Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Wizard of Oz: How One Narcissist Interprets it

Speaking of the 'man behind the curtain' in my last post, I thought I would elaborate a bit on my mother's inordinate interest in the movie "The Wizard of Oz". She refers to the story often and studies it like it is filled with subtle signs and cues of some grand conspiracy. For example, she finds great significance in the color green in the movie. (Emerald City and all.) I don't actually know what the significance is because she won't explicate it. She just looks like she knows the mystery of the color green and expects you to puzzle it out for yourself if you want to prove you're as smart as she is, as well-versed in hidden (occult) knowledge. My mother claims to be a Christian but she is an occultist at heart. Always has been.

This obsession of hers about the Wizard of Oz was a later development in her life although I remember from my youngest years that we always watched the movie when it was replayed on TV in the days before videos. Maybe it is a sign she's gone around the bend with this new obsession. But there are too many other signs that she is still sane for me to slap that pat of an explanation on it. This is more a manifestation of her increasing paranoia as I'll explain a little more in moment.

I think she can sense there is a lesson in the story that is just beyond her grasp. She studies it and studies it but can't quite see it. I really do think she senses there is some big revelation in that movie that she is yet to nail down. She ascribes an air of mystery and dark quiet conspiracy to this movie. It's like some grand poobah in the Globalist cabal is sending her a message. Perhaps her obsession is nothing more than a narcissist majoring in minors as they are wont to do, but I think there is a little more to it than that.

Her self-delusions make the rather obvious moral of the story hazy to her understanding. She is most fascinated with the "man behind the curtain" yet doesn't seem to 'get' that she is that man. Or maybe some part of her does. Yet, she doesn't focus on the grand act of this weak little man being unmasked. That is a rather climactic moment in the movie, I daresay. What does she focus on? "Notice how he puts his finger on the side of his nose. That's a sign. Santa Claus puts his finger on the side of his nose. So do the popes..." All said with her imperious self-importance because she is plugged into the secret signals of the ... what...the masons? The Illuminati? Yes and yes. I don't want to try too hard to understand the twisted convolutions and obsessive paranoia of her brain as it only tends toward making me dizzy. Yet I continue...

My mother had brought up the topic of this movie one day and found out that my cousin "Lee" had seen the movie once as a child and didn't like it, therefore Lee's boys had never seen the movie. As my mother had done on other issues, if Lee had some qualm about exposing her sons to something it became my mother's mission to force things. It became an imperative for my mother to expose Lee's boys to whatever it was that Lee had chosen to keep from them. This was because my mother actively worked to undermine my cousin's parental authority in order for my mother to usurp that position with Lee's boys. My mother forced my cousin and her sons to watch this movie followed up with a classroom type study of its implications. She instructed everyone to pay attention to the color green. To take note of "north". As in, the witch of the north. What is significant about "north"?, they asked. "Bad things come from the north." She responds with weighty meaningfulness. (Never mind that the witch from the north is a 'good' witch in the movie.) She again referenced Santa Claus, and implied there were other proofs of this connection of "north" to "bad things". **sigh** It is kind of tedious to try to write this crap down. She is such a paranoid whack job.

My mother refused, after they had watched the movie, to actually explain these mysteries. She gave them assignments, "Go to the computer and look up 'green' " ... I kid you not. (Type 'green' into Google and you'll get over a billion hits back!) My mother who refuses to touch a computer because she is intimidated by them pretends to know something about how to search for something on the Internet. Yes, you can type in the word 'green' and then study all that information that will magically appear. She told them to do this kind of 'research' on multiple other words at various times usually during her "Bible studies" with them. "Lines" "Walls" "Angels" Each time making silly pretense at her having searched this all out herself and pretending to instruct her students to be studious. There was, thankfully, never any follow up to these Internet search assignments. It was just bluster and bluff to avoid actually having to have anything resembling an answer to the stupid shit she was presenting as being hidden knowledge. It is this hocus pocus silliness which characterized her 'study' on the movie "Wizard of Oz". Who is the 'man behind the curtain' now? It is rather amazing to me how she can practically worship this movie and yet not see its obvious messages because she is so busy looking at the details rather than the whole. "The devil's in the details" ... and she is busily hunting him out there instead of seeing the bigger picture. I marvel at my mother's ridiculous pretenses at being some kind of seer and intellectual. I marvel she can mesmerize people into falling for such a shabby presentation. But she can pull this crap off with the sheer force of her personality.

It's like someone who wants to study an animal. The best way to learn about an animal is to watch it unmolested. We can observe it doing what it does only by letting it be. How it eats, what it eats, when and where and how it sleeps, mating behavior, nesting behavior, how it raises its young, etc. But if you are like my mother you wouldn't try to learn about the animal this way. No, you would take it to your garage and pin it down. Then you would kill it and start looking carefully at all the pieces as you tear it apart bit by bit. You look at its limbs, organs, fur, features all in isolation and try to intuit how the animal must behave, eat, mate, sleep, and even how it looks after you've torn the thing to bits to look at each piece of it. This is how my mother studies this movie. It also is her method of Bible study. It is a pseudo-intellectualism that does not, in the end, impart true knowledge. She may be able to describe in great detail the various parts of the whole but she will never see the whole because she has torn it into pieces.

In case you are tempted to think that you would never fall for my mother's gambit because it seems that she would look so crazy that you'd be long gone in no time, please balance out the above with the careful stalking and then grooming of her prey. My mother presents as being quite sane. She is, even though she is an older woman now, very pretty. She dresses really well. Always a fashion plate. She chooses well-tailored clothing with classic lines. Nothing trendy, but certainly not fuddy-duddy either. Her slim figure carries off her clothing choices to their maximum benefit. Her skin is smooth, her make-up applied with perfection. Her hair is perfectly coiffed in a very complimentary style. Her body movements are graceful and lithe. She doesn't move around like an old person. All of this attention to her appearance takes her a very long way in her relationships. It's the hook. She accompanies the above with an air of erudition and huge self-confidence. Many are attracted to self-confident people. The period of grooming her supply sources includes a long honeymoon where she flatters their intellect every time they agree with her. It is only in time, after she determines that you are convinced she is more knowledgeable than you are, that she'll start to tell you something of the dark mysteries and conspiracies she has uncovered. This process really is like the poor frog dumped into the pot of cold water with the temperature only gradually rising. Froggie doesn't know he's cooked. There is a certain type of person who is especially vulnerable to my mother. It is the person who lacks self-confidence and who is looking for guidance. She seeks these people out actively and seems to always have one on her hook.

I tell you about her presentation to help balance out the picture. What she actually says, the ludicrous assertions and false knowledge, when standing alone are truly ridiculous and lacking in appeal. It is only the rest of her presentation that gives her paranoid and silly pretense any ability at all to deceive. Thankfully my cousin and her sons were not so much under my mother's power that they didn't start to see the farce. My mother miscalculated the level of her control over them. To her everlasting chagrin in the end.

Thank God.

And I say that reverently.


Cathy said...

It makes me dizzy reading your description. Once again, my mother to the tee. The beautiful, wise one who knows all the "secrets" and hidden nuances to life, to us, or even to a movie, for goodness sake. Only, my mother has a masters in Guidance Counseling - so she does hold the keys to your psyche...or so she thinks.

It is a wonder that you (and I) got out from under with our sanity intact.

Thank God we did. And I too, say that with reverence.

Anonymous said...

This is a minor point, but one that really resonated with me: "It became an imperative for my mother to expose Lee's boys to whatever it was that Lee had chosen to keep from them. This was because my mother actively worked to undermine my cousin's parental authority in order for my mother to usurp that position with Lee's boys."

Yes. Yes! You, as usual, *get it.* This is exactly what we experienced and DH's siblings experienced when NMIL was around the grandchildren. This is a big part of why we had to go NC.


Writer in Washington said...

Wow, sounds like my mother, too. She was a "bible teacher", always looking at the jots and tittles. A scripture here, another one there. My Dad was fascinated with end time theology, used to drive us crazy with all his attempts to "reveal" what was going to happen. It reminds me of the "secret codes" people. They are intelligent people. But they are nuts, too. Most of us have enough trouble trying to live out what we can understand in the scripture without delving into it for "hidden" mysteries.

Incidentally, husband's MN ex-wife's favorite movie: Gone With The Wind. She has delusions that she is Scarlet. And no, she obviously doesn't get the point of that movie either. Scarlet is a N, too.

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

"In case you are tempted to think that you would never fall for my mother's gambit because it seems that she would look so crazy that you'd be long gone in no time, please balance out the above with the careful stalking and then grooming of her prey."

Yup. People like her only go after certain "sorts" of people. This is also why it's important to be very mindful of who to trust, and well, let's just say that there are benefits to being someone not afraid to "detach" and become one hell of a bitch when need/want be. Heh. Then there's the question everything mindset. Do that, and it'll ward off most people like her.

At least it's worked in my experience.

Anonymous said...

There seems some great need by Ns to control their grandchildren, or pseudo-grandchildren. It is their mission in life to inflict torture on future generations.

Undermine parental authority? There's no better way than to come right out and tell the grandchildren, whose mother is standing there, "Don't listen to her. Listen to me." This after breaking all the rules set out by the parents. Then wait a while and accuse the mother of child abuse, for good measure.

And this one resembles a gnome more than an elder-model.

kyleth said...

It's sad that the actions of the N weren't just about upsetting Lee (though that in itself is terrible. The main problem is that she was actively competing with Lee for the boys' attention in addition to controlling what they do. As an older adult, you shouldn't compete with your children, nieces and nephews. You shouldn't invalidate their decisions as a parent. Unfortunately, the N does just that.

As it goes, my young nephew hates going to my mother's house. Hmmm, I wonder why?

Anonymous said...

I love that you keep coming back to the "Wizard of Oz" analogy. My therapist and I discussed this in my last appointment. The loud blustering monster is actually a pathetic old man pushing levers and yelling into a tube, "Pay no attention to that man over there..." I am beginning to see my Nmother as old and pathetic, especially as I think early Alzheimer’s is setting in, but the monster is still there and real. Run away, run away.

Elli G said...

Who are you and what have you done with my mother? This post was so spot on describing the super-over-analyzing of every single bit my momster does, that I had to comment even after 7 years of the post being published.

Anna Valerious said...

Seven years already? Wow. Time is flying. Thanks for commenting.

Amy said...

You don't happen to know the musical "Wicked"?
It is an interesting new interpretation of the story of the Wizard of Oz and contains quite a lot of wisdom - at least, I think so.
Some of the comments on narcissistic personality traits and their effects on the rest of the world had me laughing for days.

Unknown said...

This article is extremely well written. I have been reading a great deal of material on Narcissism and I am absolutely loved what was said here.

Unknown said...

OMG! My mother loved The Wizard of Oz!!! She was a narcissist...she died 2 years ago... ding dong the witch is dead. I know, I know, how cruel of me...........
She literally tore our big family apart. [if you are a narcissist you try to have as many kids as your uterus will allow—a never ending supply, supply, supply! We were a family of 7] My one brother turned out to be her ‘understudy’ and is himself a narcissist today. My other brother who witnessed her beating on my father, is now an abuser himself. Covert, overt, golden child, lost child, scapegoat..we have them all in my family. My 2 brothers are as asinine as my mother was.
I am writing a book about my life [and siblings lives] with my mother.
Wow, wow, wow! These blogs are great!
June Peyer

ELLA said...

There isn't a single word in your post I son't fully believe. Congrats on the creative way you've described such a tormented upbringing. I can definitely relate to that.

I wish you can find happiness despite your past with tour family.

Amy said...

Excerpt from the musical "Wicked" (The Wizard of Oz from the perspective of the green witch), sung by Glinda.

When I see depressing creatures
With unprepossessing features
I remind them on their own behalf
Of celebrated heads of state
Or especially great communicators:
Did they have Brains or knowledge?
Don't make me laugh! They were popular!
It's all about popular! :-)