Trump’s strange behavior at G20 summit is a window into his current state of mind.

trumptweet4

An example of narcissistic projection.  Blame others for what you are guilty of, even when there’s no proof.

 

Some of you may remember Trump’s overconfident, even arrogant and obnoxious alpha- male behavior at last year’s G20 summit in Germany and other events where he had to mingle with world leaders:  arrogantly pushing aside Montenegro’s president so he could get to the front of the group, the childish refusal to shake Angela Merkel’s hand, his standoffishness, and other gestures and comments indicating his contempt and disregard for the the leaders of western democracies.   I could go on with examples but that would take too long and it’s not my point in this post anyway.

Trump is under enormous stress right now, due to recent events that don’t bode well for his future in politics or even his freedom:  Mueller and his team are beginning to move closer to Trump’s inner circle, his longtime “fixer” Michael Cohen has turned against him and admitted he lied under oath (and telling Mueller everything he knows).   Perhaps most ominously, in just over a month, the new Democratic Congress, headed by the very competent and confident Nancy Pelosi, takes over, bringing much needed checks and balances back into government.  These Democrats can and will hold Trump accountable for his crimes and unethical and cruel policies, and Trump knows it.   The party’s almost over.

For perhaps the first time in his 72 years, this overgrown spoiled brat who has always gotten his own way and never been held accountable for anything in his life, will finally be made to answer for his illegal and immoral mob boss ways, and Trump isn’t pleased.    In fact, right now he’s feeling pretty shaky and insecure.   He’s not even able, at the moment, to mask his insecurity with his usual false arrogance and bluster.  He’s emotionally deflated and terrified of what his future holds,  and his mental state shows in his odd behavior at this year’s G20 summit.    He seems more like a frightened little boy about to be sent to his room and denied his favorite TV show than the fearsome dictator he aspires to be (or thinks he already is).

I had noticed on several occasions that Trump only looked truly happy when he was hobnobbing with vicious dictators like Putin, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, or North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.   I’ve never seen him smile like he is in the picture below (either Putin or MBS was approaching, though I can’t recall which one) with any leaders of western democracies.  (In fact, he always seems downright uncomfortable with them and is very critical of them).   This is one of the only genuine looking smiles I’ve ever seen from Trump.

trumpsmile1

Here’s another of him in the private (closed off to the press) meeting that took place in the Oval Office last year with Russian oligarchs.  He looks genuinely happy.

trumpandrussians

So, it doesn’t help Trump’s fragile ego that his despotic buddies (and objects of his childlike hero worship) Vladimir Putin and Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) appear to be shunning Trump like a couple of catty middle school girls at the G20 summit this year.

Watch this incredible video of Putin and MBS sharing a moment of laughter and high fiving each other as Trump comes lumbering into the room from behind.    Trump must be painfully aware that these two despots have never smiled or laughed with Trump the way they do here with each other.  Deep down,  Trump must know that he is not as well regarded or well liked by these two as they like and regard each other.    But  as they are very likely pure psychopaths rather than mere malignant narcissists like Trump, they would naturally have more in common with each other, both of them being free of that pesky emotional fragility and hypersensitivity to criticism that people with NPD are always saddled with.   As pure psychopaths, they don’t care what other people think of them: they just do what they want.   Although Trump shares their lack of conscience and empathy, he also cares very much what people  think of him, especially those who (like Putin and MBS) are useful to him.

Trump definitely sees them, and his jealousy of their bond is as obvious as his orange tinted spray tan.  Here’s a closeup screenshot someone took of Trump’s face during the exchange.  If looks could kill!

jealoustrump

Although I’m not a mental health professional and can’t make a diagnosis, most mental health professionals agree that Trump almost certainly has all 9 DSM criteria for  Narcissistic Personality Disorder (and fits most of the criteria for Antisocial Personality Disorder).   When a person has both NPD and ASPD (sociopathy), they are considered to be malignant narcissists.  Malignant narcissism, a term first coined by psychologist Erich Fromm back in the 1960s, isn’t a clinically accepted medical term, but it’s well known in the narcissistic abuse community (and now, due to Trump, is becoming known outside of that community and is practically a household word, much like the term gaslighting has recently become a term most “lay” people know the meaning of, because Trump and his followers do it so constantly).

NPD causes a profound lack of empathy that often manifests as social awkwardness. This causes even some professionals to initially mistake people with NPD as being on the autism spectrum.  Some narcissists can fake empathy, but Trump isn’t one of them. While his inability to fake empathy may actually be a saving grace for the country and the world (Trump’s poor acting ability makes his disorder more obvious and therefore he is less dangerous than someone who can hide behind a mask of fake compassion and kindness).

As a result, Trump often shuns social events that require him to show empathy, or camaraderie with others.   Like all narcissists, he is terrified of appearing awkward or socially incompetent in public, and because he doesn’t possess the acting ability to fake social competence or empathy, when he is forced to attend such events, he usually is off by himself, physically not present, or behaving in ways that deviate from what the others are doing and appear strange, inappropriate, and awkward. Notice how out of touch he seems in both these photos. Due to his lack of empathy, he cannot read social cues that others can read with ease.

trumpG20summit1

trumpg20summit4

This is why Trump has refused to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, in which one of the traditions is to “roast” the current president and other high profile politicians.    Trump has never forgiven Obama for roasting him about insisting he produce his birth certificate at the WHCD in 2012.  Obama’s joke at Trump’s expense got uproarious laughter from the audience.  Narcissists cannot stand to be laughed at, even as a good natured part of a tradition.  They can’t roll with the punches because they take themselves very, very seriously.    A joke at their expense becomes a severe narcissistic injury.   (The White House Correspondents’ Dinner discontinued its comedic roasts this year, possibly due to not wanting to risk any more “hurt feelings.”)

Here’s a photo of Trump at last year’s G20 summit in Germany, and you can see how isolated he is. Keep in mind that at that summit, he was among highly intelligent people who are leaders of world democracies and cognizant of world affairs. Trump, having little in common with them (and painfully aware his intelligence and knowledge of world affairs could never match theirs) sits, nearly pouting, by himself.

trumpG20summit2017

It’s even worse this year for him, and Trump, not possessing acting abilities, doesn’t even seem to be able to fake a smile (or arrogantly push aside the president of another country, as he did with Montenegro’s president Milo Đukanović).   He  appears unusually isolated, morose, angry, and unhappy.   He is suffering severe narcissistic injury due to what he knows is coming (even though he continues to deny any wrongdoing).  The apparent rejection of his heroes Putin and MBS at the summit are like salt in an already festering wound.

At his rallies back at home, he’s surrounded by people less educated and more ignorant than even he is (and is fawned over, adulated, and even worshipped as if he is God, and this infuses him with the narcissistic fuel he needs to function), so it’s easy for him to snap back into his alpha male show of bravado and false confidence, but at a foreign summit full of intellectually superior world leaders, he cannot and his emotional vulnerability is on display for the world to see.

trumpg20summit2  trumpg20summit3

Trump is a man who knows the walls of justice are closing in on him, and even his foreign despotic allies seem to be losing respect for him. He may even be a liability to them at this point. I almost want to feel sorry for Trump, but because of his two year reign of terror and the immeasurable trauma he has caused to Americans and the entire world, I have no pity for him. He deserves whatever is coming.

In the next few weeks, until the Democratic House convenes on January 3,  Trump is going to double down and his aggressive behavior and lies here at home (where he’s back in his element) will become much worse.  We need to hang on and be courageous as his narcissistic rage will be nearly out of control.  But take heart:  it’s almost over, and he knows it.  That’s why he’s lashing out at anyone who isn’t on his side:  journalists, Democrats, women, liberals, and anyone who criticizes him.  But it’s temporary.  Like the Wicked Witch of the West, he has been doused with water, and he’s melting.   He will scream and flail and put up a mighty fight, but he will not be able to destroy democracy.  We are stronger and more powerful than any flailing, screaming, decompensating narcissist because there are more of us and we have truth on our side.

Don’t be surprised if he resigns.   While resignation is an act of defeat that seems out of character for someone as narcissistic as Trump, if he can no longer hold up the facade of invincibility, in order to save face resignation may be his only option.

 

screenshottrump

 

Advertisements

Narcissistic abuse in Trumpistan.

Much has been written about Trump’s toxic psychology, specifically his malignant narcissism.  In spite of The Goldwater Rule (an agreement between mental health professionals to never diagnose someone they have not evaluated), so egregious is 45’s bad behavior that thousands of mental health professionals are breaking their own rule and speculating that he does indeed suffer from both Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Psychopathy/Antisocial Personality Disorder (the non-clinical term is “malignant narcissism” when both disorders appear together).

But the problem isn’t limited to Trump.  Our “president”  (I’m sorry, but I refuse to refer to him as president without adding scare quotes for irony) has surrounded himself with a cabinet full of people as entitled-acting and seemingly lacking in human empathy and devoid of conscience as he is.   If they are not sociopathic themselves, they are enabling cowards who keep making excuses for Trump’s horrible behavior and the toxic, abusive things he says.   Some seem like programmed robots with no minds of their own, and others actually seem terrified to ever criticize or disobey him.

As for Trump’s pathologically loyal supporters, they really do seem unreachable.   No amount of logic, facts, reason, or even appealing emotionally to their “better angels” seem to move them.   Like Manson’s young followers who continued to defend Manson’s evil behavior and insane beliefs even to the point where they were willing to murder on his behalf, to his supporters, Trump really could “shoot someone on 5th Avenue” and they would not budge from his side.    When presented with facts — even outright proof that their views are wrong — I’ve noticed a tendency for Trump supporters to double down on their pro-Trump beliefs (for example, if science has found that climate change is real, they will tell you that scientists are liars or are misinformed).   Much more so than his opponents, Trump supporters seem to resort to personal attacks or angry outbursts, and, when that fails, they will cut you off from further discussion, even blocking you on social media so they don’t have to engage with you further or have their views challenged.

There’s two other situations in which you see this unholy trinity of egotistic authoritarian leader, sociopathic or sycophantic lackeys and enablers, and followers who seem to have no ability to think or act for themselves:  in religious cults and in political dictatorships.   Trumpism resembles a cult, and in fact it is one.   Trump uses the same Machiavellian mind control tactics on his followers and those who carry out his bidding that cult leaders and dictators do.

I do believe we are being tested, and Trump is the logical conclusion of where we’ve been headed since at least the 1970s.   His election signals that we have reached rock bottom and are being forced to be accountable — or self-destruct.   If we are being tested, then it follows there is a solution, but it’s imperative that we do not allow ourselves to ever normalize what is happening or become so beaten down emotionally, mentally, and spiritually that we feel like there’s nothing we can do and succumb to the abuse — and yes, it is abuse.

The first step in fighting encroaching totalitarianism (let’s not mince words here because that’s exactly what this administration wants to install in place of democracy) is knowing the nature of the beast that threatens us, but to do that, we need to name it.

This is narcissistic abuse.   It’s just as incapacitating, soul-destroying, creativity crushing, sickness-engendering, trauma-inducing, and crazy-making as the kind wrought on us by malignantly narcissistic parents, teachers, “friends,” relatives, lovers, and spouses.

But it’s a lot worse than that.   It’s worse because it’s narcissistic abuse on a massive, nationwide, possibly worldwide scale.   Unlike a toxic family or workplace or marriage, it’s a lot harder to go No Contact when the leader of your country is an abuser.   In fact, going No Contact may not even be possible, should WWIII, enslavement, or internment in modern day concentration camps come to pass.  This is not hyperbole or conspiracy theory:   if things are allowed to continue the way they have been going since January,  a high-tech feudalism, modern day replay of Nazi Germany, or even a Christian Taliban with Old Testament law replacing the Constitution will be our new reality.

Because what we are enduring is narcissistic abuse writ large, the same terminology and lingo used by narcissistic abuse survivors to refer to abusive parents, coworkers, lovers, friends, bosses and spouses certainly applies here as well.

So I’m going to present some of these narcissistic abuse terms, define them for those who aren’t familiar with what they mean, and use examples of how they are being used by this administration in their attempts to control us, beat us down, and eventually destroy us.

Gaslighting.

Gaslighting is probably the most well-known term used by narcissistic abuse survivors, and can now be seen in many articles about Trump as well.   The term “gaslight” is taken from the 1942 psychological thriller of the same name, in which an abusive, sociopathic husband attempts to make his wife believe she is going insane by telling her she is imagining noises in the attic, the gaslights in the house going on and off by themselves, etc. when he is actually the one doing it without her knowledge.    Gaslighting someone is an insidious and cruel mind control technique intended to make the other person question their own observations and beliefs, and even reality itself.

Trump gaslights us all every day through his demonization of the press (it’s all “fake news” and journalists are “enemies of the people”),  liberals and Democrats, people who refuse to give him the worship he craves, and the truth itself, which he insists is a bunch of lies made up by the “lying media.”   Hitler did the same thing, calling the media “lugenpresse,” which literally means “fake news.”    He gaslights us by telling us that his abusive words and rhetoric are just “honesty” and that “political correctness” (avoiding abusive language and unfair policies) is the real evil that must be done away with.   The intention is to wear those of us who value the truth down mentally and emotionally, while at the same time normalizing and encouraging those who pacify him and believe or deny his lies.

Divide and Conquer.

Divide and Conquer is a technique in which a cult leader or other sociopath in a powerful position deliberately sets people or groups against one another, the end result being that once a large group is fighting among themselves, they are easier to control or unleash abuse on without them really being aware of what is really happening.

Divide and Conquer can be seen in this administration, in which Trump encourages aggressive and violent behavior by the supporters who attend his rallies against reporters, people of color, and non-supporters who disagree with Trump or his policies.

Language is a powerful tool and Trump uses it to divide and conquer.   Non-whites, Mexicans, Muslims, Democrats, and other groups Trump dislikes are dehumanized through language which normalizes aggression and violence against them.   “Rough them up,” he says when speaking about reporters, and then later defends himself by saying he’s “joking” (which is a form of gaslighting).    No other president has ever used language so destructively to deliberately encourage hatred and division, but it’s common among sociopaths and malignant narcissists like Trump.   It foments hatred among his supporters against “the Other,” and they begin to normalize aggression and violence, even acting out on it or threatening civil war against Trump’s enemies, since Trump seems to think it’s okay.    When a nation is divided in this manner, they are weakened and less unified, and thus easier to control and terrorize.

Projection.

Malignant narcissists have extremely fragile egos, and therefore cannot tolerate any criticism.  Deep inside they are actually painfully aware of where they fall short, but this will never enter their consciousness. Should you ever call them out on their faults, be prepared for them to retaliate against you or target you for abuse.    To defend against the knowledge of their own faults coming to awareness (thus destroying their image of themselves as perfect), they will project their worst traits onto others rather than admitting any fault in themselves.  The fact that they have an uncanny way of blaming others for the very things they themselves do indicates that subconsciously, they know where they fall short.

Trump’s projection onto others is most obvious in his tweets, in which he regularly blames others for things he himself is doing, or accuses others of having character traits he himself possesses.   Thus,  it’s others who are weak, who are obstructionists, who lie, who are “very bad people,” who are disloyal, who are not nice, or are “bad hombres” — never him.

Flying Monkeys.

Flying monkeys is another term borrowed from the movies — in this case, “The Wizard of Oz.”   When the Wicked Witch tried to keep Dorothy from getting to Oz by targeting her for torture and death, she enlisted the help of an army of flying monkeys to do her bidding.  At the end, after Dorothy accidentally killed the Witch, we finally found out the flying monkeys were really the Witch’s slaves and were actually grateful to Dorothy for freeing them.   In real life, flying monkeys may be lesser narcissists, or just normal but weak-willed people who are codependent to the abusive leader and become the leader’s enablers and cheerleaders.  Sometimes they are not aware they are being used as flying monkeys, especially if the leader has convinced them that the targeted person or group is the real enemy and they are the ones being victimized (see DARVO, below).

Trump uses his cabinet members, his family members, and his supporters, including the people who attend his rallies, as flying monkeys to normalize and defend his hateful rhetoric and policies that will hurt the rest of us, including the flying monkeys themselves, who seem like they’re brainwashed.   This was already discussed in the second paragraph of this post, so I won’t go into more detail here.

DARVO

DARVO is an acronym that stands for Deny, Attack, and Reverse Victim and Offender.    It’s common for narcissists to deny saying or doing something, but then attack YOU for accusing them, thus making themselves out to be the victim, and YOU as the one who is doing the abusing.  It’s a form of both gaslighting and projection, with the added technique of feigning victimization to garner pity and support.

Trump is always playing the victim, complaining about how it’s always others who are obstructing him or lying about him, or who want to take him down.   One of the most infamous examples to date is when he addressed a graduating class of the Coast Guard and proceeded to whine about how he was the most persecuted politician in the history of our nation.   By making himself out to be the ultimate victim (and of course making everything about him and ruining these graduates’ special day), he also diminished the experiences of other politicians, war heroes, and former presidents who had suffered far worse.

Scapegoating.

This term is self-explanatory.  It comes from the field of family dynamics.  Malignant narcissists (and sometimes substance abusers such as alcoholics, who tend to have Cluster B disorders) almost always select a scapegoat to project the lion’s share of blame onto and thus the scapegoat becomes the designated carrier of toxic shame that the narcissist refuses to own.  In a family headed by one or more narcissistic parents, one child may be selected to be the family scapegoat.  That child is blamed for everything that goes wrong in the family, and is told repeatedly they are stupid, worthless, evil, ugly, crazy, or bad.  They are punished more than the other children, even when they did nothing wrong.  Their achievements are dismissed or even treated as something bad that must be punished. The scapegoat may also be bullied and abused by siblings, who act as the parent’s flying monkey(s).   A scapegoated child tends to enter adulthood with depression, low self esteem, a pervading sense of danger, and other psychological problems that tend to reinforce their role as scapegoats even as they move beyond the family.   Because scapegoats aren’t quick to defend themselves, are fearful and lack self esteem,  predatory personalities seem to be able to smell them out and proceed to dish further abuse and rejection on them.

Scapegoats are usually the most physically or emotionally vulnerable, the most sensitive, or most thoughtful individuals in a toxic family or other group, and/or they are the whistle-blowers or the truth-tellers who refuse to become flying monkeys or enablers of the narcissist.   Ironically, in a toxic family, they may be the most emotionally healthy individuals.   Malignant narcissist parents or other leaders wish to silence anyone who tells the truth or blows the whistle — or who is a constant reminder to them of how dangerous and toxic they really are.    Narcissists hate the “weak” and vulnerable, and they also hate those who tell the truth and expose them for what they are.     They may also scapegoat those who disagree with them or criticize them.

Every week, it seems that Trump has a new scapegoat.   While mainstream or liberal reporters and journalists (the truth tellers and whistle blowers) and groups of people who are not white, male and Christian seem to receive the lion’s share of his abuse and vilification, from week to week, Trump also targets a new individual — almost always someone who he perceives as being critical of him or obstructing his harebrained and wrongheaded policies.   Obama is a constant target, since his very existence threatens his fragile ego  (it’s obvious to me Trump hates Obama for having the temerity to be both more popular than he is and black), but he has also targeted Hillary Clinton, Chuck Schumer, and John McCain, as well as former and current insiders like Sean Spicer, Mitch McConnell, James Comey, and Jeff Sessions for abuse, which he usually metes out on Twitter.

Blame-Shifting.

Similar to projection and DARVO, blame-shifting is when a narcissist or sociopathic person refuses to accept or own blame and instead shifts responsibility onto someone else.    Malignant narcissists will never ever admit wrongdoing or say they’re sorry, because to do so is admission that they are less than perfect and that is intolerable to them.    The abusive husband who makes excuses for beating his wife (“she asked for it because of her nonstop nagging”) is shifting blame onto his wife instead of owning the fact that beating her was wrong.

Trump is constantly shifting blame to others.   Not once during his entire 8 months in office has he ever apologized or said he’s sorry for anything.   He’s made a lot of mistakes, some pretty terrible — but it’s always someone else’s fault.     When his unpopular and unconstitutional policies fail to pass, it’s never his fault — it’s always the “Obstructionist Dems,” Mitch McConnell, the “FAKE NEWS” lying to the people, or whoever the villain of the day happens to be.   He even makes excuses for the deplorable behavior of some of his white supremacist supporters, as he did when he said there was violence on both sides in Charlottesville — which there wasn’t.   In so doing, he also sent a clear signal to his white supremacist and neo-Nazi supporters that Trump was okay with their particular form of terrorism (running a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing a young woman).

Splitting.

People with Cluster B disorders tend to think in terms of black-and-white, us-versus-them. There are NO shades of grey, NO mitigating circumstances, NO ambiguities.  If a malignant narcissist has decided you are “bad,” there is NOTHING good about you.  You might as well be Satan himself.   If you have been labeled crazy, you are a word salad blabbering lunatic fit to be put in a straitjacket and locked up in the loony bin until the day you die.    If you have been deemed an enemy, you can NEVER become a friend, nor do you have ANY redeeming qualities.   Since you will inevitably disappoint the malignant narcissist, eventually he will turn harshly against you.

This is called splitting, and Trump does it all the time.   Trump is incapable of seeing how complex people are, because he has zero insight into himself or any curiosity about human nature.   If someone insults him, they couldn’t just be having a bad day, because Trump lacks the empathy to be able to put himself in someone else’s shoes.   He would never consider that they might be right, either, because doing so would be intolerable to him.    Insult Trump and you become the Enemy — fair game for dehumanization, vilification, and retaliatory abuse.   There is no in between.  If you are not loyal to him, you are Other — and Other is always very bad.

Devalue and Discard (D&D)

After a period of love-bombing (see below), in which you are the most perfect, wonderful, loyal friend or ally ever (because to the narcissist, you are either ALL good or ALL bad),   you will inevitably (because you aren’t perfect) do or say something that hurts the narcissist’s feelings or causes him narcissistic injury.  Once that has happened, they will turn on you like a pit viper and will proceed to make your life hell.   In relationships, this may be the point at which the person who yesterday showered you with roses, candlelit dinners, and love letters now refuses to take your calls and blocks you on Facebook.

Trump has done this with many of his staff members, who were once confidantes and allies, and who he now attacks and vilifies because they failed to be “loyal” to him or were critical of him in some way. To Trump, other people are objects to be used or to provide narcissistic supply (worship and adulation), not imperfect human beings with both good and bad points.

Love-Bombing.

This is the initial phase of a relationship with a narcissist, in which you are the most perfect person in the world, but really you are just a mirror reflecting back to them what they want to see in themselves.  Once that image is tarnished (because you found fault with the narcissist), the abuse and/or devaluation begins.

Trump employed love-bombing during his campaign, when he made all kinds of promises that “only he” could fix.  He promised “healthcare for everybody” when his real agenda was to give a huge tax break to the wealthy while taking healthcare away from the most vulnerable, which included many of his own supporters.   He promised lots of new manufacturing jobs, a border wall that “the Mexicans would pay for,” and all sorts of other things that he had no intention — or capability — of turning into reality.  The only thing he’s kept his promise on is his neverending war on political correctness, but that’s turned into a war on anyone who dares criticize or question him.

Narcissistic Injury/Narcissistic Rage.

When you point out a narcissist’s faults or failures, he will enter a state of narcissistic injury — which means he is suffering a massive blow to his ego.  Most people, when hurt, have a healthy enough sense of self that they will deal with the emotional blow honestly — by talking about it, admitting their feelings were hurt, making a joke about it, or just telling themselves it really doesn’t matter and trying to move on from it.   But a malignant narcissist is incapable of making a joke or moving on or God forbid, admitting their own vulnerability.  Because their sense of self is so fragile (and is really just an overlay for the emptiness within), the only way they can feel good about themselves again is to attack you and deflect blame.   This is called narcissistic rage.   Narcissistic rage can take many forms:  gaslighting, outright verbal or physical abuse, threats, triangulation (secretly ganging up with others against the perpetrator), splitting, bullying, blame-shifting, deflecting, denial, the “silent treatment,” and D&D.

Trump displays many or even most of these behaviors whenever he perceives someone or some group has insulted him.   You can see it in his face and body language when he’s enraged.  His lips purse, his whole body goes stiff, and his eyes narrow and turn almost black with hatred and spite.   He’s frightening to look at when he’s in the midst of narcissistic rage, which is often.  I won’t list examples here because there are simply too many.   Trump is paranoid and constantly battling real or imagined enemies.   Eventually, everyone becomes an enemy to Trump.

False Self.

Narcissists have  a very fragile sense of self and feel empty inside.   To compensate, at an early age, they develop a “false self” — a kind of mask that shows others what they want you to believe they are.   If this mask is threatened or attacked in any way, they risk their “real self”  (the vulnerable and insecure child the mask hides) being exposed.   This is why you cannot criticize a narcissist. Rather than listen to you and agree you may have a point, they will  fight you to the death to maintain their image of perfection.    Being seen as vulnerable or defenseless is simply too frightening to them.   That’s one of the reasons they hate the vulnerable so much — people they perceive as “weak” fill them with shame of that which they need to hide.

A false self can take many forms, but for a classic or overt narcissist like Trump, it’s usually invulnerable and appears tough and self assured.   If the mask isn’t challenged, this type of narcissist can appear to be very competent and confident.   Some male narcissists, especially if they’re highly malignant like Trump, maintain a mask of toxic masculinity.   Trump admires dictators and “strongmen” types like Vladimir Putin.  He admires authoritarianism and political tactics that intimidate, terrorize, and oppress vulnerable populations.   I don’t know the details of Trump’s early childhood, but I’ve heard his father was emotionally abusive and empathy and kindness were not qualities he valued in a male child.  Only financial and material success were valued and rewarded.    I wouldn’t doubt it if Trump’s desire to please such a difficult and unloving father is at the root of his narcissism and the “strongman” style of his false self.

Fear-Mongering.

Narcissists and sociopaths, in order to gain control over others, often resort to instilling fear and even terror in their subjects.   Cult leaders, some religious leaders (especially fundamentalist leaders, whether Christian or Muslim), and dictators (as well as abusive husbands and mean bosses) are all known for this.   They threaten and bully.   They demand obedience and “loyalty” — or else.   They believe their bullying behavior makes them seem strong and invincible, but anyone who needs to resort to threats and schoolyard bully tactics to get cooperation and support is pathetically weak in character and devoid of any real strength.

Trump bullies others and makes veiled threats against his opponents all the time on Twitter.   He demands loyalty and calls people names.   Many of his staff members seem intimidated by him and almost afraid to be honest or do the right thing.    I sometimes wonder what he has threatened them with if they fail to cooperate.

Worst of all, Trump also tacitly encourages bullying behavior by his supporters against his opponents by failing to criticize their violent actions adequately or at all (Charlottesville), and by “jokingly” encouraging terrorist-type behavior and violence against his detractors at his rallies.   But Trump is not joking.  He is quite serious.  Malignant narcissists are incapable of any real humor.

Obfuscation/deflection.

Another tactic malignant narcissists use to deflect blame or avoid responsibility is obfuscating — confusing the issue or creating chaos.   Trump does this in a variety of ways, but all are intended to instigate chaos or create a new crisis that serves to obfuscate (hide) something he wants to deflect attention away from (such as the Russia investigation).   Every day, some new drama comes out of this White House.   Every day, he’s fighting with someone else, threatening someone, or someone else has quit or been fired.  It’s like a reality show from hell.

All the constant drama is intended to create chaos and confusion, and keep both his opponents and supporters off balance.   Leaders like this can be extremely dangerous because they are likely to incite something serious (like nuclear war with North Korea) in order to deflect negative attention away from themselves and their dishonest, unethical, or illegal activities. I don’t know about you, but I don’t care for the idea of being nuked because a petty and childish old man’s ego was wounded.

Another way narcissists obfuscate is through a special kind of “word salad” in which nothing they say makes any sense, although on the surface it may seem to.   They leave you feeling confused and scratching your head, wondering what the hell they really meant by what they just said.   Of course, if you question them or force them to make their message more clear, they will blame YOU — for being stupid or not understanding.

Something new I’ve noticed about narcissists.

empty_mirror_by_dred8667

I received an email today from a reader asking me if narcissists have preferences — that is, do they really have opinions of their own?  An example was used of a man who said he likes a certain TV show, but when asked who his favorite character on the show was, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) name one, as if he hadn’t actually ever watched the show.

Did he really have a favorite TV show, or was he just saying he had one to give the impression he had his own opinions?    The email writer also said that this person changes his mind a lot and seems to tell different people different things which sometimes conflict.  (I haven’t answered this email yet, but my answer will be that I really don’t know if narcissists have their own preferences or not).

This was an interesting question to me, because of something I’ve been noticing lately about narcissists, especially when they (temporarily) drop their mask.   I noticed they seem to have no personality.   Many people have said they seem soulless, but it isn’t really that.  It’s not a question of whether they’re good, evil, or in between.   It’s more as if they’re a blank slate and there’s nothing imprinted on that slate.   I get the impression of a sort of nebulous “white fog” where a person should be.    It’s like a person without a personality, who then adopts a false one to give the impression that they have their own interests, preferences, like and dislikes, when in actuality they don’t have much of an opinion about anything.   Depending on the person or situation, they “change their minds”–so when talking to one person they may like ABC, but when talking to another one, they like XYZ instead (and dislike ABC).

When a narcissist drops their mask (for whatever reason) it’s as if you’re trying to communicate with a blank wall.   They still don’t share their true self with you because they don’t even know who their true self is (if it’s even accessible), so it’s like there’s no “self” there at all.  It’s both unsettling and sad.

I know one who began to open up about their past and get into some some real meat about the trauma they had experienced when young, but then she abruptly stopped, probably because it was too painful or scary.  I can’t get a clear impression of this individual; she shares nothing personal and is more like a shadow than a real person.   She seems to be trapped in a weird no-man’s-land between the shame of no longer wanting to present a false self (she knows she has NPD and is in therapy) but also not having the courage (or the ability) to present a true one either.

It occurred to me this could be some form of dissociation.

Is narcissism really a form of possession?

demon

I usually avoid topics like this, because of their obvious religious implications.   I try to avoid getting too religious on this blog, but I must write about it because I’ve been thinking about this topic all day and I won’t rest until I do.    I’m going to try to stay away from religious terminology though.

A young man I know on another site who insists he has NPD (but has no official diagnosis and therefore may not be one) says he can remember when he “chose” to be a narcissist, and now wishes he hadn’t. He’s adamant that it’s too late to change and nothing can be done.   He said he felt as if his false self was “installed” and didn’t actually come from himself at all.

His story got me thinking.  What if narcissism really is a form of possession?  (I hesitate to use the term “demonic,” although it could be).  What if it’s a kind of choice that’s made and that once it’s made, an outside spirit or entity or whatever it is, lets itself in and it begins to obliterate the true self?

We know that people with NPD have a false self, and we know it’s a lie whose purpose is to hide the true self even from the person themselves, to the point that they believe the lie and actually believe the false self is who they really are. But where exactly does this false self come from? How does a child know how to build such an elaborate defense mechanism that works nearly the same from one narcissist to the next? It’s like there’s a rule book that all narcissists follow.   How can that be?   Are they of a hive mind?  Or is it something else entirely?

Installation of the false self.

Let’s imagine this false self is actually not something  you constructed as a defense mechanism to escape from your true self and bury your pain for good. Let’s imagine something else–that it’s something from outside of you, something that’s been installed. Call it demonic possession, if you wish–that’s probably the closest thing we can imagine to what I’m describing.  The false self isn’t created by you because it never was a part of you–it’s probably not even something human. It was installed there at a time when you think you needed it, most often when you were very young and defenseless and were faced with this yawning, vast, terrifying emptiness caused by not being validated, mirrored and loved when you needed it most. A young child or toddler who feels rejected has not yet learned to separate themselves from the parents, usually the mother–so the rejection feels like an annihilation. It feels like you are dying.

At that moment, when you feel this unbearable reality–because it’s real to you even though it isn’t actually real–of being snuffed out of existence–this entity comes along, an entity who promises something better, a way out, a way to feel “alive” again. M. Scott Peck talked about this in his book “People of the Lie.”   The entity lies to you and tells you your life will be much easier and you can get rid of that awful feeling of emptiness if only you let it in.   It doesn’t tell you what it’s really going to be doing to you is destroying your soul and the souls of others by proxy.

There’s only one catch–in order to keep working, the entity must feed off the emotions of others, because when it takes over you, it pushes down your own emotions so you can’t feel them anymore. It obscures your pain and emptiness so you don’t have to feel those emotions, but it throws out the baby with the bathwater: it also obscures any sublime emotions like love, empathy, joy, sadness, and gratitude. If other people aren’t available for this thing to feed off of, the entity will starve and you are back to where you started–feeling like you no longer exist and facing that awful emptiness.

Faced with a choice. 

You have a choice–you can invite the entity in or not. It never forces itself on you. You may remember standing at such a crossroads when you were very young. I know I did.  I “test drove” narcissism for awhile, but ultimately rejected it.   Playing with narcissism is like playing with fire.   It’s not something you want to mess with.

If you’re an empath, you probably will reject it and choose to suffer rather than invite it in, because as an empath, you can feel its malignancy and know it will destroy your soul eventually, and the souls of others by proxy. If you reject the invitation, it will go away and leave you alone, but you might develop C-PTSD or BPD or become codependent, and allow yourself to continue to be abused and rejected without any defenses against the pain and emptiness inside.  But your real self remains intact and you don’t have to walk around wearing a mask all the time and hurting others to keep that mask on.

If you’re desperate enough–or can’t sense how evil this thing really is, you will be tempted to say yes and allow it inside. It probably won’t be a conscious choice.  It’s not something you THINK about and then decide, like what shoes you’re going to wear  that day.  It’s a choice made on the spiritual level so even a very young child can do it. It could happen later in childhood, or during adolescence or even early adulthood.  It’s a spiritual version of “if you can’t fight ’em, join ’em.”   An example might be a socially awkward boy who faces a group of sociopathic bullies every day and is given a dare:  set another kid’s house on fire and be accepted by the group, or continue to be bullied.   So he chooses to do what the bullies say, in exchange for acceptance.  What he doesn’t realize is what that does to his soul.  Faced with cognitive dissonance–unbearable guilt over what he did even though it was against everything he believed in–he resolves this by identifying with the bullies and represses his guilt and shame.   Soon his behavior begins to change and he begins to act less socially awkward and even becomes “cool”–but he also starts to act arrogant and entitled.  He no longer accepts blame for his actions and begins to play mind games with others.  He seems more confident–but he’s actually in much worse shape than he started because he isn’t even himself anymore.   He’s a puppet for the evil entity that used the promise of “acceptance” as the carrot on the stick–and now resides inside him and has no intention of leaving.

Becoming a puppet.

If narcissism is a form of possession, than narcissists are just puppets being operated by an outside force that is not them.   For awhile at least, the true self is still there, but it’s no longer able to emerge at will because it’s been repressed by a more powerful force that keeps it at bay.

The entity lies to you and you begin to believe those lies.  The biggest lie it tells you is that your false self is your true one, and the true self was a lie. It twists things around so black is white, and up is down and day is night. You don’t even know what’s real anymore, and so a fantasy becomes reality and reality is sent down the river in a tarpaper boat.

The NPD spectrum and perfect and imperfect possession.

If narcissism is a form of possession , it’s still possible for it to run on a kind of spectrum, though not the kind of spectrum referred to in the mental health profession.   In “People of the Lie,” M. Scott Peck talked about “perfect” and “imperfect” possession. Malignant narcissists are perfectly possessed–which basically means that the entity has completely obscured the true self, making it utterly inaccessible, or possibly even destroyed it. Such a person cannot become self aware or even if they somehow become aware of their own narcissism, there’s no desire to change, because there’s nothing left of the true self; if it’s not destroyed, it no longer has a voice and there’s no conscious awareness of its existence.  This is a person who has become evil, but they aren’t inherently evil because they’re no longer who they once were–they have become whatever has taken up residence within them.

Narcissists lower on the spectrum are imperfectly possessed–which means the entity hasn’t completely obscured the true self. Such people are not evil–they are victims of an evil entity that is trying to take control over them. If they have realized what they have become and no longer want it, they become engaged in a kind of spiritual warfare.  You may notice some lower spectrum narcissists can be very changeable, almost Jekyll-and-Hyde-ish.    From time to time their true self will appear, sometimes even without a grave loss of supply. That’s when they may admit they want help and when they’d be most receptive to it.   For non-malignant narcissists who are ego-dystonic, therapy could work, but there MUST be a spiritual component in the therapy itself.   M. Scott Peck believed narcissists (even though he didn’t call them that in his book) who are not perfectly possessed (in other words, not malignant) can be cured by exorcism.  It doesn’t even have to be done by a priest or minister–it can be done by a trained therapist too. Peck described the 2 exorcisms he performed in his book, “Glimpses of the Devil.”

Usually I’m very skeptical about supernatural things.  Although I’m Christian, I tend to be analytical and prefer scientific explanations over religious ones.  I also tend to be very suspicious of people who immediately start talking about God and Satan and quoting the Bible whenever the subject of narcissism comes up.  But it does make sense to me that the false self  is really some kind of malicious entity that presents itself during a crisis and makes all kinds of promises to a child or young adult who feels like they’re about to be snuffed out of existence.     It’s all too easy to be taken in by the lies when you’re desperate, but once the choice is made, the thing has too much power to get rid of without spiritual intervention of some kind.   You can see it in the empty, soulless gaze or unnerving, predatory stare some narcissists have, especially if they’ve crossed the line into malignancy (or perfect possession). And it gets worse over time, which may be one reason why narcissists tend to grow worse with age. Unchecked, whatever this thing is takes over more of your original soul until you become perfectly possessed and your true self is either totally eclipsed or obliterated.  If it’s obliterated, you’re nothing more than a walking dead person–a zombie impersonating someone you never were and feeding off the energy of others.

As much as you might want to, you can’t fix a narcissist.  Don’t even think about it because you have no idea what spiritual dangers you might be taking on–but it’s certainly alright–more than alright–to pray for their deliverance.

BPD vs. NPD

npd_bpd

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.

HSPs and empaths, take heed! You cannot heal a narcissist!

sad_angel

In my readings and observations of people in the narc-abuse community, I’ve become aware that Highly Sensitive People (HSPs), empaths in particular, are highly attracted to narcissists. The reverse is also true–narcissists see an empath and smell blood.  As an HSP myself (though not an empath), I have always been drawn to narcissists as friends and romantic partners.   This has gotten me into a world of trouble and almost destroyed me until I finally learned to resist their “charms” and go No Contact whenever possible.

Why Empaths are so attracted to Narcissists.

empaths_narcs

It’s a psychological truism that we tend to be attracted to people similar to the people who raised us.  For those of us who were the most sensitive child in the family and as a result, became the family scapegoat, developed codependent personalities, or even developed a form of Stockholm Syndrome toward our abusers, we continue to carry our legacy or “people pleasing” into adult life and find ourselves drawn toward other narcissistic people, who are very good at promising us the world and vowing to solve all our problems.   But getting involved with a narcissist is the ultimate bait and switch–they make a lot of empty promises to love you unconditionally and never betray or hurt you, but they don’t deliver.  Not even close.  All they care about is feeding off of your love and generosity in order to keep their false self inflated like a balloon toy.

Not only are we fooled into believing the narcissist will be the answer to all our woes and fill our own inner emptiness, HSPs and empaths are also drawn to the “hurt inner child” inside every narcissist.  Most people can’t see the emotional void and deep unhappiness at the core of an NPD; they just see the narcissist as either a likeable charmer or a huge A-hole (depending on their role to the narcissist or stage of the relationship), but empaths see beyond the “false self” to what really lies beneath the carefully constructed facade.    This is why empaths and HSPs were so often scapegoated as children–because they were children who could see the ugly truth and sometimes even blew the whistle on the narcissistic parent–and nothing terrifies a narcissist more than being exposed as living a complete lie.

I’ve talked to quite a few empaths who actually seek out narcissists to love, in spite of having been educated about narcissistic abuse and the very real dangers they pose both spiritually and emotionally.  Empaths who choose to love a narcissist and think “this one is different” really ought to know better.   They look at a narcissist and don’t see a predatory, toxic individual who only seeks to use and abuse for their own gain; instead they see only the “hurt inner child” living in darkness beneath the bright, cheerful facade.

Their observations and feelings are actually not wrong.   Because empaths can see the truth about people, the damaged person they take so much empathy on is real.  Narcissists are indeed hurt, damaged, deeply unhappy people, although some abuse victims prefer to think of them as inhuman devils without souls at all.   Narcissists are definitely human, but they are dangerous, and especially deadly to an empath, because of how much such a person tends to give of themselves and how codependent they can become.

Like moths drawn into the flame.

moth-to-the-flame-3

Narcissists are drawn to empaths because (even though an empath can see beyond the false self, which scares narcissists), they give them everything they want.   Deep inside, what every narcissist really wants is someone to love them unconditionally, and empaths are more than capable of doing that.  They are also deeply envious of the empath’s ability to feel with no shame, even if they deny and hide their own feelings.   Empaths are compassionate, patient, self-denying, always willing to listen without judging, and generous with their time, money, possessions, emotions, and everything else they have to give, both tangible and intangible.  An empath’s love for a narcissist will cause them to stick by them no matter how much abuse gets dumped on them in return.   Empaths are perfect candidates for Stockholm Syndrome.   They will keep giving and giving, while the narcissist gives nothing in return except heartache and pain.

Some empaths may seem masochistic because everyone else can see that the narcissist is sucking the empath’s lifeblood away, turning them into a dried up husk of the whole person they once were, but the empath, like a moth driven to a flame, continues to give and give and give until they have nothing left to give.   It’s not masochism that drives an empath to stay with the narcissist and allow this abuse, though–it’s the deep belief empaths have that their unconditional love alone can heal the narcissist and make them whole again.

It’s a beautiful idea, that unconditional love can heal a narcissist and transform them into loving, authentic human beings.  It would be nice if things really worked that way, but only in fairy tales and movies do such things happen.   The Beast is won over by Beauty’s love and is transformed into a loving prince;  the miserly Scrooge is transformed into a generous and compassionate philanthropist;  The Grinch grows a huge heart out of the hard little stone in his chest when he hears the Whos singing down in Whoville in spite of having all their Christmas presents stolen;  Jerry McGuire changes overnight from a selfish, materialistic jerk into a nice guy.  Usually it’s the love of someone else–often a woman or child–who is the catalyst in getting the narcissist to change their evil ways.  These movies and stories touch our hearts and bring tears to our eyes because we wish life were really that way.

grinch_heart grinch_heart2

It’s tempting, if you’re an empathic type of person, to want to reach that hurt inner child inside your narcissist and through your unconditional love alone, give them the courage to jettison their false self and let that inner child out, and finally learn how to love.   But what’s far more likely to happen is that in spite of your best efforts, the narcissist will not change and will resist or even attack your efforts to transform them.   They will just keep taking from you, for they have no idea how to give of themselves or how to love.  You become drawn deeper into their web of misery and darkness, and eventually have nothing left to give and finally, your soul is destroyed beyond repair.

The only way to help a narcissist.

You cannot help a narcissist by giving them your love.  The best way to help a narcissist is to stop giving them narcissistic supply–in other words, going No Contact.   Only then is there a small chance that without that fuel, they will be forced to confront their own emptiness and pain, which could lead to them seeking professional help.   But don’t count on it.  Most likely, they will just move on to a new source of supply or try to hoover you back in.

I’ve stated many times that I don’t think most narcissists are beyond hope.  I’m one of the few narc-abuse bloggers that holds to that view, and sees narcissists as a different, more dangerous type of abuse victim.   It’s not a very popular view, but it’s mine and I’m not likely to change it.  A few weeks ago, I wrote about Apostle Paul, a malignant narcissist if there ever was one, who was changed by the Holy Spirit into a righteous (if still slightly arrogant) devoted follower of Christ.    I know of NPDs who are in therapy or treatment, or were in therapy and have actually been deemed NPD-free or are at least working hard to change their ways and become more authentic, loving people.  NPDs  are sad people who know their lives are empty and shallow and essentially meaningless, even if they never admit it.  Some even become consciously aware of how exhausting and essentially unfulfilling their dependence on others to feel good about themselves (and what they feel good about isn’t even who they really are) really is.

I’ve always believed that with both self-awareness (knowing one is a narcissist) and willingness to change (disliking what one has become), that healing becomes possible.  But change isn’t something that can magically happen through an empath’s unconditional love.   If it’s going to happen at all, it takes years and years of difficult and grueling therapy by a trained professional who knows exactly what works for this disorder (and what doesn’t)–and because they are trained in this, are not going to get pulled down into oblivion by allowing the narcissist to feed on their heart like a predatory animal.   Healing can also come through an act of God, as it did with Paul.    We can love a narcissist (but from a safe distance!), and we can ask God to help him or her–and maybe that will turn out to be God’s will too.  You never know.  God may have a special mission for them and decide to remove the scales from their eyes.   But please, empaths and HSPs, never try to cure a narcissist yourself through your unconditional love.   It won’t work.  You don’t know how to do it.  Leave it to the professionals and God.

Superman metaphor for personal transformation.

Something I was thinking about…

Do borderlines have a “false self”?

false_self_pic

One of the takeaways I got from my therapy session tonight, was that as someone with BPD, I do have a false self, but it’s not the same kind of false self a person with NPD has.

Actually, almost everyone has a false self. Whenever you’re polite to someone you don’t like, tell a “white lie,” put on your “best face” in a job interview, or act happy at the dreadful office Christmas party, that’s your false self in action. In the non-disordered, it’s called a social self, and is necessary to be able to function in the world. People who have no social self self at all are people who have no idea how to act in social situations, and just say whatever is on their mind. They care nothing about making a good impression or sparing someone’s feelings. There are people like this, but they’re usually living on the edges of society. Most people aren’t very comfortable having to wear this social self, but know they must in order to function in the world.

Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder are both Cluster B (emotional, dramatic, erratic) disorders and both involve serious disruptions in a person’s sense of self. In both disorders, the true self was compromised at an early age because the parents or caregivers failed to mirror the child’s growing sense of self. The false self is a defense mechanism and stands in for the compromised true self, which in the case of someone with NPD, can no longer be accessed.

falseself_graphic

But there are differences. In a person with NPD, the false self is an intractable, permanent structure and is stable. What this means is that a person with NPD has become someone else. The mask they wear becomes who they are, and any threat of exposure by another for the lie it really is will be viciously attacked or the perpetrator devalued. That’s why you can never criticize a narcissist.

The NPD false self is also stable, meaning it doesn’t change much.  For example, a somatic, grandiose narcissist has built an entire identity around their physical appearance and uses every opportunity to make sure everyone knows how physically perfect they are. Because so much effort has gone into building this identity, the narcissist is unlikely to have developed any other abilities or strengths. A person with NPD pretty much lives full-time as their false self, and rarely, if ever, show others any glimpses of their true self, which in the worst cases, is so inaccessible to them it may as well not exist. If the false self is ripped away (this can be done by denying a narcissist any supply), and there is no more supply to be had (this sometimes happens to elderly narcissists, who can no longer rely on looks, youth, career or financial success to boost their egos), what is revealed is a person so empty, depressed, or dissociated they may require hospitalization or may even attempt suicide. Some may voluntarily enter treatment, but if their fortunes change, they start to feel better and are likely to quit therapy. Schizophrenic symptoms in a degraded narcissist isn’t unusual.

NPD is difficult to treat because the false self is so intractable and all-emcompassing, the person has little to no insight into themselves or even realize it’s they who have the problem. Because they tend to project their unacceptable emotions onto others, they’re far more likely to blame others for things they have really brought on themselves.

In Borderlines, the false self manifests more as a series of temporary masks, adapted to suit certain situations or people. People with BPD are emotional chameleons. Their dramatic mood swings and changeability are due to constant mask-switching and the stress this causes them. The BPD false self is not well developed and it often fails them, causing them emotional distress. The BPD false self (really false selves) is unstable, permeable, and easily shattered, frequently revealing the empty, dissociated, depressed true self. Because it’s not a permanent structure, BPDs don’t require narcissistic supply to keep it “alive” (they’re more likely to become codependent to a narcissist). They can seem “crazier” than people with NPD, but they are more easily treated because they spend at least some of the time without their masks on.

Further reading:

Derealization and Depersonalization in NPD and BPD

Comparing Covert Narcissism and BPD

Borderlines are Human Chameleons

Why Narcissists and Borderlines are Drawn to Each Other

The case of the missing purse: a dream.

February 1946, Ohio, USA --- Woman in Straitjacket at a Psychiatric Hospital --- Image by © Jerry Cooke/Corbis

February 1946, Ohio, USA — Woman in Straitjacket at a Psychiatric Hospital — Image by © Jerry Cooke/Corbis


Sometimes I feel this crazy.

I just had an especially vivid and detailed dream and posted it over at Psychforums immediately on waking so I didn’t lose the details and “feel” of the dream. I asked people to try to interpret it for me so I’m going to include those responses too.

I just woke up very upset and angry from a very intense and vivid dream. I’ve been trying to figure out what it means because I feel like it’s important but there are parts that just make no sense if the central theme is correct.

It started out wonderfully. I was in some psychiatric hospital program and had a received a great deal of help in it. Later in the dream it seemed I was an inpatient but at the time the dream started I was an outpatient because my son had to drive me there (for some reason I wasn’t driving my own car or maybe he just wanted to drive) to attend some awards dinner where I was going to receive an award. I was incredibly popular among the other patients and I had a bearded psychiatrist (aren’t they all bearded?) that I loved. I felt like he had saved my life.

So my son and I made several trips, first to a cheap chain restaurant (I don’t know why I was eating dinner twice) and then to another store, then finally to the hospital awards dinner, where he dropped me off. I got a lot of hugs and congratulations and support from everyone. I had many friends in the program. I had no idea what sort of award I’d won and none were given out but I was having a great time. At one point two of my friends (both dx’d BPD) pulled me up on the stage to join them in an impromptu song and dance from a musical. I kept along as if I’d been rehearsing for weeks. At one point it became a medley and we broke into the theme from “Hair” (why?!?) and started throwing flowers everywhere and at each other. It was a great deal of fun and I wasn’t at all self-conscious even though I was dressed in a hospital gown (like an inpatient?). I’d never felt freer or happier. I felt love all around me from the audience and the other people on stage.

My son came to get me later but when I got in the car I realized I couldn’t find my purse. As in real life when this has happened, I panicked. My purse is like my life–and I had special medications in there that eased my psychiatric symptoms too (and that had been hard to obtain), as well as my house keys, car keys, credit cards, ID, money, and the zillion other important things women keep in their purses. I didn’t remember having it at all at the hospital function so we first went to the store and the first restaurant to ask if they’d seen it. They hadn’t so we went back to the hospital and asked the woman at the front desk if she had seen it. She said she had to go talk to someone and to wait a few minutes. After a little while, my psychiatrist came out and said they had found it, but couldn’t just give it to me. I would have to pass a “character test,” of the type they sometimes give candidates applying for jobs to make sure they’re honest or aren’t going to steal or lie or whatever.

Missing Purse

I looked at the test, which was about 40 pages long. None of the questions had anything to do with my purse or even with being “honest.” The questions made no sense and I couldn’t think. I was too upset by not having my purse and angry that I had to pass a stupid irrelevant test to get my own property back. I kept getting distracted by other things and couldn’t focus. After about an hour my psychiatrist asked me if I was done yet but I had only answered 4 questions. I was almost in tears by now and told him how upset and hurt I was that he didn’t trust me. He said he didn’t make the rules and could do nothing. He said don’t worry about passing, just answer the questions the best you can. One of the questions was a multiple choice “story problem” like an elementary school math test and the story was about someone with both my first and last name. I was impressed by that and showed everyone around that my name was used on the test letting them know I’m the only person in the country that has my name. I still couldn’t focus and the questions still didn’t make sense. I finally gave up and took the mangled sheets of paper with holes from too much erasing and rewriting to the person who was scoring, a cold woman in charge of testing. I was so angry and upset I ran down a long hallway into the psych unit and saw people there–really crazy people–dressed in straitjackets and lying around on gurneys and in wheelchairs. They were making strange sounds and babbling incoherently and didn’t seem like they knew what was going on. But then I saw one of my friends and told her what happened, then started crying hysterically. I knew the crying was mostly to get attention and sympathy. It was definitely manipulative, but I was extremely angry and upset so it was a way to vent my frustration too. My friend held me and the other people didn’t even seem to notice or care about my OTT behavior, because they were so out of touch with reality or what was going in.

I went off running to look for my psychiatrist to beg him to let me go and take my purse, after all he knew me and I was the recipient of an award. I finally found him and stood there in the doorway of his office in my hospital gown, sobbing but without tears. He looked at me coldly and said there was nothing he could do, it was hospital policy, and they were still working on the results.

Finally he and the woman who did the scoring came out together and told me I’d failed. I screamed at them that they told me I didn’t have to “pass.” They just looked at me. “What am I supposed to do?” I screamed in frustration. They told me I’d have to keep taking the test (and paying $100 each time to take it) until I passed before they could give me back my purse. I told them I didn’t have the time or the money for doing that and they had my car keys too. Again, they just looked coldly at me. They showed no empathy for my situation whatsoever. I felt so betrayed by this psychiatrist who I’d thought cared so much about me.

In frustration and rage, I ran out of the building and found myself in a slum area of a large city. I was running the wrong way. I’d apparently forgot my son was supposed to wait for me but I’d been in there for hours and maybe he’d left. I wasn’t thinking straight. I ran the other way and suddenly was running through a dark garage but that had neon-sparkly floors and walls and there were young gang members in there just hanging out. They looked threatening but I was too enraged to be afraid. I ran right past them and kept running. I jumped into a hole in the ground and found myself in someone’s slum apartment in the projects, cockroaches running everywhere. I kept running through and climbed out the window on the other side and ascended the fire escape. More gang members were sitting around but I kept running. I don’t even know where I was running; I wasn’t thinking at all, but I just had to run.

I woke up feeling incredibly angry and sad at the same time and decided to write all this down before it dissolved away the way dreams tend to do. I have no idea what it all means but I’m getting a few ideas.

My “purse” could have been my false self I’d recently shed in therapy (in the dream) and have had moments without through blogging and even at random times in real life, but that doesn’t explain why my therapist turned out to be such an asshole and betrayed me. It doesn’t explain the ridiculous test I had to take to get it back. I can certainly understand why I would have wanted the purse/false self back though, because although in the hospital I felt happy and free without it, in the real world I felt naked and victimized and crazy.

My psychiatrist could have represented my family, my mother in particular, who I felt betrayed me a long time ago. The slums represented a bleak and impoverished future that I fear so much. I always feel like I’m running frantically–but never sure if it’s toward or away from something.

I’m going to be thinking a lot more about the dream today, but I wanted to write it down while I was still in the dream-feel that follows awakening from such a vivid dream. I feel like this was really important and I need to understand what was really going on.

crazy_quote

Here are the two responses I’ve received so far.

1. What I get from it is that you are wanting a healing and are proud of yourself for recognizing your problem and work toward the healing, but it isn’t coming. You sometimes say you wish you could go to a facility, and your purse can’t afford it(?) Or, like me, sometimes you feel more normal, your true identity which your purse contains (but you can’t quite hold reliably). The trouble or conflict you are having is reaching the emotions (or cognitive acceptance) which you still haven’t, which is the test with your name on it. It perplexes you. You recognize it but can’t understand what it is you’re still controlled by (what you haven’t accepted yet).

I think the running through the ghetto(?) is your fear of an impoverished future without even the healing (if you give up trying because you leave the hospital, throwing away the test, living without your identity)?

There was a new video [Spartanlifecoach] which you might relate to. It is about he lizard, monkey and human parts of the brain and how the human part can become constricted (his theory, I don’t believe this is science.). And, it is unable to process emotions/memories. The monkey part of the brain (amygdala) being more reactive controls us. (Which matches my self-perception.). He says the human part can be exercised and process more easily things that it couldn’t. Maybe like re-parenting. But, he gives examples. And, mentions how it doesn’t have to be an emotional breakdown, just an acceptance “yeah, that happened.” There could simply be things you couldn’t realize. They were out of your view, yet when you realize them they’re relatively simple?

(I think that’s what happened to me a few months ago when I realized I had been projecting my mother at my ex. I thought it was going to be the worst thing I had realized yet — and it immediately turned into “yeah, that is it.” It seemed anti-climactic compared to what I braced myself for.).

Maybe it *is* just a cognitive test that you need to take. Not the emotional breakdowns (which sound like what I call dysphoria, and have come to see as not healthy to my TS. They can be fake, I think, where I’m sucking emotions out of myself for an unproductive purpose. Which sounds like after you threw the test away, and went to another ward where you spoke to a friend and cried, but not genuinely.).

*****

2. First of all the dream is symbolized in splits, the hospital is the same as the slums, the “two friends” are the same as the psychiatrist and the nurse. it is unclear who the son is, it does seem important though that he drove the car. same goes for the hospital and store. The contents of the purse seems to be your identity, on a deeper level a purse seems to be quite an obvious womb symbol.

So the dream goes from narcissistic perception of a family home, being in the phase of being praised and happy about your good looks (Hair, god.) and awesome achievements to this break with the restaurants and the purse and then suddenly your identity is lost and your parents have (found) your identity, but only want to give it to you when you prove to them that you are “honest”.

You have to pay them for giving you (back) your identity, you feel instead of enriching, they impoverish you. so when you cant pass this mysterious honesty thing you give up and land in an inner world with neither the narcissistic sparkle, nor an identity. everything seems impoverished and youre just running aimlessly.

Why does a narcissist need a false self?

trueself_falseself

On one of Sam Vaknin’s discussion pages, someone asked a very good question:
Why does the narcissist conjure up another Self? Why not simply transform his True Self into a False one?

I’ve wondered about this too. Here’s Sam’s explanation, which is a link to one of his articles from his website. While his long answer is predictably bleak and hopeless, and I don’t agree with him about everything, taken as a whole, this article did answer a lot of questions I had been wondering about and as always it made me think.

The Dual Role of the Narcissist’s False Self
By Sam Vaknin

We often marvel at the discrepancy between the private and public lives of our idols: celebrities, statesmen, stars, writers, and other accomplished figures. It is as though they have two personalities, two selves: the “true” one which they reserve for their nearest and dearest and the “fake” or “false” or “concocted” one which they flaunt in public.

In contrast, the narcissist has no private life, no true self, no domain reserved exclusively for his nearest and dearest. His life is a spectacle, with free access to all, constantly on display, garnering narcissistic supply from his audience. In the theatre that is the narcissist’s life, the actor is irrelevant. Only the show goes on. The False Self is everything the narcissist would like to be but, alas, cannot: omnipotent, omniscient, invulnerable, impregnable, brilliant, perfect, in short: godlike. Its most important role is to elicit narcissistic supply from others: admiration, adulation, awe, obedience, and, in general: unceasing attention.

The narcissist constructs a narrative of his life that is partly confabulated and whose purpose is to buttress, demonstrate, and prove the veracity of the fantastically grandiose and often impossible claims made by the False Self. This narrative allocates roles to significant others in the narcissist’s personal history. Inevitably, such a narrative is hard to credibly sustain for long: reality intrudes and a yawning abyss opens between the narcissist’s self-imputed divinity and his drab, pedestrian existence and attributes. I call it the Grandiosity Gap. Additionally, meaningful figures around the narcissist often refuse to play the parts allotted to them, rebel, and abandon the narcissist.

The narcissist copes with this painful and ineluctable realization of the divorce between his self-perception and this less than stellar state of affairs by first denying reality, delusionally ignoring and filtering out all inconvenient truths. Then, if this coping strategy fails, the narcissist invents a new narrative, which accommodates and incorporates the very intrusive data that served to undermine the previous, now discarded narrative. He even goes to the extent of denying that he ever had another narrative, except the current, modified one.

The narcissist’s (and the codependent’s) introjects and inner voices (assimilated representations of parents, role models, and significant peers) are mostly negative and sadistic. Rather than provide succour, motivation, and direction, they enhance his underlying ego-dystony (discontent with who he is) and the lability of his sense of self-worth.

buddhanature
“Buddha nature” True Self vs. “Ego” False Self. Click to enlarge graphic.

Introjects possess a crucial role in the formation of an exegetic (interpretative) framework which allows one to decipher the world, construct a model of reality, of one’s place in it, and, consequently of who one is (self-identity). Overwhelmingly negative introjects – or introjects which are manifestly fake, fallacious, and manipulative – hamper the narcissist’s and codependent’s ability to construct a true and efficacious exegetic (interpretative) framework.

Gradually, the disharmony between one’s perception of the universe and of oneself and reality becomes unbearable and engenders pathological, maladaptive, and dysfunctional attempts to either deny the hurtful discrepancy away (delusions and fantasies); grandiosely compensate for it by eliciting positive external voices to counter the negative, inner ones (narcissism via the False Self and its narcissistic supply); attack it (antisocial/psychopathy); withdraw from the world altogether (schizoid solution); or disappear by merging and fusing with another person (codependence.)

Once formed and functioning, the False Self stifles the growth of the True Self and paralyses it. Henceforth, the ossified True Self is virtually non-existent and plays no role (active or passive) in the conscious life of the narcissist. It is difficult to “resuscitate” it, even with psychotherapy. The False Self sometimes parades the child-like, vulnerable, needy, and innocent True Self in order to capture, manipulate, and attract empathic sources of narcissistic supply. When supply is low, the False Self is emaciated and dilapidated. It is unable to contain and repress the True Self which then emerges as a petulant, self-destructive, spoiled, and codependent entity. But the True Self’s moments in the sun are very brief and, usually, inconsequential.

This substitution is not only a question of alienation, as Horney observed. She said that because the Idealised (=False) Self sets impossible goals to the narcissist, the results are frustration and self hate which grow with every setback or failure. But the constant sadistic judgement, the self-berating, the suicidal ideation emanate from the narcissist’s idealised, sadistic, Superego regardless of the existence or functioning of a False Self.

There is no conflict between the True Self and the False Self.

First, the True Self is much too weak to do battle with the overbearing False. Second, the False Self is adaptive (though maladaptive). It helps the True Self to cope with the world. Without the False Self, the True Self would be subjected to so much hurt that it will disintegrate. This happens to narcissists who go through a life crisis: their False Ego becomes dysfunctional and they experience a harrowing feeling of annulment.

falseself_graphic
Anatomy of the mind of a narcissist.

The False Self has many functions. The two most important are:

1. It serves as a decoy, it “attracts the fire”. It is a proxy for the True Self. It is tough as nails and can absorb any amount of pain, hurt and negative emotions. By inventing it, the child develops immunity to the indifference, manipulation, sadism, smothering, or exploitation – in short: to the abuse – inflicted on him by his parents (or by other Primary Objects in his life). It is a cloak, protecting him, rendering him invisible and omnipotent at the same time.

2. The False Self is misrepresented by the narcissist as his True Self. The narcissist is saying, in effect: “I am not who you think I am. I am someone else. I am this (False) Self. Therefore, I deserve a better, painless, more considerate treatment.” The False Self, thus, is a contraption intended to alter other people’s behaviour and attitude towards the narcissist.
These roles are crucial to survival and to the proper psychological functioning of the narcissist. The False Self is by far more important to the narcissist than his dilapidated, dysfunctional, True Self.

The two Selves are not part of a continuum, as the neo-Freudians postulated. Healthy people do not have a False Self which differs from its pathological equivalent in that it is more realistic and closer to the True Self.

It is true that even healthy people have a mask [Guffman], or a persona [Jung] which they consciously present to the world. But these are a far cry from the False Self, which is mostly subconscious, depends on outside feedback, and is compulsive.

The False Self is an adaptive reaction to pathological circumstances. But its dynamics make it predominate, devour the psyche and prey upon the True Self. Thus, it prevents the efficient, flexible functioning of the personality as a whole.

That the narcissist possesses a prominent False Self as well as a suppressed and dilapidated True Self is common knowledge. Yet, how intertwined and inseparable are these two? Do they interact? How do they influence each other? And what behaviours can be attributed squarely to one or the other of these protagonists? Moreover, does the False Self assume traits and attributes of the True Self in order to deceive the world?

Read the rest of Sam’s article here.