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Entries in gaslighting (1)

Thursday
Nov102011

Narcissism


According to Cynthia Zayn and Kevin Dibble, authors of Narcissistic Lovers, there are 10 traits psychologists look for when diagnosing a person with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD).

A person suffering NPD will:

  1. Possess a grandiose sense of self importance.
  2. Exaggerate achievements and expect superior recognition.
  3. Believe himself special and believe only special people can understand him.
  4. Search constantly for "ideal" love.
  5. Fantasize about unlimited success, power or beauty.
  6. Need constant admiration and praise.
  7. Feel entitled to take advantage of others to achieve his goals.
  8. Have no empathy for the needs of others.
  9. Act snobby and arrogant.
  10. Envy others and believe others envious of him.

The Narcissist's constant search for ideal love leads him to make proclamations about his failures (him or her, of course, though narcissists tend to be men by a 3 to 1 ratio).

Statements like, "Oh, I'm the king of bad relationships" usually belie a Narcissist's need for recognition of how bad and numerous his relationships are, even though it is his own narcissism that demands "ideal" love, dooming real relationships with real, unidealized people to failure.

Every time a Narcissist enters a relationship, he believes "this could be the one" in order to fulfill the ideal, "happily-ever-after" fantasy.

When the relationship ultimately fails, the Narcissist must "troll" for "new supply" of narcissistic attention. "Supply" describes the need the Narcissist substitutes for love.

The best mate for a narcissist tends to be another narcissist, though co-dependents will suffice when a narcissist is in search of good supply.

Narcissa Whitman Memorial, South Pass, WY, from www.wyomingtalesandtrails.com

According to Zayn and Dibble, all alcoholics are narcissists, but not all narcissists are alcoholics. The constant need to maintain quality narcissistic supply dominates NPD sufferers in the same way that drugs dominate drug addicts.

Narcissistic supply comes in two varieties: somatic and cerebral. Somatic narcissism is a need for sex and extreme physical desire from a partner. Cerebral narcissism is a need to feel smart and have a supply of intellectual admiration. Both forms of supply require the Narcissist be the focus of sexual or mental attention.

When a Narcissist no longer gets the supply he needs, he usually ends a relationship immediately and walks away on the spot. Often pretending the relationship never happened, the Narcissist will accuse an ex-partner of "stalking" when that person merely seeks normal, healthy closure to a relationship that they had no idea was ending.

The Narcissist rarely needs closure, because he has already lined up another co-dependent to give him narcissistic supply. When a Narcissist returns to an ex- (and many do), the ex- should be aware that their little Nar is in bad need of supply, not an actual relationship and certainly not "love."

Image from Psychologytoday.com

Narcissism has its roots in early childhood relationships with parents or parental figures. The narcissistic child does not receive love or attention based on who he is, but rather based on who a parent wants the child to be. This damages the development of a child's true self, and the child creates a false self as a way to get acceptance, approval and love.

A narcissistic parent may groom a child to be his or her co-dependent narcissistic supplier. The child's activities and accomplishments only matter to the narcissistic parent in so far as they reflect well on the parent's own sense of self. The child's sense of self does not exist to the narcissistic parent.

The child of a narcissist can grow up to become an adult Narcissist himself. The Narcissist is terrified that people will know his true self, so all of his energy focusses on intentional acts and deliberate choices designed to conceal his true self from others. Often these choices will involve elaborate deception of a co-dependent who provides the critical narcissistic supply.

The deception narcissists employ is like a director who demands actors perform exactly as they are told. In fact, many former co-dependents describe relationships with narcissists as performing in a play for which they did not know the script. Confusion and distortion of facts are the Narcissist's best friends in this deceptive stageplay.

The deception has a term: "gaslighting." Gaslighting gets its name from an actual movie in which the male lead flickers lights in a house and denies that it's happening, doing so for so long that he makes his wife doubt her own sanity.

If you find yourself constantly doubting what happened and you continue to question what you think are objective facts, then you might be under a Narcissist's control.  ("There! Didn't you see it? The lights flickered again. I swear they did!")

All relationships are about control to the Narcissist, because a lack of control makes the Narcissist feel vulnerable to exposure of his true self, which he fears is unlovable.

Narcissists tend to hate holidays and gift giving, because holidays take focus away from the Narcissist and give it to the occasion at large. A Narcissist also feels the gifts he receives do not reflect his own magnanimity: Gifts are insults, and show "how little people understand me." Thus, it's not uncommon for the Narcissist to start fights during holiday festivities in order to reclaim control and attention.

Sufferers of NPD may be successfully treated, but the Narcissist rarely accepts treatment, because he genuinely feels he has no problem to begin with. Admitting such a problem would destroy the Narcissist's false self.

The only known successful tactic for dealing with a Narcissist is the "Zero Contact Rule," where a co-dependent does not allow any contact with the Narcissist, or, in unavoidable cases, resists any meaningful contact, keeping everything on a superficial level.

As a last ditch effort at control, a Narcissist who feels exposed by an unwilling co-dependent will usually explode in a narcissistic rage episode, where the only goal is to obliterate the target emotionally or physically. This rage is a defining characteristic of the disorder. Rage can come out of nowhere, and the Narcissist usually returns to his normal behavior soon afterward and pretends that it never happened.

Image from thanasis.com

Narcissism gets its name from the Greek myth of Narcissus (and Echo, but Narcissus would likely want the tale to be his alone.) In the myth, Narcissus could find no partner ideal enough or worthy of his love until he sat by the edge of a pond, where he fell in love with his own reflection and died there, gazing at it.

Flowers of the species Narcissus, common name daffodil, grow in wetlands, often around shores surrounding lakes and ponds. The flowers bend on their long stems to overhang the reflective surface of the water.

All flowers of the narcissus species contain the alkaloid poison lycorine.