Excerpts from the Archives of the Narcissism List - Part 25
Listowner: Dr. Sam Vaknin
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1. Resistance is Futile?
Resistance is a sign that you still do love yourself.
Why else would you try to shield yourself so? Why else would you fear hurt?
Your resistance used to be your best friend, don't cast it aside so lightly or callously.
Your ability to convince your resistance to amicably wane is a real test of how far you get.
BTW, "She" is NOT a form of resistance. She does not seek to shield and protect you (though She might claim to do precisely that).
She is an enemy within and should not be confused with your resistance. She should never be trusted for She has your worst interests in mind. She is punitive and sadistic.
The False Self STARTS as a defence mechanism and ends up replacing the host.
The False Self is a virus, an auto-immune deficiency. Your defence mechanisms are your immune system.
It is an intricate (and very confusing) balancing act. Maybe this can be of help: all of us, even the most "normal" have defence mechanisms and employ them regularly. But only narcissists have False Selves.
The splitting defence mechanism leads to "Good Mother" in True Self and "Bad Mother" (or bad breast or whatever) in False Self. Seeking Narcissistic Supply is really a quest to transform the Bad Mother into a Good Mother through the adulation, approval and attention of others.
2. Narcissists as Vampires
Vampires are linked to narcissists in more than one way. The narcissist has NO reflection - this is why he is so dependent on others to reflect some self (the False Self) back to him. Vampires are blood thirsty parasites - but not malevolent. They are slaves to their nature - not diabolical fiends with vicious designs. Actually, they can be rather empathetic (and pathetic). And their trade is with illusions and delusions. They are only marginally supernatural and they promise eternal life. They don't kill - they foster addiction. Isn't this a perfect description of the narcissist?
3. The Need to be Hopeful
There are gradations of narcissism. In all my writings, I am referring to the extreme and penultimate form of narcissism, the NPD.
We often confuse shame with guilt.
Narcissists feel shameful when confronted with a failure. They feel (narcissistically) injured. Their omnipotence is threatened, their sense of perfection and uniqueness is questioned. They are enraged, engulfed by self-reprimand, self-loathing and internalized violent urges. The narcissist punishes himself for failing to be God - not for the maltreatment of others.
The narcissist makes an effort to communicate his pain and shame in order to elicit the Narcissistic Supply he needs to restore and regulate his failing self-worth. In doing so, the narcissist resorts to the human vocabulary of empathy. The narcissist will say anything to obtain NS. It is a manipulative ploy - not a confession of real emotions or an authentic description of internal dynamics.
Yes, the narcissist is a child - but a very precocious and young one.
Yes, he can tell right from wrong - but is indifferent to both.
Yes, it is a process of "re-parenting" (what Kohut called a "self-object") that is required, of growth, of maturation. In the best of cases, it takes years and the prognosis is dismal.
Yes, some narcissists make it. And their mates or spouses or children or colleagues or lovers rejoice.
But is the fact that people survive tornadoes - a reason to go out and seek one?
You should fight her.
Don't let her spoil everything again.
Understand that she hates you, she wants you emotionally dead, besieged, paranoid and lonely.
She thrives on your misery.
She is a mortal enemy because she starves to death that part of you that really matters - the ONLY one that matters.
She won't let you love, she won't let you live, and she won't let you leave.
So, you can only fight her, tooth and nail.
Don't be afraid. She is much weaker than you.
She is brittle.
She is precariously balanced.
Topple her and cast her into oblivion.
You can do it.
Now is the time, a window of opportunity overlooking the pastures of self-contentedness and of contentedness with self.
Sometimes, we believe we have a choice.
Often, we believe we make choices.
But our choices make us - not the other way around.
And often, we have no choice and our "choices" are elaborate optical illusions, ricocheting off mirrors glazed with fears and splintered hopes.
Hold on to what you feel is real.
Demand your rights.
Protect your turf.
And as for other people in your life -
Whatever you decide, they will always be here.
They are not an apparition.
They are stable and reliable.
They are not erratic and irritable and capricious or malicious.
Think about it. Believe it.
5. The Narcissist as Predator
I am very much attracted to vulnerability, to unstable or disordered personalities, or to the inferior. Such people constitute more secure sources of better quality Narcissistic Supply. The inferior offer adulation. The mentally disturbed, the traumatized, the abused - become dependent and addicted to me. The vulnerable can be easily and economically manipulated without fear of repercussions.
I think that "a healing narcissist" is an oxymoron (though NOT in all cases, of course).
Still, I agree. Healing (not only of narcissists) is dependent upon and derived from a sense of security in a relationship.
I am not particularly interested in healing. I try to optimize my returns taking into consideration the scarcity and finiteness of my resources. Healing is simply a bad business proposition.
I never discounted what others had to offer.
I simply put it in context. MY context.
I fully realize that there is a gaping disparity between my context and others' - which makes it doubly imperative to remind everyone recurrently of it.
In MY context being accepted or cared for (not to mention loved) is a foreign language. It is meaningless.
One might recite the most delicate haiku in Japanese and it would still remain meaningless to an Israeli.
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That Israelis are not adept at Japanese does not diminish the value of the haiku OR of the Japanese language, needless to say.
Being understood is important to me and I am glad when I am understood providing that understanding me leads to adulation, admiration, and fascination or to awe and fear. In short: to Narcissistic Supply.
A narcissist who (for some oblivious reason) would wish to heal should expect pain through the re-processing of old narcissistic hurts.
6. Seeking Help
You cannot convince someone to seek help. Help is sought only when the individual has exhausted herself and her resources in such a complete way that help (or death) are the only options left. Your daughter must hit bottom. But only she can say what constitutes "bottom" as far as she is concerned. She will know the right time, not to worry. In the meantime, try to be her friend and her parent.
It is wrong of you to allocate blame and to experience guilt feelings. We all do the best we can, always. Sometimes is just is not good enough. But when it is not - it does not mean that we should carry it as the proverbial albatross around our necks forever.
Three things are clear:
You are preoccupied with finding a "reason", a "logic", an "order".
There simply isn't (at least not that anyone is sure of). Humans are machines so complicated that they are no longer mere machines. There is no "user's manual". We all are groping in the dark. We are trying to understand. We often change our theories and views.
Forgive yourself because you did the best you could, and so did your husband, so forgive him too. Above all, forgive your daughter.
It is often that we blame failing relationships and other problems on others. It usually is wrong.
Get on with the business of living. Take stock of all you are and move on.
You both over-indulged your daughter.
Indulgence is a form of abuse. It is through catering to the child's every need, whim and desire that we chain her to use. We transform our children to extensions of our selves by being subservient, submissive, overbearing. Your child needs a PARENT, not a servant, not a frightened slave.
Don't you think that your daughter is angry BECAUSE you were too good to her - because you never really existed? Because instead of drawing clear limits and making rules - you receded and annulled yourselves?
Do not be afraid even now to refuse, to set rules, to draw the line.
She might throw temper tantrums and try to commit suicide again. If this is her chosen mode of communication there is little you can do about it.
Your daughter must repossess her life. Give it back to her - by making the boundaries clear.
Your daughter is not merely narcissistic.
She seems to be suffering from a cocktail of personality disorders (this often is the case). Judging by your description she is clearly NPD (though diagnoses should be made only by a mental health professional with experience in the specific disorder). But she most definitely exhibits non-narcissistic behaviours (suicide attempts is a Borderline trait, for instance, and threatening to kill you is an Antisocial PD trait).
She should be treated intensively and it should not be her choice. Do everything you can to make sure that she receives proper talk therapy and medication.
It is often our fear of being abandoned that leads to our abandonment. Our fear of being hated provokes hatred. We cling, we subsume, we walk on eggshells (heard the expression before?), we vanish, we merge with the meaningful other.
It is your life, your house, your peace of mind, you have your problems and you have two other daughters. If your daughter cannot live with that - then make her face the consequences of her own behaviour.
Perhaps for the first time in her life.
Take care, fear not, and do the right thing.
7. Falling in Love with Ourselves
It must be difficult to always like the sources of our frustration and to be drawn to them.
It is a narcissistic thing, this - a punishment meted out by an already gone or absent parent.
We are drawn to our reflections ("he is so much like me!") and, being narcissists, we fall in love with ourselves through their agency and mediation, vicariously, by proxy, as it were.
These doppelganger, these alter Egos, these suddenly significant others with whom we experience such resonance, such depths of empathy - legitimize our need to engage in the most distilled form of incest - infatuation with our selves. By "loving" or "being attracted" to THEM - we actually fall in love and have (emotional and often physical) intercourse with ourselves.
This is never sustainable because, deep inside, we harbour a burning hatred, resentment, and sadistic urges directed exactly at our very selves - the selves that we so crave, that we are so enamoured of.
Thus, loving our reflections terrifies us. It leads us closer to the sources of our emotional (and sometimes imminent physical) demise. By loving OURSELVES through THEM - we provoke our idealized, sadistic parents, buried deep inside our psyches - to attack us relentlessly, ferociously, mercilessly.
Of course, we blame our significant others.
Who dares stare the abyss in the eye? It might stare back at us.
So, we attack and we withdraw and we avoid and we blame and we apportion guilt and we suffer and we torment and are tormented and then we divorce ourselves, assisted by our False Self.
We call all this - "relationships".
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