Guest Post: Descartes and the Killer Bees (by Anna Girolami)

rene_descartes

A reader named Anna Girolami (she has a blog called Good Red Herring) emailed me wondering if she could write a guest post for this blog.    I felt honored that she wanted to do this!  The post she wrote is definitely out-of-the-box and thought-provoking and has some intriguing ideas about handling people with various personality disorders, especially the Cluster B’s. I had to laugh at the reference to the “Killer Bees” (and will overlook the fact that technically, I’m included in this category, but since I’m recovering or maybe already recovered from BPD, maybe not).

I do want to add a disclaimer, however.   Anna’s thoughts about “managing a narcissist (or other disordered person)” are interesting, but I don’t think it would be wise in most situations, at least not for any length of time, and certainly not for any malignant narcissist or sociopathic personality.    No Contact, is of course, ALWAYS the best way to “manage” a narcissist, but there are situations where going NC may not be feasible.   In those cases, there is a technique known as “grey rocking,” which basically means being so mind-numbingly boring to the narcissist they go elsewhere and leave you alone.  Even that doesn’t always work, but I don’t think it’s really feasible to “manage” a disordered person without doing damage to yourself.  I think to try to manage a narcissist or another person with a personality disorder in this manner would prove extremely exhausting at best, and soul killing at worst.  Essentially, it means providing them with narcissistic supply!  So I don’t recommend it, but perhaps it’s something you can try if all else fails. It might work for the non-“Killer Bees” like the obsessive-compulsive or dependent PDs that Anna mentions; I’m not sure though, since I’m not as familiar with the Cluster C category of personality disorders.

That being said, I do see Anna’s logic here, and perhaps with a narcissist who isn’t very high on the spectrum or someone with a different personality disorder, this type of management might be an option.  Or, it might work in a pinch, when you can’t get away but you’re only with the disordered person for a short time, say at a party or a meeting.  It might work on a boss, too, if you really don’t want to leave your job and grey-rocking might seem too rude. (Never tell your Histrionic boss they’re sexy, though!)

Descartes and the Killer Bees.

By Anna Girolami

Blog: Good Red Herring

fish_logo

René Descartes is regarded by many as the father of modern western philosophy. For most of us, he boils down to a single, famous phrase:

Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).

A lot of disordered people, however, operate on a variation of this theme. I’m talking about Cluster B people – the Killer Bees. They don’t think, they really don’t want to think. That’s the last thing they want to do. No, their being depends upon something else:

Videor, ergo sum (I am seen, therefore I am).

Equally important to them, is the flip side:

Non videor, ergo non sum (I am not seen, therefore I am not).

One of the hallmarks of disordered people is “splitting” – the simplistic belief that things are either completely wonderful or completely dreadful. Anything more ambivalent than that is just too difficult to deal with.

For our Killer Bees, this habit of splitting combines with the above dictum in a catastrophic way. They can admit only two possibilities – either the whole world is watching them and thus they are alive or no-one at all is watching them so, arrrrgh!, they cease to exist.

Given that very terrifying choice, which one would you go for? A Killer Bee has no real option but to cling desperately to the belief that every single person in the world is watching them for every second of the day. It’s either that or existential obliteration.

This belief requires that – consciously or not – they beat down any aptitude for empathy that they may have. Iris Murdoch (who was a philosopher before she was a novelist) nailed this when she said “Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real.”

I take some issue with this as a definition of love. As a definition of empathy, however, it’s absolutely bang on.

The proper acknowledgement of other people’s autonomy and identity is a highly evolved function – one that many people seem unwilling to develop, on the very understandable grounds that it would deprive them of a great deal of secondary gain.

A Killer Bee cannot afford to acknowledge that anyone else is real. Even those – especially those – they ought to love the most. Other people are merely robots whose only function is to watch the Bee and thereby preserve them from extinction. Ideally, they should watch and approve. But even watching and disapproving is better than nothing.

What the watch-bots simply cannot be allowed, is any independent thought or action or intent of their own. That would mean they might stop watching the Bee for a while and then the Bee would cease to exist.

For a Killer Bee, it really is that simple – and that important.
Non videor, ergo non sum.

*****

If you’re married to or in some other way entangled with a Killer Bee, it is futile expecting them to notice you, support you or in any other way treat you as if you are real. They can’t do it. Not without professional help and not unless they want to. Very, very few want to – why should they give up this way of living that means lots of lovely attention and never having to think about anybody else?

So, what do you do? If your Killer Bee is of the mild-to-moderate variety, you have three choices:

1. Suck it up, suck it all up.
2. Ditch ’em.

Or..

3. you can manage them.

If you can’t/don’t want to ditch them, it seems obvious that your best option is to manage them. They’re quite primitive machines and, if they’re not too far gone, it is possible to manage them once you understand the clockwork. Oh sure, it makes you seethe, having to “manage” an adult, simply to stop them behaving like a three year old with low frustration tolerance. But it’s either that or suck it up, suck it all up.

Remember: videor, ergo sum.

Each variety of Killer Bee needs to be seen in a slightly different way.

–The Narcissist needs: “I see you, darling, you’re amaaaazing.”
–The extraverted Histrionic needs: “I see you, darling, you’re sooo sexy.”
–The introverted Histrionic needs: “I see you, darling, you’re so pretty but don’t get up, you’ll spoil the effect. Just you sit there and look perfect, I’ll do everything.” Or something like that.
–The Obsessive-Compulsive (OCPD, not OCD) needs: “I see you, darling, you’re trying so hard.”
–The Dependent or the Borderline needs: “I see you, darling, don’t worry. I’m here, I’m always here.”
(Yes, I know obsessives and dependents aren’t technically in the Cluster B group, but they often wander over into their territory.)

If you don’t know exactly which type you’ve got, just go with “I see you, darling, you’re wonderful.” That will keep most of ‘em happy, it’s the seeing that really matters. When Killer Bees are happy, they can actually play quite nicely.

This sounds easy enough but here’s the thing – you have to do it all the time. Every waking second of their day, or near enough. Once a week simply doesn’t cut it.

Remember: non videor ergo non sum.

They genuinely feel that if they are not sufficiently seen, then they don’t exist. When that happens, anxiety quickly overwhelms them. The narcissist will rage and belittle you, the histrionic will weep, the obsessive will sulk. Whatever.

It’s exhausting (and maddening) to have to supply this amount of constant watching with, inevitably, no reciprocation. It is, however, less exhausting than the tantrums. It may help if you realise that it doesn’t always have to be you who does the watching. They’re not fussy, these people. No one is real to them. One watch-bot is as good as any other.

So if you can do it reasonably, consider offloading some of the watching duties onto others (although not onto your children, that’s absolutely not supposed to happen. It’s a tragedy that it so often does). My own particular Killer Bee, an Obsessive with a heavy histrionic topcoat, is good at running, so I encourage him to enter as many races as he can. When he does well (which is usually. He’s an obsessive, after all), he gets a big chunk of lovely watching and approval from a whole host of other people – and I get a bit of time off. Its almost win-win.

Our holidays aren’t very restful though.

Have a great week,
Anna

Advertisements

The N vibes are strong with this one.

wolf-cartoon

A few weeks ago I did some work for my landlord, clearing out one of his properties where the tenants were being evicted so he could get it ready to sell. The landlord is craggily attractive, about my age. He told me he is divorcing his wife. He didn’t say why, and I didn’t ask. I felt embarrassed when he told me this. I really didn’t want to know why. At first I didn’t connect this news with his recruiting of me to help him clear out one of his properties.

I got paid well to help him clean up the place, which was a disaster. The first day I wore a Hazmat suit (due to meth dust and dog fleas). The second day I wore skinny jeans and a tank top. He complimented me on the dragonfly tattoo on the back of my right shoulder.

He didn’t touch me but I noticed the way he kept looking at me, like a dog looks at bowl of food. I didn’t have a problem, in fact I barely registered this. Otherwise, he was perfectly fine. He didn’t try to touch me or make suggestive remarks. We actually had a good time clearing out the place.

He took me out to lunch while the flea bombs were working, an expensive place with excellent Greek and Italian food.

I didn’t hear from him again until this morning. When I saw his name on my phone, I assumed it was about the rent, part of which is late again. But the text said he liked the outfit I wore the last time we worked together, and could I please text him a photo of me in it.
I did not reply to this text.

I know this guy’s a player and probably a narc too. I get strong narcvibes from him. Especially because he’s flirting with me before he’s even divorced. But I don’t want to get on his bad side, because I don’t want to lose my apartment! When your landlord begins to flirt with you, things can get pretty dicey.

I’ve had enough experience dealing with narcissists and am pretty well educated about them too. If he’s really just love bombing me because he sees me as good potential supply, I think I know how to disarm him without angering him: appeal to his ego, while at the same time making the rejection MY fault, putting no responsibility on him. Like a razor blade wrapped in a sugar cube. He’d barely register that it’s a rejection at all. I’d say something like, “I’m really flattered you liked my outfit that day, but I was in an abusive relationship for years and am not over it yet. I’m still just trying to work on myself, find out who I am. I do find you attractive (that would not be a lie, because he is) but right now, I couldn’t handle anything more than just friendship. I’ll be happy to be your friend, but that’s all I can be right now. Besides, you’re not divorced yet. Wait until that happens and then we can talk about this more.” I still have no problem doing work for him should he ask again.

I would not be leading him on or saying anything that would cause narcissistic injury (assuming he is a narcissist at all). It’s also leaving a window of opportunity open, on the off chance that in the future I find he’s not a narcissist at all and someone who might actually be good for me.

A little romance.

I love this photo of my daughter and her fiance.

photo_rb

Adventures of S.K. “The Loser”: cartoon diary of myself at age 22 (two of two)

the_loser2
My expression here definitely reflected my attitude at the time about dating.

This second cartoon story (also drawn in 1981) describes the way I longed for a fulfilling romantic relationship, but at the same time was quite ambivalent about the prospect, not having had good role models with my own parents’ marriage, and living in a time where marriage and family were still looked upon as a second-rate occupation for women who were “losers”, i.e. couldn’t do anything else. And yet I still longed for that dream husband and family…

As it turned out, I didn’t marry until I was 27–5 years after I drew this cartoon. Of course, THAT relationship was far from ideal. In the mental state I was in (and already attracted to narcissistic men), I was right to be wary!

The first cartoon story can be seen here.

cartoon2_panel1

cartoon2_panel2

cartoon2_panel3

cartoon2_panel4

cartoon2_panel5

cartoon2_panel6

cartoon2_panel7

cartoon2_panel8

cartoon2_panel9

cartoon2_panel10

cartoon2_panel11

I really wish I would have continued this hobby…

Why you should never jump into a new relationship after narcissistic abuse

The Wheel of Abuse

cycle_of_violence
Not all abusive relationships involve physical abuse. Emotional and mental abuse can be every bit as damaging, and sometimes more so. (Click image to make larger).

A new friend of mine (a survivor of several abusive relationships with narcs) and I were talking on Facebook. Rather than try to paraphrase, I’ll quote her directly–and then give my own opinions.

Friend:

“I realized he [her malignant narcissist ex-boyfriend who she’s still in minimal contact with but who is still trying to gaslight her and get her attention by stalking her on Facebook] did everything on that wheel except for the Economic abuse. He started to subtle test the boundaries…and realized I wasn’t game. Although I believe he probably still believes I’ll contact him again. It’s amazing, [Lauren.]

The more time your away, they stronger you feel. Your self-esteem comes back slowly. I get those frightened moments when I think my new boyfriend will just Abandoned me out of nowhere. I understand why the Psychopathic free support group did not recommend a relationship right away. They know you suffer from PTSD from the aftermath of this abuse. It’s difficult. I find myself having dark flashbacks. I also believe you have to be careful and choosy about your women friends and surround yourself with only kind people. We are fragile and vulnerable after this abuse.

My reply (My original reply was short–I embellished it when I wrote this post. I hope my friend sees it).

These are all great points. It makes sense to stay out of relationships if you’ve just escaped from an abusive one because of the PTSD you probably have or even worse problems such as major depression–you need time to find yourself and work on yourself. You need time to be selfish and not have to answer to anyone because you’ve been giving, giving and giving some more with nothing to show for it in return.

We’re mentally and emotionally exhausted and need time to recover, just as if we’re recovering from any illness. We need to not have to be responsible for someone else’s welfare or self esteem or happiness for a while before taking the plunge into a new relationship. We need to take care of ourselves and find out who we are–whether that means going to therapy, writing a journal, turning that journal into a public spectacle like a blog or video diary, taking up martial arts, yoga, or finding God. We need time to heal.

Jumping into any new relationship–even with a non-narc–when you’re this vulnerable is almost guaranteed to fail and retard you in your self growth, and if you’ve been attracted to another narcissistic abuser (which is common in codependent, PTSD and Borderline women), you may wind up much worse when all is said and done.

We’re like addicts. Narcs need their narcissistic supply; we codependents need our narcs. Let’s face it: Narcissistic suitors (male or female)–at first–make us feel alive, vital and fulfill our wildest romantic and sexual fantasies (when they are trying to trap you as their prey). In a weakened state like PTSD or depression, your judgment is not going to be great and you re going to be VERY suggestible. Most likely, you’ll also become unconsciously attracted to a romantic partner who reminds you of the narc you just left (or who left you). He made sure you can’t forget him easily, even if he was terribly cruel at the end.

anime
Anime drawing (artist unknown).

Also, we tend to be attracted to the same type of person anyway. So if you’re usually or always attracted to narcissists, then most likely your taste is not going to change.

Getting involved too early after the end of a relationship with a narcissist is dangerous. Even with a non-narcissist, old patterns will still come up and you will be hypervigilant and suspicious of your new partner, causing them confusion and eventual discord. If you’re falling for a non-narc, that’s a good sign, but if you just left an abusive relationship, please wait. Envision a giant red STOP sign. Be friends instead. Now’s not the time to get involved beyond that level. If you met someone who truly cares for you, they won’t mind waiting a while and being friends with you.

If you’re already falling hard for someone, I know it’s going to be really hard to resist the pull of a new romance. It’s a powerful force, built into normally-wired people’s genes.

But remember, even though it feels like the most exciting, heady, intoxicating rush you ever felt, that feeling won’t last: what you feel is infatuation, a crush–actually caused by changes in the brain that act like a euphoric drug. That’s really what it boils down to.

infatuation-vs-love1

Infatuation so soon after an abusive relationship is really just a form of transference onto a phantom “therapist” [the person you are infatuated with] when you are at your most vulnerable. You’re looking for someone to rescue you. There is no Prince Charming. A love relationship cannot rescue you from yourself, your memories, or your PTSD. By its nature, it can’t. You are the only one who can make you well, with the help of therapists, counselors or another other trusted person who is not involved sexually or romantically with you.

So be patient, wait until you heal yourself and feel more confident. Then if you fall in love, dive in and enjoy it–and with any luck it might turn into the real thing.

Thank you to Mary Pranzatelli for this idea.

Used toys.

jealous
Click to enlarge.

Forever alone.

?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

I have always been attracted to narcissistic men. And them to me. I spent 28 years (7 of those AFTER we divorced) living with a malignant narcissist substance abuser and raising children with him. Before Michael, I had three serious boyfriends, and only one was not a narcissist (but was severely bipolar).

When I was in my twenties, all I wanted to do was marry and have babies–this wasn’t considered cool or forward thinking at the time (the 1980s). I wasn’t really focused on having a career like most young women my age.

I think my oddly timed longing for normal family life was because more than anything in the world, I longed to be part of a family that would not be like the one I came from, a close, functional family whose members truly loved and cared for one another. I had grand fantasies of Perfect Family Life–3-4 perfect, normal kids; a perfect, normal husband with no serious mental disorders or drug or alcohol issues; and a beautiful home with plenty of old school charm in a safe neighborhood. My Perfect Mate would be an honest, loyal husband and father who loved animals and long walks and would care deeply about all of us. Of course there would be pets too, probably a large friendly dog like a Golden Retriever. I wanted the damned Brady Bunch.

I know, you’re probably ready to vomit all over your keyboard. Chill. I’m stopping right here. I cringe when I think about how naive and clueless I was.

Does anyone remember this commercial from about 2007-09? If you’re a nausea-prone ACON you may want to take some Pepto first.

Well, this was the family I wanted to make, back in the 1980s.

30 odd years later: I hate that damned commercial with its perky, perfect, cute-but-not-beautiful soccer mom–a woman who undoubtedly had loving parents who raised her with consistency and lots of hugs and support, a woman who has extended family members like cousins or aunts or an uncle she is close to, and also has lots of friends. She also has an advanced degree in something like sociology or art history. She was popular at school, not Mean Girl/cheerleader-popular, but the next tier down from that–she was one of the honor roll kids where the girls all played volleyball or were in the Drama Club, and the guys all looked like Ferris Bueller and were Theater Nerds. But these second-tier, almost-popular kids were actually nice to everyone (unlike the top tier of popular kids who really weren’t so much popular as they were feared and respected–because they consisted largely of narcs and their sycophants) and you wanted to hate them but you couldn’t because they were always so darned nice.

Instead of pursuing her career in art history or writing a book about The Sociology of Art History, this perky redhaired 30-something has chosen to stay home with her growing brood of ginger kids, each one more red haired than the last. Her infuriating announcements of big moves (to MEMPHIS!), promotions at work, home enlargements, weeks-long family vacations, learning how to speak French, and especially…ESPECIALLY!..the group shot at the end showing the whole family focusing on Perky Soccer Mom bouncing the the new baby on her hip at the end–not just any baby, but a gorgeous fat healthy good natured baby girl with an adorable grin who probably sports fire engine red hair under that white cap–made me want to throw a brick at my TV screen.

I know this is just a commercial and those people are actors, but…I ACTUALLY KNOW FAMILIES LIKE THIS. Of course I don’t know what goes on behind closed doors (and everyone has their dark secrets), but because the members of these families always seem happy and relaxed and everyone seems to love everyone else, with not a molecule of narcissism anywhere to be seen, the skeletons in their closets don’t come out to haunt them all that much. They are probably covered with dust from disuse.

I’m assuming here that the reason this thoroughly obnoxious commercial was so popular (it ran for almost 3 years), is not because it depicts the idealized family everyone strives to create, but rather, because many people can actually relate to this smugly contented woman and her tall, dark and handsome husband, their perfect dog, their big colonial house, and their large brood of gingers.

I longed for this family because having this family would vindicate my dysfunctional and narcissistic family of origin. It was the family that would bring me Justice.

I never got that family, because I fell in love with a malignant narcissist, who in every imaginable way at the beginning, convinced me he was the Perfect Boyfriend, and later the Perfect Fiance. We made two highly intelligent but troubled kids (well, one is a lot less so but lives almost 700 miles away).
And now I am Forever Alone.

foreveralone

But I’m alright with that. More than alright.

In my past relationships, I never saw any of the red flags. I knew nothing of red flags back then other than the physical kind that signal physical danger. The most useful psychological advice about men and relationships I got in the early-mid 1980s was from articles and fluff quizzes (such as “What Does his Lovemaking Say About his Character?”) in magazines like Cosmopolitan and Glamour.

I was never attracted to “bad boys.” I chose men who had good jobs, prospects and didn’t stink or break the law. But sometimes these “perfect” guys can be anything but perfect, and because they put on such a convincing and impressive mask of normality, you don’t suspect their true motives until it’s too late. I always seemed to gravitate to the devils dressed in white.

I’m not going to recount the downward spiral that led to the dissolution of our marriage, drug addiction, troubled kids, and all the rest because I’ve done that already ad nauseam (if you must know my story of being married to a malignant narc, click on the links under “My Story”).

So I’ve done a 180 from the naive, romantic starry eyed girl I was in the 1980s–the girl who was uncool enough at the time to want a family and babies and a normal life with people who were not psychopathic or addicted to drugs or alcohol (today that would make me Taylor Swift–how times have changed). I no longer want a relationship. I relish my solitude.

I still get crushes, and plenty of them (I have one now), and just as in my teens and twenties, they still tend to be intense. My crushes are pleasurable to me but they are mine alone to enjoy, not something to be shared with the object of my infatuation. I know, I’m weird. I have an excuse to be weird and avoidant though, because I’m Aspie with Avoidant Personality Disorder. I enjoy my dreams and fantasies far more than my reality, and why ruin a good fantasy by trying to make it real?

crush

That’s why I think my mind makes sure my crushes are never on people I know personally or have to see all the time, and instead chooses men who are inaccessible for one reason or another. Famous people are the safest of all, because I do not ever not have to meet them and either (a) face rejection; or (b) worse: not be rejected but gradually find out they are really just another sick malignantly narcissistic tool who will fly me to the moon and feed me fresh blackberries dipped in cognac, and then ever so insidiously proceed to turn my life into one resembling incarceration in a Turkish prison before I know what even hit me.

I’ve been there, done that. I am no longer of childbearing age, and though I look far younger and fitter than my 55 years, I realize I’m not going to look this good too much longer. At my age, there’s a feeling that you just don’t have what it takes to attract a man anymore, even when it’s not true. Because I look better now than I have since my mid-late 30s. Sure, maybe a woman of a certain age can’t attract the 20-somethings anymore, but what middle aged woman in her right mind really wants a 20-something for anything but a quick fling, anyway? In my case my wariness and self consciousness is due to the low self esteem that’s lived with me my entire life like some parasitic twin I’ve grown so used to I sometimes forget it’s there. Hating yourself is a tough habit to break.

But the real problem isn’t my fear of losing my sexual desirability (which is already well on its way over the other side of the mountain), it’s the simple fact that I don’t trust men (or anyone) enough to become intimate with one. As an Aspie, I have trouble reading social cues, which means I often miss the important red flags and warning signs of a narcissist who is love bombing me and wooing me into his black den of misery. And more than that–I want to believe them. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I never learned from my past mistakes.

So no longer is “love” my passion in life or my goal. I figure I will die single and alone, but very possibly, happy. Hopefully by the time I die, I will have written a book or two that helped others, gave others joy, and brings me a nice income so I can buy my own small, quaint, quirky home near my son in Florida, somewhere near the beach.

oldwoman

Twenty or thirty years from now: I see myself–an old spinster (I love the strength that word conveys–we need to bring it back!) wearing a long brightly patterned madras-cotton dress or jeans and a slouchy, comfy sweater in cooler weather, walking barefoot along the Gulf Coast at sunset, feeling wet sand squeeze between my pale toes, waves lapping at my feet, the salt air breeze making me smile and my eyes water. I’m tossing small pebbles into the golden waves, a large dog with a cool name like Hector skipping along by my side, occasionally running ahead of me when he sees a seagull land on the darkening sand. I’ll be thinking about my grown son and daughter, and their families and satisfying lives, and my only worry would be the two-month deadline my publisher has given to finish writing a groundbreaking new book about something that matters. I’ll be Forever Alone. And like it.

All this being said, if an attractive, genuinely nice man comes along when I’m not looking, and maybe I’m feeling more strong and confident, I might venture into the ocean again, or at least get my feet wet. So sure, it could happen, but right now I’m just trying to get to know myself.

Women, Narcissism, and Attraction

Excellent article by one of my favorite bloggers.

See, there's this thing called biology...

LuckyOtter blogs quite a bit about narcissism and does a great job. She’s been researching narcissism for some time now, while I’ve been researching biology, women, and attraction.

Love is an awesome thing, I much prefer immersing myself in love gone right, but one thing that makes the miracle of love really stand out, is an awareness of how easily it can go all wrong. That is the stuff of nightmares and horror stories.  The vampire’s seductive and hypnotizing gaze, that concept must have came from a human psyche that had observed narcissism in action.

So, cult leaders, gurus, narcissists, and assorted other psychopaths, have the power and charisma to pull people towards them, to create attraction. Men get tangled up in these relationships too, and there certainly are female narcissists, but I wanted to focus on women and the biological vulnerabilities we have that sometimes allow these guys to…

View original post 813 more words