Thursday, March 29, 2007

A Terrible Thing to Waste

I've been feeling a bit burnt-out on the subject of narcissism of late. I get tired of thinking about these twisted monsters, but I never fail to check out what Kathy Krajco is saying on the subject since she always has excellent insights to share.

I'd like to direct you to her blog post on how the narcissist permanently damages his/her brain by their believing falsehoods and twisting logic.

I have observed and wondered if narcissist's bring on their own dementia in their twilight years by how they've misused their minds. My musings on this began about half a dozen years ago when I started paying attention to aging narcissists. Kathy has provided a profound argument that is logically cohesive and I think proves that, yes, you can mind-f*** your brain to oblivion.

Friday, March 16, 2007


I just received an email from a friend who doesn't realize that she is being gaslighted by her eldest (adult) child. So that makes me think I should touch on this subject here because it is a form of psychological abuse that narcissists often employ.

For a brief article on the subject of gaslighting with excellent examples of how this tactic is employed, click here. Gaslighting occurs when a person you trust to tell you the truth about reality, is, in fact, bending reality with lies. When this happens consistently over a period of time it causes you to question your sanity.

In the fifth season of the TV series "24" we see gaslighting in the relationship of President Logan with his wife. Because he is now the most powerful man in the world, his version of reality holds even more sway over her. He can recruit a powerful cadre of support for any and all versions of "reality" he decides to concoct. Mrs. Logan finds herself isolated psychologically because no one will validate the reality she is perceiving with her own senses. And when she becomes very inconvenient by insisting on her perception of reality, he threatens her with commitment to a loony bin. It is a particularly graphic and ugly illustration of this powerful form of psychological control and abuse.

If you find yourself often questioning your own sanity you need to suspect you are being gaslighted. In the absence of any who will support what you are seeing, hearing, and knowing, please give yourself permission to believe yourself. Gaslighting is a deliberate and evil tactic. So when you've determined that someone is doing this to you, it is past time to remove yourself from this person's sphere of influence.

Wikipedia has a brief entry on gaslighting.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

"Hell Demon School"

I have mentioned before that I am a member of a support/discussion group for Adult Children of Narcissists. While this is a very diverse group in terms of religious backgrounds, periodically spiritual questions come up and there is surprising unanimity on the subject of whether or not evil exists and an openness to the idea that there is a spiritual realm where a spirit of evil exists.

It seems inevitable that one's thinking turns to spiritual themes when dealing with narcissists because narcissism confronts you with the age old concept of good vs. evil. If you been raised by a narcissist you've been confronted with the banal face of evil. When the face of evil is worn by mom or dad it complicates things immensely. It becomes impossible to dismiss the realness of evil when you've seen it, smelled it, tasted it, felt it. Since society, under the influence of pop psychology, doesn't believe that everyday evil exists, our persistence in believing it does exist in spite of societal opposition is a testament to our tangible experience with it.

When attempting to explain concepts that deal with spirit, those things that pertain to our souls, we tend to end up using religious symbols and language. For many, that means their thoughts turn to Biblical passages that have stuck in their minds through the years. The Bible not only addresses the reality of good vs. evil, it clearly defines what good is and what evil is. It also stresses that there is a spirit of evil which is personified. The original rebel. Lucifer (Light Bearer) turned Satan (Adversary).

Someone in the ACON group referenced Ephesians 6:12 a few days ago. This person isn't a Christian, but remembered the reference from a casual acquaintance with the Bible in their youth. Eph 6:11-12 NKJV goes like this:

Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age,hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

The writer of this Biblical letter, Paul, is stating that, yes, there is evil in the world, but when you see evil people don't forget who is really animating them. He confirms a cosmic, behind-the-curtain spiritual conspiracy. A grand puppet master who is pulling strings. What you see with your eyes is less real than what you can't see with your eyes...that is a theme oft repeated in the Bible.

What I have found very interesting is how the Bible presents a picture of the spirit of evil that is spot on consistent with narcissism. There is convincing evidence that the devil as described in the Bible is the king of narcissism. The originator of it. He is a monumental projection machine in that he blame shifts onto God all day long and smears his own attributes and motivations onto God. He is against any law that would constrain him from acting on his lusts. In other words, he is the original anarchist. He is all consumed with his self-interests. He is referred to as the original liar and murderer. He is also called the "accuser of the brethren" because he loves to slander and smear anyone who works at cross purposes to him.

I am convinced that we've all seen the face of evil in our Ns. I am also convinced that, by their choices, they have imbibed deeply of the "spirit of evil". They've been transformed into the image of their "father, the devil" himself by accepting his way of thinking. In the gospel of John, chapter 8 you can read an account of Christ confronting the hypocritical religious leaders with some pretty potent words:

Vs. 44...You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

Christ was accusing these hypocrites of having unanimity of desire and spirit with the devil himself which transformed them into actors of the satanic will. Notice what an apt description of narcissism Christ enunciated here. He exposes the murderous intent which existed in the devil long before anyone was actually murdered. He states there is "no truth in him" which means when he is saying or doing anything, he is lying. You may or may not recognize the murderous intent of the narcissist. At the very least, you may admit that they try to kill your individuality, your spirit. The narcissists who lose all fear of authority easily proceed to murdering bodies instead of just souls when inconvenienced by having you around. Nevertheless, the narcissist's desire to obliterate you as an individual person is a form of murder. It is a form of annihilating you they can get away with without any consequence from the law. No truth in them? That is one of the most stunning realizations we come to when we finally understand narcissism; that their entire existence, along with their words and actions, is one big lie held up by multiplied lies.

Paul is in agreement with Christ: the evil acts of humanity are actuated by a real and personal devil. Christ and Paul are putting ultimate blame on the devil because it is his own spirit and resources that are the original source of evil.

You don't need to believe in the Biblical explanation of evil in order to believe that evil exists. But it is interesting to see the consistent and cogent explanations in the Bible for the spirit of the narcissist. Long before psychology came up with an explanation of evil human behavior known as NPD, the Bible described the spirit and behavior of narcissism. It is spread throughout its pages. You don't have to believe in a personal devil in order to recognize a "spirit of evil" that these narcissists have imbibed deeply. Perhaps one of the most convincing arguments for a spiritual being with a personality of evil animating evil humans is the unerring consistency of the behavior of narcissists. You can't help but marvel at the sameness of these people, and how one person's descriptions of the narcissist seem like descriptions of the narcissist you're dealing with. These people are all cut from the same cloth. How is it possible for narcissists the world over to be shockingly the same? Consider the concepts above and come to your own conclusions.

I agree totally with what the agnostic young man in the ACON group said after quoting part of Eph. 6:12:

"God dam abominations, ...yes they are evil, ...if these guys were all graduates from Hell Demon School it wouldn't surprize me... Evil incarnate..."

I think, in an all too real sense, these people have been tutored in some kind of Hell Demon School.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Disproportional Responses or When the "Crime" Doesn't Fit the Punishment

One of the oft used tools in the narcissist's manipulation toolbox is disproportional response. This technique is highly effective on adults; it is devastatingly effective on children.

abusive tactic is targeted at one goal: control. The narcissist is consumed with controlling his version of reality which means he must control you in order to maintain a sense of the world as he has defined it. The narcissist attempts to maintain "order" and internal cohesion in himself by shaking up your world. By confusing you, he gets to feel sane. By fragmenting your reality he gains a sense of wholeness. Yeah, it's twisted.

He keeps you off-balance by his disproportional reactions to minor affronts. He rages suddenly over what seems like nothing. It is nothing. That's part of the point. He punishes over the tiniest infractions to throw you off balance by confusing you. You gently disagree with him on some minor point and he throws a giant tantrum. Or you may have no idea what you did, but suddenly you have an enraged beast going for your throat. You start walking on eggshells around him. You never feel completely relaxed in his presence because you never know when or where the next outburst will come from.

There is an important thing to know about the narcissist's rages. A narcissist doesn't rage the way normal people do. The narcissist is in total control of his rages. They are calculated for effect. When a decent person experiences rage it is the result of extreme provocation. While experiencing the rage, this person feels out of control and it takes some time for the feelings to subside and some great effort at self-control. So when we are confronted by a narcissist's rage we wrongly assume they are feeling what we would be feeling if we were enraged. You are wrong in this belief. If you've been in the presence of narcissistic rages often enough you've likely seen that they can turn it off and on like a switch. If you haven't seen this, then try this: rage back at them. Watch them crumble into a helpless, whiny little suppliant. Or simply walk into a room where other people are and watch them flip the switch to "off". Watch them pick up the phone during one of their rages and suddenly act completely normal. This is not normal rage. This is contrived rage. They are in complete and total control even while your eyes and ears tell you they are out of control. They are using rage the same way they will use their sexuality, or their charm...for effect only. They are trying to control you with it.

The use of disproportional reactions by the narcissist will usually contain some level of rage as its component, which is why I took the time to describe what narcissistic rages are all about. Be assured that this is an abusive tactic. Don't accept it. Let them taste their own medicine. If you are willing to put up with the inevitable fall-out then get in the narcissist's face with your own disproportional reaction. Interestingly, just about any abusive tactic of the narcissist can be turned around on them. It is about the only way to penetrate their frustratingly thick skulls with any impression of your displeasure. Turning their own weapons against them can be highly effective. Don't try this with a narcissist whom you have reason to believe could turn violent though. The less confrontational approach would be to simply refuse to put up with the disproportional responses by demanding just and proportional treatment. Reject or ignore their unpredictable, volatile behavior. They can be conditioned to somewhat modify their behavior. Like any dog, they are not likely to keep up a behavior that doesn't reap rewards. They'll move onto their next obnoxious trick. Really, what is the point of keeping these bastards in your life?

If you have children with a narcissistic spouse, you owe it to those children to get them away from the narcissist parent. This type of abuse is extremely destructive to the hearts, minds and souls of children who have no power to get away from it. The capricious and disproportional reactions are corrosive to the child's sense of security which will undermine a child's psychosocial development. This abusive tactic sends adults into tail spins...multiply that effect many times when trying to measure how children are affected by it. If you're any kind of decent person, save your children from your narcissistic spouse. I could fill books with descriptions of the private terror a child under the care of a narcissistic parent while the other parent worked 16 hour days and closed his eyes to any evidence of abuse. Whatever you may be experiencing doesn't begin to compare with the reign of terror your child is enduring.

Friday, March 02, 2007

The Narcissist as Altruist

One of the reasons it can be so hard to convince other people that the narcissist is dangerous and evil is because of the altruistic image many of them often present to the world. My entire lifetime I have been an observer of my mother's relationships (including with myself) and have seen how in every single one of them she made sure she was perceived as the benefactress. In her mind, her position of "giver" is one of superiority. To the narcissist it is a sign of inferiority to ask for help; a sign of superiority to dispense help. This is a hard and fast principle with narcissists so you better commit that one to memory.

Her giving came in several forms: she would give of her time, her knowledge, and sometimes her resources. The narcissist knows the most dependable source of supply is to make another person dependent on them, so they encourage dependence. They know that being dependent is habit-forming so they are anxious to encourage you to this end. It makes for a steady source of narcissistic supply for them. They do nothing without a calculation of what they will be getting for what they give. This is not altruism. There is not an altruistic bone in their bodies. Do not be fooled. Your dependence is their guarantee of supply. It is all about them.

The dependence may be either financial or emotional. My mother specialized in the latter because she didn't have endless resources. She is a very greedy person and more likely to take your material things than to give you hers, unless we are talking about her discards. She will make great fanfare of generously giving you something material when she is really just throwing it away. Why put something in the trash or give it to Salvation Army when she can gain an opportunity to support her image of self-less generosity by giving her junk to you? You, of course, are not allowed to say, "What a piece of junk." No, you must look appropriately grateful for her generosity and tell her how perfect the "gift" is. Your humble reception of her "generosity" is what turns her "gift" into narcissistic supply for her. Then you'll have to surreptitiously throw it in the trash and hope she doesn't ask you about it later. A small little anecdote to illustrate. My mother gave a female cousin of mine a bag of soap slivers. My cousin was accustomed to watching the budget so as to stretch the home finances. So my mother decides that my cousin is "poor". Poor enough that she should be thrilled to accept a gift of soap slivers! By soap slivers, I'm talking about that little piece of soap you can no longer hang onto in the shower so you throw it away. I had seen this netted bag with soap slivers in my mother's bathroom cupboard some years earlier, so I knew of this soap sliver collection. I had no idea why she was collecting them, but wasn't curious enough to ask. I think it is very likely she didn't know what she was going to do with them when she started either. But, lo and behold, the day finally came when she could discard this insane collection. She could use it in a transaction that would turn old, crusty soap slivers into the stuff of life...narcissistic supply. Narcissist alchemy. Turning lead (soap slivers) into pure gold (of narcissistic supply).

My mother has honed her nurturing of dependence so that even while she is rushing to your aid and encouraging you to depend on her, she tells you how she will teach you to depend on yourself and not her. Which makes her sound like a true beneficent. It encourages you to trust her completely. The course of time reveals the lie, though. Even while she is acting like she someday expects you to depend on yourself she is drawing the bands of control through dependence ever tighter around you. You will not escape except by a supreme act of the will and a determined cutting off of all contact. She is obligating you to her with every act of beneficence. You are expected to show your loyalty and your supreme adulation and gratitude with every interaction. Any deviation from an attitude of admiration will bring down the judgment of heaven on your head. She will remind you of the great sacrifices of her time and knowledge given to you in your time of extremity; how could you think she is anything but self-less and wonderful? You feel ashamed to think even one thought that deviates from the image she projects. To put it succinctly, there are strings attached to every single thing she does for you.

Unfortunately, she does not follow the Biblical injunction to not let the right hand know what the left hand was doing in her acts of "charity". No, she made sure that others in her life knew of the great sacrifices of time, energy, and knowledge she has exerted on your behalf. She does this casually. No need to make a great show of it. No, if she drops the information casually it doesn't appear to be bragging, it just appears to be evidence of how naturally she gives of herself to others. There is a strategy to all of this. She is constantly aware that at some point her dependent may attempt to defect from her iron-fisted control. She is taking out insurance against this possible outcome. She is insuring her image to others. The uprising of indignation when you try to assert some control of your own life will astonish you. Suddenly, everyone around you is frowning on your behavior and reinforcing the narcissist's claims that you are a selfish ingrate. Unless you are very sure of your own mind, it will be hard to defect in the face of such overwhelming opposition. You can not leave the narcissist's lair without suffering a very large hit to your reputation in the eyes of others. Those "others" are mutual friends or family so it is painful. You're going to have to face the fact that you will have to look "bad" in order to reclaim your dignity and your autonomy. Look at this as a time when you will find out who your real friends are.

As a beneficiary of the magnanimity of the narcissist you become the silent audience to their grandiosity. You are privy to their one-man show. You come to realize it is all about them and not about you at all except what you give them. You must be forthcoming with generous servings of admiration, respect, even fear. It really isn't all that important to the narcissist to be loved. They are satisfied with admiration or fear of the image they project. Those two responses appeal to their grandiose view of themselves. The narcissist reveals how it is not altruism that motivates them because they very quickly lose interest in being helpful when they are not receiving applause for their actions.

Be assured of this fact; every favor you receive from the narcissist incurs debt. You can never repay this debt. Never. He is the only one allowed to tend to the bookkeeping ledger...and that ledger is always going to be used to prove you are forever in debt to him. Forever. Any favor you do for the narcissist was simply what you owed him. In other words, you are not able to grant a favor to a narcissist. This would prove that he needed something, which is anathema to his god-like status. You can't do favors, you can only pay in some small way toward your "debt". There is no fairness in this system, so don't look for any. If you can be satisfied with a lifetime of being a lesser form of life who has incurred an eternity of debt, then stay dependent on a narcissist. Otherwise, cut your losses and get the hell out of Dodge.