The “fleas” of narcissism and being Aspie.

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Fivehundredpoundpeep just posted this article yesterday, expanding on yesterday’s post about fleas acquired from narcissists who abused us, but this one from the perspective of an Aspergers sufferer who was horrifically abused and devalued by her sociopathic mother, MN sister, and other decidedly unpleasant relatives.

The Fleas of Narcissism
By Fivehundredpoundpeep

I have read about fleas of narcissism before. Lucky Otter talked about fleas recently too. These are the things you can end up with from being raised in a narcissistic household. These would include learned behaviors and reactions they taught you during your childhood.

One thing I want to add here, is that if you are worried about being a narcissist, while some children of narcissists become a narcissist like them, you often are NOT! Narcissists do not worry about it, the very idea that they may be disordered is way beyond them. They would never in a million years admit anything is wrong with them. My mother in one pissed off email fest actually wrote, “**** thinks I am disordered!” by then I had laid it out and wrote to her that she was a narcissist and had no empathy, though I came to the sociopath conclusions later on.

One fleeting thought someone raised in sick sociopathic households can have, is “Am I anything like them?”. One can have this feeling of, “Has the evil infected me?” Being raised with no love, I wonder how I was able to love people and I do. I knew by a very early age I did not want to be like my parents. For Aspies, justice is very important, it is hard to explain, some see Aspies as being little minion “rule-followers” but it’s different then that, we want to follow what is “right” over wrong. My conscience was very different then their’s. One thing that would happen to me is my parents would slap me for being “too sensitive”. I was told constantly to “harden up”! Today as a 40 something, I know telling a ten year old crying Aspie, “You can’t cope!”, is pretty sick.

I struggle with my own worries about evil then. All Christians do and have to battle against the sins they may commit. God is merciful and there to forgive once one repents but I have worried about falling away under my crushing poverty and losing trust in God. Even crazy bad health problems one’s thoughts can go into despair, instead of prayer. The concept of conscience was not taught in my family or acting according to one’s conscience. I was different. I felt guilt.

However I struggled with a few fleas from being raised in my family. My family all had violent tempers, with screaming, yelling and throwing things and using foul language. They do not censor their tempers. Even Mini-Me has a bad temper and I saw her screaming at her kids a few times.

I can struggle with a bad temper though I have learned to temper it somewhat and try to keep the yelling to myself as much as possible within the confines of my apartment. I would never touch anyone, but when angry I can yell loud.

Long ago I learned to walk away from people while yelling, to keep the damage more minimal. The other day, I started yelling about a door being locked in my face, and hopefully no one heard me. I said one irritated low volume thing with no cussing they did hear, and then thought inside, “I better cool it”. Aspie melt-downs can complicate this, sometimes an Aspie is not mad but just anxious. I know I am not perfect and well, everything is a work in progress.

My family does not feel guilt over their tempers, they think it is okay to rant and rave and cuss the room blue. I was always embarrassed to eat out with my father because he would tell the wait-staff off over every little thing and even would yell. I had visions of goobers hitting our food back in the kitchen. You know something is wrong when the neighbors are calling the police constantly over your family’s screaming and yelling and they show up and because of your father’s position do absolutely nothing while a poorer guy would be getting dragged off to jail.

This is an area where I definitely had to learn NOT to be like my family and to keep it in check.

Other ACONs may struggle with taking criticism–I am okay with criticism that is meant for improvement but not for the mean kind.

One rarer flea I can get is if I am around people I can tell do not like me or don’t understand Aspies or have personality traits like my parents is I can get very sarcastic and will go into “fight or flight” mode inside. I will go into Aspie blunt mode and not “cloak” for the neurotypicals and throw caution to the wind. However this can be dangerous around narcs and other personality disordered types who can manipulate things to turn my emotions against me. Aspies have to remember blunt honesty isn’t always the best social mode. Around narcs of course, silence and disappearing is safer.

I found myself in a “fight or flight” mode in my stomach and having some of my fleas come out too often when I was around certain personalities. Sometimes it is not even something that a particular person is doing or any personality disorder but a clashing of values and world view.

This is one thing ACONs should always pay attention to when it comes to dealing with the world. Pay attention to how you FEEL around certain parties. These are feelings I am learning to pay attention to. Not everyone is a narc but we have to learn to control our fleas around personalities who may trigger us or we may differ with. I know there are neurotypicals out there who have no capability to understand me. Of course we have to be mindful of the personality disordered who may be out to hurt us too. During the early stages of no contact we can be more sensitive too as we wake up to new ways of doing and acting coming out of fog.

Others may have a hardened view towards the world. I know I did for a short time. My parents would scream at me for being “too sensitive” and I had that weird abuse where they denied me the protection and treatment owed a young girl where I was treated more like a boy. I was told to harden up and not to have feelings. My feelings angered them. They failed in this change of me, but there was some fleas left over.

An ACON going through this one can get feelings like “Everyone is out to get me.”, “I’m not going to be a sucker”. I had this in my 20s to an extent expecting that everyone was going to screw me over. One roommate even asked me, “Why do you have to act like such a tough girl?” Get hit enough times and you are always ducking and this is not a good way to deal with the world. When I lived in the ghetto, I did grow somewhat harder and when I escaped to a small rural town, had to adjust my entire stance towards the world. I didn’t need to walk around in defense mode all the time even if I had to learn balancing this one, self protection balanced with openness. I actually had to learn and experience that there were good, kind and loving people in the world which defines many of my friends.

One thing I had to do after becoming a Christian in my thirties, was I did use the Christian people I met as role models. I would pick older women, and some I still have on my social website, and would observe how they treated people. These were women with loving families and who gave to the community and treated people fairly and kindly. While I did Aspies are more apt to do this, in choosing mentors. My best jobs when I was young, I always had a mentor. I don’t think this is a bad thing to do. I was doing it at an older age then most, but choosing positive role models when you have had negative ones for far too long is a good thing and I think a sign of healing.

So fleas can be overcome, you just have to be aware of them.

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Catching FLEAS from narcissists and abusers. (reblogged from Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole)

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When I was Googling “fleas and narcissists” for the previous article, I learned something new. It’s also something I very much have been needing to know, due to my worries lately about my own narcissistic behaviors.

The article, reposted from Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole, decribes the way a long-term relationship with a narcissist can lead to a condition in their victims called FLEAS. I have never heard this term used before, but apparently it’s part of the narcissistic abuse lexicon, and refers to the bad or narcissistic behaviors ACONs and other abuse survivors have picked up from the narcissists who influenced or raised them. These behaviors, unlike those of a true narcissist, can be unlearned. Here is the article in its entirety.

Catching FLEAS from Narcissists and Abusers
By Nyssa (“Clarissa Harlowe,” pseudonym)

fleas_cartoon

I have caught my own FLEAS while dealing with Tracy.

Sometimes, we who have been targeted by the abuses of a narcissist, wonder if we, too, are now narcissists. It can be catching, especially if we are raised by narcs.

But the recovery community uses the term “fleas” to describe our own harmful behaviors, picked up from the narcs, but which do not mean we ourselves are narcs. The trick is to figure out whether you are a narc yourself, or just have “fleas” which you can kill off with a good flea bath.

As posted in FLEAS – Bad Behavior Patterns and Habits Picked Up from Living or Dealing with a Narcissist by Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers:

Now, you may not have NPD (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Some children of Narcissists do, and some don’t. Let’s say you don’t, but you were raised by someone who did/does. Therefore you have some issues that can take the shape of NPD – like a shadow or a snow angel, or even an echo.

You’ll have some issues in the same sorts of areas that Narcissism occupies, because you picked up these fleas FROM a Narcissist.

…..But you don’t have NPD.

What you have is the shadow – “maladaptive behaviors”, as psychologists call them, the unhelpful patterns you have been taught, and which you have had to resort all your life.

And they are glued in, most often, by the shame you have been made to carry.

What you have is nicknamed “FLEAS.” They’re the bad behavior patterns and habits we picked up from living with a nutcase who had total and unhealthy control over us. They are the pain and guilt and crazy patterns we had to take on as children in order to just survive. And they’re completely un-learnable. (Meaning, you can un-learn them!)

One of the most common issues that newbies demonstrate is a tremendous fear that they themselves have NPD.

It’s a perfectly understandable fear. All human beings do Narcissistic things, and when DoNM’s who don’t have NPD recognize and acknowledge their own self-centered behaviors, they sometimes worry that they have NPD.

They feel guilty about possibly having hurt someone’s feelings, been self-centered, etc., and they panic. It can really be upsetting, even terrifying. And they beat themselves up mercilessly for it – because that’s what they’ve been taught to do.

You’ll notice that I said, “Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers who don’t have NPD”…

In order for someone to recognize, acknowledge and feel guilty about their own Narcissistic behaviors, they first have to have a level of empathy and sense of emotional responsibility that Narcissists, by definition, do not possess.


On the DoNM forum, the usual response to such a person is, ‘If you’re that worried about the impact of your behavior on others, and you’re willing to publicly share your fear of being NPD, trust us — you don’t have NPD… you just have FLEAS.’ “

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Violet writes in Am I a Narcissist, Too? All About Fleas:

We can pick up fleas anywhere. I have seen things on FaceBook, people saying really hurtful, mean things about LGBT people, about people of colour, about the poor and disadvantaged, about women, and they are absolutely shameless about it.

Some of these people are narcissists, but others have picked up fleas from narcissistic politicians, pastors, or other authority figures they either revere or fear. Taken out of that environment and shown how their words and attitudes actually hurt other living, breathing human beings, some of these people will feel shame for what they said and the hurt they caused.

Others will not, and they will rationalize and justify what they said, even blame their victims for their hurt (I have actually seen someone say that feeling hurt by the words of a bully is a choice, that you can choose not to be hurt and therefore what the bullies say and do is OK!) : these people are most likely narcissists.
I’ve seen versions of this as well. For example, statements that we choose to be offended by others; that we can simply stop being offended. Or, “I’m not responsible for your emotions.”

There are different ways people mean this, however. The first was said in the context of, Yes, what they said is offensive, but you can choose your own reactions–thereby not giving the offender power over you.

The second, I’ve seen used as an excuse to do whatever you want, because it’s the other person’s fault if they’re offended. It was said by Richard to me, after I told him he was doing some things that hurt me. I forget what they were, just that it was close to the time we broke off the friendship, and that he basically took the responsibility for my being hurt off his shoulders, putting it on mine. ???!!!


I’ve seen it in other places as well, the excuse that if we hurt somebody, it’s their fault for being hurt. That’s very narcissistic, and goes against everything my husband and I were taught growing up. It’s yet another sign that I’ve pegged Richard correctly as a narcissist.

If you’ve hurt and offended someone, the very least you can do is apologize for hurting them, even if you don’t feel your action was wrong in and of itself. You can listen to how you can avoid hurting that person again.

Sure there are times when that person was offended by an innocent action which should not be offensive (ie, offended by a gay man kissing his partner in public, or offended by an introvert who means well but is quiet, or offended by a woman breastfeeding her baby at the mall).

But oftentimes, the offensive act could simply be avoided next time.

Tracy, too, as I saw time and again, would justify whatever she did, even though it hurt others. She hurt Todd, so she justified it as his fault. She hurt me, so to this day she justifies her actions as “nothing wrong” and talks like my being hurt is somehow “childish.”

Even Richard told me back in February 2008, Good luck getting an apology out of her, because she rarely apologizes to anyone, thinking whatever she does is justified. I don’t have the e-mail in front of me and don’t recall if I kept it, but I still remember it.

(I remember thinking when I got it, “I don’t want to deal with that woman anymore!” This was the first time I seriously thought about breaking off the friendship.)

She used Richard’s past abuses of the children to justify her own abuses of the children (I have an e-mail proving this). Which means she’s like this to everybody: me, Todd, even Richard. And this is one of the signs of a narcissist, according to the above.

There is more good stuff in that blog post, explaining how we can tell if we’re narcissists or have just picked up some “fleas”–and how to eradicate those fleas.

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From the website Out of the Fog (Fear, Obligation, Guilt):

Fleas – When a non-personality-disordered individual (Non-PD) begins imitating or emulating some of the disordered behavior of a loved one or family member with a personality disorder this is sometimes referred to as “getting fleas”….

Sometimes, when a person has been exposed to an abusive situation for a sustained period, they will look for ways to escape – and sometimes they will experiment or resort to behaviors which are not characteristic but serve as a mechanism to demonstrate their anger.

These behaviors are often destructive and counter-productive and rarely get the abuse victim what they want. These behaviors usually result in regret, shame and apologies from the abuse victim towards their perpetrator. Some perpetrators may seize on such incidents as justification for their own abusive behavior or as a diversion from it….

However, most Non-PD’s are more accustomed to “keeping the peace” than being aggressors and most of us are not comfortable or accomplished in winning arguments or fights.

We will often back down or feel remorse after lashing out. We may begin to compare our behavior to that of the person with the personality disorder and wonder if we are the ones who have “the” problem.

It is common for Non-PD’s to begin to question if they are the one who suffers from a personality disorder. It is also common for Non-PD’s to greatly fear retribution after an angry outburst and engage in a manipulative campaign, similar to hoovering to try to deflect consequences or payback.

Narcissist

To read the rest of this post, please see the rest of Nyssa’s article here.

For more about how Narcissists can give you FLEAS, read this article, “The Shocking Truth: Staying with a Narcissist can Give You Fleas” from Let Me Reach with Kim Saeed.

That’s enough about fleas and FLEAS for one night. I’m getting itchy.