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


So, what IS in a heart? said...

Yes, you become like them. Hanging around certainly is one way to do that. "Lie down with dogs, you wake up with fleas".

Anonymous said...

Dear Anna,

My husband, who is loving, supportive and very smart, is having a hard time understanding why I blame my ennabler Dad more than my N-Mom.

My Dad has always been the "good parent." When I asked him to defend me against my abusive mother, he just shrugged helplessly and said he couldn't do anything about it. When she started shouting and screaming, he would leave and go to the office and work late. And my brother and I were left alone with her.

For most of my life, I've felt sorry for poor old Dad. But now I realize that he always had a choice. He still has a choice . . . and the choice he's living with is rejecting me and my little family, his only grandchildren, because I will no longer act as my mother's servant and sycophant.

He has become childlike, accusatory and bitter. He believes nonsensical things because my mother says them. He has been completely taken over. Sometimes I still feel grief on his behalf, because if he'd married a different woman, he would have been a good man with a decent life. And I pity him, because he and she are becoming very strange together . . . they have both bought into her odd version of reality.

But most of all I'm angry, because he's nothing like a father is supposed to be. And I can't help envying people who have normal, loving fathers. At least my husband is a good father to my chidren. I get a lot of pleasure seeing their wonderful relationship. At the same time, it makes me aware of what I never had.


Cathy said...

I never had a category to put my father into. I now do. You described it/him beautifully. Thank you.

Stormchild said...

People do not realize how contagious evil really is, or how all pervasive it becomes over time.

There is no such thing as "peaceful coexistence" with an abuser. All there is... is the slow, inexorable process of engulfment and assimilation.

C.S. Lewis captured the end result of this process horrifyingly well in "That Hideous Strength" when he described the senior managers at N.I.C.E.; but those of us who had a narcissistic, abusive parent and were left undefended by an enabling parent don't need to read Lewis. We've had a ringside seat at the slow disintegration of a soul.

Anonymous said...

you've described my fil to a tee.

for years all he's had to say is, "this is my wife, and i'm standing by her.", when asked how he could let her get away with the things she has said & done. funny thing is, my dh isn't allowed to stand up for me according to them. i have "brainwashed" him against them, and i've "controlled" him to defend me. yeah.


thanks anna, wonderful post.


Anonymous said...

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.
Edmund Burke

Anonymous said...

Amen to what Anna wrote, and the comments here. I've come to terms with my N mother. But I don't know if I ever will with my accomplice father. It doesn't help that he died more than 20 years ago and absolutely everyone in my family regards him as a saint.

Anonymous said...

I am writing first off to give a big thanks to Anna: great blog. Amazingly well written and well expressed points. I got here by googling 'narcissist sister'. I had been trying in vain to find information online about family members besides parents who act narcissistically: thank you for providing! I had tried things like "adult sibling abuse" and just came up empty time and again in terms of what I was looking for. I feel like I struck the nest here though.

The point you make here is one that I've really never seen addressed in books: the eventual mounting collateral damage that corrupts every family member who refuses to see the N as destructive and instead puts pressure on others join in appeasing the N.

Since I mostly had only the one N parent, the pressure to appease and submit came from sib's instead of another parent. Now that the N parent has been dead for years, I have been forced to admit what I never wanted to see: my fellow victims have really morphed into destructive people themselves from all those years of false beliefs and letting their psychological integrity be undone by compromise and appeasements.

It is a Faustian bargain: there is a long term cost to those short term benefits gotten by collaborating with the oppressor.

Anna Valerious said...

Thanks for all the great comments here. I wish I could respond to all of them, but I am currently buried under an avalanche of things in real life here. It is great to see that so many of you get what I described. Bad character is contagious. Make excuses for it and invite soul-rot.

"The greatest want of the world is the want of men,--men who will not be bought or sold; men who in their inmost souls are true and honest; men who do not fear to call sin by its right name; men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole; men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall."Education, p. 57 by E.G. White

Lupita said...

Great post Anna. I think my depressed father used me as a shield to protect himself from my N mother. He was a damaged soul before he entered the marriage, I'm sure, but his aquiescence to her abuse helped him along the dark path he chose....

Anonymous said...

I was the "Dad" character in this post. I was going down the path of "go along to get along" and getting more twisted up as time went on. Problem was that as time went on and the MN increased in my wife I put up with less and less of it. What that got me was a new boyfriend for my wife, a divorce and the loss of my family unit. I guess I ceased providing enough narcissistic supply.

I struggled with all of it for a few years but I now realize what emancipation it was and thankful that God released me from an ugly path. Great post!

Cathy said...

I have got to give credit to the last commenter. The "Dad" who was married to the NM. You, sir, deserve to be commended for having the backbone it needed to stand up to the N - your wife. Most will NOT make that choice because they are too afraid. They know somewhere inside of them what the consequences will be. The utter loss of everything. Because the N will never back down, will never be "wrong", is incapable of changing, and as in your case, will simply REPLACE you. The bitch. She never deserved you in the first place. I feel sorry for the new man. He will be utterly emasulated.

I am sorry for your pain at the betrayal and loss. The N's know how to inflict deep wounding on those they are supposed to love. But as you stated, it is only once you are emancipated that you are able to see more clearly and breathe more easily and get on a more healthy path. You are a rare one. Thank you for writing in. And Anna, once again, thank you for this blog where we can all gain perspective and sanity.

Anonymous said...

Slightly different point of view...first I LOVE YOUR BLOG! It has helped me tremendously. I do have to say I have more compassion for my Dad. I guess I could be mad at him, but I feel that he protected us the best way he could. He simply could not stop HER, because she is unstoppable. My parents have been divorced for close to 25 years now. When I asked him why he stayed so long, he said "to protect you kids." Even though he couldn't control her, he stayed to help control her as much he could. Believe you me, his life was also a living hell. Sadly, both my brother and sister are NP's. My brother is so far gone he's off the deep end. My sister, I always felt stood a chance, though she has become my Mom's "GOLDEN CHILD" -- she's 40 now, and it's too bad she fell into the MOM's trap. I speak to neither my mother, my sister or my brother. The only one that makes me sad is my sister. I'm still working on that. I love my Dad and thank God I did have him. He couldn't control HER, but I think tried his best to protect us kids. He didn't succeed all the time. But I do think had he left, I would be in an insane asylum right now. And had he fought harder, she would've gotten even angrier and she would've hurt me even more. I was the scape goat. Plus, way back when, my Dad would have never been awarded custody. It just didn't happen in the 1960s and early 70s.

Anna Valerious said...

Anon @ 8:49 PM,

Your father is not what I was describing in this post. Your father did things to protect you. Your dad deserves your compassion because he showed compassion for you. Naturally, he would not be able to control everything she did. But he was aware of what she was and didn't abandon you to your Nmom. He cared. My father did nothing to protect me from my mother. Nothing. He did not stay with her for the sake of his kids either. He is still with her after almost five decades. He is doing that for him. If he was staying with her "for the kids" he could have left her a quarter century ago. If I had any evidence of my father doing something to protect me from my mother I would adore him. I even confronted him with this fact of him doing nothing to protect me from my mother. He didn't say anything to contradict me. He only claimed he would "do things differently now". I know that is total bull shit because when he had a chance to prove that to be true he failed. Miserably. See my post on Thanksgiving 2002.

You have a father who obviously cares. He doesn't deserve to be labeled along with your mother as evil. I'm glad you don't.

Anonymous said...

Anna - I want to say I totally agree with you about your father and other parents who condone the Narcissistic Parent against the child.

My late father never condoned, because he just wasn't there. I used to be very angry with him until I discovered he was the only child of an Nmother himself and was so mentally messed up he couldn't differentiate. He never did until a BRIEF moment after my Nmom passed on. And then he cried a lot. But I doubt he knew he was an ACON. Just things I heard from the family alerted me to this.

He tried to stop my Nmom many times - he just wasn't savvy to her manipulations or strong enough; because he himself was brought up to think that was acceptable

Anonymous said...


I agree with your point about the moral perils of hanging around conscience lacking, disordered adults. Either you capitulate, which means you participate or you run out of energy, which means that you will be forced to give in due to exhaustion.

I too had an abusive N mother, with a passive wimp for a father. However, I never really knew my father but I was always repulsed by him and he not only allowed my N mum to abuse me, but also sat there and backed my mother up when the child protective agency received a complaint about child abuse, allowing her to paint me as a "difficult" child. (I found this out years later, when questioning my father).

After recently getting to know my father for the first time as an adult, I decided that he is personality disordered and has all the characteristics of NPD without the aggression. Only he is passively aggressive. He is worse than my mother and what is making me literally sick to my stomach is realising that I had been conned by his innocent act, that I was under the impression that he was an honest man, when he is a lie.

I can assure you that he is as capable on his own of as much violence as my mother, as long as it is in a passive form, where he can stay blameless.

This has me questioning whether is is himself a narcissist, hiding behind my mother's blatant personality disfunction?

I also question whether someone who picks a partner with NPD and then does nothing to protect his/her own children, is not personality disordered to begin with?


Anonymous said...

My NM married the stereotypical postal worker who would work so hard to not work. I'm sure there is mail buried in our backyard in NY.

She picked this guy because she knew he would enable her twisted reality.

I find that I have the same qualities as my father sometimes and I am working hard to change this behavior. Unlike them, I am brave and know there is a better way.

We have to remind ourselves that we can't be responsible for other people's happiness. Even parents can't make their children happy - only give them the support and tools to find it themselves. We didn't get that. Like children of old, who were born to help on the farm we were born to support the twisted needs of energy sucking vampires. We don't have to accept that role.

Thanks for bringing this up. I'm off to make my own new history and reality.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why we continue to call these people parents when clearly they don't have the best interest of the child at heart.

Anonymous said...

It makes me nervous for my father. Her refuses the idea of divorce. He also just doesn't understand all the anguish I went through being raised by my mother. Just stands by most of the time and now more often he is starting to take her side. Oh how I want him to leave and I am not too happy about what he has allowed to happen luckily for him I did not commit suicide I wonder what guilt he would have felt for that if any.