“I don't care what you think unless it is about me.”
― Kurt Cobain
Narcisissm, Lies, and Cruelty...
Seeing cruelty? Lies? If you have seen bullish behavior around you and it doesn't make sense, this book is very much worth the read. It’s called How to Talk to a Narcissist, by Joan Lachkar. You may not be dealing with a Narcissist, but if the behavior is outlandish, self-centered and repeated, you just may be.
This post is long, but may explain a lot and provide peace if you’ve experienced or witnessed a Narcissist in action. The book "How to Talk to a Narcissist" by Joan Lachkar, has been EXTREMELY helpful to me. I downloaded it without realizing its price (almost $40), but have very rarely been THIS excited about what I've found in a book. It it written in the style of a text book, but so well written a lay person can read it. I hope this summary helps people understand some things you may see around you.
I lived in the middle of a Narcissist sandwich for about 18 months, a difficult and confusing place to be, but these were 2 very different kinds of Narcissists. This book helped clarify the overlap and the differences. I've highlighted some of the important things I learned in this book below. You may even recognize some of these traits in people you may have come across. It's just as hard when you encounter the Narcissist in the workplace, particularly a person whose position of authority is above yours, as you become involved in a situation that is hard to escape.
One of the Narcissists who attached to me was what is called a Malignant Narcissist, the other a Pathological Narcissist. Although there is considerable overlap between them (and there are also overlapping traits with sociopathy, often with both diagnoses present), they present differently in personality.
I tried to "rescue" one (pathological narcissist) after realizing the narcissistic issue existed but not having a clear definition or full understanding of it yet.
The book explains that they are not treatable in the traditional way one would expect, because they are not capable of wanting get to that point of wanting help. Why? Because it is "never their fault."
But because the person with the rescue archetype tolerates them, believing they can be helped, they are often entangled in these relationships for longer than they should. This is unhealthy for the person the Narcissist attaches to, because it is actually an unfixable disorder like sociopathy (again, many Narcissists also have sociopathy). The book stresses that while even good therapy can't change them, you can learn how to speak to them (praise them even when complaining or criticizing) in order to avoid setting off their vulnerability. If you praise them, however, you are sustaining them and giving them NS, Narcissistic Sustenance, the mirroring they crave and need. We see it as giving them love, they see it as something they need for ego sustenance. It is not love.
It is not a treatable disorder, nor can they experience real love (although they can pretend to show it based on what they observe others doing), nor can they experience empathy or desire to change. This is the hardest part for many who have been in a relationship with a Narcissist, because time spent in a relationship without love seems so wasteful.
I also learned that the person who is the object of their "affection" or "attention" is simply used as a mirror to feed their ego. It is true that they rarely talk about other things than themselves other than to criticize. And their discussions about themselves are grandiose!
WHAT IS A NARCISSIST?
A Narcissist is a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, the need for admiration, and a lack of empathy. According to the DSM IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) the individual must meet at least 5 of the following criteria to have Narcissist Personality Disorder:
There is considerable overlap between the various narcissistic disorders and distinguishing some of them can be a challenge.
HERE are some warning signs of a Narcissist.
DIFFERENT KINDS OF NARCISSISTS
The author differentiates between Narcissist types and behaviors including the:
COMPARING THE TWO TYPES I MET:
PATHOLOGICAL AND MALIGNANT
One of the Narcissists that attached to me was a Pathological Narcissist, the other a Malignant Narcissist. This paragraph helped me separate them:
"...pathological narcissists join with others (community or relationships) as a mirror reflection of themselves, whereas the malignant narcissist joins with an external object to project their cruelty and malevolence. This sadistic internal tendency "gives the malignant narcissist a momentary sense of power and superiority: "Now others will experience the pain and torture I feel!" In some delusional way this is an attempt to remove psychic pain from normal states of dependency for fear of being hurt or vulnerable."
For this sake of this post and community, I’ll focus on the Malignant Narcissist I experienced. Since there is some overlap between Narcissistic types, there may be overlap between this kind of Narcissist and others.
Above, Joie de Vivre Tarot
The Malignant Narcissist is listed as one of the most severe forms of narcissism, often accompanied by borderline features and characteristics. These individuals tend to be vile, cruel and malicious. These narcissists are full of self-doubts and self-loathing and constantly need to have others reinforce their beliefs and convictions. Many are pathological liars who often believe their lies are the truth. Sadism, hatred and uncontrollable aggression are the most common syndromes of the malignant narcissist, whose paranoid features drive self-serving political aspirations that become the rationale for acting out one's worse sadistic fantasies through destructive aggression. The malignant narcissist is usually a leader with striking similarities to heads of various dictatorial and tyrannical regimes.
THE VICTIM ARCHETYPE
The most pervasive trait of malignant narcissists is that they often claim the role of the VICTIM: "It is not me doing something to you; it is you who has done something bad to me!" (in the book, this is compared to Osama bin Laden claiming the 9/11 attack was in defense of his own people and was the will of Allah). You'll see them claiming victim status even as they attack or lie or say irrational things.
In addition, the malignant narcissist may be so infused with envy that he will use any possible mode of control and domination to ensure that the other will not succeed; "I'll do *anything* to see that you fail!"
Additionally, they will often claim that their past fixation is “stalking” them, when in fact that is not happening, but they themselves remain fixated on the other person.
Another important trait is how regularly they project, or “evacuate”. Their communication is not based on rational thought, but on the urge to get rid of something internal within themselves that is felt to be dangerous or toxic. So they frequently PROJECT or translocate these traits onto another (the hurtful things that they believe about themselves but are afraid to say, they claim is a feature of the person they are attaching to). When their vulnerability is provoked, they will say the most irrational things in order to avoid their own inner pain.
They are evacuating the bad things they believe about themselves and placing them onto an object of their attachment.
When the narcissist become vulnerable or inflamed, his/her tender vulnerability (V-spot) has been hit. Their communication is then not based on rational thought, but on the urge to get rid of something internal that is felt to be dangerous or toxic. This is when they PROJECT or "evacuate” them onto another. However, this primitive defense of projecting strips the ego of its internal ability to self-improve as well as the ability to think rationally (they never look within so they cannot learn from experience). Therefore, the same destructive behavior is repeated again and again.
When their V-spot is hit, the first things to go are judgment, memory, perception, reality testing, impulse control, tolerance, and ego identity. As an aside, this can have medical implications/psychosomatic illness (migraines, asthma, night sweats, nausea, pain)…particularly with narcissists who become overwhelmingly stressed in trying to prove their specialness through relentless pressure-seeking goals (i.e., fame, power, admiration).
CAN’T SEE WITHIN
Narcissists don't have rational thought or the capacity to look within, so they cannot learn from experience. Thus, the same destructive behavior is repeated again and again, and they spend their live self-destructing.
I now recognize their tendencies so that I will see it coming again, and what a lesson it was. I now know where my boundaries will lie, and what qualities in me let them in. Now I know how to respond in the future so I don't repeat this lesson.
Another good book I downloaded that is a bit less academic (not quite as good as this one, because the above book hit an 11 on a scale of 1-10 for me....), but still excellent is:
This book affirmed that letting go is the wise choice.
Both books are available on Kindle.
WHY DID I ATTRACT THEM?
I also wondered why I had attracted these people into my life because I always learned that "like attracts like," and I am not narcissistic, aggressive or cruel. Was there something negative in me that drew them toward me? I also wanted to be sure this did not happen again.
I was comforted by what I learned.
Apparently I had tendencies they desired and each latched onto me for different reasons because those qualities they wanted or felt were desirable. One person wanted these qualities to feed themselves and make themselves become what they felt I was or had; the other felt threatened by my being what they wanted or what they felt they were or needed to be. Narcissists latch onto what they wish to be, yet these two people each responded differently to their narcissistic drives. Both are banned from my life, but Narcissists tend to have a fixation on their past attachments, speaking negatively of them for quite some time. They use criticism as a way to control.
I am not the only person who was impacted by these Narcissists. The problem follows them from relationship to relationship, or from fixation to fixation (because like one of mine, I was not in a relationship with them; they just fixated). The trick is recognizing it as early as possible.
FINDING THE CALM AFTER THE STORM
If you have seen cruelty or victimization around you and it doesn't make sense, these books are worth the read and may give you some inner peace and great enlightenment about the actions and reactions of the Narcissist around you.
A big blessing through the latter book, Narcissistic Lovers, is I learned also that the way I ultimately dealt with them both was appropriate and ultimately recommended by the authors. The technique is called "No Contact," although I didn’t know at the time it was a technique or had a name. Because even negative contact feeds them...they need attention to feel alive. Even your criticism gives them power over you in their mind, because now they have your attention. Negative attention is better than no attention. They thrive on it.
The first book, How to Talk to a Narcissist is outstanding and can be life changing. I could not stop highlighting data in it because so much fit into the scheme of my experience. While it is meant for the clinical psychologist who needs to communicate with the Narcissist, I found it most valuable for the clarity it gave me with the people with whom I was dealing. With clarity I better appreciated my own responses to the situations. It also allowed me to assume less blame or guilt, because their pattern will follow them from relationship to relationship. I just happened to be standing in their way.
An experience with a Narcissist is a difficult and confusing thing to live through. The lies and deceit that serve to fit their agenda can be confusing and out of control, and we do deserve better. They will never change, but we can change the way we perceive them and respond to them. "No contact" is best if you decide you have had enough. I learned how little control they actually do have over my life…unless I give them the illusion of power. Which is what they are actually trying to seek within me, an illusion of their own personal power.
I own me. And the power remains mine.
Here's wishing you a tarot-filled week of peacefully interactive relationships.
Learn more about the secrets of reading tarot at our award-winning educational tarot podcast.
See a listing of all show topics HERE.