Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Message

The message from heaven to earth the night of Christ's birth was "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men". Luke 2:14 The word "gospel" means good news. The good news of the Gospel was summed up by the angel that night to the shepherds. The God of Heaven was sending a gift to humanity; it was a gift that was immeasurable in worth and completely irreplaceable and was proof of a God reconciling a sinful race to Himself. Proof that God's heart toward man was conciliatory, not hostile. The ultimate overture of peace and good will was wrapped up in that unique baby.

Compare that nativity announcement with the words of Christ some thirty years later, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." Matt. 10:34-35 KJV

How do we reconcile these two messages? Why do Christians so often emphasize the one and ignore the other? I don't know why. But here's my thought for the season.

The good news announced in Luke 2:14 is the message of reconciliation and peace between God and humanity. No promise has been made that we will have peace between man and man. In fact, the opposite is promised as illustrated by Christ's statement in Matt. 10.

In other words, it is very possible to have peace and reconciliation between you and God, but be at variance with members of your own household. Other versions of the Bible say "a man's enemies will be those of his own household." Enemy. Strong word. Christ makes an unequivocal statement that family will often be a person's worst enemy.

How is this possible?

Truth is divisive. No getting around it. Since the word truth is subject to multiple definitions, I'll state it this way. Truth is reality. Truth isn't different from person to person when we are talking about reality. When someone holds to true and right principles, when they refuse to live in non-reality, those who have no principles find themselves extremely annoyed. To say the least. Someone who adheres to principle is a living irritation and rebuke to those who would throw off all constraint on their behavior.

You've experienced this with the narcissist. If you refused to capitulate to his lies, his history revisionism, his grandiose fantasies of himself, his petulant demands, you've also experienced his wrath. You've found yourself suddenly at war. A war he declared. You've tried and tried and tried again to live in peace with this person, but the moment you insist on living in reality, a reality he disapproves of, you find yourself engaged in a battle. This is the inevitable division that occurs when one person loves the truth and another "loves and makes a lie". Rev. 22:15

My Christmas wish to all you dear readers of this blog is that you will experience the peace with God which is freely given, and that you will not feel that being hated, repudiated, separated from, or abused by a narcissistic family member or your entire family is some kind of sign of being unloved by God, for it means no such thing. The more you have stood on truth-based reality and refused to believe the lies and fantasies of the narcissist, the more you've experienced their vitriol. This is the order of things. Those who hate the truth and love lies will naturally hate you if you insist on living in the truth.

This blog is about truth. It is about reality. It is about exposing the lies of the narcissist. It is about finding true spiritual freedom from the tyranny of those who embrace evil and lies. Loving the truth will give you peace with God and peace with those of humanity who also love truth. Expect, though, that loving the truth is a guarantee that you will have enemies. And it is likely those enemies will be of your "own household". Don't be surprised when it happens.

Having enemies is not how you measure God's attitude toward you. Don't listen to the do-gooders who would imply or even outright state that if you are not reconciled with your family then you are not in good standing with God. If a division is made because you are standing up for good and right principles, then the division is not your fault. Sacrificing integrity for peace will ultimately result in no integrity and, at best, a temporary truce with evil. Which means if you sacrifice integrity for peace you will have no integrity and no peace at the end of the day.

Embrace truth and let the chips fall where they may. Expose the evil in your midst and make a stand for the real victims of the predators among us. If that victim is you, then stand up for yourself. Only by exposing and denouncing evil do we stand a chance of keeping it in check.

"In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers. . . we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations."
--Alexander Solzehnitsyn

Merry Christmas from my heart to yours, and many wishes for a wonderful new year. May each of us do our part to build up the foundations of justice for new generations this coming year.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Voice of God or the Devil--The Expose'

I ended my last post with these questions:

Is it possible for a narcissist to be plugged into the voice of a holy and just God? Are you in spiritual danger if you discount someone's claims to be hearing God's voice even though you can see that the fruit of their lives is rotten? How can you know for sure it is okay to dismiss these transmissions without fear that you may be dismissing God Himself?

Let's start with the concept of "consider the source". Would we listen to a practicing womanizer lecture us on the need for fidelity in marriage? Would we sit still for a "sermon" from a convicted embezzler on the necessity for good ethics in business? How about a murderer on the sanctity of life? The answer is obviously no. Even though the womanizer, embezzler and murderer would likely be mouthing words of obvious truth on their selected subjects, their message would lack credibility and impact because of their hypocrisy. We would feel no shame in "considering the source". We could rightly assume that the person we are listening to can have no deep or helpful insight to give us because their lives, their actions, prove that they themselves don't believe what they are saying. Why should we? We expect people to practice what they preach. Rightly so.

Let me clarify at this point what hypocrisy is. I have noticed that people are a bit fuzzy on the definition of hypocrisy and therefore get tangled up in moral dilemmas that don't exist because of it. An example of what hypocrisy isn't: Take a parent who experimented with drugs as a teenager. The parent hasn't done drugs since he was 17. No ongoing drug problem. It's been 20 years since he touched the stuff. Now the parent has a teen of his own. The parent is conflicted about counseling his teen to never do drugs because he thinks he is being hypocritical since he himself tried them as a teen. How can he tell his kid to not do what he himself did? Wrong thinking. To give his son a clear, unequivocal instruction to never do drugs is being a responsible parent, not a hypocrite. The parent isn't doing drugs. Therefore, he is not hypocritical to tell someone else to not do drugs.

Here is a scenario that would make this parent a hypocrite: The parent is currently a drug user. For the parent to take a hit off his bong in the evening and then tell his teen in the morning to never do drugs...that is hypocrisy. Is the bong-smokin' parent imparting good advice based on truth if he tells his teen to not do drugs? Absolutely. It is truth he would be imparting because drugs are proven to be destructive to the body, mind and soul. But the message is lost due to the hypocritical messenger. The truth loses impact when the delivery system is a person who acts in contradiction to it.

Hypocrisy = when your life (your consistent behaviors) are the opposite of your words.

The narcissist is a complete and total hypocrite. Their words and their actions are in constant contradiction. When a narcissist dons spiritual garb they raise the level of hypocrisy exponentially. Don't take my word for it. Let's look at some Biblical concepts.

Matthew 7. This chapter is part of what is often called "the Sermon on the Mount" and was given by Christ early in His earthly ministry. Let's read a passage from this sermon. Then we're going to consider these words in light of something He said just previous which we will read keeping in mind the above lesson on what hypocrisy is.

Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Matt. 7:15-20 NKJV

This passage begins with a solemn warning to Christians that there will be, guaranteed, "false prophets" in the congregation. The broader meaning of the name "prophet" is someone who represents God before the it can be a term applied not just to a foreteller, but also an "inspired speaker". Look in your concordance. A false prophet is described in the concordance as a "pretended foreteller or a religious imposter". Got that? A false prophet can be a person who pretends to be religious by pretending to represent God's will and word to you.

Christ doesn't issue this warning to Christians just to scare them. He is next prescribes how these pretenders can be spotted. He makes reference to nature as He describes how a bad tree, a thornbush, or a thistle is not going to produce good edible fruit. He then promises that, ultimately, these bearers of bad fruit will be "cut down and thrown into the fire"...a promise of a final judgment. Vs. 20 tells us that we will know them by their fruits. That is counsel for us to apply reason and judgment to the behaviors of other Christians. Especially those Christians who present themselves as qualified to present God's word to us. The higher the profession, the higher the burden of proof needed to prove said profession.

This issue of judging fruit must be reconciled with the words Christ spoke just moments earlier as recorded in Matthew 7:1-5. This is a passage well-worn by narcissists. It is taken to be the absolute prohibition for Christians to ever judge anyone. That is the infantile understanding of the spiritual reality Christ was actually trying to teach. We do a great disservice if we take Matt. 7:1-5 and make it contradict Matt. 7:15-20. To do so makes Christ look insane. Since I don't believe He was insane, I look for the consistency between the two. It isn't hard to find.

Matt. 7:1-5 is counsel to not judge in hypocrisy. It is counsel to examine our own hearts very, very carefully before we start meting out judgments of others because the measure we use to weigh others in will be the measure used to weigh our own souls. To take this passage to be a complete prohibition against all judgment is to be stupid. It is instruction to us to examine our own lives very truthfully and carefully to make sure we aren't about to condemn someone else for what we ourselves are guilty of. To condemn our own sins in others is to add a censorious and critical spirit on top of the sin itself. Which makes you the bigger sinner.

Look at vs. 5: "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother's eye." Is that a condemnation of all judgment? No! It is a condemnation of judging in hypocrisy. After you've removed the big ole' board out of your own eye only then will you be able to see clearly enough to help your brother get that teeny little bit of sawdust out of his own eye. The adulterer can't condemn the flirtations he sees a brother engaging in with someone not his wife until the adulterer stops violating his own marriage vows. If the adulterer sees another man engaging in inappropriate behavior in relation to his marriage the adulterer damn well better keep his mouth shut. He hasn't a leg to stand on. His ability to see what he thinks is wrong behavior is seriously compromised by that strange woman in his own bed. Once you get the plank out of your own eye, you'll also be able to see that you are a bigger sinner than your brother with the speck in his eye. Which should keep you very humble and demand that you approach him because of your deep love for him...not because you have him in a "gotcha" position. You won't use his small sin to whitewash your own and bigger sins. That's how a narcissist uses your justify his own.

Let's use something less obvious than adultery. How about the very prideful person? Are they in a position to condemn you as being filled with pride? No. How about the avaricious person who covets everything you and others have? Are they qualified to condemn you for being too materialistic? Uh, no. The prideful and the covetous have two very big planks in their eye. Therefore, they are likely to see that plank and think they see it in your eye...when the truth is that the board is actually only in their eye. They misidentify the location of said plank. Projection is likely when a hypocrite starts condemning other's supposed sins. Another reason why judging in hypocrisy is wrong. It misidentifies sin and its location. Blame-shifting and projection are the result.

Let's now compare the two trees...good tree and bad the fruit they produce. One tree is called Spirit, the other Carnal (Selfish). One tree represents someone controlled by God...the other, a person who is controlled by sin. The New Testament talks a lot about the "fleshly life" which is another way of saying sinful. Not of God. A life lived according to our basest desires. Self centered. Someone who has resolutely turned from living according to the "flesh" (i.e. someone who is truly repentant) is given power by the Spirit--not to live in sin, but to live righteously. The person who is allowing God's spirit to control them will not produce the fruit of a debased life. See Galatians 5:16.

Galatians gives us a couple of lists. These lists are to help us identify whether the tree is "good" or "bad" based on the fruit hanging off their limbs.

The bad tree has this type of fruit:

"The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God." Gal. 5:19-21 NIV

I'm not big on paraphrases of the Bible because they are not as accurate as translations, but sometimes paraphrases can help get things across in more modern language. Check out The Message Bible paraphrase of vss. 19 & 20:

It is obvious what kind of life develops out of trying to get your own way all the time: repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community. I could go on.

Paul is careful to point out that the selfish life will not go on to inherit eternal life. Christ describes the selfish and hypocritical life to be one of "lawlessness". (Matt. 7:23) Lawless? Let's think this one through. I don't remember who said this, but the quote itself stuck, "Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue." The fact that someone is a hypocrite means he acknowledges there is a law outside himself that exists. Be it a moral law or a civil one...he pretends to be following that law by what he says. But his behavior goes against the law. The hypocrite, while paying homage to lawfulness (i.e. moral virtue) by pretending to follow the law, when no one is looking he disregards the law. His life reveals he is dedicated to violating the law. Hypocrisy is a sign that a person is not to be trusted because he is lawless.

[Update] I found the author of the quote above, "Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue". It was French essayist La Rochefoucauld.

What fruit hangs off the good tree?

"...the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." Gal. 5:22

How many of these fruits do you see in the life of the malignant narcissist? Zero. Remember, we need to consider consistency here. The consistent behaviors of the life is the measurement of the character. Not the occasional misdeed or the occasional good deed.

So, using the Biblical measurement and following the command to "know them by their fruits" we can safely assess that the malignant narcissist is a bad tree. They live in complete contradiction to the truth. There is not one fruit hanging on the "bad tree" that we don't see hanging off the narcissist's life.

We don't have to go so far as to judge where they will be spending eternity. We don't have to even say whether or not they are truly Christian. We can confine ourselves to simply looking at the fruit of their lives. What does the fruit say about the tree? In the case of the malignant narcissist the fruit condemns them as being corrupt and living apart from God's Spirit. We can safely judge from their consistent behavior that they come to us "in sheep's clothing" (Matt. 7:15). They present themselves as prophets. They pretend to have the Word of the Lord in their mouths, but their lives testify against their profession. Their agenda must be questioned because of the consistent hypocrisy of their lives. Ravening wolves is the descriptor Christ used. A wolf is predatory. Their agenda is predatory. False prophets' agenda is predation of the flock. We can rightly assume that a predator does not have the best interest of you at heart.

Christians are instructed by Christ Himself to inspect the fruit of those who present themselves to us as prophets, i.e. those who claim to represent God to us. An "inspired speaker" is, by definition, someone who is inspired by God's Spirit. The Scriptures are clear that the person who consistently and persistently lives a life filled with the sins listed in Gal. 5 are not inspired nor empowered by God's Spirit. Argue with that and you are arguing with the Word, not me.

So does God speak to us through hypocrites? If God has a critical message for you, a message which addresses your soul's peril, will He risk the message being lost because He sent it through a hypocrite? Would God risk His critical message to you by committing it to the person with the big old log in their eye?

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD...Is. 1:18

Using Biblically guided reason, the answer is a resounding no. Someone whose life consistently bears bad fruit is not entrusted by God with a word to you from Him. Does the hypocrite sometimes speak the truth? Absolutely yes. But God recognizes the difficulty we have in sorting out the truth when the hypocrite with an agenda is mixing truth freely with untruth. He knows we are quick to discount truth when spoken by a known liar. God doesn't blame us for having that reaction either because it is a reasonable assumption. When the liar speaks truth it is usually only to lend credence to a lie. Pure lies don't sell. They need to attach parasitically onto truth in order to be palatable enough for us to swallow whole. See the snake in the Garden of Eden. He hid his lies by stirring in a measure of truth.

Integrity in the messenger is necessary for a message of truth to have power to convince. God will not entrust the saving of your soul to someone who is "full of hypocrisy and wickedness" (Matt. 23:28)

Take a measure of God's absolute hatred and intolerance for hypocrisy by reading Christ's condemnations in the Sermon on the Mount referenced earlier. Matt. 6:1-18. Then check out Matt. 23. Christ issues scathing rebukes to the hypocrite leaders and then asks this rhetorical question:

"You snakes! You brood of vipers! How will you escape being condemned to hell?" vs. 33.

Much of Christ's earthly minister was directed at saving the people from the predations of the hypocritical religious leaders. Has He changed? Is Christ going to send you a message for the saving of your soul through a hypocrite today?

Heb. 13:8 "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever."

Christ didn't condemn and verbally flog the hypocrites of yesterday only to send one to you today to save your soul.

When the fire-breathing narcissist comes to you with a purported message from God Himself, ask yourself whose voice they are likely articulating, God's or the devil's? If the narcissist has proven by their wicked lives that they are not Spirit-controlled, then why do you assume that God has sent a message to you through a liar and a hypocrite? Christ said this to the hypocrite spiritual leaders of His day,

You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father's desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. John 8:44

Whose voice did Christ say the spiritual hypocrites were speaking with? The devil's own voice. "When he lies, he speaks his native language". If you have a spiritual hypocrite in your life you can know who their father is...and whose desires they are carrying out. Christ identified them for us. The liar only speaks for the devil. Know it and live accordingly.

Where does true spiritual authority derive from? The malignant spiritual narcissist is a usurper and anarchist. They usurp true spiritual authority and they subtly teach others to disregard God's laws...and by derivative, man's laws. Until we know where true spiritual authority comes from we are vulnerable to the usurper. That is fodder for another post on another day.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Voice of God or the devil?

When a narcissist discovers the vast potential for control of others through spirituality, whole congregations are in danger. Not all spiritual narcissists belong to a formal congregation; I believe that many are satisfied with controlling the "congregation" of family. Either way, a spiritual narcissist holds a very powerful handle on others once they learn the jargon, a few good Bible texts, and perfect their angel face.

Much that is labeled "spiritual" falls into the category of subjective and undefinable. At least in the minds of many people "spiritual" seems subjective and undefinable because many times rationalizations are labeled "spiritual"...and rationalizations can be legion. Because of this ambiguity, narcissists thrive. Narcissists flourish in the areas of ambiguity that exist in the minds of normal and decent people. Narcissists also thrive in social settings where the majority of people are in full possession of a conscience. People with a conscience can easily be convinced they are the ones in the wrong, that they are the ones misperceiving reality. So the narcissist who stumbles upon the rich potential of a gathering of spiritually minded people is like a kid in a candy store. Or a fox in a hen house. Or a wolf in sheep's clothing.

In my unfortunate dealings with spiritual narcissists (a category my mother also falls into since the late '90s) I have noted a common thread. The spiritual N recognizes the powerful handle they have on many by simply claiming to be plugged into the "voice of God". They either claim to have a superior understanding of God's voice as it pertains to the Scriptures, or they will go so far as to claim to be able to hear His voice either through prayer, or simply moment by moment as if they are tuned into the frequency that God transmits His will through that only the most spiritual and pure have access to on the tuner. Or all of the above. Because the Bible has many examples of individuals who heard God's voice and have articulated it for the congregation, Christians are loathe to summarily discount someone who claims such an ability. We get sucked in by our desire to believe that God's voice is so clear and discernible even if only by a select few. Who are we to say whether or not Holy Joe over there is plugged into God's Holy Frequency Channel? Rather than look like an unbeliever, most will go along with Holy Joe's claims simply because it seems impossible to disprove him.

The first and most overt case of a spiritual narcissist in my experience was my aunt who had convinced her family she could hear the voice of God, or "Abba" as she called Him. She was my mother's youngest sister, my Aunt S. I was rather shocked at her latest revision of herself when I saw her for the first time in half a dozen years. This aunt had long made great professions of spirituality and had gone through several spiritual fads, but now it was apparent she'd taken it to the next level. She went around piously stating constantly, "Abba told me this" or "Abba says no". It was an instantaneous feed where, in the very process of a conversation, my aunt claimed to have God's answer to your question or request. I watched quietly as she completely controlled the behaviors of her immediate family with this "Abba this" and "Abba that". It took me less than a day to become fully disgusted with her manipulative behavior as well as marveling at her husband's complete and total capitulation to her spiritual "superiority". She had the absolute and final last word on any subject because she had convinced her "congregation" that she had become so spiritual that she could constantly hear God's voice. By any subject I mean everything. Apparently, God is a complete control freak and really wants to tell us whether or not to eat toast for breakfast or what time to get the tires on the car rotated. Micro-management of our every single movement is apparently the spiritual narcissist's concept of God. No surprise there, since the narcissist aspires to be God Himself, and it is the narcissist's desire to completely control everything about everyone. A case of projection onto the Almighty Himself.

My mother was there for this bit of theatrics by her sister and apparently she took notes. Even though she acted a little shocked by her sister's behavior when I privately pointed out to my mother that it was just a manipulation tactic, I think the evidence now proves that my mother must have envied the power her sister had found to keep family members in complete control.

It was within the next year my mother made great profession of a conversion. Shortly thereafter she started spending large amounts of time in "Bible study" and prayer. I put Bible study in quotes because her idea of Bible study is just as perverted as anything else about her. I found out later that my mother had begun to control my cousin and her sons with messages from God in the months following her "conversion". My mother wasn't yet as overt as her sister. She didn't claim to have a continuous feed from Heaven Central. Her evolving gig consisted of her claims that in her long prayer sessions "God told me that you need to...." insert whatever it was she wanted this person to do or to stop doing. Her revelations always came after one of her looooooong prayers that she was careful to point out the length of to anyone who would listen.

It was my mother's claim to hear God's voice that ended my relationship with her. Before she engaged in an unprovoked verbal attack upon my then 20 year old daughter, my mother had been praying in my living room during the fateful Thanksgiving visit of 2002. She told my father and my daughter that morning that during her prayers in the wee hours of that day she had heard a voice telling her "GO" as she prayed about her granddaughter. She repeated this story about the voice that said "GO" many times to various people in the fall-out from this event as she tried to exonerate herself. She was simply following God's clear instruction and therefore she was not responsible for what happened. God was. We were resisting God's will by not acknowledging she was only doing what God told her to. Because I persistently refused to believe her claim to be hearing God's voice...and because I insisted on the many objective reasons why I knew it couldn't have been God's voice talking to her...she eventually recanted and said it must not have been God's voice after all. This recantation was only given to me and my daughter and not to those who weren't there to witness the event. When she felt cornered she was willing to tell me what she knew I wanted to hear...the voice in her head wasn't God. It was obvious I wasn't going to believe that the little man behind the curtain was the Great she caved.

I also have had an experience with a spiritual narcissist who is not related to me. She too claimed to have special ability and abundant spirituality that enabled her to know God's will. She usurped power from her church positions and attempted to control every aspect of this small church's operation and outreach. This saga was particularly painful and drawn out as most people refused to see this woman for what she was. The church didn't survive the experience.

People who are honest with themselves realize that they are not particularly pure or pious. Because of this they tend to believe the professions of those who appear to be pious and pure. The decent but average churchgoer will subvert their own good sense to the spiritual narcissist because they can be easily convinced that someone else is more spiritual than themselves. No one knows better than you do that you aren't on your knees for an hour a day and studying your Bible for two hours a day. Christians are taught to believe that prayer and Bible study are the sure-fire way to get on the holiness fast-track. So when Holy Joanie comes along and drops hints about her vast hours of prayer, meditation and study, you feel like a spiritual midget and are primed to fall for the pronouncements from those you perceive to be more spiritual than you.

A bit of advice here...the truly pious make no professions of being such. It is the hypocrite and Pharisee that makes a great show of their religious acts and piety. Consider it a red flag when someone you know is careful to drop hints about their hours of prayer and Bible study, their charitable donations or volunteer work, their degrees in theology or their years of "being in the truth" when it is gratuitous to do so. See Matthew chapter six for extra help when confronted with someone who makes sure everyone see their good works. The person who has the trumpets blown just before they drop their money into the church coffers is a hypocrite. Period. When you catch someone being careful to do their good works out of sight and without recognition then you've probably found a truly good and sincerely religious person.

Sometimes the hypocrite doesn't drop the hints but finds others to do that for her. She has a few loyal friends who are careful to sing her praises or go into attack mode when their "leader" is confronted by someone who isn't buying the act. Spiritual narcissists gain a lot of power by just having a few good people who will defend her reputation to the death. The victims of the spiritual narcissist find themselves quickly ostracized, criticized and their reputations mutilated by these "true believers" in the narcissist's spiritual gifts.

Is it possible for a narcissist to be plugged into the voice of a holy and just God? Are you in spiritual danger if you discount someone's claims to be hearing God's voice even though you can see that the fruit of their lives is rotten? How can you know for sure it is okay to dismiss these transmissions without fear that you may be dismissing God Himself?

Since I'm tired of typing...I'll attempt to address those questions in the next post.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Denial as a Tactic of Manipulation

When we talk about someone who is in denial we believe what we are discussing is a psychological defense mechanism. To believe that a narcissist is using denial as a defense mechanism is to set yourself up to be manipulated and deceived. We need to examine the tactic of denial as something very different from the psychological defense of denial.

Denial as a defense mechanism is how the mind copes emotionally in the fall-out of a catastrophic event, major loss, or with anxiety. The woman who finds herself suddenly widowed may deny for awhile that her husband is dead. Or she may simply feel numb and unable to cry for weeks or months. This is because she can't deal with all the emotions of loss and shock all at once. Denial as a defense is how our minds protect us from overwhelming situations that we aren't equipped at the time to deal with emotionally.

This is something very different from denial as a tactic. George K. Simon, "In Sheep's Clothing", points out:

"...this is when the aggressor refuses to admit that they've done something harmful or hurtful when they clearly have. It's a way they lie (to themselves as well as others) about their aggressive intentions. This 'Who...Me?' tactic invites the victim to feel unjustified in confronting the aggressor about the inappropriateness of a behavior. It's also the way the aggressor gives him/herself permission to keep right on doing what they want to do." pg. 98

Denial as a lying tactic of manipulation is another in the list of tactics covert-aggressive manipulators (usually character-disordered individuals) use very frequently. Mr. Simon has kindly laid out a list of eighteen of the most common tactics. He calls that a short list. He stresses the importance of differentiating between denial as a defense and denial as a tactic to hide aggressive intent. Simon sums up the tactic thusly:

"In short, when Jeff [a juvenile caught in the act of bullying] is denying, he's not defending in any way, he's mainly fighting. He's not in a psychological state, he's employing a tactic, and he's very aware of what he's doing. The tactic he's using is often called denial, but it's really just another way of lying. And he's lying for the reasons people commonly lie -- to get out of trouble." pg. 94

I am sure you have many memories flooding into your mind right now of the times the narcissist has flatly denied their bad behavior, the effects of their bad behavior, and their bad intent behind the bad behavior. You are remembering how they managed to turn the whole situation around so that you were made to feel like you were the aggressor for not believing their denial...their lie. They put on their sweet angel face and deny, deny, deny until you lose the will to continue the fight. For that is what this creep is doing. Fighting. Fighting for his way. Fighting for his "right" to keep right on doing what he wants to do, all consequences to you be damned.

By his insistent denials you have often been made to feel like the bad guy. For trying to get an accounting from him for his actions you have succumbed to the accusation that you're being judgmental, unfair, bullying. So you gave up. You bought the lie that you are the mean one and he is innocent. Who would insist so tenaciously on their innocence except the innocent? Or so you rationalize. You are unwilling to believe that he can look you in the eye and lie his ass off from here to eternity. You want to believe that something about him, and about this relationship, is you succumb his denials.

Or perhaps you allow yourself to know that his behavior was bad and destructive, but you tell yourself that deep down he's really hurting so he is "in denial" because he can't face his own pain. This is never the case with the character-disordered. He is not "in pain". He has no anxiety about his bad behavior whatsoever. He is totally cool with how he is. The only thing he isn't cool with is that you're not accepting his behavior. He is trying to get a pass from you by this blatant denial of his actions. He has no intention of stopping what he is doing. He will buy himself another day by simply denying he did what he did. It is so childish that it is rather a wonderment that we fall for this as often as we do when this is done by an adult. We want to believe that the person in front of us is basically good. That they are basically honest. That they are not fighting with us in this moment.

Teach yourself to recognize when someone is covertly fighting for their own way. Never fall for the belief that the narcissist is in some sort of psychic pain which prevents them from knowing how their behavior affects those around her. She has no problem, no conflict in her own mind with her behavior. She is justified fully in her mind for what she does no matter the destruction it brings down on herself and others. Her only problem is with your perceptions of her behavior. That is what she is trying to deal with as she employs her massive denial of her misdeeds. You are the problem...not her. She is not fighting to repress some deep psychological pain. She is fighting to force you to repress your own pain and your own perception so she can carry on unpunished while doing what ever the hell she wants to do.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Your Sickness is a Sin to the Narcissist

Judging by the comments on the last post there was a lot of resonance on the subject of medical neglect by narcissist parents. The other extreme was brought up there too; that of the narcissist parent seeming to relish a child's illnesses and needs for medical attention because the parent has found a way to capitalize on the attention they can derive from these situations. In both cases, as opposite as they appear on the surface, they are just flip sides to the same coin. It is all about whether or not the narcissist is getting the attention they feel they must have to live.

I have taken note that my mother was not unique in her views and behaviors toward sickness. I have heard others describe how sickness was treated like a moral failing by their narcissist parent. My mother fully transitioned into this view about the time I was becoming a teen. Because she would feel inconvenienced if anyone became sick in the household she started to issue threats. They went like this:

It would be a sunny but cool day and I would be heading outside or to school. "Where's your coat?" "I don't need a coat; it's nice outside." I would say. "Alright, fine. You can choose." She would assume her haughty/stern look which included her set jaw and raised eyebrows. "But if you get sick, I promise will get a spanking." Because she was excellent at follow-through on threats of spankings this was an effective threat. She pretends that I get to choose whether or not to wear a coat even while setting up a false choice between two options for me. Wear a coat and stay well and avoid a spanking. Eschew a coat, risk getting sick and punished.

As I became a little older I recognized the choices were false. There was another option my mother didn't care to include...that I could choose to not wear a coat, and I most likely I would not get sick.

When I became a teen spankings were no longer threatened. Vague promises of being in trouble were then issued. I was a teenager and still there were times when mommy dearest thought I should wear a coat. "You need to get a coat." "No, really, I'm fine. It's nice out." Same stern look..."Okay, your choice. But if you get sick you will be in trouble." I remember I got to the point of shrugging off her threats to her face. "Fine. I'm willing to take that risk." Now that I think about it, it could be why she stopped this stupid threat before I was old enough to leave home. She saw that it had lost its effectiveness with me.

Even though the overt threats were no longer made, there was trouble if I got sick. I have two very clear memories of getting sick after I had become an adult. Once was when I was living in my parent's home after my first divorce. The second time was after I was back out on my own. I told the story of my getting attacked verbally by my mother while battling a 104 F degree fever and a kidney infection in this post.

I was around 22 years old. My daughter was a baby of almost two years. I was working full time and trying to save the money to move out into my own apartment. I lived at my parent's home for a year after my first divorce. This happened when I was close to the end of that year.

At the time I was working for a doctor whom I know now was a malignant narcissist. Quite possibly a sociopath. He is a WHOLE other story. I was gratified to find out about five years after I left his employ that the feds caught up with him and he'd been convicted of various crimes which includes fraud and racketeering and lost his license to practice. Oh, yeah, he was a humdinger.

Work required me to take a course in word processing which was just starting to come into business offices at that time. I had to drive to a large metro area over an hour away to take this day-long course. No biggie. Except that this particular day I was coming down with something. I was already in the class when I noticed that I wasn't feeling well. I was flushed at first. Then started getting chills. I had a fever. I brain was turning to mush. My eyes burned and I could barely hold my head up. My head throbbed, my lungs hurt. I somehow muddled through to the end, got in my car and drove the hour and half back to my parent's home. By the time I got home I was really messed up. Turned out I had a splendid case of flu and bronchitis.

The year that I lived at my parent's home I slept on the floor in the living room. When I got home this particular day I grabbed some blankets and made a pallet on the floor in the "den" (which was my former bedroom) so I could have a little quiet and privacy as I tried to cope with this flu bug. Yes, there was a bed in that room still, but I didn't want to mess it up because I couldn't make it look like my mother wanted it to look when it came time to straighten it. She would get very pissy if things weren't just so. Beds in her home are made for looking at during the day. Once a bed was made there was no sitting on it even. It was easier just to sleep on the floor. It was late afternoon and there was still a lot of noise and activity in the house which is why I didn't try to sleep in the living room. For this period of time, my mother was babysitting my daughter during the day. No, she didn't do it for free. I paid her the going rate. She was still running daycare out of her home, so it wasn't some huge favor she was doing for me by watching my daughter during the day. It was a business arrangement. I bring this up to stress the reality that I was not using my mother to take care of my child while I worked. She ran a daycare. I was one of her customers.

When my daughter's dinner time rolled around it was time for mother to dish out her extreme displeasure. I was not in the habit of dumping the care of my child onto my mother. When I came home from work I took over all the care and feeding of my child. I wasn't a mooch. I didn't neglect my child because I had a mother around. She was in it for the money. Once I got home from work she was no longer interested in dealing with my child. Which was fine. I was the mother and I expected to care for my child when I was home. If you've read any of my posts on my life you know I was not a slacker and I certainly didn't mooch off my parents. I was living in their home for this year at their invitation. Obviously, my pallet on the floor was evidence of the fact that they wanted the invitation to expire sooner rather than later. I was working as hard as I could to make that happen as quickly as I could.

But on this day, I didn't take over the care and feeding of my child. I was collapsed on the floor in a fever. It was a total anomaly for me to expect my mother to help me with my daughter after work. A normal parent would know that something was seriously amiss for my behavior to diverge so sharply from its usual course. My heartless mother was not normal.

She burst into the room I was in, stepped over my feet so she could look at my face, and then demanded to know when I was going to take care of my daughter. I looked up at her hard, unyielding face and felt a special kind of desperation. I remember feeling so helpless. Once a fever reaches 103F I'm really f---ed up. I don't know about anyone else, but I can't function when I'm in the throes of the flu. And, as was usual, it was heading straight for my lungs. I couldn't take a deep breath for the pain and burning. The last thing my baby needed was for her mother to breathe her nasty germs at her.

"Mommy, I'm so sick. Could you please, this one time, feed N? I promise I won't ask you to again. I just don't think I can get up right now." The look of disgust and anger on her face was total. I felt like a complete loser. I felt inadequate. I felt like I was so very alone. Just remembering it now makes me tear up. It was a moment of quiet desperation and abandonment. Damn me all to hell for inconveniencing her. I was a total failure at that moment. I was a sinner. She huffed angrily out of the room and made sure I knew she was only helping me this one time and that she was doing me a HUGE favor. After that, "she is your daughter; you take care of her." Uh, yeah. I knew whose daughter she was. I was a responsible mother who did not slack off in her care. But ONE TIME...just ONE TIME...I needed some extra help and I'm condemned for it. Maybe I should have offered to pay the bitch since that is the only way she would be motivated to "help" me with my daughter. A loving grandmother? Never. Not once. I hate her more for how she viewed and treated my child than for how she treated me. Grasping, selfish, horrid, hateful bitch.

As my mother's narcissism has fully blossomed over the years, she became more and more hardened in her view of family members' sickness being a moral failing. It is always our fault. She will find some reason to pinpoint as to why we are deservedly sick. Why we brought it on ourselves. Why she is justified in neglecting us, judging us, abusing us for getting sick. Why we deserve not a shred of sympathy or kindness from her. Why her total abandonment of us in our illness is justified and righteous. Some of the reasons she has given as to why other family members have fallen ill are:

He eats his food too fast so he isn't getting proper nutrition from his food.

She doesn't get enough sleep.

He smokes.

She doesn't take vitamins.

He doesn't eat when he has a heart attack and dies I am going to be very angry with him.

Then there is injury. There is rarely a time my mother can't find the reason why you deserved to be injured. There are no mishaps or mistakes where you are concerned. No, only your own stupid choices which brought you to this place.

In addition to the sin of being ill, it was a sin to pamper the body in other ways. It was a sin to sleep in. It was a sin to rest quietly while trying to deal with a migraine. It was a sin to rest simply when tired if the work wasn't done. It was a sin to take in recreation if you hadn't worked yourself to a nub first or gotten her permission to do so. It is a sin to not be constantly working. So many sins. So little mercy. I spent the last four weeks of my pregnancy with my daughter in my mother's home. My doctor was in the same town as my mother lived in. I had lived in this town for many years, but my husband's job required us to move a state away about half way through my pregnancy. My mother invited me to stay with her for the last part of my pregnancy so I wouldn't have to change docs. Being very, very pregnant did not cut down on the work load. You stay in my mother's home and you are put to work. I expected nothing else. The day I went into labor I could be found a few hours earlier on my hands and knees scrubbing all my mother's floors and doing other housework. Being extremely pregnant is no excuse for slacking!

Mother dearest can always find a reason as to why you deserve what you got. Whether you are sick or injured. And since you brought this calamity upon your own head you are not worthy of her attention.

Which is the real issue, once again. Attention. When Mr. Farmer is raising a cow for the dinner table he doesn't make a pet out of it. Obviously, to minimize the level of sympathy he must not befriend the beast he plans to make a meal of. I'm not condemning the farmer for this. I'm simply using him to illustrate an obvious point. That when we want to make a meal of someone we can not allow their feelings or ours to get in the way. The narcissist must not allow themselves to feel anything for you because it would get in the way of them making a meal out of you.

For the medically neglectful narcissist parent the attention that a sick person should get is a mighty inconvenience to them. They covet every shred of kind human regard and attention at all times. Your sickness, in a kind world, means that the others in the household divert more of their energies and concern toward you because they want to help you get well as quickly as possible because they have empathy. They know how it is to be sick. They know how helpless the sick are to care for themselves, let another others. But the narcissist will not spare even a little attention for you even when you're sick. So they must find the reason why you deserve your they can be exempted from feeling like they should give you some of their precious commodity...attention and kind regard. They are so covetous for attention that they can't even spare any for you when you are injured or ill.

It is evil to be this selfish. It is evil to be this determinedly shut off from basic humanity. What could possibly be the point of keeping these blood-suckers in our lives? They take until there is nothing left to take and then revile you for falling short of their demands. They will kick your corpse for daring to die on them.

We have limitations because we are finite beings. Life is too short and too precious to keep these predatory animals in our families. They don't deserve to be called family. They eat family for dinner without compunction. The sooner you face this reality the sooner you can free yourself of this murderously selfish and predatory beast. Your life blood is yours, not theirs for the taking. Refusing to continue to feed these Xenomorphs** is not only smart but righteous.

**Xenomorph is a reference to the "Aliens" franchise of movies. Which seems like an appropriate metaphor for destructively parasitic life forms that malignant narcissists are. Go, Ellen Ripley.

UPDATE: I was remembering one of my favorite lines of Ripley in "Aliens". Ripley is protecting the small girl, "Newt", from the huge egg-laying queen alien xenomorph. She's outfitted herself with a weapon (forklift power loader) and sez:

"Get away from her, you bitch."

Oh, yeah. I love the way she spits that line out with such determination and righteous rage. That line sums up my attitude toward my mother. I stand between her and my precious family members. My weapon: truth. Have I mentioned that I love these movies? Uh, huh. Ripley is my gal.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Medical Neglect -- A Frequent Reality for Children of Narcissists

This is another story my mother has told me often enough that it is ingrained in my memory. The event described happened when I was too young to be able to recall it myself. I have to marvel at which events my mother chose to memorialize by telling and re-telling them. I marvel because there is incriminating evidence in her stories if one looks at them from an objective view. This particular story is one she told me numerous times, but I really have no idea if she told it to others. I'll have to ask my cousin if she has heard this one.

I was between ages one and two. We were living in the upstairs apartment I described in another post from my early childhood. North Hollywood, CA. I toddled out the door onto the landing and then took a plunge down the fifteen or so concrete steps to ground level. My cry brought my plight to my mother's attention. She scooped me up and ran inside. She picked up the phone.

Whom did she call?

It might seem like a good time to call a doctor.

This is where the story sharply diverges from what a truly concerned mother would do. No, she didn't call a doctor; she called her sister. She quickly points out the logic of calling her sister...her sister is a nurse. (This particular sister has very strong N traits and may very well be N too.)

My mother is careful to emphasize at this point in the story her extreme concern for me. She is worried I might have a concussion. Her sister also raises the possibility that I have a concussion and so gives my mother advice based on that possibility. "D, it is very important that you keep her awake. If she does fall asleep then you must watch her carefully to make sure she doesn't stop breathing." At this point in the story my mother emphasizes again her concern which was now raised to the level of near panic.

Then she paints the picture of the loving, concerned mother who sat by my crib all night long to make sure I didn't stop breathing. Morning arrived and I was still alive. What relief!! Then more emphasis on what a frightening experience it was for her. Her baby almost died. Obviously, I didn't almost die, but had I been seriously injured in the fall I could easily have died given the fact that my mother didn't seek real medical attention for me.

Now I have questions when I think this story over. First of all, how is it that my mother lost track of her small child long enough for the child to escape out the door and take a dive down the stairs? I realize that small children can move very quickly and even the best parents can lose track of them momentarily. Nevertheless, it is still her fault that this happened. We lived in a small apartment at the time. My mother had no other children to keep track of. What the hell was she doing?? I suspect she had a consciousness of guilt because of how she purposely avoided getting a doctor involved even though there was reason enough for concern about a possible life-threatening injury. The other factor that can't be ruled out is that she didn't want the expenditure. The pattern that developed during the rest of my childhood is that my parents never took me to a doctor no matter the seriousness of the injury of sickness.

One exception, if I can call it that. I was five years old and came down with a very bad case of bronchitis. My mother relented after several days of a high fever and delirium and took me to a Chinese chiropractor that she had gone to as a child. Dr. So. I have no idea how his last name was spelled, but it was pronounced So. He gave her a nasty and horribly bitter concoction for me to take every day for weeks. Every time I took it I wanted to vomit. I was out of school for six whole weeks and returned to school very weak and tired. The teacher begged my mother to take me out of school and restart me in first grade the next year. I was so young anyway, the teacher pointed out. I had missed six weeks of school at the very outset of the school year and I'm almost a year younger than the rest of my classmates. My mother was insulted at the suggestion that I be kept home for the year. She tells this story because she then says, "this is when I knew for sure what a bright child you were." She is proud of her decision. She is proud because I was able to easily catch up and do just fine that school year. She knew better than the teacher what a shining bright star student her daughter was. I was able to reflect well onto my mother by my academic achievement. She was right, that teacher was wrong.

The only other doctor visit I can remember was a tooth-cleaning at age three. And a dentist visit at age 13 for a cavity. That's it.

Back to the original event. While she uses this story to emphasize her great motherly concern for her precious baby, the story she tells actually portrays a mother who didn't care enough. She is worried enough to stay the night by my crib, but not willing to take me to a hospital for monitoring. I think that the only thing she was worried about was how horrible of a mother she was going to look like if 1) she took me to a doctor and had to admit to her inattentiveness that allowed the accident in the first place, and 2) What were people going to think of her as a mother if she ended up with a dead baby in the morning? Would she be accused of abusing her baby? Was there already evidence against her on that account? Her worries were all self-concentric. Her baby only represented possible evidence of her lack of mothering skills if by my death or serious injury she was revealed to be negligent. She is the center of this story. I am peripheral.

This story of my mother's great motherly concern for her baby is just more evidence of her neglect of me. In typical narcissist fashion, this story is really all about her. Her feelings. Her worry. Her heroism (all night vigil). Her relief. Oh, and by the way, my father would have come home from work that evening. It is very likely my mother told him of the fall. He could not have failed to notice my mother watching me sleep. I notice he didn't insist that I be taken to a doctor. He was every bit as guilty as she for the neglect of my physical well-being. He is without excuse.

I am convinced that if I had been born with a birth defect or been seriously and/or mortally injured that I may not have survived childhood. The medical neglect of my youth was complete and total. Thankfully, I had a strong constitution and tended to not court danger with stupid childhood stunts. I have a high tolerance for pain and learned not to complain about pain, sickness or injury. Thanks, ma.

If I revisit this topic again I'll talk about how it was often treated like a sin to get sick. This was more and more the case the older I became.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Lying -- The Manipulator's Stock-in-Trade

The next tool in the manipulator's toolbox that George Simon, Jr. Ph.D. of "In Sheep's Clothing" describes is lying. It seems kinda obvious to list lying in the bag of tricks because we all have at least some awareness of the reality that manipulators play fast and loose with the truth to gain an advantage. Obvious or not, we all get taken in by lying manipulators because the truth isn't always readily accessible at the time you're being lied to. We may know that they lie, but we usually have a hard time detecting the lie...until long after they've gotten what they wanted from us.

Mr. Simon points out that the lies preferred by covertly-aggressive individuals are lies of omission. Damn, if those aren't the hardest lies to detect! They lie by telling the truth. It is what they leave out that makes it a lie.

Okay, when I get on the subject of lies and liars I just get pissed. I hate lies. I hate that I was duped by liars for so very long. The paragon of truthfulness, my mother, turned out to be one of the biggest liars I've ever met. Well, maybe my sister gets that prize. I think she lies even more than my mother does. Toss up. They both primarily lie in the most sneaky of omission. My mother had me fooled much longer than my sister. Mommy dearest was in a position of authority over me and, therefore, I was more susceptible to the lies. She had more clout to claim rights to define reality.

I believed that my mother was a truthful person until I was in my late 30s. Now I see the multiplicity of lies she has told and still tells and I still shake my head in amazement. The biggest unmasking of her plethora of lies have been the result of hearing the things my mother did and said to my dear cousin "Lee". My mother had much less accountability to Lee for history revisionism because my cousin didn't know the original history. Therefore, Lee had no way of knowing when the history was being revised. To hear how my mother was working day and night to create a new reality that she and Lee could live in; to hear the outright lies my mother her great shame; is to be confronted with the forceful truth that my mother is what I despise inveterate liar. With me, my mother mostly had to lie by omission or insinuation. With Lee and others she could tell outright untruths because the availability of the truth for her audience was harder to come by. This is why my mother went into absolute panic once she realized the Lee and I had forged a close friendship; a friendship that my mother was not in the middle of and orchestrating. She knew her exposure was inevitable. Her power broken.

"Manipulators often lie by withholding a significant amount of the truth. I have treated individuals who have lied most egregiously by reciting a litany of true facts!How does someone lie by telling only true things? They do so by leaving out important other, important facts essential to understanding the truth of the whole story." In Sheep's Clothing, pg. 98

So how do we protect ourselves from being taken in by a covertly aggressive and manipulative person? By bearing in mind that they lie, they lie often, and they usually lie by leaving out important facts. You must proceed on the presumption that they are lying; not that they are telling the truth until and unless you can prove otherwise. I wrote this a year ago:

They [narcissists] lie. They lie by omission, commission, by a look, by a sigh, by insinuation. They are the personification of a lie. We, the honest-in-heart, have a hard time conceptualizing someone who exists entirely in a lie. It is not socially acceptable to allow our first presumption to be that someone is lying. Especially when it is a parent. No, we are to presume they are representing the truth...and only accept that it was a lie when it can absolutely be proven to be one. Once a lie has been proven you then have to shift back to the default position of presumption of the truth. It is this default position that screws us up over and over.

The sad, yet absolute, fact is that the default position when dealing with a narcissist is that they are lying. The anomaly with a N is when they tell the truth. They so seldom tell the truth that you don't even have to worry about mistaking that truth for a lie. They don't deserve to have us believe one thing they say or insinuate. If we presume that whatever they are doing, whatever they are saying, is designed to manipulate and deceive, then we are in a much safer and saner position.

I would have been more accurate if I stated that they lie even when they are telling the truth!

To call someone a manipulator is to call them a liar. The definition of the word 'manipulate' when it applies to interpersonal relationships always includes the concept of deviousness. The manipulator, therefore, is a living, breathing lie. Once you've figured out that someone you know is a chronic manipulator, then you must also admit that they are a chronic liar if you are to deal appropriately with them. Proceed according to that knowledge. To assume they are ever being truthful is to set yourself up to be taken yet again. Mr. Do-Gooder may tell you that you are a bad person for assuming the worst of someone, but you are wiser than he. You know there is no virtue in being someone's perpetual dupe.