Free association…thoughts on gratitude, pride and healing.

My head was exploding with ideas for new posts this morning (creative new ideas are almost out of control! Halleluia!) but since none are long thoughts and all came to me as I was running my morning errands and buying a few groceries (By the way, if you’ve never tried Bolthouse Smoothies, you haven’t lived. Blue Goodness is the best. Naked brand smoothies may be a little cheaper. Of course you can make your own too if you’re not lazy like me).

Free association #1. My daughter’s victory.

victory

I got a text from my daughter saying she pressed charges on Paul last night for assault (he had slammed her into the door, which was why it broke) and theft of property (he did still have everything of hers, including most of the money!) and the sociopath who passed himself off as such a “loving” boyfriend was arrested this morning.

Then the unbelievable (well, maybe not so unbelievable) happened. He called her from jail, crying and apologizing over and over again. I would doubt it’s genuine remorse as he is obviously a skilled psychopath–he’s probably just scared to death of her now and the fact he was called out and actually arrested for his despicable behavior, and he lost. I told her I was proud of her for having so much courage and getting justice.

I am ever so grateful. This proves there is justice in the world and karma WILL come back to haunt the evildoers who have no remorse for their actions. At the end of the day, they will get what they deserve, even if it takes longer than we expected. Sometimes we just need to grow some balls (even if we’re female) and throw away the Cowardly Lion act. With God’s grace and patience, we will be vindicated.

Free association #2: Pride: seductive and deadly.

pride

Proverbs 29:23 – A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Galatians 6:3 – For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

Proverbs 11:2 – [When] pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly [is] wisdom.

Proverbs 26:12 – Seest thou a man wise in his own conceit? [there is] more hope of a fool than of him.

James 4:6 – But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

Proverbs 16:18 – Pride [goeth] before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

I’m treading on dangerous territory now as big changes are beginning to happen since I left my narc and was inspired by God to start a blog. Doors that seemed forever locked are now opening. I feel like I take up more “space” in the world–before, my world seemed very small and claustrophobic. I felt hopelessly stifled, and at the same time I was afraid to venture out into the wider world, which I am doing now, even if right now it’s just the wider world of the Internet.

This is all fine and dandy, but it contains a deadly pitfall: the sin of Pride.

Pride in moderation is fine and healthy, as long as we don’t give all the credit for our joys and achievements to ourselves (because we are not gods–in spite of what sociopathic “prosperity preachers” like Joel Osteen tell us). We need to realize that as humans, we are vessels made by God and our first priority is to give glory to God, in whatever manner or talents He has gifted us with.

Each and every one of us has a special gift or talent we were given and the painful lessons we learned in life may be the key to what our purpose in this life may be and where our true abilities lie.

If we neglect to credit God for imbuing us with his Spirit in the form of creative, empathic, scientific, or any other type of vision, we can become full of pride–and pride is a slippery slope to full blown narcissism. That’s why so many Hollywood celebrities have become so narcissistic–because they failed to realize they are not gods themselves–their success or outstanding talent is a tool that God imbued them with and they are merely vessels. God wants nothing but the best for each and every one of us. He wants all of us to realize the potential he created us with. However, his gifts are to be used to help us best serve Him and others, not to serve ourselves.

I need to continually remind myself of God’s enormous role in the changes I’m beginning to see in my life–as well as this new, unfamiliar, optimistic feeling that I actually have a future and a purpose in this world to help first myself and then pay that forward to others.

Sure, of course, there’s going to be a little narcissistic pride (like always bragging about my stats LOL), because we are human and imperfect. That’s okay as long as I NEVER forget that it’s not all about me. God wants me to use my writing and blogging ability not to become full of myself over what it can do for ME (because that’s the point at which everything falls apart, as these Bible verses tell us), but to use it as a tool to help others fulfill their OWN potential and help them find the person God wanted THEM to be so they can use their own Godgiven gifts…and pay it forward…just like in that old 1970s shampoo commercial that said if you tell your friends, then they’ll tell their friends, and on and on and on….I know we’re not discussing brands of hair products here but the analogy is a good one.

God wants all of us to succeed, in spite of what our abusers and narcs have convinced us is true. They are lying. Because God made you special, he made me special–we are images of Him and how special and loving he is.

If you think God didn’t give you any special gift, you are mistaken. If you think you lost or wasted your gift, you are wrong. I was sure I had frittered away and wasted all my talents and abilities due to prolonged narcissistic abuse. I was sure God hated me and was using me as an example of how NOT to be, how NOT to live, as a pitiful laughing stock to the rest of the world…I really believed this!…but again, I was so, SO wrong.

Just be careful about Pride, because it’s very seductive and deadly and can veer you WAY off course, into narcissistic selfishness and darkness…and will affect all those around you in a negative way, especially yourself.

Free association #3: Could insightful narcissists be healed?

innerchild

I like to look for the good in people and maybe I’m just hopelessly naive and unrealistically optimistic, but I absolutely refuse to believe (as many people do) that certain narcissists can’t ever recover from their disorder. Perhaps true psychopaths/sociopaths and the most malignant, evil narcissists have crossed a line into darkness and it’s too late for them to change, but I think as long as a narcissist has insight into their own behavior, there is hope for them to heal. I think insight is the first step to healing for someone with this devastating personality disorder.

Right now I can think of several narcissists who have enormous insight into themselves and I think they do have hope of recovery — even if they themselves don’t believe it. There are three I am thinking of in particular: Sam Vaknin; the narcissistic commenter KWWL who recently posted on my blog about their NPD and desire to heal; and my own daughter, who may have NPD (or BPD) but has expressed a true desire to change and stop doing manipulative and bad things. I am sure there are many others, and some of them may be reading this blog right now.

I have a great deal of empathy for narcissists like these, and in that spirit, I want to say a prayer for all narcissists who have been given the divine gift of Insight:

Dear Father,
Please show these troubled people that they have goodness in them, and are the way they are due to how they were treated as children and their terror of removing the masks that serve to protect the hurt child inside, and that they have become so comfortable wearing.

Let that hurt and lonely child out in the fresh air, let that child be nurtured with your love and our prayers, keep that child safe from further hurt, teach that child that doing the right thing can be just as satisfying (and much more so) as doing the wrong thing, and show that child where their true talents are, so they can begin to walk on the side of the sunlight instead of forever attempting to walk the fence that separates the darkness from the light.

Narcissists, even the most insightful, are in grave danger of losing their balance and falling into darkness (as we all are). Father, please keep them safe from themselves, and teach them that at the end of the day, their false pride can destroy them, not to mention those they come in contact with.

Finally, Father, for the narcissists without insight, please bless them with this gift. For those with insight but who don’t want to change, bless them with the desire to change.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional therapist, and do not have an advanced degree (just a BA in Psychology and Art), and have no guarantee anything at all would work for narcs, but in thinking this problem over so much (and doing so much reading by experts in this field–M. Scott Peck, Vaknin, Hare, George K. Simon, various bloggers who believe NPD can be cured, and others), I think an insightful narcissist could be healed through a four-point program–difficult and probably very expensive, but something that possibly could work for some under the right circumstances. (These ideas are not my own–they are an amalgamation of the ideas of others–even the spiritual element of prayer and faith are from the ideas of M. Scott Peck).

How to cure an insightful and willing narcissist.
1. Emotional catharsis (brought on by loss of narcissistic supply and preceding Cold Empathy from the therapist working with them): https://otterlover58.wordpress.com/2014/11/30/could-reparenting-actually-cure-a-narcissist/
2. Dream analysis and training in Lucid Dreaming (because this may be the only time the True Self is accessible).
3. Retraining the conscience through CBT (cognitive behavioral training)
4. Faith and prayer (from others)
Insight and willingness to change must precede all of this, of course.

I am also not suggesting we should enable or give narcissists what they want. We still need to go No Contact with the malignant, psychopathic ones and those who have done damage to us, and sometimes even the ones who just annoy us.

Narcissists, if they are ever to recover, need TOUGH LOVE.

kickass

Note to narcissists who may be reading this.
This is not and never will be a narc-free blog (see my Rules in the header). If you are a narcissist and want to talk about it honestly and civilly here, as some have already , I am inviting you to do so. If you want help, even though I can’t help you myself, I may be able to help direct you to some good resources (also see Info and Support in my header). If you don’t want to post on a public blog like this, you are free to email me with your questions or story.

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Interview with Sam Vaknin explains why he wrote “Malignant Self-Love”

I have not yet finished Sam’s tome about NPD (it is VERY long but so far readable enough), so I cannot write a review of it myself (but I definitely will when I finish the book).

In the meanwhile, I came across this fascinating interview that sheds some light on Sam’s motivations for writing “Malignant Self-Love,” something I’ve wondered about almost obsessively ever since I saw “I, Psychopath” on Youtube over two months ago. Hey, we Aspies tend to obsess about things!

It’s an excerpt from a longer article by Tony C. Brown I found on FriedGreenTomatoes.org, another website for survivors of narcissistic abuse. The article itself is biased from the the side of Sam’s detractors (which goes into lengthy diatribe about Sam’s ever-discussed “fake degree”), but trashing his true motives or his credentials (which I don’t care about) isn’t my desire or my point in excerpting this interview. I think Sam is being as brutally honest about himself here as he appears to always be.

samvakquote
The best insight I have found for understanding Sam’s intentions in writing “Malignant Self Love” came in an interview Bob Goodman conducted with Mr. Vaknin and was published on the Natterbox website in 2000. The following exchange helped me develop a better understanding of Mr. Vaknin’s motives and agenda.

Bob Goodman asks , “I’ve seen Malignant Self Love described in some contexts as a self-help book. Often in this genre, we see authors who have triumphed over some personal adversity and wish to help others do the same. But your approach is quite different. You write that your discovery of your own NPD “was a painful process which led nowhere. I am no different — and no healthier — today than I was when I wrote this book. My disorder is here to stay, the prognosis poor and alarming.” Do you see the book, then, as more a work of self-literacy than self-healing?”

Mr Vaknin replies, “I never described Malignant Self Love as a helpful work. It is not. It is a dark, hopeless tome. Narcissists have no horizons, they are doomed by their own history, by their successful adaptation to abnormal circumstances and by the uncompromising nature of their defense mechanisms. My book is a scientific observation of the beast, coupled with an effort to salvage its victims. Narcissists are absent-minded sadists and they victimize everyone around them. Those in contact with them need guidance and help. Malignant Self Love is a phenomenology of the predator on the one hand, and a vindication and validation of its prey on the other.”

Mr. Goodman: “You are a self-professed narcissist, and you warn your readers that narcissists are punishing, pathological, and not to be trusted. Yet hundreds of readers or customers seem to be looking to you for help and advice on how to cope with their own narcissism or their relationship with a narcissist. I’m struck by a kind of hall-of-mirrors effect here. How do you reconcile these seeming contradictions?”

Mr. Vaknin: “Indeed, only seeming. I may have misphrased myself. By “helpful” I meant “intended to help.” The book was never intended to help anyone. Above all, it was meant to attract attention and adulation (narcissistic supply) to its author, myself. Being in a guru-like status is the ultimate narcissistic experience. Had I not also been a misanthrope and a schizoid, I might have actually enjoyed it. The book is imbued with an acerbic and vitriolic self-hatred, replete with diatribes and jeremiads and glaring warnings regarding narcissists and their despicable behavior. I refused to be “politically correct” and call the narcissist “other-challenged.” Yet, I am a narcissist and the book is, therefore, a self-directed “J’accuse.” This satisfies the enfant terrible in me, the part of me that seeks to be despised, abhorred, derided and, ultimately, punished by society at large.”

One last bit of the interview with Goodman appears toward the end of the article.

Sam lives a nomad lifestyle which he describes in the interview with Bob Goodman.

Mr. Goodman asks, “I understand you’re something of a nomad now, hopping from country to country and job to job. Do you ever long for a more settled existence?”

Sam replies, “Never. You are describing a morgue, a cemetery. My life is colorful, adventurous, impossible, cinematic. Sure, I pay a price — who doesn’t? Is there no price to be for a sedentary, predictable, numbing existence? When one is 90 years old, all that is left is memories. You are the director of the movie of your life, a 70 years-long movie. Now, sit back and begin to watch: is it a boring film? would you have watched it had it not been yours? If the answers are negative and positive, respectively, you succeeded to live well, regardless of the price you paid.”

The stages of becoming malignant; moments of clarity

I just received this comment under the currently spiking article (linked in the previous post).

jamcomment
Click to enlarge.

I’ve embellished my reply into an article because this was such a fascinating issue to me.

Becoming Malignant
Malignant narcissists who became that way later in life by making an evil choice (such as making a genuine deal with the devil, becoming involved in the dark arts, or committing a heinous crime against their will, such as in war, may not be entirely seared and the real self can occasionally shine through. But they can’t leave the darkness without an almost supernatural force of will. They may know they’re this way and may even hate it and suffer, but THEY CANNOT LEAVE THE DARKNESS once they’ve made that choice. It’s like they already died and went to hell (I’m not sure I believe in a literal place called Hell, but I think you know what point I’m making here).

The Infection.
Malignant narcissists are incredibly dangerous because they can infect you with their sickness. They can literally rip out your soul and replace it with emptiness and blackness. A formerly good person can also become MN themselves if they associate too long with an MN abuser. There are several stages to this process. It doesn’t happen immediately. It’s very insidious.

Here is the machinery of evil:

1. The Honeymoon: The MN love bombs the intended victim with charm, fake love, gifts, and kindness so they learn to trust them.
2. The MN will pretend to agree with everything the victim says and seem empathic. What’s really happening is the opposite. The victim already trusts the MN and has been partly brainwashed already, so whatever the MN says, the victim agrees with and think it was themselves who thought it
3. The MN changes and his games become cruel and anything but loving. The honeymoon is over. The blatant mindfuck begins.
4. Over time, the spirit of the abused breaks down. They begin to feel like they’re worthless and the insane and abnormal begins to seem normal.
5. The MN abuse becomes worse. They make it impossible for the victim to escape, using various means and separating them from friends and other loved ones, often through turning everyone they both know against the victim through the MN’s lies, gaslighting, and triangulation. The victim becomes isolated and thinks they might be going crazy and start to doubt their own reality. If the victim has figured out the MN has turned everyone into their flying monkeys and started a campaign against them and try to call out the MN, they will be told they are crazy or imagining things. The classic psychological horror movie “Gaslight” shows this process so well that the term “gaslighting” was named after it. At the same time the victim realizes they have become entirely dependent on the MN.
6. This is the make or break moment. The abuse escalates into abject, intolerable cruelty. The victim may begin to fight back (this is the point at which a person can still leave the relationship before their soul is destroyed). If they don’t fight back they will succumb even further and are doomed, because…
7. As a defense mechanism, the victim begins to identify with the MN. This is known as Stockholm Syndrome. It’s the only way they can cope with what their life has become and the pain they are undergoing at the hands of the MN. They begin to collude with the MN.
8. Once they collude with the MN (even if it’s to insure their survival or the survival of others like their children), the transformation is complete. The victim, newly turned MN, can never go back. As they age they will keep getting worse.
9. The MN who infected the victim at this point will probably leave and move on to his or her next victim. There is nothing more he can with the first victim.

I got to Stage 6. Thank God I didn’t get any further along than that. Once I began to identify with my abuser(s), it might have been too late…

I’m getting mega chills writing this. This is scary stuff. But it’s real.

Moments of Clarity
On the other side of the equation, the opposite could happen (the MN turning good), but it’s far less likely than the first scenario, which is all too common. If it does ever happen to an adult, it’s extremely rare.

Even the most malignant narcs have these bizarre moments of clarity. They don’t happen often. It’s kind of spooky because it’s like all of a sudden they have another personality, but it’s fleeting. It’s as if they wake up for a second and even their look changes to a different, more human one. It’s very, very weird. I’ve seen it myself. It’s a moment that could change them if they really wanted help. Usually it passes too quickly unless God steps in. A really good therapist might be able to get through if the narc presented themselves for therapy, which they sometimes do (when they’ve lost all their supply and have sunk into depression).
Still, we can’t delude ourselves into thinking they will get better. The vast majority will not. In fact they grow worse with age.

I’m reminded of a scene in “The Shining” (the book, not the movie), where Jack Torrance (the possessed father) comes out of his trance for a second or two and tells his son Danny, “RUN! Get away from me, I love you!” Then he goes back into his murderous rage. It was incredibly creepy.

The day Sam Vaknin knew he was a narcissist

Vector illustration of a man lock up in prison

I’m going to go ahead and confess part of the big secret that I alluded to in an earlier post. I’m writing a book about Sam. I can’t say too much else about it right now because the book’s focus hasn’t completely gelled in my mind yet. Right now I intend for it to be a biography, focusing on NPD from the inside–that is, what the disorder FEELS like. Sam is a controversial figure, and has enemies within the narcissistic abuse community and even more so among professionals who specialize in NPD (mainly because in their minds he lacks the proper qualifications), but there are also a great many people he has helped–even if helping wasn’t his intention, which it most likely wasn’t if he really is the malignant narcissist he says he is.

I took on this project because I need to come to my own conclusions without being influenced by others, either positive or negative. I do feel like Sam’s been more maligned that he deserves over the brouhaha over his “paper mill” degree, among other things. He’s an interesting character, and to my way of thinking, deserves to have a book written about him. I realize it will probably be a small market, but that’s okay–his story needs to be told. I also realize this will most likely be a feast of narcissistic supply for Sam, but I can live with that. Of course, I’m not going to sugar coat anything–but narcissists even consider negative attention to be satisfactory supply. In fact, some even prefer it. I think my book will be balanced, and there are good reasons to defend him from his haters but there are many things I don’t know about him yet either. If he’s really that malignant, I could wind up hating him myself when I’m done with this project. Or maybe not. Whatever happens, I know it will be very educational and mind-expanding and I feel that one way or another, writing this book will change me in some profound (and good) ways.

So anyway…Sam gave me the go ahead for this project after I emailed him wanting to do it. I’m trying to figure out how to go about getting an interview with him (I would have to go to Macedonia), but for the time being, I emailed a woman who did interview him who has some tapes and who may be able to share those with me. I’m waiting for a reply. Sam also sent me a long list of links to his writings, most which I have never seen before but which are publicly available here. These are his personal journals, poetry and short stories. I have a lot of reading to do!

Sam’s disordered mind fascinates me because he has two qualities in spades that both fly in the face of the typical narcissist (and he insists he is a malignant narcissist; of that I still have my doubts but that’s another thing I need to find out on my own): he is completely and brutally honest, and he has incredible insight into his disorder.

I’ve rambled on long enough about why I want to write this book. In reading Sam’s journal entries, I came across this one that left me gutted, breathless and nearly crying. It’s hard to wrap my mind around how a narcissist–a machine-like being with the inability to feel–can write about themselves with so much raw and searing emotion. There’s something else going on there. He’s a wicked good writer, but I believe with the certainty that the sun will rise tomorrow that there’s not one shred of fiction in this journal entry. I can smell bullshit from a mile away by now, and there’s no bullshit here. For the record, Sam’s poetry is just as gut-wrenching as his prose.

It’s about the day he became aware he was a narcissist. Until that day he had no insight into his disorder; he gained all his insight after the incidents leading up to that day. In some ways, the way he describes it, NPD seems much like a dissociative disorder, like MPD (multiple personality disorder). I have written before about how taking away a narcissist’s supply would send them into a “narcissistic crisis” of severe depression, forcing them to confront their own emptiness, which in turn results in emotional catharsis; this is exactly how it happened here for Sam.

Unfortunately, he got to that point, but was either unable or unwilling to seek further treatment to attempt to rewire his brain to have empathy or a conscience. A cure may not be possible. Maybe you can’t retrain the adult brain to have a conscience the way it was done for a child like Beth Thomas; I just don’t know. That’s one more thing I need to find out more about. I sure have my work cut out for me.

How I “Became” a Narcissist

prisonman2

I remember the day I died. Almost did. We were in a tour of Jerusalem. Our guide was the Deputy Chief Warden. We wore our Sunday best suits – stained dark blue, abrasive jeans shirts tucked in tattered trousers. I could think of nothing but Nomi. She left me two months after my incarceration. She said that my brain did not excite her as it used to. We were sitting on what passed as a grassy knoll in prison and she was marble cold and firm. This is why, during the trip to Jerusalem, I planned to grab the Warden’s gun and kill myself.

Death has an asphyxiating, all-pervasive presence and I could hardly breathe. It passed and I knew that I had to find out real quick what was wrong with me – or else.

How I obtained access to psychology books and to Internet from the inside of one of Israel’s more notorious jails, is a story unto itself. In this film noire, this search of my dark self, I had very little to go on, no clues and no Della Street by my side. I had to let go – yet I never did and did not know how.

I forced myself to remember, threatened by the immanent presence of the Grim Reaper. I fluctuated between shattering flashbacks and despair. I wrote cathartic short fiction. I published it. I remember holding myself, white knuckles clasping an aluminum sink, about to throw up as I am flooded with images of violence between my parents, images that I repressed to oblivion. I cried a lot, uncontrollably, convulsively, gazing through tearful veils at the monochrome screen.

The exact moment I found a description of the Narcissistic Personality Disorder is etched in my mind. I felt engulfed in word-amber, encapsulated and frozen. It was suddenly very quiet and very still. I met myself. I saw the enemy and it was I.

The article was long winded and full of references to scholars I never heard of before: Kernberg, Kohut, Klein. It was a foreign language that resounded, like a forgotten childhood memory. It was I to the last repellent details, described in uncanny accuracy: grandiose fantasies of brilliance and perfection, sense of entitlement without commensurate achievements, rage, exploitation of others, lack of empathy.

I had to learn more. I knew I had the answer. All I had to do was find the right questions.

That day was miraculous. Many strange and wonderful things happened. I saw people – I SAW them. And I had a glimmer of understanding regarding my self – this disturbed, sad, neglected, insecure and ludicrous things that passed for me.

It was the first important realization – there were two of us. I was not alone inside my body.

dualman

One was an extrovert, facile, gregarious, attention-consuming, adulation-dependent, charming, ruthless and manic-depressive being. The other was schizoid, shy, dependent, phobic, suspicious, pessimistic, dysphoric and helpless creature – a kid, really.

I began to observe these two alternating. The first (whom I called Ninko Leumas – an anagram of the Hebrew spelling of my name) would invariably appear to interact with people. It didn’t feel like putting a mask on or like I had another personality. It was just like I am MORE me. It was a caricature of the TRUE me, of Shmuel.

Shmuel hated people. He felt inferior, physically repulsive and socially incompetent. Ninko also hated people. He held them in contempt. THEY were inferior to his superior qualities and skills. He needed their admiration but he resented this fact and he accepted their offerings condescendingly.

As I pieced my fragmented and immature self together I began to see that Shmuel and Ninko were flip sides of the SAME coin. Ninko seemed to be trying to compensate Shmuel, to protect him, to isolate him from hurt and to exact revenge whenever he failed. At this stage I was not sure who was manipulating who and I did not have the most rudimentary acquaintance with this vastly rich continent I discovered inside me.

But that was only the beginning.