Down the rabbit hole.

rabbit_hole

This blog has existed for nearly a year and I’ve come to care about all of you who read it. I hope some of you have found it helpful in navigating your world after narcissistic abuse. But more than anything, this blog has been a journey of self discovery since I left my malignant narcissist ex. It’s been a wonderful tool, but part of the process of self discovery is learning things about yourself you didn’t want to know. That’s why I’m writing this article.

It’s the hardest article I’ve ever had to write.

For several days I’ve mulled over how I was going to talk about it. I know it’s not going to go over too well for some. I fully expect some of you to leave and if that’s what you decide to do, I can’t say I blame you and it’s okay. I understand. For what I’m about to say will probably shock some of you as much as it shocked me.

But to say nothing would be to misrepresent myself so rather than take down this blog (which would be akin to giving away a pet you love), I’m going to stick to my original vow to be honest, no matter how much it hurts and regardless of the consequences. It’s the only right thing to do; to continue blogging about narcissism without writing this post would make a fraud out of me.

A little background.

Here’s a quick background for those of you who may be new to this blog. A year ago I started journaling on WordPress as self therapy because my life was shattered after 27 years of abuse at the hands of a malignant narcissist after having been raised by one (and possibly two). In 1996 I was hospitalized with major depression and anxiety and diagnosed with BPD while in the hospital. I took the DBT classes but at the time didn’t take it very seriously and didn’t use the tools as well as I should have. I kept the workbook though, and last year after I got out of my abusive relationship with my ex, I started to use the tools again and they do help but it’s no cure.

Several things have led to the breakthrough I’m about to describe–writing a LOT about my feelings and recovery from narcissistic abuse, reading as much about narcissism, BPD and PTSD as I could get my hands on, trying my best to always be honest no matter how painful or embarrassing (but not always succeeding), and finding God and prayer. It’s been an incredible roller coaster ride.

I’d been praying daily for the ability to regain the easy access to my emotions I had as a child, only tempered with the wisdom and restraint of an adult. I kept reading, writing, and trying to elicit emotion through music, movie-watching, and self-reparenting. This required making myself as vulnerable as possible. I even took myself to see “Inside Out,” which loosened something inside me but not quite enough. It was like one of those almost-sneezes that never quite comes out and leaves you wanting to punch a wall in frustration. Nothing much happened after that. I was growing impatient.

Emerging awareness of a horrifying truth.

This week has been very difficult for me emotionally. It started with an unnamed, free-floating but intense anxiety and panic, to the point I could barely function. A few days ago I plummeted into a black depression that seemed different somehow in quality from my prior zombie-like apathetic depressions when I was living with my ex. This depression felt more alive and more proactive in some way. I’m pretty sure I had an idea all along of what was about to happen but it hadn’t quite bubbled into conscious awareness yet. Its rising through the murky swamp of my unconscious caused me to panic and then a kind of grief took over but I still couldn’t name what its source was.

A week ago, I fell into a panicky, anxious, almost dissociated state and this was followed by a “wet” depression (that included tears instead of my usual catatonic apathy). I didn’t even know what I was crying about. I lost my motivation to write (in retrospect, I think this as a form of self protection when I needed it). I was snappish and irritable on the job but would come home and set aside alone time so I could just let everything out without fear of embarrassment or shame. I knew instinctively something important was about to make itself known and that scared me, but I felt a kind of excitement too.

During this time, I had trouble sleeping and when I did sleep my dreams were upsetting and I had this overwhelming sense of aloneness and separateness. I rarely have nightmares but woke up shaking and close to tears twice.

A few months ago I began to worry I might have NPD. I could tell because of an expressed grandiosity that had always remained hidden in the past (except in my BPD rages which I learned to control) due to my blog being somewhat successful and attaining the attention of a few important people in the field of narcissism. A few people suggested I was narcissistic (not on this blog but elsewhere) and I took this to be bullying (and some of it may have been). So what did I do? DENY IT LIKE HELL! It wasn’t lying–I still didn’t believe I really was one, but I was beginning to question and think it wasn’t impossible and comments like those told me something I did NOT want to hear. Because inside, I already knew.

I think that’s why recently I’ve been writing a lot about covert narcissism. I didn’t make the connection though until the other night.

My “Aspergers”

You might have noticed I took “Aspergers” out of my blog’s graphic and my profile.
There’s a reason why. For as long as I can remember I’ve been painfully shy, socially awkward, and always seem to be a target or victim no matter where I am. I obsess intensely over my hobbies and interests and have trouble making eye contact, which is another symptom.

I don’t function well in work situations because of my low self esteem, kick-me demeanor, and lack of confidence. I’m always passed over for promotions, raises and other perks that others seem to get with ease. Underlying all this self-hatred and always feeling unworthy, is this sense of grandiosity. I’ve always had a seething, hidden resentment toward others who seem to be doing better or have more (which is almost everyone). It’s mellowed with age but hasn’t gone away. I know I shouldn’t feel that way but it just comes over me and I always feel this…bitter resentment and envy. But I don’t have any desire to ruin anyone’s life or take away what people have. I don’t have ill will and don’t want to hurt anyone, but just I feel so envious and defective, and then I feel guilty and beat myself up over having these evil thoughts.

I’m an underachiever and have been my entire life, in spite of a high IQ and a college education. Things seem to come so easily to everyone else and I’m constantly comparing myself to others, and always coming up short. I can’t seem to help comparing myself to everyone all the time, even though I know rationally that these sort of comparisons are poison to my soul and aren’t going to make me feel any better.

I never was able to stand up for myself and resented how disrespected I got by everyone. I felt like, how dare they treat me that way–they’re just a bunch of dumb neurotypicals and I’m too good for them anyway. But at the same time I longed to be included and treated like everyone else.

Lately I’ve been reading a lot about covert narcissism and have posted a few articles. Covert narcissists are almost always painfully shy and sometimes awkward. Their social ineptitude is also a kind of social cluelessness, VERY similar to Aspergers–only rather than having a developmental/cognitive source, a covert narcissist’s social cluelessness and obtuseness is due to the great effort of trying to keep the mask of sociability up so as to not risk being “exposed” as the empty shells we feel ourselves to be, and that is exhausting. This is taken as a lack of empathy but actually it’s obtuseness–like it is for Aspies. After speaking to a lot of covert narcissists over at Psychforums over the past few days and reading their experiences, I think the caring is actually there (not for malignants though), but they can’t SEE that they should care because their defense mechanisms keep them from seeing it.

And there you have it. I’m a covert narcissist.
Some of this could be explained by my Avoidant PD of course, especially the social awkwardness and avoidance of others, but cNPD explains it too. I had no idea. I’m not sure if I have comorbid Avoidant PD or not, but I sure as hell don’t have Aspergers.

These are all symptoms of covert narcissism. Although cNPD is not yet recognized by the DSM, I think it will be in future editions. There is a lot of talk on the web about it, a lot of scholarly articles. While our outer behavior can resemble Aspergers, and had both me and even a psychiatrist I was seeing fooled, the reasons underlying the Aspie-like behavior is nothing other than narcissism. When I found this out the other day, I was blown away but spooked out of my mind. The shock of the truth can take your breath away.

Problems with empathy.

All my life I’ve difficulty making lasting friendships because I lack the ability to really be able to empathize with anyone. Oh, I can empathize in a kind of distracted, disconnected way–like if I hear about an abused child or animal I feel bad and sometimes even tear up. I can empathize with fictional characters in books or films. I hate hearing about injustice and abuse. But no matter how hard I try, it’s almost impossible for me to be able to really share the feelings of a real life, flesh and blood person. I don’t want to see anyone suffer, but it’s just all seems so foreign and I have trouble relating. If someone tells m a problem, I can sort of empathize, but it’s a cold, intellectual sort of empathy and I feel like I’m acting, so as soon as they leave, I move on with my life and it’s as if they never told me. I used to wonder why most people didn’t like me that much but now I realize how self-involved I really was. Everything was always about me. I isolate myself because it’s hard to keep up the appearance of truly caring when there’s nothing inside except a yawning black hole and fear of being discovered.

I also was almost as abusive (emotionally) to my ex as he was to me, but again, at the time I couldn’t see the part I played in all this. I was very self-involved and manipulative in our marriage and although it probably would have ended anyway (a good thing), I sure didn’t help by being the way I was. I thought of myself as codependent until my sudden epiphany a few nights ago. Yes, I was a victim, but covert narcissists, when paired up with grandiose/classic narcissists, are almost always the victims. But I was far from an angel myself.

Mental blindness.
I always thought my BPD explained any “narcissism” I showed.

But all my life I’ve been accused of being narcissistic in various settings, and I never could understand why, because it seemed like I was always giving, giving and giving some more. I never made waves, never stood up for myself (except in sudden rages that used to scare people but I got that under control more or less using DBT tools).

I never set out to hurt anyone or play manipulative games. At least not consciously. But it seemed that I was always hurting people. Then I’d genuinely surprised when I was called out on it. I’d feel terribly guilty and filled with shame and apologize profusely (and mean it). I slowly began to see the passive aggressive things I was doing that I *thought* were just passive or things anyone would do. One hand never knew what the other one was doing. I came to not trust myself, and this added to my social awkwardness and shyness, because I couldn’t hurt anyone if I remained silent and disconnected.

I only become overt/grandiose when I’m getting a lot of supply (it makes me cringe with shame to use that word about myself). I’ve become more grandiose recently. Not aggressive. It makes me cringe to read some of my older articles that make me sound so arrogant and conceited. Even before I knew what I know now, I was trying to curb those kind of articles. I didn’t want to come off like a conceited asshole. IRL, though, nothing changed. I was still my same painfully shy, awkward self.

I control my borderline symptoms with DBT tools and that helps with some of the cNPD ones too (in clinical settings, DBT skills which were developed for BPD, also work for some people with NPD).
But my problem is, I don’t feel the things I want to feel — and I’m so cut off from everyone and avoid people because I don’t want them to see the void inside. My deep emotions simply are not accessable to me under normal circumstances.

Down the rabbit hole.

Nearly 11 months from the day I started this blog, I had a mind-bending breakthrough. It happened about a week after my inexplicable anxiety followed by depression began. One night I could’t fall asleep and finally gave up trying. At about 3 AM I talked to 2 close Facebook friends for awhile. They’d been a bit worried about me because my mood had been so erratic.

I logged off Facebook at around 4 AM.

And then…I read this article:
http://www.researchgate.net/publication/275665641_Narcissistic_Personality_Disorder_Diagnostic_and_Clinical_Challenges

It fit me like a glove. I saw myself described in one of those vignettes and…and went down the rabbit hole…
I could not deny it anymore. I was a fucking narc.

I’ve probably already read about 50-100 articles about covert narcissism (cNPD) so I don’t know why this particular one had the effect it did. Maybe I was finally ready. While reading, I recognized myself. It was a deep and horrifying knowledge that hit me like a tsunami. It was like that lightbulb moment. And getting punched in the gut HARD at the same time. I almost threw up. I cried like a child for over an hour. For a few terrifying minutes I felt like I couldn’t catch my breath. I felt hot and cold flashes and started to shake.

head_exploding

No. No, it couldn’t be. I could not have NPD. I frantically tried to fight the truth. It just seems absurd and you’re sitting there with your tongue hanging out when the connection is made. “Huh? wut? But I’m a victim of narcisisstic abuse! I’m an ACON! I’m a nice person! I have low self esteem! How on the name of God can I be a narcissist?

And then….at least for me…you freak out.
I could not deny the truth anymore.

The shock of realization broke through my emotional zombitude. I’ve been on the verge of tears now ever since my epiphany. There may be an element of grief involved. I feel like one of my layers of defense fell off.

It’s funny because this was hardly the first time I’d read anything about covert NPD. I never connected it with my own problem. BPD was bad enough.

Sudden clarity.

Everything suddenly made sense and I felt like I was seeing my situation and all my relationships—hell, over 50 years of my life–with eyes that had been closed since I was very young. I remembered, vaguely, that someone told me something when I was four years old. I couldn’t remember what was said or who said it but I did know whatever it was had been the catalyst when all my problems started that would not abate for over 50 years. One day when I’m ready I’ll remember what actually was said and who said it. I cried harder than I’ve cried since I was about 12. Realizing I am a covert narcissist is something that although its discovery is incredibly upsetting, it’s also something I needed to have in my conscious awareness before I could really start to do the hard work necessary for real healing.

I have faith God works on all of us if we reach out with a sincere heart and ask for help. Now that I know I’m a covert narcissist, the next step is to figure out what to do with this information. Right now I still feel shell shocked. I have to be gentle with myself while I work through and try to understand everything that happened. I’m working on finding a therapist to help me sort it out because I think it’s too big for me to handle all by myself anymore (I can’t afford on though and finding one who works for free or on a sliding scale with NPDrs is going to be a huge challenge to say the least). All I can do right now is keep on praying and writing every day and working on myself and being as mindful as I can until I find someone appropriate. I know the work ahead of me is going to be harder now than it has been and that’s okay. It may take a long time and that’s okay too. I feel like I graduated from something. This might have been the best moment of my life because now it means I can work toward ridding myself of it. I’m both excited and scared to death. I know I can do this thing. But for the love of all that is holy, WHY DID IT TAKE SO LONG?

Coming to the realization that you have NPD is an enormous step, but they sure aren’t lying when they tell you how painful it is, and you’re just sitting there shocked and crying, with the emptiness that’s inside you just yawning open like a black hole. It’s incredibly scary but I’m not backing away. I don’t want this disorder. I want to be able to feel real emotions and real empathy and have satisfying relationships and be a normal, happy human being instead of this terrified, angry, envious, and constantly scared person who feels like they deserve nothing but at the same time resents everyone for having what I don’t. It’s a hell of a way to live and I’m over it.

My take on the genesis of covert narcissism.

An interesting thought started to play around in my mind–covert narcissists have TWO false selves: the outer meek, deferent, “nice” one that everyone sees, that cloaks the grandiose, entitled false self just under that (you know, the one that seethes with resentment and envy because you feel “entitled” to be regarded better or have more, and why should THEY get what I need? )

My little theory about this is that a covert narcissist is born when a narcissistic parent is especially abusive–or the child is especially sensitive. My MN mother scared the daylights out of me–I mean I actually saw those *black eyes* on her. She hated my “spooky” moods when i was about 4-6 and used to punish me for them. The “spooky” moods I had were when I’d go inside my head where she couldn’t reach me, especially when she was punishing me. That’s why she hated them, because she couldn’t penetrate these trances. I don’t know when I became a narcissist, but I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. My guess is it happened around the same time I had the weird “spooky” moods, probably around age 4. I don’t remember actually making a conscious “choice” to become one.

I think the covert form develops when a child is afraid that being too grandiose or aggressive will result in punishment. The child learns it’s not safe to challenge the parent in any way or be “better” than them, so although already a narcissist, they add the additional mask of being an obedient, deferent person. They grow up unable to stand up for themselves or express their opinions because of fear of punishment but inside they are anything but what they present to the world and hate being corrected or told what to do. It doesn’t go away either and leads to a life of misery and loneliness. The good thing though, is that covert narcissists are more easily cured because their disorder is so ego-dystonic and they’re so unhappy that they’re more likely than overt/grandiose narcs to get help.

I think it can also develop when a child is both a scapegoat and a golden child, which is common in only children. I would bet there’s a correlation there between only children and covert narcissism. I wonder if any studies have been done.

Narcissism is an effect of prolonged abuse from early childhood. (So is BPD). I’ve sometimes wondered if BPD/NPD may be a form of complex PTSD so deeply ingrained that it’s very difficult and sometimes not possible to dislodge. BPD symptoms in particular seem almost identical to complex PTSD but the DSM doesn’t recognize complex PTSD (C-PTSD) because it’s due to prolonged trauma rather than a single traumatic event, like a car accident or a war.
I agree all those effects are due to abuse, and are part of covert NPD/borderline PD (I have both).

For awhile I thought I had NVS (narcissism victim syndrome), which can show many of the same traits as narcissism. Basically it’s the “fleas” a narc leaves on you. In my case, the fleas were so many and lasted for so long that my case of fleas turned into full blown narcissism. I didn’t know this until a few days ago. I could still have NVS too; most narcissists probably do. After all, their disorder is caused by abuse. NVS is another diagnosis that is not recognized and is still largely an Internet meme.

The other side of the mirror.

twilight-zone

Since my epiphany, things are weird. I’ve been a bit dissociated and things seem a little unreal to me right now, almost dreamlike. It’s as if with one layer of defenses gone (denial), my body seems lighter somehow. I’m not feeling grounded at all. I’m also almost constantly on the verge of tears. Just a lot of emotion filtering through, neither good or bad. I think this is a good thing.

I’ve been posting on a forum about NPD and a lot of narcs post there. I’ve found several of them to be welcoming and supportive. These people don’t seem very narcissistic at all. They’re like me; they want to change. I can relate to some of their stories too. I know I have to be careful though. I’ve had a few surreal moments where I wondered if somehow, I’d shifted to “the dark side” and evil was taking over and was starting in the insidious manner of having open and honest conversations about narcissism with other narcissists.

I always wondered why it was that, whenever I wrote an article about why narcissists became that way, or the ways they suffer, that I’d always get so emotional. I know these articles enraged some ACONs. Why was it so important for me to “understand” narcs? Why couldn’t I just accept they were these evil, inhuman demons who had no capacity to change? There was one article in particular, “Letter from a Narcissist’s True Self,” that made me so emotional I was in tears while writing it (even though the fictional narcissist is far more malignant than I am).
Why?
Why did I feel a kind of warm empathy for a few narcs who wrote to me telling me they hated the way they were and hated themselves?
Why did I feel somehow personally insulted when narcissists were demonized (even though I still agreed much of the time)?
Why did I get into a blog war with people who hated the fact I suggested that maybe narcissists get too much hate and not enough understanding. That they were victims too?
Why did I care at all about…these toxic people?
Now I know why. I was trying to understand myself.

Other strange things have happened too. Bizarre coincidences and “signs” that all of this discovery had meaning and that my assessment of myself was correct. Describing these things would take too long and this article’s already long enough, so I’ll spare you the metaphysical woo-woo for now. Suffice to say that almost everything I thought I thought was true was a lie, and everything I thought was a lie was the truth. It’s disorienting. I’m on the other side of the mirror, looking inside.

Where to go from here?

Immediately following my epiphany, I realized I needed to make a decision about this blog, for to continue it as it was and say nothing about my realization would make me a fraud and a liar and that flies in the face of the honesty I made a commitment to a year ago. So I had three choices.
–Take this blog down. (That was out of the question–it would be the equivalent of having a beloved pet put to sleep).
–Shift its focus to say, a general purpose blog? (Eh. That idea didn’t excite me).
–Bite the bullet and “come out” about my narcissism and take my chances?
Yes I would lose readers if I did that (and of course the “supply” is nice), but what would be the right thing to do?

I decided to go with being honest. I think I made the right decision, as difficult as writing this post is.
Whatever I shift the focus of this blog to (and it may not change that much), it has to be coming from a sincere place fueled by honesty and candidness. I’ve already had practice having haters, and I’m prepared for that again (well, sort of). I’m prepared to lose readers. It’s okay.

I’ll continue this blog for those of you who want to stay, because I love doing this so much. But I can’t be the new Sam Vaknin, nor would I want to be. There’s only room for one of him and there’s plenty of blogs out there for victims of narcissistic abuse written by non-narcs. So although I’ll continue to write about narcissism and the effects it has on its victims, I’ll be shifting this blog’s focus, though I’m not sure what direction that will take.
I’ve also decided to start a second blog, which is intended to be a supportive environment for people like me–self aware narcissists/BPDs who need to talk about it and want to heal.

I have a lot of anger toward the narcissists who infected me with their disorder. You can’t spend an entire lifetime at the mercy of malignant narcs and not develop at least a bad case of fleas yourself. I never asked for this and I reject it. I do have a conscience (a well developed one actually) and now finally awareness, so those things are in my favor. I’m not malignant, thank God. At least I hope not. But I’m on the spectrum whether I want to be or not. I want to get off.

I think my life will be changing for the better now. I don’t have to be a narcissist if I don’t want to be. That’s what I’m working toward now. I know I can do this thing. Wish me luck.

And now I’m going to hit “Publish.” My heart’s in my mouth right now.
I hope my friends here can understand.

ETA: I started the new blog: https://luckyotter.wordpress.com/

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91 thoughts on “Down the rabbit hole.

  1. Thank you for your bold honesty. I know you’ve helped people along the way, but it seems you’ve also helped yourself, which is pretty amazing. I hope you’re proud of you. By living authentically, you debunk anyone who would criticize. Kudos!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. For me, honesty is one of the strongest reasons to remain in communication with someone. If your posts are becoming more honest, more “you” I applaud you. It’s a huge step. Having been raised in an extremely abusive family, I have been working through PTSD and a void of 14 years in my life with no memories. I empathize with much of what you said. I congratulate you on your step forward into the unknown. I personally can’t think of a bigger step of faith/courage/whatever-else-you-can-think-of than opening one’s self to the masses, as it were. Again, my congratulations – and I, for one, will be here looking forward to the new path this takes and your continued growth in to the “you” that you were born to be.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m so proud of you for doing what I knew you would do. You are just not the sort of person who lets fear keep her from being honest. I think every truly honest reader will relate to this blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In this searingly honest post, you mention the possibility that you may actually have Complex PTSD.

    Complex Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a psychological injury, NOT an inherent personality disorder.

    What difference does a label make? Personality Disorders “blame the victim.” C-PTSD blames the trauma.

    I have copied below four excerpts from the book COMPLEX PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving: a Guide and Map to Recovering from Childhood Trauma by Pete Walker, M.A., MFT. Pete Walker is a therapist with more than thirty years experience in treating traumatized patients.

    All four of the following excerpts are taken from Chapter One. Here is the first excerpt:

    First, the good news about Cptsd. It is a learned set of responses, and a failure to complete numerous important developmental tasks . This means that it is environmentally, not genetically, caused. In other words, unlike most of the diagnoses it is confused with, it is neither inborn nor characterological. As such, it is learned. It is not inscribed in your DNA. It is a disorder caused by nurture [or rather the lack of it] not nature.

    This is especially good news because what is learned can be unlearned and vice versa. What was not provided by your parents can now be provided by yourself and others.

    Recovery from Cptsd typically has important self-help and relational components. The relational piece can come from authors, friends, partners, teachers, therapists, therapeutic groups or any combination of these. I like to call this reparenting by committee.

    I must emphasize, however, that some survivors of Cptsd engendering families were so thoroughly betrayed by their parents, that it may be a long time, if ever, before they can trust another human being enough to engage in relational healing work. When this is the case, pets, books and online therapeutic websites can provide significant relational healing.

    (Second Excerpt):

    Definition Of Complex PTSD

    Cptsd is a more severe form of Post-traumatic stress disorder. It is delineated from this better known trauma syndrome by five of its most common and troublesome features: emotional flashbacks, toxic shame, self-abandonment, a vicious inner critic and social anxiety.

    Emotional flashbacks are perhaps the most noticeable and characteristic feature of Cptsd. Survivors of traumatizing abandonment are extremely susceptibility to painful emotional flashbacks, which unlike ptsd do not typically have a visual component.

    Emotional flashbacks are sudden and often prolonged regressions to the overwhelming feeling-states of being an abused/ abandoned child. These feeling states can include overwhelming fear, shame, alienation , rage, grief and depression. They also include unnecessary triggering of our fight/ flight instincts.

    It is important to state here that emotional flashbacks, like most things in life, are not all-or-none. Flashbacks can range in intensity from subtle to horrific. They can also vary in duration ranging from moments to weeks on end where they devolve into what many therapists call a regression.

    Finally, a more clinical and extensive definition of Cptsd can be found on p. 121 of Judith Herman’s seminal book, Trauma and Recovery.

    (Third Excerpt):

    List Of Common Cptsd Symptoms

    Survivors may not experience all of these. Varying combinations are common. Factors affecting this are your 4F type and your childhood abuse/ neglect pattern.

    Emotional Flashbacks
    Tyrannical Inner &/ or Outer Critic
    Toxic Shame
    Self-Abandonment
    Social anxiety
    Abject feelings of loneliness and abandonment
    Fragile Self-esteem
    Attachment disorder
    Developmental Arrests
    Relationship difficulties
    Radical mood vacillations [e.g., pseudo-cyclothymia: see chapter 12 ]
    Dissociation via distracting activities or mental processes
    Hair-triggered fight/ flight response Oversensitivity to stressful situations
    Suicidal Ideation

    (Fourth Excerpt):

    What You May Have Been Misdiagnosed With

    I once heard renowned traumatologist, John Briere, quip that if Cptsd were ever given its due, the DSM [The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] used by all mental health professionals would shrink from its dictionary like size to the size of a thin pamphlet. In other words, the role of traumatized childhoods in most adult psychological disorders is enormous.

    I have witnessed many clients with Cptsd misdiagnosed with various anxiety and depressive disorders. Moreover, many are also unfairly and inaccurately labeled with bipolar, narcissistic , codependent , autistic spectrum and borderline disorders. [This is not to say that Cptsd does not sometimes co-occur with these disorders.]

    Further confusion also arises in the case of ADHD [Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder], as well as obsessive /compulsive disorder , both of which are sometimes more accurately described as fixated flight responses to trauma [see the 4F’s below]. This is also true of ADD [Attention Deficit Disorder] and some depressive and dissociative disorders which similarly can more accurately be described as fixated freeze responses to trauma.

    Furthermore, this is not to say that those so misdiagnosed do not have issues that are similar and correlative with the disorders above. The key point is that these labels are incomplete and unnecessarily shaming descriptions of what the survivor is actually afflicted with.

    Reducing Cptsd to “panic disorder” is like calling food allergies chronically itchy eyes. Over-focusing treatment on the symptoms of panic in the former case and eye health in the latter does little to get at root causes. Feelings of panic or itchiness in the eyes can be masked with medication, but all the associated problems that cause these symptoms will remain untreated.

    Moreover, most of the diagnoses mentioned above are typically treated as innate characterological defects rather than as learned maladaptations to stress – adaptations that survivors were forced to learn as traumatized children. And, most importantly, because these adaptations were learned, they can often be extinguished or significantly diminished , and replaced with more functional adaptations to stress.

    (End of Excerpts)

    For more information see Pete Walker’s website:
    http://www.pete-walker.com/

    ((HUG))

    Liked by 2 people

      • Alaina- Wow! I can’t believe you typed that all out….Well I believe it. LOL but that’s a lot of typing. Anyway, I’ve been reading that book and I’m finding it probably the most helpful book so far in my studies of my issues. I’m just now getting to the exercise part of the book but so far I’ve been triggered into some memories and I can feel my emotions loosening from the stone of emotion I’ve developed.

        I would recommend that book to anyone who has suffered childhood abuse.

        Liked by 2 people

        • I agree, safire, Pete Walker’s book is the best by far that I have read on the subject of early trauma.

          I didn’t actually type all that out, though — I was able to copy and paste the excerpts from Pete’s book from my Kindle fire tablet onto a notepad app, which I then emailed to myself. Then I went into my email on my computer, made another copy, added my comments, and finally pasted the whole thing here. I originally did all of that work because I was going to post it on my blog. I still intend to do that, as soon as I have my new & improved blog up and running. 😀

          Liked by 1 person

          • Oh haha. I didn’t think about Kindle. I have the hard copy paper back. I order lots of books for the kindle, but this is one I wanted to have as a real book. Besides I don’t have a kindle device. I read them on my laptop.

            Also, I saw your other comment about how you’d already had it typed out for your blog after I wrote my comment. 🙂

            I hope all is well with the situation you mentioned. I happened to catch that post on your blog about it before you locked it up. My heart went out to that little one. What a twisted and scary situation. I hope she is able to get good help and recover.

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            • I have Pete Walker’s book in paperback as well as on my Kindle. I love it that much. I also have his first book, The Taos of Fully Feeling. Both books are very helpful.

              Regarding the twisted and scary situation… things are more stable now, at least from my perspective. That poor little girl, though… so sad. This was only the second time in my 60+ years that I have reported suspected child abuse to the authorities. So it’s not like I go around looking for abusers because of my trauma history. But after I called the hotline, when all all those death threats were being posted by the child’s mother on Facebook… that definitely didn’t do my PTSD any good! But I would do it all over again if I had to. The mother’s evil reaction to having her child taken just proved how unfit she really is.

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            • Yup, it’s me, the blogger formerly known as Alaina, lol. I decided to use my real first name and a fake last name, because when my memoir is ready to publish I want to use part of the clip from when I was on the Oprah Show in a trailer. Oprah introduced me as “Linda” but luckily she didn’t say my last name.

              I like the name Alaina so much better, though. Sigh. Oh well.

              Thank you for calling me brave, but you are my hero when it comes to bravery. Your brave honesty is my inspiration. 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

            • It’s been a crazy life more than anything. 🙂

              I was on one of Oprah’s book club shows, back in June 2000. Oprah’s book choice of the month was While I Was Gone by Sue Miller. What got me hooked was when Oprah asked, “When does adultery begin? Does it start with just the thought of having an affair?” Then she explained that was what the novel While I Was Gone was about… a married woman who began fantazing about having an affair, and where her fantasies ultimately led her.

              When I heard that, I went out and bought that book because I was living through that exact same thing at the time — feeling stuck in a dull, loveless, lonely marriage, fantasizing about a guy I was working with who I was “just friends” with — so far — and feeling very guilty but also very titillated about the situation.

              I had only read about halfway through the book when I was so overcome with emotion that I sent an email to Oprah, pouring out my heart about how I related so much to that book. I knew that Oprah must get thousands of emails every day, so I didn’t expect to hear anything back, I only wrote it as a catharsis. But… within 30 minutes my phone rang. It was a producer from the Oprah Show wanting to know if my then-husband and I would be on the show to discuss how I related to that book.

              ….and that’s how my last divorce happened, LOL.

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            • I have his other book too. That one came along for me at the right time as well. It helped me not feel so bad about the blame I wanted to feel but was stifling…but was feeling…but was stifling.

              I had to do a double take at the response. LOL

              I’m glad you are safe. And I don’t blame you for calling. I’ve called the cops myself before about a little girl across the street. (Those ppl don’t live there anymore.)
              One day the grandfather had been out with the little girl, who was maybe 3 at the time. After he parked in the driveway, he walked around to the back seat to get the little girl out of the back seat.

              She apparently didn’t wanna get out of the car so the grandfather left her in there. The door was open but it was a scorching hot summer day and the child was screaming/crying. And the grandfather just ignored it. Didn’t come out, just left the kid there.

              This went on for at least 5 minutes. I thought for sure he’d come out.

              I spend most of my time at my computer in the front bedroom and all the houses are really close together and our street is really narrow. So I could hear this loud and clear and I also saw them pull up.

              After a while, when I realized he was probably ignoring her thinking that would solve the problem, I called the police.

              I no sooner had the word “child” outta my mouth, they were over there.

              I saw that as abuse. The kid was out of control crying, heaving, screaming and when I looked out the window, she was also kicking. She was in a lot of distress, even if it WAS about her not getting her way. It was too hot to teach her some twisted lesson while she had her tantrum in a car.

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          • Oh no… this comment of yours now comes after my last comment about the titillating book I read that got me on Oprah’s Show, and it looks like you are saying that you need to get Sue Miller’s book. But I know your comment was posted much earlier, and you are actually referring to Pete Walker’s Complex PTSD book that you need to get. 😀

            Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, thanks for all this information. My head is spinning. No, actually already exploded. I expected some heads to explode, lol.

      It’s possible this could be c-PTSD but you know what? All these labels can be so darn confusing and misleading.

      Liked by 2 people

      • You are very welcome for the info! I already had it put together for a blog I was going to post, right before I decided to make my blog and other social media private — for at least a little while — in the hopes that the crazy death threats that “Jay” and I were getting after I called child protection would stop. I think the threats have stopped, but I am still going to wait a bit before making my stuff public again.

        I agree, these psychiatric labels can be very confusing. It may help if you think of it like this: how ignorant and cruel would it be if people who came into an emergency room with shattered bones, a fractured skull, a ruptured spleen, and multiple deep bleeding lacerations from being in a car accident or a train wreck or a plane crash or a brutal mugging or whatever, were diagnosed with things like “weak skeletal system disorder,” “inadequate dermal disorder,” and “immature spleen formation.” If the “diagnostic label” blames the victim, it does more harm than good. Plus it isn’t even a good descriptive label.

        (Hmm, brilliant as you are, I’ll bet you can come up with much better dumb diagnoses than I just did.)

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        • Thank you for sharing the information and the link. I had been diagnosed with C-PTSD a few years ago, but had left therapy. I had been wondering what the difference between BPD and NPD was, so I asked google and wound up on one of Lucky Otter’s posts. As I have begun to follow the both of you, I want you both to know how much your honesty has helped me. I have ordered the book, and will be working through my PTSD workbook while I wait.

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  5. When you embark on a journey of healing and self discovery the it is to be expected that you will learn new things about yourself. Your honesty and transparency only proves that you journey has been an amazing one. If you do have covert narcissism or whatever else, then who better to share about it than yourself? You have the opportunity to share how you now deal with this issue in your life. We are not meant to stay the way we are…we must always be learning and loving ourselves and others. Be proud of the growth you have made!

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  6. Honesty is a strength… And to me you’ll always be my friend. Narc or not… I’m there for you matter what… And I just responded to your message. I’m in NYC and on the way back home. So message me when you get a chance ❤

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  7. Ok, ok, full disclosure then,,,I’ve been living with a nonmalignant narc for almost ten years. If I hadn’t learned about it in depth , not only would I not have managed to stay, but I’d prolly been locked in a looney bin from the sickness of confusion and self blame.

    We all gots to admit to ourselves what we learn about ourselves. I’ve got narc tendencies that kick in when scared. I go cold as ice, no feelings , no remorse. I remeber having lots of constant protective narc defenses before my breakdown. Now they’re only situational defenses from the distant past.

    I admire you Otter, and I’ll read you here and your new blog if you invite us to go along. Information is knowledge and knowledge is power. Everyone speaks of this continuum of tendencies, we fixate on those extreme cases that hurt us deeply or horrify us when we hear of others stories, but what about those that suffer these disorders on the lighter end of the spectrum? A lot can be learned from those if they’re itelligent enough and humble enough to openly share their experiences.

    Blog on buddy,,,I’m in.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. *applause* beautifully written, courageous, and inspiring. Acceptance is the first step to transformation, even though it is the absolute most difficult. Good luck with your new direction! I’ll still be reading. 🙂

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  9. Dear Lucky, from what i’ve been able to gather, narcs don’t have emotional (or any other) problems. Any problems are someone else’s fault. And not only do narcs look down their snoots at other people, narcs are okay with this – normal people know that even secret snootiness is wtong. And oftentimes, in having ones own problems, the only thing an empathetic person can do, is listen – to get involved with more problems, when you have enoigh of your own, the mind sort of shuts down a bit, because the mind can only deal with so much. Lucky, if you’re a nsrc, thaen i am the governor of pennsylvania. Take care and God bless. Pardon the spelling, this tablet is crazy-making.

    Liked by 3 people

    • That’s all true. It’s confusing. But I’m sure I am, not high on the spectrum though.
      Your spelling looks as good as mine! 😉

      One thing is I always fail all those “are you a narcissist” tests because they test for the grandiose type (the type recognized by the DSM), not the covert type, who don’t act arrogant, grandiose or entitled on the surface.

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  10. Lucky! Okay, I don’t care what your diagnosis is but you are a GOOD person. At least you present as a good person so convincingly you’ve got hundreds of people (bloggers) fooled.
    I agree very much with all that Alania has shared with you. You know what? Forget the labels! You can’t really self-diagnose anyway but it seems more likely you have cPTSD than cNPD. You seem far to self-aware to be a narcissist, especially convert. But it makes sense those who would go through trauma would experience some narcissistic qualities. I know when I had my manic depressive episode I had some very covert narc traits. It was my way of coping with trauma.

    Regardless of whether you are a narc or not you and I are good as long as you don’t lie or manipulate. And I will say this: if what you just wrote is a sincere desire to change and heal (as I believe it is) and not written for the purpose of attention (supply) then you are at a great place and on the right track.

    I know this is very hard for you, but you will be okay. You have my support. ((Hugs)) my friend.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Q,
      I do think I’m a good person. “Supply” is nice, but I certainly didn’t write this for attention, lol. In fact I kind of wnat to cringe in a corner right now and I’m too embarrassed to press the share buttons. But it would be so dishonest of me NOT to say anything, so there you go.

      Liked by 3 people

      • That is exactly the impression that I got…that sharing this is mortifying for you but not doing so you would feel like a fraud. I applaud you for your bravery and there is nothing for which you need to be ashamed. I’m guessing you will begin to feel better as you work through this. I agree you need a professional therapist, not because you are “crazy” or anything but because this is a lot to unpack.

        Liked by 3 people

            • Finding one who treats NPD when I have no health coverage is going to be some challenge though! Maybe there’s a university program where I can be a “guinea pig.” i have to look into that.

              Like

            • Ugh, very true! There was a short period of time that I worked with a body worker who was also a licensed counselor. She was a fairly new graduate and I was able to have a few free sessions as part of her expanding her business. Our brief time together was very helpful as she performed Emotional Freedom Technique on me to help me with my childbirth trauma. It was remarkably emotional but affective. Maybe something like that might help and maybe help you get to the place where other job opportunities with health benefits come up. Good luck.☺

              Liked by 2 people

      • See, that right there. Being shamed, cringing, feeling insecure. Not very narc like o.t.

        Now I’m not questioning you, but narcs I know , even nonmalignant don’t spend much time feeling insecure about anything. Jus sayin.

        Liked by 3 people

        • I know, The only reason I’m sure I am one is because of the way the discovery hit me and the sudden insight i seem to have. Covert narcs can and do act shamed and insecure. They don’t really fit the standard profile on the outside and fail most of the “N” tests.

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  11. The first step to recovery is discovery. First of all, you can’t go through abuse without amassing some damage. And if the damage is on the back end, you won’t see it until you can take a look at it from behind. Writing helps you get a better look from all directions. I guess what I’m saying is that this is pretty cool!

    I’ve been thinking about doing a fourth blog specifically for abused women. It may come alongside a class (attendance not required). Interested?

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  12. I’m not too sure why your “revelation” would drive followers away. *shrug* I dunno but I think I am sticking around. 🙂

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  13. Thank you for being courageous and honest. I am wondering though, you have been sympathizing and identifying with your Narcissistic abusers to the point of not only defending them, but thinking you are one of them. Is it possible that you are experiencing Stockholm Syndrome?

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  14. I think you were very brave and to tell you the truth, even if you are a narc you helped me with the things to look for. If you can see yourself as you really are, you can still help others get out from under. I am not going anywhere.

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  15. My “subscribed” status will remain just as it is! This blog is YOUR journey, luckyotter, and no two journeys are ever going to be exactly alike. Embrace whatever your truth is, and keep writing. I’m in no way upset, disappointed, or angry. I don’t think I could understand anyone who would be. There is none among us who doesn’t have some facet of their personality that they dislike. You’re honesty with your readers is something I admire. We can’t grow without adversity, and indeed, the tears you’ve shed are from “growing pains.” Hoping that you look upon this not as any kind of setback, but more as a “breakthrough”, that propels you forward onto the path you were always meant to travel. The road ahead may not always be smooth, but hey: if this is cover NPD, at least you now have a roadmap. I’m honored to follow as you make your way down this road. ❤

    Liked by 3 people

    • It is like finding a road map, or in the case of someone on the forums I’ve been on, a “instruction manual.”
      I’m glad you’re staying and I agree that judgmental people aren’t people I’d really want around anyway.
      Thanks for the encouragement, and yes right now I’m looking at all this as a HUGE breakthrough due to all the emotional work I’ve been doing so maybe I’m halfway there already. This is not a bad thing….AT ALL!

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  16. I agree with what others have said about forgetting the labels. You are a good person, good writer, liked by many people, and NPD is not a valid reliable diagnosis in some ways and therefore not necessarily “the answer” in explaining the challenges you are dealing with.
    My opinion about you (which is good) doesn’t change at all when I read that you think you’re a narcissist. That’s partly because I know that DSM labels are a bunch of bullshit and partly because I know a good deal about you from reading your writing.

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  17. I have lots of thoughts on this. Glad you posted it, I know that your complete honesty with yourself is a giant step toward healing. Although if you were a true “N” you wouldn’t ever acknowledge or even look at the possibility. It sounds like this whole thing has actually hurt you, you are the one who has suffered from it. If you were a true N there would be a wake of destruction behind you of others who were hurt and there would be no remorse.

    I think we all live on a daily continuum between selfish and selfless. Starting at about age two, we flow from one position to the other depending on who we’re talking to or what the situation is. Some people with big egos trigger an egoic response which is normal as a defense in my opinion. We evolved from primates, think of the emphasis on social interaction in the tribes and the importance of dominance for literal survival.

    Being raised by N’s you probably were a co-N,or a co-dependent, and subconsciously you thought, hey when is it my turn? When do I get the good stuff? When do I get to be The One? When that doesn’t happen of course you feel resentful or envious. I think we have to let ourselves inside feel that we do deserve good things to happen. And we need to acknowledge our real wants and needs. We hold ourselves back. Love yourself and accept yourself as you are, no labeling or regardless of labels, just as a person who deserves love.

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  18. If you keep writing I’ll keep reading. With your description, I may have cNPD too. My experience is not identical but I relate to a lot of your post. Thing is we can tend to label ourselves with everything in this research and learning about these disorders.

    Labels are good to be able to look up info so we can do the correct work and find the right kind of help. But at the same time, I have to agree with Alaina’s take. It’s a good way to look at it. Victim blaming vs. Trauma blaming.

    That’s not to say that we’re not responsible for our own behavior or own healing as adults. But that goes without saying.

    I’ve suspected covert narcissism in me for a LONG time, panicked about it and was able to talk to someone about my fear. Recently I started reading a lot about CPTSD. But you’ve got me curious to read about covert narcissism a bit more.

    I’ve never thought that NPD was a choice, same as the other PDs. But that’s just my opinion since it seems to happen gradually throughout childhood. I know I’ve had some NPD moments when I was a kid, with the way I bullied my brother. And I didn’t feel guilty about it at all. But one day I did. And I stopped picking on him, in fact I even called him up one weekend morning in tears apologizing to him for the shit I did to him.

    I don’t know. I can’t dx you. Heck I can’t even dx myself. I just know that it’s a result of the abuse.

    And to answer your question about why you are so understanding of narcs and why they are the way they are…likely because you are an empathic person who has empathy for those who went through abuse at a time we all need to have unconditional love in order to develop emotionally well.

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  19. c-NPD, c-PSTD… as far as I can tell, what you’re going through are still the symptoms of borderline personality. You’ve expressed fear of abandonment again in this post, thinking you’ll lose your friends, but have characteristically lost no one. But fear of abandonment is just one of the triggers of fitting into a role; it’s not the trigger.

    I know I’ve had the ‘epiphany’—those periods where I’ve discovered something where I lose my ground. But I kept getting thoughts in the back of my mind that I was role-fitting. Most likely I was role-fitting, where these periods are the adjustment to it.

    This post was easy for me to read because you went down the rabbit hole of your choosing. Change is good, but you need to step back. Whatever you’ve discovered, you do NOT have it nailed. Only a reliable doctor can diagnose.

    I repeat, only a reliable doctor can diagnose. These textbook conditions are reflections of personality traits/disorders after the fact, not the other way around. Self-diagnosis is rife with misdiagnosis because the patient is almost inevitably biased.

    Whatever this is, I am 100% certain that c-NPD is not the complete picture. See that therapist, and allow the therapy to cure or diagnose; going at this alone will only lead to more problems. And in the mean-time… take it easy. Easy on the caffeine and other sleep-inhibiting stuff.

    Take care,
    Adam

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    • I also don’t mean to be harsh with what I said, just trying to get at answers to your questions with all the information I know. You’re wanting answers. I can relate with much of what you’ve said, and find myself thinking about c-PTSD and BPD as underlying causes not c-NPD. I could be wrong on any of the details but not on the fact that we need a doctor to diagnose.

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    • Adam, you’re right. Only a doctor could give me a diagnosis, and cNPD isn’t even a recognized dx in the psychiatric literature. I’ve taken N tests (which are based on the classic narcissism described in the DSM) and always “fail” them because I don’t really fit that description. So yes, I’m open to the possibility what I have is just BPD. If covert narcissism exists, then I have it. But it’s not recognized and I think most covert narcissists are actually borderlines or have Avoidant PD or a mix of both. I don’t deny my narcissistic traits though and am working on those but with a little perspective now and a slight distance from my “revelation,” I’m thinking maybe I was a little too harsh on myself. Still, I want to be rid of the N traits I do have–and the BPD ones as well. Thank you for your thoughts.

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  20. I keep thinking about this whole idea. It reminds me of Carl Jung’s shadow. Anything we repress will just go underground and sneak out as our shadow side. When you’re raised by N’s your ego and sense of self is totally squashed, not allowed developed naturally. So eventually this repressed will make itself known. I think if you acknowledge all aspects of yourself it’s healthy.

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  21. Do you think a kid can show signs of NPD in their childhood? I understand one needs to be an adult to have the condition.

    I am thinking my ex was a convert narcissist than aspie. They do share the same signs and similarities:

    Lack of empathy (though that has been discovered autistic people do have empathy and don’t lack it)
    Overly sensitive with emotion
    Sensitive to criticism
    Social issues
    Black and white thinking
    Always being right
    Emotional immaturity

    And yes my ex did have a dysfunctional childhood and I remember him telling me his step dad abused him because he would pin a dirty diaper to him during potty training and he was bullied as a child and dropped out and they moved around a lot because they kept being evicted. His mom was Bipolar. He also had a hard time making friends as a kid and according to him he told me that his mom told him he was normal and then he started to get weird.

    Yeah they may share things similar but they are not really the same when you are actually with on and it’s sad how on one forum I know of, the women there would rather use Asperger’s as a scapegoat than blame it on narcissism and few have even admitted there they aren’t entirely sure their partner is aspie or not but they don’t care and will blame the AS. I would also think they would be relieved to know their partner is a narc than aspie because then it would mean aspies are not toxic and out to hurt you and bring down your self esteem and that is narcissism, not autism but nope they don’t want to hear it. They don’t want to be told it either.

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    • I am sorry to say I had all those symptoms as a child and teenager. I was called ‘immature” by most people and by my teachers. Some thought I was autistic or had ADHD. I was a huge crybaby and bullied a lot. My grades were okay but I never applied myself. I always daydreamed. I seemed to make friends and then somehow drive them away. Later I became very shy and introverted.
      I saw a therapist from ages 8 – 11 who said I had an attachment disorder. She was correct. Incipient PD’s start as attachment disorders in children.

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