Do narcissists cry?

crocodiletears

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

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

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

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

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

babycrying
Here’s who your narcissist really is.

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

Can a narcissist ever cry non-self serving tears?

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

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

He writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Free association…thoughts on gratitude, pride and healing.

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

Free association #1. My daughter’s victory.

victory

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

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

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

Free association #2: Pride: seductive and deadly.

pride

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Free association #3: Could insightful narcissists be healed?

innerchild

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

kickass

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