Those of us who are ACONs and didn’t become narcs ourselves really are the lucky ones.
Narcissism, as I’ve written so many times, is a family disorder and is passed on through generations, both through the genes (as a predisposition, not as a “bad seed,” which I don’t believe in) and through early childhood abuse and neglect.
I’ve read so many of Sam Vaknin’s writings from his personal journal now. He is an ACON just like us but was never able to escape from developing the disorder himself, in spite of his insight and high intellectual ability. The abuse he suffered at his mother’s hands was horrific. With loving parents he may not have developed NPD.
I am also pretty sure my MN mother was sexually abused. I wrote about her childhood in this post. She never actually said she was, but she’s never talked much about her past. Most of what I know I pieced together from bits of information others told me. But even though sexual abuse was never mentioned, I strongly suspect she was and it would explain a LOT.
My MN ex was abused by his mother too. I haven’t written a lot about it, but someday soon I will. His mother was a malignant narcissist who mas a master manipulator and gaslighter, and physically abusive too.
I thought, “that could have been me.” It could have been any of us.
There are narcissists much worse than Sam, who have no insight and no desire to help others avoid people like themselves. Sam and his wife have chosen not to have children because of the devastating effects NPD could have on them–either as its victims or inheritors of the disorder. The fact he doesn’t want to burden a potential child with that proves to me he must have some semblance of a conscience, even if he thinks he doesn’t. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have NPD but he probably isn’t that malignant compared to some truly evil people out there. I wouldn’t call him a benign narcissist either though–his behavior in “I Psychopath” was pretty intolerable, for the most part, even if he made me laugh sometimes. Sometimes I feel sorry for his wife, who seems like a meek, codependent type and scored very high in empathy on the tests she had to take in that film. I hope he treats her well. But because he’s a narcissist, he probably doesn’t, even if he tries to.
I have complained endlessly about my disorders and the effects of narcissistic abuse on me at the hands of my family and my ex (as well as previous boyfriends before him–I’ve ALWAYS been attracted to narcissistic men, which is why I won’t enter into another romantic relationship ever again). But you know what? For all my social awkwardness, PTSD, BPD, avoidant personality, low self esteem, debilitating anxiety and hypervigilance, and intermittent major depressions, I wouldn’t trade any of that in exchange for Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I could have EASILY become a narc. So could any of you reading this who suffered similar abuse, because you may have the gene for it or it runs in your bloodline, like it does in my FOO.
Maybe we suffer more than someone with NPD (although someone like Sam definitely suffers in his own way), but we have hope. We can get better. We can heal ourselves either through traditional therapy or writing about it. We can separate ourselves from the malignants and the psychopaths who hurt us (narcs can never escape from themselves and make no mistake–they are dangerous to themselves). Our healing may take a long time, it may not be easy, but we can get well. We can become whole, happy people. Because we have the willingness.
Narcissists do not. Their true self is so damaged and atrophied it can’t be accessed and the masks have no desire to get better, because the are just masks. The more malignant the narcissist, the less hope there is for them. The are the cursed ones. They are trapped in their sickness. The really unfair thing is, in most cases this was something done to them. That doesn’t excuse the way they act, but they never had a choice.
We were the lucky ones. We have hope because we never lost our true selves. Think about that the next time you feel like you’re worthless because of the mindgames your narc plays with you.