This post caught my eye and while reading it, I realized I used to do exactly this. I think contrived helplessness isn’t limited to the fragile/covert type of narcissist though. I think it’s also fairly common in people with codependency issues, or who suffer from BPD or C-PTSD.
When I used to pull the “I can’t do anything” card, it was never intentional; I didn’t want to be that way! I really believed I was that helpless. I’d been programmed to believe I was incompetent and couldn’t do anything. I didn’t know how to be any other way, but looking back on myself in those days, I realize now that I did it because I was so starved for attention and sympathy. Getting pity and help from others was the only “power” I thought I had, but if you had asked me back then if I did it for attention, I would have said no and meant it. Later on, I hated that kind of attention because it could be so patronizing and made me feel even more incompetent and helpless.
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It’s Narcissist Friday!
Every once in a while I come up with a term for a narcissistic behavior only to find that the term is already being used for something else. I have wanted to write about a certain type of narcissist who controls others by being needy. I thought that the helplessness these people exhibit is a learned behavior. So I looked up “Learned helplessness.” Yes, it is a psychological term used for those who have tried a certain task repeatedly without success, then have become convinced that they are unable to do the task. A kidnap victim, for example, may try to run away and fail over and over, then give up and become unable to take advantage of real opportunities. Some of the more famous kidnapping cases, like Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard, may be examples of this inability in victims to help themselves.
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