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.

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The Cluster B stigma and the nature of evil.

evil_face

I don’t care if what I’m about to say is controversial or unpopular.

There are some folks in the ACON community who think ALL narcissists are evil, and some think all BPDs are evil too. (In fact there are some BPDs who are worse than some narcs).
It’s understandable why people feel that way (and I did for a time myself), but the people who abused them were usually high spectrum malignant narcissists or sociopaths so they think all narcissists (and even all Cluster Bs) are as bad as the abusive or rejecting parents who raised them.

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The stigma against Cluster B disorders is very pervasive and it’s getting worse. NPD used to just be a psychiatric diagnosis. Now it’s a condemnation to hell. Even if a low-mid spectrum narc or a borderline is self aware and wants to get better, they’re still put in the “evil” box along with the malignants, psychopaths and sociopaths. It’s always assumed they “have an agenda” or are “full of shit” and everything they say is a lie. I wondered why hearing people say this used to bother me; now I know why. It hurt my feelings because inside, I already knew I was one. I’m self-identified now and really, really want to change and every word I say on my blogs is my reality and truth. It’s my true self speaking, always. I think.

Cluster B’s are cut no slack by some ACONs. We are told we deserve no sympathy even though we were abused too and were victims too. This is extremely damaging to those of us who want to be rid of our Cluster B disorders.

The Cluster B stigma also makes it hard for those of us who want treatment to find it. Many therapists won’t get near someone with NPD or BPD with a 100 foot pole. I remember one therapist I had an intake session with, who I felt comfortable with, but said he’d need to order my psychiatric records before we could go any further.
A few days later he called me and said, “I’m sorry but I don’t treat Borderlines.”
Even if a therapists is willing to see someone with a Cluster B disorder, most insurance companies or government-funded health insurance like Medicaid or Medicare won’t pay a claim for a “Cluster B diagnosis” because it’s assumed they’re incurable. So we are given some other diagnosis instead and treated for THAT disorder (such as depression or anxiety) which doesn’t get to the root of our real problem but only treats symptoms.

victim_badge

People who judge and demonize all narcissists are doing exactly what NPDs and BPDs are so well known for-–engaging in black and white thinking. They don’t believe or realize that narcissism is a spectrum disorder and those in the bottom half of the spectrum probably aren’t evil, even if they’re usually PITAs.

I know there will be some of you who will disagree. That’s fine and we can agree to disagree. I’ll hold to my belief that narcissism is a spectrum disorder with many shades of gray ranging all the way to black (evil).

So what is evil? Evil to me means a person who wants to bring harm to others and has no remorse over what they do and doesn’t care about the suffering they cause–and even enjoys it. It’s a person who goes out of their way to hurt others. It’s a person who tries to destroy the reality or the soul of another human being. It’s a person who never feels guilt or shame over their actions and has no empathy for the pain they cause. All evil people (as far as I know) are of the Cluster B persuasion and most are narcissists (or ASPDs), but not every narcissist or borderline is evil.

To really get a handle on what evil is, Dr. M. Scott Peck’s book “People of the Lie” is the best analysis out there. Most of the stories in his book describe people who would today be called malignant narcissists (high spectrum narcissists with antisocial traits).

Cognitive dissonance and NPD.

narcissism_childhood

I’ve been thinking a lot about the concept of cognitive dissonance and its role in creating a narcissist or turning a narcissist into a malignant one.

Cognitive dissonance is the mental stress or discomfort experienced by an individual who holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values at the same time, or is confronted by new information that conflicts with existing beliefs, ideas, or values.

–Wikipedia

A computer will crash or stop working when given conflicting sets of instructions. Although people are not computers (because we have emotions and a soul), if we receive conflicting sets of “instructions” or information about ourselves, it causes so much mental distress that a personality disorder can develop if the conflict appears very early in life.

A child who is constantly invalidated by narcissistic parents tries to correct the cognitive dissonance by “becoming” what the parents tell them they are. If the parents tell them they are evil, bad, always misbehaving, etc. they may become aggressive, overt narcissist themselves to “match” the parents’ assessment of them. If they are told they are incompetent, a loser, stupid, etc. they may develop covert narcissism or BPD instead.

Golden/spoiled children.

Veruca-Salt

Spoiling a child is actually a form of abuse, because being a golden child negates the child’s own reality that they are human and less than perfect. The spoiled, golden child will either try to be as “perfect” as they are told to match their parent’s unrealistic assessment (and a grandiose false self develops from that) or they know they can’t ever be the image of perfection their parents insist they be, and to correct the cognitive dissonance they may become rebellious or adopt covert narcissism (in which the child believes they are worthless and the parents are wrong) as a coping strategy.

Other personality disorders.

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is also a way to correct cognitive dissonance. I think BPD develops in many children who were both golden children and scapegoats (which is often the case with onlies) who were given inconsistent parenting, sometimes abused, sometimes treated like little gods. That’s why they’re so conflicted and seem to act in contradictory ways that confuse themselves and those around them.

Not all abused children develop narcissism or BPD, but it’s my belief almost all children of narcissists develop personality disorders, all of which are the adult incarnations of childhood attachment disorders.

Malignant Narcissism.

monsters-nietzsche

Malignant narcissism is NPD that is high on the spectrum and mixed with antisocial (ASPD) traits. A low-mid spectrum narcissist (or even a non-narcissist!) can turn malignant during adolescence or even as an adult. I think this is almost always due to some choice they made or action they were forced to engage in that went against their conscience. Let me explain how this works.

M. Scott Peck in his book, “People of the Lie,” (the book that popularized the concept of malignant narcissists as “evil”) told the story of a man who narrowly escaped becoming evil/malignant. The man, a non-narcissist who loved his family dearly, suffered from debilitating panic attacks when crossing a certain bridge on his drive to work. Even though he didn’t believe in the devil, one day while suffering a severe panic attack he made a “deal with the devil”–he told the devil he could take his favorite son’s life in exchange for allowing him to cross the bridge without having any more panic attacks. Of course nothing happened, and the son was fine. The man, filled with remorse over having these thoughts, told Dr. Peck about it, and was told he did the right thing to repent, because otherwise he would have become evil himself, especially had something actually happened to his son. If he had turned to darkness and narcissism, it would have been to correct the cognitive dissonance between what he had done and his internal moral compass. He would have had to discard his previous moral standards and embrace darkness.

A person forced to engage in something they find morally reprehensible, such as a soldier forced to kill innocent civilians, can turn toward darkness. Many veterans return suffering severe PTSD and in some cases seem to have lost the souls they went to war with. Many, who have committed atrocities in war, correct the cognitive dissonance created by doing something that went against their conscience, by discarding their conscience altogether. This isn’t a conscious choice usually, but is the end result of severe PTSD. (I think all personality disorders are, in fact, manifestions of severe PTSD caused by chronic abuse starting when the personality was still forming.)

It’s my opinion that adolescence is when malignant narcissism is most likely to develop, because adolescents are by nature risk-takers and trying to establish a separate identity from their their parents. This usually takes the form of some type of rebellion, and rebellion is normal as long as it doesn’t go too far. Some adolescents may be “dared” by their friends to engage in antisocial activities. Adolescents are so eager to be accepted in a group of their peers that sometimes their desire for acceptance overrides their conscience, which isn’t fully developed yet. If these antisocial activities hurt others (such as robbing someone’s house on a dare), the teenager’s fledgling conscience is halted in its growth, and may be discarded altogether. It’s at this point an adolescent can turn to malignant narcissism. This is why the choices kids make are so important. Here’s an excerpt from my article, “Healing Narcissism: Stephen’s Story,” in which a fictional boy I called Stephen turns to narcissism as a coping strategy, and it all began with a dare.

The Choice.

bullied_child

Stephen recalled a dare when he was 8 years old. A group of boys who had bullied him dared him to set a paper bag of dried dog poop on another boy’s rickety wooden front porch and set it on fire. The boys promised him that if he did this, they would no longer bully him and they would be his friend and protect him against any further bullying. Stephen knew that doing this could set the other boy’s house on fire and at first he protested, explaining what could happen. At this point he still had a conscience. But the boys threatened him and told him if he didn’t do it, their bullying would become worse and they would kill his pet rabbit. Stephen believed them, so against his will, he complied.

They set out after dark for the targeted house. The boys watched from the darkened yard as Stephen lit the paper bag on fire and hesitantly walked up the front stairs of the boy’s porch and set it next to a dead potted plant. The deed done, all the boys ran away before anyone saw them. Stephen looked back in time to see the flames ignite the plant, and quickly start to spread over the railings of the rickety old wooden porch. He felt awful and considered going to the police, but he didn’t dare. He went to bed that night and had terrible nightmares.

The targeted boy’s house burned down and he, his baby sister, and his mother had to be taken to the hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. Soon after, the family moved away, never to be seen again. No charges were pressed because no one knew who the culprit was.

To protect himself from his unbearable feelings of guilt and shame, Stephen shut off his painful emotions of guilt and conscience. From then on, the group of bullies accepted him as one of them, and they continued to engage in tormenting other children and even petty crimes.

This is an example of cognitive dissonance. Stephen would not have been able to live with himself had he not turned to narcissism as a coping strategy. The irony here is that, the more intense the child’s guilt or shame over committing an act that goes against their morals (or the more heinous the act), the more likely it is they will turn malignant, because to do otherwise would mean the overwhelming shame they feel could likely cause them to become severely depressed or even suicidal. This isn’t an excuse for anyone to turn to narcissism (or malignant narcissism) as a coping strategy, but is an unfortunate reality.

Acquired narcissism.

narcrealityshows

Sometimes people who become extremely successful, such as celebrities, sports stars, business leaders or politicians, can become narcissists, even if they were not narcissistic before their success. It doesn’t happen to all of them, but if it does, this is another example of how cognitive dissonance tries to “correct” things. In order to close the mental gap between their actual assessment of themselves as imperfect humans and the adulation they receive from the outer world that treats them as if they’re somehow more than human, a successful person can turn to narcissism to align their self-assessment with the way they are regarded by others. This is why some celebrities become so full of themselves or manipulative. It’s a form of acquired narcissism, but because it’s acquired fairly late in life and isn’t due to a choice, this type of narcissism may be temporary and only last as long as the person remains famous or very successful. If they fade into obscurity, the person faces a narcissistic crisis, but after that I think they can return to a non-narcissistic way of being in the world.

When does a narcissist cross the point of no return?

no_going_back

This question came up on the forums I’ve been active on. I think this question has fascinating implications but may never be answered with any degree of certainty.

Where the point of no return (the point at which a narc cannot be healed) exists on the narcissistic spectrum isn’t a question we will probably ever know. However, I have a couple of theories that ping ponged around inside my head.

1. Level of sadism/paranoia. (these traits were suggested by another forum member)
I think the ratio of ASPD traits to NPD traits would come into play–and most ASPDs are at least somewhat sadistic. I don’t know what the percentage of ASPD traits would have to be (and maybe it would vary in individuals anyway) but obviously a narcissist with a lot of ASPD is going to be more sadistic, and therefore more malignant/psychopathic, and that’s the point where no self awareness is possible–when a narc becomes malignant or psychopathic. Paranoia would come into play too, as I think paranoia rises with sadism. The more malignant the narcissist, the more paranoid (and sadistic) they will be.
For more, please see my article about The Dark Triad.

2. Soul-murder/cognitive dissonance.
My second theory about the point of no return is going to sound a little strange. I don’t believe the world is just the physical world we see. I’m not especially religious and don’t interpret biblical events literally but I am Christian (Catholic) and believe with no doubt that evil exists. Whether there’s an actual entity called Satan is not something I can answer. But I think there are evil entities, or energies, and I think M. Scott Peck’s book “People of the Lie” explains all this brilliantly (and was the first book to explain malignant narcissism even though it wasn’t called that in 1983). It was also the book that helped me identify my mother and my ex as MNs.

Anyway, I think it’s possible for a person (a victim of abuse) to be infected with the evil of another person. If it goes on long enough, the victims’ “narcissism fleas” (N traits picked up from their narcissists) can become cancerous and turn into full blown narcissism. If the victim was especially abused or sensitive (or was both scapegoat and golden child) they may be more covert but are still N.
I think choice also has to do with it. If one sides with their abusers all the time, or colludes with them in antisocial acts, I think something in the person’s soul can turn dark.

npd_spectrum

Once this darkness sets in, a person who was low-mid spectrum moves higher on the spectrum into malignant narcissism and can’t go back to being the way they were. That’s the point of no return. This has happened in wartime, with soldiers forced to do things that go against their morals like killing innocents, or accidentally killing a fellow soldier in combat — when these veterans return they suffer severe PTSD but for some, who were forced to commit deeds that went against their conscience and morals, they crossed a line into evil.

I think the mechanics of what happens is that when one makes a choice or is forced to do something that goes against their morals, there’s so much cognitive dissonance that a split in the mind occurs, where the person, feeling so guilty over their deed that it’s unbearable, takes the side of evil, to correct the dissonance.

I think all PD’s may actually be complex PTSD (c-PTSD) that is more deeply embedded in the personality.

As far as narcisissts lower on the spectrum (low-through mid spectrum)–and I absolutely believe it’s a spectrum disorder like autism–a non-malignant/non ASPD narcissist isn’t evil and hasn’t crossed the point of no return. It won’t be easy to get that “skeleton transplant” (and will be extremely painful!) but it can be done.

I hope my BPD wall of words made sense (someone told me that all BPD’s write posts that are as long as books with a lot of run on sentences, LOL!)

NPD vs. BPD: they are not the same thing!

BPD-Awareness

Articles like this one make me want to rage. The author, Doug Bartholomew, a licensed social worker, believes that people with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are pretty much the same as people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD). He even goes so far as to say BPD’s, along with NPDs, fit the criteria for M. Scott Peck’s “People of the Lie.”

Wait just one second. Peck’s People of the Lie don’t even include all narcissists–his definition describes those with Antisocial Personality Disorder and malignant narcissism (there’s a huge difference even between MN’s and garden variety narcissists–a malignant narcissist has ill will toward others and decided antisocial traits while a “benign” narcissist isn’t necessarily ill-intentioned but is just self centered and doesn’t care about your feelings). Peck never said all manipulative people (people with one of the four Cluster B personality disorders) were by nature evil, but evil people is what his book is about.

At the same time I understand where Bartholomew is coming from. On the surface, people with BPD can be manipulative and even resort to some of the same unpleasant tactics and mind-games (gaslighting, etc.) that narcissists like to play. They can appear to lack empathy, because they get so caught up in their own drama that they can literally forget that others exist. They can be demanding, high maintenance and prone to irrational rages (just like narcs) but are far more likely than narcs to turn their rage inward and become self-destructive or even suicidal.

Narcissism Clinic.
Not much to do with this article, but I couldn’t resist.

Borderlines also usually regret their acting-out and selfish or manipulative behaviors when the crisis has passed or their bad behavior is called out to them. They may be self-centered and impulsive but are not lacking remorse or the ability to feel shame and guilt. The problem with Borderlines is they tend to act as they feel at the moment without thinking things through. They can get so caught up in their own fear of abandonment that they almost literally forget that you have feelings too. However, after the fact Borderlines usually will feel remorseful and ashamed of their behavior, and on top of that, realize that their offputting behavior may cause others to do what they fear the most–abandon them.

Bartholomew also states that all Cluster B disorders are characterized by a lack of empathy:

The overwhelmingly most commonly mentioned behavior or trait associated with all the Cluster B Personality Disorders is a lack of empathy or compassion. They seem unmoved by the effect their behavior has on their loved ones other than what is necessary to keep their loved ones engaged and around. It is as if they were tone deaf or color blind to the feelings and experiences of others.

While it’s true that people with NPD and ASPD are characterized by a lack of empathy, I disagree that this is true of people with BPD. I think this is a gross overgeneralization.

Borderlines can feel empathy, but due to their impulsiveness and fear of abandonment, they can act in selfish, defensive, and manipulative ways that may hurt others (but they hurt themselves even more so). However, unlike malignant narcissists and people with ASPD, Borderlines do not set out to hurt others and they do care how others feel. Unfortunately their good judgment is clouded by their disorder which makes it difficult or impossible for them to regulate their emotions. That’s why they act so impulsively and often fail to think things through before they act out. It’s also why their relationships tend to be stormy and short-lived.

BPD_cartoon

A person with BPD does not wear a mask or have a “false self” like someone with NPD–but their fear of abandonment can cause them to knowingly or unknowingly push others away. Their ambivalence in relationships can be very confusing to others–they can seem to adore you one moment, and then hate you the next. They can seem needy and rejecting by turns. When others grow tired of this crazymaking and confusing “I hate you, don’t leave me” behavior and finally leave them, the Borderline genuinely doesn’t understand what they have done to drive the other person away, and so they become even more fearful of being abandoned. Their behavior is maladaptive because it tends to cause the very thing they are trying so desperately to avoid.

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We are just burning toasters.

A much better description of the similarities and differences between Borderlines and Narcissists can be found in “Borderline vs. Narcissistic Personality Disorder: How Are They Different?” from the Clearview Women’s Center’s website.

While the two disorders, both being part of the Cluster B group of personality disorders, do have overlapping symptoms and are often confused with each other and/or misdiagnosed as the other disorder (with males being far more likely to be diagnosed with NPD and females with BPD), this author, unlike Bartholomew, understands that both the motives and mechanics of the disorders are quite distinct from each other:

[…]both BPD and NPD deal with conflict in a way that is unhealthy to themselves and those around them. It’s the expression of the anger that results from the conflict that is different.

In her article “Blame-Storms and Rage Attacks,” Randi Kreger, co-author of Walking on Eggshells, points out the difference in how those with BPD and NPD express anger. While those with Borderline Personality Disorder may fly into a rage and push people away, they will often calm down, feel shame for their reaction, and promise never to do it again.

“Unless they’re in treatment, the underlying issues don’t go away. Some conventional [borderlines] do not get angry at all, but hold it in or express it inwardly through self-harm,” says Kreger.

“The anger of narcissists, on the other hand, can be more demeaning,” she continues. “Their criticism evolves from their conviction that others don’t meet their lofty standards — or worse, aren’t letting them get their own way.”

Malignant narcissism and the supernatural: a connection?

demon

WARNING: This is a dark and highly disturbing topic for many people. If discussions about evil entities, the demonic or the supernatural bothers you, I suggest not reading this blog post to avoid being triggered.

I’ve discussed the subject of evil and narcissism before, but today a commenter called Truthteller brought up this subject again in the comments section of another blog post (I can’t find his or her blog if they even have one).

A good question.
Truthteller was wondering if disorders like malignant narcissism and/or multiple personality disorder (MPD) have a possible supernatural explanation, such as an evil or alien entity taking up residence inside a person. This commenter suggested that severe abuse during childhood, which can cause both MPD (a splintering of the original personality into two or more subpersonalities) and NPD (dissociative as well because the true self is shut off or obscured by an elaborate system of false personalities or masks) can make the child vulnerable to an outside entity taking up residence within them.

Now before you write me off as a BSC, superstitious, tinfoil hat-wearing, Bible thumping nutcase, let me explain that while I do consider myself a Christian, I am not particularly religious (though I am spiritual) nor have I ever been that superstitious and I’m pretty skeptical about supernatural things. In fact, I think most “supernatural” events probably have a scientific explanation that hasn’t been discovered yet.

For example, imagine a serf living in the year 1100, during the Middle Ages. Now imagine a time traveler from 2014 appears and shows the medieval serf his Smartphone. (Okay, I know time travel isn’t possible right now, if it ever is, but just suspend your disbelief here for a minute).

smartphoneinspace

What would the serf think? Would they understand anything about the technology that went into making that Smartphone? Of course not. They would probably run away screaming that the thing was demonic, a supernatural device from Hell that contained evil spirits. Because that would be the only way they could explain the glowing moving images and words scrolling on a screen. If we see a ghost today, it could actually be a ghost, or it could be a hologram of some sort, a cross-section of a 4 or more-dimensional being, or simply an aggregation of energy concentrated in one place. We really don’t know.

That being said, I also don’t dispute the possibility that there may be evil spirits or even an entity called Satan. No one has proven these entities exist, but no one’s disproven them either. There is at least one respected psychiatrist in the field of NPD and psychopathy (Dr. M. Scott Peck) who believes that certain individuals without empathy or a conscience, who take pleasure in hurting others (today we call them malignant narcissists or psychopaths) are in fact evil.

I absolutely believe there are evil people in the world, but is their evil due to Satan or other malignant entities overtaking their minds at some point (possibly due to a choice they made which I’ll explain later in this post), or is their “evil” simply a manifestation of a badly wired brain dominated by the predatory, reptilian, lower brain instead of the mammalian human brain that has the capacity for love and empathy?

A snake doesn’t care about its fellow snakes or even its offspring. It feels no love. It attacks with no remorse and has no feelings of guilt if its prey dies from its bite. It abandons its young after they’re born to fend for themselves. This is normal behavior for a snake, but a snake isn’t evil because it’s just a reptile, a less evolved creature than we are. If a human acts like a snake though, then that person is evil because we’re supposed to have a brain that has the capacity to feel empathy and love.

snake

MPD vs. NPD.
In the case of the person with MPD, I don’t believe malignant entities have anything to do with their disorder, for several reasons. Although people with MPD appear to be “possessed” by more than one personality, they are really just facets of the same personality. A person with MPD was almost without exception severely abused during early childhood, and to protect the “waking self” from further pain, their original personality shattered into fragments, or subpersonalities of the original.

A good therapist who specializes in MPD can help the patient bring the “personalities” back together, usually by working primarily with the dominant personality, which is usually cooperative and the most mentally healthy of them all. It is also the only one of the personalities that is aware of all the others. One by one, the dominant personality (or sometimes using hypnosis) will “bring out” the other personalities for the therapist to work with. Eventually, through the cooperation of all the personalities, the person can become whole again. While there may be unpleasant or immature personalities, they are not necessarily evil. Another reason I don’t think MPD has anything to do with outside entities is because the person with the disorder wants to get well. They usually seek therapy on their own due to blackouts and other odd things such as doing something and not remembering doing it.

Malignant narcissism and psychopathy is a different story. Although also most likely caused by severe abuse combined with a genetic predisposition, the person is nearly always unaware of their original, true self which has been obscured so deeply by their elaborate layers of masks that it may as well not even exist. It’s very difficult if not impossible to access the true self in a malignant narcissist. It exists but the false self is a lie, and lies are inherently evil. This is why they are the “People of the Lie.”

The genesis of psychopathy.
Why are some people evil and what made them that way? No one really knows. I don’t think in real life there are any “bad seeds” and those we know of are usually fictional characters. Some people probably do possess a gene for the malignant form of narcissism or psychopathy, but even so, with loving parenting that teaches the child right from wrong at an early age, I think most children can still learn to be good people and those lessons will override the genetic predisposition. Perhaps they’ll still be narcissists but of the benign variety instead.

Severely abusing or neglecting a child who already possesses the gene will likely cause that child to become a psychopath or malignant narcissist. At this point in time, there is no known cure once the disorder has become ingrained in the personality. If any treatment is to work, it must be done in early childhood, when the personality is still forming.

Possession and Exorcism.
I don’t think people with these disorders are actually possessed by demons, but if demons or malignant entities exist, these people may be highly influenced by them or walk on the side of darkness. That would explain my MN ex’s fascination with the occult, Satanic symbolism, and his liking for dark music like death metal. Being open to darkness, malignant narcissists and psychopaths are vulnerable to malignant entities taking up residence inside them, and for someone who is already a psychopath, the possession would be total and even exorcism would not work and would probably kill them.

ouijaboard

Non-evil people could be possessed too, usually by dabbling in the occult or the like, but for them, the possession is “imperfect,” according to M. Scott Peck. Because the entity isn’t aligned perfectly with the person’s soul, there is still good in the person and when an exorcism is performed, the good can overcome the evil entity (with God’s help). An exorcism performed on an imperfectly possessed, non-evil individual is more likely to be successful than it would be on a psychopath whose possession, if it exists at all, would be total.

M. Scott Peck also believes that exorcism does not have to be done by a priest or minister. It can be successfully performed by a psychiatrist or psychologist who is well trained in the ritual, and at the same time has a strong faith in God.

How a good person can become evil.
I mentioned earlier the concept of choice. I think there are some people who are predisposed genetically to psychopathy and aren’t necessarily evil, but there comes a turning point during which they choose darkness over light. This is usually a decision they make, a “deal with the devil” so to speak. This is the point at which they can cross the line over into evil and once they do so, there is no turning back.

I’ve used this example before, but I’ll use it again because it’s such a good one. In “People of the Lie,” Peck talks about a man who was in all respects a good man, a family man who loved his wife and children. But the man had a terrible problem: he suffered from severe panic attacks when crossing a certain bridge on his way home from work every day. The panic attacks were so debilitating that the man, even though he didn’t believe in the devil, made a deal with the devil anyway. He told the devil that if he could get over the bridge without suffering a panic attack, then he would allow the devil to allow something to happen to his beloved son.

Nothing happened to the man’s son, but the man felt terribly guilty about making such a deal, even though he still didn’t believe the devil existed, so he confessed his sin to Dr. Peck. It was explained to the man that he did the right thing; if he hadn’t felt remorse over making such a deal, even though he didn’t believe in the devil, that he would have crossed the line over into evil.

fearofbridge

The same thing happens during war when soldiers are forced to kill innocent people and commit other acts of atrocity that go against their morals. Those who aren’t predisposed to psychopathy and are forced to undertake such evil actions, suffer from PTSD and can even experience a psychotic break. However, there are veterans who, already predisposed to psychopathy, became evil after committing such acts during wartime. They return from war seeming to have lost any empathy or ability to love they once had. Here too, a line was crossed, even if it was not really their own choice. Once that line is crossed the person can never return to goodness because they have, in effect, “sold their soul,” and possibly been possessed by malignant outside entities who make sure they keep walking on the side of darkness.

It’s in their eyes.
I have noticed something odd in the eyes of malignant narcissists. The first time I saw it was when I was about five or six, when my mother flew into a narcissistic rage over something or other, probably my acting “spooky” (withdrawn and lost in my Aspie world) which seemed to enrage her more than anything else. When I looked into her face, I noticed with horror that her eyes were solid black like the eyes of aliens or demons, and her sneer was so full of pure hate that I had nightmares for weeks. I remember having dreams about this demon-mother, and waking up screaming. She’d rush into the room and it was like waking up from one nightmare into another, an inescapable loop of nightmares I couldn’t awaken from, because all I could see even when awake were those solid black eyes and hateful sneer. Even when she was smiling or hugging me. This lasted for several months, but I knew then what she was, and I also knew that she knew I knew. And that made her hate me even more.

Evil black female zombie eyes.

I saw the same black eyes once when my MN ex was in one of his narcissistic drunken rages.
Also, I have seen actual people who have very opaque, cold and hard eyes without a hint of humanity or warmth in them. Here is a photo of a person I do not know but her face is one of the most frightening I’ve ever seen and it’s because of those eyes. I have no doubt this woman is as evil as she looks. I sure wouldn’t want to meet her in person!

unknownwoman

My father (a low spectrum but weak and benign narcissist who is not insane or deluded) told me about the time he spoke to Michael (who I was still married to at the time) on the phone and noticed his voice sounded different. The way he explained it, it was gutteral and inhuman like a demon’s voice. I never heard this voice myself, but on a visceral, gut level I believed my father was telling me the truth. I was spooked out of my mind.

After the divorce my father sent me a copy of “People of the Lie.” He told me he never believed in the devil or evil people until he read this book and realized it described my ex to a tee. Funny that he didn’t recognize my mother in that book, because she’s even more malignant than my ex. But he’s an enabler when it comes to MN women, and always seems to be in thrall to them. But that book changed my life because after reading it I finally recognized both my ex and my mother for what they actually were, and that was the catalyst that led to No Contact.

A person I know in the narcissistic abuse community says that the soul of a malignant narcissist or psychopath has been seared. I think that’s a very good description of what has happened to them. Can a seared soul be saved? I have no clue…

In conclusion, let me remind you that I’m not a tinfoil hat wearing conspiracy theorist or a Bible-thumping fundamentalist nutcase. I have no proof that any of this is valid (unless you count the opaque black eyes I’ve saw in both my mother and ex). But because a supernatural component hasn’t been disproven either, there’s a possibility that much more is involved in psychopathic behavior and malignant narcissism than mere mental illness or a brain dysfunction. Some of this even makes sense on a gut instinct level. In any case, Truthteller raised an interesting issue and I wanted to explore it further even if you think it’s nuttier than a Payday bar.

Please share your thoughts.

Yes Virginia…evil people really do exist. Don’t think–run!

evilpeople

Those of us in an active relationship with a psychopath usually either don’t see or choose to ignore how purely evil these characters are–and that they are set out to destroy the relationship, the victimized person, and even the children if there are any involved. Many times a victim feels like they can’t leave, especially if they don’t have financial resources (which is often the case when a person is enmeshed with a psychopath, who may have made any funds impossible to access), a supportive family to help them escape, or there are children involved.

Like most women (and men) enmeshed in a marriage or relationship with a psychopath, I waited far too long to leave my abuser. My son, although scapegoated by his father through most of his childhood, escaped relatively unscathed (although he has some anger and self esteem issues), but my daughter is another story. She was deeply damaged by her father’s manipulations and by having to play the role of his junior “flying monkey” and participate in his triangulation and gaslighting games when she was just a child and young teenager, not to mention being introduced to things a youngster should not have to deal with: drugs, alcohol, family violence (and even possible sexual abuse, though this has never been proven). She’s taken on a few of his narcissistic traits (she’s good at manipulation and isn’t always honest), although narcissism is to some extent genetic and her symptoms don’t seem to be too severe. She is also bipolar and suffers from C-PTSD, as I do.

For many years, I didn’t even see that he was an abuser. He wasn’t usually physically violent (except when drinking); his method of abuse was much more subtle–and more diabolical than that. I didn’t know what hit me and like most abused spouses, learned to blame myself and came to believe the discord was MY problem, because I “overreacted to everything” and was “crazy and unstable.” Having to spend time in a mental facility in the late 1990s was “proof” that I was the one with the mental problems–and in fact I did have serious mental problems, but they were brought on by my mind being played like a violin by a very evil man. He was a virtuoso crazymaker.

buddha

Other people saw how evil he was and couldn’t understand why I couldn’t see it too. I remember a friend of mine from work came over once with another friend when Michael was home, and while he was pleasant enough to them, neither of these friends ever wanted to come to my home again. When I asked Holly (one of the friends) why not, she said, “I don’t like your husband and neither does Teresa. He gave us the creeps, there’s just something not very nice about him.”

Parents of two of my daughter’s friends had met Michael, and would not allow their children to come to my home because of him. Oh, he was always on his best behavior with adult visitors, but one of the mothers told me, “he seems perfectly polite, but I just don’t feel comfortable around him and don’t want my daughter around him. I’m very sorry.”

I saw the evil in him on one occasion while we were still married–and what I saw scared the shit out of me. It was one night when he was very drunk, we had been fighting all night and ended it by having sex. The sex was rough and angry though, and suddenly I looked up and saw a totally expressionless face. There was no love there, just pure hatred. I could feel the hate emanating from him. But worse than that was his eyes. Normally a steely gray-blue, they had turned solid black, very similar to the solid black eyes demons in horror movies have. I know I wasn’t imagining this–what I was seeing was what he really was but kept hidden. No, not a demon, but something worse–a person with no self, a person who had sold his soul or never had one. There was nothing there, and nothingness is what evil actually is. That’s why malignant narcissists and psychopaths need to wear masks, to cover up what isn’t there.

Michael knew I had seen it, and knew I knew, because he immediately ended the intimacy, pulled on his clothes, and left the house, but not before giving me the most hateful sneer I had ever seen.

jesus

My father had talked to him one night during one of our many fights. Now my father has never been a particularly religious man and never believed in Satan or hell, so he didn’t say anything about this to me at the time, but years later, after Michael and I separated, he confessed that night he had heard Michael speaking in a low, gutteral, demonic voice. It scared him so much he decided to read M. Scott Peck’s book,”People of the Lie,” and after he was done he sent me the book. I was riveted by the book and also shocked and scared to death. That was the first time I began to realize that I had been dealing with a malignant narcissist who was dead set on destroying me and my children and almost succeeded.

People outside the relationship–casual friends, mothers of my children’s friends, and my father had all seen immediately what he was, but because I was enmeshed and had young children, I couldn’t see it–or refused to. It gives me chills to this day to think I spent 28 years in the presence of pure evil, but that’s what it was. I’m lucky to be alive today and even luckier that I didn’t completely lose my soul. My children are lucky too, although my poor daughter is the most deeply damaged by him and may never fully recover.

If you are in a relationship and others are wary or uncomfortable around them and can’t explain why, or you see the countenance of pure hatred and evil that I did (and also the solid black eyes), run away as fast as you can. If there are kids, take them with you. You may think you can’t, but even if you don’t have a supportive family or are financially unable to find another place to live, most towns and cities have services and even shelters for abused women and their children. The shelter I stayed at with my kids was very nice, and the counselors were wonderful (I went back though). If you are a man, it may be more difficult to find this kind of help, and you might have to dig a little deeper or even move to another area to find services, but they do exist. Take advantage of the government programs that still exist–food stamps, Medicaid for the kids, in some communities even housing vouchers. Churches and other charitable organizations have limited funds, but may be able to provide some food, help with bills, or other services. Seek counseling–many communities have free or low cost mental health services for abused parents and their children. Don’t worry that you have to move out of that big house you bought together, or that your kids will be without their father (or mother). This is life or death–don’t think about what you’ll be losing because at the end of the day, it won’t be much. Just get the hell out.

lincoln

Book Review: People of the Lie: The Hope for Healing Human Evil, by M. Scott Peck, MD

peopleofthelie

When “People of the Lie” was first published in 1983, the word “evil” wasn’t in the popular lexicon. We were still a nation experimenting with various alternative lifestyles and there was still a lot of philosophical holdover from the “do your own thing” mindset of the 1960s. The religious right, primarily the Moral Majority had been influencing things for several years by this time (hence why Reagan was popular enough to get elected in 1980), but their power was still mainly under the radar and it just wasn’t PC to talk about things like “evil” with its medieval religious connotations. Even today, the word isn’t exactly politically correct, although it’s been bandied about a lot more in recent years, from the religious right to political pundits on both sides of the political spectrum. In addition, comments on social media such as Youtube, Facebook and Twitter often turn into religious arguments and the word “evil” is tossed about like confetti at a parade. Hence the word has lost some of its original power and Dark Ages overtones, but has become more acceptable in public discourse.

At the time of its publication, “People of the Lie” was a groundbreaking work by a respected psychiatrist who was no newcomer to the world of self help books, and it was the first comprehensive book written about what is now recognized by most people as the malignant narcissist, or person with severe narcissistic personality disorder. (People with Antisocial Personality Disorder, while more often criminals than those with NPD, are actually less “evil” due to the fact they actually cannot tell the difference between right and wrong, while a MN can, but doesn’t give a rat’s ass how they hurt others). It’s still a popular book today, and has passed the test of time due to its readability and fascinating case histories of “evil people” (more on this in a minute) and somehow manages to convey a scholarly feel without becoming dry, unreadable, or overly religious.

The book isn’t perfect. The subtitle “the Hope for Healing Human Evil” is a bit misleading, as there’s very little about actually curing the character disorders associated with it, and Dr. Peck frequently mentions how “hopeless” a task it is, given that malignant narcissists really cannot ever change. In one of the central case histories, the story of “Charlene,” Peck continually talks about his frustration in treating her as his patient and his inability to change her, and finally regrets not having “nurtured her like a parent,” actually saying he should have “taken her on his lap and stroked her like an infant,” (wtf?!) This comes off as really creepy and unethical, not to mention possibly illegal. As for Charlene, whether she’s actually evil isn’t too clear, as she never does anything much worse than simply being incredibly annoying. She’s clearly infatuated with Dr. Peck and unable to handle it; she shows stalking behaviors and likes to “play” with him but never does anything worse than just be annoying (indeed, this is how some MN’s who are not criminals break down their “marks” so who knows?) Her reaction to him could be simple transference of a patient to a therapist with nothing really evil about it at all. Peck’s countertransference toward Charlene in some ways seems more pathological than Charlene’s irritating behavior.

Several other cases describe disturbed and unhealthily codependent people (like the weak and dependent Harley dominated by his mean wife Sarah–these two actually seem quite happy in their unholy symbiosis). Sarah may or may not be “evil,” but clearly has narcissistic and sadistic traits and loves to torment poor Harley, who whines to Dr. Peck but seems to do little else to stop it. Peck speculates that a weak or pathologically dependent person like Harley, who can be so easily dominated, may be a bit evil themselves, which is why they “collude” with their abuser in the first place. There may be some validity to this claim, but I certainly don’t believe all abused people are colluding with their abuser or “asking for it.” That’s just blaming the victim, something that’s become increasingly common today.

I think (and others seem to agree on this) the most evil people in the book are the parents who gave their depressed son his older brother’s suicide weapon (THE gun, not just a gun like it) for his birthday. WTF?!? Anyone who would do such a thing to their own child is seriously deranged.

The cases, while all riveting and drawing you in like mini novels (or bad soaps?), don’t really give the reader a clear view of what evil actually is, and certainly not how it should be addressed. Dr. Peck seems at a loss as to what to do, and his last chapter on exorcism is a little over the top although fascinating to read. Peck believes exorcism can be performed effectively by psychiatrists who are well couched in the techniques (basically a classic rite as was seen in the 1973 movie The Exorcist) who also have a strong relationship to God (not necessarily of the born again Christian variety) and a strong enough character to resist the actions and manipulations of evil spirits or demons as they begin to resist the exorcism.

One of the best chapters of the book was the chapter on group evil (describing in the Mai Lai massacres in Vietnam during the ’60s. Peck explains how a group of people, not necessarily at all evil themselves, can be drawn into performing heinous crimes as a group. This is a well known theory–crowds will often behave in ways individuals within that crowd never would, especially if coerced by narcissistic or evil leaders. This is exactly what happened in Germany and Europe under Hitler in WW2 and probably what happened with Mai Lai as well.

I’ve had my copy of POTL for many years, and have read it or parts of it many times over. I still find it useful and was able to identify my mother as an evil person based on what I read. For all its faults, POTL is a must read for anyone interested in malignant narcissism or involved with a person with this character disorder, even if just for its historical perspective on this disorder that has become increasingly prevalent in the pathologically narcissistic and compassion-deficient modern world we are living in today.

Peck is himself a born again Christian, and even though there are definite religious overtones in POTL, he doesn’t bash you over the head with his beliefs, or overwhelm the reader with biblical references. I respect Peck’s religious beliefs, as I respect all religious beliefs, and although I may not agree with all of them and the book comes off at times a bit judgmental, I appreciate the fact he retains primarily the psychiatric and scientific, rather than the religious, perspective in this book. It’s a fascinating way to look at the problem of evil, which I definitely believe exists and is a powerful force, even though I’m not sure it’s driven by an entity called “Satan,” evil spirits, or just a manifestation of the primitive reptilian brain of those who are missing the higher parts of the brain that allow them to develop a conscience and true feelings of love for their fellow humans.

“People of the Lie” is much better than Peck’s later work on the subject of human evil, “Glimpses of the Devil,” his 2005 expansion on the subject, which goes into greater detail on the two exorcisms Peck performed and described briefly in POTL, but has far more blatant Christian overtones and is frankly a creepy and disturbing read and not as comprehensive and scientific as POTL. Still worth a read if you’re into that sort of thing.

Click here to purchase “People of the Lie” from Amazon.