Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Good Liars? Or Just Practiced Diversion Artists?

Dr. Robert Hare tells us that psychopaths are not the good liars they are generally acclaimed as being. In his book "Without Conscience" in the chapter titled Words from an Overcoat Pocket he outlines the anomalies of the way psychopaths use language. More accurately, how they misuse language. And some really interesting reasons as to why.

Please don't be distracted by my referring to Hare's work with psychopaths. The character-disordered have one thing in common: they lie. A lot. Lying is pervasive throughout all their interactions with others. As I have highlighted before, Dr. Hare has established that all psychopaths have a pervasive narcissistic personality. So, even on their best day, a malignant narcissist has much more in common with the psychopath than with the rest of us. Also, I know that some of you who read this blog are dealing with someone who is closer to the psychopath than not.

I have observed before that the malignant narcissist prostitutes language to their own ends. They pervert the use of language in order to destroy true communication. The purpose of language is to communicate. Narcissists use language to do the opposite. Obscure, mislead, divert, confuse. This is perversion. By perversion I am using this definition: "To put to a wrong or improper use; misuse."

"Although psychopaths lie a lot, they are not the skilled liars we often make them out to be. As I discussed earlier, their speech is full of inconsistent or contradictory statements. Psychopaths may play mental Scrabble, but they sometimes do it badly because they fail to integrate the pieces into a coherent whole; their truth line is fragmented and patchy, at best..." Without Conscience, pg. 136

So why are we often fooled by the inconsistencies and illogic of their statements? Hare states,

"[Victims] might not notice the discrepancy, particularly if they are engrossed in the action." Ibid. pg. 137 Emphasis mine.

When we are stuck in the moment with the liar there is much which is going on. They are masters of distraction. Constantly scanning your face and body language for cues as to how they should be responding to you at any particular moment, they dance here and there and zig and zag in order to lead you to whatever conclusion works best for them.

What I found particularly intriguing in this chapter of the book was Hare's analysis of the hand gestures which accompany the words under the chapter subtitle "Watch Their Hands". After accounting for the fact that certain cultures use more meaningless hand gestures than others, he then describes how psychopaths use many more "beats" (small, rapid hand gestures which are "empty" of meaning) as they talk. We all use "beats" to help us connect our words to our thoughts. The harder it is to come up with a word to describe our thoughts the more we will employ these empty hand gestures. People who are not speaking in their native tongue will use many more "beats" as they search around for the right word.

"A high rate of beat gestures appears to reflect difficulty in converting thoughts and feelings into speech." pg. 135

"Recent evidence suggests that psychopaths use more beats than do normal people, particularly when they talk about things generally considered emotional..." pg. 136 [emphasis author's]

Hare follows up this statement with what can be inferred from this evidence. You can read the book yourself to see his second inference because you need the context of the chapter to understand it, but the first one is that "emotion is like a second language to the psychopath."

To quote Spock, "fascinating".

I have talked about my mother's ridiculously animated hand gestures before like here and here. It doesn't happen all the time, but it happens consistently when she is "playing" to an audience. I almost wish now that I was still in contact with her so I could study her hand gestures in light of Hare's information. He offers this excessive use of hand gestures as a sign of possible psychopathy. It can be a signal that the person you're talking to is having a difficult time finding the right "emotional" words to use. Groping around like someone whose second language is English, this person is not at home using words which communicate an emotional punch.

Put this one in your tool box. When you see something beating the air with their hands it may simply mean this person is having a hard time finding the words for whatever reason. But if you are conversing with someone who consistently and excessively uses "beats", at least consider the possibility that you are dealing with a narcissistic and/or psychopathic individual. It is a piece of evidence. It only has significance as it correlates with other supporting evidence. In isolation it may be meaningless.

"Expansive hand movements and exaggerated facial expressions" are part of the "dramatic display" which can blind us to the nonsensical, the odd, the illogic of the conversant. It can divert and mesmerize the smartest person. Makes me think again of the killdeer. If you've ever stepped near their eggs or young you've seen the impressive display. They are suddenly and loudly calling with their piercing vocals while running, limping and dragging a wing. Between the vocals and gestures you are diverted from the truth: that their vulnerable young are near by. Once the perceived predator has been lured a safe distance from their young by the deceptive act, the adult killdeer bursts into flight off away from the direction of its young.

In a similar way we can become entranced and distracted by an animated display and led away from the truth. The diversion artist has once again evaded real communication and hidden the truth from view.
"Society runs on trust, and we ordinarily pay more attention to what someone says than to the accompanying nonverbal behavior--hand gestures, facial movements, smiles, eye contact. However, when the speaker is attractive and gives a really impressive nonverbal performance, the effect can be reversed--we watch the show and pay little attention to what is said." Without Conscience, pg. 145

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Clarification on the Last Post

I would like to make it very, very clear that I am not advocating the pathologizing of victims. It is very possible to be schmoozed and fooled into believing a narcissist is Prince or Princess Charming who then, once you are dependent on them financially and otherwise, will show you the fangs behind closed doors. People can unwittingly be caught and trapped into relationships with malignant narcissists. I hope you saw my consistent use of the words "choice" and "will" and other iterations of words which clearly showed I am referring to people who can and are able to walk away from a situation.

I would also like to state that very often there are ways out of a relationship with a narcissist even though it may look like a hopeless trap. It may require stealth, careful planning and lots of time, but a way can be cleared to make it out as long as you're not chained in the basement or have a gun to your head. I have seen more than one trapped adult who appeared to have no options think their way out of what looked like an impossible bind. Difficult does not mean impossible. While it is cruel to pathologize victims, it would also be cruel to say that victims must remain victims.

My father is, again, an example of the kind of person I am describing in this post. He is not financially dependent on my mother. He is amazingly psychologically independent of her as well. He lives a very social and active life apart from her. He is an accomplished and avid fisherman who has built a camaraderie of friendships around this hobby. He plans long fishing trips with great frequency which gives him many blocks of time away from my mother. He remains in his marriage with my mother by choice. He could walk away and she'd only get half of what he owns...and half would be plenty to live on. He isn't even a religious man; so religious compunction is not dictating that he stay married to my mom. There is obviously a symbiosis. He is getting something from this close association with my mother and her evil. While it is rather mysterious and unknowable from outside their relationship (though I could come up with some good guesses)...he is getting something for himself from staying with her. He can only stay with her because he is morally compromised himself. His lack of integrity and moral straightness becomes evident when tested against my mother's overt bad deeds. He excuses, rationalizes and ultimately supports her bad deeds by renaming them. He proves his corruption by his acquiescence to her evil for the sake of his quest for peace at all costs. He consistently chooses easy over right. I have a boat load of evidence to prove he is in this marriage by choice.

When you can walk away but don't...the reason lies inside of you. That is what I'm challenging people to look at in my last post.

Dancing with the Devil

Yesterday morning I decided to thumb through M. Scott Peck, M.D,'s book, "People of the Lie". It has been more than a couple years since I read his book. A recent comment in an email from one of the readers of my blog made me think it was time for me to refresh my memory on what Peck covers in his book. My eye quickly lighted upon Peck's assertion that adults do not accidentally end up in close relationships with evil people. He uses the term "willing thralldom" and contrasts it with the plight of children who, through no choice of their own, are enslaved to evil parents.

Peck relates his experience with a very disturbed (and disturbing) couple -- Sarah and Hartley. In the context of this story he states:
"We do not become partners to evil by accident. As adults we are not forced by fate to become trapped by an evil power, we set the trap ourselves." pg. 118
Referring to Hartley:

"Theoretically he could have just walked away from Sarah. But he had bound himself to her by chains of laziness and dependency, and though titularly an adult, he had settled for the child's impotence. Whenever adults not at gunpoint become victims of evil it is because they have--one way or another--make Hartley's bargain." pg. 119-120

The bargain was to settle into a type of slavery because his moral laziness and dependency was a larger part of his character than not.

"He entered into a submissive relationship with evil precisely because he was partially evil himself." (footnote pg. 118)
I'm using Peck to reiterate my previous theme: moral laziness puts us on the path to evil. You can not walk on the evil path without becoming, at least in part, evil yourself.

Once we are adults we are no longer helpless as we were as children. This is true for adults: to the extent you've compromised with evil; to the extent you've entered into a truce with evil -- that that extent you yourself are evil. Some part of you is comfortable and "at home" with the evil you've accepted, excused or compromised with.

Contrary to popular theory on relationships that "opposites attract", the reality is "like attracts like". The saying "water seeks its own level" is a recognition of this observable truth. The attraction is not due to a perfect outward likeness that is visually evident and obvious. It is an attraction based on symbiosis. In some way there is a fit. There is a relationship between two (or more) people which is mutually beneficial, or perceived on some level by them as being mutually beneficial.

It is not always possible for someone outside a relationship to know how the two parties are mutually benefiting from the relationship. Outwardly we may conclude we are seeing two opposites. We have to avoid this kind of simplistic acceptance of outward appearances when we observe a relationship between adults who have chosen to be together and who hang together tenaciously. One person may appear to be evil and the other "in thralldom" to the partner's evil. We must accept the reality they are both evil though likely not equally so.

If you, as an adult, try to make yourself believe you must remain in a relationship with someone you know is evil you must ask yourself the question: in what way have I made a deal with the devil? In what way have I compromised my integrity and taken the easy route morally so that I can co-exist with evil? No adult stays "in thralldom" to evil except by a choice of the will. You can wiggle, argue and poo-poo this statement, but it still remains true.

It is observable all throughout human society: we gravitate toward those who are like us. There is a natural tendency for people to associate based on ethnicity, religion, race, educational level, families, etc. Why can we not see that humanity chooses to associate with those who are morally similar?

We see this played out all the time with teenagers. Teens are old enough to figure out a way to do what they want to do. You can guide, shape and shelter your children, but when they reach a certain age they will choose their peers based on their hidden inner life. A kid can look like he is outwardly conforming to expectations, but the real test of the teen character is what associations he chooses because teens have reached an age where they are largely responsible for their choices in friendships. Many parents will refuse to believe that Johnny has fallen in with a "bad crowd" because he chose to. They assume that Johnny was a good boy right up until he was somehow corrupted by some bad kids. The truth is that Johnny felt a resonance with the "bad crowd". Some part of him was attracted to their badness. You have not been privy to Johnny's inner landscape. His private thoughts and fantasies. His desires only heretofore checked by lack of opportunity.

Not all teens pick evil associations. We see many teens choosing good friends. Friends who take their education seriously, who obey their parents, who submit to the rules of parents and school, who choose not to have sex. Just as it is no accident that Johnny picked the bad crowd, the teens who pick good friends did not do so accidentally. They deserve credit for the good choices just as Johnny deserves blame for picking bad friends.

You need to correctly analyze the relationships you are in and the relationships you see around you as it relates to the narcissist. You need to recognize that adults choose their associations. They remain in close association with evil when they themselves have compromised themselves morally. When we let life just carry us along and pretend that we are in a bad relationship because of some vagary of fate we have a sign that we've taken the lazy course. Moral laziness is the path to destruction.

It can be argued that the greatest failing of the evil is their absolute refusal to recognize their own evil. We may be basically decent people with grave moral failings which could be classified as evil because they have damaged ourselves and others. But we distinguish ourselves from the character disordered and evil personalities by being willing to introspect and identify our moral failings, acknowledge those moral failings, make restitution for our bad acts and to turn resolutely from our bad ways. Truly evil people will never allow themselves to see themselves as evil. They will scapegoat all their evil onto someone else to falsely maintain a sense of purity and perfection. When we refuse to scapegoat our bad acts onto someone or something outside ourselves; when we are willing to acknowledge to ourselves that we've compromised with evil; when we resolutely turn from doing the evil we've practiced in the past-- then we can clearly differentiate ourselves from those who are evil.

Don't make excuses for yourself or for others for staying in close relationship with evil people. Recognize the dynamic of symbiosis that is occurring. Unless an adult is physically being held hostage, that adult has a choice as to whether or not to stay in association with an evil character. Knowing this to be true, do not attempt to "rescue" someone who is dancing in lock-step with a narcissist. They must be avoided along with the narcissist because they are morally compromised. Whether due to laziness, psychological dependence, greed, shared power...adults stay in relationship with evil people because they choose to. They feel they have something to gain by the association. Acknowledge to yourself this reality and live accordingly.

Just because someone else has chosen to dance with the devil it doesn't justify you doing the same. Take responsibility for the choices that keep you locked in a tango with evil people. You have no one to blame but yourself if after realizing you're dancing with evil you choose to remain where you are. Once you are willing to own the fact that your own choices have put you where you are, you are much more likely to start making different choices. Remember:
"As adults we are not forced by fate to become trapped by an evil power, we set the trap ourselves..."

Monday, October 22, 2007

Watch Out for the Easy Path

The book,"In Sheep's Clothing", which I referenced in the last post gives a list of seven specific distorted thinking patterns of character-disordered people (pages 22-23). A quick look at the list without the full descriptions is as follows:

  • Self-focused (self-centered) thinking.
  • Possessive thinking.
  • Extreme (all-or-none) thinking.
  • Egomaniacal thinking.
  • Shameless thinking.
  • Quick and easy thinking.
  • Guiltless thinking.
I want to focus on number six--quick and easy thinking:

"The disturbed character always wants things the easy way. He hates to put forth effort or accept obligation. He gets far more joy out of 'conning' people. This way of thinking promotes an attitude of disdain for labor and effort." (Emphasis mine.)

The laziness described above is primarily a moral laziness. It feels easier to run a "confidence" game than it does to live by the rules. The morally lazy disordered character actually looks down on those of us who live by rules. This is where the "attitude of disdain" comes in. We are dupes for staying within the lines. We deserve to get "taken" because we are "stupid" for being constricted by rules that can be easily broken. The disturbed character grants you no points for being moral. Your morality is your weakness, in their eyes. They look down on you for it.

Over the last few years I have been forcefully made aware of a truth:

The easy course is usually the evil course.

Let's stand back and and look at this from a broader perspective. By broader, I mean let's take it out of the realm of the disordered character and superimpose this truth over all humanity. You don't have to be a disordered character to be morally lazy.

The most personal illustration for me of this reality is the life of my father. He is most definitely not a disordered character. Everyone who knows him thinks very highly of him. He is considered a very decent human. He is very personable and helpful. He is very competent in all that he does. To his family (immediate and extended) he has become a different man. When it would have counted he has been too morally weak to stand up to his wife to defend his children (or other family). He has, time and again, chosen the easiest course in dealing with his disordered charactered wife...capitulation...and left the weakest and most defenseless in her clutches without accountability. He studied his own convenience resulting in him taking the path of least resistance. His weak moral decisions has resulted in a trail of woe for others that is beyond calculation. He took the easy course and thereby enabled and supported evil. Evil has flourished in his own house because of his moral capitulation.

It hasn't stopped with his supporting my mother's evil. Evil has infected his own soul. As he has aged he has become bitter and cynical. He is almost constantly angry. He is quick to think the worst of others. He has imbibed deeply of my mother's spirit. For many years he has surrendered his integrity in order to keep my mother "happy". He demands all of his family to do the same. But, of course, he can not see he is demanding we surrender our own integrity. He has renamed his loss of integrity to be loyalty. He has adopted the "mob family mentality" in order to make his moral decrepitude into moral superiority. He has adopted the mindset of an abuser because he has justified my mother's abuse. He is now tyrannical because he has justified his wife's tyranny over others. He is immoral because he has justified her immorality. It is a cryin' shame. I have watched a man deteriorate over the years both physically and morally. A good man has been thoroughly corrupted by the evil he has capitulated to for decades.

This is the problem with taking the morally easy course. You can be an overall very good person, but a lifetime of moral laziness in one area of your life will eventually infect the whole person. You can not confine your immorality to one area of your life for ever. Eventually that area of your life will touch other areas. You find yourself rationalizing and capitulating in another area. And another. All in order to justify your original capitulation. Giving into someone else's immorality, over the course of time, will infect your own morality. It is a dangerous thing to do the easy thing. To study your own comfort, to cherish your own convenience is often the doorway which opens your soul to making immoral choices.

It is the human experience that we are all confronted with making a choice between doing the right thing and doing what is easiest. I am challenging you to separate yourself out from the disordered thinking of the character disordered. The disordered character lives by the criminal code of "quick and easy". All humans are frequently confronted by having to make a choice between "quick and easy" and the right thing. The more often you chose right over easy the better person you will be.

We can not afford to be morally lazy when dealing with the malignant narcissist. My father is an example of the corruption of a soul who chose easy over principled when dealing with his malignantly narcissistic wife. Constant capitulation to the narcissist's immoral demands will erode your self-respect. The less self-respect you have, the more easily you can justify taking the easy road. You seriously risk becoming evil yourself.

Adult children of narcissists have usually witnessed this truth in their own families. Usually ACONs have only one parent with NPD. It is very often believed that the other non-NPD parent is the "good" parent. This is rarely true. The person who stands by and knowingly allows an abuser to abuse is arguably even more evil than the abuser. Why do I think that? Because often the abuser abuses out of their subjective emotional reactions. The parent standing by is more emotionally objective. They are not embroiled in the abuser's emotional state therefore they can more clearly see the wrongness of the abuse. Yet they stand by. How frakking evil is that??!! A grown adult who can stand by and allow an abuser to hurt his or her own children is evil. Period. You can not capitulate to evil and not become evil yourself.

Know it. Live by it.

"Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it." Matt. 7:13 NIV

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Disordered Thinking

"The disordered character has plenty of insight and awareness but despite it, resists changing his/her attitudes and core beliefs. CDO's (character-disordered individuals) don't need any more insight. What they need and can benefit from are limits, confrontation, and most especially, correction. Cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approaches appropriate." page 21 In Sheep's Clothing; Understanding and Dealing With Manipulative People by George K. Simon, Jr., Ph.D.

The author then goes on to explain, "Most especially, disordered characters don't think the way most of us do. In recent years, researchers have come to realize the importance of recognizing that fact. What we think, how we believe, and what attitudes we develop largely determine how we will act." page 22

I am not going to argue whether or not NPD is character disorder. The entire premise my blog is predicated on is that NPD is a character disorder. Most of the time the terms "personality disorder" and "character disorder" (PD & CD) are used interchangeably by the professionals though there is a move toward classifying CD as a sub-set of PD. Whatever. The classifications are anything but scientific. Nevertheless, even when CD is considered a sub-set of PDs, malignant narcissism still fits the criteria of a CD. So the above quotes are applicable to NPD.

One point I'd like you to take away from these quotes is that a character-disordered individual is the sum product of disordered thinking. These disordered thinking patterns are entrenched as evidenced by the fact that a CD person can have "plenty of insight and awareness" but they do not apply those insights and awareness to their belief system. This is important to note because of the ways we often try to effect change in the narcissist. We try to appeal to their reasoning. We try to appeal to their heart. Neither approach has any hope of making a dent.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that they don't understand your reasoning or appeals to their heart or conscience. They "have plenty of insight and awareness". They do understand. They reject your appeals and your logic. They are able to completely deflect your reasoning and your emotional appeals. They will not allow you to change their belief system based on intellectual or emotional approaches.

Please be sure to interpret the imperviousness the narcissist demonstrates to an active and willful rejection of both your rational logic and your emotional appeals. This will enable you to stop trying to say it yet again in a "better" way assuming that the fault lies in your inability to express yourself clearly when in truth the fault lies with the narcissist. They are able to understand you and still disagree with you.

Traditional psychotherapy has been battered and beaten by the character-disordered. The more honest appraisals of the psych community (led in part by people like Dr. Hare) have determined that psychotherapy actually worsens the behaviors of the character-disordered. They have taken note that traditional psychotherapeutic approaches simply provide tools with which the CD individual can then use to manipulate people in his environment including the therapists. Freud based his therapy models on the neurotic personality. On almost every point, character-disordered people differ from the neurotic. They are almost a completely inverse image of the neurotic. It makes a lot of sense that traditional therapeutic approaches would fail abysmally when confronted with the CD. And it has failed abysmally. This includes all the 12-step programs out there. They do not work on the CD. And considering how often the CD can end up ordered into 12-step programs due to their attendant behavior disorders (addictions, etc.) then we would do well to take note of the real threat of making the character-disordered worse through such programs.

The only time there has been any successful intervention with the CD is when cognitive-behavioral therapy has been used. As the author stated, "What they need and can benefit from are limits, confrontation, and most especially, correction. Cognitive-behavioral therapeutic approaches appropriate." Think of training a dog. You don't train an animal to "behave" by sitting it down and having a heart-to-heart. You don't attempt to train a dog by describing what you want from him very logically. If you are to have any hope of shaping the animal's behavior you will proceed to operate on a clear reward/punishment system based on their behaviors. The same is true with how we train our very young children. Clear limits. Confrontation. Correction. Young children will not learn how to properly behave because you tell him how it hurts your feelings when he misbehaves. He is also insensible to the rational and logical. We shape young children by setting clear limits and enforcing them. We dispense rewards and punishment based on the behavior. Long before the child's mind has developed fully he can be trained to behave within certain guidelines. This helps keep the child safe and it helps us to teach them self-control and respect for others when they are very young. It can be extremely difficult to teach a child these things if we wait until they are older before we start the lessons.

Where the adult narcissist differs from the dog or the child is the reality that they are autonomous adult human beings making choices. They are free-will agents. This is why, when the narcissist refuses to change their behaviors, we are wise if we accept the narcissist's decision to behave how they do and get the hell out of their lives. We have almost no power to persuade them to change how they think in order to change how they behave.

If you must stay in the narcissist's life then you must follow the above guidelines for interacting with them. Firm limits. Confronting their bad behaviors. Following through on consequences for their bad behavior. Do not waste your time appealing to their "conscience" or their logic centers. Those are armor-plated. Do not make the mistake that the narcissist thinks like you do. They do not feel like you do either. They do not interact with the world and their relationships in any way like you do.

We all do a fair amount of projecting in our inter-personal relationships. I'm not talking about the negative projection of narcissists. I'm talking about positive projection. If you are an honest individual you will very often assume that others are also honest and proceed to interact with others based on that assumption. There are obviously serious pit-falls to assuming that the narcissist has similar good motivations and thoughts as you yourself possess. It sets you up to get taken. We have to consciously suspend our usual projection onto others of our ways of thinking and feeling when dealing with the character-disordered. This is essential. This is also difficult for us to do. We can feel that we are being "bad" when we stop assuming the best about the narcissist. You need to ignore that feeling. The narcissist has much more in common in his thinking with the criminal than with you.

I clearly remember feeling confused when I was first coming to acknowledge to myself my mother's bad behaviors and her bad intent. I couldn't understand why she could do such things when she clearly knew better. My mother has always presented herself as a font of wisdom to the people in her life. In fact, I can actually credit her for helping me turn into a decent human being. Why? Because she can really preach a good sermon! This lady knows what truth is. As George Simon stated she "has plenty of insight and awareness". I was a very sincere child and I wanted more than anything to be good. So I took what she preached to me and applied it to my thinking and my behavior. What took me nearly four decades to realize was that she did not do the same. I assumed that when a person knows what truth is that they then apply it to their living. That is what I did. Not perfectly, by any means, but my constant motivation was to be a good and decent person. I projected that onto my mother. I assumed that because she knew the difference between right and wrong that she was endeavoring to do right and not wrong.

I can now clearly see how she is expert at honing the consciences of those around her in order to set herself up with an advantage over them! If I am constrained by my conscience and she isn't...then that means she can get away with anything. It is like playing a game with a little kid. They set the rules up so that they can always win because they rely on you to stick to the rules while they can fudge them at will so as to gain the advantage over you.

Disordered characters are the sum total of their disordered thinking. You have no power to change their thinking. Don't set yourself up for failure by continuing to try to reason and cajole them into a new way of thinking. It ain't gonna work. They'll just be better able to intuit how to parrot back to you what you want to hear so they can bamboozle you yet again.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Mask of Evil

This was originally posted on Jan. 02, 2007. I thought I'd bring back to the top in case some more recent readers haven't gotten to it yet. It seems apropos given the slant of recent comments on the last blog post. Oh, hey, it's my momster's birthday today. This one's for you, Ma.

My husband and I were just talking a couple days ago about the necessity for evil to cloak itself with the appearance of good, and how often this universal fact trips people up.

We watched the movie "Downfall" about the last 10 days of Hitler in his bunker as told largely from the perspective of one of his secretaries, Traudl Junge. The secretary expressed her confusion about Hitler's character. He could be so kind and solicitous. Then she would find out about his vicious actions in the outside world. She seemed unable to know how to reconcile the two. Was he that nice, compassionate man who seemed genuinely interested in her welfare? Or should he be defined by his evil acts?

I wish people could better understand how evil will never look completely evil. How it will cloak itself in everyday attire and mingle with respectable society. Evil often proclaims truth. Lies are unpalatable without a generous mixture of truth thrown in to disguise the taste of the hideous lie. People seem unwilling to label anything as being evil unless it is completely evil in appearance and presentation; this effectively eliminates almost all manifestations of evil as they present themselves in every day life. Which is dangerous for all levels of society.

Society will concede to the label of evil in special cases, for instance, Jeffrey Dahmer. When the horrid facts of his cannabalistic, cruel and tortuous murders and sexual perversion came to light, people were willing to call him evil. But do we really think he managed to hide what he was as long as he did if he wasn't, to some appreciable degree, able to cloak his evil with an appearance of good? To think otherwise is to be stupid and naive. Of course he was able to present himself as being harmless, otherwise he would have enjoyed no success in his predations. Do we believe there were no moments where Dahmer demonstrated personal charm and appeal and was seen to do a good deed here and there? I am 100% sure there were those (like his parents) who could point to things Dahmer did which seemed good and right. Things which would make it appear he wasn't "all bad". No one is all bad. But that little smidge of "good" is not enough to weigh against the scales when their evil deeds come to light. We must be willing to call evil by its right name even when we can see that not everything about them can be defined as evil. A life needs to be judged by the general consistency of the character. We should not be condemned for an occasional misdeed, nor redeemed by the occasional good deed. It is the general tendency of the life that defines the character.

We need to be willing to accept the fact that evil almost never will present itself as purely such. There will always be a disguise. The disguise will look good, charitable, righteous, loving, compassionate, etc. If we will only allow ourselves to define character by their "good deeds" while calling the evil acts the abberation, then we leave ourselves vulnerable at best. At worst, we will find ourselves cooperating with evil even while calling them and ourselves good.

The banality of evil is often times its best defense. It looks so ordinary and everyday. It loses its repugnance by virtue of its ordinariness. We need to study and overcome our reflex to excuse something due to its familiarity. Calling things by its right name is important if we are to succeed at having moral clarity and live lives which shun evil and embrace what is truly good and right. Never let yourself forget that evil hides itself most effectively under a cloak of goodness. Ultimately, appearances are not what define a thing. What a person does defines who they are. Remember, the narcissist would have us all believe that appearances are the sum of the thing. Don't fall for this superficiality. Do not let yourself un-know what a person does in order to maintain your good opinion of them. Know the truth. Stand by what you know. That is called integrity. There is no greater protection for your sanity than holding onto your integrity. There is no way for evil to ultimately triumph over your soul if you make truth your friend.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Armor Up

I have to ask for the indulgence of the readers of my blog who are not Christian. I need to have a word with the Christians for a moment. Hopefully you'll read anyway because there are some principles here that apply no matter who you are.

It used to be that some of the bravest and mightiest warriors have been men of faith. I am fairly sure that the first mention in the Bible of a mighty warrior with his own army is in Genesis (chapter 14). That man was Abraham. Abraham...the father of God's people, Israel. The father of Ishmael (progenitor of the Muslims). The spiritual father of the Christians (Gal. 3:8-9). His warfare was fought for freedom. There are other mighty warriors in Scripture. Joshua. Caleb. David. These men are portrayed as having been righteous men. David is described as a "man after God's own heart". These men didn't go to war for mercenary reasons. They fought for freedom and they fought against the forces of evil kings. Kings in those days were barbaric to their own people let alone to people they subjugated. Even the cruelest and most evil of Israel's kings were described as being better than the gentile kings.

Less well known are the Gospel flame carriers who were the precursor to the great Protestant leaders that eventually followed. The Huguenots and the Waldenses. They had some very brave and valiant fighting men too. Again, they were not mercenary. They fought for religious freedom against cruel and evil tyranny.

So, my question is: where have all the warriors gone? Why are Christians such wimps?? Why do we so easily succumb to the idea that we are being "mean" if we confront evil? Why do we capitulate our convictions to the "cult of nice"?

For you Christian readers I'd like to help you buy a vowel. Do you know what your Bible teaches you about where war first broke out? Where war originated? In the most unlikely place. Heaven.

Yeah. Please. Chew on that for a moment.

When evil broke out in the place where God lives, He suited up and fought. God is not a pacifist. He is a warrior. When He presented Himself before Joshua, the mighty warrior/leader of Israel, He was dressed as mighty warrior with drawn sword. (Joshua 5:13-15) How do we know it was God and not an angel? Because He accepted Joshua's worship and told Joshua he was standing on holy ground. No angel in Scripture speaks this way. Angels always refuse the worship of humans sometimes describing themselves as "fellow servants". Joshua thought it was God standing before him and he was not corrected. His thought was confirmed by the Holy Visitor-in-Arms. Put yourself in that moment with Joshua. God presenting Himself to a soldier as the "Captain of the Lord of Hosts". Our God, a noble and holy Warrior giving courage to His soldier Joshua. What a sight. Obviously, in God's eyes warfare can be necessary and righteous.

Back to the war in heaven. Revelation gives us an important snapshot of history. Chapter 12:7-9.

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back. But he was not strong enough, and they lost their place in heaven. The great dragon was hurled down—that ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray. He was hurled to the earth, and his angels with him.
The reference to Satan (the name means "adversary" or "accuser") as "that ancient serpent" is what shows that this war in heaven happened before Adam and Eve were deceived. The Accuser had been cast out prior to the creation of this earth. He was the one who approached Eve in disguise as a serpent in her Eden home.

Okay, I'm not here to put a fine point on the theological discussions inherent in the above. I'll just hone in on the issue pertinent to the main point I'm trying to highlight. Whether or not you think this is a description of a symbolic war or a literal war I care not. If it was a war of arms or it if was a war of words the simple point is: God is not a pacifist. He confronts evil wherever it rears its ugly head. In this case, it first made an appearance in His own house. There is no Scripture reference which pinpoints an earlier date for the first appearance of warfare. War began in Heaven. Paradise. God did not spend an eternity issuing sternly worded memos. He didn't turn His head and hope it would get better. He didn't act like it was "beneath" Him to fight. God and His forces armed themselves, be it with swords or words (or both), and demonstrated they were stronger and were able to cast out evil from Heaven. I think that the war in heaven was primarily a war of principles. War of truth versus error. This chapter in Revelation encapsulates an large piece of history. The Accuser took war to the Almighty. The Almighty won that war and cast out the rebel. Unfortunately, our father Adam took the bait of the deceiver and here we are. Locked in a battle between good and evil to the present day.

Revelation 12 proceeds to illustrate that the Accuser has taken his battle from heaven to the "woman"...a symbol for God's people. (If we allow the Bible to interpret itself, we can learn this from Jeremiah 6:2 and 2 Cor. 11:2 as well as many other places where the Bible describes God's people as a woman. An impure woman symbolizes an impure church. Rev. 17 for example.) The Accuser, the devil, is a busy guy stirring up trouble everywhere. But, apparently, he saves his concentrated efforts and rage for those who are loyal to the service of God.

The Scriptures, both old and new testaments, frequently describe God's Word as a sword. Word pictures of deity, in the prophetic books especially, are sometimes portrayed as having a sword coming out of His mouth...i.e. His Word. Heb. 4:12 describes God's Word this way:
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.
The fact that God and His loyal angel hosts were able to prevail against the Accuser and his hosts is because God's Word is powerful enough to defeat His enemies. Truth is more powerful than lies. Truth wins in the end. Which is what the book of Revelation is all about. Whether or a battle of arms was involved is less important than the reality that there was a clash of realities. A warfare of principles. This is the kind of war we're engaged in with malignant narcissists.

Christ used the language of warfare in this provocative statement:
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. 10:34-36
Um, Christians? Why do you so often act like you think you're exempt from this? Why are you surprised when the war crops up in your own homes? The warfare is spiritual. Which is the context in which we frame the concepts of good and evil. Why are you not willing to fight when evil lives in your family? Why is it suddenly un Christian to oppose evil when it is found in a family member? Christ went on to say that if you love "father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me..." You can not stand before the judgment of God and try to excuse your passivity based on your love for family. Christ has made it clear that no such excuse will stand. He's already pronounced judgment on this rationale as proving you "are not worthy" to take on His name. This is very strong and unequivocal language. I don't see a lot of wiggle room. God took war to the evil doers in His family and He expects the same from you.

Strong words and strong principles are necessary to make a stand. "...having done all, to stand." (Eph. 6:10-17). It is not a war that we picked. Evil has launched the first grenades in our families. Repeatedly. How many family members have to be blown to pieces before it is okay with you to confront evil in your family? Your God is no wimp. Your God does not excuse or pacify evil. Neither should you.

God's face looks different to people depending on which side of truth you're standing on. Isaiah describes the reaction God's people when He returns:
Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation. Is. 25:9
The ones referred to as the "wicked" have a very different reaction to the same event:
And [they] said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? Rev. 6:16,17
Same face, different reaction. Same event, different reception. The same will be true in your house. If you take a principled stand against evil, evil will fear (and smear) you. You will also find there are those around you who will feel safe with you because of your stand against evil. Expect both reactions. Do not expect evil to love you. Don't expect those who are deceived by evil to love you, though there is hope they will someday. Like it or not, you're already in the war. Quit waving a white flag every time the malignant narcissist shoots one across the bow. Quit dressing up your refusal to fight the "good fight" by calling it "being nice" or "being forgiving" or "being a Christian". Blech. Evil can be temporarily placated but only at the cost to your integrity and to truth. Evil can never be truly pacified. So take up the arms of truth and take the battle to them.

Remember this when the accusing narcissist (a child of the Accuser himself) slings their arrows your way:
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Rom. 8:31-34

The "accuser of the brethren" (Rev. 12:10) is revealed by Scripture to be "that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world". That old Accuser is the original Malignant Narcissist. He tries to convince you that the Accuser is God Himself. His smear and fear campaign against God has been an attempt to separate you from your God and Saviour. The Accuser has worked to slime God with his own attributes (with great success). The passage above uses the proof of the cross to reassure the Christian that of all the beings in the universe, God is the last one to accuse you. He is the One who justifies us i.e. clears our name. It says above that Christ is "interceding for us". Do you automatically assume that Christ is interceding between God and you? Then you have not read with comprehension. God the Father is described as the One who "did not spare His own Son" in order to save you. Obviously, Christ doesn't need to intercede with God the Father. God the Father is already on your side. Who is the accuser of the brethren?? Yeah, you know the answer. Satan. That nasty creep trips you up and then runs off to present his case against you before God. Christ is interceding between you and the smears and accusation of the devil who is trying to prove his case against you. To the question Paul asks, "if God is for us, who can be against us?" he makes the answer clear. Nobody. The battle of truth has already been won...all that remains is to see which army you're signing up under.

You can not take a stand against evil and not end up being the recipient of accusations and smears. It is the M.O. of the devil...the father of all liars. (John 8:44) His minions follow his lead. Armor up and act like your God. Fight for the truth if you want to feel worthy to ever stand in the presence of Abraham and all the other great warriors for God.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Thought Crimes

Have you noticed that even when you do things right it can be crapped all over and made to be "wrong" by the narcissist?

One of the ways they accomplish this is quite simple and can often trip us up without us seeing what got us. Even the most benevolent act can be turned into its opposite by the assignation of bad motives. The narcissist reserves to themselves the right to determine your own mind for you. They will tell you what was really motivating you in order to take away from you the truth, reality or rightness of whatever you have done. It can be an amazingly effective sleight-of-hand.

When I think back on my relationship with my narcissistic mother this is one of the things that stands out. My mother takes extreme pride in her ability to "read" people. She has done this for as long as I've known her. Mostly, what that means is that she assumes the worst about someone's thoughts or motivations and proceeds on that as if it is the truth about that person. No matter how well you may know yourself, she asserts that she knows better than you do what your motives and/or thoughts are or were in any given situation.

A narcissist parent can teach a child from a very early age that he or she knows you better than you know yourself. They teach the child to surrender what the child knows for what the narcissist parent "knows". It is part of the whole brain-washing process. You may still need to overcome your training in this arena.

If a narcissist encounters someone who refuses to let the narcissist determine their motives or state of mind the narcissist has another tack. They will attempt to destroy you by assigning to you all kinds of bad motivations to the people around you. Malicious gossip. They don't have to convince you of your bad motivations; they only have to convince the people in your sphere of contact. Now, whatever you do is cast in the light of suspicion taking away your virtue by their pretense at knowing your motives.

There is no good deed which can go unpunished by this pretense at reading your mind. This is one reason why I am death on "hate crimes". When you allow the government to apply the law to your state of mind while you committed a crime you are asking for the scenario of "1984" (which was Orwell's attempt at describing life under Communism). Determining punishment because of a person's supposed motivations while committing a crime is asking for total tyranny. It is already a crime to kill people. Should you be punished more severely because you killed a gay person? A person of another race? By doing so government is actually saying that some people's lives are more valuable than others simply by virtue of being in a minority. This is not the place of government to make such value judgments on human lives. Government needs to stay as far away from punishing "thought crimes" as possible. I believe I am especially sensitive to this issue because I have experienced being more severely punished for behavior because of the supposed "thought crimes" while doing it. If the behavior is wrong, then the law can deal with that. If the behavior is not wrong, it should not be made "wrong" simply because of what you were thinking while doing it. What you are thinking while doing said behavior is not for anyone to "know" with so much certitude that it grants them the right to punish you more than if you had "good" thoughts while doing it. We can guess at people's motivations, but to apply the law to those motivations is just asking for tyranny.

Do not let the narcissist in your life have the right or power to determine for you what your motivations or thoughts are. They can make us feel guilty for our good or right behavior simply by convincing us that our motivations are sullied. Don't hand over that kind of power to them. Know your own mind. Don't surrender what you know about yourself to the bogus verdict of the narcissist. They are not in your head unless you let them in by acceding to their pretense at knowing your mind better than you do. Guard the gates of your mind with vigilance. Don't let just anyone in there to mess around and rearrange things to their satisfaction. If you don't guard the door to your mind and soul then you can be assured there is someone who is willing to break and enter and steal everything that is of value.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Ties that Bind

Elise made a comment on the last blog post that got me to thinking. (Hi, Elise!) She said:
It took me 40 years to wise up about my N-mom. And that's without a framework of Christianity (or any other religion) in my head.

If I'd had those expectations to deal with too, I shudder to think how much longer I might have wrestled with trying to "fix" her and trying to be the "good daughter".
I have made the observation here that it can be extremely difficult for a Christian to justify leaving off all contact with their abusive parents. There is a plethora of Bible verses that are misused to keep adult children from holding their abusive parents to account. In my posts on the 5th commandment I deal with biggest Christian club of all where it concerns the parent/child relationship. Then there is the culture of "nice" that seems to have taken over Christianity. Hurting someone's feelings is a sin now.

I contemplate Elise's comment and ponder the difficulty all decent people have in cutting off an abusive and unrepentant parent no matter whether you as a person is religious or not. What makes families from around the globe put up with so much shit from their narcissistic family members?

There is a long historical account of the many and varied peoples who have engaged in ancestor worship. Sometimes it isn't so much worship as just veneration and respect. Stick with me. I'm not calling Elise an ancestor worshiper; let's just explore this concept a little. This is a new thought to me...so I'm exploring it with you here.

People groups from ancient Indo-European and Roman cultures had a strong tradition of ancestor veneration. Of course, many and varied oriental cultures engaged in various types of ancestor worship and/or veneration as well as some African peoples. Many of the smaller people groups who are generally described as "animistic" in their belief system were also big into ancestor worship or veneration. There is a strong strain of ancestor veneration in Catholicism. My point is: History's testimony reveals that humanity shows a strong proclivity toward this form of thinking and belief. Widely disparate people groups (many of whom had no contact with each other) engage in a common belief that venerating their ancestors is necessary and right.

What is basic in the culture of ancestor worship and/or veneration is how it affects the living and relationships in the family. Quoting from MSN Encarta:

Ancestor worship is a strong indication of the value placed on the household and of the strong ties that exist between the past and the present. The beliefs and practices connected with the cult help to integrate the family, to sanction the traditional political structure, and to encourage respect for living elders. Some scholars have also interpreted it as a source of individual well-being and of social harmony and stability. Because it is practiced by family groups, ancestor worship excludes proselytizing and rarely involves a separate priesthood. It has no formal doctrines and is ordinarily an aspect of some larger religious system.
Emphasis mine. Notice how ancestor veneration or worship is primarily focused on the living. It is not just about dead ancestors, it is more about the structure of the family, reinforcement of family loyalties and political advantages and ensuring good treatment of the living elders in the family. Notice, too, that it has "no formal doctrines and is ordinarily an aspect of some larger religious system." This underlines the reality that this type of belief system is not attached to any particular set of religious beliefs. Which means it could be a belief system not attached to any religion. In a sense, this strong and universal penchant of humans to venerate their elders is more basic and pervasive than any other form of religious practice or belief.

It appears that humans are hard-wired to keep families intact. This is not a bad way to think except when it gives a pass to evil-doers. What proves the religious aspect of this veneration of elders (be they alive or dead) is that it is nearly impervious to reason which means it is an emotion based belief system. When emotions are appealed to more than the mind then blind faith is the result. When we're talking about an emotion-based faith system we are talking about a form of religion. There is sin and the need for virtue. Both are defined, not by any "formal doctrines", but by the rules and desires of the living elders. The lack of "formal doctrines" means there is a subjective set of rules depending on the culture or family. The ones at the top are making the rules. This explains why this is such a universal phenomena...it adapts to any people group or family. Better hope your ancestors are righteous and not evil. Obviously, if you have grasping, evil living elders then the penalties for non-compliance can be very severe. They may even come back to getcha after death! (As some ancestor worshipers believe.)

Ancestor veneration is a lot less about the dead and a lot more about the living. It is about the living elders and how they try to enforce the treatment of themselves in a human society. It seems that undergirding natural human emotions about family units is this propensity to venerate our living elders. We should be able to respect and look up to them. I believe that was in God's original design, but because evil exists this proclivity of humanity to venerate their elders is exploited by those who want to prostitute power and control to their own ends. When narcissists get a hold of a system which demands unquestioning obedience to elders who make and enforce the rules -- then tyranny thrives. They abuse the power because narcissists abuse all power they manage to grab a hold of. The narcissist will corrupt the family system for their own selfish use. Anything that is good can be corrupted.

The more we are prone to venerate the family unit above principles of right and wrong...the harder will be our escape from broken family systems. You don't have to be religious in a formal sense to have a religious view of the family as the center of all things. We have to consider the very real possibility that we are blindly venerating the family unit when we find ourselves unable to justify severing ourselves from evil family members. Christian or not, we serve our own families best if we adhere to principles of morality above blind veneration of our living elders. Because any good thing can be corrupted by bad people we must remain dedicated to objective moral principles more than to blood relations. Blood relations are not "holy". Neither is age. Age is not the only qualification for respect. Respect must be earned. When the aged have lived a long life with a clear record of being respectable then we honor them with respect and listen to their advice because they have proven themselves wise. If they have lived unselfishly we are better able to trust their insights and advice as being truly in our best interests. Humanity likes to believe that with age comes wisdom, but as the saying goes: "Age doesn't always bring wisdom; sometimes age comes alone."

I'm trying to express what I see as a unifying feature for all people regardless of religious background or lack thereof. There seems to be a natural (and commendable, in my opinion) sense in all decent human beings that we should respect and look up to those who have been on the planet longer than we have. (This is actually quite logical.) This obviously includes our parents. I think we also need to acknowledge that humanity also has a natural weakness to venerate the dishonorable just because the dishonorable hold certain venerable titles. It is this blind allegiance to the dishonorable that I'm trying to bring attention to. If we insist that title trumps morality then we will stay stuck and abused in corrupt family systems. If we dedicate ourselves to living by objective moral standards then it may require that we sever family connections. We have to employ our heads in this matter which can be a significant challenge in the emotionally charged atmosphere of familial relationships.

Thanks, Elise, for your perspective. I have enjoyed exploring the train of thought you sparked in me. I hope it is apparent that I am sympathizing with the difficulty you've had recognizing the narcissism in your mother. My point in this post is that no matter one's religious background there is a strong undercurrent which pulls all of us in the same direction...that of staying in a destructive and dangerous family situation. Those of us who pull away from destructive family members are all up against a strong, almost primal, human belief in the sacredness of the "ties that bind".

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Letting Go of a Fantasy so You Can Grab Hold of Real Life

Occasionally I will use Google to see what people "out there" are saying about my blog. I was very interested to see someone define my blog as "too negative" and then go on to describe the hope for redemption they still nurture for their narcissist parent all stated inside the context of being a good Christian.

I find this comment about my blog very interesting because it is so upside down from the usual. It is an inverse viewpoint...the flipside of the reactions of others to my ruminations. Why the dichotomous difference in opinion? I'll share my theories.

I completely agree that this blog would appear to be very negative to someone who is determined to believe it is their Christian duty to not only believe in the hope for redemption for the narcissist, but to also believe they must stay with the narcissist to ensure that outcome. I'm obviously very negative on these points. I do not in any way encourage people to nurture hope for the narcissist's eventual reformation, nor do I encourage anyone's savior complex. In fact, I categorically state that the hope is so very slim as to be statistically insignificant. I emphasize over and over the need for emotional and physical distance from the vampires among us. To the person dedicated to believing the unbelievable, yeah, I "get" that I'm a bucket of cold water.

Here's the deal. I am completely dedicated to reality. Realists are often accused of being negative because some aspects of reality are not pretty. For those who are in constant pursuit of dreams and rainbows the realist is a curmudgeon. Curmudgeons can't get no respect from the idealists.

Many of you have been slamming your heads against the brick wall otherwise known as the narcissist for so long your brain pan is seriously dented making you worry about possible brain damage. You've expended herculean amounts of energy trying to find ways to make the narcissist happy only to fail endlessly. You come here and find out that you don't have to kill yourself in order to hopefully save the narcissist because it is humanly impossible to save them. You find out that you can't save the narcissist, you can only save yourself and your family from them. You find out you aren't responsible for saving the narcissist, and you breathe for the first time in years. You've tried to accomplish the impossible for years now and are ready to embark on the possible. So when you come here to read you find hope and relief for your weary heart and mind. The very opposite of "too negative"...you find hope and positive direction for your future here. The negative news about the narcissist (unreformable) translates into very positive news for you: freedom to pursue life without them.

Perhaps this should be the motto for my blog:

Close your heart off to the impossible -- Open your heart to the possible.

You can not insist on clinging to a fantasy and have any hope of living successfully in reality. Real life is where the really good stuff happens. It is a shame to miss out on the lasting and real joys life offers by persisting on living in la-la land. If you insist on trying to accomplish the impossible you will end up having accomplished nothing. If you can let go of trying to do the impossible it opens up the possible before your feet. We accomplish a lot more in our lives when we persist in pursuing the possible.

Some things truly are impossible. Here in America there is a lore, a mythos, that we can dream the impossible dream and then go out and make that dream come true. Truly, people have often accomplished what seemed to be impossible through very hard work and absolute dedication to their goal. Obviously, they proved the impossible to be possible. So they really weren't pursuing the impossible, were they. But we like to take those success stories and go on to pretend that anything is possible if we just want it enough. As if the strength of our wishing can make anything happen. This is the way children think.

Since I was a child I have wished I could fly. I would often have dreams when I was a child of being able to fly under my own power. If I spent every waking moment telling myself that I could actually fly on my own (without mechanized assistance) then surely I would sprout wings, right? Would all of you be cruel curmudgeons if you stuck a needle in my dream balloon by telling me I was wasting my time and emotional energy on the impossible? No, you would be doing me a favor by helping me realize I was in danger of losing out on the good things in life that were possible for me to gain if I would only decide to abandon my dedication to the impossible.

Face it folks, some things are impossible to accomplish. This may go against your belief in miracles or in the power of visualization, but the fact remains. There are plenty of things we as human beings can not do no matter how hard we try. Reforming a narcissist falls into this category. We lack the power to change another human being. Period. We can barely change ourselves let alone take on a successful project of changing another human being...and a profoundly disordered one at that.

I do not peddle pipe dreams here. People have to go somewhere else for that. I'm not interested in supporting someone's vain fantasy about helping or reforming the narcissist. My goal here is not to cut any slack for the immoral narcissist who cuts a swathe of misery through the lives of others. I am all for supporting those who can see their way clear to leave the evil and immoral one to themselves to live in the hell of their own devising. Even God Himself does this. Are we saying we better than Him by persisting in our belief that the persistently and consistently evil narcissist can "see the light" only if we stick with them? The worship of one's self is idolatry. The narcissist is engaged in a complete dedication to their worship of self. What is God's message to the persistent idolater?

"Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." Hosea 4:17

I refuse to pretend I am wiser than the God who made this pronouncement. I contend that leaving the narcissist to his self-worship is Biblical and righteous.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Book Review: "Help! I’m in Love With a Narcissist"

This may be old news to some, but I just stumbled across this Seattle PI review of this book. Just in case it might be of interest to you:

Help! I’m in Love With a Narcissist by Julia Sokol and Steven Carter.

The book looks like it is focused on romantic relationships with narcissists. A timely subject for our day. I haven't read this book myself, but if any of you have then please feel free to post in the comments your review of the book.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Residential Evil

I watched the first "Resident Evil" movie a couple of nights ago. It is a zombie movie set in a high tech world. This is not my definition of a scary movie. Zombies don't scare me because they are not in any way real. I have no expectation or even a tiny fear that I'll some day have to run from a zombie dragging its leg in a slow-mo chase as it tries to feed on my brain.

No, what really scares me is evil that resides in every day, normal-looking people. Evil that lives in residential houses and cloaks its malignancy behind a sweet face. Evil that speaks smooth and charming words right before it sticks a knife in your back. Yeah, that kind of evil scares me. Zombies are child's play.

Which brings me back to my mother. A woman who has courted with an unseen and evil being all her life. A woman who has imbibed long and often of the spirit of evil until it has become her own so that she is, in her own right and by her full consent, evil.

My mother's contact with the supernatural operates on a couple of levels in her mind. Bad and good. Bad = the kind she doesn't feel in control of. Good = the kind she feels she controls. Bad = it comes from the "dark side". Good = it comes from God.

Since her childhood my mother has been occasionally visited by a dark, evil being. This has continued to the present. She has talked about it some with me, though not a lot. She has come across as just a little ashamed to admit that an evil being waltzes with regularity into her bedroom at night. Less so in more recent years now that she has convinced herself she has some control of these events and has found a way to make it into evidence that she is special to God.

It was quite distressing to her when the visits would happen in the early years of her marriage. What she found especially unreal and frightening was that it would happen with my father asleep next to her and he has never once awakened during them. She could usually feel the approach of the visitor and would be awake before it would show itself at the foot of her bed. It would sometimes then feel like it was sitting on her feet. Its presence was terrifying because it felt so malevolent. It wasn't coming for tea. My mother must not have felt the full paralysis that is often described by others (and what I've experienced) because she would try to rouse my father by calling his name and trying to nudge him. She said it was like he was in a coma. She couldn't even detect him breathing. She could hear the "being" taunt her (in her mind) telling her she wouldn't be able to rouse him. I am wondering if there was a sexual component to these visits. That is something she would never share.

In more recent years she has told me that she no longer fears this visitor when "he" shows up. (Always a "male" presence.) She says he is trying to frighten her so she will not give him what she thinks he wants. She feels protected by "my Jesus" so she faces her long-time visitor with almost a flippant attitude. She now acts as though she almost welcomes this visitor because she can now face him without the fear he comes to feed off of. This seems to prove to her that she is now the precious child of Jesus. She has turned these frightening and uncontrollable events into yet another thing that convinces her of how special and holy she is. Talk about a spin-zone.

Then there is the "good". She loves the dreams. She believes that certain dreams are little gifts to her from God. Here is a fairly recent example which was shared with my cousin and her sons. My mother, in her boastful and "I'm so holy" attitude, told her captive audience that it had been a long time since she'd had one of her "dreams". Here is what she said, "So I asked God to send me one. He does this for me because he knows I don't like surprises." Which, by the way, is a completely unbiblical belief. She proceeds to tell her hostages, "The next night he sent me a dream. In the dream the whole family gathers for a family picture. When the picture is developed I was the only one who could see the demon standing in the picture." Neither my cousin nor her sons can remember what significance my mother ascribed to this "revelation" of a demon in the family picture. Probably because it didn't make much sense to them at the time perhaps because my mother was not willing to tell them what she really thought it meant. Considering the significant distance I had already put between myself and my mother at that time perhaps that demon was me.

Yes, my mother feels she has a certain amount of control over the supernatural world in the form of her dreams. Those dreams make her feel "special". Like God is giving her extra special attention and latitude because "he knows I hate surprises". She has said this to me hundreds of times starting from my childhood. God not only sends her dreams...he supposedly gives her premonitions about the future. It is his way of lessening the shock that an unforeseen event would give her. My story about my getting pregnant at 17 years of age and then running away to elope shot holes clean through her assertions because she was completely blind-sided by those events. It nearly unseated her mind. She is right...she doesn't handle surprises well because they suggest she isn't in control. She is wrong...God does not inform her of the future. She is a very paranoid narcissist. The paranoia increases with her age. If you assume a suspicious attitude about everything and everyone it is likely that you'll be right some of the time. At least, you'll be able to convince yourself you were right some of the time.

In my opinion, the separation of the bad supernatural from the good supernatural as my mother separates it is another fabrication of her mind. I think it all comes from the same source. I have ample proof my mother is an malignant human being. I do not believe that God is smiling down on her and granting her special favors. She is being manipulated. Her belief that she can control the supernatural is a belief that grants her a sense of control over every possible outcome. That belief is her damnation. It is leading her deeper and deeper in the hell of a completely dedicated narcissistic mind.

Are there supernatural evil beings, demons, walking the dark corridors of our minds and our homes? There is no proof of such claims. There is only evidence. There is not a single civilization on this planet that doesn't believe in supernatural evil. No matter how far removed from each other that certain civilizations have been they all believe in demonic forces. That is some kind of proof in and of itself. I don't believe that being contacted by dark, unseen forces is a commentary on the state of your soul. I suspect we are all touched in some way at various times by evil presences we can't explain. Choosing to interact with and consent to evil determines whether there is a bad outcome.

There is ample proof that evil presents itself in the flesh, in humanity. This is usually the form evil takes in our lives. Other human beings. Paul, in the book of Ephesians chapter six, cautions Christians to remember that the real battle with evil is not with "flesh and blood". He defines a spiritual battle with spiritual beings. The clear teaching of the Bible is that when humanity is evil they are animated by evil spiritual wickedness. Christ very clearly taught this as well. This counsel of Paul's was to remind Christians that when they see evil in humanity they would do well to consider they are up against something much bigger and stronger than mere humanity. The tools for the battle are not traditional weapons. The weapons used against evil are truth and a life lived in accordance with truth. Evil hides in lies, superficial appearances, insinuations, hypocrisy, smears and fear.

Evil is full of fear. Evil controls others through fear. How does the malignant narcissist control you? Through creating fear. Reveal to a narcissist the fears that stir you most deeply and find the narcissist using them against you. They understand this most basic of emotions because it is one of the few emotions they can actually relate to. The others being anger and shame. Fear animates their entire existence...they find relief by recreating their fears in you. Somehow this act of transference gives them the illusion of controlling the fear which controls them.

"People of the Lie" by M. Scott Peck, page 124:

Of all emotions, fear is the most painful. Regardless of how well they attempt to appear calm and collected in their daily dealings, the evil live their lives in fear. It is a terror--and a suffering--so chronic, so interwoven into the fabric of their being, that they may not even feel it as such. And if they could, their omnipresent narcissism will prohibit them from ever acknowledging it. Even if we cannot pity the evil for their inevitably ghastly old age or for the state of their souls after death, we can surely pity them for the lives they live of almost unremitting apprehension.

Whatever it is my mother experiences with the supernatural world she experiences it differently than you and I would. She has acquiesced to evil therefore it controls her. She does not control it. Yet, her narcissism dictates she believe that she can control what is really controlling her. She is ruled by a million fears, but can not face any of them square on. She believes in the existence of evil, but refuses anything which would suggest the evil resides in herself. Do I pity her? Yes, I can't help but pity her, but evil must be pitied from afar because evil desperately seeks to take you down with it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Do Narcissists Attract Supernatural Evil?

While holding my breath, I'm going to venture into the uncharted territory of narcissists and evil in the supernatural realm. I have never read anything in material about narcissism that even touches on I'm going to bring up now, so I don't know if I'm going to be describing a complete anomaly or if others will be able to relate. Because my entire approach with this blog is under-girded by my conviction that my experiences are not unique I will venture forth on that presumption now. This is a big deviation for me because I have made an effort to make sure I stay away from the purely speculative and buttress my comments and observations with logic. It will seem like quite a deviation for me from your perspective. Keep in mind, though, that I am describing experience. Mine. I have no way to prove it. I can only describe it. If you have had similar experiences you're going to recognize that I am describing a reality. It is very real to those who've gone through it even if you can't grab onto it, put it in a box and quantify it.

Halloween is around the corner -- as you've been forced to notice due to the movies coming out and candy and decor spread around the stores as you shop. This subject seems somewhat in the "spirit" of the season. So if I'm hitting wide of the mark of the subject of narcissism...at least I'm being seasonal. *big grin*

My narcissistic mother is a magnet for supernatural evil. There...I'll just throw that out there and try to explain what I'm talking about.

I have felt and experienced this evil personally so this is not a figment of her imagination. Unless you want to believe that I have an overactive imagination myself. Believe whatever you want. I have no vested interest in making this shit up. Being a very rational human being I sincerely doubt I would believe in a personal supernatural evil if I hadn't experienced it so frequently and persistently through my childhood. Even somewhat into adulthood. So, I understand if you don't believe in this unseen realm. For some of us it is not unseen or unfelt. In the meantime, I hope you'll be merciful in your judgment of me after this post. I think there is ample evidence that I live on terra firma. I'll just take one foot off the ground, but I promise to keep the other one planted on earth. I'm not brave enough to describe too much of the weirdness because I'm very unsure how it'll be perceived.

Let me go back to one of my Nmother's admissions made to me once or twice over the years. She doesn't believe that the attraction of evil to her is any reflection on her...so she has confessed some things that I don't think she realized how it really sounds to someone outside her self. The reason I believe what I'm about to relate to you is that there is supporting evidence outside of her to confirm it. I think my mother takes a certain amount of pride in the attraction she seems to present to the supernatural world. This explains her willingness to share what she has about the very early beginnings of her contact with it.

My mother admits that as a very young child she started having strange things happen to her including "visits" from something real yet intangible. Some of it frightened her, but one aspect of it she welcomed and embraced. Maybe what she is actually describing is the fact that at a very young age she started to embrace her own evil. I'll never know for sure.

She had a certain precocity as a child as well as being a very pretty little girl. She tended to be very reserved and quiet with adults. Watching, listening. She had experienced a certain amount of power with the adults due to her very pretty little face and well built little body. Her family worships beauty (to this day). There are many very pretty people on her side of the family. Members of the family were often ranked by their level of beauty. My mother has been admired for hers since birth. Perhaps this early and frequent admiration helped spawn the somatic narcissist in her.

What she started to experience was, not so much a voice, but an alternate intelligence as early as four years old. This intelligence did not present itself as coming from her own thought processes. She describes it as a old intelligence...one with knowledge that far exceeded what a child could possibly know. Though she was a little afraid of this sense of having company in her head, she started listening to it because it was giving her extremely important intell. The voice instructed her on how to manipulate adults. She proceeded to implement the information despite her little quiver of fear as to what this power might really be. She experienced great success. Unfortunately for her, this intelligence was not always benevolent. I know it will be tempting for some to attribute this phenomena to some organic brain disorder. If that makes you feel better, go right ahead. I am convinced there is a frequency out there in the supernatural realm that some people are easily tuned to. If you set your dial this frequency the signal comes in stronger. Stay set on this frequency and risk the loss of your soul.

My mother married a man who didn't believe in Deity and, most certainly, did not believe in a personal devil. Living with my mother for a few years changed his outlook...mostly on the existence of supernatural and evil beings. And I'm not talking about my mother herself. No, like the rest of us condemned to live in close proximity to my mother, he felt things. Things that can not be explained rationally. And if there was ever a man who liked to stick to rational...it was my father...especially way back then. I was only an infant when my father willingly conceded that there must be evil beings in the supernatural world. He had only been married to my mother for a couple of years at this point.

My childhood is replete with memories of fear. Where ever my mother made a home it was haunted. Enter a room and feel like you're being watched. See shadowy figures sitting in the living room in the dead of night. Even certain pictures gave off scary vibes.

My mother had a set of pictures that terrorized me for years. I even told my mother that the pictures scared me when I was around six years old...she just laughed. The creepiest one of all was hung for years over the toilet in the bathroom I had to use. So I had to turn my back on that freaking thing every time I had to use the toilet. It was torture. Especially at night. That picture moved from house to house and found itself hung over a toilet I and my sister had to use every time. It was always over the toilet that her children and the children she baby sat had to use. The last home of my parents that I lived in as a youth had three bathrooms. The picture was finally relegated to a half bath downstairs so I could avoid it most of the time. I was 16 years old by this time and I still hated that picture. The picture is gone now. Yeah, mom finally took it down after her daughters both left the nest and she no longer watched other people's children. What is with that? It is like she knew that picture unsettled children. She hung that thing for at least 30 years. I also wasn't the only one disturbed by this picture. Some of the children my mother baby sat dared to voice to me their unsettled feelings about the pictures.

I can understand my mother buying those pictures because she liked them, but there is something cruel and mean about keeping those pictures in the bathroom I was forced to use after I expressed my deep fear of them. My sister told me later that she, too, hated those pictures. These pictures featured children with inhuman eyes. The eyes enter the realm of the "uncanny valley". Very close to human, but not quite human giving you a feeling of revulsion. That I was as disturbed by them as I was I believe is because of the general atmosphere of my childhood home. In addition to the non-innocent child faces of these pictures they also depicted abandonment, sadness, poverty which reflected some of my deep childhood fears and feelings. I have found the actual picture on Google that hung above my childhood toilet. I can objectively look at it and see why some people may like the pictures. But I also see what is disturbing about the picture. I recognize that the picture was interpreted very negatively by me because of the atmosphere of my home and my life. So, as you can see, I'm not ascribing some supernatural power in the picture itself. But it was a representation of the creepy, inhuman and lonely, and sad undertones and overtones of my mother's home.

The pictures are a small thing, but it is representative of the general feeling of unease that both my sister and myself felt at various times. I am not a person who is afraid of the dark. At all. Even as I was growing up I tended to not be fearful of the dark. But sometimes I was. Overwhelmingly. There were times that I could feel that I was not alone. It was not a feeling that was ever-present all through the house, either. I would walk into a particular room and be instantly cold and aware that someone was there. Watching. Darkly malevolent. It would sometimes move to another room.

Maybe we had bad luck and always moved into "haunted" houses, you may say. Uh, no. I don't think so. The last home that I lived in with my parents was built by them. Brand-spanking new. No, it wasn't built on top of some ancient grave site. My parents still live there some 30 years later. That house is filled with the same creepy vibes all my mother's homes had. The common denominator is my mother. What is interesting is that this house my parents built and still live in has creeped out other adults. People who had no idea what my childhood was like. No mention by me of the scary feelings in my mother's home. They have commented on how they felt the very same things I have described here...like the place was haunted. No one sees ghosts. It isn't like that. It is a sense of a cold, malevolent spirit. One that watches and follows you. One that wishes you ill.

Even though I have been visited by this evil presence, I do not experience any of these things outside of my mother's home or presence. It is obvious, therefore, that I am not the magnet for this malevolent spirit. She is. She is the doorway that opens the crypt from which these evil supernatural presences walk freely. Think of it what you will. There is ample evidence that there is a supernatural realm and some supernatural beings are evil. I also think there is some kind of familial connection with evil spirits. I think when a parent invites evil presences into their life by their conscious decisions that these evil things attempt to lay claim to the children.

I have commented in another post that when dealing with malignant narcissism you are dealing with spiritual realities. Pardon me for quoting myself, but here goes:

You are going to need a sense of moral and psychological strength in order to oppose the destructive spiritual and emotional force of the malignant narcissist. Whether or not you are a religious person, you need to realize that the malignant narcissist carries with them a malignant spirit. The second meaning of the word spiritual is what I'm describing:

concerned with or affecting the spirit or soul.

is the realm that the narcissist almost entirely operates in. This also explains one reason it is so hard to nail down the evil these people engage in. They move primarily in the spiritual realm. Which means much of what they do seems nearly intangible. Nailing them down resembles trying to nail Jello to the wall. What they do profoundly affects your spirit. When you've tried to explain the effects on your own spirit and the evidence of the spirit of the narcissist, you've often been met with outright skepticism and criticism of you and your motives. This is because people often can not relate to a spirit they've never encountered personally. It is easy enough for them to disbelieve something as ephemeral and intangible as spirit. Who can blame them for being unwilling to believe in the hatefully evil spirit of your mother?

My post here today is a further exploration of the spiritual effects of the malignant narcissist. It may or may not be part of your experience. Nevertheless, this is one way that my mother's spirit has affected me (and many others in her life) over the years. I describe it in the expectation that I'm not alone in this experience. If you went through something similar you will probably appreciate knowing that someone is willing to try to describe what you too have felt despite the risk of the disbelief of others.

Depending on how this post is received, I may describe some of my mother's night time visits from something frighteningly evil. She has had this night time visitor come for years. Since her childhood it has been a love/hate relationship between her and this visitor.

If you can't relate to this post it really doesn't matter. It is not necessary to have experienced anything like this or to believe other's experiences like this in order to understand and deal with narcissists. This is just a sort of side street excursion. It will be relevant to some and just curiously weird to others. To those for who just find this wacky and weird...thanks for your indulgence.