Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Study: College Students More Narcissistic

Five psychologists are now collating the data and the news isn't good. In fact, what they are seeing and reporting is a condemnation of their profession itself, although I see no admission of that fact in the article.

The largest study of its type has been conducted and the news isn't good. Using the objective tool called the Narcissistic Personality Inventory (NPI) has shown an alarming increase of narcissism in our young people since 1982 when the NPI was first introduced.

Here are a few interesting quotes from the AP article:

Today's college students are more narcissistic and self-centered than their predecessors, according to a comprehensive new study by five psychologists who worry that the trend could be harmful to personal relationships and American society.

"We need to stop endlessly repeating 'You're special' and having children repeat that back," said the study's lead author, Professor Jean Twenge of San Diego State University. "Kids are self-centered enough already."

Personally, I think the danger to American society due to a dramatic up tick of narcissism can not be over-stated. This article does nothing to over-state the concern, sadly enough. The article ends disappointingly because it tries to be "balanced" and therefore waters down the point. Oh, well. For those of us aware of the catastrophic problems to interpersonal relationships that narcissism presents we can take the information and well imagine the outcomes.

Who can we blame for the massive "self-esteem" projects launched by our educational system and foisted upon our children? The answer is obvious: psychology "experts". How long have we been inundated with the propaganda about self-esteem now? Well, a good two decades. Now we are seeing the fruition of this dangerous and destructive philosophy. There have already been numerous studies on "self esteem" and our children that have proven how self esteem which is not connected to real accomplishments undermines the competence of our children as well as undermining their ability to positively interact with society. Too bad the psychobabblers aren't willing to admit they are the creators of the evil outcomes of their dogma. I suppose I should be grateful that at least five psychotherapists are willing to look at the facts and sound an alarm.

3/20/07...Sorry, the link to the Yahoo/AP story has expired.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Grieving "what might have been"

A common theme among adult children of narcissists is how to cope with the grieving process once you realize the family you thought you had wasn't real; the pain of realizing that the mother or father, who you assumed loved you, never really did. The foundation of lies has crumbled and you don't know anymore what was real about your childhood and what was manufactured for effect. You find yourself grieving the dream of what you thought you had, or the dream of the happy family you hoped would someday materialize.

I think we all go through a grieving process over the loss of the family we thought we had, the parents we thought we had, life as we thought we knew it. I also think everyone has to find their own way through the grieving process. Notice that we aren't grieving what we did have; we grieve for what we wished we had. We're grieving a dream...a wish...an ephemeral, gauzy fantasy that we were never able to grab onto.

What has helped me the most in dealing with this has been focusing on what I do have and what I have gained by separating from family. That, of course, may be different for everyone. For me it has meant that I have gained much peace (outward and inward), autonomy and integrity, the ability to live my life without someone standing there to judge my every move and assume they know my motives and judge those as well. Freedom of heart and soul...oh, that is worth much more than what I have lost. I have my own family which is healthy and loving...I don't want my focusing on the loss of my family of birth to take up any space in my life because I don't want to convey to my loving husband and daughter that they are not enough to make up for what I've lost. They are more than enough. I focus on them.

The loss of a dream...no more substantive than a wisp of smoke...it was never real and can never be real. As harsh as reality can be, I revel in living in it. I am grateful to have the false reality consigned to the trash where it belongs so I can live life on real terms and end up with something substantive to hang onto. Life is short. I am not willing to let my destructive, selfish family take any more of my life from me than they already have so I have spent very little time pining over them. They are not worth it. They are not real. I will not mourn long over a dream or a wish of "what might have been" because it will get me no where.

I get to live life on my terms, not theirs. Because of how much I have to be grateful for, I don't feel re-wounded when I see families who are happy and whole. I can be happy for them because I am happy for me. I can be happy to know that there are children not being raised by cruel, selfish parents. This world will be better for it. I'm happy for hard experiences which have made me stronger and wiser than I would have been otherwise. By walking away from my destructive family of origin I have gained ever so much more than I have given up.

Gratitude is the antidote to grief.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

To cut off from a parent, or not....that is the question

One of the hardest positions you may find yourself in is when having to decide whether to cut off all contact with your parent or parents. It seems unnatural to live your life as if your parents are already dead. (In truth, what is unnatural is how N parents treat their children.) Society tends to disapprove of adult children walking out of a parent's life. Other family members will shame you for it. People seem to dismiss reason in this realm refusing to believe there must be an egregious crime or, more accurately a series of crimes, somewhere for an adult child to make such a drastic step. The very unnaturalness of cutting off from ones parents should be a giant red flag to others that something very wrong has been going on out of sight. The willingness of people to judge what they have not been witness to is a natural human fault. If you've tried to cut off contact from family you've already run into this reality. You're going to have to be very sure of your decision if you're going to be able to deal with this inevitable judgment.

Are you obligated to a relationship simply because of shared genetics? Are those who share your genetics exempt from the law of natural consequences?

That's what I want to talk about today. The concept that there are consequences for bad behaviors.

When I was forcefully confronted with the realization that neither of my parents would accept me on anything but their own terms was when I had to start to conceptualize living my life without them in it. I made a monumental effort to reason with them, to explain my moral framework and how they had no right to try to force me to violate my conscience or sacrifice my family in order to make them happy. When they were confronted with what were now my immovable boundaries, they ratcheted up the emotional pressure, obfuscation and manipulation. What I knew beyond all doubt was my determination to live as an autonomous adult would be like holding up the sign of the cross to a demon. The friction between me and my parents would be continual and unrelenting unless I was the one who capitulated. Considering the difficulties dealing with them when I was actually trying to please them, I had a pretty good idea of the level of misery for them (not to mention myself) when pleasing them would not be the focus of my energy and attention.

When living my life on my own terms, and no longer being willing to tolerate bad behavior on the part of my Nmom or my enabling father began, my Nmom and dad reacted by withdrawal. This has been a useful tactic of theirs. They think they are so wonderful and important that family members feel keen pain when they withdraw their royal presence. So they will withdraw for a time and then sound you out at some future date to see if you are now willing to comply to their demands. Withdrawal would also employed when my Nmom would behave like an ass but was refusing to acknowledge that fact. She pulls away for a period of time hoping that some months down the road when she calls and acts like nothing ever happened that you'll play along. Voila! No accountability. No need to apologize. Clean slate for the narcissist.

Both stages of withdrawal were experienced by me (inverse order) in the wake of my Nmother's sneak attack on my daughter during the Thanksgiving visit of 2002 that I have minimally described in another post. First, she withdrew because she knew she behaved badly and was hoping time would save her from accountability. I didn't hear from her for six months. She was brave enough to make a tentative contact after she received a Mother's Day gift and card from me. She sent me a card with a thank you and a very vague apology. No specificity at all. But I took that as an opening. In June of 2003 I sent her a twelve page letter explaining my reaction to her recent behavior toward my daughter and myself and telling her what a real apology would look like.

To make a long story less long ... I waited six months for a reply. What arrived was a carefully crafted response that was so full of holes as to be ridiculous, but on its face it was a valiant attempt to look like she was sorry while she excused and justified herself every way she could. I may post it here someday as grand example of a non-apology apology. I replied with another, less long, letter. Followed by interminable silence. She had no way to respond. I had her completely boxed in the corner. She saw I could not be bamboozled by her mind games. I wasn't buying her crap anymore. She could only hope I would just relent and make nice at some point.

Meanwhile, her machinations were ongoing. She had been on a continual slander campaign since Thanksgiving 2002 to anyone who would listen to her. Stuff was getting back to me. While pretending to apologize to me, she never stopped justifying herself and painting me and my family as the bad guys to her captive audiences. My father was the most affected by her negative campaigning. Even though he was a witness to the event in question, he surrendered what he saw with his own eyes and heard with his own ears to her rewrite of history. He threw me over. He expressed to his own brother that he was done with me. That he would cut me off now but he was being forced by his wife to give it a bit more time. He said he would give me a year to make right with my mother and then he'd be done with me.

A little over a year after my last letter to her (and about a year after my dad's threat to cut me off), Nmom clearly demonstrated she had no intention of retracting her slander and lies to extended family. An ex-sister-in-law reentered her sphere. My mother did not resist in any way beginning a new slander campaign against me. She made all her false accusations against me behind my back yet again even upping the ante as she was now accusing me of being to blame for her health problems. She stated that I was killing her. This newest accusation told me my father was believing I was now responsible for her health problems because she would have convinced him of it. The idea that dad was now seeing me as guilty of attempted murder was a scary thought. My father has a volatile temper. If he believes me responsible for her death (when she finally kicks off) I can see him coming after me. I still dream about him killing me.

All this story is to try to illustrate a hopefully simple point. My parents are the ones who are responsible for the decision to have me out of their lives. By not being willing to negotiate with me, by the continuing slander while faking an apology to me, by withdrawal as a means of showing their disapproval of my perceived recalcitrance, by their refusal to admit to wrong-doing, the reality is that THEY made the decision to not have me in their lives. Because of the law of natural consequences, their ongoing behaviors were guaranteeing that I would be shut off from them.

There are consequences for bad behavior. Or, at least, there should be consequences. The God of heaven relies on this natural law to teach sinners to turn from their destructive behavior. By feeling the results of consequences, reprobates may have a chance of being turned from their evil. We do a grand disservice to the cause of good and right when we interfere in this natural law. If we do not allow bad behavior to culminate in their natural results, we confirm the bad behavior. Any decent parent knows this truth from raising children.

I am hoping you can see where I am going with this. The answer to the questions stated earlier, Are you obligated to a relationship simply because of shared genetics? Are those who share your genetics exempt from the law of natural consequences? is no and no. To remain in a relationship where the bad actors are refusing to change, and when you have determined that their behavior is more than annoying and definitely in the realm of evil and destructive, then you must remove yourself from the relationship if you are going to avoid being an accomplice to their evil. Let the natural law of consequences have its opportunity to work.

Most important to your peace of mind, be willing to know that they made the choice to not have you in their lives because of their persistence in clinging to their evil. Natural consequences is likely the last thing that has any chance of turning the narcissist from their evil ways. The chance is slim to none, but that isn't your problem. If they do happen to change and you don't ever believe those changes to be real, or you are so far removed that you never hear of these changes, then settle your mind by realizing that this, too, is the result of the law of natural consequences. If a person consistently mistreats the people in his or her life then the natural consequence may be that they end up alone. Again, that is not your problem. You are guilty of nothing. They are bearing the consequences of their own guilt. You removing yourself from their life will not condemn them in the eyes of God should they ever choose to make things right with the universe. You don't have the power to stand between them and God should they decide to make things right. Which brings me to an important truth: you don't have responsibility where you don't have power. You don't have the power to change the narcissist, so you don't have the responsibility either. Please let that soak in. Some of us stay way too long in relationships with narcissists because somewhere in our minds we feel responsible for changing them. Give up that thought. Recognize the little bit of grandiosity in your opinion of yourself that allows you to believe you can be so wonderful, wise, loving or compassionate that you can change the narcissist. It is a heavy burden to be a savior...and an effort in futility. Step out of the way and let the law of consequences have a chance. You are without blame. They chose this outcome.

"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Galatians 6:7

Friday, February 02, 2007

Is it love?

How many times have you tried to rationalize the narcissist's behavior by convincing yourself that they really do love you if in their "own way" particularly if the narcissist is your parent? How confused are you as to what love is and isn't due to being raised by perverted-thinking narcissists? By perverted I'm using the broad definition of perversion which means to wrongly use or corrupt something.

Love is an internal principle. You can't impose it from the outside. To attempt to gain love or compliance illicitly always involves the external rule of force. A narcissist wants you to prove your love for them by forcing you to bend to their rules.

  • A forced obedience is no obedience at all, but rather it is slavery.
  • A manipulated obedience is no obedience at all, but deception.
  • A purchased obedience is no obedience at all, but bribery.
  • An obedience rendered in fear of adverse consequences is no obedience at all, but self-preservation.

All the above statements bring clear memories to my mind of my mother's methods in raising me. She used every perverted and externally imposed force to achieve compliance. There was no way to assuage her anger and rage, her petulance and sulking, her explicit or implicit expectations except by total compliance and capitulation.

It is never about love with the narcissist. They are incapable of giving or receiving it because life is always about getting their way. Force is always involved when getting ones way is not optional in ones thinking. Love can't use force and remain love. Love must woo, entice, attract. It is the beauty of a loving character that attracts. The narcissist has a twisted, ugly, and evil character which becomes apparent if you find yourself under a narcissist's power and control. To keep you in their power they must use force otherwise you would leave them to rot in their personal hell alone. Recognize it for what it is. Don't call what they do and say "love". It never was and never will be. They are tyrants and despots in their hearts. One of the powerful tools of enslavement of your soul is by their perverted definitions of love. Their demands for obedience always involve force in some form. If you are complying to their whims, wishes, commands from any of the above motivations then you are not motivated by love for that person either. You are their slave; physically, emotionally and mentally. Free yourself. That is what real love requires. Real love will not aide and abet evil.

Love = freedom of your will and your soul to do right.
Force = slavery of your will and your soul to do evil.

Are you a slave, or are you free?