Viral post shows why early attachment is so important.

A few weeks ago, a Facebook post written by a new mother, Dayna Mager, went viral. I’m reposting it not only because I found it so touching, but also because the message it conveys is so important.

A baby will NOT become spoiled if you what this mother did. In fact, quite the opposite. A child who is mirrored this way will grow up self-confident and able to empathize with others without losing themselves in the process. Infants abandoned in orphanages and never interacted with (even though all their physical needs are met) will develop severe attachment disorders which could lead to complex PTSD or worse, personality disorders like Narcissistic or Antisocial Personality Disorder. It’s why so many of the children adopted from places like Russia, Africa, and Eastern Europe have had so many problems adjusting to their new families or developing healthy attachments to anyone else. It may be too late for some of them, because the “critical period” during infancy when they should have been closely bonded with their mothers or other caregivers was missed.

The part I have bolded in the post shattered me as I read it.

Here is Dayna’s post and the accompanying photo.

dayna_mager_photo

This was from several weeks back, yes, I climbed in the crib in hopes to soothe my screaming, teething, blushed faced, and tear soaked little girl. My husband came home to this, and I am re-posting because this captures the essence of my heart, and my “why…” There I was in the heat of this exhausting, beautiful thing we call parenthood, and I remembered a promise I made to her.

One of the first times Matt and I left Luella, was to a worship concert. At that conference, a missionary shared his story, and it shook me to the core. A moment that would forever be burned in my fragile, hormone raging, new mommy heart that had already become 100xs more fragile after meeting her.

That missionary was in an orphanage in Uganda, and he has been in many before, but this one was different. He walked into a nursery with over 100 filled cribs with babes. He listened in amazement and wonder as the only sound he could hear was silence. A sound that is beyond rare in ANY nursery, let alone a nursery where over 100 new babes laid. He turned to his host and asked her why the nursery was silent. Then , her response to him is something I will never, ever forget. EVER. This was my “why” moment.

She looked at him and said, “After about a week of them being here, and crying out for countless hours, they eventually stop when they realize no one is coming for them…”

…They stop crying when they realize no one is coming for them. Not in 10 minutes, not in 4 hours, and maybe, perhaps, not ever…

Broke.

I broke. I literally could have picked up pieces of my heart scattered about the auditorium floor. But instead, it stirred in me a longing, a hunger.. A promise in my spirit.

We came home, and that night as Luella rested her tiny little 10lb body against mine and we rocked, I made a promise to her. A promise that I would always come to her.

Always.

At 2:00am when pitiful desperate squeals come through a baby monitor, I will come to her.

Her first hurt, her first heartbreak, we will come to her. We will be there to hold her, to let her feel, to make decisions on her own, and we will be there. We will show her through our tears and frustrations at times, that it is okay to cry, and it’s ok to feel. That we will always be a safe place, and we will always come to her.

Related to this, here is a post I wrote a few months ago about a very interesting experiment, The Still Face Experiment, which graphically shows the devastating effect lack of mirroring can have on young children.
https://luckyottershaven.com/2015/11/23/the-still-face-experiment/

I’d guess that most of us who suffer from C-PTSD, BPD or other trauma/attachment based disorders had mothers who believed it was best to let a baby “cry it out.” Back in the 1950s and 1960s, letting a baby cry it out in their own room was the fashion.

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The wait is too long.

waiting

It’s 6:51 PM. I would normally be starting my therapy session right now, but my therapist is out of town this week. 7 more days seems like 7 more years. Sigh. Once you become attached to your therapist, even once a week doesn’t seem like enough. It’s very difficult to wait this long, even though I went for YEARS without seeing a therapist until I started seeing this one.

Once you start, everything changes. I’m actually feeling a little angry at him for putting me through this, even though I know he’s done nothing wrong and my anger is irrational. I still am going to tell him next week how angry waiting so long makes me, because the anger might be reflecting something else that’s coming to the surface.

Storyteller.

storytellers

My therapist told me I’m a good storyteller.
This was one of the most validating things anyone ever told me. He likes my stories. I keep him entertained. I make him laugh and keep him on the edge of his seat.
Yay me!

Maybe I really could write that novel and keep millions entertained and become rich and famous after all. Why not? Its never too late. Hell, Grandma Moses didn’t become a famous painter until her 90s. There’s nothing wrong with being a late bloomer.

I always thought of myself as a pretty boring person and an even worse storyteller, because I didn’t think I had any stories worth telling. But I’m finding out that’s not the case.
We all have a story to tell. We’re all actors on this stage called life.

But feeling complimented isn’t really the reason I’m over the moon about what he said. It doesn’t matter if I have the capacity to entertain anyone. I don’t really care if I can make people laugh or keep them quaking in suspense or move them to tears. That’s not my reason for being here.

It means a lot because I feel like he cares. I keep him entertained because he cares about me or at least does a pretty good job pretending he does (but I don’t think it’s pretending). He’s very good at what he does, but more importantly, after four sessions, I feel like we have established trust and a good working relationship. He’s one of the few people who ever showed me any real empathy. I feel like I could tell him almost anything.
Except one thing.

I realized this week I’ve developed strong transference feelings. That’s supposed to happen in psychodynamic therapy. It’s like limerence but without the sexual aspect. I just want to be cared for and protected by him, as if he’s the nurturing and caring surrogate parent I should have had. These feelings can be intense. They replicate ancient attachments from early childhood. You’re supposed to work through them. Right now I just feel incredibly excited to be seeing him again tomorrow.

I know this euphoria won’t last. It might even become painful. I’m prepared for that. I’m idealizing someone I don’t even know. All he is is a mirror, in which I can see whatever I want–or see aspects of myself I can’t own yet. I went through this when I was 22 and wound up walking out on my therapist because I couldn’t handle the intensity of my feelings anymore. But I’m older and more mature now, and know a lot more about how this stuff works than I did back then. Therapy isn’t easy. It’s work, hard work, and I’m prepared to roll up my sleeves and get busy instead of slacking off and expecting to just suddenly not have any problems anymore.

He doesn’t know yet. I don’t know if I’m ready to tell him. He may figure it out even if I don’t say anything. Maybe I can tell it like a story.

You are just an object to a narcissist.

objectification

I saw this post in the NPD forum at Psychforums. The discussion was about narcissists who seem to care more about animals than people. “StupidPig,” a poster with NPD wrote an interesting post, which I think is a great explanation of what “love” means to a narcissist. In a nutshell: it’s not love. It’s not even really attachment. Everything is an object to them. A narcissist can be as “attached” to an object or an animal as a person, sometimes more so. It all depends whatever is giving the narcissist more pleasure/supply at a given time and whatever requires less maintenance or emotional input from them. The “love object” can change from one day to the next. People and animals are just objects to a narcissist.

I did not edit StupidPig’s post or correct his spelling errors.

http://www.psychforums.com/narcissistic-personality/topic47260-10.html

I am a narcissist with NPD, and I used to like to “own” animals as a kid. However, I never liked to “care” for them.

Someone with NPD cares only for his image, or what the books call the “Glorified Self Image”. Anything else other than his Glorified Self Image is considered an object to him (be it his mother, his children, his spouce, his boss, his car, his own body, or his pet snake or whatever) , and the value of such object will be defined only on basis of how much narcissistic supply it would give him. I.e. how much it enhances his Glorified Self Image.
So, if owning a dog (or a car or a pretty girlfriend) would make me look better, then I would enjoy it, but I would never do any effort to maintain the car, walk the dog, or be nice to the girlfriend, because, as someone with NPD, I have an exagerrated sense of entitlement. this means that I strongly belive that I “deserve” to have the objects that make me look good, and I do not need to do any effort to “keep” those objects.

A pet is no different from a spouce or a car or a friend or a watch or a parent to a Narc. It is just an object that gains value when it makes him look better or feel superior and loses value immidiatly if it doesn’t give him such supply. Based on this, if your car does a 18/20 job in making you look better and feel superior, while your dog does a 10/20 at that job, and your spouce or son does a 5/20, then you would love your care more than your dog and your dog more than your family. But, if on the next day your son wins the world championship in swiming and tells the world on TV that you, his father, is the reason behind this victory, you would shift into loving your son more than your dog and your car, and if three days latter your son makes a fight with you because he wants the car, and the car gets dented in an accident, you will love your dog more than your car and your son, and so on.

In all cases, the narc will never do much to maintain those “objects” and will never really hold any of them dear to his heart because they are all just objects to him.

Only in the light of this should one talk a comparitive view at the different objects in a narc ‘s life and their different merrits and drawbacks. using myself as an example, the advantages and dissadvantages go as follows:

– Pet-objects: They are submissive ( do not need much effort to do as told) and not judgemental (and so do not pose a threat to the Narc’s ego), but they do have several drawbacks, the most important of which is that they need feeding, cleaning, medical care, etc. Narcs hate objects that require lots of maintenance.
Another drawback concerning pet-objects is that they sometimes require “feelings” from you. Not as much as human-objects do of course, but it is still a nagging requirement.

– Human-objects: They can offer much more supply than a pet-object ( e.g. a woman-object who adores you gives more types and quantities of narcissistic supply than a dog) but the drawbacks are that human-objetcs require much more maintenance than other objects and are apt to judge you (and hence are a threat to the ego, or the glorified self image) and they need scary amounts of feelings in order to function properly and, worst of all, they might have “opinions” about your actions and would try to aplly measures that restrict your freedom. They are great objects but they come with a great price..in most cases, this makes them not worth the Narc’s effort(in his twisted opinion of course).

-Inanimate objects (like watches, cars, computers, etc) : They do what they are expected to do, they are never judgemental, and they do not require any emotional input to function properly and they hardly limit your freedom in anyway.

Give me robots at work, at home and in bed and I’ll be a very happy narcissist! ( oh, but please make them cheap, efficient, self maintaining and guranteed for life.)

But, once again, you are never really attached to any of those “things”. You can, as a narc, always kick your dog away for a better looking and more submissive dog, and never regret it. You will never feel any remorse for having sex a billion times outside your marriage, and you will never remember how your old battered car which served you for 10 years looked like after the first week of driving your new BMW around.
A narc may have a preference for one of those posessions over the other for one day (cat over son, girlfriend over dog), but don’t let that fool you, because it is only ephemeral and can very easily change on the next day.

Tears of beauty.

Most people associate crying and tears with sadness or grief. Yes, it’s true that you see tears when people are upset, grieving or sad, but it’s not really due to the sadness itself. Crying has nothing to do with the negativity or positivity of an emotion; instead they indicate the strength of an emotion. Crying occurs whenever a person is overwhelmed by any powerful emotion, be it sadness or elation. In western society, tears are seen as shameful and “weak.” Why is that?

Most pregnant women report they become more emotional during pregnancy and shed tears at the drop of a hat. This hyper-emotionality continues during lactation, when a new mother is bonding with her infant. I believe the marination of a pregnant or lactating woman’s brain in a bath of female hormones accounts for this, and is nature’s way of ensuring a strong mother-child bond. It happened to me when I was pregnant and after giving birth, and I’m not much of a cryer under normal circumstances.

I’ve mentioned my friend Shannon before, who is one of the most mentally healthy people I’ve ever met. She is also one of the most loving and joyful. But she cries all the time, because she has a huge heart and feels everything from empathy to joy so deeply. Shannon is as strong a person as I’ve ever seen, not a weak bone in her body. (She also laughs a lot).

I think tears are regarded as weak because we instinctively know they lead to and indicate strong heart connections between human beings, and emotional connectedness with others and our need for communion with other people is becoming increasingly thought of as a weakness, even for women.

Here are some photos and gifs I found on Google that show how beautiful genuine emotional tears (not the narcissistic, manipulative kind!) can be.

tears_1

baby_tears1

tears_2

crying_girl

crying_anime

manly_tears
Manly tears.


More manly tears.

crybaby_depp
Johnny Depp in “Crybaby”

crybaby_depp2
From the movie “Crybaby” starring Johnny Depp.

black_boycrying

muslim-girl-crying

tears_laughter

And of course, there is this famous video:

Can narcissists feel empathy for a pet?

dyed_dog

I wonder.

Earlier today I posted Sam Vaknin’s story about his goldfish Ned. He seemed to be feeling something close to empathy for the tiny creature’s suffering when it became ill and something closely resembling grief when the end finally came. Rather than watch the fish continue to suffer, he decided to take matters into his own hands. Did he do this to end the fish’s suffering–or to end his own suffering?

But even if he only desired to end his own suffering, watching the goldfish suffer was causing him pain. So either way, he cared about the fish, even if he only did what he did because watching Ned continue to get sicker was too painful.

This made me think about other narcissists I know who own pets. Do they really care about their pets, or are their pets, like their children, just extensions of themselves?

I think the answer is both. Yes, many narcissists who own pets regard them as extensions of themselves. I think of a neighbor of mine, an insufferable, conceited malignant narcissist if I ever saw one, who has a purebred Bichon Friese. She said she would never own a “mutt” from the pound. Oh, no. Only a purebred dog who makes HER look good will do. She puts bows in Fifi’s hair and gets her toenails painted at the groomer’s. She takes her everywhere and shows her off, as if she’s showing off a new car. Narcissists treat their children the same way–as accessories to make them look good, but because a dog isn’t supposed to have a mind of its own, it’s more acceptable and far less damaging to a dog to be treated this way than it would be for a child.

Yet it’s clear she loves that dog. She spoils Fifi rotten, and the little dog seems happy enough. Again, it’s a dog, not a child, so being objectified is probably okay. I know if anything were to happen to Fifi, this woman would be devastated with grief, at least until she found a new source of canine narcissistic supply. She’s the type who would probably have a funeral for her dog and a custom made urn with Fifi’s likeness painted on it to display on her mantel.

But she would also not hesitate to have Fifi put down were she to become ill. Some may say this is the humane thing to do–that anyone with a conscience and a heart would not want to see a pet suffer needlessly, and that’s true if the pet is truly ill and has little to no chance of recovery or is in a great deal of pain. But to a narcissist, a sick pet is also an inconvenience and a burden. A sick pet is no longer an acceptable extension of themselves; it becomes a separate being who has needs of its own that do not fit the narcissist’s agenda. A sick pet no longer makes them look good.

How much will a narcissist sacrifice before having an ill pet put down? Most people won’t euthanize a pet unless everything else has been tried first. It’s a last resort, something none of us want to do, but at some point it becomes more selfish to try to keep a sick pet alive than to put an end to its suffering. I remember years ago a narcissistic woman I knew had her cat put down because it had worms. The cat was suffering severe diarrhea and was losing weight. The worms could have been easily treated, but she didn’t want to be bothered. Cleaning up the cat’s messes was too much of a chore, and apparently so was taking the cat to the vet to be treated. So she had her cat put to sleep. It’s pretty obvious this woman didn’t have the cat euthanized out of humane compassion, but because it was more convenient than trying to keep him alive. To her, the cat was not a living creature, but a toy to be tossed away the minute it was no longer so much fun to play with or required maintenance.

golden_retriever

It can work the other way too. I knew a narcissistic man who also had a dog, a beautiful Golden Retriever named Bruno. When Bruno was about 12, he developed cancer. The man was very attached to Bruno, and used to tell everyone he was the only friend he had. Even when Bruno got to the point where he stopped eating and slept most of the time, the man refused to have him euthanized. The animal was clearly suffering, and everyone told him it was the only humane thing to do, but the man still refused. Bruno finally died at home in an emaciated state. Clearly, this man cared nothing about Bruno’s suffering even though he appeared to love the dog. He obviously was attached to his pet, but if he truly loved him, he would have put the animal’s needs first, even if it hurt to do so. Real love–whether for a pet or another human being–requires sacrifice and putting the other’s needs first. This man may have “loved” his dog, but he was putting his own needs first.

Most narcissists claim to be attached to their pets, and most of the ones I know truly are. But is attachment love? Or does attachment to a pet just mean the animal is another source of narcissistic supply–a creature who is never going to judge them, disagree with them, insult them, or abandon them?

Sam’s grief over his goldfish appears to have been real, and I think he did the right thing because that fish was most likely suffering (as much as a goldfish can suffer) and wasn’t going to make it. Would he have been the same way with a cat or a dog–or a child? We can’t answer that. Maybe it’s easier for a narcissist to feel empathy and act in unselfish ways for a simple creature–a reptile, fish or invertebrate–who is very unlike a human (unlike a cat or dog, who resemble human children in many ways) and therefore make fewer emotional demands on them. Maybe narcissists just can’t empathize with other humans or highly evolved animals who resemble them too closely or make too many emotional demands.