that price for all her denials
For not just her today's Nay for all her tomorrow's
There she lives in pain and denial for all her yesterdays
Regrets for all her lies and denials to her self and her lost child
A child, after all, is the ultimate Source of Narcissistic Supply. It is unconditionally adoring, worshipping and submissive. But it is also a demanding thing and it tends to divert attention from the narcissist. A child takes too much of everything that the adults around him have to offer: time, energy, emotions, resources, attention. The narcissistic can easily be converted to the view that a child is a menace, a nuisance, utterly unnecessary.
This makes for a very shaky foundation of marital life. The narcissist does not need or seek companionship or friendship. He/She does not mix sex and emotions. He/She finds it hard to make love to someone that he/she loves. He/She ultimately abhors their children and tries to limit and confine them to the role of Narcissistic Supply Sources. He/she is a bad friend, lover and father/mother. He/She is likely to divorce many times (if he/she ever gets married) and to end up in a series of monogamous relationships.
Saturday, July 11, 2009
One bright, beautiful Sunday morning, everyone in tiny Anytown got up early and went to the local church. Before the service started, the townspeople were sitting in their pews and talking about their lives, their families, and so on.
Suddenly, Satan appeared at the front of the church.
Everyone started screaming and running for the front entrance, trampling each other in a frantic effort to get away from evil incarnate. Soon everyone had left the church except for an elderly gentleman who sat calmly in his pew, not moving, seemingly oblivious to the fact that God's ultimate enemy was in his presence.
Now, this confused Satan a bit, so he walked up to the man and said, "Hey! Don't you know who I am?"
The man replied, "Yep, sure do."
Satan asked, "Aren't you afraid of me?"
"Nope, sure ain't," said the man.
Satan was a little perturbed at this and queried, "Why aren't you afraid of me?"
The man calmly replied, "I've been married to your sister for 25 years."
Sunday, July 5, 2009
THE MALIGNANT PERSONALITY
By Caroline Konrad
These people are mentally ill and extremely dangerous! The following precautions will help to protect you from the destructive acts of which they are capable.
First, to recognize them, keep the following guidelines in mind.
(1) They are habitual liars. They seem incapable of either knowing or telling the truth about anything.
(2) They are egotistical to the point of narcissism. They really believe they are set apart from the rest of humanity by some special grace.
(3) They scapegoat; they are incapable of either having the insight or willingness to accept responsibility for anything they do. Whatever the problem, it is always someone else's fault.
(4) They are remorselessly vindictive when thwarted or exposed.
(5) Genuine religious, moral, or other values play no part in their lives. They have no empathy for others. Under older psychological terminology, they fall into the category of psychopath or sociopath, but unlike the typical psychopath, their behavior is masked by a superficial social facade.
If you have come into conflict with such a person or persons, do the following immediately! :
Notify your friends and relatives of what has happened. Don't be ashamed. Tell.
Do not be vague. Name names, and specify dates and circumstances. Identify witnesses if possible and provide supporting documentation if any is available.
Instruct friends to take such an incident to the newspapers and other media.