Saturday, December 27, 2008

Jesse Pomeroy: A Stark Illustration of Lack of Introspection

I just finished reading the book Fiend by Harold Schechter. It is the true story of the crimes and conviction of America's youngest serial killer, Jesse Pomeroy. He was a full blown narcissistic psychopath lust killer by the tender age of 14. Of course, these terms didn't exist back in 1874. He became known as the "boy fiend" thanks to the tabloid journalism of that era.

What I want to bring to your attention is the striking illustration Pomeroy presents of my last post. The absolute lack of introspection. This lack is highlighted all the more by the nearly incomprehensible length of his confinement in solitary. Forty-one years -- the second longest in U.S. penal history. The severity of his confinement was most pronounced in the first decade when he was confined to a very small, mostly dark cell. Here is a quote from page 263 of the book:

Clinical studies have proven that prisoners subjected to even relatively short periods in solitary confinement commonly begin to show severe psychopathological symptoms, ranging from hallucinations to panic attacks to paranoid delusions. More protracted stints can drive a man to madness.
So the question is: was Jesse Pomeroy already "mad" and therefore had no sanity to lose? Or was he in possession of an "indomitable spirit" as he was credited to having by James R. Wood, a onetime Boston police detective who had played a key role in Jesse's arrest half a century previous to Mr. Wood's statement about Jesse's spirit?

I will back up that half century to Jesse's conviction in 1874. The boy was examined in prison by several psychologists, called back then "alienists". Here is an excerpt from the observations of one of these psychologists named Tyler. He first observed that Jesse was physically and intellectually average.

By contrast, his 'moral sensibility' was strikingly aberrant. Though able to discriminate between right and wrong when presented with various hypothetical cases, Jesse was absolutely 'obtuse' when it came to his own crimes. "He evinces no pity for the boys tortured or for the victims of his homicide," Tyler writes, "and no remorse or sorrow for his acts." Moreover, his wildly "contradictory statements" -- his detailed "account of killing the children and subsequent denial of any agency therein" -- were the sign of a deeply duplicitous nature. Fiend, page 162

Even though it was apparent by examining Jesse, as well as how he conducted his crimes, that Jesse was not insane, his defense team knew all they had was to try to convince a jury that Jesse was indeed insane. The all-male jury couldn't quite go there with the defense and so they convicted Jesse of first degree murder. It was not the place for the jury to recommend a sentence but they attached a note to the verdict requesting Jesse not be executed for his crime due to his young age. Jesse was given a sentence of death as the law required, but the governor of Massachusetts was under a lot of pressure to reduce the sentence. After much wrangling, and the election of a new governor, Jesse's sentence was reduced to life in solitary confinement. Some argued that was more cruel than the death sentence.

Now, more to my point of observation. Jesse spent his entire time in prison working tirelessly and patiently to escape. He was able to fashion tools like chisels, knives, picks, etc. from prying pieces of metal off of various objects or finding innocuous objects in the yard on this rare exercise romps. His mechanical bent of mind enabled him to come up with some ingenious improvisations. His prison records reveal that he was disciplined for escape attempts every year, sometimes several times a year. What becomes evident when reading the account of his prison activities is that his every power of mind was focused on one thing: escaping. When he wasn't trying to dig, scrape or bomb his way out of his cell, or making tools to facilitate escape, he worked diligently on another form of possible escape: the law. He became a quasi-lawyerly prisoner as he consumed hours in reading law books and persecuting the courthouse with his endless stream of requests for documents and demands for attention to his case. One of the benefits he received from his repeated escape attempts was that it kept him in the limelight. He reveled in the attention he received from the press each time he was caught trying to escape. He loved to brag about each attempt as he would describe how he did it.

What becomes very evident is that Jesse not only didn't go insane while confined in solitary for 41 years, he thrived. He was able to avoid any opportunity for introspection even though he only had himself for company for over four decades!! This is a profound illustration of how it is possible to avoid introspection even when sent away from human contact for an interminable length of time. He focused every shred of his mental energy on escape. It is also how he determinedly persisted in his belief that his cause was just. He was unjustly incarcerated and therefore it was his right to try to escape. His constant focus on escape was how he escaped introspection.

It should be noted here as evidence of Jesse actually thriving in solitary was that when his sentence was eventually reduced to just life in prison Jesse refused to leave his solitary cell for three months! He knew he would not have some of the amenities in the general population that he had in his solitary cell like being able to control the heat, having all the room he needed for his rather large personal library, as well as not having to work. All prisoners were required to work, but Jesse had avoided that while in solitary. He was absolutely lazy. He was able to get out of work after being released into 'gen pop' because the jailers didn't want to have to constantly punish him and receive bad press for being crueler to Jesse now than when in his solitary cell.

Obviously, Jesse was a psychopath. A malignant narcissist is likely not a psychopath, but all psychopaths are malignant narcissists so there are behaviors and thought patterns that are identical with both malignant narcissists and psychopaths. The refusal to introspect is one of them. I drew your attention to Diane Downs in my last post because she has managed to avoid introspection for 25 years as testified to by those who have examined her state of mind. Jesse Pomeroy shows us that Diane will not be any the wiser once she gets to forty plus years of incarceration. Neither will the malignant narcissist in your life. You cannot exile them from your life for any length of time with the expectation that they may have possibly come to a place of recognition of what and who they are and what their crimes have been. There is no exhausting their ability to justify themselves and their resolute ability to avoid any inward look at the evil within.

Jesse Pomeroy was an extreme case of isolation. When he got to the other end of his life (he died in prison at age 73 = 59 years in prison total) he was utterly unchanged. He was as narcissistic and mentally immature as he was at age 14. He was intelligent, but forever immature. He consumed all 8,000 plus books in the prison library and read many of them several times. He wasn't a mental deficient. He certainly wasn't insane. He was forever a case of arrested development emotionally as is true of all malignant narcissists. They never grow up past age six emotionally no matter what intellectual accomplishments they may boast of in adulthood.

Don't assume the malignant narcissist in your life is not as extreme as Jesse was in terms of the absolute and profound lack of any introspection. In this regard, Jesse was the norm and not the exception for malignant narcissists. Simply by virtue of the fact that he ended up incarcerated for so long we have been given a clear picture of just how resolute the malignant narcissist really is in their refusal to admit to what they are.

You've exiled the malignant narcissist. Make sure it is until death. There is not enough reason to nurture any hope of their reformation. To do so will only place your well-being at risk yet again. Malignant narcissists should all be put into solitary confinement. The next best thing is you putting them into solitary of sorts i.e. going 'no contact' with them. At this point, there is no salvation for the narcissist that you can bring about. Your only hope lies in your own salvation. Lock up the narcissist and throw away the key. They will be just fine without you. There is no confinement that will permeate the walls they've thrown up around their consciences. No prison sentence you invoke will reach their inner life. You are not hurting the narcissist with 'no contact', you are saving your own sanity and the well-being of yourself and those you love. 'No contact' is not punishment. It is not vengeance. It is confinement. A cage you put the dangerous beast in to limit his ability to cause further harm.

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Anonymous said...

this post was definitely a very intriguing & insightful read. thank you so much for sharing it with us.

of course, by going no contact, my husband and i are "vindictive, evil, punishers, etc..". i wish they could see it as it is intended: just survival. we all know that'll never happen.

Anonymous said...

I've been reading your blog for a long time and can't describe how much you've helped me to see and understand how hopeless it is to hope for a change in the N! In my case, that would be my mother. Her brother was beyond the scale of N and died earlier this year...on Mother's Day of all days! I didn't shed a single tear over him and never will. I'm glad he's gone.

I've now been in NC with my mother for almost 3 months due to lies that she told me in early October, but I was able to prove she was lying. No matter....she continues to swear that she has no idea why I'm angry with her and has no clue why I'm not talking to her. Well, of course not. Before I went NC, I tried and tried, ad nauseum, to explain what I was angry about. She chooses not to "know" anything. So, I'm gone.

Still, she gave Christmas gifts to my son to bring home to me. There were 6 gifts.....4 signed from Santa, 1 signed from her cat, and one signed with a "?"

If anyone here can help me, what the heck is that about???

I will not keep them and do not want them. I put them, still wrapped, in the closet until I decide what to do with them. My first inclination is to send them all back to her with a note stating that I cannot accept them under the circumstances.

I'm lost on this one and not sure what to do.

During these months of NC, I truly and fervently hoped that she was thinking about what she had done and call to sincerely apologize. Slowly but surely, it's dawning on me that this will not happen. She will stand on her lies even though she lost her only daughter because of it. I want to note that I'm almost 50 and, in hindsight, her lying has gone on for as long as I can remember. To her, it's as easy as breathing. But myself and my two older brothers, and our father too, learned very fast and early to never, ever confront her with anything. To do so meant the silent treatment and other punishments. We were trained very well to "not make waves" and to pretend that all was well in her la-la land.

With these two most recent lies, I just couldn't play that stupid game anymore. I did the unthinkable...I confronted her and *gasp!* made it clear that I was angry at her deceptions. Poof...banished and now almost 3 months of silent treatment (except for the gifts).

Something very interesting has happened to me though....the last few months with no contact with her have been the most peaceful of my life! My head feels more clear, my heart feels calmer, and I'm having very few anxiety attacks (had them all the time before).

God bless you Anne! You shine a bright light in very dark corners, and I know I wouldn't have reached the place I'm in now without you!

Anonymous said...

The complete lack of introspection / change is astounding. It's as if life doesn't actually happen to an N. They spend (waste) their entire lives on a single-minded mission to force their version of reality on others.

That freakish ability to apply a laser-like focus on a complete fabrication over the course of a lifetime is mind-bending to someone whose mind isn't already bent.

I look back on the N's in my past and see this so clearly now. The way they can ignore any and all facts that don't support their illusion can be crazy-making if you don't understand what they're about. Thanks, Anna, for helping N survivors like me to finally see these creeps for what they really are.

Holland said...

In more than 40 years I have heard that I was the wrong one, and always looked at my own behaviour to find out what was wrong with me and tried to explain why things were done by me as they were done. Even until now, with more than two years NC, I still try to explain (in my head) to NM why I am fed up with her. This story opened my eyes. It will never ever help to explain to her who has the problem or is creating them. Thanks so much for sharing this. This is an other step in my way to the emotional cut off I realy could use. NC doesn't mean, and I think this works for many of us, that we do not think about them anymore. My mind is still dealing with this every day.
Thanks very much!

Anonymous said...

"You've exiled the malignant narcissist. Make sure it is until death. There is not enough reason to nurture any hope of their reformation. To do so will only place your well-being at risk yet again."

Well spoken, Anna.

My N sister complained on the phone to our nephew, who is about the only one who will still talk to her (he lives 5000) miles away, that she just doesn't understand why the entire family has abandoned her. I believe this is true, she really has no clue, and if we tried to explain it to her she would be shocked - why, she never did any of that! It's all US.

Two years ago I tried to do exactly that, to explain to her the effects she was having on her family. She raged at me, then refused to come out of her room at Christmas (she lived with my dad and knew she would thereby ruin our holiday) and I had to go make peace and say I was sorry. This was before I knew what N was. I'll never forget the look on her face, like a pouty five year old, then she came out and promptly forgot it all. I would've been trying to cope for a long time, considering all the things I said to her. I think it bothered me way more than her.

So, now she's alone. Instead of trying to figure it out, guess what's she's doing...writing her memoirs. Unbelievable. Can't wait to read her version of unreality.

These people will destroy you if you let them, they actually enjoy it. Beware, stay away.

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

Indomitable spirit, eh? Can I be a psychopath too? Sounds like a great life. If it meant having an "indomitable spirit", I'd love to be an MN or a psychopath.

Har. Har. Har.

"Obviously, Jesse was a psychopath".

Yea. Such people are like robots Try putting a robot in solitary and the worst it would do is rust. Heh.

It's not so much sanity that he couldn't lose, but rather a soul. How can his spirit be broken when there's no spirit to break?

Anonymous said...

"Knowing his love of attention, and the pleasure he derived from his own notoriety, perhaps the fact that he has been mostly forgotten by society is its own kind of justice."

Yup. I never heard of him until this blog mentioned him, and then he'll be forgotten again.

Anonymous said...

Although I've been re-focusing when the ILs cross my mind, and it's so much better now, I have to admit it's still WORK. I have to make a conscious effort to re-focus. The damage left in their wake can be incredibly overwhelming.

Anonymous said that her sister is writing her memoirs --- and I recalled my FIL's "memoirs." Several years ago I bought him To Our Children's Children, A Journal of Family Memories.
He and I both enjoy genealogy, and I thought he would like this. He has filled out many pages and sent DH and I photocopies.

So DH gets sick. His siblings, having been hosted by us MANY TIMES, barely call him, complaining "it's too hard ON US."
Each of them come, take beds from my children, take food from our home. DH's father watched the whole thing, perched on my couch. Not one lifted a finger to help, but all wrung their hands and wept -- oh, and went swimming and to Walmart.
The morning after DH passed away, my BIL's wife called me. She explained that my BIL was SO DISTRAUGHT that he was UNABLE to speak directly to me to find out all the arrangements. Therefore, SHE would ask me questions and relay the info to him. We actually played this little relay game on the phone. She told me I have to understand, her husband had NEVER lost anyone this close before, didn't even remember losing his grandmother.

Guess because I had already lost 3 grandparents, this was old hat to me and my grief couldn't compare to his and I was CAPABLE of playing this little game.

Fast forward to the funeral, where all of them knew there would be an opportunity to say something nice about DH -- and they all sat there. Except FIL, who made disparaging remarks about DH in JEST (guffaw).

Then the sibs know I am upset they were silent. And they each tell me "But DAD said we really didn't know him. He left home at 19."

His "memoirs" tell a different story. he's so proud of raising 5 kids -- in it he wrote "not only are they siblings, they are all friends."

WTF????? LOL
Talking out both sides of his face again.

What they went to portray to posterity is NOT reality. But clearly they KNOW what reality SHOULD BE.

I have to assume there is SOME level of instrospection -- but only to the depth of "what do I want to hide?"

- Kathleen

Anonymous said...

Love your post, as always. But I must disagree on one point. You are too generous when you write that MN's don't mature past the age of six. It has been my experience, as the mother of two young children, that MN's don't mature past the age of four.

Anonymous said...

"He knew he would not have some of the amenities in the general population that he had in his solitary cell like being able to control the heat, having all the room he needed for his rather large personal library, as well as not having to work."

But, that's just it. He thrived because he had those things, and according to, he had exercises, visits from his mother until she died, bathed, wrote, and yes, had his books. Then, of course, there's the escapes that got attention.

Hell, I would have preferred that to the general prison populace, but then again, I've always been considered "weird".

Anonymous said...

I have to vouch for the not maturing past the age of four. My sister, no matter how old she was (she's now in her mid 60s) always acted like a bratty child. Even her stupid jokes were immature. She has a formidable intellect and can process difficult information (she LOVES theoretical physics, she gets to be a guru) but lacks the simple basics of human understanding. Like a child, she has to be the center of everything or she pouts. She's also a very accomplished musician and knows the Bible like a scholar, both ways to further her own guruness. But, in spite of her knowledge, she's a bore and leaves you feeling empty and unimportant when you interact with her. She actually called the police on me near the end of our relationship for yelling back at her, she started yelling at me and I returned like for like and she called them and said I was abusing her. I'll never forget the look of smugness as she sat there explaining to the cop what horrors I'd done to her emotional state. That was a real unmasking for me. The poor cop listened and then left, looking like "why did I choose this for a career." It was truly disgusting. I think what really set her off was my telling her she was insane, this really messed with her sense of superiority.

No contact, the only way to go. After a year of being NC, I still think of all the things she's done to me, I'm not yet free of her, but I'm getting better every day in every way. :)

Anonymous said...

Anna, How do you find good people to be around you? I have a history of having ns for friends and those who may not be full blown ns but have a lot of ns traits.Its caused me a lot of pain and I don`t want to keep making the same mistake.It`s hard for me to find good people.

Anonymous said...

One of the key problems of N's ever "reforming" is that even when supply fails them, they can switch on a dime from outsourcing NS to creating their own in-house NS. That post a few back on their ability to easily switch into fantasy mode really nailed down that concept in a way that made me really get it, and it has been real food for thought since then. Like they have their own internal NS generator that automatically switches on during an external NS power outage. One big permanent reason why we can't win by whatever means we try . Why judges and therapists can't get through to them. Even if everyone leaves an N and no one appeases, they can still power on, all by themselves, like zombies.

This mention of N's and solitary confinement made me think of an N I knew. When he was in midlife, I saw him completely lose his longtime supply base through a series of miscalculations that backfired [he was over confident from years of N success and by then too immersed in his own fantasy to realize his foolishness]. What did he do then, suddenly without the NS he lived off of for years? Unable to recreate the circumstances of a new inner circle of dependents, did he reform, reflect, change? Seek help? Try to make amends? [I am SURE his victims would have welcomed him back if he did] No. He put himself in "solitary", rather then face the world without NS on demand: he withdrew and became a near hermit. Before that, like many N's, he had his small group of NS suppliers/vicitms, and a larger group of friends/associates with whom he interacted somewhat "normally" and who had NO IDEA what an N he was covertly to his little group. But when he lost his NS victims - he actually stopped interacting with ANYONE. Not even the other people! Avoiding the interference of reality and resorting to their own fantasy world is a last card that they can play if all else fails. Yes - they will even voluntarily lose all their friends/family rather then be in a situation where their only option is to "play by the rules" like everyone else.

They always have a last pathetic card to play: and it is solitary fantasy, not reform. I also saw an older N relation do this. If anyone knocked at her locked door, they would see her shades all being pulled down one by one, and they'd ultimately give up.

Anna Valerious said...

One of the key problems of N's ever "reforming" is that even when supply fails them, they can switch on a dime from outsourcing NS to creating their own in-house NS....Even if everyone leaves an N and no one appeases, they can still power on, all by themselves, like zombies.

I agree. It is one of the key problems and explains so well why we can't break through to reform a N.

They always have a last pathetic card to play: and it is solitary fantasy, not reform.

Very succinctly stated. It sums up this blog post perfectly. Pomeroy fully illustrates this truth about Ns.

Anna Valerious said...

"Now We are Six" by Joanna Ashmun.

Anonymous said...

When I left my N husband after 4 years of dating and 9 months of marriage, I thought he would be devastated. He painted his bathroom the next day. I told him once that I never saw him cry. He said that I had never looked in his eyes when he was watching a movie. He kept himself constantly busy, and I told him it was so that he didn't have to look inside. The reasons for his behavior was always blamed on something or someone else.

Anonymous said...

Thanks again Anna for an inspiring and timely, if not creepy, blog. They never change, that's for sure. Not even when the consequences for THEM are dire. Having recently received my annual Christmas Hoover attempt from the sociopath ex-parent, I really needed to hear this. Especially this:
"You've exiled the malignant narcissist. Make sure it is until death." How true.

Anonymous said...

Wow! It's still hard to wrap my head around all of this, but I'm getting there! I would much rather deal with the pain of the truth than the games the N mothers have perfected to mess with our minds and souls!

My prior post is the second from the top, and I'm still at a loss about what to do with the gifts my mother sent to me. I've been NC with her for almost 3 months, so what's with the gifts, and the way they were signed? Something manipulative, no doubt, but I don't have a term for it and don't quite understand.

Would any of you mind telling me what you would do with Christmas gifts under these circumstances?

Anna, I can't say it enough...Thank you and God Bless!

Anna Valerious said...

About the gifts:

Don't spend too much time trying to figure out the way the gifts were signed. It isn't important. What is important is that you not give her supply by acknowledging the gifts or sending them back. Just get rid of them. Don't mention them. Act like it never happened. Those gifts are intended to buy her something. She doesn't care what. Attention. Appreciation. Anger. Any of those will do. So if you give her NOTHING, she loses.

Anonymous said...

Still, she gave Christmas gifts to my son to bring home to me. There were 6 gifts.....4 signed from Santa, 1 signed from her cat, and one signed with a "?"

If anyone here can help me, what the heck is that about???
*Cue Eyeroll* That ??? is a "stab" at you. You are supposed to feel guilt and shame because she *gasp* doesn't know where she fits in your life. Do NOT fall for it. My Mother pulls the same stunts, just different flavor.

Anonymous said...

This makes me think of the guy Pardo, in California - who dressed up like Santa and killed 1/2 his family after their divorce.

The media is feeling sorry for him and blaming the ex wife but if you read you see he hid money, had another son he was taking as a tax deduction but not giving ANY support too and had a history of being destructive in relationships.

Sure isolation can do those things but think about how many N/Ps isolate their victims as part of their own crazy-making!

Great post!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 12:41
Still, she gave Christmas gifts to my son to bring home to me. There were 6 gifts.....4 signed from Santa, 1 signed from her cat, and one signed with a "?"

If anyone here can help me, what the heck is that about???

Just a sick way to poke at you or get a reaction out of you. ANY reaction.

Pack up the gifts and send them back unopened. NO NOTE, NO EXPLANATION. NOTHING!!! If she tries to send them again, or any other mail - REFUSE DELIVERY (just write "Delivery Refused - Return to Sender" on it and stick it in the mail) Same with messages -- erase phone messages UNLISTENED TO. Delete emails UNREAD.


Anonymous said...

If you send the gifts back, you will be giving a response. Your mother wants a response. Don't give it to her.

She would be jumping in glee if she knew how much effort you are putting in to figure out why she signed the gift cards the way she did. You are doing exactly what she wanted you to do. Just forget about it and get on with the new year that is just around the corner.

In giving the gifts to your son to bring home to you, she is using him to gain contact with you. She will continue to do this and you can expect some more puzzles delivered to you in this manner. I also would be concerned that she might do things to make you look bad in your son's eyes. My N-mother did this to me and I didn't catch on to it for a long time.

Anonymous said...

""My Mother pulls the same stunts, just different flavor""

2nd here! I think if we had a show of hands we all have had this crap thrown at us to some extent. It's hilarious actually. My NM send me a birthday card this year with a bigger "gift" than normal and it was on time - It's NEVER been on time. Always an after thought. Of course that is coencidence because it was right after going NC. I put it and the check in the shredder where they belong! I agree -same lepord -different spots.

Anonymous said...

My last Christmas gifts came with tags that read my married last name only. In her reality I have no brain of my own and my husband had finally managed to win me from her after 15 years. No response works! This is the first holiday since going NC that my child has not received a card from her. She never attempted to disguise her handwriting, she just left off the return address. They are in a file with other documentation and some notes supporting going NC. Needless to say, this has been a no drama Christmas. It's the best gift I've ever given to myself and my family!


Anonymous said...

This is off topic but after going NC and clearing all of the mess of your life, getting your self worth back (or at all for us raised by Ns) are any of you in marriages where you think if you weren't so abused by the Ns that you never would have married this person? That you deserve much better (for once)? My husband is not an N by any means but not never cares that much (all words no actions). We have been married 10 years and I still struggle with him to treat me with the same repect he treats everyone else. Anyone else going through this? I can't help but feel like I deserve better.

Anonymous said...

Hi Anonymous: About your NMother's "gifts"- this is an extremely common tactic to get a response out of you and drag you back in. Or else to be able to tell other people how ungrateful you are because you accept gifts from her but you still won't talk to her.

Don't dwell the way they are signed. My kids and I have gotten anonymous gifts,too. Yeah, like we weren't supposed to know who sent them! Sociopath father's latest cards have return address labels with my mother's name (she's been dead over 10 years) and his new wife's address (He moved in with her after my mother died, having had a long extra-marital affair with her). My mother, his first wife, never lived at his second wife's house. So how do you explain return address labels with my mother's name on them- 10 years after she died? It's all just a mind game.

At first I sent things back until I did some reading on No Contact and realized that sending things back IS a response in the minds of many Ns. So I stopped. Checks to me and my kids were never cashed, and Nfather can just stew about that every month when he balances his checkbook and has to add in the outstanding checks. If cash was sent, I would have happily spent it on something nice and considered it payment for all the years I treated him well while he abused me. The way I see it, he OWES me. In your case, you can't just mark the gifts "refused" and mail them back because they weren't mailed in the first place. No way would I spend money on postage or waste my time driving to the post office. If it was something I liked, I would use it without batting an eye and consider it something I earned the hard way! If I didn't like it, I'd donate it to Goodwill. They have a lot of sneaky, manipulative tricks up their sleeves, but the key with No Contact is not to respond No Matter What. The worst thing you can do to an N, and the only thing that makes a dent, is to ignore them.

Anonymous said...

Any "gifts" I get are put aside. Then, whenever I feel up to it, I open them and they go straight into a bag to get taken to a local charity. Period. Cards get shredded.

I send no response at all, of any kind, ever. No indication that I ever received a thing.

I try to be one big button that no matter how it gets pushed by an N: NOTHING HAPPENS.

Anonymous said...

Thank you all sooo much for your comments about the "gifts!"

I think I understand why she signed them the way she did. I think she was being "coy" and thought it was cute. Sort of like "see? I'm not upset, why are you?"

I'm ticked that she gave them to my son to bring to me in the first place! Yep, she's trying to get to me all right!

My stomach still lurches when I think about what I'm going to do with those gifts. The thought of doing nothing at all makes me sweaty and nauseous. I've been taught very well to NEVER ignore a "kindness" from anyone, no matter who they are or what they've done. It's RUDE and nasty!

I'm still leaning toward putting the gifts in a box and mailing them back to her with a note basically stating that I can't accept them and if she refuses to be real with me, then leave me alone for good and forget she has a daughter.

Yes, I still hope that she'll "come around" but I know logically that this will never happen. I need to realize that in my heart though. She's 76 now and has always been this way, so why do I hold out hope that she'll change now, when I know she won't?

It's so hard!! I'm so happy to know that I'm (unfortunately) not alone and all of you understand!

Sister Renee, I spend a lot of time at the Luke site and can't even express how much strength and knowledge I draw from there!

Many of you mentioned that she just wants a response. I'm certain that the response she's expecting is a Thank You note gushing over the lovely gifts and for me to race back to her in gratitude. She was NOT expect the response of the gifts being returned with a note to leave me alone. In fact, I wonder if that would just do her in completely.

*sigh* why couldn't these "mothers" have been sterile?

(((Hugs))) to all of you!!

Anonymous said...

to anon 7:45 a.m. -

Whether your spouse is a narcissist or not, of course you deserve to be treated with at least as much respect as your spouse gives everyone else.

I only discovered what narcissism is after leaving my narcissistic, emotionally abusive spouse. After discovering that his character/moral defect has a name, I realized that he was very like my father, who I now understand is a malignant narcissist. I have been mostly NC with my MN father for years, but until recently didn't know that his awful conduct had a label.

So many questions were answered for me when I realized who/what these people are. I'm still struggling with how they become that way. Both these MNs in my life were raised by at least one MN parent. One of my two children is showing very strong signs of becoming a malignant narcissist. I can see now, looking back, that it began in her adolescence.

So, yes, I've been where you are. I hope your spouse is not a MN. If you ask him to change his behaviours and he is willing to do so for you, then in all likelihood he is not. But if you ask him to change the behaviours and he only behaves worse, I would think twice about spending the rest of your life with him. Normal humans aren't wired to live without caring and love. We do deserve better, and are doing ourselves a disservice if we don't work to live our lives in love.

Anonymous said...

If you return the gifts, you are feeding the narcissist. They will take whatever they can get from you, then twist it into narcissist food. Is that what you want to do? Do you really want your mom taking your note and showing it to family/friends as evidence of how mean you are? These people know no bounds, don't give them any fuel. Your guilt feelings are from her careful grooming all your life, ignore them, they have no basis. No contact means no contact, it's a self defense technique. Throw the gifts in the trash, get them out of your sight so they can't torture you anymore, that's exactly what they were intended to do, not to show any kind of love. DO NOT project your own kindness onto a N, it's a deadly mistake, narcissists have no such feelings, they're parasites.

Terry Scoville said...

I recently turned 50 and my N. brother gave me a book as a gift. It was written by a friend of his (maybe another N.) and I have never expressed an interest in his writings. A few weeks later my N tells me he gave me that book because he was/is acknowledged in the book. BFD, I immediately threw it away, it mad me sick. Of course it had nothing to do with me. Oh they can be so charming when they want/need a piece of you. We are basically all we have (so to speak) and I don't know how to go NC due to the fact that we are members in a club (shareholders) and I don't want to give up mu share. I just make sure we are not there at the same time.
Thanks for writing your blog, it has helped greatly. I feel sorry for my N. brother's kids. Very sad indeed.

Anonymous said...

What a life saver this blog is!! Thank you so much Anna, for writing all of this and to all the people commenting. It's amazing how all of this rings 100% true! To me, it's really amazing that so much could be written about one type of person, and it all fits with what "targets" of N's experience!

Besides the in-depth posts that are sooo helpful and TOTALLY describes N's so well, people's comments are a big help to me too.
I've yet to have a therapist or friend give me this kind of info/help, which is EXACTLY what I need.. how could dr.'s be so dumb? We've got to put the blame on and recognize the mind games being played for N's SICK enjoyment and learn how not to be a target ever again.

Many times people's comments will strike a cord with me and I'll realize things that I had forgotten ... so I thought I'd return the favor and join the conversations in hope of someone else maybe benefiting from my thoughts like I have from theirs.

My SIL is, what I like to refer to as, a bulimic, narcissistic freak! A 75lb, 3 time married for money and all H's have cheated on her (including current H), 100% phony baloney.

And I married the golden boy (he's a great guy) of the family. And since he really loves me, her wrath has come down on me hard... ever since the 1st day I met her... (that's a ridiculous story) but of course she's completely covert, and with a saccharine, sweet, condescending tone & smile. Like a nauseating I don't know what!

I have managed to stay away from her for 26 yrs... only having contact once or twice a yr. But now she lives 10 min. away and I have seriously almost lost my mind! They really get into your head and stay there!

The last straw was Thanksgiving. After being greeted with an insult about my looks, it went downhill from there. God, I hate they way they stick a dagger into you... when they are the ones who are hideous! They truly try to suck the blood, life and goodness out of you. So, I'm putting a stop to this. What they do is bad enough, but it's my non-action that really keeps me up at night.

So this is what I'm doing :)
I am not "buying into" her or anyone else's for that matter, reality! That thought is the BEST! It really is a "mind set" like Anna wrote in another post. I am not believing or accepting their version of life... I'll be living my own life, and acting accordingly my own way... after all, it's the only one I've got.

I delete all messages left on the phone (because I don't answer when she calls) I need to keep my blood and my sanity. My answer to her will be if she asks (doubt that she will, inside she knows she's a nasty human being) I'll just say: Oh, you're the second person who's told me that.... my voice mail must be messing up. This N really doesn't get sarcasm (too wrapped up in herself) and she really can't tell if I'm being sincere or not, especially over the phone... so it's perfect. And if she doesn't like it... too bad.

My feelings are that I can keep my integrity for goodness and decency and lie like a you-know-what to that bitch. I'm not above flat out lying to abusers who have gotten into my heart and head to hurt me for no good reason other than they are sick, twisted, people that will never stop and I will BS them till the cows come home if necessary.

You know, I think if we talked to wise old women... they'd tell us the exact same thing! There is nothing new under the sun and these people have been around for a long time. And you know what... alot of us here are about that age... so maybe we are the wise old women (and men) we've been waiting for .

I don't want to tell her NC because it would cause too much grief for me ...(we are moving soon, yea!) so I'm just going NC by the way of the bullshit train! All aboard.

getting smarter

p.s. I think my mom was a N lite. Which set me up to never stand up for myself with people close to me. I went NC with mom (she lied and bad mouthed me to B&S) and now both of my siblings have ostracized me... going on 6 yrs. Isn't that sweet.

Anonymous said...

This is a very interesting and shocking post on a horrible man, Anna!

What 'interests' me is that it caused me to think about Nmom and her increasingly reclusive old age. (She was always a bit of a SocialIdiot...and tended to be excluded...leaving ME as her 'company' and 'audience' for most all of her sorcery) As she has aged, she doesn't get out as much...rarely makes it to church (because they won't turn the music down by her demand.) and what few 'friends' she had are dead or pretending to be so they don't have to listen to her anymore.

My point? YOU ARE SO RIGHT! She has grown MORE vindictive and wicked and deceitful than ever in her isolation! Old age should be a time of reflection and pondering....a time of memories...making right the wrongs...shifting down....mellowing....all that. I believe it IS like that for decent and good people...people who care..people who know how to move over for the next generation. Am I making any sense here? But not an N! Nooooo....Nmom is picking up a 'head of steam' now.....It's awful.....the things I hear from others what she has said...(and not just about me, her NCdaughter) It's like the isolation has fueled her. Makes me sick....I feel like I'm watching something out of Lord of the Rings with all those dark creatures and cacklings and clankings and scritchin' and scratchin'....Sorry...just giving a picture of my skin crawlin'.

Good post. Firm stand. Truth spoken. (BTW...a late Merry Christmas. I haven't been able to get online for a week...just now catching up)

Anonymous said...

"so I'm just going NC by the way of the bullshit train!"

My feelings on how you're handling this is that all's fair in love and war, and with the N, it's truly WAR!! Carry on, good soldier.

Anna Valerious said...

Anna, How do you find good people to be around you? I have a history of having ns for friends and those who may not be full blown ns but have a lot of ns traits.Its caused me a lot of pain and I don`t want to keep making the same mistake.It`s hard for me to find good people.

You don't mention whether or not you're a child of a narcissist. I have noticed that those of us raised by narcissists seem to end up in multiple relationships with Ns, either romantic or platonic. My experience with this has taught me that being raised by a narcissist means we have very ill-defined personal boundaries, poorly tuned bullshit meters, and far too high of tolerance for the bad behavior of others because we have been taught to blame ourselves when others behave badly.

Time, maturity, knowledge seem to be the remedies for serial relationships for Ns. When you have a better sense of your right to have your own opinions, when you can draw a line and not feel guilty for enforcing it, when you can walk away when you detect bullshit, when you can assign the origin of bad behavior in the other person to THEM and not yourself, then you find yourself only brushing up against Ns and not getting enmeshed in them.

So, increase your knowledge base on narcissism as well as of yourself. You need to take good long looks inside to figure out your own vulnerabilities and areas where your thinking is muddled. Start learning where other's rights end and yours begin. Stop putting up with bad behavior. You'll someday find yourself with some good solid people in your life after you've grown yourself into a mature, honest and upright person. Like attracts like.

Anonymous said...

So, speaking of books: when will you put your blog in book form, Anna?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "bullshit train" here is an interesting experience I had with my MN ex a few years ago. At the time, I didn't know about narcissism.
Refering to our divorce papers, a point we disagreed on, the MN liar said, "Well I spoke to the best lawyer in St. Louis county and he said this "blah lielie blah"."
My reply was "Oh, well, I spoke to the best lawyer in Franklin county and he said " the complete opposite of blah lielie blah."
I could not believe that my MN ex didn't call me on that lie. Was it because he was lying too?
That was the first time I spouted back exactly what he was dishing out. It seemed like he believed what I was saying!!??
Is it explainable?
Hang in there, everyone. Stay strong and get them out of your trash.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous with the Christmas gift: Returning gifts to an N gives them N-supply. Negative attention is food for them.

Your choices as I see them:

Send the stuff back with a letter telling her that you will not accept any future gifts from her, and will take further action against her should she ignore you (don't specify, but this should then progress to a NC letter which does not get into JADEing -- samples can be found online);

Throwing away, donating, burning the stuff you already have and never mentioning it to her. Move it out to the garage. Don't leave it marking your turf for too long. Then purge your house of all the other cr@p she has given you over the years. You'll feel great. I know. I've done it.

Anonymous said...

Yes - the purging. I remember reading somewhere that you should never have anything in your house you don't love, and then sending everything my NMIL had given me to Goodwill. It was great! I didn't have to be reminded of her everywhere I looked.

Anonymous said...

A little OT... Has anyone else noticed that Ns not only lack introspection, but also don't grasp what's really going on in the outside world?

My ex-NF has always been ignorant of current events, which seems strange for someone so convinced of his intellectual gifts. Could it be because they are so enmeshed in their fantasy world that actual events aren't on their radar?

Anna Valerious said...

Not surprising, really. They are not inwardly focused in the sense of being introspective yet they are consumed with their own self-interests. This renders them insensible of the world outside them as well as the one inside them. Another way they remind me of children. Children have an excuse for not understanding the world around them. They lack knowledge and experience as well as the simple fact their brains are not developed. Narcissists just carry this ignorance into adulthood by will. Now, obviously, there are narcissists who are aware of some aspects of the world around them. But, again, it is only as that knowledge serves their personal agenda and gains them something for the effort.

Anna Valerious said...

By the way, ya'll. My computer went completely belly up yesterday. Kaput. A 'perfect storm' of colliding software gutted the brain of my computer. I am going to be busy putting things back together in the days ahead. I am only able to be online now due to the fact that my loving husband worked ALL DAY yesterday to get me up and running again. My appreciation will be demonstrated by a day of cooking and making him his favorite meal. My idea not his, by the way. So....hope ya'll bear with me as comments hang in moderation for too long and new posts fail to materialize in a timely manner. Between reconstructing all the stuff I need on my computer and enjoying the rest of the festive season I don't plan to "work" much for the next week.

Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Amen Anna!! And Happy New Year to you as well!! My mantra the last few months has been, "out with the old, in with the new"!! Looking forward to 2009!! And reconnecting w/ solid old friends!! And having a blast!! Be well everyone, treat yourself tenderly, appreciate the good that is to be found in this lifetime. There is hope!!! Love y'all!!

Anonymous said...

This is a little off topic but could you all (or yall where I am from =) ) please give me any advice you could me about dealing with NM's minions outside the family? In this case -my ILs, they are trying to guilt-trip me into contacting Nmonster. Of course this was started by constant "emotional" (*cough*faker*cough*)phone calls from my NM. I will not be party to a guilt trip by proxy but they won't let it go. Any advice is appreciated or if I could be directed to one of Anna's posts on the subject- I looked but may have missed it.

Thank you in advance!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post. I don't always see a distinction between some of the red flags -- I have always lumped them all together as "inappropriate behavior" whether it's attention-grabbing, controlling, belittling, and especially being envious when another is complimented (they all HATE that). Asking a child who has just lost her dad to comfort adults is most definitely backwards.

Thank you, Anna. And thank you, Sister Renee. I read your website all the time and then run to the Bible to read the verses you cite, and also the surrounding verses. What liberation!! THANK YOU!!

To the moron who reads the blog and says that people are okay until they break the law --- They Break God's Laws. That's a high enough authority fo ME!

- Kathleen

Anonymous said...

totally reaffirmed my intuition of years.. In the initial years, I could "smell" his motives, and " predict" the future.. To-day, improvement of the MN is minimal.. he keeps finding ways to bully me and children further.. There Is no " tangible proof" of his abusive behaviour.. I certainly have under gone an emotional roller coaster ride..I keep looking for Bigger justice" to happen and take care of my problem.. But after reading this site, my gut is assured again, that I must save myself rather than burn myself out by investing in his change. J.D. India

Anna Valerious said...

I must save myself rather than burn myself out by investing in his change.

Yes!!! You've distilled down to one sentence the whole message of my entire blog. I'm delighted to know that you're going to listen to what your gut has been saying for a long time now.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for creating this blog. I think people who have not had a malignant narcissist for a parent can understand the long-lasting damage it leaves, even after breaking off all contact. My mother was sadistic and abusive, punishing me for everything from my appearance, to the way I spoke, to the way I dressed...I could never do anything right. I spent my entire childhood and early adulthood trying to convince her that I was not a bad person, or a selfish or insensitive person. I have had absolutely no contact with her for three years now, and my panic attacks are only just beginning to subside. People like her thrive on crushing others. My mother would look quite satisfied and smug seeing me in tears after berating me and belittling me for some 'offense'. When I was seven,I accidentally spilled a glass of juice, this would, she would say, show my vindictive nature, as surely I did this to create laundry for her, that this was yet another example of my 'mean and spiteful' nature. I desperately tried to explain it was an accident, but she did not stop belittling me until I was I was crying uncontrollably. She then said 'Good, I hope you are sorry.' My entire life consisted of daily torture like this. I was told I was ugly, stupid, pointless, worthless, vile and so on, constantly. If any 'outsider' praised my achievements or appearance in front of her, I would feel the ugly sense of foreboding, knowing I was going to be punished for it somehow. Praise for me seemed to deeply offend her personally, and she would always make sure that I knew her opinion of me, and that anything positive someone else said did not count, as she knew the 'real' me.

To those of you who have cut off contact with a malignant narcissist - never go back there. It is hard enough trying to salvage what is left of your self-esteem, or sense of self-worth, or belief in your right to be happy without their constant abuse. All they know is how to be destructive. Don't ever fool yourself into believing this changes.

Anonymous said...

Boy oh boy do I know that story all to well as well. When I was in 3rd grade or something like that I fell down on the playground at school. I was wearing black tights. The schoolground was all asphalt. Well needless to say I came home with two holes in my stockings after school. She went nuts, she hung my tights on the Christmas tree to show my father when he got home. I don't remember what he did when he got home, but I was terrified, but nothing happened later. What a witch! When I tell people that story sometimes nothing comes out of their mouths cause it is just to wierd for normal folks to get.

Goodwins said...

Anna, You are an amazing writer!
Your words are like poetry to my ears. I really like your style of writing and I hope you are using your talents in the publishing world. Thank you for your blog. You have helped so many people including me.

We all do enter this world through the portals of mortals. We do not get to choose the portal. Some of us are blessed with parents that care, and some like us are left with parents that don't.

We got to shake the dust off us from our rough entry to earth. Unpeal the burnt cloths,cut the ropes that binds us to our crafts. Walk away from the rough landing and embrace what the Lord has for us!! There is so many wonderful blessing that there is to discover on this earth. And its time to get busy.

Thanks again Anna, I hope you keep writing here from time to time.