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.


Cathy said...

Isn't it interesting that the same narcissist who assigns evil motives to you, absolves themselves completely.

The same narcissist who assigns bad intentions (ficticious & completely fabricated) to you for some morally neutral behavior, expects that their "good intentions" let them completely off the hook for their bad behavior.


Anna Valerious said...

Well said.

The only consistency with narcissists is their inconsistency.

Anonymous said...

oh boy - you just nailed my whole life. :P

Anonymous said...

Guarding your heart and mind is especially important for children of Narcissists because once you are out from under the N tyranny you can have a naieve attitude that nobody else is going to be as bad as your N, and so you assign good motives to all, at the same time letting your guard down.

I have found a considerable number of people (non-N) who would like to make sure others submit to their version of reality, including therapists who will say, for example, that emotional abuse isn't as bad as physical abuse, therefore you haven't 'suffered' that much at all.

Even when you tell them you disagree, they still think they have the right to reiterate their version of events. Just a raised eyebrow, or a quick change of subject from a therapist can be enough to tell you that your opinion is negligible.

Everybody wants to rule the world.

Sister said...

Anna, I have read every single post on your blog and followed many of the links and you have been an incredible help to me. It almost seems like we grew up in the same family, there are so many similarities.

I am wondering, though, about the seeming contradictions between this post and your insights on psychopaths. Are we not delving into the inner world of psychopaths and those with personality disorders in attempting to come up with a consistent, more presice diagnostic technique?

Also, doesn't motive have to be taken into account in judging certain crimes? Harsher punishement has always been handed out to those who commit premeditated murder as opposed to those who commit a crime of passion. But I'm with you on hate crimes-- harsher punishment in that case clearly assigns more value to the minority victim.

I think there is a very fine line here, but after reading both these posts it seems to me that if you are going to apply it to the narcissist and psychopath... well... I don't know! Please help me with some clarification.

I certainly don't want anyone trying to ascertain my thoughts and motives or assigning value judgments to them, either. My mother so often projects her own despised motives, beliefs, characteristics, and thoughts onto those around her so she can villify them. All the while those poor victims are so fooled by her clever, subtle, well-practiced manipulations, that they fall for it and join her in an analysis about why so-and-so is so disturbed. Or, better yet, they feel guilty themselves for being such a poor, messed-up individual.

The result of these "helpful" discussions is the my mom comes off looking so wise and above such behavior, thoughts, characteristics, etc. I guess she thinks she is THE expert because of her education in counseling.

That is sick behavior.

Sister (of naive no longer)

Anna Valerious said...


Good questions. First, you ask:

"Are we not delving into the inner world of psychopaths and those with personality disorders in attempting to come up with a consistent, more presice diagnostic technique?"

The exercise narcissists get jumping to conclusions about our state of minds or our motivations is done in the absence of supporting evidence or in direct contradiction to the evidence. Our examination of the motivations of narcissists is done by careful weighing of the evidence (behaviors) and a judgment based on those behaviors. The Bible says "by their fruits you will know them." We can know who someone is by what they do.

There is no doubt that sometimes the narcissist gets a correct reading on our motivations. Sometimes they "get" us right. But what I was talking about is how they mis-assign motives to us in order to redefine our right or decent behavior into being wrong in order to gain an advantage over us. Ultimately, what we should be judged on is our behaviors since no one can read minds. What I do on this blog is examine the many behaviors which are consistently seen in narcissists. There is enough evidence in the plethora of their pathological behaviors to make some safe assumptions on some of their motivations. Their motives are always less important than what they do. You say you've read all my blog posts. If you think back on what you've read you'll probably be able to agree that I don't spend time on the "whys" as to what makes a narcissist into what they are. The "whys" are purely speculative and delve far too much into motivations. I don't go there. For those of us affected by narcissists the "whys" are rather immaterial. The "what" is the important thing to us. As in, what they do, i.e. behaviors, and how those behaviors affect our lives. I primarily focus on behavior here. When I do focus on motive it is because the evidence is so overwhelming and consistent that we can safely make an assertion for our own clarification as to their motives. But motive is NOT essential in "convicting" a narcissist for their crimes.

Which brings me to your next question/comment:

"Also, doesn't motive have to be taken into account in judging certain crimes? Harsher punishement has always been handed out to those who commit premeditated murder as opposed to those who commit a crime of passion."

Actually, no, motive doesn't have to be taken into account in judging crimes. When there is a murder case the prosecutor is not required to prove motive. Degrees of punishment for murder are based on premeditation, you are right. But think this through carefully: the prosecutor proves premeditation by bringing to light the evidence of behaviors which prove that a person acted with forethought. Behavior. Action. These are not motives. They are actions which prove state of mind. Watch CourtTV for any length of time and hear over and over by the lawyer-anchors how it is not necessary for a prosecutor to prove motive. Ever. It is nice for the prosecutor if he can come up with tangible evidence to support a theory of motive because it can influence the jury convict. Again, though, he must present evidence of behavior to support a theory of motive. What I described today is how the narcissist assigns motives to us in the absence of evidence. They will often do so in order to actually contradict what our behavior testifies about us.

Narcissists come to their conclusions about our motivations on the fly. Whatever serves the moment. Always to gain a moral advantage over us by cheating. We, on the other hand, have come to "convict" the narcissist after having endured their behaviors year after year. Decade by decade. No snap decisions as to their motives. Thread by thread we've assembled the strands of the rope of evidence. Even if a strand or two breaks...the rope is still plenty strong to hang them. We've come to finally believe that the narcissist wishes us ill in a glacially slow way. Our evidence: their behaviors. A single misdeed or a single good deed does not prove anything about a person. The consistent good deeds or consistent misdeeds prove the character. We convict the narcissist here based on that mountain, or rope, of evidence. No snap decisions are being made here about what makes narcissists tick. They are being convicted on a lifetime of behavior. If we draw a conclusion here or there about their motives...well, it is only because the evidence is supporting the theory of motive. The narcissist does us no such favor. They convict our motives in contradiction to or in the absence of evidence. Very different can of worms.

Your sister's comment saying that while the narcissist assigns bad motives to us in order to condemn our otherwise acceptable behavior...they will try to wash away their own bad behaviors by pretending to have had good motives while doing it. When someone stabs you in the back (figuratively or literally) can rightly condemn their behavior because the behavior is wrong regardless of what they were thinking while they did it! What they were thinking is far less important than what they actually did. What the narcissist attempts to do is get us to grant an exemption for what they did based on what they tell you they were thinking while they did it. Upside down, inside out. I say it in more than one place on my blog...if the words and the actions contradict each other you must believe the actions over the words or you're being set up to be deceived and taken once again. The consistent thing between the two inconsistent applications of motive(depending on whether they are convicting you or absolving themselves) by the narcissist is that they use motive as "proof" against the behavior. Here, I convict the narcissists behaviors, and assignation of motivations are consistent with their demonstrated behaviors. Big, big difference.

Cathy said...

Wow, Anna. You know how to cut right to it (and through it). I was going to say: I need your brain transplanted into mine!!! But then I thought about it. It's like a surgical procedure is being performed every time I read your stuff. It cuts right through the diseased parts and transplants more healthy brain tissue each time. I think I'm on my way to a new brain!!!!! Thank you.

Anna Valerious said...

HA! I like your brain transplant analogy.

Thank you very much, NNL. I appreciate you letting me know I'm makin' sense.

Anonymous said...

yes, yes, amen!!
you're so on the money, and i get what you're saying, because i've lived it. thank you =]


Anonymous said...

What it boils down to for me:

N: "Well, that's not what I MEANT."
Non-N: "I know what you said. You said X. Words speak for themselves."

Substitute "did" for "said". Substitute "actions" for "words". Same thing.

Anonymous said...

I just discovered this blog and find it fascinating and familiar....I am also an adult child of a narcissistic Father. I'm a survivor. I'm being challenged once again, only as an adult and Mother and Mother in Law....My son has married whom I believe is yet another Narcissist. My nightmares began all over again and I allowed this young lady to almost destroy me. I stay away from her but I know my son is suffering being her victim..She has isolated him from all of the family he was born into and he allows it...There is nothing I can do. There is nothing his father can do...There is a grandchild now whom we never see and will probably never know....He will not know us...I never thought I would have to encounter this kind of demon again, but here I am, again

Anonymous said...

Gosh Anna...

I remember that up until I was maybe seven it was just a 'given' that NM knew my thoughts, intentions and nothing I could possibly think or do was hidden from her. And it has been so hard to kick that negative introject out. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

Amen to that! Excellent article as always.

Unknown said...

This is going on in my life right now. My husbands buddy started attacking me when we met a few years ago, the attacking is still going on. I know its not personal, I'm just an easy target, due to my upbringing.

This man brainwashes my husband, telling him how it is easy to be taken for everything by women. He just repeats it, over and over. You know what his tactic is. He has to know my husband's work schedule, and everything he does all the time. My husband had to print up his work schedule for him. For no reason.

Last time he was over, he just got up from the chair and said, "Joan hates me". Now I didn't do anything, but just shut off my emotions and became a robot, because that is what I'm learning.

Problem is, we have a MN in our lives, and hubby has no clue. The man is always on a new tactic with me, even trashing me to other people. I'm going to use him as a learning tool in my quest for recovery, why not.

Catherine Todd said...

Love your quote: ""No life is ever a complete failure; it can always serve as a bad example." At least a narcissist is good for something."