Friday, January 23, 2009

New Tag Line

I decided this week I have found a new tag line for my blog. It captures the essence of what I'm doing here:

"It is much easier to make good men wise than to make bad men good."

This quote is pulled from Henry Fielding's book, "Tom Jones" first published in 1749. With a little thought I'm sure you can see why this quote fits my blog's effort. I don't advocate here that we spend our time, energy or resources on trying to make narcissists good. There is far too great a weight of evidence that it would be wasted effort on the narcissist. All my effort here is expended on making you, the reader, wise. So I apply my energy to that activity which has much better chance at success: helping good people to become wise people. I would be an abysmal failure if I channeled my efforts at trying to make "bad men good". Narcissists definitely fall into the category of "bad". There are enough apologists out there for the narcissist. My work here is entirely for those who've been caught like mice in the cat's paw.

Another thing I love about this quote is its antiquity. I love any illustration that some truths are timeless. Human nature is a constant like the law of gravity. Which is why history is so instructive for those who are interested in avoiding past follies and disasters.

End announcement of new tag line debut.

Regularly scheduled programming resumes:

My last post focused on people who use control to force people to do what they want. It is a red flag behavior in anyone it shows up in including people who can't be classified as a malignant narcissist. I have an aside along this line of thinking.

It is inevitable that I occasionally annoy, tick off and generally irritate a small percentage of people as they interact here on my blog or in email. This happens when my enduring persistence in telling the truth as I see it interferes with someone's opinions. Not everyone welcomes my honest opinions when it comes to a pet rock they are holding onto for dear life. My contradiction of their pet idea only makes me look like a 'bad guy' to them. This means that a typical scenario sets up with some regularity. I'm going to address it now.

I just want those of you who are offended by my frankness to let you know something about me. Writing to me in the comments that you are no longer going to comment on my blog is not perceived by me as a threat nor a punishment. This blog is not going to deteriorate in quality just because you no longer deign to grace it with your comments. Neither are you going to make me feel like a bad person because you're offended. I'm not going to suddenly throw my arms up and give in just to make sure no one out there thinks less of me.

Apparently, it isn't evident to some that I am impervious to such manipulations via guilt and shame. All you will do is make me think less of you for trying to punish me for simply holding a contrary opinion to your own.

Ah, yes, I can hear the denials that the intent is to punish me, but I would call such denials lies.

Because if you weren't trying to punish me then you'd simply shut up with not another word said. You would not send in ONE LAST COMMENT to make sure I KNOW that your silence is filled with your oppobrium. This method has been used on me frequently enough over the years that it simply makes me roll my eyes. It is not my problem if you are so easy to offend. Especially since I am obviously not trying to offend.

I was an owner of a ladies-only religious group for three years. This is where I was first confronted by this method of attempting to control me and what I say. I am pretty sure it has only been women who have tried this method of control on me. IT WON'T WORK. It has never worked. You're not so important that it'll suddenly start working because you're doing it.

Here's the deal with me. I am not here doing what I do because I need attention or praise. I'm neither elated by your praise nor dejected by your censure. This is not a work of ego. I don't need other people's approval for the opinions I hold, nor do I relinquish my opinions simply because someone doesn't like them. Think about it. I have successfully gone "no contact" with my parents for years now. My sister too. Do you really think that your disapproval of me means anything??

So, if you plan to fire off that last comment telling me you won't be commenting anymore please take in the above. You haven't unsettled me. You haven't changed my mind. I don't feel like I'm "bad" because your knickers are in a twist. I think less of you, not myself, for your petty little attempt to control and/or manipulate and/or punish me. If you wanna dress me down then have the courage to send that message in an email where you can run the risk of having to hear back from me. Putting in a comment you feel pretty sure that I won't put through means you want the last word with out giving me any opportunity to discuss the matter with you privately. This is another indication that you're trying to punish me and not behave like an adult with another adult.

Just so's ya'll know the score. I think I'll be tacking this onto my comment policy for future reference since this scenario pops up like a perennial weed.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Controlling others vs. Self Control

A universal trait of malignant narcissists and every other version of evil person is their need to control you. Not themselves. You. This trait of the evil is so universal that you must put it in the red flag category.

It is quite possible to not be a malignant narcissist and still find yourself trying to control other people. If you recognize that you can be controlling then it is time to rein yourself in. I would recommend other people to see it as a red flag in your behavior too regardless of the fact that you don't demonstrate yourself to be a malignant narcissist. Trying to control other autonomous human beings is weakness not strength. It always lends itself toward evil outcomes. It is morally wrong.

In contrast with the evil who try to control everyone (and everything) in their sphere is that of the person with self-control. When you observe how someone interacts with you do you see them exerting consistent self-control in their own lives? Or are they mostly focused on controlling their external world including you? Those with genuine self-control do not try to control others.

There are some who make some high profession of having self-control yet who are actually very controlling of others. What gives with that? How can you know if it is a red flag in that person?

I'll make my case by using my own mother as an example. We'll call this, "The Time My Mother Got it Right".

One of my mother's soundtracks which she implanted in my head at a young age, so young that I don't know exactly when I started hearing it, goes like this, "If you find yourself controlling others then you know who is controlling you." This was the opening line for her little sermonette on how it is the devil who is the one controlling you if you are a person who enjoys controlling others as it is his nature to control. Wow. She got that one right. Who better to know "the devil made me do it" than a handmistress of the devil himself! If you don't believe in a being such as the devil then all you have to do is insert the word 'evil' where you see the word 'who' and you get the same result. "If you find yourself controlling others then you know evil is controlling you."

My mother lectured on this subject very often. Not just to her own children but to anyone who happened to be under her control at the time. This leads us into the very first red flag of eight for narcissism listed by Kathy Krajco which I promised I was going to re-post here on my blog. Here we go.

Red Flags of Narcissism

Since narcissists are such expert con artists, how do you spot them? By not judging by appearances. Or reputation.

A specific behavior, such as being haughty, inconsiderate, or ignoring someone, can occur in widely varying contexts. So, it can be done for many reasons, not just narcissistic reasons. Nonetheless, there are few behaviors so unique to persons suffering from NPD that they should serve as red flags.

Here are eight red flags:

  1. puts on a conspicuous display of goodness and kindness

  2. damages the images of most others

  3. has a history of past upheavals

  4. is hated for mysterious reasons by people close to them

  5. exhibits unnatural and perplexing behavior -- backwards reactions to things

  6. is a control freak, trampling privacy/boundaries

  7. is extremely self-absorbed

  8. has a hostile reaction to attention and credit given others


I interrupt Kathy here to point out that she doesn't claim that this list of red flags is exhaustive. But a short list is quite helpful if you're trying to avoid the malignantly narcissistic people you may run into in your life. She doesn't call them "THE eight red flags". She says, "Here are eight red flags". Yes, there are others. But having this short list in the forefront of your mind will help you weed out 99.9% of narcissists.

Now, Kathy elaborates a bit on the first red flag she has listed and the one I want to call to your attention.


Shows Off Goodness and Kindness

I used to give people who made a show of religiousness, kindness, caring, or any other goodness the benefit of the doubt. I am really sorry I didn't listen to my common sense that doing things to be seen doing them is fraud, not just adultery. I don't expect you to take my word for it, but this is what my life has taught me: anyone putting on the goody-two-shoes act a little too thick I get away from, because I know they're just using it as make-up to cover a zit.

In other words, they're dis-simulating their true selves. The aim is to carve out a false image that is the antithesis -- negative -- of their true selves. It's a work of art, not the real thing.

The truly good, kind, and caring do good to do it, not to be seen doing it. And the difference between them and show-offs is obvious. "What Makes Narcissists Tick" page 75


Back to my controlling mother preaching against being controlling. Here is what I now see was going on. Preaching against being controlling was the "goodness" she was slathering onto herself to throw off suspicion about her own controlling behaviors especially since she always put this lecture in a religious context. It was part of her profession of being "above all that" by lecturing frequently on the evils of being controlling. It was very effective. She would also very often say to me, "I'm the least controlling person I know." !!! This was usually stated when there was some overt evidence of her being controlling. She reserved the right to redefine reality for everyone so when she'd say this we'd all go along because it was easier than not going along. We'd been taught to deny reality because she had established herself as the only one really able to define it. All children of narcissists understand what I just said. They've lived it.

Another thing going on with my mother was her insistence on having no competition. She was reserving to herself the right to be controlling and didn't want to have to deal with her underlings getting uppity and trying to control her. Which happened anyway. Her youngest daughter became an adept at manipulating and controlling our mother. The power struggle was fierce between them. But if my mother could convince her underlings that being controlling was evil then she'd have a much more free reign to be the one in ascendency. She was trying to control us by convincing us to not use control of others for ourselves. It was not a sermon based on true conviction in her own soul that being controlling of others is wrong. It was a sermon designed to make sure she was the only one putting the screws to people! No competition allowed! Yet another example of how a narcissist tries to control other people by using their consciences.

My mother's understanding of the most basic characteristic of evil -- that of being controlling of others -- was the knowledge she acquired by practice of the same. Also, she knows enough about Bible truth to condemn herself to all to hell. How is she going to plead ignorance before the Almighty when He asks her why she didn't practice what she preached? We are especially condemned when we know to do right and refuse to. "Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins." James 4:17 NIV

Again, I want you to look at the contrast of a person who is controlling of others and the person who is self-controlled. The Bible exhortations for self-control are many. Paul listed self-control as one of the evidences of God's spirit working in your life. Peter had something to say on it too, "Knowing God leads to self-control..." 2 Peter 1:5. So, my mother was right. If someone demonstrates a pattern of consistent behavior of being controlling of others it means that a spirit altogether opposite of God's spirit is actuating them.

Christians would do well to remember this because far too often Christians can justify to themselves that controlling others for some higher cause is right and good. Being a Christian gives you no license to control others. You have enough to do in just controlling yourself. If you let yourself become distracted from the internal work of self-control you will, inevitably, try to control others. Just because you see yourself as a Christian in no way diminishes the evil that proceeds from trying to force your way onto others. Even if your intentions are good. Even if you have a Bible injunction to wave in their faces. It is one thing to instruct others in truth and another thing altogether to try to force them into doing what you want or what you think is right. Don't confuse a preacher's good work of "instruction in righteousness" with being controlling. The two are not synonymous. Instruction is a world apart from trying to force the will of another through deception, manipulation, punishment, etc.

It is fair to state that the less self-control a person exerts in their own life the more likely it is that person will try to control their world by controlling YOU. We all yearn for control. It is a natural bent of human nature to try to control our external world. This includes circumstances, people and even material things. This need to control our environment often leads to trying to control others because it is easier than controlling oneself. The hardest thing of all is self-control. Look at the narcissist for proof of that. I have asserted in another blog post that the evil course is the easy course. The path of least resistance is the downward course that our selfish desires take. Self-control is like paddling upstream against our very nature. The narcissist is determined to take the luge run to hell which means you see very little self-control exerted by them. As I've stated in yet another, and more recent, post -- they only exert enough self-control to keep from getting caught in their crimes. Though they can get careless and forget to control themselves when they should in order to keep their evil from being perceived. This limited use of self-control is unworthy of praise or commendation.

Let me point out at this juncture that my mother demonstrates a few compulsive behaviors that resemble OCD. In her case, and I will assert that in ALL cases of narcissism, this is an extension of the desire to control her world. Her external world. It is not an extreme version of self-control. It is an extreme version of trying to control the external world. Don't be fooled by the narcissist's OCD as being some manifestion of rigorous self-control. It is not. My mother actually uses her compulsive behaviors as some kind of proof of her being self-controlled. Like a grand act of self-flaggellation equals the quiet act of self-control. Austerity doesn't necessarily equate to self-control. It is usually a substitute for it. OCD in the narcissist is an outgrowth of their fear and is the attempt to convince themselves they are in control of their world.

You get a two-fer today. Two red flags of narcissism. Number one: Being controlling of others is a central hallmark of the evil and must be considered a red flag even in someone you would not necessarily think is a narcissist. Number two: Slathering on a high profession of goodness is a sign of someone hiding the opposite. In my mother's case the two behaviors coincide in a most interesting manner. She used the one to hide the other to great effect on me (and others) for many, many years. I finally had to stop believing the high profession because it was constantly clashing with her consistent behaviors.

If you can give yourself permission to always believe the actions over the words you will save yourself so much trouble. It is a piece of hard-earned advice that I give on this blog many times over which, if people only took that one piece to heart, would save themselves a world of hurt.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Do They Have Feelings?

This question was somewhat addressed by me in my post, They DO Have Empathy...Just Not for You. I mentioned that the narcissist has oodles and bunches of compassion (empathy) but only enough for themselves. You don't get any.

The "Do They Have Feelings?" question is answered in the same way: Yes, they do, but only for themselves.

In my experience with narcissists (which includes a larger circle than just my mother and sister for you folks who think I extrapolate off of only those two) the more narcissistic a person is the easier it is to hurt their feelings. They have the tenderest little feelings. Boo, f8&king, hoo. They can be the biggest ass about your feelings, but watch the tears (or rage) start when you accidentally bump into one of theirs!

I feel the need to ask (and answer) this question even though it appears to be the same question as to whether or not the narcissist has empathy. They are essentially the same question, but not everyone realizes that fact. Sometimes phrasing things a little differently can allow the lights to come on for someone who didn't get it on the first pass.

The sensitive, tender little feelings that the narcissist has for themselves is an extension of the empathy they have for themselves. They refuse to feel your pain, but they expect you to feel theirs! I use the word 'refuse' advisedly. It is a willful act on their part to unacknowledge the pain they inflict upon you. They know what they're doing. Their empathy allows them to know how you feel. They simply refuse to feel anything for your sake.

I'm going to cast the net a bit wider than just narcissists here. Anyone who is in a relationship with an abusive person has seen how sensitive the abuser's feelings are. People who stay in abusive relationships seem to be those who can't see the huge disconnect in their own thinking. The disconnect is this wide gulf between the abuser's lack of empathy for you at the time they're abusing you and yet how carefully you have to step around the abuser's feelings at all times! The common refrain among those caught in abusive relationships is "walking on eggshells". The abuser's feelings rein supreme at all times. Everyone else is expected to cowtow to, step around, coddle, soothe, and respect the feelings of the abuser at all times. Yet, when the abuser needs to unload, he or she reserves all rights to decimating and destroying your feelings and self-respect until they feel better. It is a sick, sick dynamic. And it is perpetuated by largely by the victim's non-recognition of the absolute unfairness of this system.

I somehow doubt I can cut through the rationalizations of someone who is currently in this dance with an abusive person since I've so recently failed to with someone I know and care about. The armor-plating around some people's reasoning centers are fairly well-fortified. Maybe I can make a dent though.

I have been using the term "abuser" instead of narcissist because I am personally aware of the fact that some who are intermittently emotionally cruel and abusive to someone close to them may fall short of full malignant narcissism. I want to catch all abusers in my descriptions in this post, not just those who are full-blown narcissists. I have observed through my nearly half-century of life that those who are capable of being cruel and abusive emotionally to someone they ostensibly "love" are the exact same people with very tender regard for their own feelings. They are so easy to offend unintentionally by a look or a word. Keep in mind as you continue reading that I'm talking about those whom we find ourselves time and again unintentionally setting off. That is a red flag. Someone who is easily offended for reasons that are never clear to you at the time.

Have you ever noticed how an emotionally well-balanced person is very easy to be around? When we describe someone as being easy to be around we are describing someone who is not prone to having their feelings easily hurt among other characteristics. People who are very insecure as well as immature are the easiest to offend unintentionally. Of course, that describes all malignant narcissists, but it can also include those who are very narcissistic but are not a full-blown case of NPD.

Let me say it another way. The more self-involved someone is, the more hyper-sensitive their feelings become. Many teens are a good example of the combination of insecurity and immaturity which makes it very easy to step on their feelings before you realize what you've done. Adults who are emotionally arrested at their teens will continue to be very easily offended and will often justify being at least occasionally abusive to those close to them.

Don't confuse my use of the words "hyper-sensitive" to mean what the narcissist means when they accuse you of being hyper-sensitive because your feelings are hurt by their cutting remarks or cruel behaviors. I'm talking about the kind of sensitivity we call "walking on eggshells" which describes how people act when they never know what will set that person off. Which means that offense is taken where a reasonable person would never even think to get offended over such things. Narcissists often pretend to be offended in order to steer the behaviors of those around them to suit their purposes. It is a manipulation tactic to constantly be looking for reasons to be offended as the narcissist does. But, in addition to the intentional offense that narcissists take over what would never be perceived as a slight by a normal person, the narcissist is easy to offend in actuality. Pop their grandiosity bubble, fail to reflect their illusion of themselves back to them as they want you to, remind them of reality in any way they have chosen to ignore, fail in any way to give them what they want even if they haven't told you what they want, and you'll find yourself dealing with the intensely offended narcissist. Most times you've unintentionally done it. That never gets you off the hook.

The brilliant and incisive Kathy Krajco asks the question "Do They Have Feelings?" in her book What Makes Narcissists Tick. And she answers the question:

Yes! Very, very tender feelings!

She proceeds to tell a story about a narcissist husband/father who was demonstrating the most insensitive and uncaring behavior while his wife lay dying in the hospital. All his behaviors were focused on not giving an ounce of attention to his dying wife. His eldest daughter was outraged and angry enough at his behavior to toy with the idea of literally kicking him in the ass as he stood there with his back to both his wife and herself. A look from her mother indicated the mother appreciated that the daughter could see what the father was doing and appreciated the solidarity of feeling with the daughter. It was enough. The mother waved her hand in a way that indicated he wasn't even worthy of their contempt. So the daughter kept her foot to herself, but she opted for another way of giving him some of his own medicine back.

The narcissist had no idea what had gone one behind his back in silence and how close he had come [to getting a foot in his ass]. A minute later he left for another buzz around the hospital. Another daughter arrived, and when he came barging back in loud-mouthing to interrupt their conversation and command all attention, the older daughter kept right on talking as if he were not there. The mother and the other daughter glanced back-and-forth between them several times before they caught on and nearly blew it by laughing at this chance to give the unfeeling brute a dose of his own medicine. They played along, as though intently interested in whatever trivial thing the older daughter was saying just to keep talking through him as if he were not there.

His reaction to this teeny-weeny dose of his own medicine? You should have seen the hurt and devastated look on that poor little kicked puppy-dog's face! He was deeply, deeply wounded by this callous treatment! He acted like a sheepish little boy who could not imagine why or how people could be so cruel to him! He just hung his head and walked back out of the room like someone in utter dejection who wants to go crawl in a hole.

Yes, a narcissist has very, very tender feelings. But only for himself. For anyone -- anyone -- else he is as devoid of human feeling as a brute, cold-blooded, predatory beast. Think of the inhuman, mindless, machinelike look in the eye of a snake slowly, slowly swallowing whole it's live, wriggling-in-agony prey.

That's how much "feeling" your narcissist has for you -- exactly as much as that snake has for it's prey = zero. "What Makes Narcissists Tick" pgs. 286-287

This is cold, hard reality with the malignant narcissist and abusive types some ways along on the narcissitic continuum.

Do you find yourself flagellating yourself when you "hurt" the feelings of someone who regularly abuses you and your feelings? What is up with that??? Why would you waste one more moment telling yourself you're a mean, "bad" person when you see that hurt puppy-dog look in your abuser's eyes? I know people who beat themselves up for simply pointing out REALITY to their abuser only to have REALITY hurt the little abuser's feelings. For instance, "I am going to be really busy today so you won't be seeing much of me on your day off. Don't expect me to have time to sit down and chat with you because I have today scheduled to get ready for Christmas." This statement sent a dear friend of mine into paroxysms of regret because she felt like she was being "mean" and a "bitch" because she knew even before she said it that it would offend the hearer. Even so, the words came out of her mouth matter-of-factly. She saw her matter-of-fact statement of TRUTH as being deliberately hurtful to this person because she went ahead and said it anyway knowing it would 'hurt' his feelings. She was all over herself for being "mean". Just a day or so before this person she was addressing had emotionally abused her for an hour over the most unpredictable and irrational thing until HE felt better. Nothing she said or did could assuage him. He simply had to abuse her until he started feeling better. Yet, she makes this matter-of-fact statement and because REALITY sucked for him...his feelings were 'hurt'. She told me in agonizing tones how horrible she felt immediately after saying it because she could see the 'hurt' in his eyes as he toddled off to his bedroom. She was fearful she said what she did in partial retaliation for what had happened a day or so before. Hyper-conscience at work here.

I am close to this person yet I am fairly sure I could say nothing to convince her that she didn't say something mean. I couldn't seem to convince her of the absolute absurdity of having to be so overly careful of his widdle feelings when he demonstrates over and over and over again that HER feelings don't matter one shit as far as he's concerned. How do I break through? Is there even a point to this blog post that will penetrate such thinking? I have no idea. But I'm trying.

Please, please do not overlook the huge disparity in your relationship between how that person treats your feelings and how you're expected by them to treat theirs.

By no means am I sanctioning being cruel (for cruelty's sake) to them. But denying someone the attention they expect (tacitly demand) is not "mean". Telling them you're going to be forced to deny them attention because of other demands on your time and energy is not mean. Being matter-of-fact about something you know will "offend" them is not mean. If a grown adult can't handle REALITY without getting their feelings all bent out of shape then you're dealing with a very, very selfish and immature person at the very least. And likely you're dealing with a narcissist since you're reading here at my site, "Narcissists Suck".

I'd like to insert at this point that abusers will act like they care about your feelings. This is strategic, intermittent, and shallow. Whenever the rubber hits the road, for all the times the abuser has acted concerned about how you feel, you find yourself once again treated like crap on his or her shoe when you most need a kind word or some concern. They will sometimes, maybe even often, mouth words of caring and concern about you and your feelings, but it never seems to translate into something real when you most need them to give a damn. Remember my maxim: when the words stand in contradiction to the behaviors you must believe the behaviors! What we do (or refuse to do when action is called for) is the measurement of our character and our intentions. Our words don't mean jack if they are not followed through with and supported by our action.

You may be someone with an overly honed conscience. Like my dear friend above. She has a conscience big enough for several people! Abusive types get away with a lot when they have your very sensitive conscience to manipulate. There is such a thing as having an ill-informed and hyper conscience, and it needs to be corrected at times. Hyper consciences usually translate into you allowing yourself to be used and abused time and again because standing up for yourself somehow feels wrong. Putting your foot down feels wrong. Making some clear boundaries feels wrong. All this misplaced guilt stems from wrong-thinking. Our consciences are influenced by our thinking. When we think in wrong lines it will negatively impact our conscience by either damping our conscience down (as narcissistic thinking does) or it can put our consciences into over-drive (neurotic thinking).

Consciences aren't infallible measurements of morality or duty. Conscience must be tested against reason and objective standards to be properly calibrated. It is not reasonable to have to tiptoe around another person's feelings all the time. Neither is it automatically immoral to 'hurt' someone feelings. And just because something 'feels' wrong doesn't automatically mean it is wrong.

If you've been raised by a narcissist the narcissist worked your conscience over pretty good. They miscalibrated your conscience intentionally so it would tell you that you're being "mean" or "bad" simply because you've not given them what they want. (Even just living a long time with a narcissist will likely cause you to miscalibrate your conscience so it aligns with the narcissist's demands.) Rationally, you can think this through. Is it automatically wrong to deny someone wants or wishes? Rationally, you can say "no". Is it automatically wrong if someone's feelings get hurt because of what you've said or done? Again, "no" is the logical answer. If you're going to free yourself from an abusive relationship you're going to have to work on re-calibrating your conscience so it works properly and doesn't keep you enslaved to the abuser's whims. You do this by examining your thinking. By reassessing the premises you base your thinking upon. This calls for some know, that quiet activity a narcissist never engages in. Sites like this one attempt to help you in that process of getting your thinking straight. Your conscience will follow.

But today's thought is simply this: the narcissist/abuser has tender feelings that they coddle and caress and expect you to do the same for their poor little feelings. Conversely, they will trample, disregard and spit on your feelings. This is a sign of their basely selfish and corrupt natures and isn't your cue to capitulate. Expect them to be 'hurt' when you state reality. Expect them to look wounded to the core when you don't perform properly your "duty" by them. Remember 'til your dying day that the narcissist and the abuser are filled with the tenderest sympathy for themselves, but can spare none or little for you. This is a grotesque reality you mustn't pretend away. Stop the crazy bus and get off! There is something seriously wrong with a person who has feelings only for their own pain. Period. Every psychopath has feelings for himself. The same psychopath gets a total thrill from hurting your feelings. Even if we're only talking about someone who emotionally abuses you on occasion so they can feel better it is the same principle. Someone who ignores your pain but has all kinds of compassion for their own pain is a sick sonafabitch. Steer clear.

Monday, January 05, 2009

The Reddest Red Flag of Narcissism

As many of you likely know, Kathy Krajco compiled an excellent list of the "red flags of narcissism" in her book, "What Makes Narcissists Tick". I find myself wanting to reprint her list with the descriptions because they are so valuable for people trying to assess the level of malignancy of the person they're having to deal with. Perhaps I'll do that over time. What I'll do today, though, is highlight what Kathy called the "reddest flag".

Before I get to that. I've been on a true crime jag over the last six weeks (one book tends to lead to another). I started in on reading after the last national election. Not being at all confident in all the hope changiness being promised I'm checking out. I find true crime a much more cheerful topic right now than politics. I've now read several volumes of true crime since the week before Thanksgiving. The latest I read was a story about a man who exhibited every single trait of malignant narcissism while living with a decent woman who just couldn't discern the danger she was in until it was too late. It was hard to see a woman so bereft of knowledge of the workings of a pathological personality that she couldn't believe this man capable of murder until he finally resolved to kill her after their many years together. She needed this list of red flags. Desperately. He demonstrated every single one of them. Over and over again.

Another aside: I want to state something clearly for the record. I got an email from a moron who had just found my blog last week and decided to tell me all he saw was that I was male-bashing while using pseudo-psychological terms (??!) to pathologize people who may just be assholes and not actually evil. It was his understanding that people are "okay" unless and until they break the law (!!!!). I didn't bother to respond to this person because his every assertion demonstrated such idiocy that there was no place for our minds to meet. The silliness of accusing me of male-bashing is utterly unworthy of a personal response. Hello? I write from the perspective of a person who was used and abused by two FEMALE narcissists! My blog makes it clear I don't believe that males have a corner on abusive and narcissistic behavior. For the record: when I refer to a book that happens to tell the story of a male narcissist who becomes a murderer that is not a sign that I think all narcissists are male. Gender terms are used interchangeably here on this blog. I believe that narcissists are likely split about evenly according to sex. I believe that females are much harder to catch at it because they are subtler, sneakier and less likely to be overtly physical with abuse which means they come to the attention of authorities less often. In other words, they get away with their NPD more often. I have a special hatred for females in narcisssit form because of their subtlety and because of what they can do to their children while hiding under the cloak of motherhood. Kapeesh? You only have to do a minimum of perusal on this blog to ascertain my perspective on the subject and comprehension skills of at least high school level.

Eight red flags of narcissism as listed originally by (deceased) Kathy Krajco:

  • puts on a conspicuous display of goodness and kindness
  • damages the images of most others
  • has a history of past upheavals
  • is hated for mysterious reasons by people close to them
  • exhibits unnatural and perplexing behavior -- backwards reactions to things
  • is a control freak, trampling privacy/boundaries
  • is extremely self-absorbed
  • has a hostile reaction to attention and credit given others

I am very grateful for Kathy's wise discernment on the dangerousness of a person who demonstrates the reddest red flag: "exhibits unnatural and perplexing behavior -- backwards reactions to things". It isn't just 'odd' or 'off-putting' to see someone exhibiting this red flag. It is a DANGER SIGNAL. It must be taken seriously. To explain it away, to pretend you didn't see what you saw is to keep yourself in a place of DANGER. Have I used the word "danger" enough yet? Okay, here is Kathy's elaboration on this red flag:

The reddest red flag is perverted behavior. Leave out the sexual connotation: I use that word perverted because it means "thoroughly twisted" or "turned backwards." Any act can be perverted. Perverted behavior is the extreme opposite of what is called for. This is behavior that goes against nature, behavior that makes you want to pinch yourself. In other words, it's a surprise, a shock, the last thing you expected.

Like maybe everyone in a classroom was sitting up straight with all eyes riveted upon Teacher and you could have heard a pin drop. Ka-BOOM! He flies into a snarling rage at some kid he won't identify as though that kid just flipped him the bird or something.

Or maybe you've been dating him for six months, and he has been saying from day one that he wanted you to marry him. You finally tell him you love him. Ka-BOOM! He gets mad and tells you that you don't love him. And demands that you wear your hair a different way. If you really love him, you will, you know.


In my experience, afterwards you are unable to say what the blow-up was even about. That isn't normal. When you have an argument with a normal person, afterwards you can say what it was about.

Though such off-the-wall flights into rage are the most memorable instances of perverted behavior, they aren't the only kind. In fact, other kinds are more telling.

For example, take a situation that has a nearly irresistible pull on the heartstrings. Imagine that some person in the room is suffering great grief and sorrow and breaks down into tears. Seeing that affects normal people like gravity, attracting them to that person to comfort her or him. But what does a narcissist do? The exact opposite. Remember, she must deny attention to that person. So, you'd think anti-gravity was impelling her out the door on the far end of that room as she hurries out jabbering cheerily about everything BUT what is going on.

That's what I mean by "perverted" reactions to things -- weird, backwards reactions to things. Behaviors that make you feel like you just stepped into The Twilight Zone and need to pinch yourself.

It's always a sign that a person is dangerous in some way. Perverted behavior is characteristic of psychopaths and malignant narcissists. Normal people rarely exhibit perverted behavior unless under extreme pressure to do so, and even normal people are dangerous at such times. For, that's when "normal" people all look the other way to allow things like the Holocaust while pretending that they don't know what's going on.

Inappropriate laughter is an example of perverted behavior. I'm not talking about the inappropriate laughter that sometimes comes from a nervous or self-conscious person, or from people under a great weight of fear, pressure or sorrow. That's a release, and we understand it. I'm talking about inappropriate laughter that makes you wonder where it came from.

For instance, when the Challenger (space shuttle) exploded on take-off, we saw it live on television. As with the 9/11 Attack, the networks replayed the spectacular footage every two minutes while shocked America got the news and gathered around television sets. One narcissist I know of was so in need of getting his stunned co-workers' attention off the TV and onto himself that he put on a comedy act, parodying what the victims were saying to each other as the rocket plummeted into the sea. Though his fellow workers were scared to death of becoming the object of one of his persecutions, they were shocked at this chilling display of inhumanity and could manage only nervous laughter at the creep's attention-getting jokes.

That happens only when the victims aren't regarded as human beings. Either because they have been demonized by dehumanizing cariacatures in propaganda or because the laugher is a psychopath or narcissist.

Other examples of perverted behavior are:

  • reacting with contempt to what should evoke sympathy
  • reacting with aversion to what should attract
  • reacting with anger to what should please (such as finding some mysterious offense in an attempt to suck up)
  • getting angrier in reaction to what should appease (Narcissistic Rage)

In short, whenever you see a backwards reaction to something, believe your eyes and ears. Accept this behavior's perplexity and know what you know -- that there is something seriously wrong with that person. And don't forget about it tomorrow when he's Dr. Jekyll again.

Are you in a relationship with someone who has made you want to pinch yourself to see if you're dreaming? Have you often found yourself confused, afraid, and distressed at this person's inexplicable backwards reactions to things? Please, please see this for the red flag this is and get the hell away from them. Carefully. Don't threaten to leave. Just leave. Plan your escape and run away! Change your name if necessary. Seek a shelter if you know this person is unlikely to let you just leave.

This red flag makes me think back on the times in my young life when my own mother displayed backwards reactions toward me. It sent me into tailspins. I was terribly afraid of her. Rightfully so. She mocked me then and for years afterward (right up until and even continuing after I cut her out of my life) because of my fear of her. Like I was just a cowardly idiot for being afraid of her. I see all too clearly now I had every reason in the world to fear her. When I was 17 and pregnant and decided that running away to elope was my best plan of action I was largely motivated by my horrid fear of her. I actually considered her capable of murder. Between her sometimes backwards reactions toward me as well as her disproportionate anger over trivial things I still believe she was capable of murder. I was smart enough at 17 to not completely dismiss my fears and took steps to protect both myself and my baby. I hope you can have the sense of a 17 year old and do the same.

My story of my elopement is here in case you aren't aware of the history cited in the paragraph above.

A Gift for Ya'll

Yes, I'm going to give you a gift. It is called LibriVox. I stumbled on this site a couple of months ago and have already derived many, many hours of pleasure from it.

It is a site that is making available to audio all the books in the public domain. It is a volunteer effort. If you enjoy having books read to you via your Mp3 player then run to their catalog and download one! Not all the readers are equally gifted, but it is still a great service. I am especially fond of Karen Savage as a reader. She does Pride and Prejudice and the first three of the Anne of Green Gables books. If you see Karen's name you're in for a great reading! I listened to the entirety of The Count of Monte Cristo (117 chapters and 50 hours of audio). I had a hard time with some of the accents of several of the readers intermittently for the first couple dozen chapters but things smoothed out after that.

I love LibriVox and am spreading the love to you.