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Posts Tagged ‘Narcissism’

What do Emperor Nero, Warren Beatty, Rev. Jim Jones and a guitarist known as El Prickito have in common with Muammar Gaddafi?

They’re all narcissists.

The NHS definition of NPD:

Narcissistic personality disorder is a condition in which people have an inflated sense of self-importance and an extreme preoccupation with themselves

The causes of this disorder are unknown …

A person with narcissistic personality disorder may:

* React to criticism with rage, shame, or humiliation
* Take advantage of other people to achieve his or her own goals
* Have excessive feelings of self-importance
* Exaggerate achievements and talents
* Be preoccupied with fantasies of success, power, beauty, intelligence, or ideal love
* Have unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment
* Need constant attention and admiration
* Disregard the feelings of others, and have little ability to feel empathy
* Have obsessive self-interest
* Pursue mainly selfish goals

It’s this article that had me researching narcissistic personality disorder again today, even though it has been a topic here on the blog recently.

Given the present circumstances in Libya a revisit is timely.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has a narcissistic personality disorder which makes him feel all-powerful and rebel against those who criticise him, a Libyan exile said on Tuesday.

“He feels grandiose and omnipotent… he thinks only of his own interests,” David Gerbi said at a presentation at the University of the Witwatersrand.

“He’s killing people in pursuit of power,” he said.

Yes, much like another famous narcissist, Adolph Hitler, and as with Hitler there is no dealing to be done, no sense to be made, no compromises possible, as is shown in a definitive look at narcissistic personality disorder:

Trying to reform narcissists by reasoning with them or by appealing to their better nature is about as effective as spitting in the ocean. What you see is what you get: they have no better nature. The fundamental problem here is that narcissists lack empathy.

Lacking empathy is a profound disturbance to the narcissist’s thinking (cognition) and feeling (affectivity). Even when very intelligent, narcissists can’t reason well.

Gaddafi had managed, through some pretty typical narcissistic practices … lies, schmoozing, bribery … to “charm” his way out of his previous incarnation as the epitome of evil, but the present circumstances that throw himself in his face are completely intolerable and “deserve” nothing less than everything he can lob at those with the audacity to find him anything other than the perfect leader.

Yesterday’s declaration of a ceasefire is followed today by a full-scale attack on Benghazi, and no matter what he says, what promises he may make under whatever duress the international community may actually … eventually … exert, this man will never do as much as acknowledge a single fault.

It’s worth some time to examine how it is that some so obviously suffering such an obnoxious personality disorder manage to so often get what they want. The fact that they’re tenacious certainly works for them, as does a complete lack of ethics which allows employment of anything it takes to get ahead.

Complicating matters considerably, however, is the healthy person’s incomprehension … disbelief, even … that such heartless cruelty can actually exist in another human being.

Could millions of pre-WWII Germans have signed on to Naziism had they been able to conceive of the true mind of Hitler? Of course there were many reasons his shit floated, but had he not the compulsion to feed his ego machine things could have been much different.

Would those hundreds of People’s Temple folks have served up the Kool-Aid if they’d noticed early on that Jim Jones had a bit of an issue with power and control and put him in his place?

The Reverend, Hitler, Gaddafi … Warren Beatty, even … with their grandiose come-ons, promises of whatever and outright lies lull the unsuspecting into the fold, then hammer them into the ground in hopes they never raise their eyes or voices again.

“Normal” people who see the world as a somewhat ordered state where actions make sense assume others recognize right from wrong without understanding that in the narcissists mind the only “right” is theirs and everything else is just wrong.

That’s not an easy mindset to grasp for the empathic, the healthy, but when the narcissist has an army at his beck and call others need to realize what they’re dealing with. I can only hope … with little faith … that the UN and nations now contemplating Libya are getting the picture.

As for the run-of-the-mill narcissist … well …

Now, it is possible to have a relatively smooth relationship with a narcissist, and it’s possible to maintain it for a long time. The first requirement for this, though, is distance: this simply cannot be done with a narcissist you live with.

Well … yeah … but even the distance thing gets old …

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A: Just one — but he has to wait for the whole world to revolve around him.

Yesterday’s post on negotiating the junction where narcissist meets liar brought further investigation on the condition known as Narcissistic Personality Disorder and had things jumping off the page and many thoughts popping up in the process.

With no too few sites and forums set up by and for victims of relationships with narcissists, I’m wondering how any of these folks ever manage to even get a date, much less a commitment out of anyone.

Sure, they’re charming as anything and don’t break out the devious shit for a while, and that certainly baits the hook, but in reading how uniformly narcissists conform to their disorder, it seems most would be more clued in to spotting trouble and running like hell.

Of course, red flags are often ignored early in togetherness, and with the bag of tricks any decent narcissist has available they could be looking more rosy than red when used to divert attention or cover up. And who wants to let their mind run to such dire conclusions at the beginning of what seems to have so much potential?

Letting those flags wave about and wrap around a person can be dangerously smothering, though. Here’s a selection of what there is to look forward to if those annoying little quirks you’re noting get time to bloom:

Common Behaviours of a Narcissist

* ‘Me versus You’ mentality;
* Competitiveness;
* ‘Tit for tat’ retaliations;
* Striving for the ‘spotlight’ and attention;
* Excessive generosity to outside people;
* Uncomfortable when others are incurring attention or praise;
* If can’t be centre of attention will either discredit or leave the experience;
* May fake illnesses or problems to procure attention / sympathy;
* Abusive verbal behaviour when angered or insecure;
* Tendency toward violent and even criminal behaviour;
* Inappropriate and inapplicable language in front of women and children;
* Dark moods that affect others;
* False promises;
* Glorifies and falsifies achievements past and present;
* Expects to be recognised and praised;
* Finds others not complying with wants intolerable;
* Extreme sensitivity to criticism;
* Extreme defensiveness when confronted;
* Pathological lying;
* Disdain for rules, regulations, decency and morality;
* Childish outbursts and behaviour;
* Very little consideration for how behaviour affects others;
* Extreme lack of compassion or sensitivity towards love partners (and others’) problems;
* Grossly unsupportive to familiars in times of need;
* Brushes incidences under the carpet;
* Uses allies real or imagined to back up claims and arguments;
* Uses guilt and manipulation to influence love partners;
* Doesn’t trust love partners;
* Tendency towards unreasonable jealousy and possessiveness;
* Capable of sexually degrading name calling;
* Can steal, harm or hide property to sabotage love partners;
* Uses vengeance, threats and intimidation to control ;
* Uses excessive charm and manipulation to control;
* Little (if any) sense of conscience;
* Discredits love partners to gain attention / sympathy from others;
* Will ‘attack’ when confronted or questioned;
* Emotionally punishes love partners when feeling insecure;
* Emotionally punishes love partners when they are struggling with issues, losses, grief or challenges;
* Employs unpredictable and unaccountable behaviour;
* Capable of ‘disgusting’ behaviour to gain the upper hand and control a situation;
* Feels powerful and fulfilled when creating powerlessness in another;
* Gross failure to apologise or have sympathy after creating tears, distress or trauma to the love partner.

As mentioned, the web is rife with accounts from people who’ve come out the other side of relationships with narcissists, but what I’m not finding is anything from folks who’ve found some peace with their totally self-involved partners, but it must happen. Certainly not every narcissist ends up alone, although strings of short-term attachments are the most common form of connection for them.

Is it possible to have some version of happiness when linked with someone so self-centered as to think their partner little more than a serviceable appendage?

I’m guessing there is.

Although a two-narcissist combo could be disastrous, with enough resources it might work. Some Hollywood marriages may function this way when both partners are getting the strokes they require from a wider audience and there’s money to feather both nests in the style each demands. Keeping whatever balance is required to have both partners convinced they’re ahead of the game would be tough, but it seems possible given the excesses available.

Another good match for a narcissist might be the masochist. Some do need to be needed, and if that means one is driven to serve as both an audience and a doormat perhaps some folks can find fulfillment with someone who requires both. There are those who enjoy living the life of Trilby and seek out their own Svengali, forever more relinquishing control while contentedly hunkering down in the back seat.

What better setup could there be for someone looking to give everything, yet get nothing back than this?

These people are geniuses of “Come closer so I can slap you.” Except that’s not the way they think about it, if they think about it — no, they’re thinking, “Well, maybe you do really care about me, and, if you really care about me, then maybe you’ll help me with this,” only by “help” they mean do the whole thing, take total responsibility for it, including protecting and defending them and cleaning up the mess they’ve already made of it (which they will neglect to fill you in on because they haven’t really been paying attention, have they, so how would they know??). They will not have considered for one second how much of your time it will take, how much trouble it may get you into in their behalf, that they will owe you BIG for this — no, you’re just going to do it all out of the goodness of your heart, which they are delighted to exploit yet again, and your virtue will be its own reward: it’s supposed to just tickle you pink to be offered this generous opportunity of showing how much you love them and/or how lucky you are to be the servant of such a luminous personage. No lie — they think other people do stuff for the same reason they do: to show off, to perform for an audience. That’s one of the reasons they make outrageous demands, put you on the spot and create scenes in public: they’re being generous — they’re trying to share the spotlight with you by giving you the chance to show off how absolutely stunningly devoted-to-them you are. It means that they love you …

The trouble, however, comes when normal, reasonably well adjusted people find themselves attached to a narcissist … sooner or later, they’re going to want something in return. When that shit hits the fan things get ugly.

Demanding honesty or recognition or appreciation or respect … demanding anything … is nothing less than unreasonable under the circumstance as it’s beyond the scope of the narcissistic personality to deliver.

As explained here:

There’s only one way to get decent treatment from narcissists: keep your distance. They can be pretty nice, even charming, flirtatious, and seductive, to strangers, and will flatter you shamelessly if they want something from you. When you attempt to get close to them in a normal way, they feel you are putting emotional pressure on them and they withdraw because you’re too demanding. They can be positively fawning and solicitous as long as they’re afraid of you, which is not most people’s idea of a real fun relationship.

Nope … not most people’s idea of fun, but perhaps it does work for some.

Anyone can fall into a relationship with a narcissist, but it seems only by finding either some equality in dueling egos or giving up and in completely will keep it going for long.

Apparently, Alanis Morissette did, at one time, fall in, then climb out, since she sums it all quite nicely in her song “Narcissus” …

I wonder if the guy she wrote this about knows that, for once, it really IS all about HIM …

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Pants on Fire

“I love you, and because I love you, I would sooner have you hate me for telling you the truth than adore me for telling you lies.” ~ Pietro Aretino

I’m prompted today to do some research into lying … reasons for, roots of, ways of dealing with … and have come across some interesting material.

I’m not surprised by the huge number of lying-related sites online since sooner or later almost everyone finds themself trying to cope with a liar, but the consistency in the various reports has been eye opening.

Seems that lying should be easy enough to suss out and lead one to twig early on that you’re dealing with someone who has a very casual relationship with truth. The problem is, however, that honest people never quite get how deep the lying thing lies.

There are several diagnostic terms for types of liars …

A sociopath is typically defined as someone who lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little concern for others. A sociopath is often goal-oriented (i.e., lying is focused – it is done to get one’s way). Sociopaths have little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others. Sociopaths are often charming and charismatic, but they use their talented social skills in manipulative and self-centered ways.

A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right. Compulsive lying is usually thought to develop in early childhood, due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary. For the most part, compulsive liars are not overly manipulative and cunning (unlike sociopaths), rather they simply lie out of habit – an automatic response which is hard to break and one that takes its toll on a relationship (see, how to cope with a compulsive liar).

The terms Pathological Liar, Habitual Liar and Chronic Liar are often used to refer to a Compulsive Liar.

Not that attaching the correct ID is helpful:

Ultimately, making this type of distinction may not be that useful. Because in either case, the outcome is typically the same: dealing with a compulsive or pathological liar is very difficult to do. And unfortunately, sociopaths cannot be changed.

Although having a liar in your life is annoying at best … soul-crushing is more often the result … it seems there’s little anyone can do to change the situation, and that includes the liar.

And like any behavior which provides comfort and an escape from discomfort (i.e., alcohol, drugs, sex), lying can become addictive and hard to stop. For the compulsive liar, lying feels safe and this fuels the desire to lie even more.

Making matters even more complicated, compulsive lying is often a symptom of a much larger personality disorder, which only makes the problem more difficult to resolve (see, narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder).

As a manifestation of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, lying is a foundation stone and a basic in relationships and there’s no way to avoid the fact that involvement with a narcissist will mean being lied to.

Another symptom of narcissism is pathological lying. Purposeful lying is narcissistic and is born from a need to manipulate in order to control. This characteristic began at a very early age. The narcissist never matured to the level where he accepted essential emotional truths: lying creates distrust and separation with others. It destroys relationships.

To be honest (and therefore vulnerable) terrifies the narcissist. He fears this will equate to being controlled by others. He needs to uphold lies so people don’t discover the truth of who he really is. The narcissist finds comfort in not being pinned down, and not being accountable. More lies are necessary to cover up a previous lie. The pathological lies become malignant and the high-level narcissist scripting an illusionary life begins to believe his own versions. This is why pathological lying is so hard to detect, and may even pass a polygraph. Additionally the narcissist doesn’t suffer a guilty conscience. He believes he’s entitled to lie. It’s the only way he knows how to operate in a world of ‘me versus you’ without the emotional resources to trust. The tragic thing is: narcissists genuinely believe everyone else thinks and feels exactly the way they do. They don’t trust anyone. The narcissist makes sure he gets you before you can get him.

The quotes refer to “he” because it’s reported that 75% of narcissists are men, but knowing a few females who wear the assignation proudly … or not … it’s not an attractive quality in either sex, although they certainly wouldn’t see it that way.

That research into lying led to narcissism is interesting and the two do dovetail in disturbing ways. It makes too much sense that one who lies lives in a self-centered circle in which others are meant to be drawn into an orbit where gravity is controlled through whatever means available, and lying, to a liar, is an easy method of control. There’s no doubt that the person on the receiving end of lies stands on ever-shifting ground, and that imbalance works to the advantage of the one in charge of the circle.

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you>” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

So, after a lot of reading I’m left with a sense of sad futility. There’s just no helping some or fixing broken people who have no idea how visible their fractures are to the rest of us. Of course, not caring one whit what others think or how much damage can be done is pretty handy, but I still find it heartbreaking.

That humans are flawed is a fact no one can ignore. That flawed people do damage is another. That this particular flaw is so prevalent is most disturbing.

I do hate being lied to and knowing I’m just one of many hearing the same bloody lies doesn’t make me feel any better about it. (Classically, narcissistic liars insist their behavior is specific, although this is far from the truth. Everyone gets the same treatment since it’s never about YOU, but always about ME.) At least I have the good sense to recognize the lies and understand it’s not my reflection glaring, and that helps a bit, although it does little to relieve the frustration that comes with endless strings of useless lies.

Still makes me sad, though, and especially sad for the liar who just can’t stop. It must be a very stressful and disappointing way to live, and although it’s easy enough to say, “Just stop lying and start telling the truth, FFS,” it’s apparently not that simple for those so hooked.

As with any addict, consequences can be dire, the damage spreads beyond the individual and there is no dignity in a life of lies … which is why, I suppose, the word shameless fits so well with liar, although shameful works, too.

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