How to spot a Narcissistic Friend
stop being a victim (interesting, long psych read)
In my 19 years of living...I've learned there is one class of people that I absolutely cannot tolerate. These are the Narcissistics
: as Freud said, these people act like they're in love with themselves. And they are in love with an ideal image of themselves - or they want you to be in love with their pretend self (it's hard to tell what's going on). Like anyone in love, their attention and energy are drawn to the beloved and away from everyday practicalities. Their fantasies are static - they've fallen in love with an image in a mirror or, more accurately, a pool of water, so that movement causes the image to dissolve into ripples. To see the adored reflection they must remain perfectly still. They are hung up on a particular picture that they think reflects their true selves (as opposed to the real self - warts and all). They don't see these images as potentials that they may some day be able to live out, if they get lucky or everything goes right: they see these pictures as the real way they want to be seen right now (which is not the same as saying they think these pictures are the way they really are right now, but that is another story to be discussed elsewhere).
If you have ever been the victim or suffered from a narcissistic friend or s.o.'s behavior, I sincerely sympathize with you. These are not easy or logical people to deal with, and I've learned that you cannot treat them as you treat a normal person. They can wreak havoc on a friend's life, create unnecessary stress, manipulate you to feeling like there's something wrong with you (when it's the other way around) and put themselves in the center of every situation/conflict even if it has nothing to do with them. Appearances are all there is with narcissists - and their self-hatred knows no bounds.
Here I want to share some of my research into narcissistic mindset and how to get rid of these toxins from your life:The most telling thing that narcissists do is contradict themselves. They will do this virtually in the same sentence. It can be trivial (e.g., about what they want for lunch) or it can be serious (e.g., about whether or not they love you). When you ask them which one they mean, they'll deny ever saying the first one, though it may literally have been only seconds since they said it - really, how could you think they'd ever have said that? They will contradict FACTS. They will lie to you about things that you did together. They will misquote you to yourself. If you disagree with them, they'll say you're lying, making stuff up or are crazy. [At this point, if you're like me, you sort of panic and want to talk to anyone who will listen about what is going on: this is a healthy reaction; it's a reality check ("who's the crazy one here?")]. NOTE: Normal people can behave irrationally under emotional stress -- be confused, deny things they know, get sort of paranoid, want to be babied when they're in pain. But normal people recover pretty much within an hour or two or a day or two, and, with normal people, your expressions of love and concern for their welfare will be taken to heart. Not so with narcissists. If you're like me, you get into disputes with narcissists over their casual dishonesty and cruelty to other people. Trying to reform narcissists by reasoning with them or by appealing to their better nature is about as effective as spitting the ocean. What you see is what you get: they have no better nature. The fundamental problem here is that narcissists lack empathy.
Lacking empathy is a profound disturbance to the narcissist's thinking and feeling. Even when very intelligent, narcissists can't reason well. They don't understand the meaning of what people say and they don't grasp the meaning of the written word either - because so much of the meaning of anything we say depends on context and affect, narcissists (lacking empathy and thus lacking both context and affect) hear only the words. And they don't hear all the words, either. They can pay attention only to stuff that has them in it. This is not merely a bad habit - it's a cognitive deficiency. Narcissists pay attention only to themselves and stuff that affects them personally. However, since they don't know what other people are doing, narcissists can't judge what will affect them personally and seem never to learn that when they cause trouble they will get trouble back. They won't take other people's feelings into consideration and so they overlook the fact that other people will react with feeling when abused or exploited and that most people get really pissed off by being lied to or lied about.
Narcissists lack a mature conscience and seem to be restrained only by fear of being punished or of damaging their reputations. Their moral intelligence is about at the level of a bright five or six yr old; the only rules they recognize are things that have been specifically required, permitted, prohibited, or disapproved of by authority figures they know. Anyhow, narcissists can't be counted on not to do something just because it's wrong, illegal, or will hurt someone, as long as they think that they can get away with it or that you can't stop them or punish them .
Narcissists are envious and competitive in ways that are hard to understand. They are constantly comparing themselves (and whatever they feel belongs to them, such as their children and furniture) to other people. Narcissists feel that unless they are better than anyone else, they are worse than everybody in the whole world.
Narcissists are generally contemptuous of others. This seems to spring from their general lack of empathy, and it comes out as (at best) a dismissive attitude towards other people's feelings, wishes, needs, concerns, standards, property, work, etc. It is also connected to their overall negative outlook on life.
Narcissists are (a) extremely sensitive to personal criticism and ( extremely critical of other people. They think that they must be seen as perfect or superior - or else they are worthless. There's no middle ground of ordinary normal humanity for narcissists. They can't tolerate the least disagreement. In fact, if you say, "Please don't do that again - it hurts," narcissists will turn around and do it again harder to prove that they were right the first time; their reasoning seems to be something like "I am a good person and can do no wrong; therefore, I didn't hurt you and you are lying about it now..."- sorry, folks, I get lost after that. Anyhow, narcissists are habitually cruel in little ways, as well as big ones, because they're paying attention to their fantasy and not to you, but the bruises on you are REAL, not in your imagination. Thus, no matter how gently you suggest that they might do better to change their ways or get some help, they will react in one of two equally horrible ways: they will attack or they will withdraw. Be wary of wandering into this dragon's cave - narcissists will say ANYTHING, they will trash anyone in their own self-justification, and then they will expect the immediate restoration of the status quo. They will attack you and spew a load of bile, insult, abuse, contempt, threats, etc., and then - well, it's kind of like they had indigestion and the vicious tirade worked like a burp: "There. Now I feel better. Where were we?" They feel better, so they expect you to feel better, too. They will say you are nothing, worthless, and turn around immediately and say that they love you. When you object to this kind of treatment, they will say, "You just have to accept me the way I am." Accepting them as they are (and staying away from them entirely) is excellent advice. The other "punishment" narcissists mete out is banishing you from their glorious presence - this can turn into a farce, since by this point you are probably praying to be rescued. The narcissist expects that you will be devastated by the withdrawal of her/his divine attention, so that after a while - a few weeks or months (i.e., the next time the narcissist needs to use you for something) -- the narcissist will expect you to have learned your lesson and be eager to return to the fold. If you have learned your lesson, you won't answer that call.
They can't see that they have a problem; it's always somebody else who has the problem and needs to change. Therapies work only when the individual wants to change and, though narcissists hate their real selves, they don't want to change - they want the world to change. They criticize, gripe, and complain about almost everything and almost everyone almost all the time. There are usually a favored few whom narcissists regard as above reproach. These are people the narcissists are terrified of, though they'll tell you that what they feel is love and respect; they don't know the difference between fear and love. Narcissists just get worse and worse as they grow older; their parents and other authority figures that they've feared die off, and there's less outside influence to keep them in check.
Narcissists are hostile and ferocious in reaction, but they are passive and lacking in initiative. They will complain about the same things for years on end, but only rarely do anything to change what dissatisfies them so badly.
Narcissists are naive and vulnerable, pathetic really, no matter how arrogant and forceful their words or demeanor.
Narcissists are grandiose. They live in an artificial self invented from fantasies of absolute or perfect power, genius, beauty, etc. Normal people's fantasies of themselves, their wishful thinking, take the form of stories -- movies or TV, or from things they've read or that were read to them as children. They involve a plot, heroic activity or great accomplishments or adventure: normal people see themselves in action, however preposterous or even impossible that action may be.
Narcissists have little sense of humor. This is because, lacking empathy, they don't get the context and affect of words or actions, and jokes, humor, comedy depend entirely on context and affect. They specialize in sarcasm about others and mistake it for wit, but narcissists are entirely incapable of irony. They come mighty close to parody in their pretensions and pretending, so that they can be funny without knowing it, but you'd better not let on that you think so.
Narcissists are totally and inflexibly authoritarian. They are suck-ups. They want to be authority figures and, short of that, they want to be associated with authority figures. They know they can't think well, have no judgment about what matters, are not connected with the world they inhabit, so they cling fanatically to the opinions of people they regard as authority figures - such as their parents, teachers, doctors, ministers. Where relevant, this may include scientists or professors or artists, but narcissists stick to people they know personally, since they aren't engaged enough with the world to get their authoritative opinions from TV, movies, books or dead geniuses/saints/heroes.
Narcissists have strange work habits. Normal people work for a goal or a product, even if the goal is only a paycheck. Normal people measure things by how much they have to spend (in time, work, energy) to get the desired results. Normal people desire idleness from time to time, usually wanting as much free time as they can get to pursue their own thoughts and pleasures and interests. Narcissists work for a goal, but it's a different goal: they want power, authority, adulation. Narcissists don't understand how people achieve glory and high standing; they think it's all arbitrary, it's all appearances, it's all who you know. So they try to attach themselves to people who already have what they want, meanwhile making a great show of working hard. Narcissists can put in a shocking amount of time to very little effect. This is partly because they have so little empathy that they don't know why some work is valued more highly than others, why some people's opinions carry more weight than others'. They do know that you're supposed to work and not be lazy, so they keep themselves occupied. They really don't pay attention to what they're doing, preferring the easiest thing at every turn, even though they may be constantly occupied, so that narcissists manage to be workaholics and extremely lazy at the same time. Narcissists measure the worth of their work only by how much time they spend on it, not by what they produce. They want to get an A for Effort. Narcissists lack empathy, so they don't know what others value or why. They know the price of everything and the value of nothing.
Narcissists are very disappointing as gift-givers. This is not a trivial consideration in personal relationships. I've seen narcissistic people sweetly solicit someone's preferences ("Go ahead -- tell me what you really want"), make a show of paying attention to the answer ("Don't you think I'm nice?"), and then deliver something other than what was asked for -- and feel abused and unappreciated when someone else gets gratitude for fulfilling the very request that the narcissist evoked in the first place. I've seen this happen often, where narcissists will go out of their way to stir up other people's expectations and then go out of their way to disappoint those expectations. It seems like a lot of pointless work to me.
First, narcissists lack empathy, so they don't know what you want or like and, evidently, they don't care either; second, they think their opinions are better and more important than anyone else's, so they'll give you what they think you ought to want, regardless of what you may have said when asked what you wanted for your birthday; third, they're stingy and will give as gifts stuff that's just lying around their house, such as possessions that they no longer have any use for, or -- in really choice instances -- return to you something that was yours in the first place. In fact, as a practical matter, the surest way NOT to get what you want from a narcissist is to ask for it; your chances are better if you just keep quiet, because every now and then the narcissist will hit on the right thing by random accident.
It's very hard to have a simple, uncomplicated good time with a narcissist. Except for odd spells of heady euphoria unrelated to anything you can see, their affective range is mediocre-fake-normal to hell-on-Earth. They will sometimes lie low and be quiet, actually passive and dependent - this is as good as it gets with narcissists. They are incapable of loving conduct towards anyone or anything, so they do not have the capacity for simple pleasure, beyond the satisfaction of bodily needs. There is only one way to please a narcissist (and it won't please you): that is to indulge their every whim, cater to their tiniest impulses, bend to their views on every little thing. There's only one way to get decent treatment from narcissists: keep your distance. They can be pretty nice, even charming, flirtatious, and seductive, to strangers, and will flatter you shamelessly if they want something from you. When you attempt to get close to them in a normal way, they feel you are putting emotional pressure on them and they withdraw because you're too demanding. They can be positively fawning and solicitous as long as they're afraid of you, which is not most people's idea of a real fun relationship.
I always have the problem that I get fed up and stay away from THEM long enough to forget exactly what the trouble was, then they come around again, and every narcissist I've known actually was quite lovable about half the time so I try it again. A clue: Run for cover when they start acting normal, maybe expressing a becoming self-doubt or even acknowledging some little fault of their own, such as saying they now realize that they haven't treated you right or that they took advantage of you before. They're just softening you up for something really nasty. These people are geniuses of "Come closer so I can slap you." Except that's not the way they think about it, if they think about it - no, they're thinking, "Well, maybe you do really care about me, and, if you really care about me, then maybe you'll help me with this," only by "help" they mean do the whole thing, take total responsibility for it, including protecting and defending them and cleaning up the mess they've already made of it. They will not have considered for one second how much of your time it will take, how much trouble it may get you into in their behalf, that they will owe you BIG for this -- no, you're just going to do it all out of the goodness of your heart, which they are delighted to exploit yet again, and your virtue will be its own reward: it's supposed to just tickle you pink to be offered this generous opportunity of showing how much you love them and/or how lucky you are to be the servant of such a luminous personage. No lie -- they think other people do stuff for the same reason they do: to show off, to perform for an audience. That's one of the reasons they make outrageous demands, put you on the spot and create scenes in public: they're being generous -- they're trying to share the spotlight with you by giving you the chance to show off how absolutely stunningly devoted-to-them you are. It means that they love you; that's why they're hurt and bewildered when you angrily reject this invitation.
Narcissists don't volunteer the usual personal information about themselves, so they may seem secretive or perhaps unusually reserved or very jealous of their privacy. All these things are true, but with the special narcissistic twist that, 1) their real life isn't interesting to them so it doesn't occur to them that it would be interesting to anyone else and, 2) since they have not yet been transfigured into the Star of the Universe, they're ashamed of their real life. They feel that their jobs, their friends and families, their homes and possessions aren't good enough for them, they deserve better.
Narcissists not only don't recognize the feelings and autonomy of others, they don't recognize their own feelings as their own. Their feelings are sort of like the atmospheric acts of God. The narcissistic think that everyone's having the same feeling as they are. This means that usually their own pain means nothing to them beyond the physical discomfort - it has no affective component. If you try to straighten them out, by telling them that your feelings are different, beware: their idea of sharing their feelings is to do or say something that makes you feel the way they're feeling and, as they make a point of not sharing anything desirable, you can expect something really nasty. The sad fact seems to be that narcissists feel just as bad about themselves as they make others feel about them.
Narcissists are noted for their negative, pessimistic, cynical, or gloomy outlook on life. Lacking love and pleasure, they don't have a good reason for anything they do and they think everyone else is just like them, except they're honest and the rest of us are hypocrites. Nothing real is ever perfect enough to satisfy them, so are they are constantly complaining and criticizing - to the point of verbal abuse and insult.
Narcissists are impulsive. Somehow, they don't consider the probable consequences of their actions.
Narcissists hate to live alone. Their inner resources are skimpy, static, and nothing interesting or attractive going on in their hearts and minds, so they don't want to be stuck with themselves. All they have inside is the image of perfection that, being mere mortals like the rest of us, they will inevitably fall short of attaining.
more here: http://www.halcyon.com/jmashmun/npd/index.html
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