Narcissist parents demonize their own children.

Originally posted on March 17, 2015

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Most parents like to tell cute and funny stories about when their children were young, or brag about their school accomplishments or tell sweet stories that show their child in a flattering or loving light. They are also proud of their children when they’re kind and nice to others. That’s the way things should be.

Not for narcissistic parents though.

Narcissists who “erase” memories of their children.
Some narcissistic parents don’t like to talk about their children at all. It’s as if they erase any memories of their offspring’s childhoods and don’t want to be reminded of it. It’s weird. My malignant cerebral narcissist sperm donor used to get bored and annoyed if I talked about the children when they were young. Inexplicably, he couldn’t stand it and became annoyed when I wanted to put some of their baby and early school pictures around the house. (He didn’t like that I displayed our wedding photos either).

He shows little to no interest in his son’s accomplishments (2019 edit: this has changed now that my son has landed a professional video editing job and can be considered “successful”) but just a few years ago, when my son won a few dance competitions, my ex’s eyes just glazed over.

I was proud of my son but his father seemed not to care. I thought maybe it was because he thought dancing was “too gay” but he acts just as disinterested about almost all my son’s other accomplishments too. It’s almost as if he wants to erase him from his mind.

And when they “brag” about you, watch out.

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My somatic narcissist mother loves to talk about me as a child. But her “bragging” is never about the things a normal parents would brag to their friends and relatives about. It’s never about how smart I was or what a good student I was, or what a good painter or writer I was, or how kind and generous or big-hearted or animal loving I was. Instead, she tells stories that illustrate the many ways I was “too sensitive” or how much I cried as a little girl. When she talks about me, she always brings up the most embarrassing stories, like how afraid I was of thunderstorms and how I used to run into the closet in terror (I like thunderstorms now) or how “hysterical” (she loves to use that word about me as a child) I used to get when I was frustrated or scared of something (I was afraid of many things but loved a lot of things too).

Whenever she talked about me to people, she made me sound like there was something wrong with me (I was a sensitive child with attachment issues–but surely there were good things she could have chosen to talk about instead of what a pitiful, awkward, oversensitive crybaby I was). She used to tell everyone the embarrassing story of my first period and how happy I was when I shouted the big news from the bathroom, because I had always been “so hysterical” and panic stricken because I was slower to hit puberty than most other girls my age. In actuality, I was 13 and really not far behind at all–and I never got “hysterical” or “panic stricken” the way she insisted I did.

I no longer hear these stories because I no longer have much contact with her, but I’m sure she still tells her friends and extended family (who she has isolated from me and turned some of them into flying monkeys against me) and they still all have a good laugh about “poor, over-sensitive, ‘hysterical’ little Lauren.” I know they also laugh about what a “loser” I am today, because I’m not wealthy like most of the family is and don’t have a great number of impressive professional accomplishments. Of course, that’s all due to my “poor choices” and not to the fact my self esteem was all but obliterated during childhood and adolescence, not only by my family but also by the bullies I often had to deal with at school.

One narcissistic abuse blogger (who I won’t identify for personal reasons) wrote about the way her psychopathic MN mother (who was actually MUCH worse than mine and downright cruel) and the rest of the family who served as her flying monkeys, gave her a poem for her college graduation. Instead of it being a sincere congratulations or about how loved she was and how proud of her they were, it was a “humorous” ode to how afraid of crickets she had been as a little girl. Notwithstanding the fact this poem had absolutely nothing to do with her daughter’s college graduation, its real intention was to embarrass her and make her feel self conscious. It was a poem that could have easily ruined an otherwise joyous occasion.

The navy blue dress.

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What my mother saw whenever she looked at me. (Just for the record, I think this big lady is stunning.)

My mother always loved to point out my faults–even imaginary ones she had projected onto me–in public. I’ll never forget the birthday party I had one year as a teenager. My mother had invited several of her friends to the apartment and some of my friends were there too. When it came time to open the gifts, she made sure hers was the first one I opened.

In the fancily wrapped box was a rather conservative, navy blue sleeveless dress. It was a nice dress, had I been about 40. She made me go try it on and then have me come out into the living room where everyone was sitting to model it. I obeyed because what else could I do. I was always so scared of her.

Mind you, I was not overweight. At 5’4″, 120-125 lbs was about the right weight for my frame. But my backside was what you might call well rounded (not to Kim Kardashian levels, but still round) and my mother was constantly calling attention to it. It made me very self conscious and due to this (as well as my desire to rebel against the way she’d dressed me like a doll when I was younger), I had taken to wearing baggy, almost masculine clothes that hid my curves. She was convinced I was “fat” and was always threatening to send me away to weight loss camp. As a somatic narcissist, she was obsessed with her own weight, physical appearance, and health (especially as it related to her appearance). She seemed to judge other people based on how they looked instead of their personality or inner qualities. Almost every day she called attention to how much weight I was putting on, or reminded me not to have seconds because of my “weight issues.” I become incredibly self conscious about my body as a result. It’s a miracle I didn’t develop an eating disorder.

weight-loss

Getting back to the birthday party and my “modeling session” in front of all the guests, after I modeled it, she announced that the dress’s dark color and style was flattering for someone with “Lauren’s little weight problem.”

You could have heard a pin drop in that room. I think everyone was shocked at her callous and embarrassing remarks. As for myself, I was so mortified I ran out of the room in tears, which of course was a huge mistake because that gave my mother ammunition to remind everyone once again about how sensitive I was (and she didn’t mean this in a complimentary way). She was always making jokes at my expense and then when I didn’t laugh or if I looked hurt, it was always “Lauren is just being over-sensitive again” or “Lauren has no sense of humor.” I’ve heard this is quite a common accusation narcissistic parents use against the child they have chosen as their scapegoat. They hate sensitivity in others and love to turn it into a bad thing because it takes the responsibility for their cruel behavior off of them and puts the blame onto the child.

This is the sort of “flattery” a scapegoated child can get from a parent who is a malignant narcissist. There are times I feel guilty that I don’t feel more loving toward my mother than I do, but when I think of all the years she demeaned me and put me down, always going out of her way to make me feel small and worthless, I don’t feel so guilty about my ambivalent feelings toward her. (2019 edit: as she’s grown quite old and several years have passed, I’ve developed more affection for her, and there is love there, but our relationship –if you can call it that–is still extremely distant and guarded).

I don’t hate my mother. I pity her for never having known who she really was or getting to know her true self. She’s an intelligent woman but you would never know it because she never was interested in abstract ideas or the life of the mind. Her eyes glaze over if you try to engage her in any “deep” topics. I recall her reading mass market paperback novels (“beach throwaways”) and fashion or home decorating magazines, never anything scholarly.

She has now lost most of her beauty due to age (and too many facelifts) and she is all too aware of this. The loss of physical beauty–the one thing that gave her a kind of identity–has turned her bitter in her old age.

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The little books.

Originally posted on August 30, 2015

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I remembered something today. Little by little my mind is pulling up ancient memories from dark and forgotten corners as I move further along in my recovery. This one almost knocked me over.

For years…decades, even…I couldn’t write. This past year and a half has been the first time in my life I haven’t in under the thrall of a high spectrum (malignant) narcissist, and it wasn’t until I freed myself from them that my words began to come back.

As a child I wrote all the time. I drew pictures too. I remember my father bringing home these little blank stapled booklets in different colors with lined paper in them. There were about 50 of them, tied up in rubber bands. I used to write little stories and illustrate them. I could spend hours doing this.

I always blame my mother for everything. I act as if my father (who was codependent, and probably either covert NPD or borderline) had nothing to do with my disorders. I always saw him as a victim too. But he colluded with my mother; both were abusers. I remember one day when I was 7 or 8, I came home from school, and as I did every day, I went to my desk and opened the drawer to start writing my little stories. I noticed some of my finished booklets were gone. Panicking, I looked everywhere for them, and couldn’t find them. They were very personal to me, like diaries. They were for my eyes only (my Avoidant traits had already set in) . I was very upset but couldn’t tell my parents because then they’d be looking for them and they’d KNOW.

I looked all over the house for them, and finally found them in my father’s filing cabinet in a folder with my name on it. I was horrified. He stole my private creations from me! I felt so violated. My boundaries had been viciously invaded. I remember stealing them back and destroying them. I couldn’t even bring myself to look at them anymore. There was too much shame.
It was as if I wanted to annihilate myself…my true self.

After that I seemed to lose interest in drawing, although I continued to write. But my passion for even that was gone. I didn’t say anything to my dad about him stealing those booklets because to do so would be to invite critique and shame. I knew instinctively he liked them (otherwise he wouldn’t have taken them from me), but I didn’t even want to hear anything good about them. The stuff in them was just too personal. I felt like I’d been raped.

jung_quote

I wrote a novel in 2003. No one wanted to publish it. It sucked. I still have it but it’s embarrassing to read because of how bad it is. I know why though; at that time, still under the thrall of my ex, I was trying too hard to be “a writer,” to make an impression, instead of being authentic.

And now…I’ve done a 180 from when I’d hide my little illustrated books and was so horrified when they were discovered: deliberately posting the most personal stuff imaginable for total strangers all over the Internet to see (under an assumed name, of course). It’s like I’m trying to redeem my shame, somehow. It’s very hard to explain.

After being in my abusive marriage, I thought I’d lost all my ability to do anything at all. I’d sit down and try to write something, and….I couldn’t do it. I even thought I’d lost my intelligence. I was marking time until death. I felt stupid, dead. But I didn’t care either…or thought I didn’t care. I couldn’t feel anything at all. All my emotions were gone.

I was wrong, so wrong about all that.

The mystery ship.

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Credit: Unknown photographer.  This haunting photo is very similar the way the old battleship appeared to me as a child.

I have a vivid memory of myself as a mosquito-bitten, golden-tanned and skinny little girl of seven and eight years old happily playing and exploring on the the tidal flats of  East Brewster, along Cape Cod Bay in Massachusetts, where my parents had rented a vacation beach cottage for two weeks during two consecutive summers in the late 1960s.

The sandbars and  network of warm tidal pools and rivulets left behind by the retreating tide stretched far, far into the distance–so far that the deeper water where the sand was never exposed was only a thin royal blue line against the horizon and sometimes was not visible at all  (I read recently that the Brewster tidal flats actually can extend up to two miles at low tide).

I played out on the flats for hours, collecting hermit crabs in my orange plastic bucket and then setting them free.  I marveled at how fast the incoming tide moved–so fast my friends and I used to try to race it in. I recalled sunsets seen from our screened in porch, painting the tidal pools pink and orange, and the smell of citronella and the sound of the bug zapper as the armies of mosquitoes dodged into it.

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Brewster tidal flats at sunset.

Way out on the horizon, so far away it appeared more like a mirage than a tangible thing, was the shadowy outline of a battleship.   I remember gazing out and wondering where it came from, why it never moved,  how far away it actually was, and even whether it was real at all.   It didn’t appear quite solid; I could see none of its details, and often it was shrouded in fog that was sometimes so thick I couldn’t see it at all.   Even on clear bright days, the ship seemed to shimmer in the sun like a mirage, or like the ghost of a ship that had foundered and sunk years earlier.

The ship seemed strangely alive though.  I was drawn to it.   I wanted to know its story.    I knew it had a story.  I remember asking my parents about it but they just said they had no idea.   The ship wasn’t important to them, but it was to me.   When we went to Provincetown one day, I looked out over the bay in the direction from which we had come to see if I could see my ship from a different perspective.  I was disappointed that I could not.   It was too far away and out of my line of vision.

My questions remained unanswered.   We had not taken any photos of that ship, so all I had was my memory of it.  After that second summer, we never returned to Cape Cod Bay.     Life went on, my parents divorced, we moved to the city,  school became more demanding, things like dating and making friends consumed my redirected adolescent attention.   Years and then decades passed by, and I never thought about the ship except as a random passing memory before turning my attention to more important things.

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Another ghostly image of the Target Ship in the far distance. (photographer unknown)

But about a month ago, that changed.  One day the memory again filtered through to my consciousness, as it sometimes does as a matter of course.   But so many decades had passed since those two distant summers that the memory itself has faded and I was no longer even sure it was an actual memory or perhaps just a dream or figment of childish imagination.

The Internet has made it possible to find the answers to obscure questions that in the recent past remained forever hidden in the darkness of the unknown.   So this last time I remembered the ship, I decided to Google it.   I didn’t expect to find anything.

So imagine my shock and delight when I typed in “abandoned battleship in Cape Cod Bay” and clicked on Images and saw THE SHIP almost exactly as I remembered it as a child standing out on those long-ago tidal flats gazing at the horizon.   There it was, right there on the screen of my laptop:  its ghostlike hulk like a mirage against the distant horizon, way out beyond the flats.  My jaw almost dropped to the floor.   Was my 50 year old question finally going to be answered?  Was my memory a real memory, and not just a dream?

My ship had a story, and she had a name:  The SS James Longstreet.  According to Google, she was a World War II battleship, constructed in 1942 by the Todd Houston Shipbuilding Company in Houston, Texas.  She measured 417 feet in length and 57 feet in breadth.  Her namesake, Major General James Longstreet, had been a hero of the Confederate Army and one of General Robert E. Lee’s top officers during the Civil War.   She was moored in the Cape Cod Bay off Eastham at the end of World War II and her remains can be found there today.

As per Wikipedia,

SS James Longstreet (Hull Number 112) was a Liberty ship [a cargo vessel built to carry supplies to Allied troops] built in the United States during World War II at a cost of $1,833,400. She was named after the Confederate general James Longstreet.

She was laid down on 3 December 1941, then launched on 2 April 1942. On 26 October 1943, she ran aground in a gale and was declared a total loss. Instead of being scrapped, she was acquired by the US Navy in June 1944 and used as a target ship for early air to surface guided missiles. Whilst under tow to and from the target areas, she once ran aground and on another occasion broke her anchor chain and drifted for ten days before being recovered.    She was then sunk and used for further experiments using missiles, before then being used for live ammunition target practice by Naval jets from nearby South Weymouth Naval Air Station and the Air Force from nearby Otis Air Force Base  until 1971. The ship is also referred to as the “target ship”.

The remains of James Longstreet lie approximately three and a half miles off  Eastham, Massachusetts in 20 to 25 feet (6.1 to 7.6 m) of water. The site is off limits to divers.

And there it was.   It was much more than I expected.

targetship

Bombers drop missiles on the target ship at night (photographer unknown).  Going by the relatively intact look of the ship, I’m guessing this was taken earlier than the 1980s (most accounts say it was mostly disintegrated by 1982)

But that wasn’t all.  Another article, from The Cape Cod Times, said “The Target Ship” had become so badly rotted and damaged by rust and algae, and the constant bombardment by practice missiles, that in 1997 she finally broke apart and sank for good.  1997 was the last year she would have been visible to a child standing out on the tidal flats the way I had thirty years earlier.

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The “target ship” riddled with holes from years of attacks.

Of course I felt drawn to her.  Of course she haunted my dreams.   I related to her plight as an abuse survivor, as a child who constantly felt misunderstood and unappreciated by her own family, and unfairly maligned as a loser, a child who had opportunities ripped away, was used for emotional (and sometimes physical) target practice, and was finally emotionally abandoned by those who were supposed to always be there no matter what.   James Longstreet had been built, didn’t perform to standards, and was never given another chance to prove herself.  Instead, she was cruelly chained down where she couldn’t escape and used for target practice for half a century — only to be abandoned and left to rot and die where no one would ever see or remember her again.

Of course, intellectually, I knew the SS James Longstreet was just an object, a hunk of rusted iron manufactured by men for wartime.   She had no heart or brain or soul.  But in a sense, she was me, and for five decades she called out to me through my memory, yearning for her story to be told.

That’s the least SS James Longstreet deserves and so I have done this for her.

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View of the James Longstreet after she went under for good.

*****

Further reading:

Memories of the Target Ship in Cape Cod Bay 

 

What am I running from?

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I haven’t posted anything about my therapy on this blog for a long time.   The truth is that lately I’ve been losing interest in my therapy and haven’t even been wanting to go.   Since my sessions are never unpleasant or traumatic, I really don’t know why.  I know I’m not cured, though that thought occurred to me briefly.    Sometimes uncomfortable emotions come up in session, but I actually look forward to those, because it means we can work on them.  They’ve never been cause for me to want to run.

But recently, even while I’m in session, I keep talking about things that have nothing to do with therapy, or even with me.  My therapist correctly pointed out that he sensed I was avoiding something that’s coming up.

In our last session we began talking about an early childhood trauma involving my mother, when I was about 5 -7.  I skirted around the issue and told him I couldn’t give him details, but I was starting to get emotional.   It’s not something I’m able to talk about yet, even with my therapist.  Not even here.  It brings me too much shame even now, but I remember exactly what happened as clear as day.   He wants to explore this with me and I do too, but…I’m afraid to.   It’s too shameful.    But the avoidance started several weeks before this.

So I’ve been losing interest.  This week I felt too tired to go so I didn’t.  That hasn’t happened before.

I just had a dream that may shed some light on what’s going on, because the real reason is occluded even to me.

The dream involved a usual theme that occurs in many of my dreams. Somehow, in spite of my limited income, I had come into ownership of a vast house, so vast that I kept discovering rooms I never knew existed and had never seen before.  Exploring my new home was exciting, but in the back of my mind I knew I really couldn’t afford this house.

There were strangers in the house, as if it was some public place.    I walked through a doorway that opened out to a huge industrial kitchen with huge flat stainless steel cooktops lining an entire wall.  All these random people were cooking — bacon, eggs, steaks, you name it.    I turned to some stranger and told them I owned all this.   I told them that before, I had lived in a one bedroom apartment (my actual place has two bedrooms).  I admitted I wasn’t sure I could afford all this but that I would try.

One of the strangers I met was a very attractive man in his thirties.  (In my dreams I am always younger than my real age).    He seemed interested in me and kept following me around, trying to start a conversation.   I was interested but reticent, so I may have seemed disinterested, even though I wasn’t.   We found a room with tables that had numbers on them, as you might find in a restaurant.

The man invited me to sit down at one of the tables with him, Table #30.   Reluctantly, I did.  He was friendly and asked me many questions.  I was attracted and interested, but also afraid.   As I am in real life, I felt threatened by his interest in me.   But I was willing to get to know him better.  My attraction overrode my wariness.

I admitted to him I was afraid of relationships but that I’d be willing to give one a chance under the right circumstances.   He seemed understanding.

I got up for some reason that I can’t remember and then came back to Table 30.   He was gone.   A woman sitting at a nearby table told me she had seen him leave and drive away.  I was disappointed.  I wondered what I’d done.  I knew I’d never see him again.

I wanted to write this dream down before it fades from my memory, but I haven’t thought about what it could mean yet.    I’m going to mull it over today and if I figure it out, I’ll write another post later.  Right now my brain isn’t working and I just want to go back to bed for a few more hours.

“The Most Narcissistic Schoolteacher Ever” (by Lenora Thompson)

Lenora Thompson writes about narcissism for PsychCentral.  This article about her narcissistic third-grade teacher stood out to me,  not only because it is an entertaining (and of course, heartbreaking) read, but also because not much has been written about narcissistic teachers.  This is strange to me because teachers probably have the most impact on young children, after their parents.

I had one such teacher (also my third-grade teacher), Mrs. Morse, who  decided to make me her scapegoat.  You can read about that here, in an older post I wrote about my childhood, called Crybaby. 

The Most Narcissistic Schoolteacher Ever

By Lenora Thompson, for PsychCentral

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The class of thirty 9-year-old third-graders looked like something out of a 1950s photograph. They sat perfectly still. Their reading books were held in identical grips in their chubby hands. Every student held their books at exactly the same angle. No one slouched. It looked like a model classroom.

What no one knew was that, just the day before, their narcissistic teacher had taped a student’s mouth shut, tied him to his desk and struck him.

They were not model students. They were quite simply terrified.

The Mean Teacher

Finding out who your new teacher will be at the start of each school year is always very exciting. In my über-religious Protestant school, there were two third grade teachers. There was the beloved nice one who, unbeknownst to us, was slowly dying of cancer.

Then there was the other one. A newlywed. Very young. Very pretty. Very mean.

As luck would have it, I got the mean teacher. But I adored her. Back then, I adored all my teachers and often was the teacher’s pet.

You’re Not Sick

Who doesn’t have a dire tale to tell of getting sick at school. On this particular morning, I felt fine when I boarded the schoolbus. I felt fine when I arrived at school and handed in my completed project.

Then it struck me, the waves of nausea. That salty flavor in the mouth that precedes losing ones cookies. “Please teacher,” I begged. “I think I’m sick. Can I go call my mommy?”

“No,” she snapped. “You’re just pretending to be sick because you haven’t finished your homework.”

It wasn’t true, but she was scary. So I shut up.

Then I threw up…all over the floor. Served her right.

*****

Read the rest of Lenora’s article here.

 

 

The childhood origins of narcissism.

This is a very informative video explaining how narcissism develops during childhood.

Do narcissists ever cry? (article from The Narcissistic Life)

I believe I wrote an article a while back with the same title (my conclusion — yes, they do)  but this article is better and I like the way it doesn’t stigmatize narcissistic tears or the reasons why they cry as always insincere (it’s not always crocodile tears meant to get supply).   Sometimes they just cry because they hurt.

My  own article about this, written when I was still  enraged at my own narcissists, took a much more negative and cynical view of the reasons why narcissists may cry.

Do Narcissists Ever Cry?

By Alexander Burgemeester, for The Narcissistic Life.

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Whilst narcissism is often characterised by bombast and a seemingly unwavering self-belief, there are times when even a narcissist may cry. Do Narcissists cry? It seems impossible but it is true. So how can someone who is so tied up with their own success, self-image and the presentation of themselves in their everyday lives suffer the kind of emotion or tearful outburst that is more characteristic of us other mere mortals?

Read the rest of this post here.

To my Mom’s “Credit”

Comments are disabled; please make comments on the original post.

Justbreathe826

As I have been visited by memories that I would have preferred to have had kept buried deep in my soul or in Jamie’s coffin, but that I need to work through as part of my own healing, I find myself wondering more and more what it is that I did to be so undeserving of your love, or even just the basic courtesies of nurturing, encouragement, even being heard.

So here goes….

Dear Mom,

I didn’t choose to enter this world and interrupt your life, to be born two months early, at a time perhaps that you were not yet prepared for my entrance. In fact had I known what I was in for, I would have chosen to stay inside much longer or not be born at all. I did not choose to enter YOUR world especially; you chose to take on the responsibility of “welcoming” me! Was…

View original post 1,554 more words

BPD vs. NPD

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This graphic I made shows that BPD and NPD are really the same disorder.    Both have their roots in childhood trauma and fear of abandonment, even though the symptoms may not be evident until later childhood or adolescence.    The primary difference is the outer layer–the narcissist develops a nearly impermeable and rigid false self or mask (usually of grandiosity, but sometimes can present as do-gooder or even a victim). This mask remains stable unless narcissistic supply is removed, which causes it to atrophy, revealing the rage, fear, and hurt beneath that.

The borderline develops a highly permeable, chameleon-like outer layer.  In the diagram, it looks like a flower.   This outer layer of “petals” is analogous to the false self, but is not rigid and not even always present. It is easily penetrated and does not require narcissistic fuel from others to keep it intact.   It changes and morphs its shape and form like a Lava lamp.   Since it’s so easily broken through and is so changeable, Borderlines seem to be “crazier” and seem to have more intense mood swings than narcissists.  They are also skilled in adapting to different situations and people in a chameleon-like way: this usually manifests as codependency.  Sometimes they don’t seem to have minds of their own and take on the behaviors and belief systems of whoever they happen to be with.   Borderlines seem more emotionally unstable than narcissists because the second layer of rage/hurt/fear is often on the surface, causing the Borderline to act out in frequent rages, panic attacks or crying jags.

Beneath these outer layers, NPD and BPD have the same structure:   a layer of rage, hurt and fear when they are triggered, hiding the emptiness and grief under that (which is what both–especially the NPD–are so afraid of confronting and take such desperate measures to avoid feeling).  When this part of the personality structure is finally reached, the NPD/BPD feels as if they don’t exist and that is excruciating for them.   NPDs in therapy may quit at this point.   Hidden deep within the “emptiness” (which really isn’t empty at all) is the diminished and damaged true self (inner child).

The goal in therapy is to break through all those outer layers and finally reach the true self, then give him or her the nurturing and validation they should have received in the hopes that he or she can become a whole person.   It can take a very long time for this to happen, if it ever happens at all.

Borderlines, although they might seem crazier than narcissists, are more easily cured because the permeable chameleon-like outer layer is so much more easily broken through.   In contrast, the NPD false self can take months or years to even crack.   It’s a thick and stable structure, not given to weakening easily, but even the strongest concrete building has hairline cracks somewhere in its structure.   A tornado can reduce the strongest building to rubble.

The key to breaking a narcissist is to find those cracks and weaken the false self. This is usually done by removing narcissistic supply, which serves as a psychological tornado to the narcissistic defensive structure. Sometimes this has already happened; and in this more vulnerable state, with the false self temporarily disabled, a narcissist is more likely to enter therapy.   Unfortunately the narcissistic defense mechanism is so ingrained they will soon find a way to get supply again and rebuild the false self.   The therapist must work to permanently disable it but the narcissist must also be willing for this to happen.

In a low spectrum narcissist, the false self may be rather weak or thin to begin with, and for them, a cure may be more likely or happen sooner.  In low spectrum narcissists, the false self is more like a  cheaply constructed trailer than a stone castle.  It will only take a weak tornado to smash it to smithereens.

When an NPD’s mask begins to fall away, they will begin to act a lot more like a Borderline–raging, dissociating, experiencing crying jags, and showing their underlying inability to regulate overwhelming emotions.   At this point the treatment for NPD should be much the same as for BPD–empathically penetrating the “void” to reach and begin to nurture the diminished real self.

How a child develops BPD or NPD.

These disorders begin when a young child or toddler is hurt or rejected by their parents, especially the mother.  This hurt may not even be intentional–sometimes the illness, death, or absence of a non-disordered parent can set things into motion, because the child can’t discern the difference between deliberate abuse or neglect and something that cannot be helped.  Many, if not most, children who live in orphanages or are moved from foster home to foster home develop some form of Cluster B disorder.

Because a toddler or very young child has not yet completely separated their sense of self from their parents’, when they don’t receive the mirroring and unconditional acceptance they need, they feel as if they’ve been annihilated, and that feeling of annihilation becomes the black void that now surrounds the hurt or abused child.

But because the void is too painful and frightening to cope with, something else must cover that over too, and also protect and hide the inner child.  So the defensive emotions (anger, paranoia, fear, and rage) develop over the void because even though they feel unpleasant, they’re still better than the horrible feeling of having been annihilated, and they also protect the inner child from ever being hurt again.

And over that, for a narcissist, to attract people who could provide the attention and validation they never got as children, they develop a fake self, which is usually “nice” but is only a mask so it isn’t real.  If they feel that the mask is under threat of exposure, they fight tooth and nail to retain the image they want the world to see.

For the borderline, instead of developing a false self to cover the rage and other defensive emotions, they learn to adapt depending on the situation or the people, and that is why they so often become codependent.   Also, because they are closer to the void than the narcissist is, they tend to have dissociative episodes and may engage in self destructive actions like cutting to make them feel like they exist. Or they may engage in other risky behaviors or taking drugs or drinking too much in an effort to self-medicate.

 

DISCLAIMER: I am not a mental health professional, but I’m well-read on these disorders and these are from my observations and opinions.

Don’t judge.

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