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DR. VAKNIN WEEKLY CASE STUDY: LAUREN

Submit a Case Study and Sam Vaknin, in person, will analyze your situation and offer insight, coping strategies, and remedies.


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DR. VAKNIN WEEKLY CASE STUDY: LAUREN

Postby WindSong » Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:24 am

I remember the first day I was introduced to his rage. We had known each other for a couple of years. We had been laying around in the living room at his house watching TV when a sitcom came on that I thought was entertaining and humorous. I left the channel there. He got up, looked at me and flew into a rage about the show. It was so sudden and so surprising. I don’t remember what he was specifically yelling about anymore. Something about “STUPID,” and “IMMATURE,” and “DEGRADING.” I sat their stunned, really not knowing what just happened. I was terrified by what I just saw and what I was hearing.




My dog had been staying with him because his house had more room outside. He went to bed, leaving me with the result of his rage. I picked up my dog and drove home. I lay in bed wide awake, still trying to understand what had happened. The phone rang.




“How dare you take the dog!!” he said. “How could you do that?!!” It didn’t make any sense to me. My breath shortened, my heart raced, and I know now that what I felt was just terror. His focus was not on his mistake of raging, but on the dog. Is this real? I tried to discuss the anger. He never acknowledged it. He just kept saying, “How could you?!!” It was as if I wasn’t talking really.




Maybe I wasn’t talking. Maybe it never happened because he does not acknowledge it. It is like my words fell on deaf ears, or flew out into a dark abyss. Maybe my feelings were not real, made up, only in my imagination. I convinced myself it was not real—my feelings.




We got married. One year into the marriage we had our first child. The second came three years later. Our second was a son born with multiple disabilities. I quit working to stay at home with our son and daughter. I drove 200 miles a day for nearly 3 years to doctors, and hospitals, for hundreds of events on the operating table. I stayed countless nights with my son in his hospital room, sleeping standing up or in the one chair that 3 other parents shared in a room filled with 4 cribs—a room about 10’ by 12’.




I would try and make an adventure out of these trips with both of my children by stopping by the beach and having a picnic, or stop at Denny’s for dinner. We talked about life, growing up, and the opportunities in every challenge. For nearly 10 years, I slept for about four 15 minute sound bites a night because our son was dying and I had to save him. I saved him from drowning in his own vomit during a seizure, from choking or drowning on his own mucus. I stayed awake to keep him alive. And that I did.




But, about once a month or so he would come home from work demanding that I “Get a job!!!” I would feebly ask his thoughts on what I should do to care for our son—who would care for him, where would he go?




There was the dark abyss again—my words fell on deaf ears. It’s as if I wasn’t really speaking. “Get a job!!!”







This was the pattern for the 16 years we were married. It just came more often as the years wore on. During his violent rages, he became increasingly more enraged. Although he would become very physically violent against inanimate things such as the vehicles, the walls, the washer. He never hit me. I heard him many times over the years how he “would never hit a woman,” when he would hear of domestic violence on the news or in the newspaper. He was proud of this.




Nearly every night he would open the dishwasher and in a rage would empty it. “No one knows how to stack the f….king dishwasher,” he would yell. The dishes would crash back on the kitchen counter and he would re-stack one at a time.




More than 10 years into the marriage, he discovered the syphilis he had contracted 20 years earlier (I did not know) had never been properly treated. I had to bring my two young children for a blood test to make sure they were clean of this disease. I had to lie to them about what it was for. I never lied and it felt so bad. Upon our arrival home, he was sitting in the hot tub I walked out to say hello and report how the day went. He was expressionless and clearly didn’t care. Tears started down my cheeks as I could see right through his chest and into his cold heart. He began imitating playing the violin as if he was saying, “What a sad story.”




Nothing could be moved around in the house. If I did move a chair, a picture—anything at all—his facial expression would instantly transform. It’s a look I quickly learned to dread, that caused my body to feel like all blood had just been drained It’s a look that meant I was to be chastised severely and that I must fear—a fear I never want to visit again.




Over the years, he criticized my cooking, tormented his daughter at every meal about her elbow on the table, or chewing with her mouth open. He drank. I learned to dread the sound of the ice dropping into his glass. “WHO PUT THIS ON CRUSHED ICE?!!!” He demanded the cubes even though it was the simplest of motions that would change the dimensions of the cubes. “I DON’T GET ANY RESPECT AROUND HERE!”




He would neglect his children when he was mad at me, and he would always choose golf over a couple of hours with his family on a Sunday.




I hated the rain because his work as in landscape maintenance would keep him at home on such days. My every move was scrutinized, and although nearly sleepless if I lay down to rest when my son was resting, I was not to be forgiven. I was lazy and needed to get a job. If I fell asleep on the couch in the evening while the family was watching TV, he would become incensed, and sometimes enraged.




He drank, raged, neglected, ran over a beloved cat, ignored his son’s cries of pain, nearly allowed his son to drown in the pool, dismissed his daughters pleas for him to stop raging, and emotionally tortured us for years. But, when the rages were over, he would walk up to me, give me a hug and say, “I love you.” One day I asked him how he could do this after his anger the night before. “Oh, get over it. That was last night.”

So, one day I couldn’t do it anymore. Thank God.




He left for work. I grabbed my 12 year old son who was in a body cast from hip surgery, my 15 year old daughter, 5 cats and 3 dogs. My daughter would not leave the animals to be cared for by such cruelty. We stayed in motel rooms who would accept animals (just never told them exactly how many we had). He would not leave the house so we could return. He tried to hunt us down, calling on my cell phone and saying, “Come home, I won’t hurt you.” I borrowed money from family, friends and wherever I could to pay for my attorney to keep my kids a roof over their head.




Only after my daughter wrote a letter to the judge, did the judge ordered him out of the house. There was no evidence of physical violence. But my daughter made clear that she feared it all the time—that she was afraid to go to sleep at night because “he might kill my mom while I was sleeping.”




But he kept coming back, breaking into the house. I told him, “Take it all, and don’t come back.” He would only come over to use the washing machine and dryer, to eat food from the refrigerator, to take a shower, to take little things that we would only eventually notice were gone. He did this all when no one was home. My daughter and I rented a U-Haul and packed his stuff up and put it in a rented storage space. I gave the key to my attorney to mail to him. He was enraged at my cruelty. One day I called him and said, “You come here again, I will call the police, have you arrested and make sure you go to jail.” His response, “Do you want to keep getting child support?” I hung up the phone.




I was able to get a job in the field of disabilities, found a mortgage broker willing to fudge my work record a little and bought his ½ of the house from him. He still came over, I called the police to have him arrested for trespassing on my property. The police just chuckled at the “domestic dispute.”




I sold the house, the kids and I moved 500 miles north. He drives 500 miles to make surprise visits, to spy on us, to torment us. I haven’t accepted money from him in years. He used it to manipulate, to threaten, to blackmail. We have been divorced now for six years.




I now know, he will never go away. He has said so. His daughter has not seen or spoke to him in 3 years. She has written him a letter saying, “I hate you from the bottom of my heart. You are evil.” He hires a private detective to find her, sends her emails to tell her he loves her. She now lives out of the country but has purchased pepper spray in the event he one day shows up at her door. He just might.




I own a gun now. I know how to use it. If he shows up, when he shows up, I will hold him at gunpoint and maybe the police will come and arrest him then. What happens if he doesn’t believe I will shoot if he comes any closer?




Restraining orders, court orders defining his restrictions and obligations to his children, mean nothing. He doesn’t care. He makes horrible accusations against me and my current husband. He spreads rumors, we respond with a letter from the attorney, and he doesn’t care.




He is a monster, and I (we) will never be rid of him and that I know for sure.




Questions for Dr. Vaknin:




1. I feel compassion for the newborn and the child he once was. What horrible things were done or not done to him? I want to stop hating him.




2. What can I do to help my children, more specifically my daughter, with the pain of having been dismissed by their father for every feeling they have ever had?




3. What can I do to forgive myself for having stayed with him for 16 years at great expense? I love my children beyond measure, and would never wish I did not have them. But why did I have children with this man?




4. What is it about my own self-esteem that would have drawn me to him in the first place and why did it take me so long to leave?




5. Will my children ever be absent of the pain their father (and my weakness for not leaving him earlier) has caused? In other words, will it ever just become a distant memory for them?
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Response #1

Postby samvaknin » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:41 pm

Hi, Lauren, and welcome aboard.

Your husband is a stalker. The worst thing you can do is try to "understand" the stalker, let alone feel compassion for him.

Pathological narcissism is a reaction to prolonged abuse and trauma in early childhood or early adolescence. The source of the abuse or trauma is immaterial - the perpetrators could be parents, teachers, other adults, or peers. Pampering, smothering, spoiling, and "engulfing" the child are also forms of abuse - see these:

http://malignantselflove.tripod.com/nar ... lance.html

http://malignantselflove.tripod.com/journal42.html

http://www.mentalhelp.net/poc/view_doc. ... doc/id/419

Surviving the Narcissist

Frequently Asked Question # 80

Narcissism, Pathological Narcissism, The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), the Narcissist,

and Relationships with Abusive Narcissists and Psychopaths

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin




Malignant Self Love - Buy the Book - Click HERE!!!

Relationships with Abusive Narcissists - Buy the e-Books - Click HERE!!!


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Question:

Is there a point in waiting for the narcissist to heal? Can he ever get better?

Answer:

The victims of the narcissist's abusive conduct resort to fantasies and self-delusions to salve their pain.

Rescue Fantasies

"It is true that he is a chauvinistic narcissist and that his behaviour is unacceptable and repulsive. But all he needs is a little love and he will be straightened out. I will rescue him from his misery and misfortune. I will give him the love that he lacked as a child. Then his narcissism will vanish and we will live happily ever after."

Loving a Narcissist

I believe in the possibility of loving narcissists if one accepts them unconditionally, in a disillusioned and expectation-free manner.

Narcissists are narcissists. Take them or leave them. Some of them are lovable. Most of them are highly charming and intelligent. The source of the misery of the victims of the narcissist is their disappointment, their disillusionment, their abrupt and tearing and tearful realisation that they fell in love with an ideal of their own making, a phantasm, an illusion, a fata morgana. This "waking up" is traumatic. The narcissist always remains the same. It is the victim who changes.

It is true that narcissists present a luring facade in order to captivate Sources of Narcissistic Supply. But this facade is easy to penetrate because it is inconsistent and too perfect. The cracks are evident from day one but often ignored. Then there are those who KNOWINGLY and WILLINGLY commit their emotional wings to the burning narcissistic candle.

This is the catch-22. To try to communicate emotions to a narcissist is like discussing atheism with a religious fundamentalist.

Narcissists have emotions, very strong ones, so terrifyingly overpowering and negative that they hide them, repress, block and transmute them. They employ a myriad of defence mechanisms to cope with their repressed emotions: projective identification, splitting, projection, intellectualisation, rationalisation.

Any effort to relate to the narcissist emotionally is doomed to failure, alienation and rage. Any attempt to "understand" (in retrospect or prospectively) narcissistic behaviour patterns, reactions, or his inner world in emotional terms – is equally hopeless. Narcissists should be regarded as a force of nature or an accident waiting to happen.

The Universe has no master-plot or mega-plan to deprive anyone of happiness. Being born to narcissistic parents, for instance, is not the result of a conspiracy. It is a tragic event, for sure. But it cannot be dealt with emotionally, without professional help, or haphazardly. Stay away from narcissists, or face them aided by your own self-discovery through therapy. It can be done.

Narcissists have no interest in emotional or even intellectual stimulation by significant others. Such feedback is perceived as a threat. Significant others in the narcissist's life have very clear roles: the accumulation and dispensation of past Primary Narcissistic Supply in order to regulate current Narcissistic Supply. Nothing less but definitely nothing more. Proximity and intimacy breed contempt. A process of devaluation is in full operation throughout the life of the relationship.

A passive witness to the narcissist's past accomplishments, a dispenser of accumulated Narcissistic Supply, a punching bag for his rages, a co-dependent, a possession (though not prized but taken for granted) and nothing much more. This is the ungrateful, FULL TIME, draining job of being the narcissist's significant other.

But humans are not instruments. To regard them as such is to devalue them, to reduce them, to restrict them, to prevent them from realising their potential. Inevitably, narcissists lose interest in their instruments, these truncated versions of full-fledged humans, once they cease to serve them in their pursuit of glory and fame.

Consider "friendship" with a narcissist as an example of such thwarted relationships. One cannot really get to know a narcissist "friend". One cannot be friends with a narcissist and one cannot love a narcissist. Narcissists are addicts. They are no different to drug addicts. They are in pursuit of gratification through the drug known as Narcissistic Supply. Everything and EVERYONE around them is an object, a potential source (to be idealised) or not (and, then to be cruelly discarded).

Narcissists home in on potential suppliers like cruise missiles. They are excellent at imitating emotions, at exhibiting the right behaviours on cue, and at manipulating.

All generalisations are false, of course, and there are bound to be some happy relationships with narcissists. I discuss the narcissistic couple in one of my FAQs. One example of a happy marriage is when a somatic narcissist teams up with a cerebral one or vice versa.

Narcissists can be happily married to submissive, subservient, self-deprecating, echoing, mirroring and indiscriminately supportive spouses. They also do well with masochists. But it is difficult to imagine that a healthy, normal person would be happy in such a folie a deux ("madness in twosome" or shared psychosis).

It is also difficult to imagine a benign and sustained influence on the narcissist of a stable, healthy mate/spouse/partner. One of my FAQs is dedicated to this issue ("The Narcissist's Spouse / Mate / Partner").

BUT many a spouse/friend/mate/partner like to BELIEVE that – given sufficient time and patience – they will be the ones to rid the narcissist of his inner demons. They think that they can "rescue" the narcissist, shield him from his (distorted) self, as it were.

The narcissist makes use of this naiveté and exploits it to his benefit. The natural protective mechanisms, which are provoked in normal people by love – are cold bloodedly used by the narcissist to extract yet more Narcissistic Supply from his writhing victim.

The narcissist affects his victims by infiltrating their psyches, by penetrating their defences. Like a virus, it establishes a new genetic strain within his/her victims. It echoes through them, it talks through them, it walks through them. It is like the invasion of the body snatchers.

You should be careful to separate your self from the narcissist's seed inside you, this alien growth, this spiritual cancer that is the result of living with a narcissist. You should be able to tell apart the real you and the parts assigned to you by the narcissist. To cope with him/her, the narcissist forces you to "walk on eggshells" and develop a False Self of your own. It is nothing as elaborate as his False Self – but it is there, in you, as a result of the trauma and abuse inflicted upon you by the narcissist.

Thus, perhaps we should talk about VoNPD, another mental health diagnostic category – Victims of NPD.

They experience shame and anger for their past helplessness and submissiveness. They are hurt and sensitised by the harrowing experience of sharing a simulated existence with a simulated person, the narcissist. They are scarred and often suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some of them lash out at others, offsetting their frustration with bitter aggression.

Like his disorder, the narcissist is all-pervasive. Being the victim of a narcissist is a condition no less pernicious than being a narcissist. Great mental efforts are required to abandon a narcissist and physical separation is only the first (and least important) step.

One can abandon a narcissist – but the narcissist is slow to abandon his victims. He is there, lurking, rendering existence unreal, twisting and distorting with no respite, an inner, remorseless voice, lacking in compassion and empathy for its victim.

The narcissist is there in spirit long after it had vanished in the flesh. This is the real danger that the victims of the narcissist face: that they become like him, bitter, self-centred, lacking in empathy. This is the last bow of the narcissist, his curtain call, by proxy as it were.

Narcissistic Tactics

The narcissist tends to surround himself with his inferiors (in some respect: intellectually, financially, physically). He limits his interactions with them to the plane of his superiority. This is the safest and fastest way to sustain his grandiose fantasies of omnipotence and omniscience, brilliance, ideal traits, perfection and so on.

Humans are interchangeable and the narcissist does not distinguish one individual from another. To him they are all inanimate elements of "his audience" whose job is to reflect his False Self. This generates a perpetual and permanent cognitive dissonance:

The narcissist despises the very people who sustain his Ego boundaries and functions. He cannot respect people so expressly and clearly inferior to him – yet he can never associate with people evidently on his level or superior to him, the risk of narcissistic injury in such associations being too great. Equipped with a fragile Ego, precariously teetering on the brink of narcissistic injury – the narcissist prefers the safe route. But he feels contempt for himself and for others for having preferred it.

Some narcissist are also psychopaths (suffer from the Antisocial PD) and/or sadists. Antisocials don't really enjoy hurting others – they simply don't care one way or the other. But sadists do enjoy it.

Classical narcissists do not enjoy wounding others – but they do enjoy the sensation of unlimited power and the validation of their grandiose fantasies when they do harm others or are in the position to do so. It is more the POTENTIAL to hurt others than the actual act that turns them on.

The Neverending Story

Even the official termination of a relationship with a narcissist is not the end of the affair. The Ex "belongs" to the narcissist. She is an inseparable part of his Pathological Narcissistic Space. This possessive streak survives the physical separation.

Thus, the narcissist is likely to respond with rage, seething envy, a sense of humiliation and invasion and violent-aggressive urges to an ex's new boyfriend, or new job (to her new life without him). Especially since it implies a "failure" on his part and, thus negates his grandiosity.

But there is a second scenario:

If the narcissist firmly believes (which is very rare) that the ex does not and will never represent any amount, however marginal and residual, of any kind (primary or secondary) of Narcissistic Supply – he remains utterly unmoved by anything she does and anyone she may choose to be with.

Narcissists do feel bad about hurting others and about the unsavoury course their lives tend to assume. Their underlying (and subconscious) ego-dystony (=feeling bad about themselves) was only recently discovered and described. But the narcissist feels bad only when his Supply Sources are threatened because of his behaviour or following a narcissistic injury in the course of a major life crisis.

The narcissist equates emotions with weakness. He regards the sentimental and the emotional with contempt. He looks down on the sensitive and the vulnerable. He derides and despises the dependent and the loving. He mocks expressions of compassion and passion. He is devoid of empathy. He is so afraid of his True Self that he would rather disparage it than admit to his own faults and "soft spots".

He likes to talk about himself in mechanical terms ("machine", "efficient", "punctual", "output", "computer"). He suppresses his human side diligently and with dedication. To him being human and survival are mutually exclusive propositions. He must choose and his choice is clear. The narcissist never looks back, unless and until forced to by life's circumstances.

All narcissists fear intimacy. But the cerebral narcissist deploys strong defences against it: "scientific detachment" (the narcissist as the eternal observer), intellectualising and rationalising his emotions away, intellectual cruelty (see my FAQ regarding inappropriate affect), intellectual "annexation" (he regards others as his extension, property, or turf), objectifying the other and so on. Even emotions that he does express (pathological envy, rage) have the not wholly unintended effect of alienating rather than creating intimacy.

Abandoning the Narcissist

The narcissist initiates his own abandonment because of his fear of it. He is so terrified of losing his sources of Narcissistic Supply (and of being emotionally hurt) that he would rather "control", "master", or "direct" the potentially destabilising situation. Remember: the personality of the narcissist has a low level of organization. It is precariously balanced.

Being abandoned could cause a narcissistic injury so grave that the whole edifice can come crumbling down. Narcissists usually entertain suicidal ideation in such cases. But, if the narcissist had initiated and directed his own abandonment, if it is perceived as a goal he set to himself – he can and does avoid all these untoward consequences. (See the section about Emotional Involvement Prevention Mechanisms in the Essay.)

The Dynamics of the Relationship

The narcissist lives in a fantasised world of ideal beauty, incomparable (imaginary) achievements, wealth, brilliance and unmitigated success. The narcissist denies his reality constantly. This is what I call the Grandiosity Gap – the abyss between his sense of entitlement grounded in his inflated grandiose fantasies – and his incommensurate reality and meagre accomplishments.

The narcissist's partner is perceived by him to be merely a Source of Narcissistic Supply, an instrument, an extension of himself. It is inconceivable that – blessed by the constant presence of the narcissist – such a tool would malfunction. The needs and grievances of the partner are perceived by the narcissist as threats and slights.

The narcissist considers his very presence in the relationship as nourishing and sustaining. He feels entitled to the best others can offer without investing in maintaining his relationships or in catering to the well-being of his "suppliers". To rid himself of deep-set feelings of (rather justified) guilt and shame – he pathologizes the partner.

He projects his own mental illness unto her. Through the intricate mechanism of projective identification he forces her to play an emergent role of "the sick" or "the weak" or "the naive" or "the dumb" or "the no good". What he denies in himself, what he is loath to face in his own personality – he attributes to others and moulds them to conform to his prejudices against himself.

The narcissist must have the best, the most glamorous, stunning, talented, head turning, mind-boggling spouse in the entire world. Nothing short of this fantasy will do. To compensate for the shortcomings of his real life spouse – he invents an idealised figure and relates to it instead.

Then, when reality conflicts too often and too evidently with this figment – he reverts to devaluation. His behaviour turns on a dime and becomes threatening, demeaning, contemptuous, berating, reprimanding, destructively critical and sadistic – or cold, unloving, detached, and "clinical". He punishes his real life spouse for not living up to his fantasy, for "refusing" to be his Galathea, his Pygmalion, his ideal creation. The narcissist plays a wrathful and demanding God.
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Response #2

Postby samvaknin » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:42 pm

Moving On

To preserve one's mental health – one must abandon the narcissist. One must move on.

Moving on is a process, not a decision or an event. First, one has to acknowledge and accept painful reality. Such acceptance is a volcanic, shattering, agonising series of nibbling thoughts and strong resistances. Once the battle is won, and harsh and agonizing realities are assimilated, one can move on to the learning phase.

Learning

We label. We educate ourselves. We compare experiences. We digest. We have insights.

Then we decide and we act. This is "to move on". Having gathered sufficient emotional sustenance, knowledge, support and confidence, we face the battlefields of our relationships, fortified and nurtured. This stage characterises those who do not mourn – but fight; do not grieve – but replenish their self-esteem; do not hide – but seek; do not freeze – but move on.

Grieving

Having been betrayed and abused – we grieve. We grieve for the image we had of the traitor and abuser – the image that was so fleeting and so wrong. We mourn the damage he did to us. We experience the fear of never being able to love or to trust again – and we grieve this loss. In one stroke, we lost someone we trusted and even loved, we lost our trusting and loving selves and we lost the trust and love that we felt. Can anything be worse?

The emotional process of grieving has many phases.

At first, we are dumbfounded, shocked, inert, immobile. We play dead to avoid our inner monsters. We are ossified in our pain, cast in the mould of our reticence and fears. Then we feel enraged, indignant, rebellious and hateful. Then we accept. Then we cry. And then – some of us – learn to forgive and to pity. And this is called healing.

All stages are absolutely necessary and good for you. It is bad not to rage back, not to shame those who shamed us, to deny, to pretend, to evade. But it is equally bad to get fixated on our rage. Permanent grieving is the perpetuation of our abuse by other means.

By endlessly recreating our harrowing experiences, we unwillingly collaborate with our abuser to perpetuate his or her evil deeds. It is by moving on that we defeat our abuser, minimising him and his importance in our lives. It is by loving and by trusting anew that we annul that which was done to us. To forgive is never to forget. But to remember is not necessarily to re-experience.

Forgiving and Forgetting

Forgiving is an important capability. It does more for the forgiver than for the forgiven. But it should not be a universal, indiscriminate behaviour. It is legitimate not to forgive sometimes. It depends, of course, on the severity or duration of what was done to you.

In general, it is unwise and counter-productive to apply to life "universal" and "immutable" principles. Life is too chaotic to succumb to rigid edicts. Sentences which start with "I never" or "I always" are not very credible and often lead to self-defeating, self-restricting and self-destructive behaviours.

Conflicts are an important and integral part of life. One should never seek them out, but when confronted with a conflict, one should not avoid it. It is through conflicts and adversity as much as through care and love that we grow.

Human relationships are dynamic. We must assess our friendships, partnerships, even our marriages periodically. In and by itself, a common past is insufficient to sustain a healthy, nourishing, supportive, caring and compassionate relationship. Common memories are a necessary but not a sufficient condition. We must gain and regain our friendships on a daily basis. Human relationships are a constant test of allegiance and empathy.

Remaining Friends with the Narcissist

Can't we act civilised and remain on friendly terms with our narcissist ex?

Never forget that narcissists (full fledged ones) are nice and friendly only when:

They want something from you – Narcissistic Supply, help, support, votes, money… They prepare the ground, manipulate you and then come out with the "small favour" they need or ask you blatantly or surreptitiously for Narcissistic Supply ("What did you think about my performance…", "Do you think that I really deserve the Nobel Prize?").

They feel threatened and they want to neuter the threat by smothering it with oozing pleasantries.

They have just been infused with an overdose of Narcissistic Supply and they feel magnanimous and magnificent and ideal and perfect. To show magnanimity is a way of flaunting one's impeccable divine credentials. It is an act of grandiosity. You are an irrelevant prop in this spectacle, a mere receptacle of the narcissist's overflowing, self-contented infatuation with his False Self.

This beneficence is transient. Perpetual victims often tend to thank the narcissist for "little graces". This is the Stockholm syndrome: hostages tend to emotionally identify with their captors rather than with the police. We are grateful to our abusers and tormentors for ceasing their hideous activities and allowing us to catch our breath.

Some people say that they prefer to live with narcissists, to cater to their needs and to succumb to their whims because this is the way they have been conditioned in early childhood. It is only with narcissists that they feel alive, stimulated and excited. The world glows in Technicolor in the presence of a narcissist and decays to sepia colours in his absence.

I see nothing inherently "wrong" with that. The test is this: if someone were to constantly humiliate and abuse you verbally using Archaic Chinese – would you have felt humiliated and abused? Probably not. Some people have been conditioned by the narcissistic Primary Objects in their lives (parents or caregivers) to treat narcissistic abuse as Archaic Chinese, to turn a deaf ear.

This technique is effective in that it allows the inverted narcissist (the narcissist's willing mate) to experience only the good aspects of living with a narcissist: his sparkling intelligence, the constant drama and excitement, the lack of intimacy and emotional attachment (some people prefer this). Every now and then the narcissist breaks into abuse in Archaic Chinese. So what, who understands Archaic Chinese anyway, says the Inverted Narcissist to herself.

I have only one nagging doubt, though:

If the relationship with a narcissist is so rewarding, why are inverted narcissists so unhappy, so ego-dystonic, so in need of help (professional or otherwise)? Aren't they victims who simply experience the Stockholm syndrome (=identifying with the kidnapper rather than with the Police) and who deny their own torment?

Narcissists and Abandonment

Narcissists are terrified of being abandoned exactly as are codependents and Borderlines.

But their solution is different.

Codependents cling. Borderlines are emotionally labile and react disastrously to the faintest hint of being abandoned.

Narcissists facilitate their own abandonment. They make sure that they are abandoned.

This way they achieve two goals:

Getting it over with – The narcissist has a very low threshold of tolerance to uncertainty and inconvenience, emotional or material. Narcissists are very impatient and "spoiled". They cannot delay gratification or impending doom. They must have it all now, good or bad.

By bringing the feared abandonment about, the narcissist can lie to himself persuasively. "She didn't abandon me, it is I who abandoned her. I controlled the situation. It was all my doing, so I was really not abandoned, was I now?" In time, the narcissist adopts this "official version" as the truth. He might say: "I abandoned her emotionally and sexually long before she left."

This is one of the important Emotional Involvement Prevention Mechanisms (EIPM) that I write about in the Essay.

Why the Failing Relationships?

Narcissists hate happiness and joy and ebullience and vivaciousness – in short, they hate life itself.

The roots of this bizarre propensity can be traced to a few psychological dynamics, which operate concurrently (it is very confusing to be a narcissist).

First, there is pathological envy.

The narcissist is constantly envious of other people: their successes, their property, their character, their education, their children, their ideas, the fact that they can feel, their good moods, their past, their future, their present, their spouses, their mistresses or lovers, their location…

Almost anything can be the trigger of a bout of biting, acidulous envy. But there is nothing, which reminds the narcissist more of the totality of his envious experiences than happiness. Narcissists lash out at happy people out of their own nagging sense of deprivation.

Then there is narcissistic hurt.

The narcissist regards himself as the centre of the world and the epicentre of the lives of his closest, nearest and dearest. He is the source of all emotions, responsible for all developments, positive and negative alike, the axis, the prime cause, the only cause, the mover, the shaker, the broker, the pillar, forever indispensable.

It is therefore a bitter and sharp rebuke to this grandiose fantasy to see someone else happy for reasons that have nothing to do with the narcissist. It painfully serves to illustrate to him that he is but one of many causes, phenomena, triggers and catalysts in other people's lives. That there are things happening outside the orbit of his control or initiative. That he is not privileged or unique.

The narcissist uses projective identification. He channels his negative emotions through other people, his proxies. He induces unhappiness and gloom in others to enable him to experience his own misery. Inevitably, he attributes the source of such sadness either to himself, as its cause – or to the "pathology" of the sad person.

"You are constantly depressed, you should really see a therapist" is a common sentence.

The narcissist – in an effort to maintain the depressive state until it serves some cathartic purpose – strives to perpetuate it by constantly reminding of its existence. "You look sad/bad/pale today. Is anything wrong? Can I help you? Things haven't been going so well lately?"

Last but not least is the exaggerated fear of losing control.

The narcissist feels that he controls his human environment mostly by manipulation and mainly by emotional extortion and distortion. This is not far from reality. The narcissist suppresses any sign of emotional autonomy. He feels threatened and belittled by an emotion not directly or indirectly fostered by him or by his actions. Counteracting someone else's happiness is the narcissist's way of reminding everyone: I am here, I am omnipotent, you are at my mercy and you will feel happy only when I tell you to.

Living with a Narcissist

You cannot change people, not in the real, profound, deep sense. You can only adapt to them and adapt them to you. If you do find your narcissist rewarding at times – you should consider doing these:

Determine your limits and boundaries. How much and in which ways can you adapt to him (i.e., accept him AS HE IS) and to which extent and in which ways would you like him to adapt to you (i.e., accept you as you are). Act accordingly. Accept what you have decided to accept and reject the rest. Change in you what you are willing and able to change – and ignore the rest. Conclude an unwritten contract of co-existence (could be written if you are more formally inclined).

Try to maximise the number of times that "…his walls are down", that you "…find him totally fascinating and everything I desire". What makes him be and behave this way? Is it something that you say or do? Is it preceded by events of a specific nature? Is there anything you can do to make him behave this way more often?
Remember, though:

Sometimes we mistake guilt and self-assumed blame for love.

Committing suicide for someone else's sake is not love.

Sacrificing yourself for someone else is not love.

It is domination, codependence, and counter-dependence.

You control your narcissist by giving, as much as he controls you through his pathology.

Your unconditional generosity sometimes prevents him from facing his True Self and thus healing.

It is impossible to have a relationship with a narcissist that is meaningful to the narcissist.

It is, of course, possible to have a relationship with a narcissist that is meaningful to you (see FAQ 66).

You modify your behaviour in order to secure the narcissist's continuing love, not in order to be abandoned.

This is the root of the perniciousness of this phenomenon:

The narcissist is a meaningful, crucially significant figure ("object") in the inverted narcissist's life.

This is the narcissist's leverage over the inverted narcissist. And since the inverted narcissist is usually very young when making the adaptation to the narcissist – it all boils down to fear of abandonment and death in the absence of care and sustenance.

The inverted narcissist's accommodation of the narcissist is as much a wish to gratify one's narcissist (parent) as the sheer terror of forever withholding gratification from one's self.

The Need to be Hopeful

I understand the need to be hopeful.

There are gradations of narcissism. In my writings I am referring to the extreme and ultimate form of narcissism, the Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). The prognosis for those merely with narcissistic traits or a narcissistic style is far better than the healing prospects of a full-fledged narcissist.

We often confuse shame with guilt.

Narcissists feel shameful when confronted with a failure. They feel (narcissistically) injured. Their omnipotence is threatened, their sense of perfection and uniqueness is questioned. They are enraged, engulfed by self-reprimand, self-loathing and internalised violent urges.

The narcissist punishes himself for failing to be God – not for mistreating others.

The narcissist makes an effort to communicate his pain and shame in order to elicit the Narcissistic Supply he needs to restore and regulate his failing sense of self-worth. In doing so, the narcissist resorts to the human vocabulary of empathy. The narcissist will say anything to obtain Narcissistic Supply. It is a manipulative ploy – not a confession of real emotions or an authentic description of internal dynamics.

Yes, the narcissist is a child – but a very young one.

Yes, he can tell right from wrong – but is indifferent to both.

Yes, a process of "re-parenting" (what Kohut called a "self-object") is required to foster growth and maturation. In the best of cases, it takes years and the prognosis is dismal.

Yes, some narcissists make it. And their mates or spouses or children or colleagues or lovers rejoice.

But is the fact that people survive tornadoes – a reason to go out and seek one?

The narcissist is very much attracted to vulnerability, to unstable or disordered personalities or to his inferiors. Such people constitute secure Sources of Narcissistic Supply. The inferior offer adulation. The mentally disturbed, the traumatised, the abused become dependent and addicted to him. The vulnerable can be easily and economically manipulated without fear of repercussions.

I think that "a healed narcissist" is a contradiction in terms, an oxymoron (though there may be exceptions, of course).

Still, healing (not only of narcissists) is dependent upon and derived from a sense of security in a relationship.

The narcissist is not particularly interested in healing. He tries to optimise his returns, taking into consideration the scarcity and finiteness of his resources. Healing, to him, is simply a bad business proposition.

In the narcissist's world being accepted or cared for (not to mention loved) is a foreign language. It is meaningless.

One might recite the most delicate haiku in Japanese and it would still remain meaningless to a non-Japanese.

That non-Japanese are not adept at Japanese does not diminish the value of the haiku or of the Japanese language, needless to say.

Narcissists damage and hurt but they do so offhandedly and naturally, as an after-thought and reflexively.

They are aware of what they are doing to others – but they do not care.

Sometimes, they sadistically taunt and torment people – but they do not perceive this to be evil – merely amusing.

They feel that they are entitled to their pleasure and gratification (Narcissistic Supply is often obtained by subjugating and subsuming others).

They feel that others are less than human, mere extensions of the narcissist, or instruments to fulfil the narcissist's wishes and obey his often capricious commands.

The narcissist feels that no evil can be inflicted on machines, instruments, or extensions. He feels that his needs justify his actions.
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Response #3

Postby samvaknin » Wed Jan 09, 2008 2:44 pm

Hi, Lauren,

I take the liberty of addressing your questions 2 and 5 together.

A while back a mother wrote to me. I reproduce our correspondence here as you may find it of some relevance to your situation.

In a nutshell:

2 - Show them what it means to be normal. Serve as a counter-example to their father.

5 - Let's hope the valuable lessons of life do not become mere distant memories for them.

Narcissistic and psychopathic parents and their children - click on the
links:

Nothing is Happening at Home

http://gorgelink.org/vaknin/wronghome-en.html

Genetics and Personality Disorders

http://samvak.tripod.com/personalitydisorders27.html

The Genetic Underpinnings of Narcissism

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal43.html

Narcissism at a Glance

http://samvak.tripod.com/narcissismglance.html

How Can I Save My Child from the Narcissist or Psychopath?

http://samvak.tripod.com/4.html

Narcissistic Parents

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq5.html

The Narcissist's Dead Parents

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq54.html

Parenting - The Irrational Vocation

http://samvak.tripod.com/parent.html

The Narcissist's Mother

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq64.html

The Prodigy as Narcissistic Injury

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal89.html

Leveraging the Children

http://samvak.tripod.com/abuse12.html

Tell Your Children the Truth

http://samvak.tripod.com/abuse13.html

The Narcissist and His Family

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq22.html

The Cult of the Narcissist

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal79.html

Narcissist, Beware the Children

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal36.html

The Narcissist as Eternal Child

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal92.html

The Inverted Narcissist

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq66.html

Intimacy and Abuse

http://samvak.tripod.com/intimacyabuse.html

The Narcissist is Looking for a Family

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal5.html

Adolescent Narcissist

http://samvak.tripod.com/case01.html

Portrait of the Narcissist as a Young Man

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal22.html

The Delusional Way Out

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal42.html

The Development of the Narcissist

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq25.html

The Dual Role of the Narcissist's False Self

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq48.html

The Roots of Pedophilia

http://samvak.tripod.com/pedophilia.html

The Butterflies are Laughing

http://gorgelink.org/vaknin/butterflies-en.html

Janusz Courts Dina

http://gorgelink.org/vaknin/janus-en.html

How Can I Save My Child from the Narcissist or Psychopath?
Narcissism, Pathological Narcissism, The Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), the Narcissist,

and Relationships with Abusive Narcissists and Psychopaths

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin

Question:

His father is a narcissist. We divorced a few months ago, but he has visitation rights. You wrote that "narcissism breeds narcissism". How can I prevent my child from becoming a narcissist under his father's influence?

Answer:

Your son is likely to encounter narcissists in his future. In a way, he will be better prepared to cope with them, more alert to their existence and chicanery and more desensitized to their abuse.

For this you should be grateful.

There is nothing much you can do, otherwise. Stop wasting your money, time, energy and emotional resources on this intractable "problem" of how to insulate your son from his father's influence. It is a lost war, though a just cause. Instead, make yourself available to your son.

The only thing you can do to prevent your son from emulating his father - is to present to him another role model of a NON-narcissist - YOU. Hopefully, when he grows up, he will prefer your model to his father's. But there is only that much you can do. You cannot control the developmental path of your son. Exerting unlimited control over your son is what narcissism is all about - and is exactly what you should avoid at all costs, however worried you might be.

Narcissism does tend to breed Narcissism - but not inevitably. Not all the off-spring of a narcissist inexorably become narcissists.

The Narcissistic parent regards his or her child as a multi-faceted source of Narcissistic Supply. The child is considered and treated as an extension of the narcissist's personality. It is through the child that the narcissist seeks to settle "open scores" with the world. The child is supposed to realize the unfulfilled grandiose dreams and fantasies of the narcissistic parent.

This "Life by Proxy" can develop in two possible ways: the narcissist can either merge with his child or be ambivalent towards him. The ambivalence is the result of a conflict within the narcissist between his wish to attain his narcissistic goals through the child and his pathological (destructive) envy of the child and his accomplishments.

To ameliorate the unease bred by such emotional ambivalence, the narcissist resorts to micromanaging the child's life through a myriad of control mechanisms. These can be grouped into: guilt-driven ("I sacrificed my life for you…"), dependence-driven ("I need you, I cannot cope without you…"), goal-driven ("We have a common goal which we must achieve") and explicit ("If you do not adhere to my principles, beliefs, ideology, religion or any other set of values, or if you don't obey my instructions – I will impose sanctions on you").

The exercise of control helps to sustain the illusion that the child is a part of the narcissist. Such sustenance calls for extraordinary levels of control (on the part of the parent) and obedience (on the part of the child). The relationship is typically symbiotic and emotionally vicissitudinal and turbulent.

The child fulfils another important narcissistic function – that of Narcissistic Supply. There is no denying the implied (though imaginary) immortality in having a child. The early (natural) dependence of the child serves to assuage the fear of abandonment, which is an important driving force in the narcissist's life. The narcissist tries to perpetuate this dependence, using the aforementioned control mechanisms.

The child is the ultimate Secondary Source of Narcissistic Supply. He is always around, he admires the narcissist, he accumulates and remembers the narcissist's moments of "glory", and owing to his wish to be loved he can be extorted into forever giving without ever receiving.

For the narcissist, a child is a dream come true, but only in the most egotistical sense. When the child is perceived as "reneging" on his chief duty (to provide his narcissistic parent with constant supply of adoration) – the emotional reaction is harsh and revealing.

It is when the narcissistic parent is disenchanted with his child that we see the true nature of this pathological relationship. The child is totally objectified. The narcissist reacts to a breach in the unwritten contract with wells of aggression and aggressive transformations: contempt, rage, emotional and psychological abuse, and even physical violence. He tries to annihilate the real child (brought to the narcissist's awareness through the child's refusal to act as before) and substitute it with the subservient, edifying, former version.

The narcissistic parent tends to produce another narcissist in his child. But this outcome can be effectively countered by loving, empathic, predictable, just, and positive upbringing which encourages a sense of autonomy and responsibility. Provide your child with an alternative to his father's venomous and exploitative existence. Trust your son to choose life over death, love over narcissism, human relations over narcissistic supply.
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Codependence and the Dependent Personality Disorder

Postby samvaknin » Fri Jan 11, 2008 4:26 pm

Hi, Lauren,

As to your other questions:

These may be of help - click on the links:

Rescue Fantasies - Surviving the Narcissist

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq80.html

The Malignant Optimism of the Abused

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal27.html

The Inverted Narcissist - Codependence and Relationships with Abusive
Narcissists

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq66.html

Codependence and the Dependent Personality Disorder

http://samvak.tripod.com/personalitydisorders22.html

The Dependent Patient - A Case Study

http://samvak.tripod.com/personalitydisorders56.html

Danse Macabre - Trauma bonding and the Stockholm Syndrome

http://samvak.tripod.com/abusefamily.html

The Cult of the Narcissist

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal79.html

The Narcissist's Victims

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq38.html

Victim Reactions to Abuse by Narcissists and Psychopaths

http://samvak.tripod.com/personalitydisorders70.html

Mourning the Narcissist

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq68.html

The Three Forms of Closure

http://samvak.tripod.com/abuse17.html

Back to La-la Land

http://samvak.tripod.com/journal78.html

The Spouse/Mate/Partner of the Narcissist

http://samvak.tripod.com/faq6.html

Divorcing the Narcissist and the Narcissistic Psychopath - How Do I Get Rid
of Him?

http://samvak.tripod.com/5.html

Traumas as Social Interactions

http://samvak.tripod.com/trauma.html

How Victims are Affected by Abuse

http://samvak.tripod.com/abusefamily21.html

How Victims are Affected by Abuse - Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

http://samvak.tripod.com/abusefamily22.html

How Victims are Affected by Abuse - Recovery and Healing

http://samvak.tripod.com/abusefamily23.html

Narcissists and Personality disordered Mates, Spouses, and Partners

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/na ... ssage/5013

Projection and Projective Identification - Abuser in Denial

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/na ... ssage/5002

Approach-Avoidance Repetition Complex and Fear of Intimacy

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/na ... ssage/5000

Guilt? What guilt?

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/na ... ssage/4931

Narcissists, psychopaths, sex, and marital fidelity

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/na ... ssage/4920

The Narcissist or Psychopath Hates your Independence and Personal Autonomy

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/na ... ssage/4959

I miss him so much - I want him back!

http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/na ... ssage/4934

Take care.

Sam
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