Saturday, November 29, 2008

Disdain for Reality

The NPD illusion of superiority is a facet of a generalized disdain for reality. These individuals feel unconstrained by rules, customs, limits, and discipline. Their world is filled with self-fiction in which conflicts are dismissed, failures redeemed, and self-pride is effortlessly maintained. They easily devise plausible reasons to justify self-centered and inconsiderate behavior. Their memories of past relationships are often illusory and changing. If rationalizations and self-deception fail, individuals with NPD are vulnerable to dejection, shame, and a sense of emptiness. Then they have little recourse other than fantasy. They have an uninhibited imagination and engage in self-glorifying fantasies. What is unmanageable through fantasy is repressed and kept from awareness. As they consistently devalue others, they do not question the correctness of their own beliefs; they assume that others are wrong. The characteristic difficulties of individuals with NPD almost all stem from their lack of solid contact with reality. If the false image of self becomes substantive enough, their thinking will become peculiar and deviant. Then their defensive maneuvers become increasingly transparent to others (Millon & Davis, 1996, pp. 405-423). Sharon C. Ekleberry, Dual Diagnosis and the Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

This is a packed paragraph. Read it through several times to absorb it. The sentence that sums it all up well is, "The characteristic difficulties of individuals with NPD almost all stem from their lack of solid contact with reality." Remember that the word reality is interchangeable with the word truth. Notice how in the description above of the narcissist's 'disdain for reality' what follows is a description of all the ways than narcissists avoid the truth. The truth about the world, about themselves, about their past, about you. This professional person managed to find all the ways to describe the narcissist's love affair with lies without ever actually using the word 'lie'. But lies they are, nonetheless.

They are "people of the lie" as Scott M. Peck so aptly describes them. The narcissist fabricates at every juncture to the point that the narcissist himself becomes a lie. They don't just tell lies...they are, at their most basic, a lie in and of themselves.

The narcissist disarms you by causing you to buy into the lie(s). The more you accede to their version of reality (which is lie-based) the less you are able to resist their control, their abuse, their sucking the life blood from you.

If believing their lies is how the narcissist disarms you then, obviously, re-arming means learning what truth is. There are truths that are universal and immutable. Moral truths fall into this category of universal and objective truth. No matter who you are, no matter what country or culture you live in, no matter what sex, creed or religion you belong to there are certain things that are wrong to do to others. Those who deny there is a universal and objective morality are capable of the basest of crimes against humanity. Be they a cruel dictator like Mao Tse Tung or a serial killer like Ted Bundy or a malignant narcissist in your family, church or workplace.

And, yes, I think the malignant narcissist belongs in the same list with Mao and Bundy. They shouldn't be taken off the list simply because they lack the power (Mao) or the motivation (Bundy) to murder in order to slake their lusts. The root of malignant narcissism infects them all so they should all stand in the same Hall of Shame. If the malignant narcissist you know had the lack of accountability that a dictator has or had lost her fear of the law then you know what they would be capable of. Murder and torture would be standard fare for those under their power. I'm not engaging in hyperbole. I'm being a realist. I recognize cause and effect. I acknowledge the little tyrant and murderer that lives in the heart of every malignant narcissist. Only the constraints of their circumstances and their fear of the law have power to restrain them. When you can believe this to be true then you will never want anything to do with them ever again. The malignant narcissist is dangerous. Period.

All malignant narcissists deny there is a moral law that stands outside themselves and judges them. They just pretend away this reality. This means they are free to make up morality as they go which is exactly what they do. This results in a moral code which has all the human resources of kindness, attention, valuation, and regard going towards them and away from you. They turn you into a big, fat Zero. They turn themselves into gods. Because you are nothing you deserve nothing. Because they are god they deserve it all. They work diligently to make you believe the lie that they deserve it all. If they succeed they're in Fat City and you will be lucky to stay out of the asylum or an early grave.

Salvation from the affliction and torment of narcissists depends on whether or not you love truth-- whether you are dedicated to reality even if reality is ugly. The narcissist "loves and practices lies". (See Revelation 22:14-15) His doom is sure. The question is, do you love the truth enough to embrace truth when the truth hurts? That is the true test of anyones love for truth. It is the test the narcissist has failed time and again. Keep in mind that he doesn't hate all truth. He only hates the truths which are inconvenient to him at any particular moment. The test of your character, the test that tries whether or not you really do love truth is when truth threatens to slice through your dreams and fantasies about life, about yourself, about what you've done and who you are. These are the very truths the narcissist is always working to escape from.

The test for love of the truth isn't whether or not you are willing to believe ugly truths about others. That comes easy for all of us. No, the test is whether or not you are willing to face truth when it comes knocking at your door to talk about who you are and what you've done. The more honest you're willing to be with yourself about who you are and what you've done then the more likely you are to believe the truth when it tells you that someone else is good...or bad. Your lens that you look through is less skewed. When you can be honest about who you are then you are much more likely to be honest about who someone else is.

Occasionally people wonder aloud in the comments about themselves...are they, too, a narcissist? The test is above. Do you love the truth even when the truth tells you something other than what you want to hear?? You know the answer to that question. No one here can answer that question for you. You don't need anyone else to answer that question because you know the answer. The degree to which any of us will deny, obscure or push away truth is the degree to which you are narcissistic. Narcissism is a continuum. Where you fall on that line is easily measured by how much you love the truth or, conversely, how much you have "disdain for reality".

"The characteristic difficulties of individuals with NPD almost all stem from their lack of solid contact with reality."

Anna's paraphrase: The very things that make dealing with malignant narcissists so difficult can be traced back to their constant state of living in lies. Their disregard for truth affects everything and everyone around them.

Love for the truth or love of lies. These two concepts sift all of humanity.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Pathological Envy vs. the Thanksgiving Spirit

Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous [overwhelming]; but who is able to stand before envy? Prov. 27:4

And then, of course, we get to the heart of malignant narcissism, Narcissistic Envy.
"What Makes Narcissists Tick" by Kathy Krajco, pg. 46 in e-book.

Their lack of gratitude is the natural result of their extreme covetousness ... All the other sins of the narcissist spring from this persistent and pervasive covetousness.
Thanksgiving -- The Holiday Narcissists Will Never 'Get'"

The envy of the narcissist is pathological because it is all-consuming and destructive. It is the fouled spring from whence her abuses flow outward into your life. Any good thing you it material, or your accomplishments, your worthy and noble character traits, or attention in any form...must be sullied and/or stolen in order to tamp down the monstrous upwelling of envy in the narcissist's heart. Kathy summed it up correctly when stating that the heart of malignant narcissism is their envy. Both she and I have seen pathological covetousness (envy) as the evil root from which their malignant behaviors spring. It's the one emotion which drives them more than any other. More than anger. More than hatred. Envy, thy name is narcissist.

Covetousness is the inevitable fruit of ingratitude...a line of reasoning I have fleshed out in my Thanksgiving post of last year linked above.

I love Thanksgiving. I hope you do, too. Grateful people are able to enter into the true spirit of this day. Know this too: grateful people are happy people. There is healing and peace in the spirit of gratitude. Seize it and don't let go.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holidays with Narcissists Suck...

So how to deal with narcissists during the holidays? The best and most simple answer is to fully disengage! I realize I sound repetitive but 'no contact' is always the best answer bar none to dealing with narcissists. They are poisonous no matter the season but most especially in the seasons of cheer and festivity. Whether the narcissist uses the holidays to grandstand or to poop on everyone's parade they are like ants at the picnic. No, they are like wasps at the picnic. Threatening discomfort just by their hovering presence and getting their stings in when you least expect it.

The consistent advice on this blog is that you put many miles between you and the narcissist -- both geographical and emotional miles. Cut off or drastically minimize contact. So if you're wondering about how to deal with narcissists on the holidays you have obviously not taken my advice thus far. And since my advice on the holidays is the same...what more is there for me to say? I'll see what I can come up with.

If you are in a situation where you have no choice -- come on, let's be really honest here with ourselves about whether we have a choice or not. Sometimes we claim to not have a choice when the truth is we are avoiding discomfort by not rocking the boat! -- then my advice to disengage still applies only the disengagement is purely an emotional one.

Do not let yourself get sucked into their reindeer games. Detach emotionally from all the fantasies you've had about finally having a happy family gathering that includes the narcissist(s). It is fantasy. Pure. Fantasy. Holidays with narcissists are something you just try to get through. In one piece, hopefully. So drop your Happy Family delusions, forget trying to fix anyone, give up thinking that if you sacrifice body and soul the narcissist will appreciate the effort and be nice to you, stop thinking that you can make everyone get along by being 'above it all'. I'm not talking about being 'above it all' when I talk about detachment. I'm talking about being emotionally unavailable. There in body but not in heart. It is the only armor that will help keep you sane and relatively unscathed by the contact. Does this sound like fun? Like the holiday spirit? Obviously not. But holidays with narcissists are never fun. It is a game of survival for you. Focus on survival not festivity because that's as good as it gets. Why, after knowing you are dealing with a narcissist, you would still sign up for this misery is quite beyond me.

Do not allow the narcissist (or his side-kicks) to run you, make you into a servant, or use you as a primary source of supply during the holiday. Be willing and prepared to leave the moment things turn ugly. That assumes, of course, you're smart enough at this point to not actually be the host to family gatherings. Hopefully you know enough going into this holiday season to realize that putting on gala holiday events in your own home is just begging for some narcissist to kick you in the teeth. Hosting holidays with narcissists is an invitation they find irresistible to shove your generosity, your thoughtfulness, and your hours of labor right up your ass. Don't be a sap. Don't set yourself up as such an easy target. Either go to the narcissist's home, another family member's home or a restaurant. Someplace where you can grab your kids and get the hell out of there the moment you see the fangs flashing.

I've said my piece on holidays with narcissists. I'm sure the commenters will have plenty to say on this that I've haven't. Have at it!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

They Hide From Truth Because Their Deeds are Evil

My head has been pulled way out of the subject matter of this blog lately so that is why posting has been minimal. It's just the way it is and there isn't much to be done about it. Consequently, I thought I'd rely on Kathy Krajco for some words for the wise taken from her book.

There is an interesting point of religious doctrine on this that has been largely forgotten since the Middle Ages. It is that evil lurks beneath a beautiful exterior. In the vernacular today, we say that Beauty runs skin deep. We see this principle reflected in medieval paintings of the fall of the bad angels. They aren't depicted as ugly demons; they are depicted as beautiful spirits indistinguishable outwardly from the good angels. In other words, malevolence disguises itself with sanctimony.

It's easy to see why. No one wants others to see them as bad. Moreover, that's the kiss of death to a predator, because it's like a repellant that warns potential prey to mistrust and stay away from him. Indeed, if you were a malignant narcissist, what would be your biggest fear?

Exposure, right? You're like a vampire to whom the light of day is lethal. Your greatest fear would be the same as that of any hungry, stalking predator -- exposure.

You'd live in constant fear of people finding out what you are beneath your sheep's clothing, that you go around spreading the most heinous lies about anyone who has a better reputation than you, that the happiness and success of others galls you and makes you set about destroying it, that you just use people for your aggrandizement in a manner that damages them and then just throw them away, that cruelly abusing and bullying people makes you feel high and mighty so that you can't resist a chance to make someone bend over for it or kick someone when they're down, that you want to take away anything others have that you don't have. You'd live in constant fear of others learning the shocking truth about your past exploits. You'd live in constant fear of people getting a whiff of the spirit in which such things are done -- the spirit inside you.

Because you're a destroyer. And no easy prey would venture within a mile of you if they knew what's inside you, would they? Because nothing can cover the smell of the spirit in which such things are done. A whiff of that spirit gives people the Big Chill. They abhor it. Even the most hardened criminals are above doing things as sickening as the things you do.

So, though there is such a thing as an out-of-the-closet narcissist (one who needn't and doesn't hide how bad he is and may even show it off to terrorize those at his mercy), far more often than not, people with NPD take great pains to make sure they have an angel-face and a reputation to match. (Exceptions are those narcissists seeking negative attention in lieu of the other kind.)

Their image is precisely the negative of their true selves. In other words, the false image they create dis-simulates their true self. What Makes Narcissists Tick, pgs. 32-33 by Kathy Krajco.

I decided to reprint this section of her book because the verse in John 3:19-20 has been in my thoughts lately. Her statements above are related:
And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

So today's dose of truth and reality is this: Evil must mask itself with good in order for it to make a living. Evil must hide itself by hiding the truth of who and what they are. Therefore, full truth (light) is anathema to evil.

You know this is true. You've tried to bring just a smidgen of truth to the table with the narcissist and you saw the hissing, spitting and reviling it invoked. The extreme reaction is the narcissist's attempt to get you to drop the holy water before he gets burned. That is not the moment to fumble or drop the truth. Thrust that stake deep into his heart and then put him in the ground. Metaphorically speaking, of course.

Evil is an absence of truth which is why it must attach itself to some semblance of truth in order to exist. Evil is parasitic. It cannot stand alone. Pure lies don't sell. It is the truth that the lie attaches itself to that makes the lie attractive...or at least palatable. The lies of evil need to attach to goodness and truth in order to successfully hide in plain sight. Potential victims must not be warned off by the horrific sight and smell of their villainy. Even though the narcissist despises truth they are dependent on a certain amount of it in order to survive. I tell you this so you are not surprised by the mixture of truth amongst the big lies. Don't throw out truth just because an evil narcissist used it to his own ends either. Keep the baby...throw out the bath water.

Very rarely does evil completely expose itself and rarely is it completely exposed by someone else to everyone else. Knowing this, quit expecting evil to be readily apparent to everyone. Stop being surprised when the malignant spirit manages to successfully hide itself with a great pretense of goodness. Stop expecting evil to expose itself when he has no self-interest in doing so. Never expect evil to play fairly. Expect the greatest villains to hide behind the most impressive shows of sanctimony. You don't have to be religious to be sanctimonious, by the way. Don't make that mistake in logic. Sanctimony is hypocrisy ... and anyone can be a hypocrite whether or not they are a religionist.

“Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.” Francois de La Rochefoucauld