The elimination of NPD from the DSM would be a disaster

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Apparently, the removal of Narcissistic Personality Disorder (DSM-V code 301.81; ICD-10 code F60.81) from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is still being considered.   Sam Vaknin talks about it in this video.

I think its removal would be disastrous. It already scares me that narcissism seems to be increasingly regarded as an advantage in today’s winner-take-all society and that we even have a potential US President who is a poster boy for malignant NPD. Trump has even been given the NPD label by many mental health professionals. Yet he still remains popular and is a serious contender for our next President.

But narcissism (not the healthy, but the pathological type) is definitely not a positive thing. Narcissists are actually miserable people even if they become successful (and many of them do not). These are people without a real sense of self, who have constructed a false one to compensate and must feed off others like vampires to keep their false self intact. They do others a lot of damage, even if they think they don’t have a problem. Under the facade, these are people who have a vast well of emptiness inside and if the false self is removed through loss of narcissistic supply, will become deeply depressed, possibly psychotic, and even suicidal. NPD is a serious mental illness, but I think people tend to forget that, because on the surface, people with this disorder can seem so functional. SEEM is the operating word here.

Many self-help books, especially those that tell you how to be successful, encourage you to develop narcissistic traits. I think these books are dangerous, not only because they encourage people to become narcissists, but also because they have caused a shift in thinking about NPD to the point that many no longer consider it a mental illness and in fact think of it as something to strive for. We need to stop pretending narcissism isn’t a problem. More attention needs to be paid not only to the damage narcissists cause others, but also to the internal world of the NPD, which is a painful and bleak one. NPD is a serious mental illness, not a “personality type.” Its removal from the DSM would cause untold damage to the world.

We also need more mental health specialists who are actually trained to treat people with NPD. I think part of the reason why it’s under consideration for removal is because most therapists don’t want to treat people with NPD. If you have the diagnosis, you are shown the door. They don’t want to deal with you and assume you are incurable. Hence, there are more narcissists walking around doing damage to themselves and others than ever before. I don’t think the non-malignant type of narcissist is as incurable as people think; it’s just because it isn’t an easy disorder to treat and therapists don’t want to be bothered working with people who have it. Old-school psychiatrists and psychologists such as Kohut, Kernberg, Masterson, and Lowen treated people with NPD successfully in their practices, but we seem to have forgotten that and just assume it’s incurable and worse, that it’s not even a mental illness but a personality type. This needs to change!

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Karma comes a-calling for my malignant narcissist ex.

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Sometimes you can actually see what happens to a narcissistic abuser when they alienate everyone and have nothing left.

My MN ex has effectively alienated not only his ex wife (me), but also both his children. He has no other living family (and his deceased mother was also a malignant narcissist).    He runs off potential friends the first time they disagree with him and becomes abusive toward them and starts badmouthing them to anyone who will listen, so he has no friends either.

Most of you no I am No Contact with my ex.    He finally stopped trying to hoover me and these days does nothing but badmouth me to our children because I am no longer of any use to him.    My children are sick of it, and they’re sick of him.   My son can see right through his lies and bullshit, and has been able to do so for years.   Without his narcissist father in his life, he is doing very well and is reasonably happy.  He has supportive friends who serve as a kind of surrogate family to him.    He has only a few scars (Obsessive-Compulsive personality disorder, including a rather pathological fear of germs) from having been his father’s scapegoat growing up, but is working on that in therapy, as well as his lingering issues with self esteem and depression.

My daughter, who got “rewarded” when she was younger for being the golden child and her father’s flying monkey recruit, is over it–and she’s over her father.  Since he had no one left in the family to bully, lie to, steal from, triangulate against, gaslight, and abuse, she became his newest victim and scapegoat!   If you’re the golden child of a narcissist, never get too comfortable.   They will turn on you in a heartbeat if no other supply is forthcoming or their original scapegoats defect.  You, too, are merely an object for them to feed off of so their false self doesn’t fall to pieces.

There have been two incidents lately that made her finally wake up to the truth about him.  About a month ago, he stole her entire savings–almost $300, that she’d been so proud of and diligently adding to for over three months.   He not only lied to her about the theft, he tried to blame ME and suggest I might have taken it.   Even her tears didn’t move him–his own DAUGHTER’s tears, and he continued to deny that he had taken it and told her she was overreacting.

A week ago he broke into her car at work (somehow he got a spare key) and stole more money and some of her prescription medicine she takes for anxiety.    She was always too trusting of him–and she’s too trusting in general.  She tends to be codependent, the way I used to be.    But now she knows her father isn’t a loving person who will support her; he is treacherous and has zero conscience or empathy.  Like everyone else, she’s just an object to him.   This was a hard and painful truth for her to realize, and she hasn’t spoken to him since this incident.   Although she’s not officially No Contact, she is taking No Contact actions by not having anything to do with him.  She does love her father, but she is starting to realize he never loved her, or anyone, because he’s not capable of it.  She knows it’s nothing she did; it’s because he is very sick.

Now he has no one left and still lives with my daughter’s ex boyfriend because he can use him too and he’s too lazy to look for a place of his own.   The ex boyfriend (who is still friends with my daughter) is tiring of his mind-games and his constant demands too and never talks to him anymore, even though they are living in the same house.  He thinks the way he treats his own children is appalling.  He continues to allow him to live there, because he helps with the bills in exchange for the room, but he doesn’t like him and barely talks to him at all.

The strain is showing.  My MN ex is beginning to lose his mind (whatever was left of it).    My daughter’s ex tells us he is acting more and more erratic and bizarre, talking about things that make no sense that sometimes sounds like the word salad some schizophrenics are known for.  He threatens suicide all the time and spends his days and nights abusing random people on Facebook and trolling political websites, abusing and bullying the people he finds there.   He’s unemployable.  Even if he could find work, no one would hire him.  He not only acts insane, he looks it too.   He never bathes and dresses strangely or barely at all.  And so he just sits in his room all day, never coming out except to eat or use the bathroom.

My ex is an example of a malignant narcissist who has no supply left to inflate his false self–no family, no friends, no job, no recognition of any kind, ill heath, and he’s losing his looks with age and both mental and physical illness–and now he’s completely losing his mind.   He’s unrecognizable from the charming, handsome, ambitious, and charismatic person I met in 1985.   He doesn’t even try to hide his malignancy behind a “nice” mask anymore.   He’s openly mean, nasty and negative.  He appears to have completely lost any soul he might once have had and now he’s batshit crazy to boot.   Soon he will probably need to be housed in a mental institution, if he doesn’t take his own life first.

He’s a perfect example of a narcissist way too far up the NPD/ASPD spectrum to ever admit he needs help or realize that he has sabotaged himself by running off everyone, including his own family, with his repellent personality and refusal to accept any responsibility or blame for the pain he has caused them. He still constantly projects his own malignant narcissism onto the people he was supposed to love but never could.    I don’t see this man ever becoming so beaten down he would go into therapy to try to understand what his own role in this might have been.   He denies he is a narcissist and always will.   He has zero self awareness and always will.   If he ever “hits bottom” (which he’s really close to now), all I see him doing is committing suicide.   He’d be too proud to humble himself and willingly renounce his ways.  He’d rather die than do that.

I don’t exactly enjoy seeing his deterioration, but a part of me can’t help but think it’s all due to his choices and refusal to take any kind of responsibility and that he’s just finally getting what he deserves.

3 common types of narcissists.

When most people think of a narcissist, they picture the stereotype:  a successful, wealthy male who is arrogant, grandiose about his appearance or achievements or intelligence, acts entitled, greedy, lacking in empathy, and is emotionally abusive to his underlings and his family.   He thinks far too highly of himself and while no one likes him, everyone respects him (or is terrified of him).  He doesn’t care if you’re scared of him or not; he just wants you to worship him and do his bidding.

But most narcissists actually don’t fit this stereotype. The traditional DSM description of Narcissistic Personality Disorder fit this stereotype best though, and that’s probably why most people picture an arrogant, successful man when they hear the term NPD.   While there definitely are narcissists who fit that description, most probably don’t.   And while NPD is usually diagnosed in males (females are far more likely to be labeled BPD or HPD), in actuality it’s probably just as common in women.  They’re just less likely to have been diagnosed with it.

I think one reason why NPD is more often given to males is because the label is so stigmatizing that it’s usually only given to people who have broken the law, and the vast majority of convicted criminals are male  (ASPD–antisocial personality disorder–is also commonly given to men who have broken the law).

I’ve noticed three main types of narcissists, and they can be either male or female.   Only the first type–the grandiose or overt narcissist–fits the traditional stereotype.

1. The Grandiose Narcissist.

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The grandiose, or overt narcissist, fits the traditional stereotype of someone with NPD.   There are probably more males of this type than females, but both exist.    A grandiose narcissist is drunk on pride, and will become extremely angry or abusive should you question his superiority or attempt to expose him as the narcissist he really is.   Most grandiose narcissists are successful, though not all are.   Those who aren’t successful act as if they were, spending money they don’t have and bragging about achievements they never earned (or exaggerating them).   They use others for their own gain because they can’t recognize that those around them are human beings with feelings, not objects to be used and discarded as they see fit.  Grandiose narcissists expect you to worship them and look up to them as paragons of superiority in whatever they have deemed themselves to be the “best” at–maybe it’s their appearance or body (somatic narcissist) or maybe it’s their intelligence or achievements (cerebral narcissist).   If you criticize them they become extremely upset and angry and will either attack or sometimes, give you the silent treatment.  They expect the world from you but will give you nothing in return, for you, lowly servant, only exist to worship them and give them the admiration and adulation they expect as their birthright.

A woman of this type is likely to be conceited about her beauty or perfect physical appearance, and looks down on those who don’t fit her standards of physical perfection.  But there are plenty of cerebral female narcissists too.  Both types tend to act snobbish and arrogant toward those they regard as beneath them.   She will also be demanding and high maintenance in relationships, demanding constant attention and adulation. She would never admit it but she is actually extremely needy and will eventually drive away lovers (or unceremoniously discard them herself when they fail to meet her impossible standards).

The next two types are both examples of the covert narcissist.  Covert narcissists are less grandiose but in their own ways, they act just as entitled and have little to no empathy.   They are a lot less obvious than the grandiose type, and because of that, can be more dangerous because you never expected such a “nice” person to be so abusive.  Covert narcissists are the real crazymakers, because they’re good at twisting everything around to make you seem like the abuser or “bad guy” while they remain blameless.

2. The Do-Gooder.

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Mother Teresa herself has nothing on the Do-Gooder.   She is a saint, a paragon of virtue, and never, ever does anything wrong.  She attends church every Sunday,  reads her Bible, volunteers at the food pantry or at the church or school, and if she can afford to, gives a good chunk of her money to various charitable organizations.   She’s the stereotypical Jewish mother who always frets and worries about your well-being, but is really overbearing and her “overprotection” is really all about controlling you.   She will smother you with her “concern” and make you long to escape to freedom.   She may make it difficult for you to do things on your own:  you will be told you “need her help” or her company even if you don’t need or want it.  If you tell her to back off and give you some space, she’s likely to take on the Victim role, acting all butt-hurt, maybe even crying. She will guilt-trip you, whining,  “But I was only trying to HELP!” or, “I’m your mother–and you treat me so badly.”    There are male Do-Gooders too, but I think it’s probably more common in females.

Do Gooders also like to act all sanctimonious and self righteous, like the Church Lady in the old Saturday Night Live skits.   She loves to make others feel inferior by devoting the MOST time to a charitable event, the MOST money to a cause, baked the MOST cookies for the school bake sale, and then crow about how much she has done, and how much God favors her because of all her good, unselfish deeds.   If you have failed to meet her standards of saintliness, she will give you a condescending, withering look, making you feel like the worst person on earth.

3. The Victim.

Poor-me

The victim type of narcissist is the opposite of grandiose, but is just as entitled and lacking in empathy.   These are emotional vampires that will suck everything out of you until you’re so exhausted and depressed you just want to go shoot yourself in the head.   The victim gets their supply in the form of sympathy or pity.  She will tell you all her problems and expect you to always be there at her beck and call, no matter how inconvenient this is for you.  She will make demands on you, expecting you to drop everything to listen to her latest crisis and will show no empathy if you have needs that take priority to hers.  In fact she may become angry or try to make you feel guilty, or project her own narcissism onto you and call you selfish.   But the favor won’t be returned:  if you ever have a problem of your own and want a listening ear or shoulder to cry on, she will either ignore you or find a way to turn the conversation back to her.  No matter how much you try to help, they keep making the same mistakes and never seem to grow or change.

These kinds of covert narcissists are especially infuriating because no matter what you suggest, she or he will find an excuse as to why what you suggest would never work.  They are frustrating because they never listen, and never thank you for your time.  They don’t really want your help; they just want your undivided attention and sympathy because it’s their preferred form of narcissistic supply.

H.G. Tudor’s theory of narcissism and codependency (trauma bonds).

HG Tudor has a really good blog. Don’t let the frightening appearance on the main page intimidate you. I’ve been following this blog for a while and it’s been immensely helpful to me, as it has been to many others. Please give HG’s blog a chance. You will learn so much about the mind of the narcissist, straight from the horse’s mouth. Sometimes it’s helpful to have that perspective too. Here’s a very interesting theory he has about why codependent types and narcissists are so drawn to each other.

Please leave comments under the original post.

I don’t want to become bitter and full of hate.

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Credit: lynnmosher.com

I’m dealing with a lot of conflicting emotions right now in the wake of my dad’s passing, and rage is probably the dominant emotion I’m trying to process. Not rage at my dad per se, but rage at every narcissist I ever knew starting from the time I was a small child, making my life hell. For those of you who have read my recent posts, you might have noticed the increase in anger I’ve been expressing toward narcissists in general. My posts this week sound a lot like my early posts on this blog, during the first few months after I went NC with my ex.

Rage, anger, and even hatred can be useful, even necessary, when you’re going No Contact. Your survival is at stake. Your anger gives you the courage to escape and overrides any fear that may keep you in thrall to your narcissist. But beyond that, it begins to eat away at your soul and eventually can turn YOU into a narcissist. I’ve seen that happen so many times and it’s tragic. I’ve written about this phenomenon numerous times on this blog so I won’t do so again.

I bring this up because my writing lately seems to reflect a return to a narc-hating mindset. I don’t find hating narcissists helpful, personally. I find it more helpful (for myself anyway) to think of them as a different kind of victim, a type of victim that other victims have trouble understanding because their behavior is so predatory and sometimes incomprehensible. Thinking of them in this way seems to give them less power over me and makes me less afraid.

I don’t want to become an embittered, angry, hate-filled person. I don’t want hatred to take over my battered but still intact soul. I don’t want narc-hatred to turn me into a narcissist. This doesn’t mean I forgive the narcissists in my life for what they have done to me; but I do want to attempt to understand why they do the things they do. I want to understand how and why they became that way. It’s important for me emotionally to do this; being able to understand or at least try to helps me heal.

I know the rage and hate I feel right now is out of character for me, but all my emotions are in turmoil following my father’s passing. I pray that this too will pass and I can return to understanding narcissists without condoning or enabling. I still pray for their deliverance and always will.

Matthew 5:43-48:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? …

How Covert Narcissists Brainwash Their Victim (SpartanLifeCoach)

The most dangerous thing about covert narcissists is they seem like anything but narcissists, but they are masters of manipulation, deflection, and projection. If you challenge their actions, they will turn the tables on you, and act like YOU are victimizing THEM. You’ll think you are going insane–and you might go insane.

I’m dealing with someone right now who may be a covert narcissist.   The crazy thing is that this person is telling me I’m the abusive one.  They are making me worry all over again that I might in fact be the narcissist.   They’re making me feel guilty by tearfully telling me how hurt they are over something that happened ages ago.   But who’s going to suspect such an “innocent” and “vulnerable” soul of abuse, especially when they are wiping away crocodile tears?

I doubt I’m the abusive one though, because there’s a difference between them and me:  I can admit when I’ve been wrong. I can also feel sorry when I know I’ve been wrong.    In this particular case, even though I know I wasn’t wrong, I apologized anyway to keep the peace.  I just want it to be over already but apparently they do not.   It seems to me that they are still trying to get a rise out of me over something I thought was long-forgotten.  But narcissists never forget and never forgive, and will use old transgressions (or imaginary transgressions) against you until the day they die, if they can.

When a covert narcissist starts acting all butt-hurt and accusing you of abusing them, you start to question your reality (and your sanity).  You feel like you’re living in a hall of funhouse mirrors when they are telling you that up is down and white is black and you are the abuser when in fact they are abusing you.   I’m very glad I’m not that close with this individual or I’d probably be in the psych ward by now.

Narcissistic abuse: who is the real victim?

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Narcissistic abusers are great at charming people they want to impress, or those people they want to get on their side. When they have targeted an individual for abuse, they will stop at nothing to turn their friends, colleagues, even their families against them–and it’s not at all uncommon for them to claim that THEY are the ones being abused.   The process of using malicious gossip and lies to turn people against the victim is called triangulation and is well known in the narcissistic abuse community. Most of us who have been targeted by narcissistic abusers know all too well about triangulation and its close cousin, gaslighting. Both will be used in conjunction with each other to turn the victim’s potential allies against them, effectively isolating them and ripping away any support systems they could use later.

Those who have been turned against the victim by the narcissist are called flying monkeys. They may or may not be narcissists themselves, but they are duped and misled by the narcissist’s convincing lies and charm into believing the narcissist is the real victim and that the victim is the abuser. You can’t really blame them for siding with the abuser, since the abuser can be so convincing and often has a glibness that the real victim lacks. Complicating the situation further is the likelihood that the real victim indeed acts “crazier” or more irrationally than the abuser, usually because they have been driven half-mad by the abuse, which can be so easily hidden, even from those who are witnesses to it.

The good news is, there is a way the real victim can be discerned in an abuse situation, even if the narcissist complains loudly about how THEY are being abused. This isn’t something I thought of myself; it’s been described already by other writers and bloggers. Still, I think it’s something that isn’t given a lot of attention, so I want to describe in detail how this works because it may be the only way you can extract the truth in the evil mental clusterf*ck set up by a narcissistic abuser.

Isolating the victim.

In any abuse situation, there is almost always more than just two people involved. At the core are the victim and the abuser, of course, but chances are good the abuser has convinced other people–including friends and family members of the victim–that the victim is the real abuser, and recruited others as flying monkeys that collectively condemn and mob the victim. The abuser may have even convinced a mental health professional or pastor (or anyone else who works closely with a family) that the real victim is the real abuser, effectively turning everyone against the victim, so only the narcissist appears to have allies and the victim has no one.

This happened to me, when I was still married to my sociopathic MN ex. My ex was always more socially adept than me. He was always better at making friends and giving a good first impression than I was. He was very glib and could spread the lies on as thick and convincingly as a trial lawyer. In fact, I used to joke that he should have been a lawyer (no offense to any lawyers who may be reading this!)

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It wasn’t a joke anymore when he decided I was an easy target for abuse. We had several friends–mostly other couples–who suddenly seemed to want nothing to do with me, but still talked to him and seemed to like him. When I questioned my ex about why all our friends had cooled toward me, he said things like, “So-and-so doesn’t like you; I really don’t know why!” or “The Joneses told me they think you act kind of crazy and they don’t feel comfortable around you.”  I was even told our friends were “afraid of me.”  Even our children–who were middle schoolers at the time–had turned chilly toward me, as had several other family members. (It turned out later he was telling the kids I didn’t love them and wished they’d go away–of course, this was an utter lie). Meanwhile he had convinced our friends I was insane. If I questioned him about his treatment or if I seemed to be getting at the truth, suddenly I was called paranoid or too sensitive or even crazy. Or I’d get a non-answer like, “No wonder no one likes you. You’re so selfish. Everything is always about YOU.” He was projecting his own narcissism onto me, but I didn’t know it back then. I began to think there must be something very wrong with me that everyone else could see but I couldn’t.

The real abuser may act more sane.

It didn’t help any that my behavior around this time did in fact appear more insane than his did. I always seemed to be the one to act out or lose my cool, while he always appeared completely rational, cool and collected. Of course our kids were more likely to take his side–they looked at their dad and saw a calm, rational person who wasn’t raising his voice and who was telling them their mom was both insane and didn’t love them. They looked at me and saw a frazzled, half-mad, emotionally unstable woman who was always yelling, crying or locking herself in her room–and on two occasions had to be hospitalized. Why wouldn’t they believe him? What they–and everyone else–didn’t know was that his crazymaking behavior was driving me insane and I was already suffering PTSD due to the mental and emotional abuse. He always treated me well whenever anyone else was present, so no one would suspect what he was actually doing. If I tried to call him out on his abuse, I was gaslighted: “stop making things up,” or “that just proves how insane and self centered you are.” Everyone we knew believed him and I found myself all alone, with no one I could trust or confide in. He was able to use confirmation bias to his advantage–thereafter, anything I did became “proof” of my “craziness” or “unfitness” or “selfishness” and the more abused I was, the “crazier” I got.

At one point we began to see a marriage counselor at my insistence. My behavior in counseling was more volatile than his, and my ex also began to see the counselor in private. He was able to convince this therapist that I was the problem in the marriage and the less fit parent. Here was one more person who could have been a potential ally, but due to her ignorance of narcissistic abuse (and his attorney-like glibness and charm), became another flying monkey he could use in his smear campaign against me.

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Click chart to enlarge.

I have read and heard about many similar situations described by numerous narc-abuse survivors, whether the narcissist was a parent who turned all their siblings and other relatives against them, or a spouse who turned all their mutual friends against them. It happens in the work world too, and online, and in schools, and anywhere where bullying can take place. In any bullying or abuse situation, there is one ringleader (or main narcissist) who has successfully used triangulation, gaslighting and projection to turn others against the abused person. The real abuse victim, who may lack the charm and glibness and manipulativeness of the abuser, has usually been isolated by the narcissist from anyone who could have been of support.

Identifying the real victim.

It doesn’t matter if the real victim seems “crazier” or more emotionally unstable or even more “abusive” than the abuser; they have become that way due to the abuse.   They may have a history of previous victimization which rendered them vulnerable to becoming an abuser’s prey and they may have pre-existing PTSD.   The real clue here is which person seems to have no one on their side? Which one has no friends or allies?  Who seems to be fighting a losing battle?  Who seems to have more “mental problems?” That person is almost always going to be the actual victim, no matter how much “evidence” the alleged “victim” claims to have.

If you are currently being victimized by an abuser, this knowledge may be the only way to be able to tell that you are actually the abuse victim and not the perpetrator, since chances are, your abuser has convinced everyone (including you!) that you are the one at fault. Hold onto this knowledge and remind yourself of it as you begin to disengage. Hopefully, knowing that you are NOT at fault and the narcissist is just a convincing liar will give you the motivation you need to get away. Or, if you are a bystander witnessing abuse, you may be able to help the real victim by keeping in mind that the one who seems to have no one on their side is the one you should be helping. Don’t let the narcissist’s convincing lies sway you over to their side.

Do narcissists cry?

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This is a revision of the Jan. 1, 2015 article.  It’s one of my most popular posts, so I figured I’d post it again, with a few changes.

Do narcissists cry?  Sure, they do. Of course they do. And the histrionic, somatic types will cry conspicuously and loudly and convulsively and make sure everyone notices.  Think of Joan Crawford’s over the top histrionics in he movie Mommie Dearest.  The attention they get from this show of dramatics (which you cannot ignore) elicits lots of narcissistic supply for them and gets them the sympathy they crave.  Remember, positive attention isn’t necessary to serve as supply to a narcissist.  Any sort of attention–even disgust and anger–will do.

Self-serving crying and fake empathy.
Narcissists cry for themselves, never for you. They *might*cry when they see a sad movie, if they experience themselves through that character. Movies are a safe way to shed tears, even for those who don’t cry easily (and that includes non-narcs too). But narcissists aren’t really crying for the characters in the movie. They are really crying for themselves.

Some narcissists who are good actors can pretend to cry for others–these are dangerous narcissists able to feign empathy but show their true colors after they’ve charmed you and duped you into thinking they’re the nicest, most sympathetic person in the world. But it’s all fake. Those “empathetic tears” are crocodile tears. A narcissist can never cry for anyone but themselves.

Narcissists are just big babies.
Kim Saeed, a writer who has an excellent and extremely popular blog here at WordPress about narcissistic abuse, wrote an insightful article about what makes a narcissist cry (basically, self pity and attention getting). It’s a good read. Narcissists cry the way an infant cries–to have their immediate needs met. Whether they admit it or not, they need a mother–and most likely never got adequate mothering, so they’re still trying to get it. Like an infant, they are incapable of separating themselves from others and can feel no empathy for anyone else.

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Here’s who your narcissist really is.

While some narcissists take pride in their appearance, professional accomplishments, athletic prowess, or outstanding intelligence, there are some narcissists (the covert type) who take a perverse pride in being as pitiful and pathetic as it’s possible to be. These are what I call “needy narcissists” (Kim Saeed refers to them as “extreme narcissists”).  Many of our mothers (not mine–my mother was overt and aggressive) fall into this category.  They guilt-trip you and constantly whine about how badly you’ve treated them.  They remind you of all the wonderful things they’ve done for you.   They are emotional, financial and spiritual vampires who will suck you dry if given half a chance. They tend to attract empaths and HSPs and codependent types of people who are willing to give them the pity and sympathy they crave. And they use tears to elicit those things. Tears are powerful and contagious and get babies what they want–why not narcissists? Hey, if it works, use it.

Can a narcissist ever cry non-self serving tears?

A narcissist crying for reasons other than self-serving ones is rare.   But if one ever enters therapy or gets to a point where they recognize their own narcissism and is able to grieve for their lost true self, it’s possible.  Don’t get your hopes up though.    That being said, I read an article by Sam Vaknin about the way he cries in his dreams, which I thought was pretty interesting.   If something like this can happen, maybe it could be used as a catalyst to healing.  Maybe.  (Sam is not cured of NPD and probably never will be.  It’s his livelihood).

Dreaming and “lucid” dreaming: a possible key to healing?
Dreams open us up to the subconscious mind, so remembering dreams is useful in therapy.  For a narcissist, dreams have the potential of tapping into the atrophied and depressed true self–the self that dissociated and went into hiding during early childhood to protect itself from abuse by caregivers. Sam Vaknin writes about this phenomenon in this journal entry, in which he describes two nightmares that briefly brought him in contact with his true lost self, at least until he woke up.

He writes:

I dream of my childhood. And in my dreams we are again one big unhappy family. I sob in my dreams, I never do when I am awake. When I am awake, I am dry, I am hollow, mechanically bent upon the maximization of Narcissistic Supply. When asleep, I am sad. The all-pervasive, engulfing melancholy of somnolence. I wake up sinking, converging on a black hole of screams and pain. I withdraw in horror. I don’t want to go there. I cannot go there.

One’s narcissism stands in direct relation to the seething abyss and the devouring vacuum that one harbors in one’s True Self.

I know it’s there . I catch glimpses of it when I am tired, when I hear music, when reminded of an old friend, a scene, a sight, a smell. I know it is awake when I am asleep. I know that it subsists of pain – diffuse and inescapable. I know my sadness. I have lived with it and I have encountered it full force.

Perhaps I choose narcissism, as I have been “accused”. And if I do, it is a rational choice of self-preservation and survival. The paradox is that being a self-loathing narcissist may be the only act of self-love I have ever committed.

cryingofthestoneangel
Crying of the Stone Angel by Eternal Dream Art at Deviantart.com

Can a narcissist’s true self ever see the light of day?

The true self is there in hiding, sometimes peeking out in dreams.  A narcissist without insight (which is almost all of them) would not be able to write the post quoted above.   Even if they were aware of having such a vulnerable inner self, they would never admit it.   They’re so walled off from their true feelings they can’t access it even in dreams.   Instead, they shore up a fake self that takes the place of the true one–but it’s not sustainable and will fall apart without a constant source of narcissistic supply that keeps it inflated like a balloon.  The constant inflation keeps their false self alive and as long as it’s there, they never have to face the black emptiness inside where the atrophied child-self exists.  If they fall into such a depression, they may go insane.  Suicide is not unheard of.

Sadness and tears that could arise from being able to encounter one’s true self, even if only briefly in a dream, could be the key to healing.  If only anyone really could figure out how to harness this and keep it accessible long enough for the narcissist to start doing some difficult internal work before they slap that mask back on.   Harnessing any brief moments of emotional nakedness is like trying to hold onto a dream while awake–most of the time, it dissolves and fragments like soap bubbles before being  swept away in the the river of day to day reality.   It’s still there, buried in the narcissist’s unconscious the way a clam buries itself deep in the wet sand near the shore after the waves recede.  But in all likelihood, the narcissist will die a narcissist, and no one (including themselves) will ever know what could have been.   I think most of them choose to remain living in the darkness because it’s a whole lot “safer.”  Maybe “lucid dreaming” (a skill that can be learned) could be one way to capture the true self when it emerges in a dream, and keep it there long enough to work with.

Most people don’t believe narcissists can be cured (and in most cases, they can’t be and are perfectly fine with being the way they are).  That being said,   I like to remain optimistic.   I can’t believe there are people walking on this earth who have completely lost their souls.  Unless a person has consciously chosen evil and has become sociopathic, I don’t think most narcissists are that far gone. The challenge is catching them when their guard is down, which is almost never.  I don’t recommend you try  doing this yourself.  Leave it to the professionals or to God.   You cannot fix a narcissist.   All you can really do is stop giving them supply, so stay (or go) No Contact.

NPD “alter” in a DID patient.

dissociative_identity_disorder

I have to admit I know next to nothing about this, but I found this fascinating and wonder if anyone else ever heard of anything like it or knows anything about it. Someone who comments on this blog described a woman they know who has Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID). Like C-PTSD and the personality disorders, DID is caused by abuse during childhood. If you’re not familiar with DID, it’s one of the Dissociative disorders. It used to be known as Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD). DID is when a person has one or more “alters” in addition to their base personality, and switches from one alter to another, usually in response to a trigger. The core self usually has amnesia for the the time spent as an alter (many people with DID present because of frequent “blackouts”–gaps in memory where the person can’t remember anything they did as an alter), but there may be some awareness among the various alters of each other’s existence.  Each alter may have their own name, set of interests, likes and dislikes, etc.  They may even have opinions about the other alters as if they were actual people. Adopting different alters is how the DID person copes with trauma-related stress. DID usually first presents during childhood.  It’s a fascinating disorder in its own right.

Like almost everyone with DID, the woman this commenter described had been horrifically abused. One of her alters had Narcissistic Personality Disorder, maybe more than one. I don’t know how many alters the woman had, and I don’t know whether or not she was NPD at her core (usually the core personality is a rather passive and victimized character, and I would think that adopting NPD as a dominant coping mechanism would negate the “need” to develop DID). I found it fascinating that one of her alters had NPD and she was able to switch it off whenever she left that alter. The human mind is an amazing and mysterious thing.

My “crazy” dream.

wishes

No, not a dream of the sleeping kind, but I have this crazy pipe dream, a strong but probably a little out-there wish.   It isn’t very realistic on several levels, but my life would be complete if I could…help someone heal from NPD.    If I could be a therapist to an NPD patient and help them find their true self within–if it’s still reachable.  To  watch a hardened, manipulative, cold, almost soulless narc reclaim their emotions and vulnerability; to help them be able to love, really love, someone else–not for the supply they can bring, but for themselves.  To help them come to terms with their own  past, to help them discover why narcissism was the only path they believed was available to them.

Going back to school at my age is a daunting and probably not realistic goal, and even if I were to go get an advanced Psychology degree, NPD is one of the most difficult, if not THE most difficult, disorder to heal anyone of.   Even getting one to cooperate with therapy and stay long enough for any progress to be made  is like making a cat love the water.  Even so,  it’s a powerful desire of mine.  I think about it a lot.  Sometimes I even wonder if ultimately this is what God wants me to do.  Yeah, I know.  Crazy.

Other bloggers and some of my readers have taken issue with the fact I care about narcs who want to change themselves.*  I see them as abuse victims too.  I don’t think they are all hopeless.  Narcissism is a spectrum disorder, and those who aren’t very high on the spectrum haven’t completely jettisoned their humanity.

Not everyone agrees.  I have lost followers and gotten hate because I don’t hate narcs.  I hate the things they DO.  Make no mistake, I don’t believe in enabling or having contact with them.   The best way to help a narc (and of course, yourself),  is to withdraw supply, which means making yourself unavailable.

I’ve been called a narc-hugger.  I’ve actually been called evil because of my unconventional views.  I’ve  been mobbed for having these views.   But I don’t care.   I feel strongly about this and I don’t think I’m evil or crazy.  As someone who had BPD and no longer does, I know from personal experience that healing from a Cluster B disorder is not impossible.  It’s  hard, frustrating, scary, excruciating work, and you’re left with residual PTSD that must be worked through (the basis, in my opinion, of all PD’s), but for many, Cluster B doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

If this dream ever came true, if I could help someone heal from NPD, I think it would change me profoundly.   As for the question of why any of us who were narcissistic abuse victims, didn’t turn to narcissism ourselves, all I can say is (much as I dislike this expression because of how condescending it sounds): “There but for the grace of God go I.”  We were the lucky ones.

Here’s an article written today by a friend of mine, a Christian, who is thinking along the same lines as me.   I agree with her post.

Why Hating a Narc Harms Their Victim: https://dreamsofabetterworldblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/17/why-hating-a-narc-harms-their-victim/

* I don’t think a cure is possible for narcissists who have become malignant/sociopathic or for those on the psychopathy spectrum.

Further Reading:

Paper Tigers: Why I Choose Understanding over Rage